Recitation of AGGS & Its Spiritual Value
Recitation of AGGS in various ways has been done since Its completion by Guru Arjan in 1604 to remember and praise the Akal Purkh as well as the understand the message contained there in. Its various ritual type recitations are reviewed here.
Akhand Path; It is a continuous recitation of the AGGS/Sabd Guru from page 1- 1430 to be finished in 48 hours by individuals or scheduled hired readers/recites.
Historical Akhand Path; this is continuous recitation of AGGS Path to be finished in 13 Pehars. One Pehar/watch (ਪਹਰ- ਦਿਨ ਰਾਤ ਦਾ ਅਠਵਾਂ ਭਾਗ, ਤਿੰਨ ਘੰਟੇ ਦਾ ਸਮਾਂ, ਸਮੇਂ ਦੀ ਇਕ ਇਕਾਈ ) is 3 hours, so it should be completed in 39 hours, requiring 4 or 5 Recites’ at two hourly schedule around the clock. This tradition was started by Buddha Dal, and it was not done during the time of Sikh Gurus. There is reference in some documents that the first Akhand Path was performed in A.D.1728 or so. There was a tradition to keep an Akhand light (ਦੀਵਾ) all the time, a coconut, and an earthen pitcher of water but this tradition is not carried on any more.
Historical Ati Akhand Path; this continuous recitation is done by an alone recite’, who fasts till the end. This is completed in 9 Pehars (ਪਹਰ) or 27 hours and was started by Baba Narayan Singh of Nabha. -----Ref-Mahan Kosh
Present Akhand Path; This is the continuous reading of Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib completed in 48 hours which is undertaken to celebrate any joyous occasion, such as birth, marriage, moving into a new house, Gurpurbs or in times of hardship as death etc.
Completed Akhand Path on the shelf can be bought by paying the proper price-it was offered to my wife in 2005 at Golden Temple Amritsar.
Many Akhand Paths (ਲੜੀ) is commonly seen in most of the Gurudwaras being run in a row as if they are in some sort of competition to win rather making it a form of joke IMHO..
Saptah Path: As the name implies, recitation of the entire Gurbani is completed in a week.
Sadharan or Open ended Path: Recitation from the beginning to the end of Sabd Guru is completed slowly depending on an individual’s speed of reading. This recitation is more enjoyable if done few pages at a time with understanding and reflection. There is no speed prescribed for the recitation. The recitation done at a speed to be finished in a specific time is a waste of time and energy. It brings no spiritual benefit to any one except for the hired reader who gets paid for reading it. Those paying money have an unfounded superstitious faith that some spiritual or material benefit would accrue from such recitation.
The notion of Akhand Paths performed after the death or at yearly anniversaries should evoke the memory of two incidents, enough to discontinue these:
If Guru Nanak’s watering his fields in Punjab from Hardwar is seen as implausible, how can an Akhand Path be beneficial to those already departed, after their recent death or at the anniversary of a death?
Kabir throws a truthful satire on the relatives of the deceased in Raag Gauri Cheti;
ਜੀਵਤ ਪਿਤਰ ਨ ਮਾਨੈ ਕੋਊ ਮੂਏਂ ਸਿਰਾਧ ਕਰਾਹੀ ॥ ਪਿਤਰ ਭੀ ਬਪੁਰੇ ਕਹੁ ਕਿਉ ਪਾਵਹਿ ਕਊਆ ਕੂਕਰ ਖਾਹੀ ॥
Jīvaṯ piṯar na mānai ko­ū mū­ėŉ sirāḏẖ. Piṯar bẖī bapure kaho ki▫o pāvahi ka▫ū▫ā kūkar kẖāhī.
Individuals do not honor his ancestors while they are alive, but they hold feasts in their honor after they have died. Tell me, how can his poor ancestors receive what the crows and the dogs have eaten up? -----Kabir, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 332-10
The non stop reading takes approximately 48 hours and is usually carried out by hired recites, and the family members, are rarely seen to be around. In the majority of cases no one is present to listen to the Path and the family members only show up at the end, during Bhog ceremony. There has been a change in the time factor from 39 to 48 hours. But unfortunately these Akhand Paths are bought due to spiritual ignorance and superstition for the fulfillment of desires against the teachings incorporated in the Sabd Guru. Spiritually ignorant Sikhs assume that God can be bribed. A relevant reference to this is documented in AGGS by Guru Arjan to a Sikh named Samman in Chaubolay Slokes:
ਸੰਮਨ ਜਉ ਇਸ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਕੀ ਦਮ ਕ੍ਯ੍ਯਿਹੁ ਹੋਤੀ ਸਾਟ ॥ ਰਾਵਨ ਹੁਤੇ ਸੁ ਰੰਕ ਨਹਿ ਜਿਨਿ ਸਿਰ ਦੀਨੇ ਕਾਟਿ ॥
Samman ja­o is parėm kī ḏam ki­yahū hoṯī sāt. Rāvan huṯė so rank neh jin sir ḏīnė kāt.
