Like the Bible of Christianity, the Vedas of Hinduism or the
Koran of Islam, the Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the Adi Granth,
is the main scripture of Sikhism. Compared to other religions, Sikhism
is a religion of recent origin, founded in the 15th Century AD by
its founder Sri Guru Nanak. Although like Islam it believes in the
oneness of God and is opposed to idol worship, in many respects
it is an offshoot of Hinduism and is much closer to Hinduism.
It evolved primarily out of Hinduism, in line with the Bhakti
marg or the devotional path of Hinduism, as a kind of reform movement
In many respects, it is much more closer to Hinduism than either
Buddhism or Jainism and unlike the latter it maintained a very healthy
relationship with Hinduism throughout. The relationship between
Hinduism and Sikhism can be compared to that of a son and father,
where the son though a grown up individual has never lost his respect
towards his father and took upon himself the responsibility of taking
care of the latter.
In all fairness we should say that during the Muslim rule and
the subsequent British rule of India, Hinduism owed as much to Sikhs
as to Hindus for its survival and continuity. Whenever it became
vulnerable to the outside attacks and threats, the Sikhs stepped
themselves into the role of the Kshatriyas and defended the land
as well as the faith like true warriors of God.
Whatever may be the case, however, those who study the Guru Granth
Sahib are bound to realize that with regard to the emphasis it lays
on pure and unconditional devotion to God, on a life that is dedicated
completely to the remembrance of God, to the chanting of His Glory,
His words and His Name, and the importance and necessity of a true
Guru in ones spiritual salvation, Sikhism stands apart as a purely
devotional religion and is way beyond all the known religions as
an expression of pure and unconditional love to God.
In its philosophy and emphasis it transcends all faiths. Because
of its simplicity and unpretentious approach to God, it does not
hurt, beyond tolerable limits, the religious sentiments or beliefs
of any. And irrespective of the religion, the caste or the creed
to which each belongs, it has the potential to appeal to all and
Sikhism became a religion by itself due to the untiring work
and sacrifices made by the subsequent nine Gurus. The Sikh Gurus
were sensitive to the social problems of their times and rejected
many evils of Hindu society, especially the caste system, the prevalent
superstition and excessive ritualism.They made Sikhism a popular
religion in many parts of northern India, especially the Punjab
region and many parts of northern India.
The Gurus accepted many basic beliefs of Hinduism such as karma
and rebirth and also used the names of some Hindu divinities in
their Kirtans (musical songs) to extol the virtues of God or express
their love for Him. It should however be remembered that Sikhism
does not accept Hindu divinities and does not advocate worship of
any divinities or idols other than God Himself in his Highest aspect.
In its temperament and approach Sikhism stands apart from both Hinduism
and Islam and lays down its own ground rules for the worship of
God. The Sikh Gurus however made selfless efforts to narrow the
social and religious gap between the Hindus and Muslims through
their teachings, by emphasizing the similarities and by their unequivocal
emphasis on the importance of true love to God as the basis of all
religious worship. But they did not succeed much due to the religious
bigotry of the Mughal rulers. Most of the Mughal emperors were opposed
to the Sikh Gurus and persecuted them at the slightest opportunity.
The Guru Granth Sahib in its present form was originally compiled
by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The Scripture contains 5894
hymns of pure devotion composed in 18 ragas (musical patterns) by
the ten Gurus and 15 Hindu and Muslim saints such as Kabir, Shiak
Fareed etc. Of these Guru Nanak contributed 974 hymns. The hymns
were originally composed in different languages such as Persian,
mediaeval Prakrit, Hindi, Marathi, old Punjabi, Multani, and several
The basic philosophy of Sikhism revolves mainly around three
concepts: Naam, the name of God, Shabad the word of God and Sat
Sang, the company of the pious and the holy. These are the simple
means to salvation. The Book teaches that outward rituals and indulgence
in the worldly pleasure only bring us pain. What is required is
inner purification, true devotion and surrender to God. The true
Guru is the Naam, the name of God by remembering which constantly
one can achieve salvation. However a Guru, who has become completely
absorbed in the contemplation of Naam and has become united with
God in thought and deed, can also help us to cross the world of
illusion and taste the sweetness of the Lord.
Special mention may be made of Japji, comprising of the thirty
eight short poems of Nanak which appear at the beginning of the
Adi Granth. It contains the essential teachings and beliefs of Sikhism
and is considered to be very important. The poems are rendered in
various ragas (musical modes) and are sung by Sikh devotees as a
mark of devotion and respect to the Guru.
Compiled in the sixteenth century and composed entirely in lyrical
form, the hymns are mostly devotional in nature. During ceremonial
occasions and functions, they are sung individually or in a chorus
by the devotees with utmost devotion, love and humility. The Guru
Granth Sahib can be truly called the essence of all religions, since
it contains hymns and verses from many sacred books of various religions
and sects of Hinduism.
