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Events Gurgaddi Diwas Sri Guru Granth Sahib - October 20


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Gurgaddi Diwas Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji


spnadmin note: This article was written by Bhai Harbans Lal in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of SGGS; therefore, you will read some sentences speaking about the future, i.e., 2008.

The Guru Granth Sahib is a sacred scripture of the world and is the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs. Because it is a scripture suitable of a universal religion, many world class philosophers and holy men consider it a unique treasure and a noble heritage for all humankind. Because, it is the Guru of the Sikhs, its adoration or veneration is an article of faith with the Sikhs. In the year 2004, the world will celebrate the Quad-Centennial of the Granth’s First Compilation. In 2008, the Sikhs will celebrate the Tercentennial of the Canonization of the Granth as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The sacred verses of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are called Gurbani, which means the Guru's word or the song messages enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In Sikhism, the Guru is the 'Wisdom of the Word' and not a human or a book. God revealed the Word through the holy men and women from time to time, and the most recent revelations were entered in the text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. To the Sikhs, any scripture not included in the Guru Granth is unacceptable as the Guru’s word or authority behind their theology, and it is not allowed to be recited, sung, or discussed in Sikh congregations with only exception for the compositions of Guru Gobind Singh, Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal. These were considered to elucidate the Guru Granth verses. Those who explain the scripture or teach the doctrines contained in the scripture are respected as teachers, granthi, missionaries, saints or enlightened souls in the Sikh religion.

The Sikhs regard Sri Guru Granth Sahib as a complete, inviolable and final embodiment of the message for them. There is to be no word beyond the Word. And that's how their last guru, Guru Gobind Singh, spoke to the congregation on October 20, 1708 shortly before his ascension.

"Those who desire to behold the Guru should obey the Granth Sahib. Its contents are the visible body of the Guru."
Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains hymns of 36 composers written in twenty-two languages employing a phonetically perfected Gurmukhi script on 1430 pages in 511,874 words, 1,720,345 characters, and 28,534 lines. It has been preserved in its original format since its last completion by Guru Gobind Singh in 1705.Image Loading

It is well known that religious institutions protect themselves from erosion by enshrining their tenets and doctrines in some tangible form. The best and the most modern form of preserving the doctrinal purity today is the use of printed media and electronic storage. At the time of the Granth’s compilation, the Sikh gurus could make use of only handwritten books, and they used this medium wisely. If available, all of the founders and the followers of great religions would have liked to compile one volume of their scriptures, as the Sikh gurus did, to preserve their scriptures for posterity.

Guru Granth was composed in poetry perhaps to both prevent alterations or adulterations, and to reach out to human heart. According to some writers, “its power is the power of the puissant and winged word, and no exegesis or commentary or translation can ever convey the full beauty of its thought and poetry.” Further, poetry can be left to the culture and the times that follow to best interpret the message.

Thus the Guru Granth incorporates all of the features to place it alongside the world's greatest scriptures. Besides, this is the only scripture which in spite of its interfaith nature was dictated, edited, proof-read, and signed for authenticity by the founders of the faith in their life time. These unique features helped preserve the Sikh religion throughout the numerous onslaughts it endured over the period of five centuries. The Granth proved to be a sufficiently foolproof means for continuously providing safeguard against adulteration and extinction of the Sikh religion for centuries to come.

The fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev first compiled the Guru Granth in I604 in the city of Amritsar. Guru Gobind Singh prepared the second edition, which he completed at Damdama, a town in the State of Punjab in India in 1705. Since then, his authorized version has been transcribed and printed numerous times; it always conforms to the Damdama edition in every respect. More recently the text in its original font is available electronically on many web sites for every one to have free access. In addition to the edition in original Gurmukhi script, the Guru Granth on the web is available in Hindi, Sindhi, and roman English transliterations. Whereas translations in English, French, Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Sindhi and German are already available, those in Thai, Urdu, Hebrew and many Indic languages are in preparation.

