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Sikh Research and Education Center
About Compilation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Sikh Research and Education Center: Publications: Adi Birh Barai:

Preparations for compilation

Preparations for compilation

In order to do research on the above subject matter, we have to take into account for our consideration the following three old chronicles -
  1. Gur Partap Sooraj, by Poet Santokh Singh
  2. Gur Bilas of Sixth Guru
  3. History of Guru Khalsa by Giani Gian Singh.
The first two books are in verse, while the third one is in prose.

All these historians mention that before Guru Arjan Dev, none of the first Gurus wrote his own Compositions or preserved them. The idea of keeping all the Compositions at one place in a book, occurred to Guru Arjan Dev only for the first time. Guru Arjan Dev, therefore, issued edicts to Sikhs living in various parts of the country, to the effect that whosoever possessed any Composition of the first Four Gurus, should present himself to the Guru for getting the Composition recorded with him. In this way the Compositions of the First Four Gurus were collected in the course of many years.


Poet Santokh Singh writes as follows -
One day Guru Arjan was giving a religious discourse, whilst sitting in a congregation. A Sikh prayerfully submitted to the Guru that Prthia (Prithi Chand, the elder brother of the Guru) and others were making poetry under the authorship of Guru Nanak. This created great confusion in Sikhs, as for an average person it was difficult to discriminate between the genuine Gurus’ Word and apocryphal literature.. He prayed to the Guru to do something so that Sikhs might have access to the pure and genuine Gurus’ Word. On hearing this, another Sikh also stated that according to Guru Amar Das, all other save the Gurus’ Word was false, but how were the Sikhs to overcome this delusion.
According to Poet Santokh Singh, Guru Arjan Dev then began to ponder over the problem. The poet says -
The Guru began pondering over the problem, and made the prophecy for the deliverance of the World - “We shall appear in Ten Generations. After us, in what shape the Sikhs are to live and how can the Gurus’ Word maintain its originality and is not corrupted, is being worked out.” After some deep thinking, the Guru said: “There is a village called Goindwal, on the banks of river Beas, where lived Guru Amar Das. In that village now lives a person, called Mohan, who is a recluse. He has collected the Compositions of First Four Gurus, which exist in the form of books. He is the elder son of Guru Amar Das, who does not care for any one. All of the Gurus’ Compositions are in his possession, and how we can bring them here, and then compile a Book for the deliverance of the World?”
With a view to getting the Compositions of the First Four Gurus in possession of Mohan, Guru Arjan Dev is said to have first dispatched Bhai Gurdas to Goindwal. Since Gurdas failed to get the books from Mohan, the Guru then sent Bhai Budha for the purpose. He too failed to get the books, as Mohan was completely absorbed in meditation. Bhai Budha even broke open the door behind which Mohan had locked himself in. In this connection Poet Santokh Singh states -
Where Sri Mohan was sitting in yogic posture of ‘padam aasan’, he was completely absorbed in himself. He sat there with determination as hard as wood, fully absorbed in meditation, and was totally unconscious of the state of his body. He had turned all parts of the body immobile as hard as a log of wood.
Some one living in the neighborhood, had informed Baba Mohri (younger brother of Mohan) of Bhai Budha’s having broken open the door to get to Baba Mohan and disturbed him. Mohri on hearing this, came running there and told Budha as under -
Why are you disturbing him, who always remains self absorbed. You do not consider anything of others. He will for sure curse you, if you further disturb him. He does not speak to anyone but lives within himself. He remains sitting in his room, and occasionally opens his room when he awakens from his deep slumber, people feed him. Otherwise he remains sitting in deep meditation.
When both Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Budha failed to bring the books from Baba Mohan from Goindwal, Guru Arjan Dev is said to have thought of going himself, accompanied by a few Sikhs. Poet Santokh Singh writes -
The Guru covered the distance in stages and came to Goindwal, situated on the banks of river Beas. The Guru took his bath there, meditating on the True Guru. Instantly he had the vision of Sri Guru Amar Das. 11.34.
Guru Arjan Dev took bath in the Baoli (open well, got it dug by Guru Amar Das). The Guru then had the vision of Guru Amar Das, who told him to utter something in praise of Mohan. Guru Amar Das further advised Guru Arjan Dev that even if Mohan would speak in harsh words, he should totally ignore. Mohan will then repent, his heart will be softened and he will give the books to him. Poet Santokh Singh writes how Guru Amar Das appeared and spoke to Guru Arjan Dev -
Guru Amar Das became manifest, he placed his Benevolent Hand on the head of Guru Arjan Dev, and said. Utter praises of Mohan, and take the books from him. This is the noble task, bind them all in one Book. 13.34. Always remain humble, even if Mohan speaks harsh words. Bear his harsh words patiently, thus you shall get whatever you want. He will certainly repent and his heart will be softened. He will accept your wishes and will not refuse.

