Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji – The Sikh holy scripture, which has words written by the Sikh Gurus personally.
The above Saroop is a padd-chhed Guru Granth Sahib (split words) and is used to learn from. The authentic originals are written in larivaar (continuous writing).
The ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’ is the central religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign and eternal living Guru following the lineage of the ten human Gurus of the religion. The Adi Granth, the first rendition, was compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan (1563–1606).
The current form of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was finalised by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru. Guru Gobind Singh, who did not add any of his own Gurbani; however, he added all 115 of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Gurbani to the Adi Granth, and affirmed the text as his successor. This second rendition became known as Guru Granth Sahib. After Guru Gobind Singh re-joined with God, Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh prepared many copies of the work for distribution.
Compilation of Adi Granth
Guru Arjan wanted to establish the credibility of the Sikh religion as a casteless and secular society. In Sikhism worship consisted of singing the hymns of Gurus (also known as Gurbani). Guru Arjan wished to lay down the exact Gurbani to be sung and performed by the Sikhs. This would also increase consistency and hinder divergent tenets.
- Compilation Of The Adi GranthThe most valuable achievement of Guru Arjan was the compilation of the scriptures of the Sikh Guru’s into the Adi Granth, now popularly called Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Gurbani and Bhagatbani
The major principle of compilation was that verses which praised God and denounced superstition and caste were to be included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. As regards the compositions of Bhagats, generally the same principle was observed. Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji included the verses of those who believed in the unity of God and brotherhood of man.
The Sri Granth Sahib was to be broad based. It could contain with itself principles of monotheism and the Bhakti cult. No puristic or linguistic tests were applied to the compositions. Foreign words, coined words and current words were put into this literary dish. In selecting the musical scores-Ragas, the Guru employed homely and simple metaphors. Generally speaking, hymns of devotion, the glory of God, men’s spiritual efforts and equality of men and women were incorported in the Guru Granth Sahib.
The contents of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, originally called the Adi Granth, contains compositions of the first five Gurus, the ninth Guru, fifteen Bhagats (Jai Dev, Nam Dev, Trilochan, Parmanand, Sadna, Ramanand, Beni, Dhanna, Pipa, Sain, Kabir, Ravidas, Farid, Surday, Bhikhan) and eleven Bhattas (Mathra, Jalap, Harbans, Talya, Salya, Bhal, Kulh Sahar, Nal, Kirat, Gayand, Sadrang).
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji contains 5894 hymns. The number of stanzas according to Pincott is 15575. 974 hymns are written by the first Guru, 62 by the second Guru, 907 by the third, 679 by the fourth, 2218 by the fifth, and 115 by the ninth. Among the remaining 922 hymns of Bhagats, the highest number of hymns (541) is by Kabir.
Music forms the basis of the classification of the hymns. Under each Raag, the hymns are arranged in the following order :
1. Chaupadas-hymns of four verses.
2. Ashtapadas-hymns of eight verses.
3. Long poems.
4. Chhants-Verses of six lines.
5. Short poems.
6. Vars consisting of two or more Saloks and a Pauri.
7. Poems of Bhagats in the same order.
The hymns are further classified according to the musical clef (Ghar) in which each is to be sung. Although according to the index of Ragas in Raag Mala, the total number of main Ragas is 84, the Guru has used 31 main Raags with combinations forming a total of 60. So the Granth is arranged firstly according to the Raga, secondly, according to the nature or metre of the poem, thirdly authorship, and fourthly the clef. The ordinary edition of Adi Granth Sahib contains 1430 Ang’s as under;
1. Japji – Ang 1-7.
2. Shabad Kirtan (musical hymns) – Ang 8-1351.
3. Slok Sanskriti – Ang 1352-1359.
4. Gatha – Ang 1359-1361.
5. Funhe – Ang 136l-1362.
6. Chaubole – Ang 1363-1364.
7. Sloks of Kabir and Farid – Ang 1364-1384.
8. Swayyas of the Gurus and the Bhattas – Ang 1384-1408.
9. Sloks of the Gurus – Ang 1409-1429.
10. Raag Mala, index of musical measures – Ang 1429-1430.
A Raga is a complex structure of musical melody used in Sikh classical music. It has set rules of how to build a melody which can ignite a certain mood in the reciter as well as the listener. In the Guru Granth Sahib each Raga is a chapter or a section by itself. The main list of 31 Ragas with a direct relationship to human moods is given below.
