Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Gurbani is jag meh ohanan,karni vase man aaye
(The sayings of the Gurus are a beacon of light,It ingrains virtuous deeds deep into the mind)
Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Guru =spiritual teacher; Granth = book or volume; Sahib, an honorific signifying master or lord is the name by which the holy book of the Sikhs is commonly known. It is a voluminous anthology of the sacred verse by six of the ten Gurus whose compositions it carries and of some of the contemporary saints and men of devotion. The book is treated by the followers as Word incarnate, the embodiment and presence manifest or the spirit of the ten historical Gurus (Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh). The anthology was prepared by Guru Arjan (1563-1606), Nanak V. It was in the beginning referred to as pothi, pothi sahib, the revered book. It was treated with great veneration. The Guru himself described the pothi "as God's own repository" (GGS, 1226). It was also called the Granth Sahib. The prefix "Guru" came to be applied as Guru Gobind Singh ended, before his passing, the line of personal Gurus. "Granth Sahib" was designated as "Guru Granth Sahib." The Guru had declared the Word to be the same as Guru (GGS, 943). Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, had announced that for the sake of liberation, contemplation of the Word was more efficacious than even the sight of the Guru (GGS, 594). Over the years, the holy book has received the honours due to the living Gurus. No Sikh assembly can properly speaking be so named unless the holy book be present in it. The holy volume in wraps or without wraps, which is but a rare occurence, wherever located commands the reverence that was shown the living Gurus. The Holy Book is the centre of all Sikh usage and ceremony.
The Guru Granth Sahib- some of the variations on the title being Adi Granth, Sri Adi Granth or Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib- is today the living Guru for the Sikhs. The basic Word in the expressions listed is granth which means a book, Sahib and Sri being honorifics, guru indicating its status as successor in the Guruship and adi, literally, original, first or primary, distinguishing it from the other sacred book of the Sikhs, the Dasam Granth, the book of the Tenth Master, which contains the compositions of the Tenth (Dasam) Guru. A simpler form with a clear rural voice is Darbar Sahib, the holy court. The contributors to the Guru Granth Sahib came from a variety of class and creedal background-there were among them Hindus and also Muslims, "low" castes as also "high" castes.
There were as many different contributors as there were rhymes and rhythms. The entire text was cast in verse patterns of a wide variety. There were 31 different measures used. They were all set in padas (verses), astpadis ( stanza hymns) and chhants (lyrics usually of 4 stanzas each) and longer compositions such as vars in the order of the succession of the authors. In the 1430 page recension which is now the standard form and which carries the statutory approval of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in the present day Sikh complex the sequence of contents is :
The liturgical part (1-13), Siri Raga (14-93), Majh (94-150), Gauri (151-346), Asa (347-488), Gujari (489-526), Devagandhari (527-536), Bihagara (537-556), Vadahansa (557-594), Sorathi (595-659), Dhanasari (660-695), Jaitsari (696-710), Todi (711-718), Bairari (719-720), Tilang (721-727), Suhi (728-794), Bilaval (795858), Gaund (859-875), Ramkaf (876-974), Nat Narain (975-983), Mali Gaura (984988), Maru (989-1106), Tukhari (1107-1117), Kedara (1118-1124), Bhairau (1125-1167), Basant (11(18-1196), Sarang (1197-1253), Malar (12541293), Kanara (12941318), Kalian (1319-1326), Prabhati (1327-1351), Jaijavanti (1352-1353), Salok Sahaskriti (1353-1360), Gatha, Phuneh and Chaubole (1360-1364), Salok Kabir (13641377), SalokFarid (1377-1384), Savaiyye (13851409), additional salok (1410-1429), Mundavani, and Ragmila (1429-1430).
Even before the time of Guru Arjan, pothis or books, in Gurmukhi characters, existed containing the holy utterances of the Gurus. A line in Bhai Gurdas, var 1.32, suggests that Guru Nanak during his travels carried under his arm a book, evidently comprising his own compositions. According to the Puratan Janam Sakhi he handed over such a manuscript to Guru Angad as he passed on the spiritual office to him. Two of the collections of hymns or pothis prior to the Guru Granth Sahib are still extant. They are in the possession of the descendants of Guru Amar Das. One of the families in the line used to live in Patiala and has only recently migrated to Pinjore, in the Sivaliks, and the pothi it has inherited is on view for the devotees in their home on the morning of the full-moon day every month. A collateral family which is in possession of the second pothi lives in the village of Darapur, in Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab.
The bani, or word revealed, was held in great veneration by the Sikhs even before the Holy Volume was compiled. It was equated with the Guru himself. "The bani is the Guru and the Guru bani," says Guru Ram Das in Raga Nat Narain (GGS, 982). The bani echoed the Divine Truth ; it was the voice of God- "the Lord's own word," as said Guru Nanak in the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Amar Das (GGS, 515).
vahu, vahu, bani nirankar hai
tis jevad avar ni koe
Hail, hail, the word of the Guru, which is the Lord Formless Himself
There is none other, nothing else to be reckoned equal to it.
The compilation of the Holy Book, a momentous event in Sikh history, is generally described in the briefest terms. The Sacred Volume was prepared by Guru Arjun (1563-1606) and the first copy was calligraphed by Bhai Gurdas (1551-1636) at his dictation this is all we learn from most of the sources. What amount of planning, minute attention to detail and diligent and meticulous work it involved is slurred over. An old text which gives some detailed information is the Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi. Written in 1718, this, in fact, is the oldest source. Although it does not go into the technical and literary minutiae, it broadly describes the process from the beginning of the transcription of the Holy Volume to its installation in the newly built Harimandar at Amritsar.
