GURU GRANTH SAHIB
( 1708 - For Ever )
CONCEPT OF GURU IN SIKHISM :
In Sikh religion the word ‘Guru’ is not denoted to its usual meaning such as a teacher or an expert or a guide or a human body, but this is composed of two words- GU and RU.
GU means darkness and RU means Light i.e.
Light that dispels all darkness is called
JOT OR DIVINE LIGHT.
The concept of Guru is discussed in detail in chapter I. When Impersonal God manifested His attributes in person, that person was called Guru Nanak :
‘Jot rup har aap gur nanak kahayo.’
(Swayas Bhattan- p.1408)
‘Guru, the Embodiment of Divine Light
has caused Himself to be called Guru Nanak.’
(Translation of the above)
Guru Nanak was thus the embodiment of Divine Light.
‘In the true Guru (Nanak), He installed His Own Spirit,
Through him, God revealed Himself.’
(Asa di Var, pauri 6, page 466)
Guru Nanak seated Bhai Lehna (later called Guru Angad) on his throne, placed five paise and a coco-nut before him, and then bowed to him declaring him as GURU ANGAD. When Guruship was conferred on Guru Angad, he too became the embodiment of Divine Light.
‘Jot uha jugat sai, seh kaya pher paltiae.’
(Sata Balwand, p-966)
‘The Divine Light was the same,
The Way and Mode were the same,
The Master had merely changed the body.’
(Translation of the above)
The most important point to remember here is that the people bowed to Guru Angad ONLY when JOT was installed in him. No body bowed to him before the Guruship, which means the Sikhs did not bow to the human body (of Guru Angad) because human body was not Guru, but bowed to the Divine Light which was passed on to that body by Guru Nanak.
The same process of conferring the Guruship continued till the tenth Guru. Then the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh seated the Adi Granth (the Sikh Holy Scripture- the Divine Word) on the throne of Guru Nanak, placed five paise and a coconut before it and then bowed declaring it as the Last Guru for ever. When the Guruship was passed on, Guru Granth Sahib too became the embodiment of Divine Light. It should, therefore, be remembered very clearly that bowing before Guru Granth Sahib as Sikhs do, is not a bowing before a book, but it is a bowing before the Divine Light or JOT (Guru) which was passed on when the Guruship was conferred upon it. When and how Guru Granth Sahib was invested with Guruship by the tenth Master, please read it in Guru Gobind Singh chapter.
In Sikh religion the word ‘Guru’ has been used in three inter-related aspects : Firstly it is used for God, the All-Pervading Divine Spirit, the Divine Light :
‘The Guru is Beneficent, the Sanctuary of peace,
The Guru is the Light of three worlds1,
He is the Eternal Being,
O Nanak, he who believeth in Him, attaineth peace.’
(Slok Mohalla 1, p-137)
‘The Guru is All-Powerful,
The Guru is the Formless Lord,
The Guru is the Highest, Fathomless and Limitless,
Ineffable is His praise; what can a sayer say?’
(Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-52)
‘The Guru is Infinite God Himself
Nanak, meditate upon such a Guru day and night.’
(Asa Mohalla 5, p-387)
Secondly the word ‘Guru’ is also used for Guru Nanak as he was the Embodiment of God’s Light :
‘Guru Nanak is the perfect Guru,
With the true Guru I meditateth upon God.’
(Ramkali Mohalla 4, p-882)
‘Guru Nanak is the true Guru,
The true Guru taketh me to God.’
(Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1310)
‘The Guru and God are one,
Divine Master pervadeth everywhere.’
(Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-53)
Thirdly the word ‘Guru’ is used for Gurbani, the Divine Word. Since Gurbani came direct from God, and as there is no difference between God and His order (Divine Word), Gurbani is Guru too :
‘The Word is the Guru,
And the Guru is the Word,
The Guru’s Word is full of life-giving Elixir,
Whosoever shall obey, what the Word commandeth,
Verily he shall get salvation.’
