SRĪ GURŪ GRANTH SĀHIB (Gurū=spiritual teacher; Granth = book or volume; Sāhib, an honorific signifying master or lord) is the name by which the holy book of the Sikhs is commonly known. It is a voluminous anthology of the sacred verse by six of the ten Gurūs whose compositions it carries and of some of the contemporary saints and men of devotion. The book is treated by the followers as Word incarnate, the embodiment and presence manifest or the spirit of the ten historical Gurūs (Gurū Nānak to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh). The anthology was prepared by Gurū Arjan (1563-1606), Nānak V. It was in the beginning referred to as pothī, pothī sāhib, the revered book. It was treated with great veneration. The Gurū himself described the pothī "as God's own repository" (GG, 1226). It was also called the Granth Sāhib. The prefix "Gurū" came to be applied as Gurū Gobind Siṅgh ended, before his passing, the line of personal Gurūs. "Granth Sāhib" was designated as "Gurū Granth Sāhib." The Gurū had declared the Word to be the same as Gurū (GG, 943). Gurū Amar Dās, Nānak III, had announced that for the sake of liberation, contemplation of the Word was more efficacious than even the sight of the Gurū (GG, 594). Over the years, the holy book has received the honours due to the living Gurūs. No Sikh assembly can properly speaking be so named unless the holy book be present in it. The holy volume in wraps or without wraps, which is but a rare occurrence, wherever located commands the reverence that was shown the living Gurūs. The Holy Book is the centre of all Sikh usage and ceremony.

        The Gurū Granth Sāhib-- some of the variations on the title being Ādi Granth, Srī Ādi Granth or Ādi Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib--- is today the living Gurū for the Sikhs. The basic Word in the expressions listed is granth which means a book, Sāhib and Srī being honorifics, gurū indicating its status as successor in the Gurūship and ādi, literally, original, first or primary, distinguishing it from the other sacred book of the Sikhs, the Dasam Granth, the book of the Tenth Master, which contains the compositions of the Tenth (Dasam) Gurū. A simpler form with a clear rural voice is Darbār Sāhib, the holy court. The contributors to the Gurū Granth Sāhib came from a variety of class and creedal background--- there were among them Hindus as also Muslims, "low" castes as also "high" castes.

        There were as many different contributors as there were rhymes and rhythms. The entire text was cast in verse patterns of a wide variety. There were 31 different measures used. They were all set in padas (verses), aṣṭpadīs (8-stanza hymns) and chhants (lyrics usually of 4 stanzas each) and longer compositions such as vārs in the order of the succession of the authors. In the 1430-page recension which is now the standard form and which carries the statutory approval of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in the present-day Sikh complex the sequence of contents is : the liturgical part (1-13), Sirī Rāga (14-93), Mājh (94-150), Gauṛī (151-346), Āsā (347-488), Gūjarī (489-526), Devagandhārī (527-536), Bihāgaṛā (537-556), Vaḍahaṅsa (557-594), Soraṭhi (595-659), Dhanāsarī (660-695), Jaitsarī (696-710), ṭoḌī (711-718), Bairāṛī (719-720), Tilaṅg (721-727), Sūhī (728-794), Bilāval (795-858), Gauṇḍ (859-875), Rāmkalī (876-974), Naṭ Nārāiṇ (975-983), Mālī Gauṛā (984-988), Mārū (989-1106), Tukhārī (1107-1117), Kedārā (1118-1124), Bhairau (1125-1167), Basant (1168-1196), Sāraṅg (1197-1253), Malār (1254-1293), Kānaṛā (1294-1318), Kaliān (1319-1326), Prabhātī (1327-1351), Jaijāvantī (1352-1353), Salok Sahaskritī (1353-1360), Gāthā, Phuneh and Chaubole (1360-1364), Salok Kabīr (1364-1377), Salok Farīd (1377-1384), Savaiyye (1385-1409), additional salok (1410-1429), Mundāvanī, and Rāgmālā (1429-1430).

        Even before the time of Gurū Arjan, pothīs or books, in Gurmukhī characters, existed containing the holy utterances of the Gurūs. A line in Bhāī Gurdās, vār 1.32, suggests that Gurū Nānak during his travels carried under his arm a book, evidently comprising his own compositions. According to the Purātan Janam Sākhī he handed over such a manuscript to Gurū Aṅgad as he passed on the spiritual office to him. Two of the collections of hymns or pothīs prior to the Gurū Granth Sāhib are still extant. They are in the possession of the descendants of Gurū Amar Dās. One of the families in the line used to live in Paṭiālā and has only recently migrated to Piñjore, in the Śivāliks, and the pothī it has inherited is on view for the devotees in their home on the morning of the full-moon day every month. A collateral family which is in possession of the second pothī lives in the village of Dārāpur, in Hoshiārpur district of the Punjab.

        The bāṇī, or word revealed, was held in great veneration by the Sikhs even before the Holy Volume was compiled. It was equated with the Gurū himself. "The bāṇī is the Gurū and the Gurū bāṇī," says Gurū Rām Dās in Rāga Naṭ Narāiṇ (GG, 982). The bāṇī echoed the Divine Truth; it was the voice of God--- "the Lord's own word," as said Gurū Nānak in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Gurū Amar Dās (GG, 515):

        vāhu, vāhu, bāṇī niraṅkar hai

        tis jevaḍ avar nā koe

        Hail, hail, the word of the Gurū, which is the Lord Formless Himself;

        There is none other, nothing else to be reckoned equal to it.


        The compilation of the Holy Book, a momentous event in Sikh history, is generally described in the briefest terms. The Sacred Volume was prepared by Gurū Arjan (1563-1606) and the first copy was calligraphed by Bhāī Gurdās (1551-1636) at his dictation--- this is all we learn from most of the sources. What amount of planning, minute attention to detail and diligent and meticulous work it involved is slurred over. An old text which gives some detailed information is the Gurbilās Chhevīṅ Pātshāhī. Written in 1718, this, in fact, is the oldest source. Although it does not go into the technical and literary minutiae, it broadly describes the process from the beginning of the transcription of the Holy Volume to its installation in the newly built Harimandar at Amritsar.

