Sri Guru Granth Sahib
The Guru Granth Sahib contains the scriptures of the Sikhs. It is an anthology of prayers and hymns which contain the actual words and verses as uttered by the Sikh Gurus. Sikhs regard the Guru Granth Sahib as the living Guru. The Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the Adi Granth, consists of 1430 pages and has 5864 verses. Its contents are referred to as bani or gurbani. An individual hymn is a shabad.
The Granth was compiled by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji. He undertook the enormous task of collecting, compiling, and scrutinizing the hymns and compositions of Guru Nanak and his predecessors. He decided to include not only the hymns of the Gurus but also that of other saints. At the invitation of the Guru, followers of different sects, both Hindu and Muslim, came to the Guru and recited the hymns of their teachers. Guru Arjan chose only those hymns which echoed sentiments he wanted to inculcate in his own community. After the selections were made, the Guru dictated the hymns to Bhai Gurdas ji, who wrote the Granth Sahib.
Having compiled the Granth, the Guru placed it in the newly- built Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar. The first parkash (opening ceremony) was performed in the Golden Temple by Guru Arjan on August 30, 1604. The Guru nominated Bhai Buddha as the custodian of the Granth Sahib. At this time, the Guru bowed before the collection, acknowledging the higher authority of the bani to that personal importance and significance which he possessed as Guru. After this time, he no longer sat at a level above the Granth Sahib, but below it. The Guru also instituted daily public worship at the temple where the Granth was recited all day long to the accompaniment of stringed musical instruments (kirtan).
With the passage of time, the original Granth Sahib passed on from Guru Arjan to Guru Hargobind and then to his grandson, Dhir Mal, who took permanent possession of it. To restore the Granth compiled by Guru Arjan to the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh ji sent some Sikhs to Dhir Mal's descendants, who possessed the original Granth Sahib, and requested for its return. But they refused to part with it and asked the Guru to write his own Granth if he was a real Guru. Therefore, the second version of Guru Granth Sahib was prepared by Guru Gobind Singh in 1706. At Damdama Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh dictated the entire Granth Sahib from his memory to Bhai Mani Singh ji; the Granth Sahib was dictated word by word as it originally was. At this time, Guru Gobind Singh re-edited the Adi Granth to the form in which we find it today. The Guru removed some unauthenticated writings in the Granth and added four hymns in the beginning for evening prayers. Guru Gobind Singh also added several hymns from his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Otherwise, the Granth was left as it was before in the days of Guru Arjan.
Several copies of this Granth were transcribed by hand by Baba Deep Singh ji at Damdama Sahib. It is believed that four copies of the Granth Sahib were prepared; the first one was sent to the Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar, the second to Anandpur, the third to Patna and the fourth was kept by Guru Gobind Singh at Nander.
Guru Gobind Singh ended the line of living Sikh Gurus by raising the Adi Granth to the status of a permanent Guru. Guru Gobind Singh ji transmitted Guru Nanak's divine light into the divine Word and declared that after him, the next Guru would be Guru Granth Sahib. He commanded the Sikhs that it was to be revered as the body and spirit of the ten Gurus:
Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth.
Sabh Sikhan ko hukam hai Guru manyo Granth.
Guru Granth Ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh.
Jo Prabhu ko milbo chahe khoj shabad mein le.
Raj karega Khalsa aqi rahei na koe,
Khwar hoe sabh milange bache sharan jo hoe.
Under orders of the Immortal Being, the Panth was created.
All Sikhs are enjoined to accept the Granth as their Guru.
Consider the Guru Granth as an embodiment of the Gurus.
Those who want to meet God, can find Him in its hymns.