The Sikhs had ten Gurus in human form and after the tenth Guru
it was decided that henceforth the Guru Granth Sahib would become
the eleventh Guru and would remain so for ever as the living embodiment
of the Gurus. The Book is kept in all the Gurudwaras, the Sikh places
of worship and treated with great veneration as the "Guruji"
Himself. In many Sikh households, wherever the book is, it is kept
in sacred surroundings, treated with utmost respect, and recited
with great devotion. (This introduction is not part of the following
translation). Jayaram V
This is the Khalsa Consensus Translation,
which is highly regarded by scholars.
Jup: In seven parts, Jup describes
the greatness of the Supreme Lord. Its very recitation or mere
listening is bound to evoke deep devotion in the heart of the
So Dar The Word is Beauty. The Word
is Power. In the crucible of Name, melts the nectar of the Name.
No one really knows His true greatness
So Purakh Naam is the breath of life.
Those who have not sought the sanctuary of the true Guru and
the Sangat are cursed. Those who serve God find peace.
Sohila Gurmukh is the living expression
of Guru's Words. The teacher of teachers is one who appears
in many forms. Meeting the Guru your affairs are resolved. Purchase
only that for which you have come into this world.
Siree Raag The splendor of maya is
deceptive. In that place where the lowly are cared for, there
His blessings rain down. Tell your troubles to the One who is
the source of all comfort. The world is a drama staged in a
dream. The body is pure in which the True Name abides. As we
plant, so we harvest and eat.
Raag Maajh He alone is a companion
who shows me the way to Lord. The word of your bani is inside
as well as outside. Meditating on the Naam, I have found great
peace. God has produced everything in great abundance. Serving
the True Guru is the greatest greatness...
Raag Gauree Without the Fear of God,
no one crosses over the world-ocean. The body is dust; the wind
speaks through it. One who takes pride in himself shall never
be right. The Lord's slaves attain the highest status of life.
The Name makes a man pure and fearless. (This very long chapter
contains the well known Sukhmani,the peace of mind.)
Raag Aasaa This is also a very long
chapter with 142 parts. Included in this are the compositions
of Kabir, Dhanna, Daiv Shaik Fareed, Sant Ravidas, etc.
Raag Goojaree I would make Your Name
the sandalwood, and my mind the stone to rub it on. His lamps
are the sun and the moon. Cursed is that life, in which the
Lord's Love is not obtained. When God instills His fear, a balanced
detachment springs up in the mind. The most fortunate ones serve
their Guru; there is no difference between the Divine Guru and
Raag Dayv Without the Name of the
Lord, the beautiful are just like the noseless ones. O my mind,
act as it pleases God. O mother, without the Guru, spiritual
wisdom is not obtained. Whenever something comes to mind, it
is You. In this world, I have seen love to be false. Whether
they are spouses or friends, all are concerned only with their
Raag Bihaagra All are travelers,
who have gathered under the world-tree, and are bound by their
many bonds. In this world, the best occupation is to sing the
Praises of the Naam. Rituals and religions are all just entanglements;
bad and good are bound up with them. The ignorant fools pick
up stones and worship them. But when those stones themselves
sink, who will carry you across?
Raag Wadahans When the mind is
filthy, everything is filthy; by washing the body, the mind
is not cleaned. This mind is not controlled by any other discipline,
except the Sanctuary of the True Guru. Emotional attachment
to Maya is darkness; without the Guru, there is no wisdom. Dwell
forever and ever upon the Lord God, and you shall find the gate
Raag Sorat'h Make your ever-decreasing
life your shop, and make the Lord's Name your merchandise. The
benefit of bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage
is obtained by the Blessed Vision of the Guru's Darshan. O mind,
serve the True Guru, and obtain peace. As long as this person
believes in love and hate, it is difficult for him to meet the
Raag Dhanaasaree The body is the
paper, and the mind is the inscription written upon it. The
ignorant fool does not read what is written on his forehead.
He alone is a Yogi, who understands the Way. He alone is a Qazi,
who turns away from the world, and who, by Guru's Grace, remains
dead while yet alive. He alone is a Brahmin, who contemplates
God. The Lord saves His Saints.
Raag Jaitsree As Gurmukh, purchase
the merchandise of the Naam. Whatever I wish for, I receive;
my hopes and desires are fulfilled, meditating on God. I have
enshrined that love which drenches my soul. Nothing seems sweet
to His devotees, except the Lord. When God becomes merciful,
Maya does not cling.
Raag Todee Forgetting God one is
ruined forever. The sublime essence of Lord is found in the
Saadh sangat. The Name of the Lord is the medicine. One who
has found God keeps quiet about it...