Why Guru Arjun undertook the task is variously explained. One commonly accepted assumption is that the codification of the Gurus' compositions into an authorized volume was begun by him with a view to preserving them from garbling by schismatic groups and others. According to the Mahima Parkash (1776), he set to work with the announcement: "As the Panth (Community) has been revealed unto the world, so there must be the Granth (Book), too." By accumulating the canon, Guru Arjun wished to affix the seal on the sacred Word. It was also to be the perennial fountain of inspiration and the means of selfperpetuation for the community.
Guru Arjan called Bhai Gurdas to his presence and expressed to him the wish that the sacred verse be collected. Messages were sent to the disciples to gather and transmit to him the hymns of his predecessors.
Baba Mohan, son of Guru Amar Das, Nanak III, had manuscript collections of the Gurus' hymns inherited from his father. Bhai Gurdas travelled to Goindval to bring these pothis, but the owner refused to see him. Bhai Buddha, one of the oldest and most revered Sikhs from Guru Nanak's days, was similarly turned away from the door. Then Guru Arjan went himself. He sat in the street below Mohan's attic serenading him on his tambura. Mohan was disarmed to hear the hymn. He came downstairs with the pothis and presented these to the Guru. As says the Gurbilas, the pothis were placed on a palanquin bedecked with precious stones. The Sikhs carried it on their shoulders and Guru Arjan walked behind barefoot. He refused to ride his horse, saying that the pothis were the very spirit, the very light of the four Gurus his predecessors.
The cavalcade broke journey at Khadur Sahib to make obeisance at shrines sacred to Guru Angad. Two kos from Amritsar, it was received by Hargobind, Guru Arjan's young son, accompanied by a large number of Sikhs. He bowed at his father's feet and showered petals in front of the pothis. Guru Arjan, Hargobind, Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Buddha now bore the palanquin on their shoulders and marched towards Amritsar led by musicians, with flutes and drums. Reaching Antritsar, Guru Arjan first went to the Harimandar to offer karah prasad in gratefulness.
To quote the Gurbilas again, an attractive spot in the thick of a forest on the outskirts of Amritsar was marked out by Guru Arjan. So dense was the foliage that not even a moonbeam could pry into it. It was like Panchbati itself, peaceful and picturesque. A tent. was hoisted in this idyllic setting. Here Guru Arjan and Bhai Gurdas started work on the sacred volume.
The making of the Granth was no easy task. It involved sustained labour and a rigorous intellectual discipline. Selections had to be made from a vast amount of material. Besides the compositions of the four preceding Gurus and of Guru Arjan who himself was a poet with a rare spiritual insight, there were songs and hymns by saints, both Hindu and Muslim. What was genuine had to be sifted from what was counterfeit. Then the selected material had to be assigned to appropriate musical measures and transcribed in a minutely laid out order.
Guru Arjan carried out the work with extraordinary exactness. He arranged the hymns in thirty different ragas, or musical patterns. A precise method was followed in setting down the compositions. First came sabdas by the Gurus in the order of their succession. Then came astpadis, chhants, vars, and other poetic forms in a set order. The compositions of the Gurus in each raga were followed by those of the Bhaktas in the same format. Gurmukhi was the script used for the transcription.
According to Bhai Gurdas' testimony, the text had been transcribed by Bhidoit vadi Ekam 1661/1 August 1604. At the head of the index he recorded: "Sammat 1661 miti blhadori vadi ekarn pothi likhi pahuche, i.e. on Bhadoh vadi Ekam 1661 he had reached this spot where the index was to begin after completing the writing of the book." The index, giving the opening words of each sabda or hymn and pagination, is itself a marvel of scholarly fastidiousness. A genius, unique in spiritual intuition and not unconcerned with methodological design, had created a scripture with an exalted mystical tone and a high degree of organization. It was large in size- nearly 7,000 hymns, comprising compositions of the first five Sikh Gurus and fifteen Bhaktas and Sufis from different parts of India, including Shaikh Farid, Kabir and Ravidas. The Sacred Volume consisted of 974 leaves, or 1948 pages, 12"x 8", with several blank ones at the end of a raga where there were not sabdas enough to fill the section assigned to it. The site of these marvellous labours is now marked by a shrine called Ramsar.
The completion of the Granth Sahib was, says the Gurbilas, celebrated with much jubilation. In thanksgiving, karah prasad was prepared in huge quantities. Sikhs came in large numbers to see the HolyBook. Theywere rejoiced in their hearts by a sight of it and bowed before it to pay homage. Among the visitors was Bhai Banno who had led a group of Sikhs from Mangat, in western Punjab. Guru Arjan, who knew him as a devoted Sikh, instructed him to go to Lahore and have the Book bound. Banno sought the Guru's permission to be allowed to take the Granth Sahib first to Mangat for the Sikhs see it. The Guru allowed this, but enjoined him not to stay at Mangat, or at any other place, more than a night.
As Banno left Amritsar with his sacred charge, it occurred to him to have a second copy transcribed. The first copy, he argued, would remain with the Guru. These must be an additional one for the sarigat. The Guru's direction was that he should not stay longer than. one night at a place, but he had said nothing about the time to be spent on the journey. So he proceeded with his plans and sent a Sikh to purchase paper. He proposed to his companions that they should travel by easy marches of five miles a day. The time thus saved was utilized in transcribing the holy text. Sikhs wrote with love and devotion and nobody shirked his duty whether it was day or night. By the time they reached Lahore, the second copy was ready. But Banno had added to it some apocryphal texts. He had both volumes bound and returned to Amritsar as fast as he could.
At Amritsar, he was received with due ceremony, though Guru Arjan was not a little surprised to see two volumes instead of one. Bhai Banno spoke truthfully : "Lord, there is nothing that is hidden from you. This second copy I have had made for the sake of the sarigat." But the Guru accepted only the volume written in Bhai Gurdas' hand. He enjoined the Sikhs to own the Granth equal with the Guru and make no distinction between the two. "lie who would wish to see the Guru, let him see the Granth. He who would seek the Guru's word, let him read the Granth with love and attention."
