Guru Granth Sahib

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib ji
Illuminated Guru Granth Sahib folio with nisan (Mul Mantar) of Guru Nanak Dev ji

Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ/Punjabi pronunciation: [ɡʊɾuː ɡɾəntʰᵊ saːhɪb]) is the principal scripture of Sikhism. It was written by the ten gurus of Sikhism and is itself regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign, and eternal living guru.[1] Adi Granth, the first rendition, was compiled by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, added one shloka, dohra mahala 9 ang, 1429 and all 115 hymns of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur.[2] This second rendition came to be known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib.[3] After Guru Gobind Singh's death in 1708, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh prepared many copies of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib for distribution.[4]

The text consists of 1,430 angs (pages) and 6,000 śabads (line compositions),[5][6] which are poetically rendered and set to a rhythmic ancient north Indian classical form of music.[7] The bulk of the scripture is divided into sixty rāgs, with each Granth rāga subdivided according to length and author. The hymns in the scripture are arranged primarily by the rāgs in which they are read.[5] 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.[8]

Guru Granth Sahib was composed by the Sikh Gurus: Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Angad Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Tegh Bahadur and 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, Bhagat Bhikhan, Kabir and Namdev among others, and Muslim Sufi saint Sheikh Farid.[9][10]

The vision in the Guru Granth Sahib is of a society based on divine justice without oppression of any kind.[11][12] While the Granth acknowledges and respects the scriptures of Hinduism and Islam, it does not imply a moral reconciliation with either of these religions.[13] It is installed in a Sikh gurudwara (place where sikhs go to worship); all Sikhs bow or prostrate before it on entering such a gurudwara.[14] The Granth is revered as eternal gurbānī and the spiritual authority in Sikhism.[15]


During the time of Guru Nanak Dev, collections of his holy hymns were compiled and sent to distant Sikh communities for use in morning and evening prayers.[16] 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.[17] 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.[17] 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.[17] Guru Arjan pitched a tent by the side of Ramsar tank in Amritsar and started the task of compiling the holy Granth.[18] He selected hymns for inclusion in the Adi Granth and Bhai Gurdas acted as his scribe.[19]

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.[20] 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.[20]

In 1604, Adi Granth was completed and installed at the Harmandir Sahib, with Baba Buddha as the first granthi, or reader.[21][18] Since communities of Sikh disciples were scattered all over northern India, copies of the holy scripture needed to be made for them.[20] 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,[20] 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.[20] 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[20] 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.[22]

Meaning and role in Sikhism[edit]

Guru Granth Sahib

Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal living guru, the highest religious and spiritual guide for Sikhs and inspire all of humanity; it plays a central role in guiding the Sikh's way of life.[citation needed] Its place in Sikh devotional life is based on two fundamental principles:[clarify] 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.[citation needed] Numerous holy men, aside from the Sikh gurus, are collectively referred to as Bhagats or "devotees."[citation needed]

Elevation of Adi Granth to Guru Granth Sahib[edit]

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,[23] 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 the embodiment of the ten Sikh Gurus.[citation needed]


A composition or Shabad from Guru Granth Sahib

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. [24][25] 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.[26] It is the official script for writing Punjabi in the Indian State of Punjab.

The end part of the handwritten Adi Granth, by Pratap Singh Giani, on the first floor of Harmandir Sahib

Gurus considered divine worship through shabad kirtan as the best means of attaining that state of bliss -vismad- which resulted in communion with God. Guru Granth Sahib is divided by musical settings or ragas[27] into 1,430 pages known as Angs (limbs) in Sikh tradition. It can be categorized into two sections:

  1. Introductory section consisting of the Mool Mantar, Japji and Sohila, composed by Guru Nanak Dev;
  2. 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).

A raga is a complex structure of musical melody used in Indian classical music. It is a set of rules of how to build a melody which can ignite a certain mood in the reciter and listeners. The Sikh Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, is composed in and divided by 60 ragas. Each raga is a chapter or section in the Guru Granth Sahib starting with Asaa raag, and all the hymns produced in Asaa raag are found in this section ordered chronologically by the Guru or other Bhagat that have written hymns in that raga.

Following is the list of all sixty Raags under which Gurbani is written, in order of appearance with page numbers.

