Guru Granth Sahib
|Sri Guru Granth Sahib|
Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ, Punjabi pronunciation: [ɡʊɾu ɡɾəntʰ sɑhɪb]) is the religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign, and eternal living guru following the lineage of the ten human Sikh gurus of the Sikh religion. Adi Granth, the first rendition, was compiled by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, added one salok, dohra mahala 9 ang, 1429 and all 115 hymns of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur. This second rendition came to be known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib. After Guru Gobind Singh's death in 1708, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh prepared many copies of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji for distribution.
The text consists of 1,430 angs (pages) and 6,000 śabads (line compositions), which are poetically rendered and set to a rhythmic ancient north Indian classical form of music. The bulk of the scripture is divided into thirty-one rāgas, with each Granth rāga subdivided according to length and author. The hymns in the scripture are arranged primarily by the rāgas in which they are read. The Guru Granth Sahib is written in the Gurmukhī script, in various languages, including Lahnda (Western Punjabi), Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Sanskrit, Sindhi, and Persian. Copies in these languages often have the generic title of Sant Bhasha.
Guru Granth Sahib was composed by the Sikh Gurus: Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev added the tunes 9 out 22 Vars and Guru Tegh Bahadur. Guru Gobind Singh added 1 sloakh in mahala 9 Ang 1429. It also contains the traditions and teachings of Indian sants (saints), such as Ravidas, Ramananda, Kabir and Namdev among others, and two Muslim Sufi saints Bhagat Bhikan and: Sheikh Farid.
The vision in the Guru Granth Sahib is of a society based on divine justice without oppression of any kind. While the Granth acknowledges and respects the scriptures of Hinduism and Islam, it does not imply a moral reconciliation with either of these religions. It is installed in a Sikh gurdwara (temple); all Sikhs bow or prostrate before it on entering such a temple. The Granth is revered as eternal gurbānī and the spiritual authority in Sikhism.
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During the guruship of Guru Nanak Dev, collections of his holy hymns were compiled and sent to distant Sikh communities for use in morning and evening prayers. His successor Guru Angad Dev began collecting his predecessor's writings. This tradition was continued by the third and fifth gurus as well. When the fifth guru Guru Arjan Dev was collecting religious writings of his predecessor, he discovered that pretenders to the guruship were releasing what he considered as forged anthologies of writings of the previous guru and including their own writings with them. In order to prevent spurious scriptures from gaining legitimacy, Guru Arjan Dev began compiling a sacred scripture for the Sikh community.
He finished collecting the religious writings of Guru Ram Das, his immediate predecessor, and convinced Mohan, the son of Guru Amar Das, to give him the collection of the religious writings of the first three gurus. In addition, he sent disciples to go across the country to find and bring back any previously unknown religious writings of theirs. He also invited members of other religions and contemporary religious writers to submit writings for possible inclusion. Guru Arjan pitched a tent by the side of Ramsar tank in Amritsar and started the task of compiling the holy Granth. He selected hymns for inclusion in the Adi Granth and Bhai Gurdas acted as his scribe.
While the holy hymns and verses were being put together Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, received a report that the Adi Granth contained passages vilifying Islam. Therefore, while travelling north, he stopped en route and asked to inspect it. Baba Buddha and Bhai Gurdas brought him a copy of the Adi Granth as it existed then. After choosing three random passages to be read, Akbar decided that this report had been false.
In 1604, Adi Granth was completed and installed at the Harmandir Sahib, with Baba Buddha as the first granthi, or reader. Since communities of Sikh disciples were scattered all over northern India, copies of the holy scripture needed to be made for them. The sixth guru added the tunes of 9 out of 22 Vars. Seventh and eighth guru did not have writings of their own added to the holy scripture; however, the ninth guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, did. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, included writings of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur in the Guru Granth Sahib, and included 1 salokh in mahala 9 Ang 1429.
In 1704 at Damdama Sahib, during a one-year respite from the heavy fighting with Aurangzeb which the Khalsa was engaged in at the time, Guru Gobind Singh and Bhai Mani Singh added the religious compositions of Guru Tegh Bahadur to Adi Granth to create a definitive compilation. Religious verses of Guru Gobind Singh were not included in Guru Granth Sahib, but he added 1 sloak in mahala 9 Ang 1429. His banis are found in the Sri Dasam Granth, they are part in the daily prayers of Sikhs During this period, Bhai Mani Singh also collected Guru Gobind Singh's religious writings, as well as his court poems, and included them in a secondary religious volume, today known as the Dasam Granth Sahib.
