Guru Granth Sahib

Guru Granth Sahib

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji ( _pa. ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ, "IAST|gurū granth sāhib"), or Guru Granth Sahib, is the eleventh and eternal Guru of the Sikhs.cite book
last = Keene
first = Michael
title = Online Worksheets
publisher = Nelson Thornes
date = 2003
pages = 38
isbn = 074877159X
] Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), the tenth Guru in Sikh tradition, affirmed the sacred text Adi Granth as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus, and elevating the text to "Guru Granth Sahib".cite book
last = Partridge
first = Christopher Hugh
title = Introduction to World Religions
date = 2005
pages = 223
isbn =
] From that point on, the text remained not only the holy scripture of the Sikhs, but is also regarded by them as the living embodiment of the Ten Gurus. [cite conference
first = Singh
last = Kashmir
publisher = Global Sikh Studies
url =
accessdate =2008-04-01
] The role of Guru Granth Sahib, as a source or guide of prayer, [cite book
last = Singh
first = Kushwant
title = A history of the sikhs
publisher = Oxford University Press
date = 2005
isbn = 0195673085
] is pivotal in worship in Sikhism.

The Adi Granth was first compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606), from hymns of the first five Sikh Gurus and other great saints of the Hindu and Muslim traditions. The original scribe of the Adi Granth was Bhai Gurdas and later Bhai Mani Singh. After the demise of the tenth Sikh Guru many handwritten copies were prepared for distribution by Baba Deep Singh.

The 'Guru Granth Sahib' is a voluminous text of 1430 pages, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh Gurus, from 1469 to 1708. It is compiled in the form of hymns written in praise of God, which describe what God is likecite book
last = Penney
first = Sue
title = Sikhism
publisher = Heinemann
pages = 14
isbn = 0435304704
] and the right way to live. Written in the Gurmukhi script, it is written predominantly in Punjabi but includes cursory use of other languages including Braj, Old Punjabi, Khariboli (Hindi), and Persian.

Meaning and role in Sikhism

Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be the highest authority within the community, and it plays a central role in Sikh devotional and ritual life. The place of the Guru Granth Sahib in Sikh devotional life is based on two fundamental principles or beliefs. The first is that the text within the Adi Granth is divine revelation, [cite book
last = Ganeri
first = Anita
title = Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhism
publisher = Black Rabbit Books
date = 2003
pages = 2023
isbn = 1583402454
] hence it cannot be changed, and the second is that all answers regarding religion and morality can be discovered within the text. The hymns and teachings contained in the Sikh holy book are called "Gurbani" or "Word of the Guru" and sometimes "Dhurbani" or "Word of God". Thus, in Sikh theology, the revealed divine word is the Guru. [cite book
last = foley- Garces
first = Kathleen
title = Death and Religion in a changing World
publisher = M.E Sharpe
date = 2005
pages = 180
isbn =
] Because the scripture inherited this authority from Sikh Gurus, it is called "Guru Granth", meaning "Guru Book".

The work of the numerous holy men who contributed to the Guru Granth Sahib is collectively referred to as "Bhagat Bani" or "Word of Devotees". These saints belonged to different social and religious backgrounds, including Hindus and Muslims, cobblers and even untouchables. Although the Sikh Bhagats are not accorded the status of Guru in Sikhism, their work is equally revered as that of Sikh Gurus and no distinction is made between the work of a Sikh Bhagat and a Sikh Guru. The essence of these doctrines is that the Guru Granth Sahib, which contains the complete teachings of the Sikh Gurus, is the sole and final successor of the line of Gurus. Anyone claiming the status of living Guru is considered a heretic. [cite book
last = Deol
first = Harnik
title = Religion and Nationalism in India
publisher = Routledge
date = 2000
pages = 62
isbn =041520108X


The work of transcribing the teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru and founder of Sikhism, began in his lifetime.cite web
last = Singh
first = Roopinder
title = The Word of faith
publisher =The tribune
date = 04-09-2004
url =
accessdate =2008-04-04
] When Guru Angad became the second Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak gave him his collection of hymns and teachings in the form of a "pothi" (manuscript). Guru Angad added 63 of his own compositions and subsequently handed the enlarged manuscript to the third Guru, Amar Das. Guru Amar Das prepared a number of manuscripts, which he supplemented with 974 of his own compositions, as well as the works of various Bhagats. These manuscripts, known as "Goindwal pothis", mention the message of Guru Amar Das as to why the "Bhagat Bani" was included and how the Bhagats were influenced by Guru Nanak. The fourth Guru also composed hymns and preserved them in a pothi.

The fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, in order to consolidate the "Bani" (Divine word) of earlier Gurus and to prevent spurious compositions creeping into the original text, decided to compile the "Adi Granth". The ancient Sikh manuscript "Tawarikh Guru Khalsa" mentions that Guru Arjan Dev issued a "Hukamnamah" (official order), asking anyone who could contribute to do so. All of the sourcing and content of the "Bani" was reviewed, of the earlier Gurus as well as that of the Bhagats. Guru Arjan Dev's examination of the text sought to order and affirm the authenticity of the existing revelation. Guru Arjan started the work of compiling the Adi Granth early in 1599.cite book
last = Singh
first = Sangat
title = The Sikhs in History
publisher = Singh Brothers
date = 1995
pages = 33
isbn = 0964755505

The final prepared volume is known as Adi Granth, or "original volume". It was written by Bhai Gurdas, under the direct supervision of Guru Arjan, who dictated the text. It included the compositions of the first four Sikh Gurus, to which were added those of the fifth Sikh Guru, Arjan Dev. The Adi Granth also contained the compositions of fifteen Bhagats, seventeen Bhatts ("bards", or traditional composers), and four others such as Bhai Mardana, a lifelong companion of Guru Nanak.

The Adi Granth took five years to complete and was installed in Harmandir Sahib ("the abode of God"), popularly known as the Golden Temple, on September 01, 1604, with Baba Buddha as the first Granthi. This original volume is presently in Kartarpur and bears the signature of the Guru Arjan. [cite news
title = Original Text
url =
accessdate =2008-01-21


The final composition of Adi Granth was prepared by Guru Gobind Singh with the scribe Bhai Mani Singh at "Talwandi Sabo" (renamed as Damdama Sahib). Guru Gobind Singh added the hymns composed by Guru Tegh Bahadur [cite book
last = Keene
first = Michael
title = New Steps in Religious Education
publisher = Nelson thomes
date = 2002
pages = 38
isbn = 0748764585
] but excluded his own. There is mention of Guru Gobind Singh's holding an "Akhand Path" (continued recital of Guru Granth Sahib). [cite book
last = Singh
first = Sangat
title = The Sikhs in History
publisher = Singh Brothers
date = 1995
pages = 74
isbn = 0964755505
] From Talwandi Sabo, Guru Gobind Singh went to Deccan. While at Nanded, Guru Gobind Singh installed the final version prepared by him as the perpetual Guru of Sikhs in 1708.

The Guru Granth Sahib is divided into ragas or classical musical notes. The chronological division is on the basis of ragas and not on the order of succession of Gurus. The Sikhs do not lay emphasis on any particular volume of Guru Granth Sahib as a Guru.

The Supreme Court of India holds that the Guru Granth Sahib should be, for historic and legal reasons, considered a 'Juristic person': "The Granth replaces the Guru after the tenth Guru. We unhesitatingly hold Guru Granth Sahib to be a juristic person." The court articulated this finding in the context of a case pertaining to a property dispute.

Elevation of Adi Granth to Guru Granth Sahib

The Adi Granth was conferred the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in October, 1708. The event, when Guru Gobind Singh installed Adi Granth as the Guru of Sikhism, was recorded in a "Bhatt Vahi" (a bard's scroll) by an eyewitness, Narbud Singh, [cite book
last = Singh
first = Gurbachan
coauthors = Sondeep Shankar
title = The Sikhs : Faith, Philosophy and Folks
publisher = Roli & Janssen
date = 1998
pages = 55
isbn = 81-7436-037-9
] who was a bard at the Guru's court. There are a variety of other documents attesting to this proclamation by the tenth Guru.

Thus, despite some aberrations, the Sikhs overwhelmingly accept that the Guru Granth is their eternal Guru. This has been the understanding and conviction of the Sikhs, since that October day of 1708.

Guru's commandment

A close associate of Guru Gobind Singh and author of "Rehit-nama", Prahlad Singh, recorded the Guru's commandment saying "With the order of the Eternal Lord has been established [Sikh] Panth: all the Sikhs hereby are commanded to obey the Granth as their Guru".("Rehat-nama, Bhai Prahlad Singh") [cite book
last = Singh
first = Ganda
coauthors = Gurdev Singh
title = Perspectives on The Sikh Tradition
publisher = Singh Brothers, Amritsar (India)
date = 1996
pages = 224
isbn = 81-7205-178-6
] Similarly Chaupa Singh, another associate of Guru Gobind Singh, has mentioned this commandment in his "Rehat-nama".