        Why Gurū Arjan undertook the task is variously explained. One commonly accepted assumption is that the codification of the Gurūs' compositions into an authorized volume was begun by him with a view to preserving them from garbling by schismatic groups and others. According to the Mahimā Prakāsh (1776), he set to work with the announcement : "As the Panth (Community) has been revealed unto the world, so there must be the Granth (Book), too." By accumulating the canon, Gurū Arjan wished to affix the seal on the sacred Word. It was also to be the perennial fountain of inspiration and the means of self-perpetuation for the community.

        Gurū Arjan called Bhāī Gurdās to his presence and expressed to him the wish that the sacred verse be collected. Messages were sent to the disciples to gather and transmit to him the hymns of his predecessors.

        Bābā Mohan, son of Gurū Amar Dās, Nānak III, had manuscript collections of the Gurūs' hymns inherited from his father. Bhāī Gurdās travelled to Goindvāl to bring these pothīs, but the owner refused to see him. Bhāī Buḍḍhā, one of the oldest and most revered Sikhs from Gurū Nānak’s days, was similarly turned away from the door. Then Gurū Arjan went himself. He sat in the street below Mohan's attic serenading him on his tambūrā. Mohan was disarmed to hear the hymn. He came downstairs with the pothīs and presented these to the Gurū. As says the Gurbilās, the pothīs were placed on a palanquin bedecked with precious stones. The Sikhs carried it on their shoulders and Gurū Arjan walked behind barefoot. He refused to ride his horse; saying that the pothīs were the very spirit, the very light of the four Gurūs---his predecessors.

        The cavalcade broke journey at Khaḍūr Sāhib to make obeisance at shrines sacred to Gurū Aṅgad. Two kos from Amritsar, it was received by Hargobind, Gurū Arjan's young son, accompanied by a large number of Sikhs. He bowed at his father's feet and showered petals in front of the pothīs. Gurū Arjan, Hargobind, Bhāī Gurdās and Bhāī Buḍḍhā now bore the palanquin on their shoulders and marched towards Amritsar led by musicians, with flutes and drums. Reaching Amritsar, Gurū Arjan first went to the Harimandar to offer kaṛāh prasād in gratefulness.

        To quote the Gurbilās again, an attractive spot in the thick of a forest on the outskirts of Amritsar was marked out by Gurū Arjan. So dense was the foliage that not even a moonbeam could pry into it. It was like Pañchbaṭī itself, peaceful and picturesque. A tent was hoisted in this idyllic setting. Here Gurū Arjan and Bhāī Gurdās started work on the sacred volume.

        The making of the Granth was no easy task. It involved sustained labour and a rigorous intellectual discipline. Selections had to be made from a vast amount of material. Besides the compositions of the four preceding Gurūs and of Gurū Arjan who himself was a poet with a rare spiritual insight, there were songs and hymns by saints, both Hindu and Muslim. What was genuine had to be sifted from what was counterfeit. Then the selected material had to be assigned to appropriate musical measures and transcribed in a minutely laid out order.

        Gurū Arjan carried out the work with extraordinary exactness. He arranged the hymns in thirty different rāgas, or musical patterns. A precise method was followed in setting down the compositions. First came śabdas by the Gurūs in the order of their succession. Then came aṣṭpadīs, chhants, vārs, and other poetic forms in a set order. The compositions of the Gurūs in each rāga were followed by those of the Bhaktas in the same format. Gurmukhī was the script used for the transcription.

        According to Bhāī Gurdās' testimony, the text had been transcribed by Bhādoṅ vādī Ekam 1661/1 August 1604. At the head of the index he recorded : "Sammat 1661 mitī Bhādoṅ vadī ekam pothī likhī pahuche, i.e. on Bhādoṅ Vadī Ekam 1661 he had reached this spot where the index was to begin after completing the writing of the book." The index, giving the opening words of each śabda or hymn and pagination, is itself a marvel of scholarly fastidiousness. A genius, unique in spiritual intuition and not unconcerned with methodological design, had created a scripture with an exalted mystical tone and a high degree of organization. It was large in size---nearly 7,000 hymns, comprising compositions of the first five Sikh Gurūs and fifteen Bhaktas and Sūfīs from different parts of India, including Shaikh Farīd, Kabīr and Ravidās. The Sacred Volume consisted of 974 leaves, or 1948 pages, 12"x 8", with several blank ones at the end of a rāga where there were not śabdas enough to fill the section assigned to it. The site of these marvellous labours is now marked by a shrine called Rāmsar.

        The completion of the Granth Sāhib was, says the Gurbilās, celebrated with much jubilation. In thanksgiving, kaṛāh prasād was prepared in huge quantities. Sikhs came in large numbers to see the Holy Book. They were rejoiced in their hearts by a sight of it and bowed before it to pay homage. Among the visitors was Bhāī Banno who had led a group of Sikhs from Māṅgat, in western Punjab. Gurū Arjan, who knew him as a devoted Sikh, instructed him to go to Lahore and have the Book bound. Banno sought the Gurū's permission to be allowed to take the Granth Sāhib first to Māṅgat for the Sikhs there to see it. The Gurū allowed this, but enjoined him not to tarry at Māṅgat, or at any other place, more than a night

        As Banno left Amritsar with his sacred charge, it occurred to him to have a second copy transcribed. The first copy, he argued, would remain with the Gurū. There must be an additional one for the saṅgat. The Gurū's direction was that he should not stay longer than one night at a place, but he had said nothing about the time to be spent on the journey. So he proceeded with his plans and sent a Sikh to purchase paper. He proposed to his companions that they should travel by easy marches of five miles a day. The time thus saved was utilized in transcribing the holy text. Sikhs wrote with love and devotion and nobody shirked his duty whether it was day or night. By the time they reached Lahore, the second copy was ready. But Banno had added to it some apocryphal texts. He had both volumes bound and returned to Amritsar as fast as he could.

        At Amritsar, he was received with due ceremony, though Gurū Arjan was not a little surprised to see two volumes instead of one. Bhāī Banno spoke truthfully : "Lord, there is nothing that is hidden from you. This second copy I have had made for the sake of the saṅgat". But the Gurū accepted only the volume written in Bhāī Gurdās' hand. He enjoined the Sikhs to own the Granth equal with the Gurū and make no distinction between the two. "He who would wish to see the Gurū, let him see the Granth. He who would seek the Gurū's word, let him read the Granth with love and attention."