After giving his advice, Guru Amar Das is said to have disappeared. Guru Arjan then came to that street, in which was located the house, in the upper storey of which, Baba Mohan was sitting. The Guru is stated to have sat on the floor of the street, took “tambura” (a string instrument) in his hands, began singing the eulogies of Baba Mohan. The hymns, which were sung by the Guru Arjan Dev, are recorded in Guru Granth Sahib, in Gauri Metre (Rag). Poet Santokh Singh writes -

Where Guru Amar Das’ son, Mohan lived in the upper storey of the house, Guru Arjan Dev sat there in the street, opposite to the house. The Guru sat on the bare floor. On seeing this, the Sikhs went to their houses to bring cloths to cover the ground. They brought all types of rich carpets for spreading on the floor. The Guru politely told Sikhs not to worry about covering of the floor. The Guru holding the “tambura” in his hands began singing the song in Gauri Metre, in a melodious voice. 17.34.

Poet Santokh Singh writes that the Guru was busy composing the song and was at the same time singing it in Gauri Metre. The hymns sung are given below -

“O Mohan (The Enticer), You have lofty Mansions, the Palaces of Infinite Glory. O Mohan, how Beautiful are the Doors of Your Mansion, the Sanctuary of the Saints. Your Sanctuary is of Infinite Glory, O Beneficent Master, where all sing Your praises. Wherever gather the Saints, they think of You. O my Beneficent Master, take pity and mercy on the meek. Nanak most humbly prays that he has the intense thirst to meet with You, which would bring all comforts to my mind.” (1)
Poet Santokh Singh writes that on hearing this first part of the Guru’s Composition, Baba Mohan was greatly enraged, and spoke harsh words to the Guru. Then the Guru sung the second part of the Composition, which is as under -
“O Mohan, Wondrous is the Word uttered by You and wondrous are Your ways. O Mohan, all recognize You Alone, all else is dust only. All recognize You alone as One Unknowable Master, Who wields All Powers. O The Primeval Lord of Woods, You can be attained to through the WORD of the Guru (His Light in Man). You do as You like (come and go), as All Powers are vested in You. Nanak humbly prays: save our honor, all are Your servants and seek Your refuge.” (2)
According to poet Santokh Singh, Baba Mohan became happy to hear all this. He came down in the street near Guru Arjan Dev, from the upper storey of his house . Thereupon Guru Arjan sang the third portion of his Composition, which is as under -
“O Mohan, the Saints of the Holy Association remember You, fixing their mind on Your Vision. He, who dwells on You, the Yama (Death Angel) does not touch him. The Yama does not touch them, who remember You with single minded devotion. They, who love You in word, thought and deed, attain all they seek. The wild, ignorant, and the fool turn Wise, on seeing Your Sight. Nanak says: Your dominion is eternal, You are the Perfect Person and the Master.” (3)
Baba Mohan handed over both the books to Guru Arjan Dev, and sought the pardon of the Guru for his mistakes. The Guru then sang the last part of his Composition, which is as under -
“O Mohan, You have fruitioned with Your large family of Creation. O Mohan You have delivered sons, friends, brothers, and all members of the Family, nay, the whole Creation (Universe) by shedding their ego (Duality), who became one with You. He, who praised You, the Yama does not touch him. O The True Guru, the Greatest Person, and the Killer of the demons, Your Merits and Priases are Infinite, Indescribable and Ineffable. Nanak humbly prays: that he leans on You , that he may swim across the Sea of Existence.” (4) (Sri Guru Arjan Dev, Rag Gauri Chhant, page 248, Sri Guru Granth Sahib)


There is only little difference between the story given in Sooraj Parkash and the story in Gur-Bilas of the Sixth Guru. Poet Santokh Singh has written that when a Sikh mentioned about the confusion created by false compositions created in the name of Guru Nanak, then only Guru Arjan Dev thought of compiling all of Gurus’ Compositions in one Book. According to Gur Bilas, one day Guru Arjan Dev was thinking of compiling all of the Compositions of the Gurus in one Book, when a Sikh came to the Guru and complained to him about the confusion created by the spurious compositions of other writers. Then the Guru made up his mind to compile a Book of the Gurus’ Compositions. The Guru called for Bhai Gurdas and told him -

Guru Amar Das’ two sons, named Mohan and Mohri live in village Goindwal, situated on the bank of river Beas. Mohan lives in the upper story of the house. He has collected the Compositions of the First Four Gurus and possesses those books. Some body should make an effort to bring those books here from him.

The author of Gur Bilas writes that on hearing the Guru, Bhai Gurdas said that he would go to Goindwal for the purpose. The remaining story in Gur Bilas is the same as given in Sooraj Parkash that both Gurdas and Budha came back empty handed from Goindwal. Then Guru Arjan himself went there. He took bath in the Baoli (Open well) and offered prayers. Then Guru Amar Das came in his vision. Guru Amar Das told him, that he should utter praises of Mohan. Mohan would come and fall on his feet, and would thus fulfill his wishes. Saying this, Guru Amar Das disappeared. The author of Gur Bilas states -

Guru Arjan Dev felt relieved, bowed to Guru Amar Das and made his way toward Mohan’s residence. On reaching there, sat down in the middle of the street. On seeing the Guru sitting on the bare floor of the street, the Sikhs brought many types of carpets to spread on the floor, which the Guru did not accept.

