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About Compilation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar
Poet Santokh Singh, author of ‘Sooraj Parkash’ gave the completion of the Holy Book on 1661 Bikrami, Bhadon Sudi 1, corresponding to August 16, 1604. According to Gur-bilas of Sixth Guru (written in 1718 A.D), Bhai Gurdas put his signature on the Holy Book, and the a-fore said date in the Table of Contents. Giani Gian Singh in his book, History of Guru Khalsa, (Gian Singh died in 1921 A.D) has been careless enough to have vaguely stated that the Holy Book was completed in the month of “savan” 1661 Bikrami, i.e. sometimes in July 1604 A.D. So, we accept the date as given by other two historians, i.e. August 16, 1604. The date was given in the Table of Contents of the Original Copy of the Holy Book, scribed by Bhai Gurdas. This Original Copy is in possession of the descendants of Baba Dhir Mal, grand-son of Guru Hargobind, the Sixth Guru, at Kartarpur, in district Jullundur of Punjab state, India. When Bhai Gurdas completed the contents of the Holy Book, and was to start writing the Table of Contents, then it was ‘Bhadon Vidi 1, of 1661’ Bikrami (August 2, 1604). Bhai Gurdas in the beginning of the Table of Contents recorded the date “bhadon vidi 1, 1661 Bikrami” (August 2, 1604). It appears that the date as given in Sooraj Parkash and Gur-bilas of Sixth Guru, and the date given in the Original Volume of the Holy Book at Kartarpur, there is the difference of two weeks between the dates. To understand the difference in the two dates, we need to find the cause for this. The writing of Compositions of the Holy Book was completed on “bhadon vidi 1” (August 2). After this Bhai Gurudas had to complete the Table of Contents. The work could have been done only on completion of the work of copying various Compositions of the Book. In the Table of Contents, a part of the first sentence of each Composition (Shabad) has been given. He had to see the location of each Shabad from the Book, and then write it in the Table of Contents. As such this was quite a lengthy and time consuming work. There are 54 pages constituting the Table of Contents. On an average one could write 4 - 5 pages a day; the completion of this work must have taken 10 - 11 days. It is considered that Sooraj Parkash and Gur-bilas gave the date “bhadon sudi 1” (August 16) instead of “bhadon vidi 1” (August 2), the date when the Holy Book was completed with its Table of Contents, and the Guru was thus in a position to install it in Sri Harmandir Sahib. The date of First Instalment in Sri Harmandir Sahib was “bhandon sudhi 1” (August 16), and it is, therefore, this day is being celebrated in Sri Harmandir Sahib every year with great zeal. So we arrive at the conclusion that Bhai Gurdas completed scribing the Holy Compositions in the form of book on “bhadon vidi 1, 1661 Bikrami” (August 2, 1604), and then after completing the Table of Contents and other formalities, the Book was installed in Sri Harmandir Sahib on “bhadon sudi 1, 1661 Bikrami” (August 16, 1604).
Banno having promised to stay for one night only at his village Mangat, began making preparations taking the Holy Book with him, for departure from Amritsar. It then occurred to him that after binding of the Holy Book , it shall ever be kept with the Guru only, then how the Sikh people at large would be able to copy the Holy Compositions from it, and how the Divine Knowledge would be disseminated among the people! Then he began to think as to how it could be possible to make a copy of the whole of the Holy Book. The Guru had taken the promise from him of staying at Mangat for one night only, but he did not mention anything about the mode of covering of the distance to reach Mangat, then why not make a copy of the Holy Book during the journey period to Mangat. Thus pondering over the problem, Banno took a number of scribes with him, and also arranged for the writing material. He would cover 7 -8 miles distance each day, and the remaining time he would spend in getting the copies made of the Holy Compositions. In this way he proceeded to his village Mangat and by the time he reached Lahore from there, he had completed the copying work of the whole of the Holy Book. The author of Gur-bilas wrote this story. He also stated that at Lahore he got both the Original volume and the copy that he created, bound, and took them to Amritsar.
About binding of the Holy Book, Giani Gian Singh in his book History of Guru Khalsa, has written: “Guru Arjan Dev sent Bhai Banno to Lahore during the month of “Savan” (July) for getting the Holy Book bound up. He on the way got a copy of the Holy Book made; Banno presented the Guru, both the volumes duly bound.”