(Nat Mohalla 4, p-982)
‘The Word is the True Guru and True Guru is the Word,
And the Word revealeth the path of salvation.’
(Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1310)
DIVINE WORD CAME DIRECT FROM GOD :
Guru Granth Sahib does not narrate the life story of Guru Nanak, but each and every word is dedicated to the Glory of the Almighty God only. It is not a blend or reproduction of earlier religions, but the Divine Word (Gurbani) came to the Gurus direct from God. Guru Nanak stated that it was not his philosophy, it was not his understanding and it was not his thinking, but the Word was coming to him direct from God and he was simply delivering His message to the world. As he confirms :
‘O Lalo2, as comes the Divine Word from Lord to me,
So do I narrate it.’
(Tilang Mohalla 1, p-722)
‘I have said what Thou
commandeth me to say.’
(Wadhans Mohalla 1,p-566)
This was repeatedly confirmed and emphasized by all the
Gurus in their Bani such as :
‘From God springs ambrosial Gurbani
The exalted Guru narrates and preaches the same to world.’
(Majh Mohalla 3, p-125)
‘This Word comes from Him,
Who hath created the World.’
(Slok Mohalla 4, p-306)
‘This Word that hath come from God,
It dispelleth all woes and worries.’
(Sorath Mohalla 5, p-628)
‘I speak but the Will of the Lord,
For, the Lord’s devotee narrateth the Word of the Lord.’
(Sorath Mohalla 5, p-629)
‘Whatever the Lord hath instructed me,
Hear, O my brother.’
(Tilang Mohalla 9, p-727)
The tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh established the same truth that it was God’s Word that was being revealed through the Gurus :
‘Whatever the Lord sayeth to me
I say the same to the world.’
(Guru Gobind Singh)
The Janamsakhi (biography) reveals that Guru Nanak many times said to his minstrel Mardana, “Mardana, start playing the rebec, Gurbani (Divine Word) is coming.” And the Divine Word was then recorded. That Divine Word is GURBANI- Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Granth Sahib was not written by the devotees after the Gurus had gone, but it was dictated and compiled by the Gurus themselves. Thus it is the Authentic Divine Scripture. No body is allowed to change even a comma or a period out of 1430 pages. The seventh Guru’s son, Ram Rai, changed the meaning of only one verse to please the Emperor, Aurangzeb, upon which he was excommunicated for ever by his father (the seventh Guru), thereby establishing the fact that no one could ever change the God’s Word, the Gurbani.
Max Arthur Macauliffe, an English writer who wrote ‘SIKH RELIGION’ ( 6 volumes - 1909), delivered a speech in Punjabi language at Akal Bunga, Amritsar in 1899, the translation of which is :
“ There is another point to the merit of the Sikh religion that the founders of other religions in this world never wrote even one line with their own hands. You might have heard that there was a very famous Greek philosopher called Pythagoras who had many followers, but he never left behind anything written by him from which we could have known about the principles of his sect. After him came the second Greek philosopher named Socrates who was born in 500 B.C. He became a very famous religious leader who claimed that he was receiving Divine instructions from God within himself, which persuaded him to do good and prohibited from doing any evil deeds. But he too never left anything behind written by him which could have shed light on his philosophy and its principles. Whatever we know about him, has only come through the writings of his follower, Plato. Besides there came Mahatma Buddh in India and he never wrote anything with his hands. After that came Christ who did not write anything himself. His teachings are only known through Bible. However the Sikh Gurus acted quite opposite to all these religious leaders that they themselves dictated their message of Truth and compiled Guru Granth Sahib. In that respect the Sikh religion is far ahead than others.”
(Translation Sri Guru Granth Sahib-pothi 1,p-gaga, by Bhai Vir Singh)
GURU GRANTH SAHIB BEGINS UNIQUELY :
In Hindu mythology the word ‘OM’ always meant for God as monotheistic. Then they started interpreting it as more than one God. Guru Nanak put an integer ‘1’ before it and a kar (a semi-circle) after it. Thus it becomes ‘EK-OM-KAR’ and by doing so, he sealed the position for ever meaning ‘There is One and only One God’. Therefore Guru Granth Sahib uniquely begins with integer One (‘1’). The One Absolute is the monotheistic conception of God and is represented by numerical symbol here. One God does not only mean numerically one but Unique without
a second like Him.