Raag Bairaaree God is supreme and
is incomprehensible even to Gods. Meditate upon God constantly
for salvation. Whatever your mind desires, that you will obtain.
Raag Tilang The world is transitory,
Lord's devotees are like sandalwood, the body is dyed in greed,
true peace comes with His name,
Raag Soohee Build the raft of meditation
and self-discipline, to carry you across the river. That vessel
alone is pure, which is pleasing to Him. One who looks upon
all with a single eye, and knows them to be one and the same
- he alone is known as a Yogi. That stone, which he calls his
god, that stone pulls him down and drowns him.
Raag Bilaaval I serve the Lord
of the Universe; I have no other work to do. How rare is that
person, who looks upon life and death alike. He alone serves
the Guru, O Beloved, unto whom the Lord becomes merciful. They
are said to be very fortunate, O Beloved, who who dwell in the
Society of the Saints.
Raag Gond Through the Naam, my
affairs are resolved. My mind is accustomed to the Naam. Through
the Naam, I have become fearless. Let your mind accept the Word
of the Guru's Shabad, and His Mantra. Twenty-four hours a day,
sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. This is the purpose of
Raag Raamkalee Please rid me of
the desire to live, O my Lord and Master. In the midst of hope,
remain untouched by hope; then, O Nanak, you shall meet the
One Lord. The Langar - the Kitchen of the Guru's Shabad has
been opened, and its supplies never run short. Whatever His
Master gave, He spent; He distributed it all to be eaten.
Raag Nat Naaraayan Very fortunate
are those who meditate on the Lord's Name; they alone are the
Lord's devotees. Whoever chants His Name is liberated; whoever
listens to it is saved, as is anyone who seeks His Sanctuary.
The treasure of the Naam, the Name of the Lord, is everything
Raag Maale Gaaura The Panch Shabad,
the five primal sounds, vibrate and resound in the Court of
the Lord. The Naam, the Name of the Lord, is the Purifier of
sinners; the unfortunate wretches do not like this. One may
give donations in charity at Prayaag, and cut the body in two
at Benares, but without the Lord's Name, no one attains liberation,
even though one may give away huge amounts of gold.
Raag Maaroo All must abandon their
worldly homes; no one remains here forever.Forgetting the Lord,
your own virtues shall rot away. The night is a net, and the
day is a net; there are as many traps as there are moments.
The food of spiritual wisdom is the supremely sweet essence.
He alone is a Qazi, who practices the Truth. He alone is a Haji,
a pilgrim to Mecca, who purifies his heart. He alone is a Mullah,
who banishes evil.
Raag Tukhaari The Word of the Shabad
is the lamp which illuminates the three worlds; it slaughters
the five demons. I am a stone in the Boat of the Guru. Please
carry me across the terrifying ocean of poison. Without the
Fear of God, His Love is not obtained. Without the Fear of God,
no one is carried across to the other side.
Raag Kaydaaraa That person, upon
whom my Lord and Master showers His Mercy - the Lord attunes
that one to Himself. Let my mind become the dust of all; may
I abandon my egotistical intellect. One who eats and drinks
countless delicacies is no more than a donkey, a beast of burden.
In the Fear of God, is the Love of God. You live in a house
of sand, but you still puff up your body - you ignorant fool!
Raag Bhairao The Guru is Divine;
the Guru is Inscrutable and Mysterious. Serving the Guru, the
three worlds are known and understood. Without the True Word
of the Shabad, you shall never be released, and your life shall
be totally useless. The Yogis, the householders, the Pandits,
the religious scholars, and the beggars in religious robes -
they are all asleep in egotism. In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga,
glorious greatness is obtained through the Lord's Name.
Raag Basant Karma is the tree,
the Lord's Name the branches, Dharmic faith the flowers, and
spiritual wisdom the fruit. If the mind is not pure, what use
is it to hold the breath at the Tenth Gate? If someone's soul
is polluted within, what is the use of his traveling to sacred
shrines of pilgrimage all over the world? This mind is released,
only when it meets with the True Guru.
Raag Saarang O my mind, chant the
Name of the Lord, and study His Excellence. That poison which
you believe to be your own - you must abandon it and leave it
behind. What a load you have to carry on your head! Only the
Word of the Holy Saint is eternal. Without the Name, everyone
is poor. Hearing the Name, all supernatural spiritual powers
are obtained, and wealth follows along. Water is the father
of the world; in the end, water destroys it all.
Raag Malaar Pain is the poison.
The Lord's Name is the antidote. One who sings the Glorious
Praises of the True Lord, merges in the True Lord. The Shabad
is the Guru's Gift. It shall bring you lasting peace deep within;
it shall always stand by you. O Pandit, O religious scholar,
reflect on this in your mind. Why do you read so many other
things, and carry such a heavy load? Those who follow the Guru's
Teachings are the true spiritual warriors.