Guru Arjan asked the Sikhs where the Granth Sahib be installed. Bhai Buddha spoke, "You are omniscient, Master : But there is no place more suitable than the Harimandar." The Guru was happy to hear these words,"like one '. who had sighted the new moon." He then recited the praise of the Harimandar : "There is nothing like it in all the three worlds. Harimandar is like the ship the means for the people to cross over the worldly ocean triumphantly. A newjoy pervades here every day. A sight of it annuls all sins."
It was decided to spend the night at Ramsar and return to Amritsar the next morning. The Granth Sahib rested on a seat under the canopy, whereas the Guru and the Sikhs slept on the ground.
A disciple had to be chosen to take charge of the Granth Sahib. As says the Gurbilas, Guru Arjan lay awake through the night reflecting on the question. His choice finally fell on Bhai Buddha whose devotion was universally applauded. As they awoke, the Guru and his Sikhs made ablutions in Ramsar. The former thereupon practised his wonted meditation. At dawn, the entire sangat marched towards Harimandar. Bhai Buddha carried the Holy Book on his head and Guru Arjan walked behind swinging the fly whisk over it. Musicians sang sabdas. Thus they reached the Harimandar. The Granth Sahib was ceremonially installed in the centre of the dinner sanctuary. The date was Bhadon sudi 1, 1661 Bk/16August 1604. Bhai Buddha opened it with reverence to obtain from it the divine command, as Guru Arjan stood in attendance behind. The following hymn was read as God's own pronouncement for the occasion:
He Himself has aided his saints in their task,
He Himself has come to see their task accomplished.
Blessed is the carth, blessed the tank,
Blessed is the tank with amrit, nectar, filled.
Nectar everfloweth the tank: He has had the task completed;
Eternal is the Perfect Being,
His praises Vedas and Puranas sing.
The Creator has bestowed on me the nine treasures, and all the charisms
No lack do I suffer now.
Enjoying His largesse, bliss have I attained, Ever-expanding is the Lord's bounty.
Guru Arjan directed that during daytime the Holy Book should remain in the Harimandar and by night, after the Sohila was read, it should be taken to the room he had built for himself in Guru-ka-Mahal. As evening advanced by twowatches, Bhai Buddha recited. the Sohila and made the concluding ardas or supplication. The Granth Sahib was closed and wrapped in silks. Bhai Buddha held it on his head and marched towards the chamber indicated by Guru Arjan, The Guru led the sangat singing hymns. The Granth Sahib was placed on the appointed seat, and the Guru slept on the ground by its side. Daily in the small hours of the morning as the stars twinkle in the pool below, the Holy Book is taken out in state to the Harimandar and brought by night to rest-now, in a room at the Akal Takht. The practice continues to this day. But the volume is not the same. That original copy was taken to Kartarput when Guru Arjan's successor, Guru Hargobind, left Amritsar in 1634. There it passed into the possession of his grandson, Dhir Mall. It has since remained in that family.
In the Sikh system, the word Guru is used only for the ten prophet preceptors, Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh, and for none other. Now. this office of Guru is fulfilled by the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sacred Book, which was so apotheosized by the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, before he passed away in 1708. No living person, however holy or revered, can have the title or status of Guru. For Sikhs, Guru is the holy teacher, the prophet under direct commission from God-the Ten who have been and the Guru Granth Sahib which is their continuing visible manifestation.
Guru Gobind Singh manifested the Khalsa in 1699. In 1708, he supplied another permanent-and final-feature in the evolution of the Sikh faith when he installed the Holy Scripture as Guru. This is how describes the event:
Guru Gobind Sirigh mahal dasmari beta Guru Tegh Bahadur ka poti Guru Hargobind ji ki parpota Guru Arjan ji ka bans Guru Ram Das ji ki Surajbansi Gosal gotra Sodhi Khatri bisi Anandpur parganah Kahlur muqam Nander tat Godavari des dakkhan sammat satran sai painsath kartik mas ki chauth shukla pakkhe budhvar ke dihun Bhai Daya Singh se bachan hoya Sri Granth Sahib lai ao bachan poi Dayi Singh Sri Granth Sahib lai aye guru ji ne panch poise narial age bheta rakha matha teka sarbatt sangat se kaha mera hukam hai men jagah Sri Granthji ko jinana jo sikh janega tis ki ghal thaen paegi guru tis ki bahuri karega sat kar manana.
Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, grandson of Guru Hargobind, great-grandson of Guru Arjan, of the family of Guru Ram Das, Surajbansi Gosal clan, Sodhi Khatri, resident of Anandpur, parganah Kahlur, now at Nanded, on the Godavari bank in the Deccan, asked Bhai Daya Singh, on Wednesday, shukla chauth of the month of Kartik, 1765 Bk (6 October 1708), to fetch the Sri Granth Sahib. The Guru placed before it five pice and a coconut and bowed his head before it. He said to the sangat "It is my commandment: Own Sri Granthji in my place. He who so acknowledges it will obtain his reward. The Guru will rescue him. Know this as the truth.
According to Giani Garja Singh, who discovered this entry, the author was Narbud Singh Bhatt, who was with Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded at that time.
Bhatt Vahis are a new source of information discovered by Gaini Garja Singh (1904-77), a dogged searcher for materials on Sikh history. The Bhatts were hereditary panegyrists, genealogists or family bards. (A group of them were introduced to Guru Arjan by Bhatt Bhikkha, who himself had become a disciple in the'time of Guru Amar Das. According to Bhai Gurdas, VarXI. 21, and Bhai Mani Singh Sikhan di Bhagat Mala, he had earlier visited Guru Arjan with the sangat o£ Sultanpur Lodhi.) Those of them who came into the Sikh fold composed hymns in honour of the Gurus which were entered in the Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Arjan.