O Samman, if one could buy the love of God with money, and then consider king Rawan. He was not poor, but he could not buy it, even though he offered one of his head to Shiva.-----Guru Arjan, Chaubolay Slokes, AGGS, Page, 1368-18
Guru Arjan and Kabir in Raag Gauri, describe the way that Akal Purkh can only be bought through devotion;
ਤਜਿ ਅਭਿਮਾਨੁ ਲੇਹੁ ਮਨ ਮੋਲਿ ॥ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮੁ ਹਿਰਦੇ ਮਹਿ ਤੋਲਿ ॥
Ŧaj abẖimān lėho man mol, Rām nām hirḏė meh ṯol.
Renounce your egotistical pride, and with your mind, purchase the Akal Purkh's Name - measure it out within your heart. -----Guru Arjan, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 283-4
ਕੰਚਨ ਸਿਉ ਪਾਈਐ ਨਹੀ ਤੋਲਿ ॥ ਮਨੁ ਦੇ ਰਾਮੁ ਲੀਆ ਹੈ ਮੋਲਿ ॥
Kancẖan si­o pā­ī­ai nahī ṯol. Man ḏė rām lī­ā hai mol.
God cannot be obtained by offering your weight in gold. But I have bought the It by giving my mind. -----Kabir, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 327-10
The reading of AGGS usually is done at a speed that words even cannot be understood. Reading must be clear and correct so that it can be understood by all listeners, but unfortunately the hired guns for the ceremony are so busy in running many Paths that some time they are speed reading or dozing off actually making a joke out of religious ceremony. After the completion of the reading the Bhog ceremony takes place. Traditionally a Hukam is taken by randomly opening the AGGS and reading the hymn on the left top and if the Sabd starts from the previous page than turning the page and reading from the beginning of the Sabd. But the hired reciters had already planned which Hukam should be read to fit the occasion. Karah Parshad or sacred pudding is normally distributed to all those present at this time.
This ceremony evolved in the mid 18th century when there were few hand written copies of Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs were fighting for their lives at this time and hiding in jungles. They wanted to perform the ceremony before any battles etc. Performance of Akhand Path is a blind and empty ritual with out any spiritual value. It is contrary to the teachings of the Sabd Guru.
Q. Does reading of Sabd Guru confer any spiritual benefit?
A. No, except when reading is done with understanding, contemplation, and deliberation on the message in one’s daily life. AGGS is inundated with Sikh Gurus’ comments on such readings.
The following few hymns from Sabd Guru reflect on the subject;
ਸਮਝੈ ਸੂਝੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਅੰਤਿ ਨਿਰੰਤਰਿ ਸਾਚਾ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਦੇਖੈ ਸਾਚੁ ਸਮਾਲੇ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਾਚੇ ਜਗੁ ਕਾਚਾ ॥
Samjẖai sūjẖai paṛ paṛ būjẖai anṯ niranṯar sācẖā. Gurmukẖ ḏėkẖai sācẖ samālė bin sācẖė jag kācẖā.
If one understands, and comprehends what he reads and studies, in the end he shall realize that the True Akal Purkh dwells deep within his conscience. The Guru willed sees and contemplates the True Akal Purkh; without It, the world is false.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Ramkali, AGGS, Page, 930-4
ਵੇਦ ਕਹਹਿ ਵਖਿਆਣ ਅੰਤੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥ ਪੜਿਐ ਨਾਹੀ ਭੇਦੁ ਬੁਝਿਐ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥
vėḏ kaheh vakẖi¬āṇ anṯ na pāvṇā. Paṛi¬ai nāhī bẖėḏ bujẖi¬ai pāvṇā.
The Vedas speak and expound on the God, but they do not know Its limits. Not by studying, but through understanding, is the Akal Purkh's Mystery revealed.
-----Guru Nanak, Raag Majh Ki Vaar, AGGS, Page, 148-2
ਛੋਡਿਹੁ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਤਾਤਿ ਪਰਾਈ ॥ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਦਝਹਿ ਸਾਤਿ ਨ ਆਈ ॥
Cẖẖodihu ninḏā ṯāṯ parā▫ī. Paṛ paṛ ḏajẖeh sāṯ na ā¬ī.
Abandon slander and envy of others. Reading and studying, they burn, and do not find tranquility. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Maru, AGGS, Page, 1026-1
ਗੁਰ ਪਰਸਾਦੀ ਵਿਦਿਆ ਵੀਚਾਰੈ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪਾਵੈ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਆਪਾ ਮਧੇ ਆਪੁ ਪਰਗਾਸਿਆ ਪਾਇਆ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਨਾਮੁ ॥
Gur parsādī viḏi¬ā vīcẖārai paṛ paṛ pāvai mān. Āpā maḏẖe āp pargāsi▫ā pā▫i▫ā amriṯ nām.
