Compiling (Guru) Granth Sahib
The compiling and editing of the holy Granth Sahib, the Primal Scripture of the Sikhs, has been appropriately termed as "the crowning achievement" of Guru Arjan Dev insofar as the Granth par excellence offered under one cover an authentic composition of spiritual poetry, meditations of God-inspired individuals, the vision or the cosmic order and exhortations for a higher and virtuous life made by the Sikh Gurus and the Bhaktas.
A volume of Guru Nanak Dev's Composition came up during his life time. This Pothi was the most significant inheritance passed on to his successors, Guru Angad Dev, who added a few writings of his own to the sacred volume during his pontificate. Guru Amardas added a substantial number of hymns composed by him to the bani of the earlier Guru's preserved in the pothis. The third Guru also collected writings of a few saint-poets which happened to be in unison with the philosophy and the spiritual and moral vision of the Sikh Guru's. The entire body of the sacred writings, thus collected was preserved in two sacred volumes, prepared by the Third Master with care and precision. These pothis, known as the Goindwal pothis, provided the basis and the material for the holy Granth Sahib when Guru Arjan Dev took up its compilation.
In his Introduction to the English translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Prof. G.S. Talib explains that the two pothis. aforementioned, consist of 300 and 224 leaves, making a total of 1048 pages, all written in one hand except two hymns. These pothis contains fifteen ragas but the order of the ragas and of the hymns followed in the Pothis does not agree with the pattern adopted in the Adi Granth. Guru Arjan Dev Added material drawn from other sources to the Bani contained in the Pothis. The devoted Sikhs are believed to have preserved collections of the Guru-Bani. The fifth Master seems to have consulted and examined all available source-materials. Guru Arjan Dev was already in possession of his father's verses in addition to his own, large in volume and rich in appeal issuing from their felicity of expression, musical strains and profound contents.
The Granth Sahib contains the writings of the Sikh Guru's, Bhakats, & Minstrels. Originally, the hymns of first 5 Gurus formed the bulk of the enormous volume. The writings of the Bhaktas and Sufis mystics included in the holy Granth cover, broadly speaking, a vast spectrum of religious thought scanning four centuries. Bards or Bhatts, attached to the Guru also contributed to the volume. These Bhatts composed adulatory verses called Swayyas in prace of Guru Arjan Dev and other Sikh Gurus. Kal, Jalap, Bhikha, Sal, Bhal, Nal, Bal, Mathura, Gyand, Kirat & Harbans. Were the Minstrels-Contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib. Balwand & Satta who composed a var, a ballad, and Sunder wrote in the Ramkali measure an elegy called sudd are the others to find a place in the Granth.
Written in Gurmukhi characters, the predominant language of the Holy Granth is Sant Bhasha, an admixture of Hindi and Punjabi. Rich in literary tradition, vocabulary and expression, of serious thoughts in the Northern India. Its exposure to influences of Persian, Arabic and the Muslim culture made Hindi more pliable as the medium of spiritual experience.
Guru Arjan Dev and Bhai Gurdas were engaged in the compilation of Granth Sahib. After the completion of sacred task, Granth Sahib was taken to Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, with reverence and installed there.