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Guru Granth Sahib: handle with care


The Granth Sahib comprising of 1430 pages and 5864 hymns is not just another holy book but a perpetual and eternal Guru for the Sikhs. The sanctity of the Guru Granth Sahib is reflected in the manner in which it was treated by the Gurus. Even today, no one can alter any of word, sentence or meaning of verses in Guru Granth Sahib.


By Neeraj Mahajan

Reading the Guru Granth Sahib is an important part of a Sikh man, woman or child’s life. The Guru Granth Sahib comprising of 1430 pages and 5864 hymns or verses is not just another holy book for the Sikhs; who regard it is as their perpetual, eternal and living Guru. No one can change or alter any of the words, structure of sentence, grammar or meaning of verses in the Guru Granth Sahib.

The authority and sanctity of the Guru Granth Sahib as a sacrosanct spiritual guide is reflected in the manner in which it was treated with respect by the Sikh Gurus themselves.

Guru Arjan Dev—the fifth Sikh Guru

Guru Arjan Dev– the first Guru to be born into a Sikh family– is credited to have installed the first edition of the Sikh scripture at Harimandir Sahib or Golden Temple in Amritsar.

According to Sikh legend, Guru Arjun asked his followers where they wanted the first edition of the Adi Granth or Guru Granth Sahib to be installed. “You are omniscient, Master! But there is no place more suitable than the Harimandir,” Bhai Buddha replied. Guru Arjan Dev agreed and said, “There is nothing like it in all the three worlds. Harimandir is like the ship—the means for the people to cross over the worldly ocean triumphantly. A new joy pervades here every day. A sight of it annuls all sins.”

The night before embarking on the journey to place the first edition of the Adi Granth in the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the Granth Sahib was made to rest and placed on a soft seat under a canopy, while Guru Arjan Dev and the Sikh Sangat slept on the ground.

At daybreak, Bhai Buddha carried the Holy Book on his head. Guru Arjun walked behind him swinging the whisk. So did the musicians singing shabads. As soon as the Sangat reached Harimandir Sahib, the Granth Sahib was ceremonially installed in the center of the inner sanctuary. Bhai Buddha opened it at random to read the divine hukumnama while Guru Arjun stood behind in attendance.

As decreed by Guru Arjun Dev, the Holy Book should remain in Harimandir Sahib during the day. At night after reading the Sohila, the Granth Sahib, should be wrapped in silk and taken to a room he had built for himself. That night, once again Bhai Buddha carried the Granth Sahib on his head as he marched towards the chamber indicated by Guru Arjun, who followed behind. Inside, the Guru’s chamber, Granth Sahib was placed on a high pedestal, while Guru Arjun, slept on the ground by its side.

In due course, this became a daily routine in which the Holy Book was respectfully placed inside the Harimandir in the small hours of the morning and escorted back in the night to its restroom earmarked by Guru Arjun. This practice is followed even today.

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