RĀMKALĪ SADU, by Sundar, is an "elegy" (sadd, in Punjabi) included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib in Rāga Rāmkalī, eighteenth of the thirty-one musical measures used in Sikh Scripture. Sadd is a form of folk poetry prevalent in rural Punjab. Literally the term means an invocation call, hark or cry. Originally, it was used to denote songs addressed by lover to beloved expressing his heart's anguish. With the passage of time, it turned into a dirge sung in love and adoration of the dead. Sundar, a great grandson of Gurū Amar Dās, Nānak III, recaptures in this six-stanza verse the advice the Gurū gave to his followers and members of his family just before he passed away. Gurū Amar Dās tells them not to weep and wail for him, nor to perform the customary mourning rites. Since death is an opportunity for the individual soul to get united with the Supreme Soul, it is not a moment for lament. The poem opens with an invocatory line wherein God is called the Beneficent Lord of this universe and one who cares for His devotees in all the three worlds. If one follows the Gurū's word, duality ends and one gives oneself to the contemplation of the Name of the Supreme Being alone. It was this gift of nām-simran which Gurū Amar Dās received from his predecessors, Gurū Nānak and Gurū Aṅgad and which helped him achieve the Supreme status. When the call of death came, Gurū Amar Dās was absorbed in the meditation of His Name. The imperishable, immovable and immeasurable Lord could be realized only through nām-simran (1). The second stanza summarizes the Gurū's injunctions to his followers to face the sombre moment of his death with calm serenity. One is adjured to rejoice in the Lord's Will. It is only the Name that will help man in his journey to the next world, not the traditional funeral rituals meant to guide the soul hereafter. The next two stanzas, written in the first person, constitute the Gurū's last advice to his followers and relations. Since the "death summons from God cannot be returned uncomplied" (3), none should feel sad or weep at the time of his death: rather, the moment should be taken as an opportunity for the soul to become united with the Lord (4). In the concluding two stanzas, Sundar sums up the advice given by the Gurū calling upon his Sikhs to chant the hole hymns instead of resorting to the customary rituals (5). The Sadu concludes with Gurū Amar Dās bidding his son Mohrī and all the Sikhs to pay obeisance to Gurū Rām Dās whom he had anointed his successor "by placing himself into him”(6).

        The Sadu is commonly recited at the conclusion of a reading of the Gurū Granth Sāhib as part of the obsequies.


  1. Śabadārth Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Amritsar, 1964
  2. Sāhib Siṅgh, Sad Saṭīk. Amritsar, 1935
  3. Sardūl Siṅgh, Giānī, Sadd Sidhānt. Amritsar, n.d.

Kuldīp Siṅgh Dhīr