The pure shall rule, and the impure will be no more,
Those separated will unite and all the devotees of the Guru shall be saved. (Ardas)
When the Guruship was passed on, Guru Granth Sahib like the Gurus became the embodiment of Divine Light. It should, therefore, be remembered very clearly that bowing before Guru Granth Sahib as Sikhs, is not bowing before a book, but it is a bowing before the Divine Light or Jot (Guru) which was passed on when the Guruship was conferred upon it. Respect and veneration for Guru Granth does not imply idol worship, but rather respect for a divine message, the ideas and ideals contained in the Sikh scripture. It is the source or a means to the worship of God through His Word, and not an object of worship in itself. Both the Gurus and the Book deserve the respect which they are accorded because of the bani which they express, the word of divine truth. Bhai Gurdas ji states that "the picture of the Guru is the gurbani" (Bhai Gurdas, Var 24, pauri 11).
Revelation In The Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib is a remarkable storehouse of spiritual knowledge and teachings which does not preach any rites or rituals but stresses meditation on the Name of God; salvation can be obtained by means of regular, persistent and disciplined meditation. Most of the hymns are addressed to God and often describe the devotee's condition: his aspirations and yearning, his agony in separation and his longing to be with the Lord. There are no mythological narratives, although God is described in anthropomorphic terms and the Gurus are not afraid to use the imagery of family relationships to describe the union of God and man.
The subject of Guru Granth Sahib is truth: how to become a 'person of truth', that is, an ideal person or gurmukh. As Guru Nanak states in the Mool Mantar, God is the Ultimate Truth and one has to cultivate those qualities which are associated with Him. Through its teachings, the Granth can enable men and women to lead a purposeful and rewarding life while being members of a society. It seeks universal peace and the good of all mankind. There is not a word in the Guru Granth Sahib that might be derogatory to any other belief or religion. The Guru Granth Sahib also stresses the democratic way of life and equality of all people. It teaches that we are karam yogis, that is we reap what we sow. The emphasis is on moral actions, noble living and working for the welfare of all people.
One of the most distinctive features of the Guru Granth Sahib is that it is the first religious book which contains the writings of persons belonging to different communities, castes, and diverse regions of the country. It incorporates and sanctifies the writings of holy men of different faith. Therefore, the language of the Granth is a mixture of almost all the Aryan languages current in India, yet it is written exclusively in Gurmukhi script. Guru Arjan Dev ji, unlike many other religious leaders, did not believe that there is one particular sacred language in the sense that man can pray to God only in that language.
The Granth Sahib contains 937 hymns of 36 Hindu saints, Muslim sufis and bards. The hymns of the these holy men cover a period of six centuries (from the 12th to the 17th century). Regardless of the author, this gurbani has an equal status as the hymns of the Gurus.
|Kabir||Muslim weaver||292 hymns|
|Namdev||Calico printer from Maharashtra||60|
|Ravi Das||Shoe maker from Uttar Pradesh||41|
|Trilochan||Brahmin from Maharashtra||4|
|Dhanna||Cultivator from Rajasthan||4|
|Sain||Barber from Uttar Pradesh||1|
|Jaidev||Poet from Bengal||2|
|Pipa||King from Uttar Pradesh||1|
|Sur Das||Blind poet||2|
|Baba Farid||Muslim saint from Punjab||134|
|Sadhna||Butcher from Sindh||1|
|Bhikhan||Sufi saint from Uttar Pradesh||2|
There are also some hymns from Sikhs during the time of the Gurus, including those from Baba Mardana ji, Baba Sunder ji, Sata Doom, and Rai Balwand. In addition, the Granth Sahib includes some bani from eleven bards (bhats) who came to the court of Guru Arjan in 1580. They were men of wisdom and were much impressed by the personality and the work of the Guru. Their names are Kalashar, Jalap, Kirat, Bhikha, Sal, Mathura, Bal, Bhal, Nal, Gayand, and Harbans. Yet, overall, the majority of bani in the Guru Granth Sahib contains the hymns of the Gurus.
