Essence of Guru Granth Sahib; the sacred text of Sikhism

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion which emerged in the 15th century. Guru Nanak Dev was the founder of Sikhism. He was born in Nankana Sahib which is located near Faisalabad. Sikhism is basically the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev. The word ‘Sikh’ comes from Sanskrit and literally translates to ‘Learner’.

There was a lineage of 10 living gurus who existed to expand Sikhism. The 11 guru exist in the form of Guru Granth Sahib, the religious text of Sikhism. The fifth one, Guru Arjan Dev build the Gurdwara Dera Sahib which is located in Lahore, near the main gate of Badshahi Mosque. Guru Granth Sahib was not compiled till Guru Arjan Dev existed. It was after his death that the oral teachings of previous Gurus were compiled to provide guidance to all Sikhs. The 9th Guru, Guru Hargobind Singh named his successor to be Guru Granth Sahib. He ended the lineage of living gurus with the book.

According to the Sikh belief, Guru Granth Sahib is not a book, it is actually the last living Guru of Sikhs. With this, the lineage of Gurus has ended. They believe it to be a living breathing person. The pages of the book are called ‘Angh’ which translates to ‘Organs’. In every gurdwara, there is an air conditioner or a heater to provide comfort to the Granth Sahib. A separate room is reserved in every gurdwara with a belief that Guru Granth Sahib rests in it. It is called ‘Sukhaasan’ (place of calmness). No person can keep this sacred text in his house. Since Guru Granth Sahib is an actual person, he can only live in the gurdwara.

There are rituals practiced around the Granth Sahib. Before any person could enter the premises of a gurdwara, he has to perform ‘Charan Ganga’. This is a process of washing feet in a shallow pool built in front of the gurdwara. All sorts of impure things are prohibited in the gurdwara.

In Gurdwara Dera Sahib, a Granthi (Reader of Granth Sahib) performs the ritual of randomly opening the book at 4 am. Whichever page opens, becomes the teaching of the day and is written on a whiteboard which is hung in the gurdwara. It is done so that the pilgrims coming late in the day can get to know the teaching of the day. Around 4-5 Sikhs must be present at the time of reading. It is thought that the Guru has said those words for the day. It is compulsory for all people to cover the head before entering a gurdwara. Taking off shoes is also mandatory.

Sikhism has various things common with Islam. The opening verses of Guru Granth Sahib are called the ‘Mul Mantar’. These verses are very similar to Quranic teachings. Below is given the translation of those verses:

‘Ik Oankaar Satnaam Kartaa Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akaal Moorat Ajoonee Saibhan Gur Prasaad’

Translation: God is one. His name is true and eternal. He is the doer of all. He does not fear anyone. He does not hate anyone. His form is timeless. He is above the cycles of life or death. He is self-existent. Provided by the guru’s grace.

This Mul Mantar is the true essence of Sikh beliefs. It is the root statement of the whole Sikhism. This is very much similar to Islamic teachings.

(The information presented is taken from an interview of Kulwinder Singh in Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore)

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