Sikh Sacred Texts: Siri Guru Granth Sahib

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Sri Guru Granth Sahib is unique among the world’s great scriptures: It, rather than any living person, is considered the Supreme Spiritual Inspiration and Leader of the Sikh religion.The Guru of the Sikhs is held in great reverence by Sikhs and treated with the utmost respect as a living teacher. It is also unique in that it contains not only the works of its own religious founders but also writings of people from other faiths.

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Sikh Sacred Texts: Siri Guru Granth Sahib

  1. 1. The Guru Granth Sahib is acompilation of the devotionalwritings, poetry and “Sloks” orhymns of seven of the Sikh Gurusand select writings of Sikh, Sufi,Hindu and Muslim saints and sages.There are entries from Siri GuruNanak Dev, Guru Angad, GuruAmardas, Guru Ramdas, GuruArjan, Guru Tegbahadur and GuruGobing Singh. There are alsocontributions from 15 Bhagats, 17Bhatts, and 4 Sikh Saints.
  2. 2. The Guru Granth Sahib is recorded ontofourteen hundred and thirty pages known asAngs (limbs) in Sikh tradition.It can be divided into three different sections:1. Introductory section consisting of the MulMantra, Japji and Sohila composed by SiriGuru Nanak Dev.2. Compositions of Sikh Gurus followed bythose of Different Bhagats who know onlyone God, entered according to the orderof Ragas or musical composition.3. Compositions of Guru Teg Bahadur.The entries are divided on the basis of their musical setting in different ragas. A raga is aseries of melodic motifs, based upon a definite scale or mode, that provides a basicstructure around which the a musician performs. The ragas are associated with differentmoods and times of the day and year. The total number of ragas in the Sikh system isthirty one, divided into fourteen ragas and seventeen raginis (less definite ragas). Withinthe raga division, the songs are arranged in order of the Sikh gurus and Bhagats withwhom they are associated.
  3. 3. The Sikh Gurus developed a new writing system, Gurumukhi, for writing their sacredliterature. Unlike the Hindu Scriptures which were written in Sanskrit which could forthe most part only be read by the highly educated Brahmin elite, Gurumukhi wastaught and became the language of the common people of the Punjab and is theorigin of todays Punjabi dialect. Although the exact origins of the script are unknown,it is believed to have existed in an elementary form during the time of Guru Nanak.According to Sikh tradition, Guru Angadis said to have developed the script,and popularized its use among theSikhs. It is stated in Mahman Prakash,an early Sikh manuscript, that the scriptwas invented by Guru Angad at thesuggestion of Guru Nanak during GuruNanaks lifetime.The word Gurmukhī translates as "from the mouth of the Guru". The script wasused, from the outset, for compiling Sikh scriptures. Sikhs give a high degree ofreverence and sanctity to the Gurmukhī language script; it is also now theofficial script for the Indian State of Punjab and the Punjabi language.
  4. 4. During the Life of Guru Nanak, collections of hishymns were compiled and sent to distant Sikhcommunities for use in morning and evening prayerand meditation. His successor, Guru Angad, begancollecting his predecessors sacred writings. Thistradition was continued by the third and fourth gurus.Siri Guru Arjun Dev called Bhai Gurdas to his presenceand expressed to him the wish that the compositionsof the Gurus as well as those of some of the saints andsufis be collected and compiled.Great care was taken in the selection of what was to become Adi Granth. Guru Arjuncarried out the work with extraordinary exactness. He arranged the hymns in thirtydifferent ragas, or musical patterns. A precise method was followed in setting downthe compositions. First came sabdas by the Gurus in the order of their succession.Then came hands, vars, and other poetic forms in a set order. The compositions ofthe Gurus in each raga were followed by those of the Bhaktas in the same format.
  5. 5. Having compiled the Adi Granth, the Guru installed itin the newly- built Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar. Thefirst parkash was performed in the Golden Temple byGuru Arjan on August 30, 1604. The Guru appointedBhai Buddha as the custodian of the Granth . At thistime, the Guru bowed before the scripture,acknowledging the higher authority of the bani to thepersonal importance and significance which hepossessed as Guru. After this time, he no longer satat a level above the Granth Sahib, but below it. TheGuru also instituted daily public worship at thetemple where the Granth was recited all day long tothe accompaniment of stringed musical instruments.Guru Arjun directed that during daytime the Adi Granth should remain in theHarimandir and by night, it should be taken to the room he had built for himself. Asevening advanced by two watches, Bhai Buddha recited Sohila and made theconcluding ardas or supplication. The Granth Sahib was closed and wrapped in silks.Bhai Buddha held it on his head and marched towards the chamber of Guru Arjun. TheGuru led the sangat singing hymns. The Granth Sahib was placed on the appointedresting place, and the Guru slept on the ground by its side.
  6. 6. In the fall of 1708 shortly before the tenthGuru, Guru Gobind Singh left his body, theGuru’s Sikhs enquired as to whom he wasentrusting his Khalsa.The Guru accompanied by devout Khalsa wentto Nanded where Adi Granth was installed. Heopened the holy book, bowed before it, thenwent round the sacred scripture fivetimes, bowed every time, and declared it asthe Guru for all times to come.Guru Gobind Singh named it Granth consisting of two words, Gur and Antmeaning eternal Guru. He asserted: " In future whoever wishes to seekenglightenment, guidance and solace, let him read the holy granth. He declaredthat there will be no more human gurus, and that all of the knowledge andinspiration needed by the Sikhs existed in the Guru Granth Sahib and proclaimedthat Guru Granth Sahib will be your Guru for ever and ever till eternity.
  7. 7. Almost since the time of it’s installationat Siri Harmandar Sahib, there has beenconstant recitation of the Adi Granth andthen the Guru Granth Sahib.Only on a few occasions under the worstcircumstances has that constant prayerand devotional music been stopped.On any given day there areapproximately 24 continuousrecitations or “Akand Paths” of GuruGranth Sahib occuring simultaneouslyat Harimandar Sahib.Every day in the early hours of themorning, “Babaji is still brought fromit’s resting spot into the main Darbarand first thing gives the Hukam ororder of the day (words of wisdom tolive by) for Sikhs worldwide.
  8. 8. Today Guru Granth Sahib is the central figurein every Sikhs life. In Devout households thereis often a special room set aside as Babaji’sroom where Guru Granth resides.Amrit Dharee or Baptized Sikhs are requiredby commitment to recite (at least) five “Banis”Every day. Four of these Banis are selectionsfrom Guru Granth and one is from DhasamGranth (writings of Guru Gobind Singh).Guru Granth Sahibs are always treated withgreat respect and copies and translations arestrictly controlled so that the original writingsof the Gurus and Bhagats are never altered.When a Guru Granth Sahib is retired it iscremated with due ceremony.
  9. 9. In Sikh Temples or Gurdwaras The Guru GranthSahib is the central located to the front of theworship area and always elevated on athronelike “Palki” or “Manji Sahib”.In communities that can afford it there are oftenresident “Granthis” at the Gurdwara that carefor and facilitate Baba Ji’s daily routineThere are Important protocals observed whenhandling or reading Guru Granth Sahib:You must be free from intoxicants, you musthave bathed that day and your hands must beclean, your head must be covered and yourshoes must be off.There are english translations of Guru GranthSahib online, one of the better ones is at:www.srigranth.org

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