Introduction to Guru Granth
The Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (SGSSJ), literally meaning ‘The Supreme Teacher of Light’ also known as the ‘Shabad Guru’ or the Sound Guru, is a universal scripture for all of humanity, and is the Eternal Living Guru of the Sikhs. It is regarded by many world class philosophers and holy men as a unique treasure and a noble heritage for all humankind. It can allow the common person, regardless of their situation in life, to progress to a higher level of consciousness and find the Infinity within themselves.
One of the greatest glories of the Guru Granth Sahib is its all-embracing character. It contains within its sacred covers the songs, hymns and utterances of a wide variety of saints and sages including Hindu holy men, Muslim divines, Sufi poets and other God-intoxicated souls. The idea of the Sikh Gurus was to celebrate the diversity in all religions and mystical experiences, and at the same time, establish the fundamental unity of spirituality and faith.
The first compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib was known as the Adi Granth, or Primal Compilation. It was first compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, in 1604 in the city of Amritsar. The fifth Guru provided the following epilogue, “Three things are there in this vessel; Truth, contentment and intellect. The ambrosial Name of God is added to it, The Name that is everybody’s sustenance. He who absorbs and enjoys it shall be saved. One must not abandon this gift, It should ever remain dear to ones heart. The dark ocean of the world can be crossed by clinging to His feet. Nanak, it is He who is everywhere.”
The second and final version was the handy work of the tenth and final human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Near the end of his life, Guru Gobind Singh Ji ended the line of human Gurus by investing the Guru Granth Sahib with the status of Eternal Guru and his official successor in 1708. Bhai Nand Lal Ji, one of Guru Gobind Singh’s disciples, recorded the Guru’s words as, “He who would wish to see the Guru, Let him come and see the Granth. He who would wish to speak to him, Let him read and reflect upon what the Granth is saying. He who would wish to hear his word, He should with all his heart read the Granth.”
The final version, which is the authorised version in use at present, has 1430 Angs (pages) and contains a total of 5867 Shabads (hymns) in 31 Raags (melody or mood).
Language of the Guru Granth Sahib
The majority of the language of Guru Granth Sahib is the Punjabi dialect prevalent about 500 years ago in northern India. However there are also some hymns in Persian, medieval Prakrit, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit as well as Arabic. All of these hymns are written in the standard Punjabi script known as Gurmukhi. However, the grammar used within the Guru Granth Sahib is unique to the scripture and is not found in standard written Punjabi.
Structure of the Guru Granth Sahib
The Guru Granth Sahib is divided into 33 sections. The first section contains the epic Japji poem by Guru Nanak, which is not meant to be sung. The Japji is like the ‘Executive Summary’ of the entire Guru Granth Sahib. The final section is a collection of assorted verses including the Slokas and the Swayyas of Bhatts (a group of musicians). The remaining 31 sections of the Guru Granth Sahib are the hymns. The hymns have been laid out in a very scientific and well planned manner devised by the fifth Guru. They are ordered initially by melody or mood (Raag), secondly by poetic style or the metre of the poems, and finally by the author.
Musicology in the Guru Granth Sahib
The musical measures in the Guru Granth Sahib are associated with specific feelings, themes and times and these have various affects on the spirit. The themes are summarised below:
- Raags Soohi, Bihaagra and Malaar explore the theme of the soul being away from the House of Lord and the joy of meeting the true ‘husband’.
- Raag Bilaaval explores the theme of beautification of the soul.
- Raags Gaund and Tukhari look at the theme of separation and union.
- Raag Sri explores Maya and detachment
- Raag Maajh examines the yearning of a soul to merge with God and giving up of negative values.