The Guru held a “tambura” in his hands and sang a Song in praise of Baba Mohan, which has already been given above. Mohan gave two books to Guru Arjan.

These two poet historians state that while handing over two books to Guru Arjan Dev, Baba Mohan mentioned to the Guru about his earlier mistake when he refused to bow at the feet of Guru Ram Das at the bidding of his father, Guru Amar Das.. After that Mohan repented for his mistake when he returned to the upper storey of his house He repeatedly begged of his father, Guru Amar Das for pardon. Guru Amar Das then said that he should preserve the Compositions of the First Four Gurus, and when Guru Arjan would himself come , these books be given to him. He would thus pardon his mistake. Poet Santokh Singh has thus written about Baba Mohan’s appeal for pardon -

These words were heard emanating from the upper storey of the house. Listen! O my son. I am pleased with you, and utter these words. The Gurus’ Compositions, which you have preserved, keep them with you with care. Ramdas’ son is a Learned man. He is to compile a Book of Gurus’ Compositions. Those who will deeply explore the Gurus’ Word, even they will not attain higher position than you have. . If any body else comes, do not give him, as you will not gain anything from him. You did not bow to Ram Das. You then bow to his son. Hold his feet, effacing your egoism completely. He will become your Savior. Do not have any other consideration, consider him as the Perfect True Guru.

According to Poet Santokh Singh, when Guru Arjan Dev received the two books from Baba Mohan, the Guru then again praised Mohan. He writes -

“O Mohan, you are a very great man. You have collected the Gurus’ Compositions and placed them at one place. You are a great benefactor of humanity. Whosoever shall read and hear , shall be delivered. Great men appear in the world, they serve the humanity to relieve their pain.” 42.


The above mentioned two poets have laid their complete stress on how Guru Arjan Dev got the idea of compiling all of the Gurus’ Composition in one Book, and he made all out effort to obtain two books from Baba Mohan. But Giani Gian Singh wrote in History of Guru Khalsa that the Guru issued an edict to all Sikhs living far and near in all parts of the country asking them to send to him any Composition of any preceding Four Gurus to complete his record. It took many years to complete this task. In the end, the Guru also received the two books of Baba Mohan also. The Giani writes -
“Guru Arjan thought over the problem. He arrived at the conclusion that a religion and its followers are sustained on the basis of their sacred book alone. We should collect all the Compositions of the Gurus, and compile a book of Divine knowledge and name it “Granth Sahib”. The Guru while issuing edicts to the Sikhs living in all parts of the country, gave his proposal for compilation of a Holy Book incorporating therein all the Gurus’ Compositions, naming it “Granth Sahib”, and for this purpose asked them to bring it to him, if any of them possessed any of the Composition of the Gurus. On receiving this Command of the Guru, whatever Composition one had committed to memory since the time of Guru Nanak Dev, or had written down, they all took to the Guru and got them recorded with him. In this way, a large amount of Gurus’ Compositions were collected. The remaining small amount of Compositions, which were in possession of Baba Mohan, were brought by the Guru himself from Goindwal. When in this way, during the course of many years, the Guru was able to collect all of the Gurus’ Compositions, then he arranged the Compositions of earlier Four Gurus and his own Composition in a methodical manner. ...”
We have before us the views of the three historians. In Sooraj Parkash and Gur Bilas, there is no mention what-so-ever that Guru Arjan Dev issued edicts to Sikhs living in all parts of country in order to collect the Gurus’ Compositions. According to Gian Singh it took many years to collect the Compositions in the way stated by him. While the story of collection of Gurus’ Compositions from Baba Mohan, which the first two writers have made so attractive, fascinating and beautiful with their imaginary arguments is there, Giani Gian Singh has given no significance to it at all, and only stated that Baba Mohan’s two books contained very small amount of Gurus’ Compositions.

Regarding collection of Gurus’ Compositions from far and near in the country, Gian Singh has also written -

“Bhai Bhakhta Arora, was a Sikh of the Guru. He was resident of Jalalpur Pargana, Hassanabdal. He brought a huge book, in which he had recorded the Compositions from the time of Guru Nanak Dev to the time of the Fourth Guru, by residing with the Gurus. He offered that huge book to Guru Arjan Dev. The Guru took extracts from that book, as he considered necessary, and returned the book to Bhakhta. Now that book is with his descendent, Boota Singh Pasari at Rawalpindi.”
Gian Singh states that the book of Bhai Bhakhta contains so much of Gurus’ Compositions, that “it contains the treasure of Guru Granth Sahib.” Gian Singh further asserts: “A man can hardly lift this book.” According to Gian Singh, Bhakhta used to copy the Gurus’ Compositions and would obtain the signature of the concerned Guru thereon..

Gian Singh died in 1921, and was only this century’s writer. It was he alone, who added the above said imaginary stories.
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