The Granth compiled by Guru Arjan contained the hymns of the first five Gurus along with most of the saints and holy men of medieval India and the Far East. He installed this scripture in the Sikhs’central shrine, Hari Mandar, at the City of Golden Temple in 1604. Later, this copy was taken into possession by guru’s rivals who would not wish to share it freely with the mainstream Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh took upon himself to recreate the entire Granth. He dictated to a Sikh scholar, Bhai Mani Singh, all verses he considered revealed including the hymns written after Guru Arjan. It took him nearly five years at Anadpur Sahib and Damdama Sahib to complete this project in 1705. He founded Dandama town to immortalize this occasion.

On October 20, 1708 Guru Gobind Singh gave his final sermon that conferred permanent gurudom on the Damdama version of the Granth. He selected town of Naderh several hundred miles away from Damdama for this event. Since that day, the Granth has come to be known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib contains 5894 hymns. Guru Arjan contributed the largest number of 2216 hymns. Besides the hymns of other Gurus, he also included 937 hymns of fifteen other saints and eleven poet laureates of the Guru’s court whose compositions tallied with the gospel of the Sikh faith. Here, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Brahmin, and the untouchable, all meet in the same congregation of holy souls to create a truly universal scripture for our world.

From the linguistic point of view, Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a treasury of the languages of its times that communicated well with every segment of the society. The language principally employed is the language of the saints, evolved during the medieval period. Based upon the local dialects, it was leavened with expressions from Sanskrit, Prakrit, Persian, Arabic, Bengali and Marathi etc. This language allowed for variations and still enjoyed wide currency in Southeast Asia. Its appeal is found in its directness, energy and resilience. In addition, the Guru designed a phonetically complete gurmukhi font to meet the need of inscribing the multi-linguistic scripture that is also musical.

The poetry of the Granth is in itself a subject worthy of the highest consideration. Music forms the basis of the rhythms and classification of the hymns. They follow a definite metrical system called raags. A raag in Indian classical music means a pattern of melodic notes. This form is not only used to preserve the originality of the composition, as the poetry written in this form is difficult to imitate, but more so to provide the divine experience through the medium of music and the sounds of God’s creation. The total number of ragas is 31. The gurus themselves invented some of those. Under each Raag, the hymns are arranged in different meters as Chaupadas and Ashtapadas; long poems include Chhands, Vars, and Bhagat verses.

Another outstanding feature of the Guru Granth is the rescission and beauty of its prosody. Whilst a great deal of it is cast in traditional verse forms (e.g. shlokas and paudis), and could best be understood in the context of the well-known classical raags, several hymns and songs make use of popular folklore and meters (e.g. alahanis, ghoris, chands, etc.). The inner and integral relationship between music and verse has been maintained with scholarly rectitude and concern. The complete musicalization of thought was accomplished in a scientific and scholarly manner so that it makes for the unusually vigorous yet supple discipline of the Granth's own metrics and notations.

The Guru Granth verses are often sung in a process known as kirtan. In this process true meaning is revealed directly to the Surat (consciousness and awareness) through cosmic vibrations. The body’s energetic vibrations from our voices bond us to the spiritual light of universal intelligence. As we chant the Granth’s verses the universe speaks to us in metaphoric images. The physical body of the singer experiences the essence of each word through the lightening energy in the brain and the calming vibrations in the body, all caused by the sound currents. They keep the mind to stay focused on the Word. They heal the physical body and cleanse inner thoughts. The sound waves of the Gurmat Raags connect the mind, body, and spirit by alignment of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual entities. They implant in the psyche the basis for both spiritual and mental growth. To see a Sikh congregation chant the sacred hymns in unison is to see massed spiritual energy bubble before your eyes. This is how the ordinary words change into the logos and become auspicious.

Reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, known as Gurbani paath, is a sacred rite for every Sikh that permits a connection to the Guru for spiritual guidance. It is more than a simple ritual or a complex scholarly endeavor; intellectual deliberation is engaged to seek wisdom while faith is cultivated in the process to receive the inner light. Reading the rhythmic poetry of Guru Granth is considered by some as healing in itself. Its chant is frequently prescribed to patients for relief of their symptoms and to reduce illnesses. It seems to facilitate understanding of pain and pleasure by “mindfulness” or “being in the moment”.

