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Shabad Numbering System


May 9, 2006
Gurfateh Jios

Some may wonder about the numbers that appear at the end of stanzas in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This is an attempt to summarise it. Any input from members is greatly appreciated. :)

From the big picture down:
  • SGGSJ is arranged primarily by Raag (with a few exceptions, like Japji, Rehras and Sohila pp 1-13)
  • Raags are often divided by author, composition and musical tempo, like "first house", which are numbered sequentially and can be further broken down and numbered.
  • Each shabad is made up of stanzas (shaloks, paurhis, ashtapadees, etc) which are also numbered sequentially.
  • Sometimes, one type of stanza accompanies another type, for example the shalok that precedes each set of ashtapadees in Sukhmani Sahib.
Here's a worked example so you can see it in action.

The 7th line down on Panna 401 has this:
O Nanak, the Supreme Lord God preserves him, and no pain or sorrow afflicts him any longer. ||4||18||120||
The first number shows you that the verse immediately above it was the 4th verse in the shabad.
The second number shows you that this is the 18th shabad in this mini-collection.
The third number shows you that you are at the 120th shabad in the overall collection.

If you follow the pages backwards, you can see the second and third numbers decreasing.

If you keep reading forwards from the 7th line down on Panna 401, you see the tempo changes to the Ninth House. The last line in the first shabad there says:
Says Nanak, now that I have obtained the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, I shall not have to be reincarnated again. ||4||1||121||

You can see the numbering in the second box has changed to '1' because this is the first shabad in the ninth house, but it's the 121st shabad in Raag Aasaa, Second House, by Fifth Nanak.

There is no easy way
There is no easy way to know precisely where you are except to work backwards to work it out.

The short of it
The way to know when a particular individual shabad starts, is to find it's heading line, like 'Raag Aasaa, Fifth Mehl'.

To find the end of the shabad, follow the single numbers until the sequence stops and starts again.

Throughout the shabad, you will see each verse numbered sequentially.

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