These Bhatts also recorded events of the lives of the Gurus and of the members of their families in their scrolls called vahis Some of these vahis are preserved to this day in the families, especially at the village of Karsindhu, in Jind district of Haryana The script in which they are written is called bhataksri- a kind of family code like laude and mahajani. The only known scholar to have worked with these materials was Giani Garja Singh.
Apart from this new testimony culled by Giani Garji Singh from the Bhatt Vahis, another contemporary document which authenticates the fact of Guru Granth Sahib having been invested with the final authority is a letter issued by reference of Guru Gobind Singh's wife, MatA Sundariji. To quote from the original, which is now in the possession of Bhai Chet Singh, of the village of Bhai Rupa, in present-day Bathinda district, to whose ancestors it was addressed:
Ik Oankar Wahguru ji ki fateh, Sri Akalpurkh ji ka Khalsa yak rangjina dithia Wahguru ji chit avai. Bhai Sahib Dan Singhji Bhai Duni Singh ji Bhai Jagat Singhji Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh ji Ugar Singhji Bhai Ram Singhji sarbatt K alsa Wahguru Akalpurkhji ki pase likhtam gulam Khalsa ji ka Kahn Singh Nival Singh Mul Singhji Sujan Singh Gaja Singh Maha Singh Sarbatt Khalsa Wahguru Akalpurkh ka Wahguru ji ki fateh vachani k karna ji Wahguru Akalpurakhji har dam chit avai sukh hoe Khalsa ji ka bol bala hoi ardas tusadi marfat Bhai Dulcha Singh ke hath pahuti parhkai Khalsa ji bahut khushwaqat hoya tusadi bab Khalsa ji dayal hoya hai ha th jore kai jo rakhya hove. "Jo janu harika sevako hari tiske kami." Guru Guru japna Wahguru ang sang hai fajal karkai rakhia hovegi KhalsajI Bhai Kahn Singhji kau Mata Sahibji ne gumastgiri Amritsar ji ki mukarar kin hai Khalsa ji ne gurmata karke Harimandar ate bagh di murammat imarat ka kam shuru kits hai sri Mata Sahibji ne likha hai ki Wahguru Akalpurkh ji ki nagari hai langar jarur karna... Khalsa Sri Wahguru ji ka suchet bibek budh chahie jo sivai Akalpurkh duje no janai nahi Dasam Patshahian tak jamai paidhe yarvin barvin Banda Chaubanda Ajita vagaire to aitkad lei avana hatiya hai. Hor hatiya Guru japan nil dur hosan,par ih hadya gunah bakshiaiga nahi jo manmukh ke jame upar aitkad karenge, 'Mukh mohi pheriai mukh mohijuttha hoi.' Khalsaji tusan sivai Akal daje no manana nahi. Sabad dasvin patshaji tak khojna, "Sabad khoji ihu gharu lahai Nanak to k5 dasu. "Guru ki nivas sabad vich hai. "Guru mahi ap samoi sabad vartaiya. " "Jian andar jiu sabad hai fit sahu milava hoi." Wahguru ji ki fateh. Bhai Mehar Shigh tahlia Bhai Bule ki pattar ke khasmane vich rahina Guru nal gandh paisi.
Ik Oankar Wahiguru ji ki Fateh. The Khalsa, of the timeless Himself, immersed in the One, and whose sight brings Wahiguru to mind. Addressed to Bhai Sahib Dan Singhji, Bhai Duni Singhji, Bhai Jagat Singhji, Bhai Gurbak Singhji, Ugar Singhji, Bhai Ram Singhji, the entire Kh of Wahiguru, the Timeless One. From the slaves of the Khalsaji, Kahn Singhji, Nival Singh, Mul Singhji, Sujan Singh, Gaja Singh, Maha Singh Wahiguruji ki Fateh to the entire Khalsa. May you be rejoiced in constant remembrance of the Timeless Wahiguru. May prosperity prevail; may supremacy belong to the Khalsa. Having received your missive through Bhai Dulcha Singh, Khalsaji is highly pleased. Khalsaji happily prays with folded hands for your security. "He who to Lord surrenders himself, his affairs the Lord will set to rights." Repeat always the name of Guru. Wahiguru is by your side. He will extend to you His grace and protection. Khalsaji, Mata Sahibji has appointed Bhai Kahn Singhji to the superintendence of Amritsarji. The Khalsaji, through a gurmata, has taken in hand the construction and repair o£ the Harimandar and the garden. Sri Mata Sahibji has written that langar must be run in that place which is the abode of God Himself. ...Wahiguru's Khalsa must always be alert, possessed of discriminating wisdom. The Khalsa must believe in none other than the Timeless One. There have been only Ten Masters in human form; to believe in the eleventh and twelfth, Banda Singh Bahadur, Ajita [Ajit Singh, adopted son of Mata Sundariji . a mortal sin. Every other sin can be had cancelled by repeating the Guru's name, but this sin of believing in human forms will not be remitted. "The faces turned away from the Guru are faces perverted." Khalsaji, you must believe in none other except the Timeless One. Go only to the Ten Gurus in search of the Word. "Nanak is the slave of him who by seeking the Lord's Name obtains his goal." The Guru resides in gabda. "The Lord hath merged His own Self in the Guru through whom He has revealed His word." "The Word is the life of all life, for, through it, one experiences God." Victory to the Lord, Bhai Mehar Singh, the messenger, son of Bhai Bula : keep the letter secure in your custody. You will gain the Guru's favour.
From this letter it is clear how the Sikhs after Guru Gobind Singh believed that the Guruship had passed to the Sabda, i.e. the Word as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib. None in the human form after the Ten Gurus was to be acknowledged by the Sikhs as Guru. Those who, like some of Banda Singh's or Ajit Singh's followers, called their leaders Gurus were committing a mortal sin. All other sins, says the letter, could be had forgiven by repeating the Guru's name, but not the sin of believing in a living Guru after the Ten Masters of the Sikh faith.