In mystic literature of Guru Granth the appeal of the numinous becomes ineffable, if not inexplicable. And yet the great Sikh scripture is not a knot of metaphysical riddles and abstract theorizing. For the most part it employs the idiom of the common people, and draws its imagery and metaphors from the home, the street and the work place. The hymns of the Guru Granth show an admirable use of the current figures of speech apart from their metrical richness and sweetness. Imagery was taken from everyday life and common occurrence to simplify subtle thoughts and profound concepts. The Gurus were keen lovers of nature and as such, have written glowing descriptions of panoramic environmental beauty, changes in the times of day, and the changes of seasons to inculcate love for the One Creator. Thus they made Guru Granth poetry an extraordinary breed of divinity, mysticism, immediacy, concreteness and urgency with which it touches the human heart.

One of the greatest glories of the Guru Granth is its all-embracing character. It is a scripture completely free from bias, animus and controversy. Indeed, the uniqueness of the Granth in this respect is all the more astonishing when we think of the obscurantism, factionalism and religious fanaticism of the periods in which it was composed. They were all counterbalanced by inclusion of the songs and verses of a wide diversity of holy men, saints, savants and bards. Of course, their hymns and couplets rendered in their own language and idiom were so dovetailed as to find a complete correspondence with themes or motifs in the compositions of the Sikh Gurus.

The Guru Granth, then, is unique in that it formed the first interfaith and still universal scripture. It is indeed a magnificent compendium of the religious, mystic and metaphysical poetry written or recited between the I2th and 17th centuries in different parts of the Mid-Eastern and Far-Eastern continents. It is also at the same time a reflection of the sociological, economic and political conditions of the day. The satire on the reactionary rulers, the obscurantist clergy, the fake fakirs and the like is uncompromising and telling. In showing the path to spiritual salvation, the Guru Granth does not ignore the secular and creative life of living beings. In addition to its mysticism and spiritual depth, the poetry of the Gurus throws light on their contemporary situations. It lays bare the corruption and degradation of the society of those times and underscores the need of social reform and economic uplift. Guru Granth verses advocate a spiritual soul for their otherwise inhumane administration of the then rulers.

Obviously, the idea of Guru Arjan Dev was to celebrate the diversity in all religions and mystic experiences, and, at the same time, establish the fundamental unity of spirituality and faith through the scripture of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In this scripture he founded an integral congress of all minds and souls operating on the same spiritual vibration. He elevated the songs of the saints, the Sufis and the bards to the elevation of the logos to salute the power of the Word whatever form it might take to reveal the glory of the One Reality.

The Sikhs in particular and the religious world in general must be congratulated to be the recipients of the unique scripture of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. We, the Sikhs, must be humble and grateful to be chosen by Guru Gobind Singh who assigned us the task of the keepers of the light of Sri Guru Granth Sahib on this Day of October 20, 1708.

Harbans Lal, PhD., D.Litt (hons)
6415 Amicable Drive, Arlington, TX 76016, USA
Phone: 817-654-0844, Fax: 707-922-7724


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
ਆਤਮਾ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਵਿਚ
ਸਰੀਰ ਪੰਤ ਵਿਚ
ਪਰਚਾ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਦਾ
ਦੀਦਾਰ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਦਾ
ਓਟ ਅਕਾਲ ਕੀ

"The Spirit is in the Guru Granth,
The body in the (Khalsa) Panth,
Understand the Shabad,
Seek the glorious sight of the Khalsa,
Take support from the Immortal (God)."


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Part 1 of 4

Sangat ji These are image files and they have been enlarged as much as the comment screen can take. I recommend that you use the Zoom feature in your View menu in order to make the images larger.


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Jul 10, 2006
A more readable version sent us by Kaur-1 of the article by Dr. Karminder Singh Dhillon ji

Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Parkash & Gurgadee Diharas

By Karminder Singh Dhillon, Ph.D (Boston) Kuala Lumpur.

