Sikh Missionary Society U.K. (Regd)
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Essence of the Faith
To safeguard the authenticity of Bani, Guru Arjun Dev collected, checked, compiled and got it written by Bhai Gurdas at the bank of Ramsar (Sar - pool), at Amritsar. There stands the Gurdwara Ramsar. It had 2218 Shabads of Guru Arjun Dev himself.
Guru Arjun Dev rejected the poems which did not come up to his measure, like those of Kahna, Chhaju, Peelo and Shah Hussain. It contained Bani of the 5 Guru, 15 Bhagat, 11 Bhatt (wise ones - Brahmin scholars), Sunder, Satta, Balwand and Mardana. It had 974 pages, total 5721 Shabads in 30 Raag (Raga - the musical measures). It had Raag-Mala (description of Ragas) at its end. It was completed in 1604, after working on it for four years. It was named the Pothi Sahib (the Revered Book). The same year, its Parkash (placed, opened, installed) was done in Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple), at Amritsar, Punjab, India. Its first Granthi (caretaker) was Baba Budha ji. Later, it was called Adi Granth (book from beginning of the time). With changing time, it went to the Sodhi of Kartarpur, District Jalandhar, Punjab, and came to be known as “Kartar Puri Beerr” (the Kartarpur Book). The original was lost and the present volume is a copy of that.
Bhai Bano made a copy of Guru Arjun Dev’s Beerr and put into it a few extra poems on his own. Guru Arjun Dev rejected and called it “Khari Beerr” (khari - saltish, unacceptable book). This Beerr is perhaps somewhere in Uttar Pradesh or elsewhere.
Baba Deep Singh Shahid, at the time of Guru Gobind Singh, made copies both of Kartarpuri Beerr and Damdami Beerr. Damdami Beerr was lost during attacks of Ahmed Shah Abdali in “Wadda Ghalughara” (Greater Holocaust).
One day before his death in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh declared this D.amd.ami Beerr to be the ‘Guru’, and no human ever to be the guru of the Sikhs after him. This Beerr (Damdami) came to be addressed as “Adi Guru Granth Sahib,” or “Guru Granth Sahib.” (Adi - from the beginning. Guru - Prophet. Granth - Book. Sahib - an honorific word like Sir). The original Guru Granth Sahib (Damdami Beerr) was lost in the Sikh struggle, and its available Beerrs are copies of Damdami Beerr.
The first original version of the hymns collected by Guru Arjun Dev and scribed by Bhai Gurdas, at Amritsar, is Adi Granth (Book from the beginning of the time) called Kartarpuri Beerr, and the word “Guru“ is not used for it. It is not the Sikh Guru.
Its second version compiled by Guru Gobind Singh with added Bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur, scribed by Bhai Mani Singh at Damdama Sahib, called Damdami Beerr, is known as Adi Guru Granth Sahib. This is the Sikh-Guru.
Between a scholar and the faithful is the middle path of practicing religion with intelligent faith, and this is the path the scholars have to pave for the coming generations. They should follow the precepts with constructive approach and scientific understanding. They should not mess up the minds of the youth with contradictory conclusions in the name of research.
Nobody has a right to temper with the faith, and its followers will never tolerate anyone who will try to do so. Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh Holy Book, and the Hymns in it are acceptible to its followers as these are originally given there.
It is our duty to protect a genuine author lest his or her hard labor, time and money go to waste. Banning a book is killing an author. The Sikh world should try to watch that he or she does not set a self destructive path by working on the damaging research. Both the ends can be met with by a central body which should directly and as well indirectly through local institutions, control, supervise, as well guide and conduct research on the faith - “Sikhi, Sikheaa, Gur veechaar” (1-465-10. Sikh religion, its teachings and Scriptures). We have to be careful that this procedure does not cause undue delays and that it is run without prejudice or discrimination of any sort whatsoever. No doubt, the search should promote Gurbani and Sikhi in its totality.
The studies should solve the mysteries of Gurbani and render its dictates easily understandable by the novice to follow and to apply them into life. Guru Granth Sahib shows the way to one God, and its approach is through an ethical daily life based on equality of everyone. The attainment of such an ethical life makes him or her fit for the “Naam Jaap” - recitation of the name of God. This in turn enables that person to receive “Nadar” - benevolence of the Lord, for realizing Him. We should simplify things rather than complicating them with our questionable conclusions of our ill founded researches.