Meaning and role in Sikhism
Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal living guru, the highest religious and spiritual guide for Sikhs and inspires all of humanity; it plays a central role in guiding the Sikh's way of life. Its place in Sikh devotional life is based on two fundamental principles: on the "Gurbani" (the word of Guru/God) which was received by the Sikh gurus in their divine consciousness from God and revealed to mankind. The Guru Granth Sahib answers all questions regarding religion and that morality can be discovered within it. The word is the guru and the guru is the word. Thus, in Sikh theology, the revealed divine word was written by past gurus. Numerous holy men, aside from the Sikh gurus, are collectively referred to as Bhagats or "devotees."
Elevation of Adi Granth to Guru Granth Sahib
In 1708 Guru Gobind Singh conferred the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" upon the Adi Granth. The event was recorded in a Bhatt Vahi (a bard's scroll) by an eyewitness, Narbud Singh, who was a bard at the Rajput rulers' court associated with gurus. A variety of other documents also attest to this proclamation by the tenth guru. Thus, despite some aberrations, Sikhs since then have accepted Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture, as their eternal-living guru, as embodiment of the ten Sikh gurus.
The entire Guru Granth Sahib is written in the Gurmukhi script, which was standardized by Guru Angad Dev in the 16th century. According to Sikh tradition and the Mahman Prakash, an early Sikh manuscript, Guru Angad Dev had taught and spread the Gurmukhi script at the suggestion of Guru Nanak Dev which has invented the Gurmukhi script.  The word Gurmukhī translates to "from the mouth of the guru". It descended from the Laṇḍā scripts and was used from the outset for compiling Sikh scriptures. The Sikhs assign a high degree of sanctity to the Gurmukhī script. It is the official script for writing Punjabi in the Indian State of Punjab.
Gurus considered divine worship through shabad kirtan as the best means of attaining that state of bliss -vismad- which resulted in communion with the God. Guru Granth Sahib is divided by musical settings or ragas into 1,430 pages known as Angs (limbs) in Sikh tradition. It can be categorized into two sections:
- Introductory section consisting of the Mool Mantar, Japji and Sohila, composed by Guru Nanak Dev;
- Compositions of Sikh gurus, followed by those of the bhagats who know only God, collected according to the chronology of ragas or musical settings. (see below).
The word raga refers to the "color" and, more specifically, the emotion or mood produced by a combination or sequence of pitches. A raga is composed of a series of melodic motifs, based upon a definite scale or mode of the seven Swara psalmizations, that provide a basic structure around which the musician performs. Some ragas may be associated with times of the day and year. There are 31 main ragas in the Sikh system, divided into 14 ragas and 17 raginis (minor or less definite ragas), 31 mishrat ragas in 17 taala. Within the raga division, the songs are arranged in order of the Sikh gurus and Sikh bhagats with whom they are associated.
The ragas are, in order: Sri, Manjh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Devagandhari, Bihagara, Wadahans, Sorath, Dhanasri, Jaitsri, Todi, Bairari, Tilang, Suhi, Bilaval, Gond (Gaund), Ramkali, Nut-Narayan, Mali-Gaura, Maru, Tukhari, Kedara, Bhairav (Bhairo), Basant, Sarang, Malar, Kanra, Kalyan, Prabhati and Jaijawanti. In addition there are 22 compositions of Vars (traditional ballads). Nine of these have specific tunes, and the rest can be sung to any tune.
