PĀṬH, from the Sanskrit pāṭha which means reading or recitation, is, in the religious context, reading or recitation of the holy texts. In Sikhism, it implies daily repetition of scriptural texts from the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Reading of certain bāṇīs is part of a Sikh's nitnem or daily religious regimen. Pāṭh of these prescribed texts is performed from a handy collection, called guṭkā (missal or breviary) or from memory. Three of the bāṇīs, Gurū Nānak's Japu and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's Jāpu and Savaiye — constitute the Sikhs mandatory morning pāṭh or devotions, and two —Rahrāsi and Kīrtan Sohilā — evening pāṭh. Individuals add certain other texts as well such as Shabad Hajāre, Anandu and Sukhmanī. The pāṭh is also performed individually and more particularly in saṅgat from the Gurū Granth Sāhib itself. The Holy Volume is ceremonially installed under coverlet on a decorated seat resting on a raised platform, with a canopy above, and is opened by the pāṭhī or reader who sits reverentially behind. Usually, another man stands in attendance, waving the flywhisk over the Holy Book. The pāṭhī should have bathed and be dressed in clean clothes. Besides the reading of one single hymn to obtain vāk or hukamnāmā (lesson or command for the day) or of some passages, three forms of complete pāth of the Gurū Granth Sāhib are current : akhaṇḍ (unbroken recitation completed in forty eight hours), saptāhik (completed in a week) and sādhāran or sahij (taken in slow parts with no time limit for completion). A rarest variety is atī akhaṇḍ pāṭh, hardly ever practised, in which a single participant reads within the prescribed 48 hours the entire text. Another variety is the sampaṭ pāṭh. No time limit is specified for it. Different schools and different groups or pāṭhīs have their own schedules. But the commonest factor in this variety of pāthīs that a whole śabda or a portion of it from the holy text will be set apart for repetition after every full stanza or apportioned section of it has been recited. Time-limit-will thus be variable, depending upon the length of the verse or verses chosen for repetition. The hymn or portions of it chosen for repeated recitation will be governed by the occasion or purpose of the pāṭh. At certain places even the Mūl Mantra is repeated with the chosen line or lines. The relay of pāṭhīs in this instance will naturally be larger than in the case of a normal akhaṇḍ pāth.


    Cole, W. Owen and Sambhi, P.S., The Sikhs : Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Delhi, 1978

Tāran Siṅgh