The people should not try to conform Bani to their specifications, rather they should make themselves acceptable to it - adopt its discipline. If the West wants to investigate the Holy Granth, it will have to keep its own values and techniques aside, and will have to tailor its mind to the norms of the East. It will have to discard its methodology and yardsticks, as well as its litmus-tests, and learn the Eastern ways of approach, observing due respect to the sentiments of the faithful. Moreover, to study in depth, and to reach the essence and reality, it is very important to master the script- Gurmukhi, in which it is written, and as well its language - Sant-Boli. Without this quality, the scholars have to depend on the translations by others, and so they may get easily misled.
It is important for the faithful too, not merely to dump away the talent, time and energy put into a work, and all the money spent on the efforts for the project. After making desirable changes and modifications to render the work acceptable, it should be allowed to be released to the masses. Otherwise, all the work done will go to waste, and the author will feel persecuted by those whom he or she will label as fanatics. No good work done should go to waste. A few reasonable changes can save a great work done. It is better for an author to work within limits and under restraint rather than getting the whole of his or her hard work annihilated in the end.
Our studies should expound the Gurbabi and should expose us to the Joy of its beauty and lofty philosophy for us to ever stay in the peace of mind. This will be a great uniting and elevating force and the bestower of harmony.
The negative approach (wrong research causing confusion) will bring in anarchy, disruption, disintegration in faith, and it will be hard for the Sikh world to absorb the sudden shock emanating from the tremendous loss from the dwindling number of the faithful - Sikhs going away from the Sikhi right in its face. The cleavage may give birth to a new generation of Sikhs that may have its own values, definition of a Sikh, and the mode of practicing the Sikhi - the Sikh faith. If at all it happens, it will be very unfotunate and a dark day! Our studies of Guru Granth Sahib should be directed to prevent such a catastrophy (may be imaginary).
The Bani of Gurus in the Holy Granth is under the name of the one and the same Guru-Spirit - Nanak. This way, all the Gurus are there in the Holy Granth (The Holy Book) as one indivisible ‘Guru-Spirit - Nanak.’ Therefore, Bani of all the Ten Gurus whether they uttered it or not, should be taken to be present in the Holy Granth in the form of the “Word” - ‘Shabad Guru’. In the Holy Granth, Bani of all others beside the Gurus, should be interpreted in its right perspective i.e. considered as Gurbani.
It will be a gross injustice and incorrect to say that the Sikhs are to believe and follow the Bani composed only by the Gurus. When Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed the Holy Granth to be the Guru of the Sikhs, he said so not about certain parts, but about whole of its contents - the Word - ‘Shabad-Guru’. In this form, total contents of ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’ are the Guru of the Sikhs without any doubt, distinction or discrimination. It includes the Bani of Guru Gobind Singh also, though it is not in ‘Sri Granth Sahib’. He is the Tenth Guru and his Bani is the “Word,” too. If he did not use “Nanak” in his Bani, he did not use his own name as well. Being a Guru, his Bani also, is the “Revealed One’ - ‘Dh.ur Kee.Banee’ A Sikh cannot think otherwise. Guru Gobind Singh himself affirmed that in his poem Bachitar Natak (A Wondrous Drama) -
Before the partition of India in 1947, the author had seen Guru Granth Sahib scribed in the Urdu and Hindi scripts - the language remaining unchanged. Those were adored, revered and respected in the usual set and accepted (traditional) way. He did not exactly remember having seen one in Roman, but perhaps it existed.
The writing done in any script other than Gurmukhi (the language remaining original) may be another aspect to be decided by the Panth - the Sikh world. A translation in any language, may be Gurmukhi or English cannot be accepted as Guru Granth Sahib, may be it is in one volume. To be the “Holy Guru,” the Book has to be in one volume. The Holy Guru Granth, has to be in its original “Sant Boli” (the language of saints), the script may be any. This should as well be decided by the Sikh Panth (the Sikh World).