The above mentioned story appears strange to us that in Amritsar, there was none to bind the Holy Book, and the Guru compulsorily had to send it to Lahore for the purpose! Imagine the type of building of Sri Harimandir Sahib, which Guru Arjan had got built. Marble might not have been used for raising this building , but there should be no doubt that the whole building was built with small concrete bricks. The Guru got such a building built, which had to stand in water for an indefinite period. There was no possibility of using common building materials for such a building. During 1922-23, when Shromni Gurdwara Parbandak Commitee (SGPC) undertook the renovating work of the Building and the Holy Tank, it was stated by the experts that the type of mortar used in repair work, could not match with the superior type of mortar used during the time of the Guru.. The Guru, who spent so much of wealth on the building of Sri Harmandir Sahib, could easily spend few hundred rupees to call an expert from Lahore to Amritsar to bind the Holy Book.
The Book was hand-written and was the only copy. How was that the question of its safety, that it might be stolen away by those who were ever on the look out to completely do away with Sikhism, particularly when there was so much of the opposition to the Gurus’ Teachings and spurious compositions in the name of Guru Nanak Dev had been widely circulated, did not occur to the Guru? Also, did the Guru have no apprehensions that the book binder might be careless in the binding of the Book in effacing the left side marginal texts, might not put the leaves in serial order, might not make deeper cutting of the leaves to damage the texts and so on? These were the possible problems, which the Guru would certainly have considered, and taken the decision.
Let us examine the Holy Book itself. It contained the Compositions of the Four Preceding Gurus and also of Fifteen Bhagats. As a result of these Teachings, Guru Nanak Dev had been called a Misguided Person! Complaints were lodged in the court of Emperor Akbar against Guru Amar Das. Sri Kabir Ji had vehemently preached Equality of All Mankind, when he said -
“In mother’s womb, the mortal has no lineage and caste. From the seed of the Lord, all have sprung. Say, O Pandit, since when you have been a Brahmin? Don’t waste your life by repeatedly calling yourself a Brahmin. (1) Pause. If you are a Brahmin, born of a Brahmani mother , then why did you not come by some other way? (2) How are you a Brahmin, and how am I a low caste? How am I of blood, and how you are of milk? Kabir says, only he who contemplates over the Lord. is said to be a Bhahmin, amongst us.”In this Holy Book Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji said -
(Sri Kabir Ji, Rag Gauri, page 324, Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
“The man eaters say the prayer, they who wield the scalpel wear thread round their neck. In their home the Brahmins blare the conch. They too have the same taste. False is their capital and false their trade. By telling falsehood they take their food. Modesty and piety are far from them. Nanak says: falsehood is fully filling them all.”These Teachings were no longer in obscurity. Those, who had been oppressed since the centuries past, were fully made aware of their human value. Each day these Teachings were becoming more and more dangerous in the eyes of the oppressive Muslim rulers and the Caste and dogma ridden Hindus. Sending of the only Copy of the Book for its binding to Lahore, was NOT free from dangers. It would have been a very easy way for the opponents to steal it and destroy it.
(Sri Guru Nanak Dev, Asa di Var, Slok, page 471, Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
It needs also to be carefully noted that the scribing of the Book was completed on “bhadon vidi 1” (August 2) and the Table of Contents was written thereafter. The difference between “bhadon sudi 1” (August 16) and “bhadon vidi 1” (August 2), is the period of 14 days. Bhai Gurdas started writing the Table of Contents from “bhadon vidi 1” August 2). We have also stated that it took 10 -11 days to complete the Table of Contents (54 pages). In this way the whole of writing work was completed on “bhadon vidi 10”. According to the prevalent story, Bhai Banno carried the Holy Book to Lahore for binding purposes. Bhai Banno without obtaining permission from the Guru, was said to have taken to his village Mangat. From Amritsar to Mangat the distance involved is about 150 miles, or 120 Kos. Let us take the distance as 100 Kos. Bhai Banno began to travel the distance of 5 Kos only each day, and would spend the rest of time in getting another copy made of the Holy Book. The copying work was completed when he returned to Lahore from his village. There it was said, both the volumes were got bound. There was no necessity felt to travel at the rate of 5 Kos per day from Lahore to Amritsar on his return journey. He must have covered this distances in a very short time. According to the version given in book “Gur-bilas of Sixth Guru”, it must have taken at least 35 days to cover the distance from Amritsar to Mangat and return therefrom. As given above, we have estimated that Banno would have left Amritsar on “bhadon vidi 10”, add to this the period of 35 days of the return journy to Mangat. By this estimate instead of “bhadon sudi 1” it was even beyond “asoo sudi 1” that the Holy Book could have been installed in Sri Harimandir Sahib. We cannot shift the date of installation of the Book in Sri Harimandir Sahib, which date even to this day is being celebrated and has been accepted by all since beginning. AS SUCH, WE MUST COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE HOLY BOOK WAS NOT SENT TO LAHORE FOR ITS BINDING.