Most of the introductory bani in the Granth Sahib is written by the Sikh Gurus. The Guru Granth Sahib starts with Guru Nanak's composition, Mool Mantar followed by Japji, Rehras (the morning and evening prayer respectively) and Kirtan Sohila, the night prayer. This introductory gurbani occupies the first thirteen pages of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Jap Ji, also called Guru Mantar, was written by Guru Nanak. It occupies about 9 pages and consists of 40 sloks, called pauries of irregular length. The mode of composition implies the presence of a questionnaire and an answer. Jap Ji is followed by Sodar Rehras, another composition by Guru Nanak, although later on additions were made to it by Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan Dev. Sodar is the yearning of the soul for the door of the house of God. Kirtan Sohila follows Sodar and occupies a little over one page. It was also composed by Guru Nanak but has additions by Guru Ram Das and Arjan Dev.
The next portion of the Granth is divided into thirty one sections each according to a particular raga. This portion occupies 1154 pages.
Usage of Ragas
The Gurus considered divine worship through music the best means of attaining a state of bliss. Therefore, each of the hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib is noted with the melody and rhythm (raga) to which it is to be sung or read. There are 31 musical measures (ragas) in the Guru Granth Sahib. The selecting of ragas was carefully made by the Guru. Generally speaking, ragas are composed to suit various moods. Some are appropriate to the morning, others to the evening, some to joy, others to grief. Guru Arjan indicated that faith should produce a balanced outlook, tempering both happiness and sadness. Therefore, the Guru omitted those that aroused passions of any kind. Likewise, certain ragas were rejected for their melancholy.
The basic concept behind the hymns is that kirtan (sacred music), when sung or listened to with devotion and undivided attention, can link the individual's consciousness with God. A mind may become stable and enjoy the peace of His divine presence, as listening to the hymns can exert a powerful influence on the mind and help to establish its communion with God.
Role of the Guru Granth Sahib in Sikh Life
In all gurdwaras and many Sikh homes, the Granth is read every day. No Sikh ceremony is regarded as complete unless it is performed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. On a daily basis, Sikhs receive a hukam or divine order in the form of a hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib, either in a Gurdwara or at home. The hukam is the first hymn of the holy book from the left hand page when it is opened at random. Similarly, at the end of a service, after the ardas, the Adi Granth is opened at random and a portion is read. Many Sikhs do this daily, regarding the verses as words from God which they will find helpful during the day. This is called vak lao, taking advice.
On special occasions, the Granth Sahib is recited non-stop from cover to cover by a string of readers. This continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib is known as an akhand path. It is regarded as the highest and the noblest ceremony in the Sikh religion, and can be performed on any important occasion. It requires nearly 48 hours to complete the continuous reading. According to Sikh history, the first akhand path was performed by Guru Hargobind, the sixth Guru, after the death of his wife, Mata Damodri ji. An akhand path was also performed by Baba Deep Singh ji when he pledged before God at Damdama Sahib to sacrifice his life for the protection of human rights.
A saptahak path is a daily reading of Guru Granth Sahib to be completed in seven days. It is sometimes undertaken in private homes as a mark of supplication on special occasions. A sehaj path is a reading of Guru Granth Sahib that can be completed at any length of period beyond seven days.
Guru Granth Sahib ji remains as a permanent unchangeable guide for all Sikhs as a living Guru or Teacher. It is a representation of the undaunted strength of the Sikh community. Guru Arjan Dev preferred a martyr's death to saving his life through making alterations in the hymns as required by Emperor Jahangir. Any Sikh can open the pages of the Guru Granth Sahib and find strength and guidance through His Word: "The Guru is now always with me" (Guru Arjan, Rag Asa)
Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Sri Granth Sahib Ji (Punjabi ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ; also called the Adi Granth or Adi Guru Darbar) is more than just a scripture of the Sikhs, for the Sikhs regard and respect the Granth (holy book) as their livingGuru. The revealed holy text spans 1430 pages and contains the actual words spoken by the founders of the Sikh religion (the Ten Gurus of Sikhism).
Guru Granth Sahib was bestowed the Guruship by the last of the human form Sikh Masters, Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708. Before passing away, Guru Gobind Singh Ji decreed that the Sikhs were to regard the Granth Sahib as their next and everlasting Guru. Guru Ji said – “Sab Sikhan ko hokam hai Guru Manyo Granth” meaning “All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru”. So today, if asked, the Sikhs will tell you that they have a total of 11 Gurus. (10 Gurus in human form, and the eternal shabad Guru, the Guru Granth Sahib).