The Panth should decide on writing Guru Granth as one volume in the standardized, universally accepted roman (English) and other scripts e.g. Hindi, Arabic (Urdu) etc. The same way, the Sikh world should decide to print the Holy Book in the standard, and universally accepted translations in other languages, most important and immediate need of the time being Hindi, Urdu and English.
Sooner or later (even now) a need may arise for one-volume standardised translations by the Sikh world, to be honored and cared for (revered) like the original Holy Book (Guru Granth Sahib in the Gurmukhi script). Only the Panth - the Sikh world, can decide if a translation should be taken as a Guru. Apparantly, the idea cannot be accepted by the Sikhs. The Tenth Master designated Damdami Beerr and nothing else to be the Guru.
The scholars of the Sikh faith have to carefully watch that no one out of them becomes a crazy critic merely to do unnecessary hair-splitting to scare away the adherents - old or young, and students of Guru Granth Sahib. They should find means to help their study of it.
Whatever Bani was revealed to the Gurus, it was recorded on the paper. Paper, ink and pen (usually reed pens) were no problem in those days. It might very likely have been written by the Guru himself, or by his some disciples. There is no doubt, Guru Nanak had a book with him when he went to Mecca. Very likely, it was the book of his own Hymns and other collections.
Guru Nanak had a clear cut plan of discipline to be placed before the humanity. It is quite possible that wherever he found some hymn by a Bhagat (devotee, a saint) in keeping with his philosophy, he recorded and preserved it. He wanted to take with him the like thinking people, gone by or contemporary, in his mission to unite the people to one God by evolving them to that level. It is wonderful that the Guru had such a broad vision, and he wanted to involve in his mission the maximum number of the people believing in the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. He was interested in the “Shabad” i.e. the ‘Word’ - the Word of God, and so, besides his own compositions, he went on collecting the hymns, from different sources, too. He himself was the prepounder of the “Shabad - Guru Philosophy” - real Guru is the Word itself.
In the last part of his life, the Guru settled at Kartarpur in District Sialkot on the bank of the river Ravi (now in Pakistan), just opposite Dera Baba Nanak in District Gurdaspur, Punjab, on the Indian side. Here, Bhai Mansukh spent 3 years to compile the Guru’s Bani into a Pothi - a book. The Guru was fully aware of the value and need of preserving the “Shabad” - Hymns.
Guru Nanak gave the collection of his own Bani to Bhai Lehna Ji (Later, Guru Angad Dev. Bhai - brother). Out of it, he selected the Hymns and composed Jappu ji Sahib (by Guru Nanak). All this shows that Guru Nank himself composed the Bani, and he continued to do so till his last days. The Guru clarified that he uttered whatever “Waheguru” - God, ordered him to do.
On June14, 1539 AD, Guru Nanak installed Bhai Lehna a Guru with his name “Guru Angad,” also commonly called Guru Angad Dev, and gave him his Pothi - collection of Hymns. Guru Angad, searched and collected more of the Bani of Guru Nanak, and got it scribed in Gurmukhi by Bhai Paaer.a Mokha. Guru Angad added to it his own Bani, 63 Slokes (Slokas).
On 29 March, 1552 AD, Guru Angad declared Amar Das a Guru and gave to him his collection of Bani. Guru Amar Das deputed his grand son Sahansar Ram (son of Baba Mohan. Baba - a word of respect for a senior, or an elevated person) to put together his Bani with the previous collection. It made two volumes. First vol. had 600 and the second 448 pages. It is said that from Sahansar Ram, these Pothis went to his father Baba Mohan, at Goindwal. Prof. Sahib Singh does not accept this view, and his opinion is that Guru Ram Das got both these volumes form Guru Amar Das on becoming a Guru on 1st September, 1574 AD. These two Pothis (books, volumes) came to be known as “Baba Mohan Walian Pothian” - Books of Baba Mohan. Guru Amar Das collected some more Bani of Bhagats (saints), and entered it into these Pothis.
Prof. Sahib Singh advanced the hypothesis of the succession of Bani from first to the next Guru on very strong similarity in the Bani of the first Four Gurus. This influence was possible only if in turn, they had the Bani of the previous Gurus with them. He had done a very deep study of this aspect and had critically compared the Bani of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad and Guru Amar Das in his book “Adi Beerr Barey” - about the Adi Beerr. He found strong similarities in the Bani of Guru Ram Das, too. This collection of the four Gurus went to Guru Arjun (also called Guru Arjun Dev) on taking up the responsibility of the Guru on 1st September,1581 AD. By studying an author deeply, one adopts his or her style, may be temporarily. The Gurus devotedly studied and recited the Bani of the previous Gurus and got the effect.
