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Numbers In Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
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One God (Waheguru), one Guru (Siri Guru Granth Sahib), One Man (yet Many), beams out
the message from the Sikh Scriptures to the whole Universe. Before Waheguru created the
universe, the galaxies and the planets including our Mother Earth, there was Nothing but Him.
This concept of One, Many and Nothing was alive in the mind of the early man. The hunter
gatherers used this in relation to the number of fruit they ate, to herds of animals, or the
number of pebbles they played with by the lakeside. Bones and wooden sticks have been
found in archaeological digs having notches indicating their records of such counting.
As man started living in groups and evolved into civilisations, the numbers and the way
counting was done became sophisticated. For example, the Babylonian numbers were
generated from a system of wedges and angles using a base of ten or sixty and were recorded
on clay tablets. One was signified by one wedge, three with three wedges, four with one large
wedge overlain by three smaller wedges, nine with three layers of three wedges and ten with
an angle. The Roman number system for counting indicated numbers one to ten by I, II, III,
IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X and 50, 100 and 1000 by L, C, M, respectively. However the
Roman numbering system was cumbersome for writing out the very large and complicated
numbers used in astronomy and, increasingly, in other branches of science, and the invention
in the early 17th century of logarithms finally ended its general use.

In the world of today, the Arab numerals i.e. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (to the base 10)
thought of by Indian mathematicians around 500AD, are the most widely used representation
of numbers (except in computers) to carry out counting. The Arabs learnt this system of
numbers from the Indians and took it into Europe during the Middle Ages. Although this
system was further developed and revolutionized commerce, science and technology in the
western world, it was thought to be cumbersome for use in the twentieth century computers. It
is the simplicity and strength of Nothing (zero) and One (the so called binary system in which
1=1, 10=1010, 100=1100100 and so on) that kindled the imagination of the early man all that
time ago that has been harnessed by computers to exchange and process information in ones
and zeroes of today at a very phenomenal speed. Once a computer is switched on, a click of
the mouse would let you watch your favorite TV program or start chatting with a friend on the
other side of the world. A satellite in the sky can beam a signal to unlock a car door. A cell
phone from the middle of nowhere can access the desktop computer at home for information
that you so badly need to make a decision. Day to day shopping from the comfort of our home
using a computer has become a reality. You can manage your bank account or pay your bills
or find a new mate online. Digital television, books and photography have arrived. In short,
computers have transformed our commerce, education, transportation, science, technology
and society in general to a new level and helped us not only to do things which we could not
do in the past but also to do them quickly making modern life much faster yet providing
greater leisure time which we can gainfully employ in remembering God and doing his
Simran and reciting Bani.

The numerals which have been used in Siri Guru Granth Sahib (Sri Guru Granth Sahib), however, are not
Arab but Gurmukhi ( Sifr, Ik, Dho, Tine’, Char, Punj, Chhe’, Sat, Aath, Nau , Das )
which are based on the Indian (Devanagari) numbers, although we must note that this is still a
decimal system. These numerals have been used in numerous ways throughout Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Firstly, Gurmukhi numerals make the layout of Sri Guru Granth Sahib scientifically precise so that it can be
followed with ease by everybody. Sri Guru Granth Sahib has 1430 pages and 33 sections. The section at the
begining contains Japji Sahib (pages 1 to 8), a morning prayer of Pauris numbered 1 to 38
and 1 Salok, composed by Guru Nanak. The end section is a collection of miscellaneous
verses including the Slokas and Sawayyas of Bhatts. The remaining 31 sections are the Ragas
and their divisions, with Sri Rag being the beginning and Jaijawanti at the end. At the
beginning of each Bani, the name of the composer and the Rag in which it is to be sung is
given. For example, on page 917, before the start of the composition, Anand Sahib, the line
says Ramkali Mahala 3 Anand. This means that this Bani has been authored by Guru Amar
Das, the third Guru ( Guru Nanak is referred to as Mahala 1, Guru Ram Das, Mahala 4 and so
on) and is to be sung in Raga Ramkali.

