Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, also known as the “AdiGranth”, is the holy doctrine of the Sikh faith. A unique holy scripture, which includes the teachings of various saints of different faiths along with the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus, is considered as the “supreme spiritual expert” and the eleventh “existing guru” of the Sikh religion. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, meaning the highest seat of respect in the Sikh faith and is offeredgreat reverence by the Sikhs for the teachings that it offers.
It is a collection of religious chants and verses in the praise of God. The Granth Sahib hymns are called Gurbani which means “Words of the guru”.The Guru Granth Sahib emphasizes on meditation and worship of the Almighty for the unification of once soul with the one and only supreme power, defying idol worship, superstitious religious practices and sacrifices, and guides on the path of moral and ethical living for the purification of the soul and attainment of salvation. The Guru Granth Sahib not only known as the sacred book of Sikhism but is also considered as a perfect scripture fostering universal brotherhood and promoting universal faith.
The Guru Granth Sahib was originally compiled by Guru Arjan Singh Ji, the fifth guru of the Sikhs. The original copies of hymns written by the previous Sikh Gurus were collected by BhaiPiara, BhaiGurdas and Baba Buddha on the insistence of Guru Arjan Dev. Guru ArjanDevJi himself travelled to Govindwal, Khadur and Kartarpur to collect the original scripts from the family members of Guru Nanak DevJi, Guru Amar Das Ji and Guru AngadDevji.
After all the manuscripts were collected Guru Arjan Singh Ji began the compilation of the sacred book besides the Ramsar tank located in Amritsar. BhaiGurdas was given the task of inscribing the master copy for Guru Arjan Singh. The Holy book includes verses of several saints of different faiths but only those hymns were selected and included by Guru ArjanDevji which promoted the sentiments he acknowledged and he wanted to impart to his followers. This original version of the holy doctrine was called the Pothi Sahib and was completed after a strenuous task of many years.
In August 1604, the Pothi Sahib was mounted on a high pedestal inside the Harmandir Sahib. Long after this Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth guru of the Sikhs took up the task of making a new version of the Holy Scripture, adding to it the hymns of Guru TeghBahadur, the ninth guru of the Sikhs and his father.
A great poet and a prolific author Guru Govind Singh with all humility just included one of his verses to this new edition of the holy doctrine, which was completed in 1705 and was called the Guru Granth Sahib. Towards the end of his life in 1708, Guru Govind Singh endowed the Guru Granth Sahib with the rank of everlasting Guru of the Sikh faith. Ever since then Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, is seen as the eleventh and eternal teacher of the Sikh faith.
Inscribed in Gurumukhi, the normal Punjabi writing, the Holy doctrine of the Sikh faith is spread over 1430 pages and consists of 5864 verses. The hymns are mostly constituted in the Punjabi dialect dominant in the days of its compilation, but some of the hymns adapted from the preachers of other faith are either in medieval Prakrit, Hindi and Sanskrit, or Marathi, Arabic and Persian.
Apart from the hymns of the other famous saints of Sikhism, 2216 hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib were contributed by Guru ArjanDevJi himself whereas 937 hymns were adopted from fifteen other saints and eleven poets of other faiths. The holy chants or hymns have been systematically and scientifically laid across the Guru Granth Sahib, with each page holding 18 to 19 lines of the same in bold.
The layout of the hymns is based upon the Raga or the melodic pattern in which they are to be sung; the length and nature of the Granth Sahib hymns; the hierarchical order of the Gurus and the clef of each after each him. The hymns of the Guru Grant sahib are distributed into 33 sections, the first section including prayers to be recited in the morning evening and night including Guru Nanak DevJi's classic Japji poem which cannot be sung, Sodar, So Purkh and Sohila.
The central parts includesmusical hymns, ShlokasSahskriti, Gatha, Phanas and Chaubolas. The last section consists of a collection of various poetries and the swayyas sung by a group of musicians called the Bhatts and Shlokas by Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, Trilochan, Surdas, Sheikh Farid Guru TegBahadur and other Gurus, Mundavani and a collection of Ragmala.
The hymns of the Guru Granth Sahib are the reflection of Sikhism. They are the teachings of the saints guiding through the journey of life towards the attainment of salvation and unification of oneself with God. They reflect the emotional experience of each person of the society. These hymns and verses or Gurbanis form an integral part of every celebration of the Sikh faith in form of Kirtans.
They not only guide towards the path of salvation but also express and preach of living an ethical life full of honesty, hard work contentment, dutifulness, happiness and independence. They sing of the virtues that every noble man should possess and practice. The hymns shun the superstitions and evil practices prevalent in the society and promote the omnipresence of God as one supreme power, who does not differentiate amongst his people.
The hymns express the joys of life and importance devoting oneself into the worship and meditation of God. The divine music of the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib embalms the mind and strengthens the spirit to fight all odds. Its philosophies not only lay a moral code of conduct based on the core principles for its followers but also this religious doctrine is also considered a exclusive, priceless and honourable heritage for all.