Gurpurab is the term Sikhs use to celebrate events relating to our Guru. The Gurpurab of the highest significance relates to our present Guru – Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Sikhs celebrate two purabs relating to the Guru Granth Sahib – Pehla Parkash Dihara and Gurgadee Dihara. The Parkash Dihara (literally installation day) refers to the incident when the Pothee Sahib (as the Granth Sahib was called then) was completed by Guru Arjun Dev Ji at Ramsar and installed for the first time at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Baba Budha Ji was installed the first Granthee (minister of the Granth). Guru Arjun Dev paid obeisance (matha tekna) and the Pothee became a permanent feature of Sikh diwans from then on. The Gurgadee Dihara refers to the incident of Guru Gobind Singh re-compiling, at Sabo Ki Talwandee, the Pothee Sahib (by adding the Banee of Guru Teg Bahadur) and installing it at Nader Sahib. The tenth Guru paid obeisance, installed Bhai Mani Singh as the Granthee, and declared that from then on, the Guru of the Sikhs would be in the form of the Shabad within the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

The months of September and October saw Sikhs all over the world celebrate these two Diharas. This article is written in the celebratory mood of these Diharas – particularly Gurgadee Dihara which sees its three hundred and fifth year in 2013 – with a view of providing a brief overview relating to Gurbanee and the Granth Sahib.

Understanding the Structure of GGS.

The Guru Granth Sahib contains 1430 pages of Gurbanee. The Granth is organized into 31 chapters based on 31 Raags . Some of these 31 Raags have sub-raags or misrat (combined) rags which makes the total raags into 48 . The final verse of the Guru Granth Sahib “Sabhaiy Putar Ragan Key Aatharan Dus Vees” GGS page 1430 certifies this. Translated literally “the family of raags herein are eighteen, ten and twenty.” The verse “eighteen, ten and twenty” represents a poetic way of indicating a total of 48 raags since the three counts add up to 48. The banee within each raag is arranged in the order of the Gurus. Guru Nanak’s followed by Guru Angad’s and so on.. The banee of the Gurus is further arranged in this poetic order – shabads, astpadees, chants, and vaars. Then comes the banee of the Bhagats. The Guru Granth Sahib contains the banee of six Gurus – Gurus Nanak, Angad, Amardas, Ramdas, Arjun and Teg Bahadur . Guru Angad Dev’s banee consists of saloks only – all of which are incorporated in the vaars. The GGS further has the banee of 16 Hindu and Muslim bhagats. It further has the banee of ten Bhatts (contemporaries of Guru Arjun and originating from south India), two ragees / kirtenias of Guru Arjun’s time(Bhai Satta and Bhai Balwand), one poet (Sundar), and Bhai Mardana. Amongst the Gurus, the most number of shabads belong to Guru Arjun followed by Guru Nanak and the least to Guru Teg Bahadur. Amongst the bhagats, Kabeer has the most, with some bhagats having only a single shabad.

The above mentioned information is contained in the heading of every shabad. For instance: the heading Bilawal Mahala 1 Chant Dekhni ( GGS page 843) means the shabad comes from the Bilawal raag chapter. Dekhni indicates a sub-raag namely Southern Bilawal or Karnatik Bilawal as opposed to Northern Bilawal or what is now called Hindustani Bilawal (and was hence sung in Karnatik Bilawal originally upon composition), and is the banee of the 1st Guru. Chant tells us the kind of poetic order namely that the shabad is written in six lined rhyming verses. Dupdey, Chaupdey and Astpadee would mean 2, 4 and 8 lined rhyming verses respectively. At the end of every shabad there is a numeral or a number of numerals as shown for instance in this pangktee taken from GGS page 848:
Nanak Jal Jaleh Samaya Jotee Jot Meekauy Raam .[ 4 ] 2 ] 5 ] 9 ]

This is an intricate counting system deployed by Guru Arjun when he compiled the Pothee Sahib to keep count of shabads by Gurus or Bahagats in particular poetic orders. This shabad is therefore the fourth one by the same Guru in the current context, second in the running poetic order, 5th in the sub heading, and 9th in the chapter. This counting system has made it difficult for anyone to adulterate the Granth by adding or subtracting shabads.

Most shabads in the GGS have a rahao line. Literally, rahao means ‘to pause’. But rahao in a shabad does not mean to pause. There is no need for the reader to pause at a particular line. To understand what rahao stands for one need to look at the context of a shabad. Just like the word “stop” means just that. But when one sees this sign at a road junction for instance, it has to be understood contextually – within the context of a road, a junction and vehicle driving individuals. Contextually it means stop, look left and right, give way to who has right of way, and then go (ironical, because ‘to go’ is the exact opposite of stop). If we took the literal meaning of stop to mean stop, all road junctions would be full of stopped traffic, and every junction would be a parking lot. To provide another instance, the word “stop” in a telegram or telex message means end of the sentence and not that the reader has to stop reading there. If the literal meaning was taken, no telegram would be read beyond its first sentence.