By Guru's Grace, contemplate on spiritual knowledge; read it and study it, and you shall be honored. Within the self, the self is revealed, when one is blessed with the Ambrosial Naam, the Name of the Akal Purkh. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Parbhati, AGGS, Page, 1329-5
ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਨੀ ਰਹੈ ਨਿਭਰਾਂਤਿ ॥ ਸੋ ਬੂਝੈ ਹੋਵੈ ਜਿਸੁ ਦਾਤਿ ॥
Kathnī baḏnī rahai nibẖrāŉṯ. So būjẖai hovai jis ḏāṯ.
Undoubtedly, words fail me. He alone understands who is blessed.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Malar, AGGS, Page, 1256-10
ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਨੀ ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਭਾਰੁ ॥ ਲੇਖ ਅਸੰਖ ਅਲੇਖੁ ਅਪਾਰੁ ॥
Kathnī baḏnī paṛ paṛ bẖār. Lėkẖ asaŉkẖ alėkẖ apār.
Words, spoken and read again and again, are useless loads. There are innumerable writings, but the Infinite Akal Purkh remains unwritten. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Asa, AGGS, Page, 412-14
ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬਾਦੁ ਵਖਾਣੈ ॥ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਹੋਦੀ ਵਸਤੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ॥
Paṛ paṛ pandiṯ bāḏ vakẖāṇai. Bẖīṯar hoḏī vasaṯ na jāṇai.
The Pundits, the religious scholars, read and read endlessly; they stir up arguments and controversies, but they do not know the secret deep within.-----Guru Nanak, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 152-6
ਸੋ ਪੜਿਆ ਸੋ ਪੰਡਿਤੁ ਬੀਨਾ ਜਿਨ੍ਹ੍ਹੀ ਕਮਾਣਾ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਪਹਿਲੋ ਦੇ ਜੜ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਤਾ ਉਪਰਿ ਹੋਵੈ ਛਾਂਉ ॥
So paṛi¬ā so pandiṯ bīnā jinĥī kamāṇā nā¬o. Pahilo ḏe jaṛ anḏar jammai ṯā upar hovai cẖẖāŉ▫o.
He alone is learned and wise, and he alone is a scholar, who practices the Name. First, the tree puts down its roots, and then it spreads out its shade above.
-----Guru Nanak, Raag Malar, AGGS, Page, 1288-6
ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੋਥੀ ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਪਾਠਾ ॥ਬੇਦ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਪੜੈ ਸੁਣਿ ਥਾਟਾ ॥ਬਿਨੁ ਰਸ ਰਾਤੇ ਮਨੁ ਬਹੁ ਨਾਟਾ ॥
Paṛ paṛ pothī simriṯ pāṯẖā. Bėḏ purāṇ paṛai suṇ thātā. Bin ras rāṯė man baho nātā.
You may read, recite and study the scriptures, the Simritees, and read Vedas and Puraanas until tired; but without being imbued with the Akal Purkh's essence, the mind wanders endlessly. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Gauri, AGGS, Page, 226-3
ਪੜਿਆ ਬੂਝੈ ਸੋ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥ਜਿਸੁ ਸਿਰਿ ਦਰਗਹ ਕਾ ਨੀਸਾਣੁ ॥
Paṛi¬ā būjẖai so parvāṇ. Jis sir ḏargeh kā nīsāṇ.
One who reads and understands is acceptable. Upon his forehead is the Insignia of the Court of the Akal Purkh. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Dhanasari, AGGS, Page, 662-15
ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੈ ਜੋ ਬੁਝੈ ਸੋ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ਸਚੁ ॥ ਕਥਨੀ ਬਦਨੀ ਕਰਤਾ ਫਿਰੈ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਬੂਝੈ ਸਚੁ ॥
Nānak hukmai jo bujẖai so fal pā¬ė sacẖ. Kathnī baḏnī karṯā firai hukam na būjẖai sacẖ.
One, who merely mouths the words, does not understand the Command of the True Akal Purkh. -----Guru Amardas, Raag Ramkali, AGGS, Page, 950-14
ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਜੋਤਕੀ ਵਾਦ ਕਰਹਿ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਮਤਿ ਬੁਧਿ ਭਵੀ ਨ ਬੁਝਈ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਲੋਭ ਵਿਕਾਰੁ ॥
Paṛ paṛ pandiṯ joṯkī vāḏ karahi bīcẖār. Maṯ buḏẖ bẖavī na bujẖ¬ī anṯar lobẖ vikār.