Unique amongst the world's major religious scriptures, while compiling the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Gurus incorporated not only their own writings, but also included the writings of other contemporary saints from Hinduism and Islam (including saints belonging to the lowest strata of untouchables in the Hindu Caste System), who believed in the unity of God and denounced superstition and caste. Further, the composition and compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib was performed by the Sikh Gurusthemselves, rather than being performed by their adherents and followers, an aspect that has been highlighted by historian-scholars while discussing the authenticity of the preachings of the different teachers and prophets of the world, as known to mankind today.
When one visits a Gurdwara (a Sikh temple), the Guru Granth Sahib forms the main part of the Darbar Sahib or Main Hall. The holy book is placed on a dominant platform and covered in a very beautiful and attractively coloured fine cloth. The platform is always covered by a canopy, which is also decorated in expensive and very attractive coloured materials. The text in which the Granth is written is a script called Gurmukhi (literally "From the Guru's mouth"), which is considered a modern development of the ancient language called Sanskrit.
History & Composition of Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Nanak brought the Word of God to manifest upon Earth. Through his Hymns and Prayers (Shabads), he inspired and uplifted humankind to live a life of truth, righteousness and spirituality. These enlightening words were sung by his companions, Bala and Mardana, and by the Sangats (congregations) tha grew up around Guru Nanak. In his later years at Kartarpur, it became customary for the members of the Sikh community to sing certain hymns on a daily basis: Japji in the morning; So Dar and So Purakh, the beginnings of Rehiras, in the evenings.
Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das all composed Shabads (hymns), and the Sikhs began to collect these in small books, called Pothis. Chanting these Shabads, the Sikhs became vehicles for the vibrations of the "Word of God", and they achieved a state of higher consciousness, a transcendent meditative union with God and Guru.
Standardisation of Shabads
Even early in Sikh history, however, there were mal-quotations, and pretenders to the Throne of Spirituality. The elder brother of Guru Arjun, Prithia, composed his own hymns and passed them off as writings of Guru Nanak. Although pothis existed of authentic Gurbani, there were many different collections of Shabads, and many differing versions of the same Shabads.
Guru Arjun realized that a standardized, authenticated collection of the Guru’s Bani (called Gurbani) was needed to preserve the integrity of the Shabad. The most complete collection of Shabads of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad and Guru Amar Das was in the possession of Mohan, a son of Guru Amar Das.
Retrieving the Pothi from Mohan
Guru Arjun sent Bhai Gurdas to Mohan’s home in Goindwal, to request this collection of Shabads. Mohan felt slighted at having been passed over for Guruship — his father, Guru Amar Das, had seen the Divine Light in Guru Ram Das, and had bestowed the Guruship upon him. Mohan refused to answer the door when Bhai Gurdas knocked, and Bhai Gurdas returned to Guru Arjun empty-handed.
Guru Arjun then sent Baba Buddha to Mohan’s house. Baba Buddha was by then a very old and respected man in the Sikh community, having been a disciple of all the Gurus, from Guru Nanak through Guru Arjun. When Mohan did not answer Baba Buddha’s knock, he entered the house anyway. Inside, he found Mohan in a deep meditative trance. Mohan’s younger brother convinced Baba Buddha not to disturb him, and Baba Buddha also returned to Guru Arjun empty-handed.
So it was that in 1603, Guru Arjun found it necessary to go in person to Mohan’s house, to retrieve the Shabads. When Guru Arjun approached Mohan’s house, rather than knocking he called out in a sweet voice, but there was no response. The Guru sat upon his doorstep and began to sing these lines:
- "Oh, Mohan, your mansion is so lofty, there is no other place like yours.
- Oh, Mohan, even the Saints adorn the door of your temple.
- Show compassion and kindness, Oh Kind Lord—be merciful to the poor.
- Says Nanak, I am thirsting for the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan, Grant me this gift and I shall be happy."