Every shabad in the GGS has three main contexts. First it is poetry. Second it aims to render a message. And third, it is a musical composition. Rahao thus has three meanings – one for each of these contexts. Every poetic composition has a title; hence rahao is the title of the poetry that forms the particular shabad. Since the title line of the shabad is used to denote the writer, the raag and sometimes the taal, the title of the poetry had to placed within the shabad as the Rahao line. So essentially, the Rahao is the title of the poetry of the shabad,

Second, every shabad has a core message around which sub-messages revolve. In this context, Rahao means the core message, summary meaning or gist. The rest of the shabad’s multiple messages revolve around or further explain and exemplify the rahao. Hence the best way to understand a shabad is to first understand the rahao - once you get the core message, the rest of the messages fall into place. So in this sense, the Rahao line is the core message.

Third, the shabad is a musical composition. In Indian classical music, the order of singing a musical piece is asthai and antra. There is usually one asthai and multiple antras. One starts singing with the asthai and goes to antra 1, returns to asthai and goes to antra two, returns to asthai and proceeds to antra 3 and so on. The song must start and end with the asthai. So in this (musical) context, rahao means asthai. The rahao is the line one should use to start singing the shabad. It makes perfect sense to do this because the asthai contains the gist of the meaning and all the remaining lines (as multiple antras) will further help the listener understand the message of the shabad. A majority of our ragees go against this principle – they pick and choose their own asthai by taking the catchiest line, the line that fits easily into their chosen tune, or a line that is most simple in its understanding. As if kirten was a jingle. The deras have descended even further: they compose their own asthai, called dhaarna and sing that as the chorus of the shabad that they are singing. The dhaarna is called Kachee Banee (since the wording is self-constructed and composed by the dera singers) . The commercialization of kirten has resulted in this rather unholy practice. A great majority of our ragees further do not sing the shabad in the raag it was composed by the Gurus. Such a rendition requires effort, and our ragees take the easy way out by fitting shabads into tunes that are ready made for them either by the film industry, ghazal singers or pop/folk musicians. A good majority of ragees master no more than 4 or 5 raags and fit every shabad into these. The dera singers have again taken this transgression a step further: they have discarded raags all together (some ‘sants’ are openly heard demeaning raags and ridiculing those who use them) and have adopted the dholki chimta “kirten” called “jotian dian dhaarna.”

The language and grammar of the GGS is a subject of its own. There is a whole host of languages and dialects in the GGS – the most common is Brej Bhaashaa, also known as Sant Bhaashaa. This is a blend of a number of regional languages and has a style that is suited for spiritual, poetic and musical uses all rolled into one. This style is dominant enough to even appear in shabads that use foreign languages. For instance Guru Nanak’s shabad in Persian in Tilang Raag on page 721 in GGS uses the Brej version of Persian and not pure Persian per se. Guru Arjun has also used a fair amount of ancient languages – sanskrit, prakrti and gatha.

Understanding the History of Gurbanee.

The origin of Gurbani as coming from the source, or root or the Creator Himself is provided by Guru Nanak in his verse in Tilang Raag as follows:

Jaisee Mein Aivey Khasam Kee Banee, Teisra Karee Gyaan Vey Lalo.” GGS pg 722. Meaning, the Banee as I say comes to me from the Master, and I say it just as it comes.

