The Sikh faith was established by ten Spiritual Masters called Gurus over a period of some 240 years from 1469 to 1708. The ten Spiritual Masters are:
First: Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Second: Guru Angad Dev Ji
Third: Guru Amar Das Ji
Fourth: Guru Ram Das Ji
Fifth: Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Sixth: Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji
Seventh: Guru Har Rai Ji
Eighth: Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji
Ninth: Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji
Tenth: Guru Gobind Singh Ji
The eleventh Guru is the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji - the Sikh Holy Scriptures. In 1708 Guru Gobind Singh Ji the tenth Guru affirmed the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as His successor and commanded all Sikhs to accept the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as their perpetual Guru.
Thus began the reign of the Shabad Guru as the spiritual light and guide to the Sikhs. A Guru is a spiritual teacher. The word Guru is made up of two syllables: Gu meaning darkness and Ru meaning dispel1. Together the two syllables make the word Guru meaning one who dispels darkness. For a Sikh a Guru is a spiritual teacher who guides a Sikh on the path of salvation through darkness of no spiritual understanding to spiritual enlightenment.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji the first Guru of the Sikhs preached the core principles of the Sikh faith from a very young age. He travelled on four journeys to share the message of God. One journey was as far south as Sri Lanka and another far west to the Middle East.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught three fundamental principles:
1. Naam Japna: Guru Ji led the Sikhs directly to practice Simran - Naam Japna meaning chanting the Name of God or meditation. Repeating the name of God (naam) helps purify the mind and over time gets closer to God.
2. Kirat Karni: Guru Nanak Dev Ji expected the Sikhs to live as honorable householders and practice Kirat Karni. Kirat Karni means to honestly earn by ones physical and mental efforts.
3. Vand Chakna: The Sikhs were asked to share their wealth within the community by practicing Vand Chakna which means to 'Share and Consume together'. Every Sikh should contribute in whatever way possible to the common community pool for the wellbeing of those less fortunate. This spirit of sharing and giving refers to wealth as well as physical service.
The writings in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib starts with Ek Oang Kaar: Ek a number meaning one and Oang Kaar meaning God, highlighting that there is One God. The One God who created us all and that He resides and pervades in His creation. In the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji God is referred to by various names some of which are Waheguru; Ram; Har; Rahim; Satnam; Mukand; Allah; Prabhu; Madhav; Karim; Laal; Bithal; and Meetha.
The Sikh faith preaches: devotion to and remembrance of God the creator at all times; truthful living; equality of mankind emphasizing the equality of women; social justice; and denounces the caste system, superstitions and blind rituals. The practice of the Sikh faith through the teachings of the ten Gurus enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji - the Sikh Holy Scriptures - is open to all.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji passed on his Guruship (enlightened leadership) to nine successive Gurus. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh completed the transformation of the Sikhs as Saint Soldiers combining the martial and spiritual concepts together in balance and solidifying the identity and appearance of the Sikhs as it is today.
The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 afrmed the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji - Sikh Holy Scriptures - as His successor and commanded all Sikhs accept Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as their perpetual Guru. Guru Gobind Singh Ji declared that the scriptures were the living embodiment of the ten Gurus and all Sikhs will bow, receive guidance and pledge allegiance to the teaching of the now perpetual Guru of the Sikhs, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
For the Sikhs the contents of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji are the visual body of the Guru or Master, therefore it wouldn't be right to refer to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as a book. Accordingly the pages are referred to as ang.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was originally compiled by the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji with the verses of the first five Gurus and selected verses from the writings of other holy men from other faiths, where the teachings reflected the belief in the one God and the equality of all. Guru Gobind Singh Ji completed the teachings by including the verses from the ninth guru, Guru Teg Bahadur Ji and one verse of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. After completion Guru Gobind Singh Ji passed the Guruship to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in the form we have today. It is important to note that the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was compiled and written by the Masters Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji themselves.
The sacred verses of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji are called Gurbani or Shabad. It contains the actual words and verses as uttered by the Sikh Masters. The Masters preached what came directly from the One God. Guru Nanak Dev Ji in His shabaads below says:
'jaisee mai aavai khasam kee baanee thaisarraa karee giaan vae laalo'
As the Word of the Forgiving Lord comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo
Ang 722 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (SGGSJi)
'ho aapahu bol n jaanadhaa mai kehiaa sabh hukamaao jeeo'
By myself, I do not even know how to speak; I speak all that the Lord commands
Ang 763 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (SGGSJi)
Guru Arjan Dev Ji's shabaad says:
'dhhur kee baanee aaee thin sagalee chi(n)th mittaaee'
The Bani of His Word emanated from the Primal Lord It eradicates all anxiety
Ang 628 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (SGGSJi)
Thus the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji contains spiritual knowledge and teachings that came straight from God. It stresses on Naam - meditation on the Name of God - and that salvation can be obtained by means of regular, persistent and disciplined meditation. Most of the shabads are addressed to God and often describe the devotee's condition i.e. ones aspirations and yearning, ones agony in separation from God and ones longing to be with God again.
The subject of Guru Granth Sahib is truth: how to become a 'person of truth', that is, an ideal person. As Guru Nanak Dev Ji states; God is the Ultimate Truth and one has to cultivate those qualities which are associated with Him. Through its teachings, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji can enable men and women to lead a purposeful and rewarding life while being members of a society. It seeks universal peace and the good of all mankind. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji also stresses the democratic way of life and equality of all people. The emphasis is on moral actions, noble living and working for the welfare of all people. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji can be referred to as 'the universal scriptures'
The Gurus considered divine worship through music as the best means of attaining a state of bliss. Therefore, each of the shabads in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is noted with the melody and raag (rhythm) to which it is to be sung or read. The basic concept behind the shabads is that kirtan (sacred music), when sung or listened to with devotion and undivided attention, can link the individual's consciousness with God. A mind may become stable and enjoy the peace of His divine presence, as listening to the shabads can exert a powerful in?uence on the mind and help to establish its communion with God.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji also incorporates and sanctifies the writings of holy men of different faith. Therefore, the language of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is a mixture of many different languages, yet it is written exclusively in the Gurmukhi script. Guru Arjan Dev Ji did not believe that there is one particular sacred language in the sense that man can pray to God only in that language.
As the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the spoken word of the Gurus and the teachings have comedirectly from the True God, this creates a very high degree of sanctity. Therefore a strict protocol is required with the scriptures and how they are to be housed and handled. This includes any smaller extracts or quotes from the scriptures. In order to maintain protocol while sharing Guru's message, this book does not include any sacred writing in Gurbani. Instead the Romanized version is used and the translations.
This book contains a collection of verses from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, also some from the Sri Dasam Granth and varaan of Bhai Gurdas Ji4 whose writing are considered to be the key to understanding the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Sri Dasam Granth contains verses written by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Sikh Nishkam Society of Australia has put these collections of verses together, in order to share some of the beautiful teachings contained in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
In this book where the term Guru or Spiritual teacher is mentioned in the Path of virtue sections, the definition encompasses prophets such as Sikh Gurus, Jesus Christ, Buddha, etc.
The Sikh Nishkam Society of Australia is a not for-profit organization established to work in a number of different areas including education, advocacy and Interfaith dialogue. In conjunction with an affiliated organization based in Kuala Lumpar, the Sikh Nishkam Society of Australia has been able to provide the 360 quotes published in this book.
Kamaljit Kaur Athwal