Several other old Sikh documents also attest the fact of succession having been passed on by Guru Gobind Singh to the Guru Granth Sahib. For instance, the Rahitnama by Bhai Nand Lal, one of Guru Gobind Singh's disciples remembered to this day for his elegant Persian poetry in honour of the Gurus. In his Rahitnama, or code of conduct, Bhai Nand Lal, who was at Nanded in the camp of Emperor Bahadur Shah as one of his ministers at the time of Guru Gobind Singh's passing away, thus records his last words in his Punjabi verse
He who would wish to see the Guru, Let him come and see the Granth. He who would wish to speak with him, Let him read and reflect upon what says the Granth. He who would wish to hear his word, He should with all his heart read the Granth, or listen to the Granth being read.
Another of Guru Gobind Singh's disciples and associates, Bhai Prahlad Sfngh, records in his Rahitnama, the Guru's commandment
By the word of the Timeless One, Has the Khalsa been manifested. This is my commandment for all of my Sikhs: You will acknowledge Granth as the Guru.
In Gurbilas Patshahi 10 (author Kuir Singh ; the year of writing 1751), Guru Gobind Singh is quoted as saying
This is no more the age for a personal Guru to be anointed I shall not place the mark on anyone's forehead. All sangat is owned as Khalsa now, under the shelter of the Almighty Himself, They are now to the Word attached. He who believes is the Sikh par excellence. On the Guru Granth should he put his reliance, To none else should he direct his adoration. All his wishes the Guru will bring to fulfilment, This he should believe, Casting away all dubiety.
Another authority that may relevantly be quoted is Devaraja Sharma's Nanakacandrodayamahakavyam an old Sanskrit manuscript which has recently been published by Sanskrit University, Varanasi. It records Guru Gobind Singh's proclamation that the Scripture would be the Guru after him. "While the Master lay on his deathbed, Nand Lal (?) came forward and asked the following question : 'Who shall be the object of our discourses ?'The Master replied, `The Granth, which itself is the doctrine of the Guru, shall be your teacher. This is what you should see ; this is what you should honour ; this is what should be the object of your discourses."
This point has been laboured somewhat lengthily for the reason that cavil is sometimes raised. Certain cults among Sikhs still owning personal Gurus ask for authentic evidence to the effect that Guru Gobind Singh bad named Sri Guru Granth Sahib his successor. No archival testimony can be presented, unless the Bhatt Vahi entry be included in that category. But evidence bequeathed through traditionwritten as well as oral-supports this fact. This is what has come down through Sikh memory. Had there been the 11th Guru, the name could not have been effaced from the pages of history. Guru Gobind Singh brought to an end the line of personal Gurus and declared the Holy Word Guru after him.
Along with the Guru Granth Sahib, the K was now the person visible of the Guru. The word Khalsa is derived from the Arabic khalis, meaning pure or pious. Guru Gobind Singh used the term in its symbolic and technical sense. In official terminology, Khalsa in Mughal days meant lands or territory directly under the king. Crown-land was known as Khalsa land. As says a contemporary poet, Bhai Gurdas II, Guru Gobind Singh converted the sangat into Khalsa. Sikhs were the Guru's Khalsa, i.e. directly his own, without any intermediary or local sangat leaders. On that point, we have the evidence of Sri Gur Sobha s by Sainapat, a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Gobind Singh's own hukamnamas. To quote from the former
A day preceding the event, i.e. passing of Guru Gobind Singh The Sikhs gathered together And began to ask "What body will the lord now take ?" The Guru at that moment spoke "In the Khalsa will you see me "With the Khalsa is my sole concern; "My physical form have I bestowed upon the Khalsa."
Guru Gobind Singh, in his hukamnama issued on Phagun 4, 1756 Bk/ 1 February 1700, to the sangat of Pattan Farid, modern Pakpattan, refers to the sangat as "his own Khalsa Hukamnamas are letters written by the Gurus to sangats in different parts of the s country. Some of them have been traced in recent years and two collections were published in 1967- one by Dr Ganda Singh (Punjabi University, Patiala) and the second by Shamsher Singh Ashok (Shiromani Gurdwara 'Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar). Most of the hukamnamas are common to both anthologies. These hukamnamas are another valuable source of information on the lives of the Gurus and on the Sikh communities forming in farflung places.
That Sri Guru Granth Sahib is Guru Eternal for it has been the understanding and conviction of the Sikh community since the passing of Guru Gobind Singh. In their hard, exilic days soon afterwards when they were outlawed and had to seek the safety of the hills and jungles, the Sikhs' most precious possession which they cherished and defended at the cost of their lives was Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Holy Book was their sole religious reference, and they acknowledged none other. To quote the Prachin Panth Prakash : "Thou Guru Granth art the true Presence. Impart to the Sikh sangat the true counsel." This is how the Sikhs address Sri Guru Granth Sahib as they assemble at the Akal Takht to seek its guidance before. launching an attack on the Pathan citadel of Kasur. In the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established sovereignty in the name of the Khalsa, personal piety and court ceremonial centred upon the Guru Granth Sahib. As contemporary records testify, Ranjit Singh began his day by making obeisance to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. On festive occasions, he made pilgrimage to Amritsar to bow before Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the Harimandar. For the Sikhs in general Guru Granth Sahib was the only focus of religious attachment.
None other existed otherwise, either in human form or symbolically. In all Sikh literature after Guru Gobind Singh, the Holy Book is uniformly referred to as Guru Granth.
The personal Guruship was ended by Guru Gobind Singh himself. Succession passed to the Guru Granth Sahib in perpetuity. This was a most significant development in the history of the panth.