1. Soohi – Joy and separation;
2. Bilaaval – Happiness;
3. Gaund – Strangeness, surprise, beauty;
4. Sri Raag – Satisfaction and balance;
5. Maajh – Loss, beautification;
6. Gauri – Seriousness;
7. Aasa – Making effort;
8. Gujri – Satisfaction, softness of heart, sadness;
9. Devgandhari – No specific feeling but the Raag has a softness;
10. Bihaagra – Beautification;
11. Sorath – Motivation;
12. Dhanasari – Inspiration, motivation;
13. Jaitsri – Softness, satisfaction, sadness;
14. Todi – This being a flexible Raag it is apt for communicating many feelings;
15. Bhairaagi – Sadness, (The Gurus have, however, used it for the message of Bhakti);
16. Tilang – Favourite Raag of muslims. It denotes feeling of beautification and yearning;
17. Raamkali – Calmness;
18. Nat Narayan – Happiness;
19. Maali Gaura – Happiness;
20. Maaru – Giving up of cowardice;
21. Tukhari – Beautification;
22. Kedara – Love and beautification;
23. Bhairo – Seriousness, brings stability of mind;
24. Basant – Happiness;
25. Sarang – Sadness;
26. Malaar – Separation;
27. Jaijawanti – Viraag or loss;
28. Kalyaan – Bhakti Ras;
29. Vadhans – Vairaag, loss (that is why Alahniya is sung in this Raag when someone passes away);
30. Parbhati – Bhakti and seriousness;
31. Kaanra – Bhakti and seriousness.
Use of all these Ragas takes a person closer to God because all the moods are catered for. Music, as it is, calms the nerves. Balanced music through the classical Ragas makes a comprehensive experience for the devout. Even scientifically it has been proved in lab experiments that plants grow healthier and cattle give more milk when they are ‘fed’ with classical music.
This is when two separate raags are put together to create a new raag. For example, Raag Gauri has 12 variations: one is the original form of Raag Gauri, and the further 11 all contain the main identity and characteristic of Gauri as their foundation and are then influenced by a secondary raag.
Raag and Raagini
Within the content of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, no shabad has the definition “Raagini” in the title – all shabads clearly state “Raag” (raga), and consequently there are not 31 raags and 29 raaginis in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib as is sometimes claimed, but 60 raags of equal and independent status.
The 60 Raags of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in order of appearance;
3. Gauri Deepki
5. Gauri Poorbi
6. Sri Raag
8. Gauri Guaareri
10. Gauri Dakhani
11. Gauri Chaitee
12. Gauri Bairagan
13. Gauri Poorbi Deepki
14. Gauri Malva
15. Gauri Mala
16. Gauri Maajh
17. Gauri Sorath
19. Aasa Kafi
20. Aasa Asavari
24. Vadhans Dakhani
30. Tilang Kafi
32. Soohi Kafi
33. Soohi Lalit
35. Bilaaval Dakhani
37. Bilaaval Gaund
39. Raamkali Dakhani
40. Nat Narayan
42. Maali Gaura
44. Maaru Kafi
45. Maaru Dakhani
50. Basant Hindol
55. Kalyaan Bhopali
57. Parbhati Bibhas
58. Bibhas Parbhati
59. Parbhati Dakhani
Characteristics Of The Guru Granth Sahib
At the end, Guru Arjan Sahib has summed up the nature of the Granth Sahib in Mundavani; “In this dish are placed three things; Truth, Contentment and Wisdom. These are seasoned with the Name of God which is the basis of all; whoever eats and enjoy it, shall be saved.” Guru Arjan’s aim was to provide a book of universal religion, for everybody, everywhere. He wanted to guide and regenerate all types of people. “It is a thing which you cannot afford to neglect. You must take it to your hearts.”