Mohan (in Punjabi) is one of the names of God, when calling upon Him as the Beloved. When Guru Arjun sang this Hymn, he was singing the Praises of God, in the form of a song to win Mohan’s heart. Mohan threw open the window and called out to Guru Arjun, "You stole the Guruship from my family, and now you come to steal what remains of my heritage!"
Guru Arjun responded with sweet words:
- "Oh Mohan, your words are like no others, and your behavior is exemplary.
- Oh Mohan, you believe in the One God and treat all others as garbage.
- Says Nanak, please preserve my honor - all your servants seek Your Sanctuary."
Mohan grumbled and protested, muttering about his claim to the Shabads. But finally, he came down and sat by Guru Arjun, as the Guru continued to sing,
- "Oh Mohan, the Sadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy,
meditates upon You, and yearns to obtain the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan.
- Oh Mohan, at the very last moment of life, death shall not approach You.
- All who worship You in thought, word and deed shall obtain Your Gifts.
- Even the impure, the stupid and the foolish obtain Divine Knowledge upon seeing You.
- Says Nanak, Oh God, You are present within all,
- You are above all."
Gazing upon Guru Arjun’s enlightened face, feeling the love and radiance emanating from him, hearing the sweet words of love and humility, Mohan’s heart was softened, and opened at last. He acknowledged Guru Arjun’s true place upon the throne of Guru Nanak, and gave all of the Shabads in his possession to Guru Arjun.
Work begins to compile the Aad Granth
Guru Arjun then set to compile the Shabads into a single volume, the Adi Granth. He sifted through the Shabads which had been passed down from the first four Gurus, and filtered out those which had been added by imposters. Bhai Gurdas was the scribe who recorded the words of Guru Arjun. When he asked Guru Arjun how he could distinguish between the true and the false Shabads, Guru Arjun replied, "Even in a great herd of cows and calves, the mother cow will recognize the cry of her calf, above all others. Just so, the True Shabad resonates truly, and is easily distinguished from the false."
Guru Arjun added a great many of his own Shabads to those of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das. He also added Shabads of thirty-six Hindu and Muslim Saints, among them Kabir, Ravi Das, Naam Dev, Trilochan and Sheikh Farid. This was the first time any religion incorporated the works of sincere devotees of other religions into its own scripture; this reflects the universality of thought which underlies the Sikh belief in One God, and the one family of humanity as children of God.
Guru Arjun left some blank pages in the Granth. When Bhai Gur Das asked the purpose of this, he answered that one of the Gurus to follow him would add the Shabads in their proper place at the proper time. In time the shabads of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Manifestation of the Guru’s Light, were added by Guru Gobind Singh and thus the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was complete.
First installation of the holy Granth
The Adi Granth was completed in 1604, and installed in the Golden Temple; Baba Buddha was appointed Guru's Granthi. Guru Arjun told his Sikhs that the Adi Granth was the embodiment of the Guru, and should be treated in the same fashion as they respect him. When Guru Arjun first completed the Adi Granth, he placed it upon his own bed and slept on the floor. Its words were written without any spaces or breaks, which nowadays is hard for most people to follow.
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last of the Sikh Gurus to take human form, dictated the entire Granth Sahib at Talwandi Sabo now called Damdama Sahib. Dhir Mal, the son of Baba Gurditta and grandson of Guru Hargobind, had taken possession of the Adi Granth; he refused to give it to Guru Gobind Singh when the Guru asked for it. Dhir Mal taunted the Guru, "If you are a Guru, then prepare your own."
Guru Gobind Singh recreates holy Granth
Guru Gobind Singh proceeded to dictate it to Bhai Mani Singh, who recorded it on paper. While some have questioned the authenticity of this story, it is well for us to remember that, of course, Guru Gobind Singh was no ordinary person at all. And, in the old days of bards and story-tellers, it was not unusual for them to recite from memory entire epic poems. Hajis, for example can recite the entire Qur'an and many Hindus priests could recite the Mahabarata. In a time when many people could not read or write, oral traditions were very important. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is like the Qur'an and the Gita and is set in the form of music and rhythm making them much easier to remember.