Secondly, words representing numbers have been used throughout Sri Guru Granth Sahib to convey various
forms of thoughts. A few examples are given below.
On page 1035, line 10, Guru Nanak, while considering the creation and evolution of the
universe, states Nā in rain na can na sūraj sunn (zero) samā lagāiā. This means that
there was no day or night, no moon or sun, God sat in his primal or sunn (zero) state. And
when the Guru says Ik (one) sansārī ik bandārī ik lā÷ ībā (page 7, line 2), he refers to the
Ik (one) Godhead, the creator of the world, the sustainer and the destroyer. The Guru goes on
to say: Sasai sab jag sahj upāiā īn(three) bavan ik joī (page 930, line 3), meaning He
created the entire universe with ease and his light permeates the three (tine’) worlds. Guru
Ram Das reasserts that God created the earth, and the due’ (two) lamps of the sun and the
moon in Ŧu āp÷ arī sājīai can sūraj u÷ (two) īv÷ (page 83, line 6).
If you live through all the chare’ (four) ages (One Age = millions of years) since creation
began or dasuni (ten) times longer than the sum of these ages, living the life is worthless if
you do not receive the blessings of God Himself with the glance of His Grace says Guru
Nanak in Japji Sahib as referred to in J÷ jug cār÷ (four) ārjā hor asūī ho÷ (Page 2, line
13) and the verses that follow it.

On page 20, line 1, Guru Nanak says Panc (five) bū sac bai ra÷ jo sacī man māhi.
In this and the preceding verses the Guru reminds us that man is made of panch (five)
elements i.e. air, water, fire, earth and ether and remembering Him will colour your mind with
His thoughts and memories thus lighting you forever. He also says on page 61, line 14 Asat
(eight) ā pāisāh kī gaīai saba vigās that when making of the human body with the
eight metals is done by saying Guru’s word, it will live in happiness. However, He reminds
us on page 12, line 16, Cia gar cia gur cia up÷s, that man is subject to Chhia
(six) schools of philosophy written by six teachers and six teachings – Jaimani’s Mimasa
(Interpretation), Badarayana’s Vedanta (knowledge part of the Vedas), Kapila’s Sankhya
(theoretical knowledge), Patanjali’sYoga (Discipline of Achieving Liberation), Gutama’s
Nyaya (Logic), Kaanada’s Vaisheshika (Pluaralistic Metaphysics) but in subsequent verses
He makes it crystal clear that the forms may be many but Guru of all is One (God).
Guru Ram Das on page 84, line 4 refers to Sapa (seven) īp (islands) sapa (seven) sāgrā
(seas) nav (nine) kand (continents) cār (four) v÷ (Vedas) as asat (eighteen) purāā but
goes on to explain that God lives in all these and He is most loving. All living beings and the
world around is His creation and they all do His jaap. Guru Nanak adds that God can be seen
in all ten directions and in all the variety of nature and He will carry you across with his Pauri
as (ten) aār mai aprampro cīnai kahai Nānak iv ÷k ārai (page 23, line 19).
Thirdly, and most uniquely, a Gurmukhi numeral forms the first mark in the first verse (Pauri)
of the first bani, Guru Nanak’s Japji Sahib, in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This numeral is Ik (one):
Ikoaʼnkār (There is only one God) sa nām (Truth is His Name) karā purak (He is the
Creator) nirbao (He is without fear) nirvair (He is without hate) akāl mūra (He is timeless
and without form) ajūnī saibaʼn (He is beyond birth and death, The enlightened one) gur
parsā (He can be known by The Guru’s Grace)

With the Gurmukhi numeral one, Guru Nanak proclaims right from the beginning, the strict
monotheism of the Sikh religion. The structure of the Gurmukhi numeral one contains the
Gurmukhi sifr (zero) at the top with a vertical notch coming out of it from the right side which
is reminiscent of the old mark of one by the early man all those years ago. The Gurmukhi
numeral one, can accordingly be taken as a duality of zero and one. It represents Waheguru in
its Nirgun (Zero) state and Sargun (1, one) state: Sargun nirgun nirankār sunn samāī āp
(page 290, line 16). The transformation of zero into One occurs with his Word and gives birth
to the universe and everything in it (Many) with the God in the center of it: Kīā pasāo ÷ko
kavāo. Ŧis ÷ ho÷ lak arīāo (page 3, line 17). When He contracts himself into the Zero state
the universe and all the things in it are absorbed back into Him (One): Āp÷ jo vico÷ karā
āp÷ mār jīvāiā (page 1034, line 7). This game (leela) of Zero, 1, Zero, 1 is played as He
wills: Jā is bāā ā jaga upāiā (page 1036, line 6). In terms of the binary number system,
whether the scientists with their clever programs will be able to produce computer simulations
of the birth, expansion and contraction of the universe and subsequent births and deaths,
nobody on this earth knows.

*Retired Chartered Civil Engineer, Woodley, Reading, Berks, UK. E-mail:
paldi@bigfoot.com

References:
1 Siri Guru Granth Sahib (Sri Guru Granth Sahib): Translation by Singh Sahib Sant Singh Khalsa MD
2 Book of Numbers: J H Conway, R K Guy, Springer-Verlag, NY, 1996.
3 Sikh religion and Science: G S Sidhu MA; FIL. (London), 2003.
 