The Sikh Gurus developed a new writing system, Gurmukhī, for writing their sacred literature.cite book
last = Hoiberg
first = Dale
coauthors = Indu Ramchandani
title = Students' Britannica India
publisher = Popular Prakashan
date = 2000
pages = 207
isbn = 0852297602
] Although the exact origins of the script are unknown, [cite book
last = Duggal
first = Kartar Singh
title = Philosophy and Faith of Sikhism
publisher = Himalayan Institute Press
date = 1998
pages = 14
isbn = 0893891096
] it is believed to have existed in an elementary form during the time of Guru Nanak. According to Sikh tradition, Guru Angad is said to have invented the script, and popularised it's use among the Sikhs. It is stated in "Mahman Prakash", an early Sikh manuscript, that the script was invented by Guru Angad at the suggestion of Guru Nanak during the lifetime of the founder. [cite book
last = Gupta
first = Hari Ram
title = History of the Sikhs Vol.1; The Sikh Gurus, 1469-1708
publisher = Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers (P) Ltd.
date = 2000
pages = 114
isbn = 8121512764
] The word Gurmukhī translates as "from the mouth of the Guru". The script was used, from the onset, for compiling Sikh scriptures. The Sikhs assign high degree of sanctity to Gurmukhī language script. [cite book
last = Mann
first = Gurinder Singh
title = The making of Sikh Scripture
publisher = Oxford University Press
date = 2001
pages = 5
isbn = 0195130243
] The Gurmukhī language Script is also the official script for the Indian State of Punjab.

The "Guru Granth Sahib" is divided into fourteen hundred and thirty pages known as "Angs" (limbs) in Sikh tradition. The composition is divided on the basis musical notes called "Ragas".cite book
last = Brown
first = Kerry
title = Sikh Art and Literature
publisher = Routledge
date = 1999
pages = 200
isbn = 0415202884
] A "Raga" is a scale and combination of certain musical notes, that provide a basic structure around which the musician performs. The "Ragas" or musical notes in "Guru Granth Sahib" are centered around different moods and times of the day and year. The total number of these "Ragas" or musical notes are thirty one, which are further divided into fourteen "Ragas" and seventeen "Raginis" (minor musical notes). Within the ragas, they are arranged by order of the Sikh Gurus and Sikh Bhagats. In addition to the "Ragas", there are twenty two compositions of "Vars" (Traditional ballads). Nine of these "vars" are based on specific tunes and the rest can be sung in any tune.

The structural composition of "Guru Granth Sahib" can be divided into three different sections: [cite book
last = Nayar
first = Kamala Elizabeth
coauthors = Jaswinder Singh Sandhu
title = The Socially Involved Renunciate: Guru Nanak's Discourse to the Nath
publisher =
date = 2007
pages = 60
isbn = 0791472132
#The introductory section that consists the Mul Mantra, Japji and Sohila composed by Guru Nanak
#The arrangement of compositions of Sikh Gurus followed by that of Sikh Bhagats, occurring according to chronology of "Ragas" or musical notes.
#The third part consists of compositions of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

The various "Ragas" or musical notes, as per order, are: Raga Sri, Manjh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Devagandhari, Bihagara, Wadahans, Sorath, Dhanasri, Jaitsri, Todi, Bairari, Tilang, Suhi, Bilaval, Gond (Gaund), Ramkali, Nut-Narayan, Mali-Gaura, Maru, Tukhari, Kedara, Bhairav (Bhairo), Basant, Sarang, Malar, Kanra, Kalyan, Prabhati and Jaijawanti.

anctity among Sikhs

Sikhs observe total sanctity of the text in the Guru Granth Sahib. No one can change or alter any of the writings of the Sikh Gurus written in Guru Granth Sahib. This includes sentences, words, structure, grammar etc. This total sanctity was observed by the Gurus themselves. Guru Har Rai had disowned his elder son, Ram Rai, because he had altered the wording of one of Guru Nanak's hymn.cite news
last = Bains
first = K.S
title = A tribute to Bal Guru
publisher = The Tribune
url =
] Ram Rai had been sent to Delhi, by Guru Har Rai, to explain "Gurbani" to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. In order to please the Emperor he altered the wording of hymns of Guru Nanak. The matter was reported to the Guru, who was displeased with his son and disowned him. Later when aged, Ram Rai was forgiven by Guru Gobind Singh.