Guru Gobind Singh included the Shabads of his father, Guru Teg Bahadur, but he did not include his own Shabads; instead, he placed them in a separate Granth, the Dasam Granth. The Dasam Granth is not revered as Guru, however. The great task of re-writing the entire Guru was finally completed in 1705. The "Damdama Sahib Bir" as it is now called was then taken to Nanded where it was installed.
Installation as Perpetual Sikh Guru
Guru Gobind Singh installed this expanded version of the Adi Granth as Guru on October 20, 1708. This day is celebrated today as Guru Gadi Divas (Enthronement Day). At the time of his death, he declared that the Word of God embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib was to be Guru for all time. He said, "O Beloved Khalsa, let any who desire to behold me, behold the Guru Granth. Obey the Granth Sahib, for it is the visible body of the Guru. Let any who desire to meet me, diligently search its Bani." Thus the Word of God, which has manifested as Guru in Nanak, and had passed through the ten incarnations of Guru, was now returned to its form as the Word, the Bani, the Shabad.
Structure of the Guru Granth Sahib
- Main article: Structure of SGGS
Within it's 1430 pages, the shabads (hymns) of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib are arranged in thirty-one Ragas, the traditional Indian musical measures and scales. Within the Ragas, they are arranged by order of the Sikh Gurus, with the shabads of the Hindu and Muslim Saints following. The shabads are written in various meters and rhythms, and are organized accordingly. For instance, Ashtapadi - eight steps, or Panch-padi - five steps. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurmukhi script, but the shabads were written in many different languages including Punjabi, Sanskrit and Persian.
- Main article: Index of Guru Granth Sahib
The original bir of Guru Granth Sahib did not contain an index. However, this is provided in some modern print of the bir to make it easy to find the location of some of the common banis. For example, from the index, (see main article here) it can be seen that the Japji Sahib starts at page 1 and ends at page 8; Sukhmani Sahib is located from pages 262 to 296; the Bara Maha bani can is found at pages 133 to 136; The bani called Anand Sahib(Bliss) can be found at pages 917 to 922, etc.
The Guru Granth Sahib begins with the word "Ek Onkar" – The All Pervading Being. From this Word to the tenth Word “Gur-parshad” is called the Mool Mantra. After this is the rest of the composition called the Japji composed by Guru Nanak Dev. This comprises 38 Pauris or stanzas, a Prologue and an Epilogue. This is one of the morning prayer of the Sikhs.
The next composition has two parts - (1) "So Dar" and (2) "So Purkh". The Bani, "So Dar" contains 5 Shabads and "So Purkh" contains 4 Shabads. This form most of the evening prayer of the Sikhs and is called the Rehras. After this is the Bani called Sohila (full name, Kirtan Sohila), which contains 5 Shabads and is the bed-time prayer.
The 31 Ragas
- Main article: Sikh Ragas
The Adi Granth starts with the a non-raga section which begins with Japji as the first entry followed by Rehras and ending with Kirtan Sohila. Then begins the main section consisting of 31 Ragas or chapters. A raga is a musical structure or set of rules of how to build a melody. It specifies a scale, as well as rules for movements up and down the scale; which notes should figure more and which notes should be used more sparingly; etc. The result is a framework that can be used to compose or improvise melodies in, so that melodies in a certain raga will always be recognisable yet allowing endless variation.
Just as a raga has emotional overtone, so each chapter has spiritual implication. The thirty-one ragas appear in the following serial order: Sri raga, Manjh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Devagandhari, Bihagara, Wadahans, Sorath, Dhanasri, Jaitsri, Todi, Bairari, Tilang, Suhi, Bilaval, Gond (Gaund), Ramkali, Nut-Narayan, Mali-Gaura, Maru, Tukhar, Kedara, Bhairav (Bhairo), Basant, Sarang, Malar, Kanra, Kalyan, Prabhati and Jaijawanti.
Within the 1430 pages are found Saloks of Bhagat Kabir, Sheikh Farid, Guru Tegh Bahadur, etc.