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spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Gyani ji

This is an important article. We need to keep it handy for a number of different controversies that arise in the forum.

For example, This paragraph:

With the Gurmukhi numeral one, Guru Nanak proclaims right from the beginning, the strict monotheism of the Sikh religion. The structure of the Gurmukhi numeral one contains the Gurmukhi sifr (zero) at the top with a vertical notch coming out of it from the right side which is reminiscent of the old mark of one by the early man all those years ago. The Gurmukhi numeral one, can accordingly be taken as a duality of zero and one. It represents Waheguru in its Nirgun (Zero) state and Sargun (1, one) state: Sargun nirgun nirankār sunn samāī āp (page 290, line 16). The transformation of zero into One occurs with his Word and gives birth to the universe and everything in it (Many) with the God in the center of it: Kīā pasāo ÷ko kavāo. Ŧis ÷ ho÷ lak arīāo (page 3, line 17). When He contracts himself into the Zero state the universe and all the things in it are absorbed back into Him (One): Āp÷ jo vico÷ karā āp÷ mār jīvāiā (page 1034, line 7). This game (leela) of Zero, 1, Zero, 1 is played as He wills: Jā is bāā ā jaga upāiā (page 1036, line 6). In terms of the binary number system,whether the scientists with their clever programs will be able to produce computer simulations of the birth, expansion and contraction of the universe and subsequent births and deaths, nobody on this earth knows.

Too often I read that Sikhism is not a monotheistic religion because it is not even a theistic religion. It is often said that, since theism implies there is a God, and because Akaal is nirguna, therefore Sikhism is an "atheistic" belief system. No amount of debate seems to dissuade those who have this point of view. The paragraph is perfect as refutation. From the zero came the One. The transformation of zero into One occurs with his Word and gives birth to the universe and everything in it (Many) with the God in the center of it.

Many thanks.

Here are the banee quoted above in the paragraph for easier reading. (Note that the transliterations given in the article are not exact.)

Ang 290

<table align="center" border="0" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" width="98%"><tbody><tr><td class="rmenuheader">
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="ggs">ਸਰਗੁਨ ਨਿਰਗੁਨ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਸੁੰਨ ਸਮਾਧੀ ਆਪਿ ॥
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="subhead">saragun niragun nirankaar sunn samaadhhee aap ||
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="shlok">He possesses all qualities; He transcends all qualities; He is the Formless Lord. He Himself is in Primal Samaadhi.
</td></tr><tr><td class="rmenuheader">

</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="ggs">ਆਪਨ ਕੀਆ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਆਪੇ ਹੀ ਫਿਰਿ ਜਾਪਿ ॥੧॥
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="subhead">aapan keeaa naanakaa aapae hee fir jaap ||1||
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="shlok">Through His Creation, O Nanak, He meditates on Himself. ||1||</td></tr></tbody></table>

Ang 3

<table align="center" border="0" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" width="98%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="subhead">keethaa pasaao eaeko kavaao ||
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="shlok">You created the vast expanse of the Universe with One Word!
</td></tr><tr><td class="rmenuheader">

</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="ggs">ਤਿਸ ਤੇ ਹੋਏ ਲਖ ਦਰੀਆਉ ॥
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="subhead">this thae hoeae lakh dhareeaao ||
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="shlok">Hundreds of thousands of rivers began to flow.</td></tr></tbody></table>
Ang 1034


ਆਪੇ ਜੋੜਿ ਵਿਛੋੜੇ ਕਰਤਾ ਆਪੇ ਮਾਰਿ ਜੀਵਾਇਦਾ ॥੧੫॥
aapae jorr vishhorrae karathaa aapae maar jeevaaeidhaa ||15||
The Creator Himself unites and separates; He Himself kills and rejuvenates. ||15||


Ang 1036

<table align="center" border="0" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="0" width="98%"><tbody><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="ggs">ਜਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਣਾ ਤਾ ਜਗਤੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ ॥
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="subhead">jaa this bhaanaa thaa jagath oupaaeiaa ||
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffecec"><td class="shlok">When He so willed, He created the world.
</td></tr><tr><td class="rmenuheader">

</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="ggs">ਬਾਝੁ ਕਲਾ ਆਡਾਣੁ ਰਹਾਇਆ ॥
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="subhead">baajh kalaa aaddaan rehaaeiaa ||
</td></tr><tr bgcolor="#ffffec"><td class="shlok">Without any supporting power, He sustained the universe.</td></tr></tbody></table>
 
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