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is both metaphysics and ethics, the science of reality and the art of union with reality. It gives us a vision of truth, and it opens up new paths for the mind of man. It is a work of divine inspiration, primarily spiritual and incidentally philosophical. It is a collection of devotional poems and prayers. The Gurus accept certain fundamentals laws like Karma, cycle of birth and death, Maya, etc. Guru Arjan incorporated the hymns of some Bhagats who subscribed to the unity of God and the cult of Bhagti. Such hymns enshrine the essence of four centuries (thirteenth to sixteenth) of Indian thought in simple but telling words. Moreover the verses are set to appropriate musical scores.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is an authentic scripture. The compositions of the Sikh Gurus were preserved, and subsequently collected by Guru Arjan. When the original copy (which is now at Kartarpur) could not be obtained. Guru Gobind Singh dictated it to Bhai Mani Singh.
Guru Arjan Sahib who compiled it, installed it with all reverence and devotion at Sri Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar in 1604. He emphasised the importance of this Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in the following shabad (hymn);
The race of man is saved!
God’s word goes to the people, blessing them,
and bestowing immortality on them.
My house is full of the light,
of the song of life to-day!
This is the staff on which the old and the miserable,
the stray and rich shall lean.
In their distress, and obtain solace,
People of God! come, assemble, live in this light
Dissolve this song into your soul.
Rejoice and partake of this immortal feast.
- Importance Of Guru Granth SahibThe Guru Granth Sahib is truely unique among the world’s great scriptures. It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living person. It is also the only scripture of it’s kind which not only contains the works of it’s own religious founders but also writings of people from other faiths.
The Granth contains Gurbani or the Guru’s teaching. It is the Guru incarnate. Guru Gobind Singh installed Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the timeless Guru. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a sort of living Guru in the midst of the Sikhs. Guru means guide or torch bearer. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji gives light and good counsel. Those who are in difficulty or trouble read Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and obtain solace and comfort from its hymns. It is used by the sikhs at the time of birth, marriage and death.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is regarded as the body of the Guru and is kept on a raised platform under a canopy, covered in clean clothes. A Pauri is waved over it when it is read. One must put off one’s shoes, wash the feet and cover the head before taking one’s seat before the Guru. This is a mode of reverence and no idolatory. The service of the Guru is following his instructions and yoking the mind to the Name.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a treasure of divine knowledge and mysticism. Guru Nanak says, “My mind is a temple of love. My body is a robe divine. The sacred nectar flows in the temple. The word is my breath and the song is my blood.” It is therefore in the fitness of things that both Sikhs and non-Sikhs show great respect to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Literature:
Punjabi language is said to have emerged from Apbhransh about 1000 A.D. In the twelfth century, Baba Farid wrote his saloks in Lehndi dialect. During the next three centuries, India was attacked by muslim adventurers and, therefore, heroic verses known as Vars became popular. During this period, the Yogis developed a dialect of their own which was called the saint-language and contained terms of systems of Indian philoso-phy. There was very little literature worth the name before the Sikh Gurus. Moreover, Panjabi was regarded as a language of the vulgar by the aristocratic and Brahamanic sections of Hindu society. The Yogis also wrote in the Sanskrit. Some Sanskrit! saloks, are included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
The Sikh Gurus preached their principles in the language of the masses. The adopted popular forms of poetry such as salok Chhant, Bara Mahan, Thhittin, Bawan Akhari, Var (heroic ballad). The Var is also a song of praise. The Gurus praised the Name and at the same time denounced egoistic pursuits.
The Sikh Gurus enriched Punjabi literature. The crude and poor language became in their hands a treasury of thoughts. They absorbed the diction of saint-language and current philosophies. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji are found words associated with the Vedas, Vedanta, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shakatism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Panjabi was also enriched by words of saint-language which owed its origin to Sanskrit. Persian and Arabic words came through Islam.
The Japji, Asa-di-var of Guru Nanak, the Anand of Guru Amar Das, the Sukhmani of Guru Arjan are rightly esteemed as classics of Panjabi literature. The verses of the ninth Guru are included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Formalism and ritualism of Hinduism and Islam have been condemned. Great spiritual truths have been illustrated through simple and homely similes. The devotional hymns are full of sincerity and emotion. Guru Nanak’s compositions are pithy and pregnant with meaning. He has not only touched spiritual problems but also social and human relationships.
NOTE: The above duly audited text under the heading ‘Sikhism’ is derived from the contents of the Book “The Quintessence of Sikhism” written by Dr. Gobind Singh Mansukhani.