The closing section
The Main section which consists of 31 chapters forming the the Raga section is followed by a brief closing section. This is composed of the Mundavani (The Closing Seal), a salok by Guru Arjan and the final composition of the SGGS, which is the Ragamala
Historical Volumes of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib
- KARTARPUR VAALI BIR: As described above, Guru Arjun dictated the Adi Granth to Bhai Gur Das. This first volume, or Bir, was made in Amritsar and later transferred to Kartarpur, where it remains today. The opening lines are in the hand of Guru Arjun, and it bears the signature of Guru Hargobind at the end. There are several blank pages, left by Guru Arjun to hold the writings of Guru Teg Bahadur.Apart frommany handwritten copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib possessed by various persons and found in some gurdwaras the most important is the Bir recension at Kartarpur ,near Jullundur in the custody of Sodhi Amarjit Singh , a descendant of Dhirmal
- BHAI BANNO VAALI BIR: After completing the Adi Granth, Guru Arjun asked one of his Sikhs, Bhai Banno, to take the manuscript to Lahore to have it bound. During this journey, Bhai Banno had a copy made for his own use. He inserted a few Shabads of his own choosing, however. This version remains with his descendents.Hand written Manuscript of Bhai Banno wali Bir is said to be available at Gurdwara Banno Sahib in Kanpur city in India.
- DAMDAMA VAALI BIR: This is the volume dictated by Guru Gobind Singh at Damdama Sahib to Mani Singh. In it, Guru Gobind Singh included the Shabads of Guru Teg Bahadur. The volumes of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib which preside over our Gurdwaras now are copies of this edition.
Using the Gurmukhi Bir and the English Translation
In the West, it has become common to use the English translation of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib in Gurdwara programs and Akhand Paaths, because many of the Western Sikhs are not fluent in Gurmukhi. This has served to bring many to the Feet of the Guru who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to experience the Shabad Guru. It should be noted, however, that it is ideal to install the full Gurmukhi Bir in the Gurdwara in order to fully experience and develop a relationship with the Guru. The English translation can be installed on a separate Palki on the side and serve to illuminate the sangat in the meaning of the Words of the Guru. The English translation may be used during an Akhand Paath in which the participants are not fluent in Gurmukhi. Howev er, if a special Gurdwara program is being planned, the English Akhand Paath days can be accomodated so that the full Gurmukhi Bir of Siri Guru Granth Sahib presides.
A Sikh is encouraged (but not a must) to learn to read Gurmukhi so as to deepen his or her experience of Gurbani and so that the full body of the Guru may be installed in the Gurdwara.
Note: English and other translations of the Sre Guru Granth Sahib Ji should be considered as just another "style" (language) of talking/deitating/praising the guru. Trying to force a person to learn punjabi/gurmukhi is highly undesirable.
Worldwide praise for the holy Granth
- Main article: Worldwide praise for the Guru Granth Sahib
This is what Max Arthur Macauliffe wrote about the authenticity of the Guru's teaching
- The Sikh religion differs as regards the authenticity of its dogmas from most other theological systems. Many of the great teachers the world has known, have not left a line of their own composition and we only know what they taught through tradition or second-hand information. If Pythagoras wrote of his tenets, his writings have not descended to us. We know the teachings of Socrates only through the writings of Plato and Xenophanes. Buddha has left no written memorial of his teaching. Kungfu-tze, known to Europeans as Confuscius, left no documents in which he detailed the principles of his moral and social system. The founder of Christianity did not reduce his doctrines to writing and for them we are obliged to trust to the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Arabian Prophet did not himself reduce to writing the chapters of the Quran. They were written or compiled by his adherents and followers. But the compositions of the Sikh Gurus are preserved and we know at first hand what they taught.
- .... "Guru Granth Sahib enshrines the message of universal brotherhood and good of all mankind." said Dalai Lama,The Spiritual Leader Of Tibetian Buddhism .
