GUṬKĀ, a small-sized missal or breviary containing chosen hymns or bāṇīs from Sikh Scriptures. The etymology of the term guṭkā may be traced back to Sanskrit guḍ (to guard, preserve) or guṇṭh (to enclose, envelop, surround, cover) through Pāli gutti (keeping, guarding). A late-eighteenth-century scholar of Udāsī sect spelt the word as guḍhkā. It is obligatory for Sikhs to recite certain texts and prayers as part of their daily devotions. This led to the practice of writing them down in guṭkās or pothīs (larger in size than guṭkās). Keeping or carrying of guṭkās must have gained greater vogue among the Sikhs during the early eighteenth century when disturbed conditions forced them to be ever on the move. They kept them sheathed with their gātrās or cross-belts as they rode out from place to place. Guṭkās became really popular with the advent of the printing press and the rise of the Siṅgh Sabhā movement during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Various types of guṭkās made their appearance. The most common were Nitnem guṭkās, which contained bāṇīs meant to be recited daily, namely Japu, Jāpu, Savaiyye, Anandu for the morning, Rahrāsi and Benatī Chaupaī for the evening and Sohilā at bedtime. Some also contained Shabad Hazāre, Āsā kī Vār and Sukhmanī, although the last two bāṇīs were also available in separate volumes. Another guṭkā which has gained currency under the title is Sundar Guṭkā containing besides all the above bāṇīs, compositions for occasional recitation such as Bārāh Māhā (Twelve Months) and hymns appropriate to birth, marriage and funeral ceremonies and rites. The commonest script is Gurmukhī, although guṭkās published in Devanāgarī and Persian scripts are also available.

Balbīr Siṅgh Nandā