        Gurū Arjan asked the Sikhs where the Granth Sāhib be installed. Bhāī Buḍḍhā spoke, "You are omniscient, Master : But there is no place more suitable than the Harimandar." The Gurū was happy to hear these words, "like one who had sighted the new moon". He then recited the praise of the Harimandar: "There is nothing like it in all the three worlds. Harimandar is like the ship--- the means for the people to cross over the worldly ocean triumphantly. A new joy pervades here every day. A sight of it annuls all sins."

        It was decided to spend the night at Rāmsar and return to Amritsar the next morning. The Granth Sāhib rested on a seat under the canopy, whereas the Gurū and the Sikhs slept on the ground.

        A disciple had to be chosen to take charge of the Granth Sāhib. As says the Gurbilās, Gurū Arjan lay awake through the night reflecting on the question. His choice finally fell on Bhāī Buḍḍhā whose devotion was universally applauded. As they awoke, the Gurū and his Sikhs made ablutions in Rāmsar. The former thereupon practised his wonted meditation. At dawn, the entire saṅgat marched towards Harimandar. Bhāī Buḍḍhā carried the Holy Book on his head and Gurū Arjan walked behind swinging the fly-whisk over it. Musicians sang śabdas. Thus they reached the Harimandar. The Granth Sāhib was ceremonially installed in the centre of the inner sanctuary. The date was Bhādoṅ sudī 1, 1661 Bk/16 August 1604. Bhāī Buḍḍhā opened it with reverence to obtain from it the divine command, as Gurū Arjan stood in attendance behind. The following hymn was read as God's own pronouncement for the occasion :

        He Himself has aided his saiṅts in their task,

        He Himself has come to see their task accomplished.

        Blessed is the earth, blessed the tank;

        Blessed is the tank with amrit, nectar, filled.

        Nectar everfloweth the tank : He has had the task completed;

        Eternal is the Perfect Being,

        His praises Vedas and Purāṇas sing.

        The Creator has bestowed on me the nine treasures, and all the charisms,

         No lack do I suffer now.

        Enjoying His largesse, bliss have I attained,

        Ever-expanding is the Lord's bounty.


        Gurū Arjan directed that during daytime the Holy Book should remain in the Harimandar and by night, after the Sohilā was read, it should be taken to the room he had built for himself in Gurū-kā-Mahal as evening advanced by two watches, Bhāī Buḍḍhā recited the Sohilā and made the concluding ardās or supplication. The Granth Sāhib was closed and wrapped in silks. Bhāī Buḍḍhā held it on his head and marched towards the chamber indicated by Gurū Arjan. The Gurū led the saṅgat singing hymns. The Granth Sāhib was placed on the appointed seat, and the Gurū slept on the ground by its side. Daily in the small hours of the morning as the stars twinkle in the pool below, the Holy Book is taken out in state to the Harimandar and brought by night to rest---now, in a room at the Akāl Takht. The practice continues to this day. But the volume is not the same. That original copy was taken to Kartārpur when Gurū Arjan's successor, Gurū Hargobind, left Amritsar in 1634. There it passed into the possession of his grandson, Dhīr Mall. It has since remained in that family.

        In the Sikh system, the word Gurū is used only for the ten prophet-preceptors, Gurū Nānak to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, and for none other. Now this office of Gurū is fulfilled by the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Sacred Book, which was so apothesized by the last Gurū, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, before he passed away in 1708. No living person, however holy or revered, can have the title or status of Gurū. For Sikhs, Gurū is the holy teacher, the prophet under direct commission from God--- the ten who have been and the Gurū Granth Sāhib which is their continuing visible manifestation.

        Gurū Gobind Siṅgh manifested the Khālsā in 1699. In 1708, he supplied another permanent ---and final--- feature in the evolution of the Sikh faith when he installed the Holy Scripture as Gurū. This is how the Bhaṭṭ Vahī Talauḍā Parganah Jīnd describes the event :

        Gurū Gobind Siṅgh mahal dasmāṅ beṭā Gurū Tegh Bahādur kā potā Gurū Hargobind jī kā paṛpotā Gurū Arjan jī kā baṅs Gurū Rām Dās jī kī Sūrajbaṅsī Gosal gotra Soḍhī Khatrī bāsī Anandpur parganah Kahlūr muqām Nānḍeṛ taṭ Godāvarī des dakkhan sammat satrāṅ sai painsaṭh kārtik mās kī' chauth shukla pakhe budhvār ke dihuṅ Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh se bachan hoyā Srī Granth Sāhib lai āo bachan pāi Dayā Siṅgh Srī Granth Sāhib lai āye gurū jī ne pāñch paise nārial āge bheṭā rākhā māthā ṭekā sarbatt saṅgat se kahā merā hukam hai merī jagah Srī Granthjī ko jānaṇā jo sikh jaṇegā tis kī ghāl thāeṅ paegī gurū tis kī bahuṛī karegā sat kar manāṇā.

        Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, the Tenth Master, son of Gurū Tegh Bahādur, grandson of Gurū Hargobind, great-grandson of Gurū Arjan, of the family of Gurū Rām Dās, Sūrajbaṅsī Gosal clan, Soḍhī Khatrī, resident of Anandpur, parganah Kahlūr, now at Nāndeḍ, on the Godāvarī bank in the Deccan, asked Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh, on Wednesday, shukla chauth of the month of Kārtik, 1765 Bk (6 October 1708), to fetch the Srī Granth Sāhib. The Gurū placed before it five pice and a coconut and bowed his head before it. He said to the saṅgat, "It is my commandment : Own Srī Granthjī in my place. He who so acknowledges it will obtain his reward. The Gurū will rescue him. Know this as the truth.


        According to Giānī Garjā Siṅgh, who discovered this entry, the author was Narbud Siṅgh Bhaṭṭ, who was with Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at Nāndeḍ at that time.

        Bhaṭṭ Vāhīs are a new source of information discovered by Giānī Garjā Siṅgh (1904-77), a dogged searcher for materials on Sikh history. The Bhaṭṭs were hereditary panegyrists, genealogists or family bards. (A group of them were introduced to Gurū Arjan by Bhaṭṭ Bhikhā, who himself had become a disciple in the time of Gurū Amar Dās. According to Bhāī Gurdās, Vār XI. 2l, and Bhāī Manī Siṅgh Sikhāṅ dī Bhagat Mālā, he had earlier visited Gurū Arjan with the saṅgat of Sultānpur Lodhī.) Those of them who came into the Sikh fold composed hymns in honour of the Gurūs which were entered in the Gurū Granth Sāhib by Gurū Arjan.