  1. Asa — 8
  2. Gujari — 10
  3. Gauri Deepaki — 12
  4. Dhanasri — 13
  5. Gauri Poorabi — 13
  6. Siri — 14
  7. Majh — 94
  8. Gauri Guarairee — 151
  9. Gauri — 151
  10. Gauri Dakhani — 152
  11. Gauri Chaitee — 154
  12. Gauri Bairagan — 156
  13. Gauri Poorabi Deepaki — 157
  14. Gauri Majh — 172
  15. Gauri Malva — 214
  16. Gauri Mala — 214
  17. Gauri Sorath — 330
  18. Asa Kafi — 365
  19. Asavari — 369
  20. Asa Asavari — 409
  21. Devgandhari — 527
  22. Bihagra — 537
  23. Vadhans — 557
  24. Vadhans Dakhani — 580
  25. Sorath — 595
  26. Jaitsri — 696
  27. Todi — 711
  28. Bairarri — 719
  29. Tilang — 721
  30. Tilang Kafi — 726
  31. Suhee — 728
  32. Suhee Kafi — 751
  33. Suhee Lalit — 793
  34. Bilaval — 795
  35. Bilaval Dakhani — 843
  36. Gound — 859
  37. Bilaval Gound — 874
  38. Ramkali — 876
  39. Ramkali Dakhani — 907
  40. Nut Narayan — 975
  41. Nut — 975
  42. Mali Gaura — 984
  43. Maru — 989
  44. Maru Kafi — 1014
  45. Maru Dakhani — 1033
  46. Tukhari — 1107
  47. Kedara — 1118
  48. Bhairo — 1125
  49. Basant — 1168
  50. Basant Hindol — 1170
  51. Sarang — 1197
  52. Malar — 1254
  53. Kanra — 1294
  54. Kaliyan — 1319
  55. Kaliyan Bhopali — 1321
  56. Parbhati Bibhas — 1327
  57. Parbhati — 1327
  58. Parbhati Dakhani — 1344
  59. Bibhas Parbhati — 1347
  60. Jaijavanti — 1352


Map showing birthplace of various contributors of Guru Granth Sahib

Following is a list of contributors whose hymns are present in Guru Granth Sahib:

Sanctity among Sikhs[edit]

The Mool Mantar in the handwriting of Guru Har Rai

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.[28] 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.[29] 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.[30]

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 such as "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.[31]


A Granthi reciting from Guru Granth Sahib

Guru Granth Sahib is always the focal point in any gurudwara, seated 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.[32] 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.[32]


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.[33]

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.[34] 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.


The first CD of the Guru Granth Sahib was released in 2000 by Dr. Kulbir Singh Thind which included a full set of Gurbani fonts which he also developed in 1995. [35] In 2000 a British Sikh named Tarsem Singh developed the 'Sikhi to the Max' Guru Granth Sahib search engine which is currently used throughout Sikh diaspora communities around the globe to provide English language translations within gurdwaras. [36] In 2003 the Panjab Digital Library, in collaboration with the Nanakshahi Trust, began digitizing centuries-old copies and manuscripts of the Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh sacred texts. In 2004 the Sikher project was launched by Jasdeep Singh Khalsa to develop an 'open source' approach to Gurbani translations and app development. [37] [38] In 2017, Khalis Foundation, a Californian based non-profit, relaunched Sikhi to the Max based on the open source philosophy promoted by the Sikher project. [39] Another group, called Shabad OS (Open Source), is working on creating a publicly-logged open source and textually accurate database of various texts of the Sikh Cannon with translations and dictionaries for researchers.[40]