It is asserted that on listening the spurious poems being sung as Bani, a couple of devotees brought this fact to the notice of Guru Arjun, and requested him to protect the original Bani from admixture.
Besides Prithi Chand and Mehrban, who even prepared their own Granth, many others like Yogis etc. took up writing poetry under the title of “Nanak.” Had it not been curbed, the number of Guru Nanak’s Shabads might have become astronomical. This would have been self defeating by contradictory thoughts entering the cohesiveness of the Sikh philosophy. It could have severely damaged the Sikh faith, leaving it handicapped and very difficult to recover.
Decision to Write. Guru Arjun Dev was aware of the value of the “Shabads” (Hymns) and he wanted to attach the Sikhs to it rather than to the physical body of a Guru. For this, and to consolidate the Sikh thought to bring in harmony, to provide a central pivot of the Sikh philosophy, to strengthen the Sikh unity, to give something to them to depend on, to evolve themselves, to make an object for the Sikhs to look upon, and to place before the world a practically workable religious thought, the Guru wanted to put the ‘Bani’ in the book form.
Guru Arjun Dev brought the Pothis from Goindwal covered in nice clothes, placed in a planaquin, he himself walking behind it barefoot and gracefully moving the “Chaur” (yak hair wisp) over it. At Harimandir Sahib, it was placed near “D.ukh-bhanjanee-Baer” - the berry tree that removes all inflictions. The Guru instructed Baba Budha for the Sangat (congregation) to continue the Jaap (recitation) of “Satnam-Waheguru” and “Kirtan” throughout the night. The ‘Bani’ was held in such an exalted esteem!. On his way to Amritsar from Goindwal, the Guru met Guru Angad Dev’s son Bhai Datu, and got a Pothi from him, but its contents are not known.
The Guru sent Bhai Paaerra Mokha to Sangladeep (Cylone). From there, he brought the book “Pran Sangli” - supposed to be the Guru Nanak’s Bani. This book had only some formulas for “Ridhi-Sidhi (Occult Powers),” and the Guru rejected it.
Somone named Bhagat Singh took Baba Mohan’s Pothis from Goindwal to the North Western Frontier (Rawalpindi, Peshawar side) and now, there is no more a trace of them. There was a copy of these at Mahyapur in Hoshiarpur (Giani Partap Singh, Gurmatt lectures).
The Guru rejected some verses of the bhagats from the Mohan’s Pothis and even simplified (modified) the language of others (The Sikhs, Wowen Cole, Piara Singh Sambhi, page 48). He rejected the verses of Bhagat Kahna, Chhajoo, Shah Hussain and Peeloo - all from Lahore. The Guru also checked the collection of Bhai Bakhta Arora of Jalalpur (Hasanabdal - Panja Sahib) to select Bani out of it (Twareekh Khalsa, Giani Gian Singh).
The Manuscript was completed in the year 1601 AD, but its editing took four years more - 1604 AD. Guru Amar Das had blessed Guru Arjun, “D.ohta Ban.ee d.aa boht.aa” - son of my daughter, the scholar of Gurbani. Guru Arjun proved it and his own Shabads - Hymns, in this Holy Granth total about one third (about 2,000) out of the whole Bani in it (about 6,000 Hymns). When complete, initially it was called “Pothi Sahib.” it is said, the Guru blessesd that glory of this Holy Book would spread all over the world (History of the Sikh People, Part - I, Gopal Singh, page 184).
ivic krqw purKu KloAw ]Kirtan of the same Shabad was performed. Baba Budha, 98, was given the responsibility of a Granthi (caretaker - a sort of priest). A Diwan - congregation, was held in the front of Akal Bunga (Akal Takht: between Akal Takht and Harimandir Sahib). Bhai Gurdas presided on this session. The poets recited their poems. Bhai Gurdas did the Katha (expounded the Hymn) of the following Shabad -
vwlu n ivMgw hoAw ]
ivic krqw purKu KloAw ]
vwlu n ivMgw hoAw ]
Viche Kart.aa Purukhu khaloaa |
Vaalu naa vingaa hoaa
When the Lord is there,
nothing can go wrong.