        These Bhaṭṭs also recorded events of the lives of the Gurūs and of the members of their families in their scrolls called vahīs. Some of these vahīs are preserved to this day in the families, especially at the village of Karsindhū, in Jīnd district of Haryāṇā. The script in which they are written is called bhakṭāṣrī ---a kind of family code like laṇḍe and mahājanī. The only known scholar to have worked with these materials was Giānī Garjā Siṅgh.

        Apart from this new testimony culled by Giānī Garjā Siṅgh from the Bhaṭṭ Vāhīs, another contemporary document which authenticates the fact of Gurū Granth Sāhib having been invested with the final authority is a letter issued by reference of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's wife, Mātā Sundarījī. To quote from the original, which is now in the possession of Bhāī Chet Siṅgh, of the village of Bhāī Rūpā, in present-day Baṭhiṇḍā district, to whose ancestors it was addressed :

        Ik Oaṅkār Wāhgurū jī kī fateh, Srī Akālpurkh jī kā Khālsā yak raṅg jinā diṭhīā Wāhgurū jī chit āvai. Bhāī Sāhib Dān Siṅghjī Bhāī Dunī Siṅghjī Bhāī Jagat Siṅghjī Bhāī Gurbakhsh Siṅghjī Ugar Siṅghjī Bhāī Rām Siṅghjī sarbatt Khālsā Wāhgurū Akālpurkhjī kā pāse likhtam gulām Khālsā jī kā Kāhn Siṅgh Nival Siṅgh Mūl Siṅghjī Sujān Siṅgh Gajā Siṅgh Mahā Siṅgh Sarbatt Khālsā Wāhgurū Akālpurkh kā Wāhgurū jī kī fateh vāchanī khushā karnā jī Wāhgurū Akālpurkh jī har dam chit āvai sukh hoe Khālsā jī kā bol bālā hoi ardās tusāḍī mārfat Bhāī Dulcha Siṅgh ke hath pahutī paṛhkai Khālsā jī bahut khushwaqat hoyā tusāḍi bāb Khālsā jī dayāl hoyā hai hath joṛe kai jo rakhyā hove. Jo janu harikā sevako hari tiske kāmi." Gurū Gurū japnā Wāhgurū aṅg saṅg hai fajal karkai rakhiā hovegī Khalsajī Bhāī Kāhn Siṅghjī kau Mātā Sāhibjī ne gumāstgīrī Amritsar jī kī mukarar kītī hai Khālsā jī ne gurmatā karke Harimandar ate bāgh dī murammat imārat kā kām shurū kītā hai srī Mātā Sāhib jī ne likhā hai ki Wāhgurū Akālpurkh jī kī nagarī hai laṅger jarūr kārṇā... Khālsā Srī Wāhgurū jī kā suchet bibek budh chāhīe jo sivāi Akālpurkh dūje no jānai nāhī Dasam Pātshāhīaṅ tak jāmai paidhe yārvīṅ bārvīṅ Bandā Chaubandā Ajitā vagaire te aitkād lei āvaṇā hatiyā hai. Hor hatiyā Gurū japan nāl dūr hosan, par ih hatiyā gunah bakshīaigā nahī jo manmukh ke jāme upar aitkād kareṅge, 'Mukh mohi pheriai mukh mohi jūtthā hoi.' Khālsājī tusāṅ sivāi Akāl dūje no mānaṇa nāhi. Sabad dāsvīṅ patshājī tak khojnā, "Sabad khoji ihu gharu lahai Nānak tā kā dāsu. "Gurū kā nivās sabad vich hai. "Gurū mahi āp samoi sabad vartāiyā." "Jīāṅ andar jīu sabad hai jit sahu milāvā hoi." Wāhgurū jī kī fateh. Bhāī Mehar Siṅgh ṭahlīā Bhāī Būle kā pattar ke khamāne vich rahiṇa Gurū nāl ganḍh paisī.

        Ik Oaṅkār Wāhigurū jī kī Fateh.

        The Khālsā, of the timeless Himself, immersed in the One, and whose sight brings Wāhigurū to mind. Addressed to Bhāī Sāhib Dān Siṅghjī, Bhāī Dūnī Siṅghjī, Bhāī Jagat Siṅghjī, Bhāī Gurbakhsh Siṅghjī, Ugar Siṅghjī, Bhāī Rām Siṅghjī, the entire Khālsā of Wāhigurū, the Timeless One. From the slaves of the Khālsājī, Kāhn Siṅghjī, Nival Siṅgh, Mūl Siṅghjī, Sujān Siṅgh, Gajā Siṅgh, Mahā Siṅgh Wāhigurū jī kī Fateh to the entire Khālsā. May you be rejoiced in constant remembrance of the Timeless Wāhigurū. May prosperity prevail; may supremacy belong to the Khālsā. Having received your missive through Bhāī Dulchā Siṅgh, Khālsājī is highly pleased. Khālsājī happily prays with folded hands for your security. "He who to Lord surrenders himself, his affairs the Lord will set to rights." Repeat always the name of Gurū. Wāhigurū is by your side. He will extend to you His grace and protection. Khālsājī, Mātā Sāhib jī has appointed Bhāī Kāhn Siṅghjī to the superintendence of Amritsarjī. The Khālsājī, through a gurmatā, has taken in hand the construction and repair of the Harimandar and the garden. Srī Mātā Sāhib jī has written that laṅgar must be run in that place which is the abode of God Himself....Wāhigurū's Khālsā must always be alert, possessed of discriminating wisdom. The Khālsā must believe in none other than the Timeless One. There have been only Ten Masters in human form; to believe in the eleventh and twelfth, Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, Ajītā [Ajīt Siṅgh, adopted son of Mātā Sundarījī] etc. is a mortal sin. Every other sin can be had cancelled by repeating the Gurū's name, but this sin of believing in human forms will not be remitted. "The faces turned away from the Gurū are faces perverted." Khālsājī, you must believe in none other except the Timeless One. Go only to the Ten Gurūs in search of the Word. "Nānak is the slave of him who by seeking the Lord's Name obtains his goal." The Gurū resides in śabda. "The Lord hath merged His own Self in the Gurū through whom He has revealed His word." "The Word is the life of all life, for, through it, one experiences God." Victory to the Lord, Bhāī Mehar Siṅgh, the messenger, son of Bhāī Būlā : keep the letter secure in your custody. You will gain the Gurū's favour.