Translations of the Guru Granth Sahib are available. However, Translation fallacy means that an accurate translation from the language of the Sikh Gurus, Gurmukhī, is not possible. Translations give entry level understanding of the Guru Granth Sahib to those who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to experience Gurmukhī (literally "from the mouth of the Gurus").

A Sikh is encouraged to learn Gurmukhi to fully experience and understand the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs believe that it is necessary to learn Gurmukhī, designed and used by the Sikh Gurus, to fully understand and appreciate the message.


The Guru Granth Sahib is always placed in the centre of a Gurudwara and placed on a raised platform, known as "Takht" (throne). The Guru Granth is given the greatest respect and honour. Sikhs cover their heads and remove their shoes while in the presence of Guru Granth. Before coming into its presence, they bathe and bow before the Guru Granth. The Guru Granth is always carried on the head and never touched with unwashed hands.cite book
last = Fowler
first = Jeaneane
title = World Religions:An Introduction for Students
publisher = Sussex Academic Press
date = 1997
pages = 354-357
isbn = 1898723486

The Guru Granth Sahib is always the focal point in any Gurudwara. It is attended with all signs of royalty, as was the custom with Sikh Gurus, and is placed upon a throne, and the congregation sits on the floor. It is waved upon by a "chaur" (sort of fan) which is made of fine material and a canopy is always placed over it. The devotees bow before the Guru and offer "Karah Prashad" (sacred food) or money to it.

The Guru Granth Sahib is taken care of by a Granthi. He is responsible for reciting from Guru Granth and leading the Sikh prayer. The Granthi also acts as the caretaker of Guru Granth Sahib and this function may be performed by any other person. An important function of the Granthi is to put Guru Granth Sahib to bed every night. Before doing this, he must recite the night prayer known as "Kirtan Sohila", which is composed by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion. Guru Granth Sahib is placed in a bed known as "Manji Sahib", and covered with soft quilts and clean cloths. Small cushions are also placed alongside to support its large size. It is kept covered in silken cloths, known as "Rumala", to protect from heat, dust, pollution etc. It rests on a "manji sahib" under a "rumala" until brought out again.


The printing of Guru Granth Sahib is done by the official religious body of Sikhs based in Amritsar. It is the sole worldwide publisher of Guru Granth Sahib. Great care is taken while making printed copies and strict code of conduct is observed during the task of printing. [cite news
last =
first =
title = Sikh holy book flown to Canada
publisher =
url =

Before the twentieth century, only hand written copies of Guru Granth Sahib were prepared. The first printed copy of Guru Granth Sahib was made in 1864. Since the early 20th century Guru Granth Sahib has a standard 1430 pages.

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji is currently printed in an authorised printing press in the basement of the Gurdwara Ramsar in Amritsar; any resulting printer's "waste" that has any of the sacred text on, is cremated at Goindval [Eleanor Nesbitt, "Sikhism: a very short introduction", ISBN 0-19-280601-7, Oxford University Press, pp. 40-41] . However, some unscrupulous individuals have printed unauthorised copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

Treatment of damaged copies

Any copies of the Guru Granth Sahib which are too badly damaged to be used, and any printer's waste which has any of its text on, are cremated with a similar ceremony as cremating a deceased man.
* [] : A copy damaged in a fire
* [] A copy damaged in a fire
* [] : 4 copies damaged in New Orleans by the flood caused by Hurricane Katrina

Comments on Sri Guru Granth Sahib by Non-Sikhs

This is what Max Arthur Macauliffe writes about the authenticity of the Guru's teaching::The Sikh religion differs as regards the authenticity of its dogmas from most other theological systems. Many of the great teachers the world has known, have not left a line of their own composition and we only know what they taught through tradition or second-hand information. If Pythagoras wrote of his tenets, his writings have not descended to us. We know the teachings of Socrates only through the writings of Plato and Xenophanes. Buddha has left no written memorial of his teaching. Kungfu-tze, known to Europeans as Confucius, left no documents in which he detailed the principles of his moral and social system. The founder of Christianity did not reduce his doctrines to writing and for them we are obliged to trust to the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Arabian Prophet did not himself reduce to writing the chapters of the Quran. They were written or compiled by his adherents and followers. But the compositions of Sikh Gurus are preserved and we know at first hand what they taught.