There is one point to be considered. The distance between Lahore and Amritsar is 33 miles only. It was stated that the Guru dispatched Banno with the Holy Book to Lahore. This journey would have taken maximum of 4 days. He would have stayed 2 days at Lahore, as such he should have been back in Amritsar on the 7th day. But Bhai Banno came after spending 35 days. This was the only copy of the Book and for its completion it had taken one year’s hard work. There was no information about Banno and the Book for such a long time in Amritsar. Did this delay of over one month for the return of the Holy Book not create any restlessness in the minds of Bhai Gurdas and Baba Budha? Were no efforts made for the search of Banno? This was such a vital problem that it could hardly have been ignored by any one. The story teller of Gur-bilas, who made Banno to take away the Holy Book to Mangat, did not care to write anywhere that the prolonged delay of his return caused restlessness in Sikhs in Amritsar. THE FACT IS THAT THE HOLY BOOK WAS NOT SENT OUT OF AMRITSAR AT ALL. How could then there be any restlessness in Amritsar, when the Book was not sent out at all..
The Holy Book was installed in Sri Harimandir Sahib on “bhadon sudi 1, 1661” (August 16, 1604). Then it was completely rendered impossible to make the Holy Book available to the scribes of Bhai Banno. In Bhai Banno’s recension it is clearly indicated that the writing of the text of this volume was completed on “asuj vidi 1, 1661 Bikrami” (August 30, 1604). It is quite evident from these dates and events that Bhai Banno’s recension volume was copied from the Original Holy Book being written by Bhai Gurdas, earlier than “bhadon vidi 1” (August 2), by which time he had scribed large part of the texts. It can be safely said that when Bhai Gurdas completed most of the copying work, then Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji arranged for preparation of another copy of the Holy Book. He employed 12 scribes to prepare another copy from the one being completed. The Guru asked Bhai Banno to supervise the copying work he thus arranged. When Bhai Gurdas started writing Table of Contents, the written pages were available, which were stitched in small bundles. During this period, both copying work and writing of Table of Contents could be done simultaneously, each party using the bundle of pages of their respective need. Till the time when binding work of the Original Holy Book started, the copying work by Banno’s party could have continued.
In this connection a question can be raised, how the scribes could continue the copying work after the Original Holy Book was made available for binding and its subsequent installment in Sri Harimandir Sahib. The answer to this question is that Bhai Banno’s scribes could copy the remaining portion of Compositions from the manuscripts used by Bhai Gurdas in scribing the Original Holy Book.
In this context, another question has been raised. What were those manuscripts from which Bhai Gurdas was copying? Giani Gian Singh wrote -
“When Guru Arjan Dev during the course of many years’ effort arranged the Compositions of the first four Gurus according to the Rags or the Musical Measures and in the order relating to each of the Gurus, the Guru then selected a spot situated at a distance of one mile, on the east of Amritsar City, This was a beautiful secluded place, where Prosopis Spicigera or Jand, wild caper, Indian fig and Pipal trees yielded agreeable shade, while green herbage gratified the eye and looked like pleasant carpet on the floor. This was the place where the Guru had earlier composed his famous Composition “Sukhmani”. The Guru got a tank constructed there, which is called Ramsar. Tents were pitched on the banks of the tank. The Guru sat inside the tent, and began uttering Shabads, and outside Bhai Gurdas went on writing them. Other devotees of the Guru also sat outside the tent and kept hearing the Shabads. The Guru would dictate the Compositions for 4 - 5 hours daily from early morning.”From the account given above, we note the following two things -
Those who have the experience of copying some one’s writings, they would prefer copying the thing from the paper to be copied, rather some one dictating the same thing to them to write. Writing on hearing cannot be accurate, as there is the likelihood of one inadvertently missing words to write. Copying a thing from its written document, is much easier and accurate. The scribe while copying can also check that he has properly copied and that no word has been omitted.
In the case of copying Gurus’ Compositions, it is impossible for any one to copy it correctly by the process of dictation. If we copy Gurbani from any written book of Gurbani, even then we commit spelling mistakes, which we correct them by repeated readings. Each word of Gurbani has the spelling of its own. The same very word will be found written in different spellings, and each has the different meaning. With any change in the spelling of a word, the meaning of the verse altogether changes. It is, therefore, without proper understanding of Gurbani Grammar, no one can translate Gurbani accurately. There cannot be any possibility of copying Gurbani correctly on hearing it. None can do it. Our wonderful historians made this problem more difficult, when they stated that the Guru sat inside a tent and made Bhai Gurdas sit outside it and dictated Gurbani to him!! How could Bhai Gurdas write Gurbani in this manner, and that too with correct spelling of each word. In this way there could have been the possibility of Bhai Gurdas having mis-construed any word on hearing it, and not only words with incorrect spellings could have been written by Bhai Gurdas, but also the wrong words. The myth of writing Gurbani by dictation can be accepted by those only, who have no understanding of Gurbani writing at all. Let any one who is an expert in Gurbani writing, try to write it by dictation and see whether it is correctly written?