Guru Granth Sahib begins with Mool-Mantar or the Preamble of Japji which is the Essence of the whole Guru Granth Sahib :
Ek-Onm-Kar There is But One God
Sat-Nam He is the Eternal Truth
Karta-Purkh Almighty Creator
Nirbhao-Nirvair Unfearful, Without hate and enmity
Akal-Murat Immortal Entity
Ajuni, Saibhang Unborn, Self-Existent
Gurparsad Realized by the Grace of True Guru
The next verse is generally called Sach (True) Mantar :
Jap Meditate upon
Aad Sach Who was True before the Creation
Jugad Sach Who was True in the beginning of
Haibhi Sach Who is True now, and O Nanak
Nanak Hosibhi Who shall be True for ever
Guru Arjan Dev had accomplished a task by authenticating the diverse compositions and prepared the Adi Granth for the benefit of his followers. Since the work had remained where it was left, Guru Gobind Singh included in it the Bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur and put the seal of Finality on it. Subsequently this finalized version of the Adi Granth was invested with the Guruship by Guru Gobind Singh and was called Guru Granth Sahib. Some Sikh scholars still call it ‘Adi Granth’. There is no such thing as ‘Adi Granth’ any more. To call it ‘Adi Granh’ now, is disrespectful to the Guru.
Guru Granth Sahib is the only refuge for a man tossed about in the furious ocean of worldly existence. It helps a person to live by certain directives or moral codes which are necessary for the achievement of salvation.
Man is the epitome of God’s creation. He is the only creature in this cosmic existence who is capable of conscious volition and has the awareness of the Divine. Guru Granth Sahib advocates the excellences and utility of human life. This human body is attained after transmigrating through various lower species suffering untold miseries. Transmigration is a punishment and a curse for a person’s wicked deeds which are compared to chains around the neck, fetters on legs and to hangman’s noose in Sikh Scripture. No researcher, explorer nor any scientist with their accumulated knowledge can bring emancipation of the soul from this continuous cycle of suffering. One cannot find way to salvation through intellectual acrobatics and speculative ventures or ceaseless trance. Sikhism (Guru Granth Sahib) offers annulment from transmigration of the soul through repeating God’s Name in all awareness and by leading truthful life. Human form is, therefore, a blessing and is the opportunity for moral and spiritual progress. When the Gurus and the Bhagtas sang the praises of God, they sang them to the man to encourage him to reach the loftiest peaks of spiritual glory. Therefore, all teachings and exhortations for spiritual enhancement are addressed to man in Guru Granth Sahib. However, man’s material values are listed as false (‘koor’) because they are not permanent. Whatever is not permanent, is considered as false.
“False are kings, false their subjects, false the whole world ;
False are mansions, false palaces, false those who dwell therein ;
False is gold, false sliver, false he who weareth them ;
False husbands, false wives, they pine away and become dust.
Man who is false, loveth what is false, and forgetteth the Creator.
With whom contact friendship? The whole world passeth away.
False is sweetness, false honey, in falsehood shiploads
are drowned -
Nanak humbly asserteth- Except Thee, O God, everything
is thoroughly false.”
(Asa di Var- Slok Mohalla 1, p-468)
Guru Granth Sahib signifies the importance of Naam (Name of God) by identifying it with the Guru. Naam releases man from all his previous sins, sorrows, sufferings and cycle of birth and death. No rituals, no alms, no sacrifices, no fasts and no penances equal Naam.
Guru Granth Sahib initiates a disciple on the path of spiritual progress and guides him at the various stages of his journey to God. It is a ship that steers clear a devotee through the ocean of Maya (Materialism), thus, leading the human soul to its ultimate destination which is the Absolute Bliss.