Extrapolating this verse, we can roughly figure the process of the composition of Gurbanee. Guru Nanak, in deep contemplation and deep communication with God is stirred to sing His praises. The nature and substance of the praise would determine the poetic structure. And the manner of Guru Nanak’s emotions as connected to the substance of the subject matter of the Godly praise would determine the choice of raag . As the composition formed in Guru Nanak’s inner being, he requested Bhai Mardana to provide the background notes of the particular raag, and then proceeded to sing the composition within the parameters of the music. Guru Nanak’s spiritual discipline, and more importantly, his vision and mission (of eventually linking the Sikh soul and spirit to the Shabad) required that the Banee be recorded – something which he did personally and kept with him on person at all material times. Bhai Gurdas provides testimony of this fact in Bhaiji’s writing to describe at least two events: Guru Nanak’s travels and the succession ceremony. Bhai Gurdas ji writes for instance of Guru Nanak’s dialogue with the learned Islamic leaders of Mecca and Medina;

“Puchn Gal Imaan Dee, Kazee Mulan Ekathey Hoee.
Vadda Saang Vartayea Lakh Na Sakey Kudrat Koee.
Puchan Phol Kitab Nu, Hindu Vadda Key Musalmanoey.
Baba Akhey Hajian, Shubh Amlan Bajho Dono Roey.”

Translated: And the Kazis and Mullas gathered to engage Guru Nanak in a spiritual discourse. They said despite all their efforts, none could understand Nature. And they asked Guru Nanak, please research your book and tell us which way of life is superior – the Hindu way or Muslim one? Baba replied, Oh Hajjis, from the point of view of virtuous deeds, both are lacking,” Two points are clear – one that Guru Nanak carried a “book” on his person during his travels, and two, that His answer as condensed (by Bhai Gurdas) talked about deeds. Bhai Gurdas has summarized, but it is likely that Guru Nanak referred to a number of shabads from his written collection that talked about virtuous deeds (it is very likely he recited parts of Assa di Vaar here, because some of its saloks address this issue of deeds and because we know the dialogue took place immediately after the morning Muslim prayer (which coincides with Asa Di Vaar time) in the precinct of the local mosque). Guru Nanak also had a dialogue relating to the creation of the universe, and it is likely he referred the Mullahs to Oangkar Banee in Raag Ramkli (GGS page 929) Bhai Gurdas also records that when the Gurgaddi was passed from Guru Nanak to Bhai Lehna, the ceremony involved, amongst other things the offering of a paisa, circumambulation and the handing over of the ‘book of banee.’ This is how banee got passed from one Guru to the succeeding one, who in turn added their own.

The question of bhagat banee remains. A majority of the Bhagats mentioned in the GGS were cotemporaries of each other as Gurbanee provides the evidence in the form of each mentioning the other including cross mentions . Some (Fareed for instance) preceded Guru Nanak by more than a century. There is record of Guru Nanak stopping at the ashrams of these Bhagats or their successors during his vast journeys. There is record of dialogues (either with the Bhagats of the GGS or their followers) and Guru Nanak collected the banee of these bhagats. His collection was highly selective, though. He chose writings that were in line with Gurbanee beliefs. For instance, Kabeer’s writings in the Beejak Granth (used by his followers today) are up to ten times the volume that is found in the GGS. Guru Nanak included his selection of bhagat banee in his pothi. When the pothis (books) eventually got to Guru Arjun, he decided to compile it into one main volume – the Pothee Sahib, rearranged the banee in the format as described above, added his own, that of his contemporary bhagats, edited and clarified those portions of the banee of the bhagats that had potential of being misunderstood. For two years at Ramsar, the Guru narrated the Pothee Sahib verse by verse and Bhai Gurdas transcribed it. The Pothee Sahib had 915 pages and 5751 shabads. Once completed, the Guru checked and signed the seal of approval by writing out the Manglacharan (opening verse) from Ek Oangkar to Gurparsaad in his own handwriting. This Pothee Sahib (also called Kartarpuree Bir (volume) because that is where it is currently kept) had 30 raag chapters. It was then installed at Darbar Sahib. The date was 1st of Bhadon month. The year was1661 .

Towards the final two years of Guru Gobind Singh’s life, the tenth Guru re-compiled the Pothee Sahib. He had the entire granth re-written because Guru Teg Bahadur’s banee had to be inserted in a variety of places. A new rag chapter (Jaijawanti) was added by Guru Gobind Singh which contains the banee of Guru Teg Bahadur only. This work took nine months at Sabo Kee Talwandee with the Guru narrating and Bhai Mani Singh transcribing. This bir has 31 raag chapters in 1430 pages. It was installed at Nader Sahib and is sometimes called the Damdami Bir. Guru Gobind Singh gave it the name we use today – Guru Granth Sahib after dictating to the Sikhs that he was passing on, that there would be no physical human Guru after him, and that the Shabad within the Granth would be the eternal living Guru of the Sikhs.