- Raag Gauri explores spiritual principles and thoughtfulness
- Raag Aasa focuses on hope
- Raag Gujri examines Pooja (prayer)
- Raag Devgandhari explores the theme of Merging with ones spouse and self realization
- Raag Sorath explores the merits of God
- Raag Dhanasari uses many different themes
- Raag Jaitsree explores stability
- Raag Todi examines Maya (worldy attachment) and separation
- Raag Bairagi looks at the motivation to sing praises of God
- Raag Tilang poems use many words from Islamic tradition for sadness and beautification
- Raag Raamkali explores the theme of giving up life as a wandering Yogi
- Raag Nat Narayan conveys the theme of joy when meeting the Lord
- Raags Maali Gaura and Basant focus on happiness
- Raag Maaru looks at themes of Bravery and profound philosophy
- Raag Kedara focuses on love
- Raag Bhairav looks at the state of ‘hell’
- Raag Sarang explores the theme for the thirst of God
- Raags Jaijawanti and Vadhans focus on detachment
- Raag Kalyaan, Prabhati and Kaanra look at devotion (Bhakti)
Orders from the Guru Granth Sahib
At the beginning and conclusion of all major Sikh ceremonies the Guru Granth Sahib is opened randomly to any page and the hymn on that page is read. This is known as taking a ‘Hukamnama’, which is a Persian word meaning a royal decree, command or order. In the Sikh context this is considered the Guru’s wisdom for the day.
Respect for Guru Granth Sahib
The Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a throne in every Sikh temple and is treated as a living emperor. Upon entering the main prayer hall, a Sikh will always bow to the Guru Granth Sahib as a mark of humility and as recognition of the power of the Word of the Guru or Gurbani, to heal and enlighten humanity.
Guru Granth Sahib as a Quantum Technology
The Power of Words
Words are the perfect neuro-stimulators to activate and connect many areas of the brain. Science has not mapped all the twists and turns of the brain’s neural maze. There are still secret corners, unknown territories and surprises to discover.
One of the richest sources of how to use words and rhythms to create whole brain patterns and to integrate emotions and thinking is captured in the quantum technology and primal sound templates of the Guru Granth Sahib. The rhythmical phrasing and the sonorous use of words in the Guru Granth Sahib are maps into those secret areas. It is ‘quantum’ because it manipulates the smallest particles of sound and energy into effective combinations and patterns to create cosmic awareness in a human.
Primal Sounds (Phonemes)
The Guru uses common language in an uncommon way. Like all samples of the Word from people absorbed in the ecstasy of the Infinite, it is filled with meaning, structure and poetic richness and this indeed is the common language element of Guru Granth Sahib.
However, language is also made up of phonemes, which are the smallest unit of speech that distinguishes one word or utterance from another. The sound patterns of the Guru Granth Sahib use this uncommon quantum or atomic level of language to create healing, balance and vitality in the listener.
The Science of Phonemes
A primal sound is a word that is pronounced by a particular part of the mouth. When we form a word to speak it, the tongue moves and touches the palate, the top of the mouth and teeth in a well-defined spot. It directs the pressure of the air and vibrates the vocal chords and areas in the skull. These primal sound scales are unique combinations that use these areas of reflex to direct the patterns of the brain. Not every combination of sounds will create a pattern of wholeness nor a pattern for healing. The Guru Granth Sahib is a treasure chest that records a perfect sample of patterns of wholeness and healing which is known as Naad. They form a well-tested legacy for human usage.
Uniqueness of the Guru Granth Sahib
- Guru Granth Sahib was dictated, edited, compiled, proof read and signed for authenticity by the Sikh Gurus themselves. This has helped to safeguard the original revealed message from God.
- The Sikh Gurus honoured the saints and divine persons belonging to different faiths by including their hymns and utterances in the eternaGuru. This put into practice the message of the fatherhood of One God and love for oneness of humankind and makes the Guru Granth Sahib the world’s only Interfaith and Universal scripture.
- Guru Granth Sahib does not contain any autobiography of any of the Gurus or Sikh history. The focus of the eternal Guru is solely for spiritual advancement and human enlightenment.
- The Hymns are written in tune with the cosmic vibrations known as Naad, which is the essence of all sounds. This enables the Guru Granth Sahib to provide both healing and enlightenment to anyone who listens to or reads Gurbani with love and devotion.
Translations of Guru Granth Sahib
There are a number of translations available of the Guru Granth Sahib in English as well as European and Indian languages. Some of the online sources include: