Guru Arjan dictating to Bhai Gurdas – the Immortal Gurbani compiled in the Guru Granth Sahib .
Prithia was composing his own religious hymns which he described as compositions of Guru Nanak and his successors. The ignorant people did not have sufficient intelligence to discriminate. Guru Arjan, therefore, felt the need to lay down rules to guide his followers in their daily religious duties. He made plans for the compilation of Adi Granth. For that purpose he chose a secluded spot outside the city which is now called Ramsar. He got a tank excavated there. Tents were erected for the accommodation. Guru Arjan took abode near the tank and dictated hymns to Bhai Gurdas who wrote them down. The verses were arranged according to Rags or musical measures. The hymns of the first Guru came first as Mohalla 1 (read as Mohalla pehla), then those of the second Guru- Mohalla II (read as Mohalla Duja) and so on. After the Bani of the Gurus, came the verses of the Bhagats or the Indian saints. The hymns of the Adi Granth were thus set according to thirty-one Indian Classical Ragas.
When the composition was completed, the Guru then wrote Mandawni as a conclusion and affixed his seal thereto:
“Three things have been put into the vessel- truth, patience, and meditation.
The ambrosial Name of God, the support of all, hath also been put therein.
He who eateth and digesteth it, shall be saved.
This provision should never be abandoned; ever clasp it to your hearts.
By remembering God’s feet, we cross the world of Maya; Nanak, everything is extension of God.”
(Mundawni Mohalla 5, p-1429)
After this the Guru uttered the following Slok:
“I can’t appreciate what Thou didst for me, and yet Thou madest me worthy. I am virtueless;
I possess no merit, and yet Thou Thyself hast compassion on me.
Thou showest compassion and kindness unto me; I have found true Guru, the friend.
Nanak, If I obtain the Name, I shall live, and my body and soul shall be refreshed.”
(Slok Mohalla 5, p-1429)
A Muslim might never like to read a hymn of a Hindu saint, and by the same token a Hindu might not like to hear the religious verse of a Muslim saint. The Hindus did not allow a saint, born in low caste family, to enter the Hindu temple. This was the religious fanaticism prevailing at that time. Guru Arjan, therefore, created an ocean in which all rivers and rivulets could fall and assume the appearance of the ocean itself. The composition of such an ocean was completed on Bhadon Vadi 1, Sambat 1661 (1604 A.D.) and was called Adi Granth. It was by no means a bible for the Sikhs alone, but it is universal in character. It contained no life story of the Gurus but only the Universal Truth, each and every word of which was dedicated to the Glory of the Almighty God only.
The composition of Adi Granth consisted of the hymns of the first five Gurus, Hindu saints (Brahmans as well as Sudras) and Muslim Sufis. These saints were: Beni, Bhikhan, Dhanna, Farid, Jai Dev, Kabir, Nam Dev, Parmanand, Pipa, Ramanand, Ravidas, Sain, Sadhna, Sur Das and Trilochan. It also contained the hymns of Minstrels (Bhats and Bards). These minstrels were all Brahmans and then became Sikhs of the Guru, they were- Kal, Jalap, Bhika, Sal, Bhal, Nal, Bal, Gyand, Mathura, Kirat and Harbans. It also consisted of Var of Satta and Balwand, Ramkali Sad by Sundar and five Sabads of Mardana, the minstrel of Guru Nanak.
On Bhadon Sudi first, Sambat 1661 (1604 A.D.), Adi Granth was installed in the Hari Mandar and Bhai Buddha was appointed as the first Granthi (priest).
Prithia addressed the Qazis and the Pandits who had enmity towards the Guru on account of his compilation of Adi Granth and he induced them to make a complaint to the Emperor that Guru Arjan had compiled a Granth in which Muslim and Hindu prophets were reviled. Upon this the Emperor sent for the Guru and the Granth. The Guru did not go himself but sent Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas to read to the Emperor from the Granth. Various stanzas (Sabads) were read to him and Emperor Akbar was very much pleased and said,”Except love and devotion to God, I find neither praise nor blame of any one in the Granth. It is a volume worthy of reverence.” Guru’s slanderers and enemies were stunned. Akbar gave Siropas (dresse s of honor) to Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas, and promised to visit the Guru on his way back from Lahore.
Guru Arjan – a painting from the Lahore Museum (courtesy F. Aijazzudin).
Guru Arjan dressed in an embroidered orange ‘jama’ reads the Adi Granth, compiled during his reign from the teachings of Guru Nanak and the other Gurus. A naked grey yogi sits on his left, listening.
As promised Akbar visited the Guru on his return journey to Delhi. He was charmed and fascinated with Guru’s saintly bearing. The Emperor partook of the Guru’s hospitality and prayed that he be allowed to make contributions to secure spiritual and temporal welfare and happiness. The Guru replied,”The welfare and happiness of monarchs depend on cherishing their subjects and doing justice.” The Guru then stated that there was a severe famine in the land and cultivators required His Majesty’s consideration. The Emperor remitted the revenue of the Punjab for that year. The Guru’s fame and influence had largely increased owing to the respect the Emperor had shown to him. This became a cause of greater agony to Prithia.