Following is a list of contributors whose hymns are present in Guru Granth Sahib:
Select revered Saints
- Bhagat Kabir
- Bhagat Ravidas
- Bhagat Namdev
- Bhagat Beni
- Bhagat Bhikhan
- Bhagat Dhanna
- Bhagat Jayadeva
- Bhagat Parmanand
- Bhagat Pipa
- Bhagat Sadhana
- Bhagat Sain
- Bhagat Trilochan
- Baba Sundar ji
- Bhai Mardana
- Fariduddin Ganjshakar
- Balvand Rai
Sanctity among Sikhs
No one can change or alter any of the writings of the Sikh gurus written in the Guru Granth Sahib. This includes sentences, words, structure, grammar, and meanings. Following the example of the gurus themselves, Sikhs observe total sanctity of the holy text of Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Har Rai, for example, disowned one of his sons, Ram Rai, because he had attempted to alter the wording of a hymn by Guru Nanak Dev. Guru Har Rai had sent Ram Rai to Delhi in order to explain Gurbani to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. To please the Emperor he altered the wording of a hymn, which was reported to the guru. Displeased with his son, the guru disowned him and forbade his Sikhs to associate with him or his descendants.
A partial English translation of Guru Granth Sahib by Ernest Trumpp was published in 1877. The work was for use by Christian missionaries, and received extremely negative feedback from Sikhs. Max Arthur Macauliffe also partially translated the text for inclusion in his six-volume The Sikh Religion, published by Oxford University Press in 1909. His translations are closer to the Sikhs' own interpretation of the holy scripture, and were received well by them.
The first complete English translation of Guru Granth Sahib, by Gopal Singh, was published in 1960. A revised version published in 1978 removed the obsolete English words like "thee" and "thou". In 1962, an eight-volume translation into English and Punjabi by Manmohan Singh was published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. In the 2000s, a translation by Sant Singh Khalsa (referred to as the "Khalsa Consensus Translation") became popular through its inclusion on major Sikhism-related websites.
Guru Granth Sahib is always the focal point in any gurudwara, being placed in the centre on a raised platform known as a Takht (throne), while the congregation of devotees sits on the floor and bow before the guru as a sign of respect. Guru Granth Sahib is given the greatest respect and honour. Sikhs cover their heads and remove their shoes while in the presence of this sacred scripture, their eternal living guru. Guru Granth Sahib is normally carried on the head and as a sign of respect, never touched with unwashed hands or put on the floor. It is attended with all signs of royalty, with a canopy placed over it. A chaur sahib is waved above the Guru Granth Sahib. Peacock-feather fans were waved over royal or saintly beings as a mark of great spiritual or temporal status; this was later replaced by the modern Chaur sahib.
The Guru Granth Sahib is taken care of by a Granthi, who is responsible for reciting from the sacred hymns and leading Sikh prayers. The Granthi also acts as caretaker for the Guru Granth Sahib, keeping the Guru Granth Sahib covered in clean cloths, known as rumala, to protect from heat, dust, pollution, etc. The Guru Granth Sahib rests on a manji sahib under a rumala until brought out again.
The Gurudwara Ramsar, the official religious body of Sikhs, is responsible for making physical copies of the Guru Granth Sahib. Until 1864, the Gurudwara Ramsar allowed only handwritten copies. Now the basement of its headquarters in Amritsar houses the only printing press authorized to reproduce the Guru Granth Sahib. Since the early 20th century, it has been printed in a standard edition of 1430 Angs. The printers, chosen for their skill and uprightness, adhere to a strict code of conduct.
Misprints, mock-ups, and entire runs and editions, as well as waste with just a single character of the sacred text on it, are incinerated at Goindval. In a process called Agan Bheta, this unused or unpreserved text is burned by itself; no material (such as the typical wood) is added to help "cremate" it, thus making its burning pure and unadulterated. No handwritten copies are ever destroyed.
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Introduction: Guru Granth Sahib. "Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in Gurmukhi script. The language, which is most often Sant Bhasha, is very close to Punjabi. It is well understood all over northern and northwest India and is popular among the wandering holy men. Persian and some local dialects have also been used. Many hymns contain words of different languages and dialects, depending upon the mother tongue of the writer or the language of the region where they were composed."
Nirmal Dass, Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth. SUNY Press, 2000. ISBN 0-7914-4683-2, ISBN 978-0-7914-4683-6. Page 13. "Any attempt at translating songs from the Adi Granth certainly involves working not with one language, but several, along with dialectical differences. The languages used by the saints range from Sanskrit; regional Prakrits; western, eastern and southern Apabhramsa; and Sahiskriti. More particularly, we find sant bhasha, Marathi, Old Hindi, central and Lehndi Panjabi, Sgettland Persian. There are also many dialects deployed, such as Purbi Marwari, Bangru, Dakhni, Malwai, and Awadhi."
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