There is nothing which should cause any complication in understanding of the problem. Those, who have read our views in the foregoing discussion, they would agree that each Guru had written his own Composition and had passed on to the Successor Guru with those he had received. In this manner all the Compositions of the Gurus and the Compositions of Bhagats, collected by Guru Nanak Dev, during his long missionary tours, were received by Guru Arjan Dev at the time of his Succession. Guru Arjan Dev then arranged all of the Compositions under different Rags or Musical Measures. On each of the Shabad (stanza or passage) the Rag and the name of the Guru as Mehla 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 had already been indicated. Guru Arjan arranged the Compositions under each Rag. Guru Arjan then included his own Compositions also under each Rag. The Compositions were arranged in the manner as we find them in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Once this arrangement was made by the Guru, Bhai Gurdas only scribed it in the form of the Holy Book.
When the Holy Book was bound and installed in Sri Harimandir Sahib, then the other copy of it being prepared under the supervision of the Guru, Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Banno, was completed from those manuscripts from which the First Holy Book was made by Bhai Gurdas. We must bear in mind this fact that just as the Original Holy Book was prepared under the supervision of Guru Arjan Dev himself, similarly the other copy of the Holy Book was also prepared under the overall supervision of the Guru himself, that too in Amritsar and at Ramsar. It was here that both the Volumes of the Holy Book were made by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
The Sikh historians tell us that when Guru Harikrishen was about to die in Delhi, the Sikhs asked him to appoint some one like himself as the Guru to guide them Thereupon the Guru was stated to have said: “Baba Bakale - My Successor will be at Bakala.” This appears to be a great disrespect to the Guru, that he, whom Sikhs believed to be All Wise, the Light of God, showed irresponsibility to give the guidance to the Sikhs after him. It was as if, there was no Divine Plan that Guru Nanak Dev was to appear in two more Human Lives. If the Sikh had not raised the question, Guru Harikrishen would have done nothing in this respect. The story writer has inadvertently given credit to the Sikhs, and not to the All Wise Guru.
Sikh historians have given the story of raising of Amritsar as a sacred place. They state in a very fascinating story of a Kardar or magistrate and revenue collector of Patti, a town in Lahore district. He had five daughters and no son. It is stated that Kardar asked his daughters: “who gave them to eat and drink, and who cherished and protected them.” The four older daughters told him that it were their parents who did all that. The youngest daughter told him that God alone was the Real Parent, the Great Giver and looked after every one. Her father then told her that he would see how God would protect her. The father, as the story tells us, got the youngest daughter married to a leprous cripple. She got a basket, put her cripple husband into it and carried him from village to village. She begged from door to door, thus maintained him and herself. She happened to came to the place where now stands the gurdwara of “Dukh Bhanjani Sahib” on the banks of Holy Tank of Amritsar. At that time it was a thick jungle. There then existed a pool of water, surrounded by the trees. There she laid down the basket containing her husband and herself went to a nearby village for procuring something to eat. The cripple husband saw two crows, while engaged in fighting over a piece of bread, which fell down in the pool, they swooped down upon it. On emerging from the pool’s tiny wavelets, they became swans of singular whiteness. The leper saw that the water possessed marvelous healing and cleaning properties. He left the basket and crawled into the water. The leprosy atonce disappeared from whole of the body. The story writers tell us that the lady took her healed husband to the Guru to confirm his tale of healing. The Guru thus found a sacred spot to raise Great Religious Center of Amritsar! The story writers tell us that the pool of water contained the sacred water from all the 68 Hindu sacred places.
If the sacred spot was already in existence, how come Guru Ram Das was not aware of it? Did the Guru, whom we call All Wise, and the Light of God, need the help of a leper, who was a cripple too, and the two crows, to guide him? If that spot was already sacred, then how it became connected with Guru Ram Das? Simply that with the help of a leper and two crows he could find the spot! What about the Teachings - “jithai jai behai mera satgur, so than sohava ram rajai. - The spot visited by Sat Guru, becomes sanctified by His Grace.”