The finality of the Holy Book was a fact rich in religious and social implications. The Guru Granth became Guru and received divine honours. It was acknowledged the mediurn of the revelation descended through the Gurus. It was for the Sikhs the perpetual authority, spiritual as well as historical. They lived their religion in response to it. Through it, they were able to observe their faith more fully, more vividly. It was central to all that subsequently happened in Sikh life. Itwas the source of their verbal tradition and it shaped their intellectual and cultural environment. It moulded the Sikh concept of life. From it the community's ideals, institutions and rituals derived their meaning. Its role in guaranteeing the community integration and permanence and in determining the course of its history has been crucial.
The Word enshrined in the Holy Book was always revered by the Gurus as well as by their disciples as of Divine origin. The Guru was the revealer of the Word. One day the Word was to take the place of the Guru. The line of personal Gurus could not have continued forever. The inevitable came to pass when Guru Gobind Singh declared Sri Guru Granth Sahib to be his successor. It was only through the Word that the Guruship could be made everlasting. This object Guru Gobind Singh intuitively secured when he pronounced Granth Sahib to be Guru after him. The Granth Sahib was henceforth-for all time to come-the Guru for the Sikhs.
Since the day Guru Gobind Singh vested succession in it, the Guru Granth has commanded the same honour and reverence as would be due to the Guru himself. It is the focal point of Sikh devotion. The object of veneration in Sikh gurdwaras is Sri Guru Granth Sahib ; gurdwara is in fact that place of worship wherein Sri Guru Granth Sahib is seated. No images or idols are permitted inside a gurdwara. The Holy Volume is opened ceremonially in the early hours of the morning after ardas or supplication. It must be enthroned, draped in silk or other pieces of clean linen, on a high seat on a pedestal, under a canopy. The congregation takes place in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, with the officiant, who could be anyone from among those present, sitting in attendance, with a chavar or whisk in his hand which he keeps swinging over it in veneration. The singing of hymns by a group of musicians will go on. All the time devotees have been coming and bowing low before the Holy Book to pay homage and taking their seats on the ground in front. The officiant or any other learned person who will take his seat behind Sri Guru Granth Sahib will read out a hymn and . expound it for the audience. At the end of the _ service, the audience will stand up in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, with hands folded in front in reverence and one of them leading the ardas or prayer. At the end of the evening service the Holy Book will be closed, again after a short prayer, and put to rest for the night. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is similarly kept in some Sikh homes, where a separate room is set apart for it. It is opened in the morning and put to rest in the evening in the same style and manner. Before starting the day's work men and women will go into the room where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been ceremonially installed, say a prayer in front of it and open the book at random and read the first hymn which meets the eye to obtain what is called vak or the day's lesson or order (hukam). Breviaries contain stipulated banis from Sri Guru Granth Sahib which constitute the daily offices and prayers of a Sikh.
A very beautiful custom is that of akhand path or uninterrupted recital of Sri Guru Granth Sahib from beginning to end in a single service. Such a recital must be completed within 48 hours. The entire Guru Granth Sahib, 1430 pages, is read through in a continuous ceremony. This reading must go on day and night, without a moment's intermission. The relay of reciters who take turns at saying Scripture must ensure that no break occurs. As they change place at given intervals, one picks the line from his predecessor's lips and continues. When and how the custom of reciting the canon in its entirety in one continuous service began is not known. Conjecture traces it to the turbulent days of the eighteenth century when persecution had scattered the Sikhs to far-off places. In those uncertain times, the practice of accomplishing a reading o£ the Holy Book by continuous recital is believed to have originated.
Important days on the Sikh calendar are marked by akhand paths in gurdwaras. Celebrations and ceremonies in Sikh families centre upon akhand paths. The homes are filled with holiness for those two days and nights as Sri Guru Granth Sahib, installed with due ceremony in a room especially cleaned out for the occasion, is being recited. Apart from lending the air sanctity, such readings make available to listeners the entire text. The listeners come as they wish and depart at their will. Thus theykeep picking up snatches of the bani from different portions at different times. Without such ceremonial recitals, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, a very large volume, would remain generally inaccessible to the laity except for banis which are recited by Sikhs as their daily prayers. In bereavement, families derive comfort from these paths. Obsequies in fact conclude with a completed reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and prayers are offered in its presence at the end for the departed soul.
There are variations on akhand path as well. A common one is the saptahik path wherein the recital of the text is taken in parts and completed within one week. A sahaj or slow-reading path may continue for a longer time, even for months. In au akhand path, the entire text will be read out by a single individual without any interruption for whatsoever purpose. For these paths the Holy Book is recited or intoned, not merely read. This brings out tellingly the poetic quality of the bani and its power to move or grip the listener. But it must be heard in silence, sitting on the floor in front of it in a reverent posture.
The bani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is all in the spiritual key. It is poetry of pure devotion, lyrical rather than philosophical, moral rather than cerebral. It prescribes no social code, yet Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the basis of Sikh practice as well as of Sikh devotion. It is the living source of authority, the ultimate guide to the spiritual and moral path pointed by the Gurus. Whatever is in harmony with its tenor will be acceptable; whatever not rejectible. Guidance is sought from it on doctrine, on the tenets of the faith.
The Sikh Panth as a whole will resort to Sri Guru Granth Sahib as will the individual in moments of perplexity or crisis. Whether or not to attack Kasur, the Pathan stronghold, to have the abducted wife of a helpless Brahman who had come to the Akal Takht to appeal to the Sikhs for help, was the question before them in the year 1763. Finally, as records the Prachin Panth Prakash, it was decided to obtain the counsel of the Guru Granth Sahib. Instance comes to mind also of the early days of the Gurdwara movement aiming to reform the ritual in Sikh places of worship. On 12 October 1920, a meeting of Sikh backward castes, sponsored by the faculty and students of the Khalsa College at Amritsar, was held in the Jallianvala Bagh_. The following morning some of them were taken to the Golden Temple, but the granthis in control refused to accept karah. prasad or sacrament they had brought as an offering and to say the ardas on their behalf. There was an outburst of protest against this discrimination towards the so-called low-caste Sikhs, totally contrary to the Sikh teaching. A compromise was at last reached and it was decided that the Guru's direction be sought.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib was, as is the custom, opened at random and the first verse on the page to be read was
He receives the lowly into grace, And puts them in the path of righteous service.
