Since this article is being written mainly for the non-Sikh audience, I will start by quoting world renowned personalities on their views of the Sikh Holy Scriptures.
Arnold Toynbee Historian
“Mankind’s religious future may be obscure; yet one thing can be foreseen. The living higher religions are going to influence each other more than before, in the days of increasing communication between all parts of the world and branches of the human race. In this coming debate, the Sikh religion and its scriptures, the Guru Granth, will have something special of value to say to the rest of the world.”
Rev. H.L. Bradshaw of the U.S.A., Sikh Review, Calcutta.
“The Guru Granth Sahib of all the world’s religious scriptures, alone states that there are innumerable worlds and universes other than our own. The previous scriptures were all concerned only with this world and its spiritual counterpart. To imply that they spoke of other worlds as does the Guru Granth Sahib, is to stretch their obvious meanings out of context. The Sikh religion is truly the answer to the problems of the modern man.”
Miss Pearl S. Buck, Nobel laureate
“I have studied the scriptures of the great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes. They are compact in spite of their length and are a revelation of the concept of God to the recognition and indeed insistence upon the practical needs of the human body. There is something strangely modern about these scriptures and this puzzled me until I learned that they are in fact comparatively modern, compiled as late as the 16th century when explorers were beginning to discover the globe upon which we live is a single entity divided only by arbitrary lines of our making. Perhaps this sense of unity is the source of power I find in these volumes. They speak to a person of any religion or of none. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind.”
Max Arthur Macauliffe on the authenticity of Guru Granth Sahib
“The Sikh religion differs in regards to the authenticity of its dogmas from most other theological systems.
Many of the great teachers the world has known have not left a line of their own composition and we only know what they taught through tradition or second-hand information.
If Pythagoras wrote of his tenets, his writings have not descended to us. We know the teachings of Socrates only through the writing of Plato and Xenophanes. Buddha has left no written memorial of his teaching. Kungfu-tze, known to Europeans as Confucius, left no documents in which he detailed the principles of his moral and social system. 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 Arabian Prophet 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.”
END OF QUOTES.
In his previous incarnation, whom the world knows today as the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was known as Dusth Daman, the slayer of evil.
Saint Scholar Giani Naranjan Singh Ji, Shiromani Kathakar, said that God instructed Dusth Daman to be born on earth.
God also gave Dusth Damen two commands which were to be fulfilled when he was on earth.
The first was Guru Maneyo Granth ( Consider the Granth to be the Guru.)
On his (Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s) departure from earth, the Sikhs have to accept Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as their Guru. There will not be any human as the guru of the Sikhs.
The Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs are known as Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
The second command was — tell the Sikhs that, in the morning, before getting out of bed to repeat five times — Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
See the article Obtaining God’s Grace https://bit.ly/3prBsDx
“Guru Maneyo Granth (English: Consider the Granth to be the Guru), refers to the historic statement of the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666–1708), shortly before his death affirming the sacred text, Adi Granth, as his successor, thus terminating the line of human Gurus. Installed as the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, it is now the central text of Sikhism, and the eternal Guru of all Sikhs. It is central to Sikh worship as it is said to imbibe a living spirit of the Ten Sikh Gurus. .”
From the Dohra by Guru Gobind Singh Ji -
- Agya Bhai Akal Ki Tabe Chalyo Panth
- As was ordained by the Timeless, thus was established the Panth.
- Sabh Sikhan Ko Hukam Hai Guru Maneyo Granth
- To all Sikhs, let this be the order, recognize the Granth as your Guru.
- Guru Granth Ji Maneyo Prakat Guran Ki Deh
- The reverend Guru Granth is the visible body of the gurus
- Jo Prabh Ko Milbo Chahe Khoj Shabad Mein Leh
- Those that seek to meet with Vaaheguru (God), delve into the Shabad
(Note — Panth means the entire society or religious body of Sikhs all around the world.
Shabad means Word or Mantra)
Hence, to Sikhs worldwide, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is treated with great reverence. Sikhs treat their Holy Scriptures as the embodiment of their Ten Gurus.
The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is as precious to the Sikhs as is Jesus Christ to the Christians, Prophet Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him, to the Muslims and Lord Krishna to the Hindus.
Saint Scholar Giani Naranjan Singh Ji, Shiromani Kathakar has said that the English Translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji by Dr Gopal Singh is the best English translation. Only the first of the two volumes of this translation is available online.
Explanation and quotes from Sri Guru Granth Sahib English Version — Vol. 1 Translation by Dr Gopal Singh
The Guru-Granth was compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Arjun, in 1604 A.D. He already had before him the hymns of his four predecessors collected and put to writing by the second and the third Sikh Gurus.
The latter had even added some of the popular sayings of the Hindu Bhakts and Muslim Sufis as well,
Assembled in two volumes, the manuscripts lay with Baba Mohan, son of Guru Arjun, the third Sikh Guru. From him, Guru Arjun procured these after some hard persuasion, as the holy Granth itself testifies.
Some writings of the Gurus were collected from other sources as well, and the whole was put to writing, after a good deal of judicious pruning to separate the apocryphal writings, by Bhai Gurdas, a disciple of the Gurus, under the direct supervision of Guru Arjun himself. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and the last Sikh Guru, added some of the sayings of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, to the volume (and possibly one couplet of his own). And this whole has come down to us in its original purity.
This then is the only scripture of the world which was compiled by one of the founders of a religion himself and whose authenticity has never been questioned.
