Can Sikhism Continue To Exist Without The Guru Granth Sahib?

1595 words - 7 pages

Evie Nichols 9y3

Can Sikhism continue to exist without the Guru Granth Sahib?

The Guru Granth Sahib is the sovereign active living Guru of the Sikhs. It is a voluminous text, with 1430 pages, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh gurus, from 1469 to 1708. A collection of 5,894 hymns and 1430 pages, the Guru Granth Sahib describes the qualities of God and why you should meditate on God’s name. The hymns are arranged into 31 ragas (musical groupings). Each copy of the Guru Granth Sahib, regardless of its size, is identical with regard to the layout of the pages. Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), the tenth guru affirmed the text as his successor. It remains the holy scripture of the Sikhs and is regarded as the teachings of the ten Gurus. The Guru Granth Sahib has a pivotal role in Sikh worship, as a source or guide of prayer. It is written in the Gurmukhī script, in various dialects – including Lehndi Punjabi, Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Sanskrit and Persian – often coalesced under the generic title of Sant Bhasha. There are approximately 20 million followers worldwide, most of whom live in the Punjab province of India. The 2001 census recorded 336,000 Sikhs living in the UK. In this essay I am going to examine information surrounding the Guru, and I am going to analyse whether Sikhism could exist without it, and come to a conclusion that it could not.

Firstly, I am going to look at the history of the Guru Granth Sahib. During the Guruship of Guru Nanak (1469-1539) collections of his hymns were compiled and sent to Sikh communities for use in worship. Guru Nanak wrote 974 published hymns. His successor, Guru Angad, collected these writings. This tradition was continued by the third, fourth and fifth gurus. Guru Amar Das wrote 907 hymns, Guru Ram Das wrote 679 hymns. Guru Arjan (fifth Guru) compiled a sacred book for the Sikh community, selecting hymns, to prevent fake scriptures from gaining legitimacy. The published version today has most hymns from Guru Arjan, with 2,218. In 1604, Guru Arjan’s manuscript was completed and copies were sent all over Northern India. The sixth, seventh and eighth Gurus did not add anything to the text, but the ninth Guru (Guru Tegh Bahadur) wrote 59 hymns. In 1704, a definitive version was created, with the addition of the compositions of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Now I am going to look at how the Guru Granth Sahib is used. At every festival, the hymns/verses are read continuously from beginning to end, which takes about 48 hours. At the birth of a child, joyful hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib are recited, and a name is chosen from the first letter of the first word of a random hymn selected by the granthi. This random selection is called a Hukam. On commemorative occasions, such as holidays and festivals, the Guru is transported in a litter, either on the shoulders of Sikh devotees, or atop a float, and paraded through the streets. The Guru is opened every day in a ceremony known as prakash. It is placed atop...

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