The Guru's verdict was clearly in favour of those whom the granthis had refused to accept as full members of the panth. This was triumph for reformist Sikhs. The karah prasad brought was accepted and distributed among the sangat.
Singly or in groups, in their homes or in congregations in their places of worship, Sikhs conclude their morning and evening prayer, or prayer said at any other time as part of personal piety or of a ceremony, with a supplication called ardas. Ardas is followed by the recitation of these verses
Agya bhai Akal ki tabhi chalayo Panth, Sabh sikkhan kau hukam hai Guns manio Granth. Guru Granth ji manio pragat Guran ki dehi, Jo Prabhu ko milibo chahai khoj sabad main lehi. By the command of the Timeless Creator was the Panth promulgated; All Sikhs are hereby charged to own the Granth as their Guru. Know the Guru Granth to be the person visible of the Gurus. They who would seek to meet the Lord In the Word as manifested in the Book shall they discover him.
This is the status, the significance of the Holy Book in the Sikh way of life.
In the Vedic hymns and chants lie the beginnings of the religious poetry of mankind. The Vedas are the oldest texts in the world. They are the repositories of ancient wisdom and of the earliest meditations of the human mind. The hymns of the Rig Veda will be as old as 1500-1000 B.C. The Sam Veda, another text of the same circuit, is a collection of metrical hymns. The ancient Vedic scholars developed a branch of Vedic learning called chhants, i.e. prosody, or science of metrical composition. Much of the old religious literature is in verse which is easier to memorize and recite. The tradition of memorizing holy texts was sedulously cultivated in ancient India. Like the Vedic priests, the jain and Buddhist monk poets composed a great deal of religious poetry.
Those versed in Sanskrit poetics made classifications of poetry from various standpoints. Dandin made a three-fold division into prose (gadya), verse (padya) and mixture of prose and verse (mishra). Experts in Sanskrit poetics held that versification was not a necessary condition of poetry. An epic poem mahakavya in the style of muktaka, a single verse formation, is an example of padya. A narrative tale katha constitutes mishra variety. Ornate poetry was kavya cultivated in Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and Apabhrainsa
Several new trends appeared in the devotional literature of the saint poets of a later period. These new forms of poesy and poetical composition gained vogue in medieval India. This religious poetry was composed in a variety of languages- Apabhrainsa Brajabhasha, Avadhi, Bengali, Gujarih, Marathi, Punjabi, etc. Its creators were poets and devotees rather than professionals trained in literary niceties of Sanskrit composition, Their main concern was to sing the glory of God and to strengthen moral qualities. Occasionally, they attacked current social and religious abuses. Their verse was addressed to the learned as well as to the illiterate, to men as well as to women. Their language was easily understood by all sections of the population.
The saints and the bhaktas threw off the shackles o£ pingal of formal versification. They broke out into folk moulds of poetry giving them a musical turn. They chanted and sang their hymns or verses, and the community chanted, sang and danced with them. In their spontaneous outbursts, they conformed to the needs of the musical tunes, both classical and desi, of folk origin, wherein, while singing, lapse of a few matras (syllables, accented and unaccented) could he easily malls up, and it was not absolutely necessary strictly to observe the matras of various types of chhands of the Indian pingal. The poetry of the bhakti period was non-conformist, liberal and free. This was the poetry of sadhus and fakirs who had had no scholarly training, butwho had the spiritual and mystical experience. They had seen and realized the Supreme, were free and frank, truthful and blessed.
The divine poets of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were conscious of their mission as well as of their capacity and dignity as poets. Kabir says that people might regard his outpourings as songs only, but they are in reality meditations on the Supreme Being (GGS, 345). Guru Nanak calls himself a dhadi (minstrel) and shair, poet (GGS, 150, 660). Guru Aryan and the other Gurus, proclaim that they were called upon by the Creator Himself to proclaim their divine command and inspiration. Guru Aryan had proclaimed that the bani had originated in the transcendent reahns, dhur ki bani. (GGS, 628) Guru Nanak believed (Japu, 38) that the shabad (divine word) was coined in the mint of the mind filled with the nectar of continence, realization, knowledge, fear and love of the Lord. Ravidas proclaimed himself to be a liberated soul and dweller of the city of joy (GGS, 345). Namdev spoke from the pedestal where it was impossible to discriminate between Allah and Rama or between the Hindu temple and the mosque. These saint-poets spoke naturally and spontaneously. 'Their singing and chanting gave the finishing to their songs. Adherence to the rules of prosody was not their forte, though they quite often composed also within the framework of rules and established forms.