        From this letter it is clear how the Sikhs after Gurū Gobind Siṅgh believed that the Gurūship had passed to the śabda, i.e. the Word as contained in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. None in the human form after the Ten Gurūs was to be acknowledged by the Sikhs as Gurū. Those who, like some of Bandā Siṅgh's or Ajīt Siṅgh's followers, called their leaders Gurūs were committing a mortal sin. All other sins, says the letter, could be had forgiven by repeating the Gurū's name, but not the sin of believing in a living Gurū after the Ten Masters of the Sikh faith.

        Several other old Sikh documents also attest the fact of succession having been passed on by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh to the Gurū Granth Sāhib. For instance, the Rahitnāmā by Bhāī Nand Lāl, one of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's disciples remembered to this day for his elegant Persian poetry in honour of the Gurūs. In his Rahitnāmā, or code of conduct, Bhāī Nānd Lāl, who was at Nāndeḍ in the camp of Emperor Bahādur Shāh as one of his ministers at the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's passing away, thus records his last words in his Punjabi verse :

        He who would wish to see the Gurū,

        Let him come and see the Granth.

        He who would wish to speak with him,

        Let him read and reflect upon what says the Granth.

        He who would wish to hear his word,

        He should with all his heart read the Granth, or listen to the Granth being read.


        Another of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's disciples and associates, Bhāī Prahlād Siṅgh, records in his Rahitnāmā, the Gurū's commandment :

        By the word of the Timeless One,

        Has the Khālsā been manifested.

        This is my commandment for all of my Sikhs :

        You will acknowledge Granth as the Gurū.


        In Gurbilās Pātshāhī 10 (author Kuir Siṅgh; the year of writing 1751), Gurū Gobind Siṅgh is quoted as saying :

        This is no more the age for a personal Gurū to be anointed

         I shall not place the mark on anyone's forehead.

        All saṅgat is owned as Khālsā now, under the shelter of the Almighty Himself,

        They are now to the Word attached.

        He who believes is the Sikh par excellence.

         * * *

        On the Gurū Granth should he put his reliance,

        To none else should he direct his adoration.

        All his wishes the Gurū will bring to fulfilment,

        This he should believe,

        Casting away all dubiety.


        Another authority that may relevantly be quoted is Devarāja Sharmā's Nānakacandrodayamahākāvyam, an old Sanskrit manuscript which has recently been published 'by Sanskrit University, Vārāṇasī. It records Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's proclamation that the Scripture would be the Gurū after him. "While the Master lay on his deathbed, Nand Lāl (?) came forward and asked the following question : 'Who shall be the object of our discourses?' The Master replied, 'The Granth, which itself is the doctrine of the Gurū, shall be your teacher. This is what you should see ; this is what you should honour ; this is what should be the object of your discourses."

        This point has been laboured somewhat lengthily for the reason that cavil is sometimes raised. Certain cults among Sikhs still owning personal Gurūs ask for authentic evidence to the effect that Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had named Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib his successor. No archival testimony can be presented, unless the Bhaṭṭ Vāhī entry be included in that category. But evidence bequeathed through tradition-- written as well as oral ---supports this fact. This is what has come down through Sikh memory. Had there been the 11th Gurū, the name could not have been effaced from the pages of history. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh brought to an end the line of personal Gurūs and declared the Holy Word Gurū after him.

        Along with the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the Khālsā was now the person visible of the Gurū. The word Khālsā is derived from the Arabic khālis, meaning pure or pious. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh used the term in its symbolic and technical sense. In official terminology, Khālsā in Mughal days meant lands or territory directly under the king. Crown-land was known as Khālsā land. As says a contemporary poet, Bhāī Gurdās II, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh converted the saṅgat into Khālsā. Sikhs were the Gurū's Khālsā, i.e. directly his own, without any intermediary or local saṅgat leaders. On that point, we have the evidence of Srī Gur Sobhā by Saiṅāpat, a contemporary of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's own hukamnāmās. To quote from the former :

        A day preceding the event, i.e. passing of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh

        The Sikhs gathered together

        And began to ask :

        "What body will the lord now take?"

        The Gurū at that moment spoke :

        "In the Khālsā will you see me;

         "With the Khālsā is my sole concern;

         "My physical form have I bestowed upon the Khālsā."


        Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, in his hukamnāmā issued on Phāgun 4,1756 Bk/1 February 1700, to the saṅgat of Paṭṭan Farīd, modern Pākpaṭṭan, refers to the saṅgat as "his own Khālsā." Hukamnāmās are letters written by the Gurūs to saṅgats in different parts of the country. Some of them have been traced in recent years and two collections were published in 1967-- one by Dr Gaṇḍā Siṅgh (Punjabi University, Paṭiālā) and the second by Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok (Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar). Most of the hukamnāmās are common to both anthologies. These hukamnāmās are another valuable source of information on the lives of the Gurūs and on the Sikh communities forming in farflung places.

        That Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib is Gurū Eternal for it has been the understanding and conviction of the Sikh community since the passing of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. In their hard, exilic days soon afterwards when they were outlawed and had to seek the safety of the hills and jungles, the Sikhs' most precious possession which they cherished and defended at the cost of their lives was Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. The Holy Book was their sole religious reference, and they acknowledged none other. To quote the Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh : "Thou Gurū Granth art the true Presence. Impart to the Sikh saṅgat the true counsel." This is how the Sikhs address Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib as they assemble at the Akāl Takht to seek its guidance before launching an attack on the Paṭhān citadel of Kasūr. In the time of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, who established sovereignty in the name of the Khālsā, personal piety and court ceremonial centred upon the Gurū Granth Sāhib. As contemporary records testify, Raṇjīt Siṅgh began his day by making obeisance to Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. On festive occasions, he made pilgrimage to Amritsar to bow before Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib in the Harimandar. For the Sikhs in general Gurū Granth Sāhib was the only focus of religious attachment.

        None other existed otherwise, either in human form or symbolically. In all Sikh literature after Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, the Holy Book is uniformly referred to as Gurū Granth.

        The personal Gurūship was ended by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh himself. Succession passed to the Gurū Granth Sāhib in perpetuity. This was a most significant development in the history of the panth.