Sri Guru Ram Das Ji was born at Lahore. In one of his sloks, Sri Guru Amar Das said: “The City of Lahore is the Pool of Nectar (Amritsar) and with all the virtues. “lahore shair amritsar, sifti da ghar”. Why? Because Sri Guru Ram Das Ji took birth there. This City of Amritsar, is the Most Sacred and beauteous in whole of the World. Why? It was founded by Sri Guru Ram Das Ji. Let this be clear that Sri Amritsar has not the farthest relation to any such story. Sikhs have shown great dis-respect in writing and believing such types of stories. Even from every particle of dust and every drop of water of Amritsar, one can hear the melodious words of “dhan guru ram das - Blessed, O Blessed is Guru Ram Das - Our obeisance to Him”. This is the Apparent Miracle of The Great Guru’s Dust -- NOT of 68 Sacred Places.
We noted in the beginning that all story tellers said the Holy Book was brought into existence as a result of the pleadings of the Sikhs, who felt the necessity to discriminate between the true Compositions of the Gurus and the fake of others who were using the name of Guru Nanak Dev. According to them it were the Sikhs, who persuaded Guru Arjan Dev to undertake this gigantic project. The credit for this has been given to the Sikhs and not to the All Wise Guru.
It is natural that question should arise in the mind of devotees that had those particular Sikhs not moved the Guru to take steps to evolve one Holy Book containing the Compositions of all the Gurus, the Holy Book might not have been evolved. Was Sri Guru Granth Sahib evolved with a view only to remove confusion from the minds of Sikhs? Was, there otherwise, no necessity of the Holy Book ? . Sikhs have constantly been minimizing the Divine Wisdom and the far-sightedness of the Gurus, just as fog does to obscure the sun. We have already observed that each Guru had been maintaining a record of his Compositions and that Compositions of first four Gurus recorded in their own hand-writing had been received by Guru Arjan Dev at the time of his Succession. Guru Arjan Dev was fully aware of the necessity of compiling the whole stock of Gurus’ Composition in the form of one authenticated book for the benefit of the suffering humanity for all times to come.
The author of Gur-bilas wrote -
“When Bhai Banno returned to Amritsar after visiting Mangat, he presented Guru Arjan Dev with Two Volumes of the Holy Book instead of One. The Guru then asked him to explain the whole story. Bhai Banno replied that he had made another copy of the Holy Book from the Original Copy, for the benefit of the People. The Guru saw in this venture His Great Service . He got both the copies of the Holy Book bound at Lahore, on way back from village Mangat. Then Banno made his way toward the Guru, from Lahore to Amritsar, and lost no time to reach there (having achieved his objective of making another copy of the Holy Book). His mind was full of devotion, enshrining the Guru’s feet in his mind. When Guru Arjan Dev saw that Guru Granth was being brought to him, the Guru was much pleased and stood up in reverence. The Guru made obeisance to Guru Granth and then took his seat. When the Guru saw two copies of the Holy Book, he then said: ‘O Banno, what did you do, explain to me truly’. Banno said: ‘O True Guru, you know all this. I did everything in the service of the People. The Guru then gave him a signed testimony in token of Great Service rendered by him to the People.”Giani Gian Singh went much ahead of Gur-bilas. He wrote in his book, Guru-Khalsa -
“During the month of savan 1661 (July 1604), Guru Arjan dispatched Bhai Banno to Lahore with Guru Granth for getting it bound there. (The writing of the textual portion was completed on August 2, 1604 only.) He got a copy of the Holy Book made on his way to Lahore, in which he incorporated some additional Shabads of Guru Nanak Dev and certain Shabads of Bhagats. He got both, the Original volume and the copy made therefrom with some additions, bound and presented both the volumes to the Guru. Although the Guru named the copy prepared by Banno as “Khari Birh - The volume like brackish water”, yet both the volumes of the Holy Book receive equal reverence. It is said that the Guru had also said that if only one volume of Guru Granth were retained, then the people would have received redemption on seeing it. Now there will be (Guru) Granth in every house, and the people will be redeemed by seeing it. Now this prediction is becoming true, that in every house Guru Granth is being installed.”Kindly note what this Giani has said - he has set aside the fundamental Sikh Teachings. Guru Granth Sahib, contains a Shabad of Guru Amar Das -
“satgur nu sabh ko deikhda, jaita jagat sansar. dithai mukat na hovei, gichar sabad na dharai paiyar.On the face of it, how could Guru Arjan Dev preach contrary to the Basic Sikh Teachings - that if one volume of Guru Granth could have been retained, by merely seeing which people would have received redemption?
Every one in whole of the creation sees Satguru (feels His Light within him), but this is not sufficient for redemption, which is possible only if one contemplates on His Word”.
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