Understanding Gurbanee as Guru

This command of Guru Gobind Singh is often described as the starting point of a revolutionary idea in human spirituality relating to Shabad Guru (literally the word as the Guru). Yet the Guru Granth Sahib can be traced back to Pothee Sahib, and the Pothee Sahib to the Pothi which Guru Nanak regularly wrote in, carried on his person and passed on to succeeding Gurus. The concept of Shabad Guru is similarly traced back to Guru Nanak. The tendency is for Sikhs to think and conceptualize the Guru physically in the form of Guru Nanak till Guru Gobind Singh, and only think of Shabad from the starting point of Guru Granth Sahib. But Gurbanee, Sikh philosophy and the teachings of our Gurus do not transcribe to this view. When Guru Nanak had his discourse with the Yogees, they raised the question of the Guru and asked him

‘Kavan Guru Jis Ka Tu Chela” (GGS page: 942 ) Translation: What sort or who is the Guru whose disciple you are. And Guru Nanak replied:

Shabad Guru Surat Dhun Chela. Translation: The Shabad is my Guru and my contemplation (mind) its follower.

The fourth Guru made it clear : Banee Guru, Guru Hai Banee, Wich Banee Amrit Sarey: (GGS page 982) Translation: The Banee is the Guru, and the Guru is Banee, the whole of the nectar of spirituality is within the Banee. So it is evident that even during the physical life spans of our ten Gurus, the shabad within them was considered the Guru. Now this shabad is within the Guru Granth Sahib. From within the souls and spirits of the ten masters, the same shabad now resides within the Godly parameters of the messages of the Guru Granth Sahib. As the daily ardas dohera goes: Jo Prabh Ko Mil Bo Chahey, Khoj Shabad Mei Lei. Translation: And he who desires to meet with God, research / find Him within the Shabad.

The physical existences of the Gurus – as important as they were in bringing about the spiritual awareness that embodied Sikhi – still take a step back when the existence of the shabad within all then of them is considered. As Satta and Balwand say in their Ramklee Vaar about the Gurus up until their time:

Jot Oha, Jugat Saye, Sei Kayan Fir Palteeah. GGS pg 966. Translation: Their (meaning the first to the fifth Guru) methods were similar, the light within them (shabad) was one and the same, only their physical forms (bodies) changed.

There were many who witnessed daily, served closely and saw repeatedly the physical Gurus with their own eyes, but only those who could see and get to the Shabad within them were transformed. Prithi Chand, had a maternal grand father (Guru Amardas, father (Guru Ramdas), a brother (Guru Arjun), and a nephew (Guru Hargobind) as Gurus. He was born and stayed most of his life within the confines of a Guru household. The physical presence of four Gurus was available for him, yet he remained a sworn enemy of the Guru Ghar, because he was unable to see the Shabad within and beyond the physiques of the four physical Gurus that nature bequeathed into his fate. The same can be said of countless other beings who were not able to go beyond the physical. On the other hand, there were those who never met the Gurus in person, but were able to be touched by the Banee, or Shabad. Guru Amardas captures this as follows:

Satgur No Sab Ko Dekhda, Jeta Jagat Sansar. Dithiya Mukat Na Hovaee, Jichar Shabad Na kre Vichar. (GGS page: 594) Translation: Everyone here does see the True Guru. But seeing will not provide emancipation / salvation that will only happen when the shabad is contemplated upon.

Sikhs and the Guru.

The 305th anniversary of the Gurgaddee Dihara should inspire the Sikh to get connected to the Guru. This can be achieved by self reading, understanding, knowing or researching the GGS. It would be most beneficial if every Sikh would undertake to read or listen to the entire Granth for the year that begins with the 305th anniversary and ends with the 306th . It works out to four pages per day. Better still, read these four pages from a Teeka , or translated version. Given the technology that exists, the GGS and a variety of transliterations, translations and audio versions are available at our fingertips. End.

The writer can be contacted at dhillon99@gmail.com. Editor.



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