The Granth contains, besides the writings of the Sikh Gurus, compositions of almost all the medieval Hindu Bhaktas, like Kabir, Ramanand, Ravidas, Surdas, Sain and Bhikhan from the U.P, ; Jaidev from Bengal ; Namdev, Trilochan and Parmanand from Maharashtra ; Pipa and Dhanna from Rajasthan and Beni,then popular all over North India. The writings of five Muslims — Baba Farid, Bhikhan, Satta, Balwand and Mardana are also incorporated in the Granth. Baba Farid, Ganj-i-Shakar, it may be noted, was a great Muslim divine of the thirteenth century A.D. who did much to spread the gospel of Islam in India.
No other religion has perhaps shown this catholicity of outlook in bringing together views of such diverse hues and even when they are diametrically opposed to the tenets of the faith of whose scripture they now form an integral part. This whole book, now worshipped by the Sikhs the world over as the “living embodiment of the Gurus”, as enjoined by Guru Gobind Singh, is the Scripture of the Sikhs, and the expungement of any portion thereof is considered sacrilegious.
It may be remarked here in passing that the Bhaktas, whose works were included in the Guru-Granth, belonged, more often than not, to the lower classes of society. Kabir, for instance, was a weaver ; Namdeva, a calico-printer ; Dhanna, a cultivator ; Sadna, a butcher ; Ravidas, a shoemaker ; Sain, a barber ; though Pipa was a king and Trilochan, a Brahmin. But the emphasis in the Granth is on the lowest becoming the highest and caste being of no consequence in the realisation of the Supreme Truth.
Sikhism is the most modern, and yet the most misunderstood, of all the world religions. Some have described it as an offshoot of the Bhakti cult inspired in its main tenets by Kabir. Others have taken it to be a synthesis of Mohammedan monotheism and the Hindu metaphysics. A scholar has even suggested it to be a crude form of Buddhism on account of its insistence on Nirvana minus its atheism, which, to him, is the logical result of the doctrine of Nirvana.
It is given in the GURU-GRANTH at innumerable places, however, that the Name cannot be realised without the Guru. It is he through whose Grace the Name is enshrined in the mind. But the Guru must be the True Guru, and “the True Guru is he who has realised the True One” (Gauri Sukhmani. M. 5). He, however, does not lead men to his own worship, but to the worship of the One and the only God. But the Guru is met, says the Word, only if it is so written in our destiny and it is only the man whose destiny is awakened that, meeting the Guru, he realises the Name within himself.
The theory of the doctrine of the Word, or the Name, can be explained in metaphysical terms thus.
Not unlike the Christians, the Sikhs too believe that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God”. According to ancient Hindu thinkers also, out of the five elements, namely, earth, fire, wind, water and ether, the only element that could express the all-pervading nature of God is ether. And what is ether, but sound, and sound is nothing but a means to convey the Word. Again, as is the Hindu belief, according to Mimansa, the Shabad (Word, or verbal testimony) is the only infallible means of acquiring knowledge of spiritual truths. (With Mimansa, the Word is, however, employed to invoke the invisible effects of the Vedic ritual). For, the Word is self-sufficient and does not depend on any other means for its meaning. Being coeval with sound, the Word is, therefore also eternal. For, even before the Word is uttered, its sound pervades the ether, otherwise it would neither be utterable, nor hearable. And, to know of the eternal verities only the eternal means and premises can lead to tangible results. The authority of the Word is derived from its being uttered by those who were the direct witnesses of the Truth.
The question is then asked, if that is so, where is the necessity of the Guru on which so much insistence has been placed in the GURU-GRANTH ? But it is never realised that the Guru is not a person, or an incarnation of God, an intercessor or a prophet or pledge, but the Word :
‘The Word is the Guru, the Guru is the Word,
For, all the Nectars are enshrined in the Word.” [Natt Ashtapadis, M. 4]
Quotes from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji -
“Everyone utters the Name of the Lord, but by mere utterance one Realises Him not: When, through the Guru’s Grace, the Lord is enshrined in the mind, one gathers the Fruit.”
[Gujri, M. 3]
“The body is a mare created by the Lord ;
Riding it, I cross the impassable.” ( Vadhans, M. 4)
“I make myself the henna ;
And the Lord in His Grace Himself grinds it into a paste and applies it to His Hands.” (M. 3)
“Brother, that food, that pleasure is vain,
Which leads the mind to sin and makes the body writhe in pain.” (Sri Rag, M. 1)
“Who’s true, who’s false is adjudged there in the Lord’s Court,
For, he who goes there alone knows.” (Guru Nanak’s Japu)
“He is sweet like the ripe dates, like a rivulet of honey .”
“Of beauteous eyes, sparkling teeth, of sharp nose and luxurious hair, of golden body, of alluring gait and steps like a peacock’s, eternally young, whose speech is ever-sweet such is this God,” according to Guru Nanak.
“Sweet is the Speech of my Friend and Beloved,
I’ve seen with care : bitter is never His Word.” [Suhi Chhant, M. 5]
“The Name informs all creatures, all beings,
The Name informs all worlds, all universes.” [Gauri Sukhmani, M. 5]
“Everyone utters the Name of the Lord, but by mere utterance one Realises Him not. When, through the Guru’s Grace, the Lord is enshrined in the mind, one gathers the Fruit.”
[Gujri, M. 3]
“Dwell thou on thy God who is ingrained in thy body and mind.” [Gauri, M. 5]
“Follow thou the Lord’s Will ingrained in thee.” [Guru Nanak, Japu]
“Within thy home is the Treasure, there is nought without,
By the Guru’s Grace to it thou attainest and the Door opens unto thee.” [Asa, M. 3, Ashtapadis].
“As fragrance abides in the flower,
As the reflection is within the mirror,
So does thy Lord Abide within thee,
Why search Him without ?” [Todi, M.9]