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400 Years of Guru Granth Sahib

- DR REET PRIIMAN

   

   GURU NANIK                             GURU GOBIND SINGH

    Light and Love 

    Swami mentions with great respect the ancient scriptures, guru Granth Saheb and advices to study their cultural sacred heritages written hundreds years ago.  

    "Wisdom is illumination. It is the aim of education to radiate that light of wisdom.

     How can this illumination enter man's being? By listening to and going through great books like the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Upanishads, the Koran, the Granth Saheb, the biographies of noble souls, books dealing with physical and technological sciences and psychology, one gains this light. Alongside with wisdom, discriminatory approach and logical thinking can be gained by reading them. One should not depend entirely on knowledge derived from sacred texts but depend upon wisdom arising from experience."(Sathya Sai Baba.  Sathya Sai Vahini. The Inner Inquery, p.120).

    "It can secure invaluable guidance from the Vedas and the Sastras, the Brahma Sutra, the Bible, the Quoran, the Zend Avesta, the Granth Saheb and other holy texts whose number exceeds a thousand. There is no dearth in this land (Bharath) of heads of monasteries and religious orders, exponents of spiritual doctrines and disciplines, scholars and venerable elders. They too are propagating and publishing on a massive scale." (Sathya Sai Baba. Vidya Vahini. Chapter X, p. 34). 

    "Sikh-upaasana: The Preceptor (Guru), who reveals the Atma and makes one conscious of Its Existence as one's Reality, has the highest place in this system of worship. The collection of the teachings of the Gurus - referred to as Granth Saheb - is extolled and revered by the Sikhs. It is derived from the spring of Bharathiya spiritual traditions. Its ideas form the very core of Bharathiya cultural traits." (Sathya Sai Baba.  Sathya Sai Vahini. Modes of Worship, p. 146).   

    These Swami's quotations complemented the article by Pranav Khullar "Eleventh & Eternal Guru Granth Sahib" published in "The Times of India" Editorial (The Speaking Tree),September 01, 2004  (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/833920.cms), what is represented below.  

    A striking feature of the Adi Granth popularly called the Guru Granth Sahib is its distinctly lilting literary flavour, eloquently described as the "musicalisation of thought". Even as one pays homage to Guru Granth Sahib, on the 400th anniversary of its being established as the Holy Book and as the eternal Guru of the Sikh faith, one is struck by the rich literary underpinnings of this compilation and the systematic manner in which each part has been set to music.

    Besides, Guru Arjan Dev, while enshrining the Guru Granth Sahib at the Har Mandir in 1604, was also encapsulating the religious, mystical and philosophical currents of almost four centuries.

    The Adi Granth is unique in having compositions of sage-poets and mystics of different faiths, including those of Kabir, Baba Farid, Namdev, Jaidev, Dhanna Bhagat and Ravidas. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, later enshrined the Holy Book as the eleventh Guru, a living testament to the bani or sayings of the Gurus.  

     Meticulously compiled and arranged into 5,894 hymns, the Adi Granth is set equally meticulously to 31 ragas of the classical music tradition, a "powerful appeal to the heart as much as the mind", as writer Pearl Buck once pointed out. This setting to music forms the underlying basis of the classification of hymns into Ashtapadas or hymns of eight verses, Chhands or verses of six lines, Chaupadas or hymns of four verses. This intricate division of the Adi Granth according to ragas, the metre of the poem, the author of the poem and its ghar in which the raga is to be sung, has a fascinating raga-mala towards the end of the Holy Text, an index of musical measures.

      The Adi Granth has another interesting feature, the Bhatt bani or hymns of the bards. In the latter half of the Adi Granth are incorporated hymns by eleven Bhatts, who were ballad singers composing martial and war poetry Var or heroic ballads in the vernacular of the times in a particular form called Swaiyya Chhand, verses of praise, where they would employ a narrative style to describe war, exhorting warriors to action. Genealogically tracing their lineage to the ancient Saraswat Brahmins, they were themselves called Saraswat or learned ones, who saw all the Gurus as personifying one Light the basic tenet of the faith today and articulated their poetry in praise of the spiritual grandeur of Guru Nanak and all the Gurus.

      Its unique catholicity and prosody apart, the Guru Granth Sahib also engendered the Gurmukhi script, which Guru Angad Dev developed to reach out to people in their vernacular dialect, refining and shaping it by use of 10 vowels. The development of the script and language reflected the casteless and creedless socio-economic vision of society that the Sikh Gurus envisioned. This vision also incorporated gender equality, as both genders are free to read from the Guru Granth Sahib.

      Guru Gobind Singh invested the title of the Guru to the Adi Granth at Nanded in 1708, after preparing a new edition and including some hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He said, "... let him who wishes to speak to the Guru, read and reflect on what the Granth says..." The Adi Granth is a powerful rendering of the oneness of God, free of rituals and observances, but spelt out in hauntingly beautiful poetry and melodies; not an abstruse work of philosophy for the few, but something that endears itself to everyone with its musical appeal. In fact, the musical-emotive appeal of the Guru Granth Sahib is a potent spiritual tool to draw the faithful nearer to the cosmic Oneness of Godhead.  

     Namaste - Reet


Biographies of Guru Nanik Dev & Guru Gobind Singh

First Master Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539)

Guru Nanak Dev ji (1469-1539)

Gateway to Sikhism: Guru Gobind Singh Ji

Guru Gobind Singh


SAT SRI AKAL