- ... "I am very much impressed about Sikhism and the bravery of it's followers.I have felt and rightly too that in the welfare of this religion lies the welfare of India." said Col.Phin Mubukant - Minister Of Religious Affairs in Thailand in 1963.
Miss Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel laureate, gives the following comment on receiving the First English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib (The Sikh Holy Book):
- .... I have studied the scriptures of the great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes. They are compact in spite of their length, and are a revelation of the vast reach of the human heart, varying from the most noble concept of God, to the recognition and indeed the insistence upon the practical needs of the human body. There is something strangely modern about these scriptures and this puzzles me until I learned that they are in fact comparatively modern, compiled as late as the 16th century, when explorers were beginning to discover that the globe upon which we all live is a single entity divided only by arbitrary lines of our own making. Perhaps this sense of unity is the source of power I find in these volumes. They speak to a person of any religion or of none*. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind. ...
(From the foreword to the English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib by Gopal Singh M.A. Ph.D. 1960)(bold added later)
- Dr Gopal Singh M.A Ph.D. (1960). Sri Guru Granth Sahib (English Version). World Book Centre. ISBN.
Guru Granth Sahib Gallery
Message of Guru Granth Sahib
The Guru Granth Sahib provides unique and unequalled guidance and advice to the whole of the human race. It is the torch that will lead humanity out of Kaljug, (the dark era) to a life in peace, tranquillity and spiritual enlightenment for all the nations of the World. The main message can be summaried as:
Care & Protocol to be Observed
- Main article: SGGS Protocol
Any person carrying out any Service or Sewa for SGGS MUST observe the following:
- Head must be covered at all times.
- Shoes must be removed outside the Guru's room.
- observe basic standards of personal hygiene.
- If you have to visit the toilet, have a shower and change your clothing before serving the Guru again.
- When reading from the Guru, you must cover your mouth...
- No eating or drinking while in service.
- No small talk while in Guru's service.
While in the vicinity of SGGS, everyone should observe the following:
- Head must be covered at all times.
- Shoes must be removed, especially if indoors.
- When Guru Granth Sahib passes past one must show reverence and respect for the Guru.
- Guru Granth Sahib should always be placed in an independent, well-ventilated and separate room.
- The floor, walls and ceilings should be cleaned or washed as appropriate and suitably decorated.
- Maharaj has to be placed on a Manji Sahib. The dimension of the Manji Sahib must be at least 12 inches high, 36 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
- A canopy, of suitably material should always be placed over the Guru just below the ceiling.
- Guru's Attire: Clothing appropriate to the season is to be placed upon the throne of the Guru. In the summer, thin clothing and in winter, warm clothing i.e. a thick blanket/duvet must be used.
- The Plain white sheet that is placed under the Manji Sahib is to be of better quality, and separate, to that of the Granthi Singh.
- A Chaur Sahib should be provided besides the Guru with a small platform to house the Kar Parshad and other implements.
On The Move
Whilst the Guru is on the move the following should be observed:
- Five Singhs (Minimum of three) are to accompany the Guru at all times when travelling
- These Singhs are to remain bare-footed.
- One Singh is to do Chaur Sahib Seva
- One Singh is to go ahead of Satguru and sprinkle water or wet flower petals.
- The Main Singh carrying the Guru must put a clean Rumalla on his Turban before carefully and with respect placing the Guru on this Rumalla. At all times, the Guru should be covered with a small Rumalla so that the Guru's Sarop is always fully "covered".
- The other two Singh walk besides the Main Singh – one on his left and the other on his right.
- In order to make the Sangat aware that the Guru is coming in their direction, gongs or other appropriate instruments are to be played or recitation of "Waheguru" at all times.
- When travelling by car, etc, if possible carry the Guru on the head or the lap. In each case a clean Rumalla must be place below the Guru.
- Maharaj is never to be placed in a closet or cupboard.
- No one should sit on a higher platform than the Guru.
- At night, the Guru should be placed on a separate independent bed or small cot.
- Main article: Gurbani online
- Main article: Search Gurbani
The following are sites where you can download files comprising the SGGS: