Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a Granth (book) originally compiled by Fifth Guru and named as Adi Granth, and later recompiled by all the gurus that followed him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, appointed it as the Eleventh Guru. It is the ultimate teacher of the Sikhs.
According to Guru Gobind Singh’s poet Sainapat, Bhai Nand Lal and Dhadi Nath Mal, all of who were present at Nander, a day before the Guru’s demise, the Sikhs enquired as to whom he was entrusting his Khalsa. Bhai Nand Lal in Rahitnama says the Guru replied he has three forms: nirgun (invisible), his word, and sargun (the visible). After his physical death, his soul would be invisible. His second form would be Adi Granth (not Dasam Granth): “Dusar Rup Granthji jan, Mera rup Granthji jan. Is men bhed nahin kuchh man.” The third form, sargun or the visible, was the Khalsa. He added that he had bestowed his physical form upon his Khalsa. The Guru accompanied by Khalsa went to the place where Adi Granth had been installed. He opened the holy book, placed five paise and a coconut before it, bowed before it, then went around the sacred scripture five times, bowed every time, and declared it as the Guru for all times to come. Up until this time, the holy book was called Pothi Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh Ji named it Granth, consisting of two words, Gur and Ant meaning eternal Guru. He asserted: “In the future, whoever wishes to seek enlightenment, guidance and solace, let him read the holy granth. This is your Guru forever and ever till eternity. ” The Guru said that he was entrusting the Khalsa to the care of Akal Purukh (God). He affirmed:
Dusara rup Granth ji jan
Un ke ang mero kar man
Jo sikh gur darshan ki chah
Darshan karo granth ji ah.
Jo mam sath chaho kar bat
Granth ji parhe bichare sath.
jo muj bachan sunan ki chai
Granth ji parhe sune chit lae Me
mero rup Granth ji jan
Is men bhed nahin kuchh man
[The Granth is second myself (Guru Granth, not Dasam Granth, which was compiled later by Bhai Mani Singh). It should be taken for me. A Sikh who wants to see me, should have a look at the Granth. One who wishes to talk to me, should read the Granth and think over it. One who is anxious to listen to my talk, he should read the Granth and listen to its recitation with attention. Consider the Granth as my own self. Have not the least doubt about it.]
Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s last sermon, which is now a part of the Sikh daily prayer after Ardaas:
aagya bhai Akal ki Tabhi chalayo Panth,
Sab Sikhan ko hukum hai Guru Manyo Granth.
Guru Granth ji manyo pargat Guran ki deh.
jo, prabh ko milna chahe khoj shabad men le
[Under orders of the immortal being, the Panth was started. All the Sikhs are enjoined to accept the Granth as their Guru. Consider the Guru Granth as a representation of the Guru’s body. Those who wish to meet God can find the way in its hymns.]
Thus, the Eleventh Guru, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, was born. The holy scripture has 1430 pages of text in poetry form. It is full of devotion, meditation, and the grace of Guru and God. It includes hymns of more then 20 Hindu and Muslim saints of India. It is the only holy book in world, which was written by its founder of religion. The Bible was not written by Christ, neither was the Quran, but the Granth was written by all Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind. Guru Granth Sahib Ji also contains the hymns of famous saints of their time, who were irrespective of caste, creed, and religion.
The Mool Mantar (also spelt Mul Mantra) is the most important composition contained within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs; it is the basis of Sikhism. The word “Mool” means “main”, “root” or “chief” and “Mantar” means “magic chant” or “magic portion.”
Together the words “Mool Mantar” mean the “Main chant” or “root verse.” It’s importance is emphasized by the fact that it is the first composition to appear in the holy Granth of the Sikhs, and it appears before the commencement of the main section, which comprises of 31 Raags or chapters.
Ik– There is ONE (Ik) reality, the origin and the source of everything. The creation did not come out of nothing. When there was nothing, there was ONE, Ik.
Onkaar– When Ik becomes the creative principal it becomes Onkaar. Onkaar manifests as a visible and invisible phenomenon. The creative principle is not separated from the created. It is present throughout the creation in an unbroken form, ‘kaar’.
Satnaam– The sustaining principle of Ik is Satnaam, the True Name, True Name.
Kartaa Purakh– Ik Onkaar is the Creator and Doer (Kartaa) of everything, all the seen and unseen phenomenon. It is not just a law or a system; it is a Purakh, a Person.
Nirbhau– That Ik Onkaar is devoid of any fear, because there is nothing but itself.
Nirvair– That Ik Onkaar is devoid of any enmity because there is nothing but itself.
Akaal Moorat– That Ik Onkaar is beyond time (Akaal) and yet it exists. It is a form (Moorat), which does not exist in time.
Ajooni– That Ik Onkaar does not condense and come into any birth. All the phenomenon of birth and death of forms are within it.
Saibhang– That Ik Onkaar exists on its own, by its own. It is not caused by anything before it or beyond it.
Gurprasaad– That Ik Onkaar expresses itself through a channel known as Guru, and it is through its own Grace and Mercy (Prasaad) that this happens.
A composition or Shabad from Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikh Gurus spoke Punjabi and developed a new writing script, Gurmukhī, for writing their sacred hymns. Although the exact origins of the script are unknown, it is believed to have existed in an elementary form during the time of Guru Nanak. According to Sikh tradition and the Mahman Prakash, an early Sikh manuscript, Guru Angad invented the script at the suggestion of Guru Nanak during the lifetime of the founder. The word Gurmukhī translates as “from the mouth of the Guru”. It was used from the outset for compiling Sikh scriptures. The Sikhs assign a high degree of sanctity to the Gurmukhī script, it is the official script for the Indian State of Punjab.
The end part of the handwritten Adi Granth, by Pratap Singh Giani, on the first floor of Harmandir Sahib Guru Granth Sahib is divided by musical settings or ragas into 1,430 pages known as Angs (limbs) in Sikh tradition. It can be categorized into two sections:
The word raga refers to the “color” and, more specifically, the emotion or mood produced by a combination or sequence of pitches. A raga is composed of a series of melodic motifs, based upon a definite scale or mode of the seven Swara solmization’s, that provide a basic structure around which the musician performs. Some ragas may be associated with times of the day and year. There are 31 ragas in the Sikh system, divided into 14 ragas and 17 raginis (minor or less definite ragas). Within the raga division, the songs are arranged in order of the Sikh gurus and Sikh bhagats with whom they are associated.
The ragas are, in order: Sri, Manjh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Devagandhari, Bihagara, Wadahans, Sorath, Dhanasri, Jaitsri, Todi, Bairari, Tilang, Suhi, Bilaval, Gond (Gaund), Ramkali, Nut-Narayan, Mali-Gaura, Maru, Tukhari, Kedara, Bhairav (Bhairo), Basant, Sarang, Malar, Kanra, Kalyan, Prabhati and Jaijawanti. In addition there are 22 compositions of Vars (traditional ballads). Nine of these have specific tunes, and the rest can be sung to any tune.
Guru Granth Sahib is always the focal point in any Gurudwara, being placed in the centre on a raised platform known as a Takht (throne), while the congregation of devotees sits on the floor and bow before the Guru as a sign of respect. Guru Granth Sahib is given the greatest respect and honour. Sikhs cover their heads and remove their shoes while in the presence of this sacred text. Guru Granth Sahib is normally carried on the head and as a sign of respect, never touched with unwashed hands or put on the floor. It is attended with all signs of royalty, with a canopy placed over it. A chaur sahib is waved above the book. Peacock-feather fans were waved over royal or saintly beings as a mark of great spiritual or temporal status; this was later replaced by the modern Chaur sahib.
The founder of Christianity did not reduce his doctrines to writing and for them we are obliged to trust to the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The prophet Muhammad did not himself reduce to writing the chapters of the Quran. They were written or compiled by his adherents and followers. But the compositions of Sikh Gurus are preserved and we know at first hand what they taught.