The Guru Granth Sahib (The Divine Sikh Scripture) is perhaps the only kind of spiritual writing which came directly from the founders of the religion and included hymns from other religions. Guru Arjan Dev compiled the first version (Adi Granth). The Guru sacrificed his life rather than change the divine verses under the threat of Emperor Jahangir. He installed and initiated Adi Granth Sahib on the last day of Bhadon, 1604 A.D. and Baba Budha was appointed the first Granthi (Custodian and Reader). Guru Gobind Singh conferred Guru Ship to Granth Sahib on November 2, 1708 A.D. He proclaimed that Guru Granth Sahib “is the representation of Soul and Mind of all Sikh Gurus and provides guidance for the time to come.”

Every Sikh bows his head before Guru Granth Sahib with spontaneous, respectful devotion. Almost all Sikh practices (from birth, through marriage to death) are linked with the Guru Granth Sahib are full of divine love, inspiration, supreme eternal guidance, and real peace of mind. The Guru’s guidance directs one towards becoming a noble, good and useful human.

The Guru Granth Sahib is comprised of 1,430 pages of scripture and 5,894 hymns which are arranged in a systematic order. The script is Gurmukhi and the language is predominantly Punjabi, although Hindi, Marathi, Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit are occasionally used. All hymns make lyrical notes and all meter from classical Indian prosody. The poetic expression is so perfect, that the atmosphere of harmony between subject matter and form attracts every human ear. Millions of people, including thousands of non-Sikhs, read the scriptures on a daily basis to enrich their lives with eternal words. In spite of non-availability of exact English equivalences, one can recognize the gems of wisdom therein.

“There is one, only one God. Truth is His name. He is Creator, without fear, immortal, beyond birth and death, the Enlightener and He is realized by the kind of grace of the True Guru.”

“Sweetness and humility are the essence of all goodness and virtue,””

“Falsehood shall perish, Truth shall prevail eventually.” “Egoism is a deep rooted disease.”

“Nanak, thou shall live in harmony with Divine by accepting His will.”

“Conquer thy mind, conquer the world.”

“As one does, so one is rewarded.”

“Meditation on His name is panacea for all.”

“We have a common Father, so we all are His children.”

So there is an abundance of wisdom in every hymn. Wise people use them as proverb when offering advice.

Many distinguished scholars have read the translation of Guru Granth Sahib:

“Shri Guru Granth Sahib is a source book, on expression of ° man’s loneliness, his aspirations, his longings, his cry to God ‘and his hunger for communication with that Being. I have studied the Scriptures of other great religions but I do not find elsewhere, the same power of appeal to heart and mind as I, find here (Granth Sahib)… In fact it is comparatively modern.

Pearl S. Buck, Nobel Laureate

“The Sikh religion and its scriptures, Adi Granth, will have something of special value to say to the rest of the world.”

Dr. Arnold Toynbee

“I know too little about the Sikh community and its culture, and a glance into these volumes (Guru Granth Sahib) shows me how much I was missing.”

E.M. Foster Novelist

The regular column, “Sikh Heritage” brings articles on Sikh history, culture and religion by eminent scholars.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 24, 1989