“The fearful ocean of the world is dangerous and
formidable; it hath no shore or limit,
No boat, no raft, no pole, and no boatman ;
But the true Guru hath a vessel for the terrible ocean,
and ferrieth over him on whom he looketh with favor.”
(Sri Rag Mohalla 1, p-59)
Guru Granth Sahib was written and compiled by the Gurus themselves and thus, is completely authentic and is preserved in its original form. It is the most valuable possession which Sikhs have received from God through Guru Nanak and is held in supreme reverence by them.
Guru Granth Sahib is in poetic form composed in 31 Indian Classical Raagas (musical measures). In addition to 31 Raagas, there are Slokas, Vars and Swaiyias. There are 36 authors whose Bani (Word) is there. It comprises of a total of 5,872 (some say 5,894) Hymns (Sabads or Stanzas) of which 4,956 Hymns belong to Six Sikh Gurus (first five and the ninth). The remaining Sabads belong to 15 Bhagtas or saints (778 Hymns), four devout Sikhs (17 Hymns) and 11 Bhats or Minstrels (121 Swaiyias, some say these are 123 Swaiyias). These 30 saints belonged to from the highest caste Brahmins to the lowest caste Sudras, and Muslims as well as Hindus. Guru Granth Sahib is indeed a Universal Bible in the world which contains Divine Message not only for the Sikhs but for the Humanity.
The 31 Raagas are: Siri Raag, Majh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Dev Gandhari, Bihagra, Wadhans, Sorath, Dhanasri, Jaitsari, Todi, Bairari, Tilang, Suhi, Bilawal, Gond, Ramkali, Nat Narain, Mali Gaura, Maru, Tukhari, Kedara, Bhairav, Basant, Sarang, Malar, Kanra, Kalian, Prabhati and Jaijawanti.
There are 4,956 Sabads belonging to the Sikh Gurus-Guru Nanak Dev (974 Hymns in 19 Raagas); Guru Angad Dev (62 Slokas in Vars); Guru Amar Das (907 Hymns in 17 Raagas); Guru Ram Das (679 Hymns in 30 Raagas); Guru Arjan Dev (2,218 Hymns in 30 Raagas) and Guru Tegh Bahadur (116 Hymns in 15 Raagas).
Fifteen Bhagtas have 778 Hymns -
Bhagat Sheikh Farid 1173-1266 116 Sabad
Bhagat Jai Dev 1201-1273 2
Bhagat Trilochan 1267-1335 4
Bhagat Nam Dev 1270-1350 61
Bhagat Sadhna -
No dates but contemporary of Nam Dev 1
Bhagat Ramanand 1366-1467 1
Bhagat Ravi Das 1378-1529 40
Bhagat Sain 1390-1440 1
Bhagat Kabir 1398-1518 541
Bhagat Dhana 1415-1475 3
Bhagat Pipa 1426-1562 1
Bhagat Surdas 1478-1585 1
Bhagat Bhikhan 1480-1573 2
Bhagat Parmanand 1483-1593 1
Bhagat Beni- No dates but contemporary of 3
Four devout Sikhs have 17 Hymns-Bhai Mardana (3 Hymns), Bhai Balwand Rai (5), Bhai Satta Dum (3) and Baba Sundar (6).
Eleven Bhats or Bards have 121 Swaiyias (some say 123 swaiyias)-Bhat Kal Sahar (54 Swaiyias), Bhat Gayand (13), Bhat Bhikha (2), Bhat Kirat(8), Bhat Mathura (12, some say 14), Bhat Jalap (5), Bhat Salh (3), Bhat Bhalh (1), Bhat Balh (5), Bhat Harbans (2) and Bhat Nalh (16).
There are also some hymns in Guru Granth Sahib outside these 31 Raagas. They are in the form of vars, slokas, gathas, swaiyias and mundhavani at the end.
Three worlds- one world is whatever is on our plane, second one is whatever is
above us, and the third one is whatever is below us.
2. Lalo was Guru’s disciple.