Raag Kaanraa Meeting with the humble
Saints, filth is washed away. My mind is the dust of the feet
of the Saints. Whoever remembers his Guru, shall not suffer
sorrow, even in dreams. Devotion is the natural quality of God's
devotees. Blessed is that love, which is attuned to the Lord's
Feet. He alone is liberated, O Nanak, whose True Guru is Good.
The Sat Sangat, the True Congregation of the True Guru, is the
school of the soul, where the Glorious Virtues of the Lord are
Raag Kalyaan When you serve the
Lord, Death cannot even see you. It comes and falls at the feet
of those who know the Lord. Those whom my Lord and Master protects
- a balanced wisdom comes to their ears. That mortal being is
supreme among all people, who is perfumed by the fragrance of
the Lord's Name
Raag Prabhaatee Whoever the Lord
blesses with forgiveness - his affairs are perfectly resolved.
Your Name is the only cure; nothing else works, O Infinite Creator
Lord. That body in which the Naam does not well up - that body
becomes miserable. There is no sacred shrine equal to the Guru.
The Guru encompasses the ocean of contentment. Both the singer
and the listener are liberated, when, as Gurmukh, they drink
in the Lord's Name, even for an instant.
Raag Jaijaavantee You must understand
that this wealth is just a dream. Why are you so proud? The
empires of the earth are like walls of sand. Night and day,
you listen to the Puraanas, but you do not understand them,
you ignorant fool! Death has arrived; now where will you run?
Shalok Sehskritee, First Mehl &
Fifth Mehl If you know God and the nature of karma, you
know that all these rituals and beliefs are useless. Says Nanak,
meditate on the Lord with faith. Without the True Guru, no one
finds the Way. The Righteous Judge of Dharma is relentless;
he counts each and every breath. The mortal is beautiful and
speaks sweet words, but in the farm of his heart, he harbors
cruel vengeance. He pretends to bow in worship, but he is false.
Beware of him, O friendly Saints
Fifth Mehl, Gaat'haa Even if the
mortal could reduce himself to the size of an atom, and shoot
through the ethers, worlds and realms in the blink of an eye,
O Nanak, without the Holy Saint, he shall not be saved. That
palace is beautiful, in which the Kirtan of the Lord's Praises
are sung. One's bad reputation is erased by a true son, who
meditates in his heart on the Guru's Mantra
Phunhay, Fifth Mehl The Lord is
found in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy. I have seen
all places, but none can compare to You. The eyes which do not
see the Holy - those eyes are miserable. The ears which do not
hear the Sound-current of the Naad - those ears might just as
well be plugged. The tongue which does not chant the Naam ought
to be cut out, bit by bit.
Chaubolas, Fifth Mehl How long
can the physicians go on, suggesting various therapies? You
fool, remember the One Lord; only He shall be of use to you
in the end.
Shaloks Of Devotee Kabir Jee Kabir,
earrings made of gold and studded with jewels, look like burnt
twigs, if the Name is not in the mind. Kabir, rare is such a
person, who remains dead while yet alive.Singing the Glorious
Praises of the Lord, he is fearless. Kabir, she came to me in
various forms and disguises. My Guru saved me, and now she bows
humbly to me. Kabir, those who only preach to others - sand
falls into their mouths.
Shaloks Of Shaykh Fareed Jee Kabir,
the Brahmin may be the guru of the world, but he is not the
Guru of the devotees. He rots and dies in the perplexities of
the four Vedas. Fareed, do not turn around and strike those
who strike you with their fists. Kiss their feet, and return
to your own home. If you desire your Beloved, then do not break
Swaiyas From The Mouth Of The Great
Fifth Mehl Chant and vibrate the Name of the Lord, O Nanak,
through the Teachings of the Saints. Meditate on the Lord with
love in your soul. Lust, anger, egotism, jealousy and desire
are eliminated by chanting the Name of the Lord. Those who serve
Guru Amar Daas - their pains and poverty are taken away, far
away. Glass is transformed into gold, listening to the Word
of the Guru's Shabad.
Shaloks In Addition To The Vaars
One who understands himself, meets with the Lord, and never
dies again. If you wish to put out the fire, then look for water;
without the Guru, the ocean of water is not found. Without the
Shabad, everyone is dead. True love and affection are obtained
from the Perfect Guru.
Shalok, Ninth Mehl If you do not
sing the Praises of the Lord, your life is rendered useless.
Like a dream and a show, so is this world, you must know. None
of this is true, O Nanak, without God.
Mundaavanee, Fifth Mehl & Raag
Maalaa I had looked upon the world as my own, but no one
belongs to anyone else. Each Raga has five wives, and eight
sons, who emit distinctive notes.