Miss Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel laureate, gives the following comment on receiving the First English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib:

:.... I have studied the scriptures of the great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes. They are compact in spite of their length, and are a revelation of the vast reach of the human heart, varying from the most noble concept of God, to the recognition and indeed the insistence upon the practical needs of the human body. There is something strangely modern about these scriptures and this puzzles me until I learned that they are in fact comparatively modern, compiled as late as the 16th century, when explorers were beginning to discover that the globe upon which we all live is a single entity divided only by arbitrary lines of our own making. Perhaps this sense of unity is the source of power I find in these volumes. They speak to a person of any religion or of none. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind. ...
** (From the foreword to the English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib by Gopal Singh, 1960)(bold added later)

Message of Guru Granth Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib provides unique and unequaled guidance and advice to the whole of the human race. It is the torch that will lead humanity out of Kali Yug (era of evil) to a life in peace, tranquility and spiritual enlightenment for all the nations of the World. The main message can be summarized as:

# All peoples of the world are equal
# Women are equal
# One God for all
# Speak and live truthfully
# Control the five vices
# Live in God's hukam (Universal Laws)
# Meditate on the name of God (Remember God)
# Practice Humility, Kindness, Compassion, Love, etc

Care & Protocol to be Observed

Personal Behaviour

Any person carrying out any "Service or Sewa" must observe the following:
* Head must be covered at all times.
* Shoes must be removed outside the Guru's room.
* Basic standards of personal hygiene are to be observed especially relating to cleanliness
* Eating or drinking while in service is strictly avoided.
* Complete silence is observed while in Guru's service.
* Respectful attitude towards others who are present.


* The room should be kept clean
* The clothes that are used to cover Guru Granth are kept clean and changed daily. Some people choose to use decorated cloth, but this is not necessary.
* Guru Granth is always placed on a Manji Sahib (small handmade bed like throne).
* A canopy is always placed over Guru Guru Granth.
* A Chaur Sahib (artificial hairs bundled together to fan over the Guru Granth Sahib) is be provided besides Guru Granth with a small platform to house the Karah Parshad (sacramental food) and other offerings.

On the move

While Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji is on the move the following is observed:
* Five initiated Sikhs accompany Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji at all times when traveling
* Another Sikh does Chaur Sahib seva
* The Main Sikh carrying Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji must put a clean Rumalla on his or her head before carefully and with respect placing Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji on this Rumalla. At all times, Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji should be covered with a small Rumalla so that Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji's Saroop is always fully "covered".
* There should be recitation of "Waheguru" at all times.
* A kamarkassa (waist band) should be tied around Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

Other considerations

* No one sits on a higher platform than the Guru.

Guru Granth Sahib World University

Guru Sahib World University would be formally launched in July 2009. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Fourth Centenary Memorial Trust. The meeting was chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister Paraksh Singh Badal. Disclosing this, Mr. Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor to the Chief Minister said that apart from intensive work on Guru Granth Sahib studies, the University would focus on imparting education in post modern technologies such as Nano-technology, Bio-technology, Information Technology and Business Management besides comparative study of different religions. These courses would be introduced in the inaugural academic session next year.

Later, the University would also house the faculties in Emerging Technologies, Basic Sciences, Management, Social Sciences, Arts, Languages, Engineering, Architecture, Law and Social Justice. Work would woon commence on the construction of the Complex.

Other universities

Punjabi University, Patiala, has established a department which provides a number of academic courses on Guru Granth Sahib. The department was established in 1962. Sikhism is a revealed religion and as such the department was established to do research in Sikhism and Sikh scriptures.cite web
title = Guru Granth Sahib Research Department
url =
accessdate =
] The aim of the department is to study Sikhism as an academic discpline and to produce source material for students working in the field of Sikh studies. The thrust areas of the departmental research are Sikh theology and Sikh Philosophy

The university has started work on an online academic course in advanced studies of the Guru Granth sahib. This academic course would be available internationally, to any student who wants academic training in the Sikh scripture. The academic exam papers would be designed by "The Advanced Centre for Development of Punjabi Language, Literature and Culture". [ [ Varsity plans online course] ]

ee also

*Message of Guru Granth Sahib
*300 Saal Guru de Naal


Further reading

*Sri Guru Granth Sahib (English Version) by Dr Gopal Singh M.A Ph.D., Published by World Book Centre in 1960

External links

* [ Granth]


* [ 400th Anniversary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib]


* [ Listen to Complete Guru Granth Sahib (66 hours), read meaning & download gurmat softwares & fonts]


* [ Sri Guru Granth Sahib on]
* English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib [ PDF]
* [ The Guru Granth Sahib in Unicode format]


* [ Quotations from Guru Granth Sahib]
* []

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