  1. ^ Keene, Michael (2004). Online Worksheets. Nelson Thornes. p. 38. ISBN 0-7487-7159-X.
  2. ^ Partridge, Christopher Hugh (2005). Introduction to World Religions. p. 223.
  3. ^ Kapoor, Sukhbir. Guru Granth Sahib: An Advance Study. Hemkunt Press. p. 139. ISBN 9788170103219.
  4. ^ Pruthi, Raj (2004). Sikhism and Indian Civilization. Discovery Publishing House. p. 188.
  5. ^ a b Christopher Shackle and Arvind Mandair (2005), Teachings of the Sikh Gurus, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415266048, pages xvii-xx
  6. ^ Penney, Sue. Sikhism. Heinemann. p. 14. ISBN 0-435-30470-4.
  7. ^ Anna S. King and JL Brockington (2005), The Intimate Other: Love Divine in Indic Religions, Orient Blackswan, ISBN 978-8125028017, pages 359-361
  8. ^ Harnik Deol, Religion and Nationalism in India. Routledge, 2000. ISBN 0-415-20108-X, 9780415201087. Page 22. "(...) the compositions in the Sikh holy book, Adi Granth, are a melange of various dialects, often coalesced under the generic title of Sant Bhasha."
    The Making of Sikh Scripture by Gurinder Singh Mann. Published by Oxford University Press US, 2001. ISBN 0-19-513024-3, ISBN 978-0-19-513024-9 Page 5. "The language of the hymns recorded in the Adi Granth has been called Sant Bhasha, a kind of lingua franca used by the medieval saint-poets of northern India. But the broad range of contributors to the text produced a complex mix of regional dialects."
    Surindar Singh Kohli, History of Punjabi Literature. Page 48. National Book, 1993. ISBN 81-7116-141-3, ISBN 978-81-7116-141-6. "When we go through the hymns and compositions of the Guru written in Sant Bhasha (saint-language), it appears that some Indian saint of 16th century...."
    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."
    Harjinder Singh, Sikhism. Guru Granth Sahib (GGS). "Guru Granth Sahib Ji also contains hymns which are written in a language known as Sahiskriti, as well as Sant Bhasha; it also contains many Persian and Sanskrit words throughout."
  9. ^ Shapiro, Michael (2002). Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth. Journal of the American Oriental Society. pp. 924, 925.
  10. ^ Parrinder, Geoffrey (1971). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. United States: Hamlyn. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-87196-129-7.
  11. ^ Torkel Brekke (2014), Religion, War, and Ethics: A Sourcebook of Textual Traditions (Editors: Gregory M. Reichberg and Henrik Syse), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521450386, pages 673, 675, 672-686
  12. ^ Christopher Shackle and Arvind Mandair (2005), Teachings of the Sikh Gurus, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415266048, pages xxxiv-xli
  13. ^ William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi (1995), The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1898723134, pages 40, 157
  14. ^ William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi (1995), The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1898723134, page 44
  15. ^ Torkel Brekke (2014), Religion, War, and Ethics: A Sourcebook of Textual Traditions (Editors: Gregory M. Reichberg and Henrik Syse), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521450386, page 675
  16. ^ Singh, Khushwant (1991). A History of the Sikhs: Vol. 1. 1469-1839. Oxford University Press. p. 34. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  17. ^ a b c Singh, Khushwant (1991). A History of the Sikhs: Vol. 1. 1469-1839. Oxford University Press. pp. 54–56, 294–295. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  18. ^ a b "Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People". Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  19. ^ Trumpp, Ernest (2004) [1877]. The Ādi Granth or the Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs. India: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. p. 1xxxi. ISBN 978-81-215-0244-3.
  20. ^ a b c d e f Singh, Khushwant (1991). A History of the Sikhs: Vol. 1. 1469-1839. Oxford University Press. pp. 54–55, 90, 148, 294–296. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  21. ^ William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi (1995), The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 978-1898723134, pages 45-46
  22. ^ McLeod, W. H. (15 October 1990). Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226560854. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  23. ^ Singh, Gurbachan; Sondeep Shankar (1998). The Sikhs : Faith, Philosophy and Folks. Roli & Janssen. p. 55. ISBN 81-7436-037-9.
  24. ^ Hoiberg, Dale; Indu Ramchandani (2000). Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan. p. 207. ISBN 0-85229-760-2.
  25. ^ Gupta, Hari Ram (2000). History of the Sikhs Vol. 1; The Sikh Gurus, 1469-1708. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers (P) Ltd. p. 114. ISBN 81-215-0276-4.
  26. ^ Mann, Gurinder Singh (2001). The making of Sikh Scripture. Oxford University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-19-513024-3.
  27. ^ Brown, Kerry (1999). Sikh Art and Literature. Routledge. p. 200. ISBN 0-415-20288-4.
  28. ^ Bains, K.S. "A tribute to Bal Guru". The Tribune.
  29. ^ Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (22 February 2011). Sikhism: An Introduction. I.B.Tauris. pp. 128–. ISBN 978-0-85773-549-2.
  30. ^ John Stratton Hawley (1993). Studying the Sikhs: Issues for North America. SUNY Press. pp. 164–. ISBN 978-0-7914-1425-5.
  31. ^ Lynne Long (2005). Translation and Religion. Multilingual Matters. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-1-84769-550-5.
  32. ^ a b Fowler, Jeaneane (1997). World Religions:An Introduction for Students. Sussex Academic Press. pp. 354–357. ISBN 1-898723-48-6.
  33. ^ Jolly, Asit (3 April 2004). "Sikh holy book flown to Canada". BBC News. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  34. ^ Eleanor Nesbitt, "Sikhism: a very short introduction", ISBN 0-19-280601-7, Oxford University Press, pp. 40-41
  35. ^ " Still a Hidden High Tech Treasure of Aad Guru Granth Sahib" (PDF). Institute for Understanding Sikhism. July 2006.
  36. ^ "SikhiToTheMax Version 2 Released | MrSikhNet". Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  37. ^ "New Gurbani Search Engine - GurbaniDB - in English, Gurmukhi and 52 other languages | SikhNet". SikhNet. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  38. ^ "Sikher – Open Source Gurbani Searcher | MrSikhNet". Retrieved 20 August 2018.
  39. ^ "Interview: Developer Reveals New SikhiToTheMax Beta Release". Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  40. ^ "A digital representation of Sikh Bani and other Panthic texts with a public logbook of sangat-sourced corrections.: ShabadOS/database". Shabad OS. 9 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

External links[edit]