Sikh Scriptures

There are two primary sources of Sikh Scriptures: the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the Dasam Granth. The Gurū Granth Sāhib may be referred to as the Ādi Granth—literally, The First Volume—and the two terms are often used synonymously. Here, however, the Ādi Granth refers to the version of the scripture created by Arjun Dev in 1604. The Gurū Granth Sāhib refers to the final version of the scripture created by Gobind Singh.

The principal Sikh scripture is the Adi Granth (First Scripture), more commonly called the Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikhs do not regard this as their “holy book” but as their perpetual and current “guru“, guide or master. It was called Adi Granth until Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and final guru in human form, conferred on it the title of the guru in 1708, after which it was called Sri Guru Granth Sahib, or Guru Granth Sahib for short. The Granth has 1430 Ang Sahib (ang meaning limb since the Guru Granth Sahib is not a book but it is the eternal Guru for Sikhs) divided into 39 chapters. All copies are exactly alike. The Sikhs are forbidden from making any changes to the text within this scripture.

The Guru Granth Sahib was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth guru of the Sikhs. The work of compilation was started in 1601 and finished in 1604. The Granth, called “Pothi Sahib” by Guru Arjan, was installed at Harmandir Sahib (House of God) with much celebration. See Sikhism

A folio from an early 19th-century manuscript copy of the Guru Granth Sahib (Schoyen Collection Norway)

A folio from an early 19th-century manuscript copy of the Guru Granth Sahib (Schoyen Collection Norway)


The following languages are found in this Granth:

  • Punjabi – many Sikh Gurus, Bhagat (saint) Sheikh Farid and others
  • Sindhi – Guru Arjan
  • Sanskrit – Guru Nanak, Guru Arjan and others
  • Gujarati and Marathi – Bhagat Namdev and Trilochan
  • Western Hindi – Bhagat Kabir
  • Eastern Hindi – Court poets
  • Eastern Apabhramshas – Bhagat Jaidev
  • Influence of Persian – Bhagat Namdev and Guru Nanak
From a 17th-century copy of the Guru Granth Sahib

From a 17th-century copy of the Guru Granth Sahib

The first published translation of the Guru Granth Sahib into Sindhi was done in 1959 by Jethanand B. Lalwani of Bharat Jivan Publications. He used his entire personal savings and produced 500 copies. Lalwani later took out loans to make a reprint in 1963.

The knowledge that enshrines and illuminates Guru Granth Sahib does not recommend translation; instead a direct learning connection with Guru Granth Sahib is only advised. This recommendation reduces learner’s bias through secondary translations and middle channels that could mislead a learners’ journey.

Dasam Granth

Main article: Dasam Granth

This is regarded as the second holiest book of the Sikhs and is called the Dasam Granth – the book of the tenth guru. The Granth was compiled three years after the guru’s death and it was Mata Sundri, the widow of the guru, who asked Bhai Mani Singh, a contemporary of the guru, to collect all the hymns composed by the guru and prepare a Granth of the Guru. It was completed in 1711. In its present form it contains 1428 pages and 16 chapters as listed below:

  • Jaap (meditation)
  • Bichitra Natak (autobiography of the Guru)
  • Akal Ustat (praises of God)
  • Chandi Charitar I & II (the character of goddess Chandi)
  • Chandi di Var (a ballad to describe goddess Durga)
  • Gian Prabodh (the awakening of knowledge)
  • Chaubis Avtar (24 incarnations of Vishnu ordered by Supreme God)
  • Brahm Avtar (incarnation of Brahma)
  • Rudar Avtar (incarnation of Shiva)
  • Shabad Hazare (ten shabads)
  • Swayyae (33 stanzas)
  • Khalsa Mehma (the praises of the Khalsa)
  • Shaster Nam Mala (a list of weapons)
  • Triya Charitar (the character of humans whose fall in deeply and mentally sexual desire )
  • Zafarnamah (epistle of victory, a letter written to Emperor Aurangzeb)
  • Hikayats (stories)

The following are the main banis regularly recited by devoted amritdhari Sikhs:

  1. Japji Sahib
  2. Jaap Sahib
  3. Tav Prasad Savaiye
  4. Chaupai Sahib
  5. Rehiraas Sahib

The languages used in the Granth are:

  • Brij
  • Hindi
  • Panjabi
  • Persian

Bhai Gurdas Varan

Varan Bhai Gurdas is the name given to the 40 varan (chapters) of writing by Bhai Gurdas ji. They have been referred to as the “Key to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib” by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru. He was the first scribe of Guru Granth Sahib and a scholar of great repute. From his work, it is clear that he had mastery of various Indian languages and had studied many ancient Indian religious scriptures.

Other scriptures

  • Bhai Nand Lal’s Work
  • Bhai Gurdas Kabits Savaiyas

Digitization of scriptures

Panjab Digital Library in collaboration with the Nanakshahi Trust took up digitization of Sikh scriptures in 2003. Thousands of manuscripts have been digitized and are available online at Panjab Digital Library.

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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