        The finality of the Holy Book was a fact rich in religious and social implications. The Gurū Granth became Gurū and received divine honours. It was acknowledged the medium of the revelation descended through the Gurūs. It was for the Sikhs the perpetual authority, spiritual as well as historical. They lived their religion in response to it. Through it, they were able to observe their faith more fully, more vividly. It was central to all that subsequently happened in Sikh life. It was the source of their verbal tradition and it shaped their intellectual and cultural environment. It moulded the Sikh concept of life. From it the community's ideals, institutions and rituals derived their meaning. Its role in guaranteeing the community integration and permanence and in determining the course of its history has been crucial.

        The Word enshrined in the Holy Book was always revered by the Gurūs as well as by their disciples as of Divine origin. The Gurū was the revealer of the Word. One day the Word was to take the place of the Gurū. The line of personal Gurūs could not have continued forever. The inevitable came to pass when Gurū Gobind Siṅgh declared Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib to be his successor. It was only through the Word that the Gurūship could be made everlasting. This object Gurū Gobind Siṅgh intuitively secured when he pronounced Granth Sāhib to be Gurū after him. The Granth Sāhib was henceforth ---for all time to come---the Gurū for the Sikhs.

        Since the day Gurū Gobind Siṅgh vested succession in it, the Gurū Granth has commanded the same honour and reverence as would be due to the Gurū himself. It is the focal point of Sikh devotion. The object of veneration in Sikh gurdwārās is Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib; gurdwārā is in fact that place of worship wherein Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated. No images or idols are permitted inside a gurdwārā. The Holy Volume is opened ceremonially in the early hours of the morning after ardās or supplication. It must be enthroned, draped in silk or other pieces of clean linen, on a high seat on a pedestal, under a canopy. The congregation takes place in the presence of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, with the officiant, who could be anyone from among those present, sitting in attendance, with a chavar or whisk in his hand which he keeps swinging over it in veneration. The singing of hymns by a group of musicians will go on. All the time devotees have been coming and bowing low before the Holy Book to pay homage and taking their seats on the ground in front. The officiant or any other learned person who will take his seat behind Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib will read out a hymn and expound it for the audience. At the end of the service, the audience will stand up in the presence of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, with hands folded in front in reverence and one of them leading the ardās or prayer. At the end of the evening service the Holy Book will be closed, again after a short prayer, and put to rest for the night. Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib is similarly kept in some Sikh homes, where a separate room is set apart for it. It is opened in the morning and put to rest in the evening in the same style and manner. Before starting the day's work men and women will go into the room where Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib has been ceremonially installed, say a prayer infront of it and open the book at random and read the first hymn which meets the eye to obtain what is called vāk or the day's lesson or order (hukam). Breviaries contain stipulated bāṇīs from Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib which constitute the daily offices and prayers of a Sikh.

        A very beautiful custom is that of akhaṇḍ pāṭh or uninterrupted recital of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib from beginning to end in a single service. Such a recital must be completed within 48 hours. The entire Gurū Granth Sāhib, 1430 pages, is read through in a continuous ceremony. This reading must go on day and night, without a moment's intermission. The relay of reciters who take turns at saying Scripture must ensure that no break occurs. As they change place at given intervals, one picks the line from his predecessor's lips and continues. When and how the custom of reciting the canon in its entirety in one continuous service began is not known. Conjecture traces it to the turbulent days of the eighteenth century when persecution had scattered the Sikhs to far-off places. In those uncertain times, the practice of accomplishing a reading of the Holy Book by continuous recital is believed to have originated.

        Important days on the Sikh calendar are marked by akhaṇḍ pāṭhs in gurdwārās. Celebrations and ceremonies in Sikh families centre upon akhaṇḍ pāṭhs. The homes are filled with holiness for those two days and nights as Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, installed with due ceremony in a room especially cleaned out for the occasion, is being recited. Apart from lending the air sanctity, such readings make available to listeners the entire text. The listeners come as they wish and depart at their will. Thus they keep picking up snatches of the bāṇī from different portions at different times. Without such ceremonial recitals, Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, a very large volume, would remain generally inaccessible to the laity except for bāṇīs which are recited by Sikhs as their daily prayers. In bereavement, families derive comfort from these pāṭhs. Obsequies in fact conclude with a completed readingi of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib and prayers are offered in its presence at the end for the departed soul.

        There are variations on akhaṇḍ pāṭh as well. A common one is the saptāhik pāṭh wherein the recital of the text is taken in parts and completed within one week. A sahaj or slow reading pāṭh may continue for a longer time, even for months. In atī akhaṇḍ pāṭh, the entire text will be read out by a single individual without any interruption for whatsoever purpose. For these pāṭhs the Holy Book is recited or intoned, not merely read. This brings out tellingly the poetic quality of the bāṇī and its power to move or grip the listener. But it must be heard in silence, sitting on the floor in front of it in a reverent posture.

        The bāṇī of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib is all in the spiritual key. It is poetry of pure devotion, lyrical rather than philosophical, moral rather than cerebral. It prescribes no social code, yet Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib is the basis of Sikh practice as well as of Sikh devotion. It is the living source of authority, the ultimate guide to the spiritual and moral path pointed by the Gurūs. Whatever is in harmony with its tenor will be acceptable; whatever not rejectible. Guidance is sought from it on doctrine, on the tenets of the faith.

        The Sikh Panth as a whole will resort to Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib as will the individual in moments of perplexity or crisis. Whether or not to attack Kasūr, the Paṭhān stronghold, to have the abducted wife of a helpless Brāhmaṇ who had come to the Akāl Takht to appeal to the Sikhs for help, was the question before them in the year 1763. Finally, as records the Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh, it was decided to obtain the counsel of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Instance comes to mind also of the early days of the Gurdwārā movement aiming to reform the ritual in Sikh places of worship. On 12 October 1920, a meeting of Sikh backward castes, sponsored by the faculty and students of the Khālsā College at Amritsar, was held in the Jalliāṅvālā Bāgh. The following morning some of them were taken to the Golden Temple, but the granthīs in control refused to accept kaṛāh prasād or sacrament they had brought as an offering and to say the ardās on their behalf. There was an outburst of protest against this discrimination towards the so-called low-caste Sikhs, totally contrary to the Sikh teaching. A compromise was at last reached and it was decided that the Gurū's direction be sought.

        Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib was, as is the custom, opened at random and the first verse on the page to be read was :

        He receives the lowly into grace,

        And puts them in the path of righteous service.