jgqu jlMdw riK lY AwpxI ikrpw Dwir ]The saints, scholars and poets came from Kashmir, Benaras, and other near and distant places. Saint Mianmir joined the occasion with his disciples. King Akbar sent 500 Gold Mohars (Ashrafis - gold coins) and other gifts through his minister.
jgq jlñdw rK lY AwpxI k¡pw Dwir ]
Jagat. jaland.aa rakh laae apnee kirpaa dh:aare
O Lord, save the burning world with your mercy.
The Guru ordered that everyone would go into the presence of the Holy Granth with reverence, respectfully bow before it, be in its presence with veneration, and hold it in a very high esteem. The Guru was fully aware of the “Word -” name of God, and of its supremacy.
A new bed was made on the cot in the Kotha Sahib - a room on the right
of Akaal Takht, where the Guru used to take rest, and on it the closed
Holy book was placed for the night (Bisram, or Sukhasan - rest). Since
then the Guru rested on the cloth sheet spread on the floor in front of
that bed, and did not use this cot after that.
Shabad “Word” was propounded as the Guru right from the beginning, and the Pothi was accorded the highest place of honor. The Pothi was replica of Waheguru, abode of God -
poQI prmysr kw Qwnu ]
poQI prmysr kw Qwn ]
Pothi Parmesar kaa thaan
Pothi (Holy Book) is the abode of God.
The Guru Found. After Guru Arjun, Adi Beerr went to Guru Hargobind when he was designated Guru on 25 May, 1606 AD. Guru Hargobind had two grand sons Dhir Mall and (Guru) Har Rai. Guru Hargobind selected Har Rai and prepared him for the responsibilities of the Guru. He became Guru on 8th March, 1664 AD, but his elder brother Dhir Mall did not part with the Adi Granth. Presently, it is in the possession of Sodhis, descendants of Dhir Mall at Kartarpur, District Jalandhar, Punjab, and is known as Kartarpur Wali Beerr or Kartarpuri Beerr (Beerr - book). Later, when Tegh Bahadur became the Guru, Dhir Mall continued his excesses on him. While countering Dhir Mall, Makhan Shah Lobana and other Sikhs forcibly got possession of the Adi Beerr, but the gracious Guru did not keep and returned it honorably to Dhir Mall.
On the complaints of Prithi Chand (elder brother of Guru Arjun Dev), and his accomplices, King Akbar listened to some Shabads at Random out of the Adi Granth. He did not find anything objectionable. Rather, he was pleased to listen to the devotional Hymns. He dismissed the complaints, expressed his respect for the Holy Granth, and honorably sent back Baba Budha and Bhai Gurdas, emissaries of Guru Arjun Dev.
Except Guru Granth Sabib, there is no other religious book in the world having the status and authority of a Guru. This is the only Holy Book that was written by the Precepts (Gurus) themselves. No other religious book is democratic having compositions of the saints from other faiths besides the Bani of the Sikh Gurus. This is the Book of the “World Religion” - Sikhi.
Guru Granth Sahib in Hindi, Urdu, roman were accorded the same respect as in Gurmukhi. The Holy Book written in any script, should be honored equally as it is in Gurmukhi. To be the Holy Book, all these volumes should have standard 1430 pages, with 19 lines on its fully written page, as in Guru Granth Sahib. This is important to maintain the current standard accepted by the Sikh world.
To read and recite the Holy Book means reading and reciting the Holy Granth in one volume. If body infirmity does not permit you to sit down and read the Holy Book in one volume, rather than not reciting, you may read it in different volumes, in a comfortable posture, and at the end beg the Guru to forgive you.
If the health problem is so much that you cannot sit down with legs crossed, use such a seat that you can easily do so without bending the legs as when using a chair. Sitting on the pillows may help. May be, there is left a gap in the boards of Takhtposh (wooden bed) or a hole is made to put down the legs. One must not give up, and try adjustments to recite the Holy Book. The Guru will pardon the shortcomings.
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