After all their reading, the Pundits, the religious scholars, and the astrologers argue and debate. Their intellect and understanding are *******ed; they just don't understand. They are filled with greed and corruption. -----Guru Amardas, Sri Raag, AGGS, Page, 27-6
ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੜਹਿ ਸਾਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਦੂਜੈ ਭਾਇ ਮਾਇਆ ਮਨੁ ਭਰਮਾਵਹਿ ॥ ਮਾਇਆ ਮੋਹਿ ਸਭ ਸੁਧਿ ਗਵਾਈ ਕਰਿ ਅਵਗਣ ਪਛੋਤਾਵਣਿਆ ॥
Pandiṯ paṛeh sāḏ na pāvahi. Ḏūjai bẖā¬ė mā¬i¬ā man bẖarmāveh. Mā¬i¬ā mohi sabẖ suḏẖ gavā¬ī kar avgaṇ pacẖẖoṯāvaṇi¬ā.
The religious scholars read, but they do not taste the essence due to unfocussed mind in the love of duality and Maya. The love of Maya has displaced all their understanding; making mistakes, they live in regret. -----Guru Amardas, Raag Majh, AGGS, Page, 116-18
ਪਾਠੁ ਪੜੈ ਨਾ ਬੂਝਈ ਭੇਖੀ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਇ ॥ ਗੁਰਮਤੀ ਹਰਿ ਸਦਾ ਪਾਇਆ ਰਸਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਰਸੁ ਸਮਾਇ ॥
Pāṯẖ paṛai nā būjẖ¬ī bẖėkẖī bẖaram bẖulā¬ė. Gurmaṯī har saḏā pā¬i¬ā rasnā har ras samā¬ė.
Akal Purkh cannot be understood by reading scriptures; the deceitful pretenders are deluded by doubt. It is always found through the Guru’s teachings, and the tongue is permeated with the Sublime Essence of the Akal Purkh. -----Guru Amardas, Sri Raag, AGGS, Page, 66-18
ਪੜਿ ਪੜਿ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਮੋਨੀ ਥਕੇ ਚਉਥੇ ਪਦ ਕੀ ਸਾਰ ਨ ਪਾਵਣਿਆ ॥
Paṛ paṛ pandiṯ monī thakė cẖa¬uthė paḏ kī sār na pāvṇi¬ā.
Reading and reciting, the Pundits, the religious scholars, and the silent sages have grown weary, but they have not found the supreme essence of the fourth state.
-----Guru Amardas, Raag Majh, AGGS, Page, 117-3
Reciting AGGS by individuals or hired hands with out understanding and living in the message has no spiritual value but a superstitious idolatry ritual.
ਧ੍ਰਿਗੁ ਤਿਨਾ ਕਾ ਜੀਵਿਆ ਜਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਵੇਚਹਿ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਖੇਤੀ ਜਿਨ ਕੀ ਉਜੜੈ ਖਲਵਾੜੇ ਕਿਆ ਥਾਉ ॥ ਸਚੈ ਸਰਮੈ ਬਾਹਰੇ ਅਗੈ ਲਹਹਿ ਨ ਦਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲਿ ਏਹ ਨ ਆਖੀਐ ਅਕਲਿ ਗਵਾਈਐ ਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਪਾਈਐ ਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਅਕਲੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹਿ ਕੈ ਬੁਝੀਐ ਅਕਲੀ ਕੀਚੈ ਦਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਆਖੈ ਰਾਹੁ ਏਹੁ ਹੋਰਿ ਗਲਾਂ ਸੈਤਾਨੁ ॥
Ḏẖarig ṯinā kā jīvi▫ā jė likẖ likẖ vecẖėh nā▫o. Kẖeṯī jin kī ujṛai kẖalvāṛe ki▫ā thā▫o. Sacẖai sarmai bāhre agai lahėh na ḏāḏ. Akal eh na ākẖī▫ai akal gavā▫ī▫ai bāḏ. Aklī sāhib sevī▫ai aklī pā▫ī▫ai mān. Aklī paṛĥ kai bujẖī▫ai aklī kīcẖai ḏān. Nānak ākẖai rāhu ehu hor galāŉ saiṯān.
Cursed are the lives of those who read and write the Akal Purkh's Name to sell it. Their crop is devastated - what harvest will they have? Lacking truth and humility, they shall not be appreciated in the world hereafter. Wisdom which leads to arguments is not called wisdom. Wisdom leads us to serve our Creator and Master; through wisdom, honor is obtained. Wisdom does not come by reading textbooks; wisdom inspires us to give in charity. Says Nanak, this is the Path; other things lead to Satan. -----Guru Nanak, Raag Sarang, AGGS, Page, 1245
Virinder S. Grewal