        The Gurū's verdict was clearly in favour of those whom the granthīs had refused to accept as full members of the panth. This was triumph for reformist Sikhs. The kaṛāh prasād brought was accepted and distributed among the saṅgat.

        Singly or in groups, in their homes or in congregations in their places of worship, Sikhs conclude their morning and evening prayer, or prayer said at any other time as part of personal piety or of a ceremony, with a supplication called ardās. Ardās is followed by the recitation of these verses ;

        Āgyā bhāī Akāl kī tabhī chalāyo Panth,

        Sabh sikkhaṅ kau hukam hai Gurū mānio Granth.

        Gurū Granth jī mānio pragaṭ Gurāṅ kī dehi,

        Jo Prabhu ko milibo chahai khoj sabad main lehi.

        By the command of the Timeless Creator was the Panth promulgated;

        All Sikhs are hereby charged to own the Granth as their Gurū.

        Know the Gurū Granth to be the person visible of the Gurūs.

        They who would seek to meet the Lord

        In the Word as manifested in the Book shall they discover him.

        This is the status, the significance of the Holy Book in the Sikh way of life.

         * * *


         In the Vedic hymns and chants lie the beginnings of the religious poetry of mankind. The Vedas are the oldest texts in the world. They are the repositories of ancient wisdom and of the earliest meditations of the human mind. The hymns of the Rig Veda will be as old as 1500-1000 B.C. The Sām Veda, another text of the same circuit, is a collection of metrical hymns. The ancient Vedic scholars developed a branch of Vedic learning called chhants, i.e, prosody, or science of metrical composition. Much of the old religious literature is in verse which is easier to memorize and recite. The tradition of memorizing holy texts was sedulously cultivated in ancient India. Like the Vedic priests, the Jain and Buddhist monk poets composed a great deal of religious poetry.

        Those versed in Sanskrit poetics made classifications of poetry from various standpoints. Daṇḍin made a three-fold division into prose (gadya), verse (padya) and mixture of prose and verse (mishra). Experts in Sanskrit poetics held that versification was not a necessary condition of poetry. An epic poem mahākāvya in the style of muktakā, a single verse formation, is an example of padya. A narrative tale kathā constitutes mishra variety. Ornate poetry was kāvya cultivated in Sanskrit, Pālī, Prākrit and Apabhraṁśa.

        Several new trends appeared in the devotional literature of the saint poets of a later period. These new forms of poetry and poetical composition gained vogue in medieval India. This religious poetry was composed in a variety of languages-Apabhraṁśa, Brajabhāshā, Avadhī, Beṅgālī, Gujarātī, Marāṭhī, Punjabi, etc. Its creators were poets and devotees rather than professionals trained in literary niceties of Sanskrit composition. Their main concern was to sing the glory of God and to strengthen moral qualities. Occasionally, they attacked current social and religious abuses. Their verse was addressed to the learned as well as to the illiterate, to men as well as to women. Their language was easily understood by all sections of the population.

        The saiṅts and the bhaktas threw off the shackles of piṅgal of formal versification. They broke out into folk moulds of poetry giving them a musical turn. They chanted and sang their hymns or verses, and the community chanted, sang and danced with them. In their spontaneous outbursts, they conformed to the needs of the musical tunes, both classical and desī, of folk origin, wherein, while singing, lapse of a few mātrās (syllables, accented and unaccented) could be easily made up, and it was riot absolutely necessary strictly to observe the mātrās of various types of chhands of the Indian piṅgal. The poetry of the bhaktī period was non-conformist, liberal and free. This was the poetry of sādhūs and fakīrs who had had no scholarly training, but who had the spiritual and mystical experience. They had seen and realized the Supreme, were free and frank, truthful and blessed.

        The divine poets of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib were conscious of their mission as well as of their capacity and dignity as poets. Kabīr says that people might regard his outpourings as songs only, but they are in reality meditations on the Supreme Being (GG,335). Gurū Nānak calls himself a ḍhāḍī (minstrel) and shāir poet (GG,150, 660). Gurū Arjan and the other Gurūs, proclaim that they were called upon by the Creator Himself to proclaim their divine command and inspiration. Gurū Arjan had proclaimed that the bāṇī, had originated in the transcendent realms, dhur kī bāṇī. (GG, 628). Gurū Nānak believed (Japu, 38) that the shabad (divine word) was coined in the mint of the mind filled with the nectar of continence, realization, knowledge, fear and love of the Lord. Ravidās proclaimed himself to be a liberated soul and dweller of the city of joy (GG, 345). Nāmdev spoke from the pedestal where it was impossible to discriminate between Allah and Rāma or between the Hindu temple and the mosque. These saiṅt-poets spoke naturally and spontaneously. Their singing and chanting gave the finishing to their songs. Adherence to the rules of prosody was not their forte, though they quite often composed also within the framework of rules and established forms.

        Many aspects of the Indian tradition of poetry, dhunī rīti alaṅkār, rasa, chhand, etc., are followed in the hymns of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, yet no pad (stanza) or hymn exactly fits into any traditional mould or conforms to the set pattern of prosodic mātrā (syllables) of the Indian piṅgal. While the Indian milieu dominates the spiritual and emotional sentiment of these holy singers, their poetry was the spontaneous outflow of their inspiration: and they obviously did not toil over composition. Two considerations chiefly weighed with them : first, setting of the hymn in a given rāga (musical measure) and, secondly, its setting in a pada (stanza) form; with the burden of the song lying in the couplet of rahāu (pause). The ślokas they composed are mostly couplets or groups of couplets. Determination of the rāga affected all other poetic features such as the scheme of alaṅkārs, rasa, atmosphere, diction, imagery. In a hymn, as in the Indian scheme of rāgas, each one has its peculiar rasa (mood), atmosphere, and time or season of singing. Dupadā (two stanza poems, tipadā (three stanza poem), chaupadā (four-stanza poem), asṭpadī (eight-stanza poem), solahā (sixteen stanza poem), chhants, lyrics, longer and shorter poems such as the Japu, vārs, Oaṅkār, Sidhgosṭi, Sukhmanī et. al. are all stanzaic arrangements. The stanzas in the Gurū Granth Sāhib vary in length from one line compositions to eight-line structures. Lines in stanzas are, or can be, measured by the Indian system of mātrās (syllables) without their conforming exactly to any of the fixed metric chhands; gan, or vārṇik (word system) chhands being mainly ruled out in case of the hymns in Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. The length of a line or the number of the feet in it varies from a short utterance to a long undulating one, with a corresponding number of pauses, etc. Rhyme is invariably there. Alliteration and internal rhymes are often introduced.