Many aspects of the Indian tradition of poetry, dhuni, riti alankar, rasa, channd, etc., are followed in the hymns of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, yet no pad (stanza) or hymn exactly fits into any traditional mould or conforms to the set pattern of prosodic matra (syllables ) of the Indian pingal. While. the Indian milieu dominates the spiritual and emotinal sentiment o£ these holy singers, their poetry was the spontaneous outflow of their inspiration; and they obviously did not toil over composition. Two considerations chiefly weighedwith them first, setting of the hymn in a given raga (musical measure) and, secondly, its setting in a pada (stanza) form; with the burden of the song lying in the couplet of rahau (pause). The slokas they composed are mostly couplets or groups of couplets. Determination of the raga affected all other poetic: features such as the scheme of alankars, rasa, atmosphere, diction, imagery. In a hymn, as in the Indian scheme of ragas, each one has its peculiar rasa (mood), atmosphere, and time or season of singing. Dupada (two-stanza poems, tipada (threestanza poem), chaupada (four-stanza poem), as(padi (eight-stanza poem), solaha (sixteenstanza poem), chhants, lyrics, longer and shorter poems such as the Japu, vars, Oankar Sidhgosti, Sukhmani Error! Reference source not found.. are all stanzaic: arrangements. The stanzas in the Guru Granth Sahib vary in length from one line compositions to eight line structures. Lines in stanzas are, or can be, measured by the Indian system of matras (syllables) without. their conforming exactly to any of the fixed metric chhands, gan, or vamik (word system) chhands being mainly ruled out in ease of the hymns in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The length of a line or the number of the feet in it varies front a short utterance to a long undulating one, with a corresponding number of pauses, etc. Rhyme is invariably there. Alliteration and internal rhymes are often introduced.
The peculiar thematic or emotional nature of some o£ the extraordinary hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib, mostly cast in the moulds of folk-poetry of the Punjab, is pointed out in the superimposition or the caption which. besides, indicates the raga and the pitch (ghar), in which the hymn is to be sung. Such peculiar descriptions in the titles are as follows :
(1) arati, anjali, sohila, swayyas, jape, thittin patty, phunhe, bavan-akhari, and baramaha are the titles which indicate the form of poetry ; patty, bavan-akhari and oankar are in the form of acrostics, propounding philosopical and religions themes and doctrines; thittin stn(] baramaha are built around the lunar days and the twelve solar months; s wayyas are encomiums offered to the Gurus.
(2) alahnian (dirges), sadd, karhale, gatha, ghorian, chhant, dakhne, vat, ruttin and vat sat (week days) are the moulds of the folk-poetry of Punjab.
In the common life of the country, alahnian are sung to mourn a death, ghorian are sung to celebrate a wedding; similarly chhants are recited at the time of marriage; sadd (call) is a dirge, pahare quarters of day or night, rutdn (seasons), varsat (weekdays), dinrain (day and night) are the compositions stressing the importance of time which should be utilized in remembrance of the Lord.
All the above titles of category 1 and 2 are stanzaic poems. These moulds, however, are not, the innovations of the Gurus.
Vedic hymns (suktas) are padas with varying number of padas (stanzas) called mantras in each ; later, with the rise of the bhakti movement., padas in praise of Visnu, called the vishanpadas were most common . in the developing Indian vernaculars. The bavanakkhari, patty or acrostic forms are also traditional forms; baramaha was common mould for singing of the pangs of separation in love in the various Indian languages, including Sanskrit. Kalidas has composed a poem on the season : under varying names, poems of the themes and spirit of alahnian, sadd and ghorian have been sung in all medieval literatures of India. Sloka has been the most popular mould in Sanskrit and Hindi literatures. It is a couplet,piece with a serious philosophical theme. So padas (hymns based on pad or stanzaic arrangement) and sloka, the chief poetic forms used in the Guru Granth Sahib have descended from the preceding Indian religious literature.
A brief description of some of the poetic forms occurring in the Guru Granth Sahib is given below. Each raga of Sri Guru Granth Sahib- there are thirty-one ragas totally is arranged in a set order. First will come padas or the prosodic forms followed by longer snatches such as as tpadis. Then will come chhants and ears. And last of all, the compositions of bhaktas
ASPADIS Astpadis, eight liners. Hymns in Sri Guru Granth Sahib comprising eight (as t) lines, besides the line containing pause of rahau. This is the standard form, but the number of lines in an astpadi can vary. Astpadis occur in all the different ragas in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Totally, there are 305 of them counted in the entire text.
CHAUPADA is a four-stanza hymn, besides the line of rahau u or pause. With the exception of Bairari Tukhari, Kalian and Jaijaivanti, they occur in all ragas of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Gaup SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB 252 SRI GURO HITKARNI SINGH SABHA contains 210 of them, Asa 159 and Sorathi 81.
CH HAKA. A sixes It signifies a bunch of six padas. CHHEPADA is a hymn containing, besides the verse of rahau (pause), six padas or stanzas, They are few in numbers and occur in ragas Gauri, Asa, Vadhans, Suhi, rAMKALI Maru and Bhairau.
GHAUTUKA. A hymn containing padas of four lines each. Chautukas are interspersed in many different ragas of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, DAKHNA. A salok in Lahndi dialect, western Punjabi, employed commonly in Guru Arjan's hymns.
DUPADA. A hymn containing, besides tile rahau lines, two stanzas.
PANJPADA A panjpada is a hymn of five stanzas excluding the refrain (rahau).
PAURI lit. ladder, is stanza adopted for vars, balladic poetry. Pauris of these vacs generally consist of 6 to 8 lines each. Stanzas of japuji are also traditionally called pauris
SHABAD represents `Voice of the Master', or word revealed. All forms of verse included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, padas, asfpadis and chhants are shabads.
SALOK. A two-liner classical prosodic form allowing a variety of metrical arrangement, Though a salok may not unravel new strands of thought, it may well enlarge upon different aspects of an idea investing it with the freshness o£ an independent poem,
SOLAHA. A sixteen-stanza hymn. Raga Mara alone contains 62 Solahas 22 by Guru Nanak, 24 by Guru Amar Das, 2 by Guru Ram Das and 14 by Guru Arjan.
TIPADA A hymn made up of 3 padas or stanzas. TUK does not exist as a title or sub-title in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Any single line of the bani is a tuk and is close to what is known as sutra or aphorism in Sanskrit or in the orthodox system of philosophy.
VAR. An old form of Punjabi narrative poetry highlighting the exploits and acts of heroism and chivalry, On the psychological plane the struggle is between the good and evil propensities in man.