        The peculiar thematic or emotional nature of some of the extraordinary hymns of the Gurū Granth Sāhib, mostly cast in the moulds of folk-poetry of the Punjab, is pointed out in the superimposition or the caption which, besides, indicates the rāga and the pitch (ghar), in which the hymn is to be sung. Such peculiar descriptions in the titles are as follows:

        (1) āratī, añjalī, sohilā, swayyās, japu, thittīṅ, paṭṭī, phunhe, bāvan-akharī, and bārāmāhā are the titles which indicate the form of poetry; paṭṭī, bāvān-akharī and oaṅkār are in the form of acrostics, propounding philosophical and religious themes and doctrines: thittīṅ and bārāmāhā are built around the lunar days and the twelve solar months; swayyās are encomiums offered to the Gurūs.

        (2) alahṇīāṅ (dirges), sadd, karhale, gāthā, ghoṛīāṅ, chhant, ḍakhne, vār, ruttīṅ and vār sat (week days) are the moulds of the folk-poetry of Punjab.

        In the common life of the country, alāhṅīāṅ are sung to mourn a death, ghoṛīāṅ are sung to celebrate a wedding; similarly chhants are recited at the time of marriage; sadd (call) is a dirge, pahare quarters of day or night, ruttīṅ (seasons), vār sat (week days), dīn-rāin (day and night) are the compositions stressing the importance of time which should be utilized in remembrance of the Lord.

        All the above titles of category 1 and 2 are stanzaic poems. These moulds, however, are not the innovations of the Gurūs.

        Vedic hymns (sūktas) are padas with varying number of padas (stanzas) called mantras in each ; later, with the rise of the bhakṭi movement, padas in praise of Viṣṇu, called the vishanpadas were most common in the developing Indian vernaculars. The bāvan-akkharī, paṭṭī or acrostic forms are also traditional forms; bārāmāhā was common mould for singing of the pangs of separation in love in the various Indian languages, including Sanskrit. Kālīdās has composed a poem on the season: under varying names, poems of the themes and spirit of alāhṇīāṅ, sadd and ghoṛīāṅ have been sung in all medieval literatures of India. Śloka has been the most popular mould in Sanskrit and Hindi literatures. It is a couplet, piece with a serious philosophical theme. So padas (hymns based on pad or stanzaic arrangement) and śloka, the chief poetic forms used in the Gurū Granth Sāhib have descended from the preceding Indian religious literature.

        A brief description of some of the poetic forms occurring in the Gurū Granth Sāhib is given below. Each rāga of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib--- there are thirty-one rāgas totally is arranged in a set order. First will come padās or the prosodic forms followed by longer snatches such as aṣṭpadīs. Then will come chhants and vārs. And last of all, the compositions of bhaktas.

        AṢṬPADĪS. Aṣṭpadīs, eight liners. Hymns in Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib comprising eight (aṣṭ) lines, besides the line containing pause of rahāu. This is the standard form, but the number of lines in an aṣṭpadī can vary. Aṣṭpadīs occur in all the different rāgas in Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Totally, there are 305 of them counted in the entire text.

        CHAUPADĀ is a four-stanza hymn, besides the line of rahāu or pause. With the exception of Bairaṛī, Tukhārī, Kaliān and Jaijaivantī, they occur in all rāgas of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Gauṛī contains 210 of them, Āsā 159 and Soraṭhi 81.

        CHHAKĀ. A sixer. It signifies a bunch of six padās.

        CHHEPADĀ is a hymn containing, besides the verse of rahāu (pause), six padās or stanzas. They are few in numbers and occur in rāgas Gauṛī, Āsā, Vaḍhaṅs, Sūhī, Rāmkalī, Mārū and Bhairau.

        CHAUTUKĀ. A hymn containing padas of four lines each. Chautukās are interspersed in many different rāgas of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib.

        DAKHṆĀ. A śalok in Lahndī dialect, western Punjabi, employed commonly in Gurū Arjan's hymns.

        DUPADĀ. A hymn containing, besides the rahāu lines, two stanzas.

        PAÑJPADĀ. A pañjpadā is a hymn of five stanzas excluding the refrain (rahāu).

        PAUṚĪ, lit. ladder, is stanza adopted for vārs, balladic poetry. Pauṛīs of these vārs generally consist of 6 to 8 lines each. Stanzas of Japujī are also traditionally called pauṛīs.

        SHABAD represents 'Voice of the Master', or word revealed. All forms of verse included in Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, padās, aṣṭpadīs and chhants are shabads.

        ŚALOK. A two-liner classical prosodic form allowing a variety of metrical arrangement. Though a śalok may not unravel new strands of thought, it may well enlarge upon different aspects of an idea investing it with die freshness of an independent poem.

        SOLAHĀ. A sixteen-stanza hymn. Rāga Mārū alone contains 62 Solahās 22 by Gurū Nānak, 24 by Gurū Amar Dās, 2 by Gurū Rām Dās and 14 by Gurū Arjan.

        TIPADĀ. A hymn made up of 3 padās or stanzas.

        TUK does not exist as a title or sub-title in Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Any single line of the bāṇī is a tuk and is close to what is known as sūtra or aphorism in Sanskrit or in the orthodox system of philosophy.

        VĀR. An old form of Punjabi narrative poetry highlighting the exploits and acts of heroism and chivalry. On the psychological plane the struggle is between the good and evil propensities in man.


  1. Talib, Gurbachan Siṅgh, An Introduction to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Patiala,1991
  2. Kohli, Surindar Siṅgh, A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi,1961
  3. Kapoor, S.S., "Guru Granth Sahib: The History, Arrangement and the Text" in The Sikh Courier. London, 1996
  4. Harkīrat Siṅgh and Indar Siṅgh Gurbāṇī dā Śuddh Uchāran. Amritsar,1995
  5. Śabdārath Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Amritsar, 1975
  6. Sāhib Siṅgh, Srī Gurū Granth Darpan. Jalandhar, 1962-64
  7. Tāran Siṅgh, Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib Jī da Sāhitak Itihās. Amritsar, n.d

Tāran Siṅgh