Op/Ed – Respecting the Physical form of Gurbani

Op/Ed – Over the last 100 years we have seen an increase in the number of “Gurdwara Sahibs” across the globe, but this has come with a decline of Gurmat Maryada (conduct) in such places. Gurdwara Sahibs are constantly being built, but the Maryada to respect Gurbani is being neglected. Granthis take Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji where meat and alcohol is going to be served or has been served. Akhand Paaths are being performed for money but nobody takes the time to listen and contemplate on Gurbani. It is no wonder why these places do not have the same divine and blissful atmosphere as the original Gurdwara Sahibs.

People who have strayed from Gurmat are setting up institutions as a means to bank (profit) on innocent people. The true banker, Gurbani, is no longer given the prominence it deserves.  A Gurdwara Sahib should not be a business nor should it be a social club; instead, the Gurdwara should function as a means to teach people how to read, sing, write, and most of all respect Gurbani.  Because these institutions have failed to follow their basic function on teaching the importance of respecting Gurbani, beadbi has taken shape in many forms. Gurbani is being thrown away, vandalized on weddings cards, newspapers, placed in suitcases, and taken to hotels/party halls. Even before Aad Granth was given Gurgaddi, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji stated:

ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਗਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਅਥਵਾ ਪੋਥੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਬੇਅਦਬੀ ਜਾਹਗਾ ਰਖੇ ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ
Those Sikh who place Aad Granth (Sri Guru Granth Saahib ji) or Pothi Sahib at a disrespectful place regard such Sikhs as an apostate (Bhai Chaupa Singh rehatnama).

Just recently the well exposed Gurcharan Jeon Wala was seen placing his foot on an Asa Di Vaar steek. Guru Har Rai Sahib’s own son, Ram Rai was ex-communicated from the Guru-Panth for his outright disrespect of Gurbani. The sangat was warned not to associate with such people who have no respect for Gurbani. In the Suraj Parkaash Granth, Kavi Santokh Singh Ji mentions how Guru Sahib gave the following Hukum (order) to his Gursikhs.

ਜਿਨ ਭੈ  ਆਦਾਬ ਨਾ ਬਾਣੀ ਧਰਾ ਜਾਣੁ ਸੋ ਸਿਖ ਨਹੀਂ ਹਮਾਰਾ
Those people who have no fear or respect for Gurbani understand they are not my Sikh.

Instead of socializing with those who have no love for Gurbani we should connect with those whose company will make us love Gurbani.

ਗੁਰੂ ਕਾ ਸਿਖ, ਭਲੇ ਸਿਖ ਕੀ ਸਂਗਤ ਕਰੈ , ਜਿਸ ਕੇ ਸਂਗਿ ਭਾਉ ਪ੍ਰੀਤ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਦੀ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤ ਹੋਇ
A Sikh of the Guru should take company of good Sikhs in whose company love for the Guru-Shabad develops (Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji).

From the beginning of Sikh history, Gurbani has always been given the highest importance well before Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave Gurgaddi to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in 1708.  Why? Because from the beginning the Guru has always been the Gurshabad.

ਸਬਦੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਚੇਲਾ ॥
The Shabad is the Guru, the follower is the attention on the sound of the Guru Shabad.

Whichever Pothi Sahib contains the Gurshabad, it deserves utmost respect.

ਪੋਥੀ ਪਰਮੇਸਰ ਕਾ ਥਾਨੁ ॥
This book is the place where God resides.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave sangat the following Hukums before Aad Granth was given gurgaddi –

  1. ਗਰੰਥ ਅਹਥੀ ਸਿਖ ਬੇਠਾ ਰਹੇ ਆਪ ਖਾਇ ਆਵੈ , ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ
    A Sikh who eats while in the attendance of Aad Granth is an apostate (Bhai Chaupa Singh rehatnama)
  2. ਹਥ ਧੋਤੈ ਬਿਨ ਗਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਪੋਥੀ ਹਾਥ ਨੂੰ ਲਾਏ ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ
    One who handles Aad Granth or Pothi Sahibs without washing their hands is an apostate ( Bhai Chaupa Singh rehatnama)
  3. ਜੋ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਨਾਲ ਹਾਸੇ ਕਰੇ ਸੋ ਪੱਕਾ  ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ
    One who laughs in the presence of Gurbani is an apostate.
  4. ਸ਼ਬਦ ਹੇਠ ਪੜਨ ਆਪ ਮੰਜੇ ਚੜਿ ਬੇਠਨਿ ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ
    One who sits on a higher platform while Gurbani is being recited is an apostate.

History illustrates to us how Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji himself would not sit or sleep on a higher platform when Aad Granth was present. For example, the historical Gurdwara “Gurdwara Kotrhi Sahib” which is located close to Sri Akal Takht reminds us how Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji would sleep on the floor while Aad Granth would rest on a bed.  This holy location is still used for the Sukhasan (resting place) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.  Sukhasan is also referred to as Sri Sach Khand because Gurbani comes from Sach Khand and wherever Gurbani is present, there should be up-most respect. Gursikhs throughout the times have given instructions on how to respect Gurbani.

Baba Nihal Singh Ji an early caretaker of the Gurdwara Sahibs during Raja Ranjit Singh’s time mentions that the environment of Sri Guru Granth Sahib should be spotless.  He states :

ਖਾਂਸੀ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਵਾਰਤਾ ਡਕਾਰ ਛੀਕ ਮੰਡ ਪੌਣ ਥੂਕ ਨਾ ਕਰੀਜੈ. ਕਵੀ ਨਿਹਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ
In the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji one should not cough, exchange angry words, burp, sneeze, laugh or produce flatulence (Gurmat Maartand).

Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindrawale mentions when we are in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji our attire should be clean. In addition we should avoid eating foods with bad odor or foods that lead to gas. Since gas leads to flatulence (Gurbani Paath Darpan).  The area of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji should be clean and no bad odor should be present. Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh Ji mentions that if one has Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji at home then in the Sukhasan there should be incense lit to keep away any bad odors (Gurmat Parkaash). This is a puratan (ancient) tradition as means to respect Gurbani. According to Baba Saroop Das Bhalla, a close relative of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji established this tradition of keeping the resting place respectful immediately after receiving the Kartarpur Bir Sahib from Bhai Gurdas Ji. Baba Saroop Das Bhalla states:

ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਦੇਖ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਬਿਗਾਸਨ. ਨਾਮ ਭੰਡਾਰ ਨਿਜ ਘਰ ਮੋ ਜਾਨੇ . ਇਕੰਟ ਕੋਠੜੀ ਭੀਤਰ ਰਾਖਾ ਕਰ ਧੂਪ. ਦੀਪ ਟੇਕੈ ਸਭ ਮਾਥਾ
Recognizing the Granth as a treasure-house of Naam, the Satguru was delighted at the sight of the Granth.  Taking the Granth into a separate scented room he would bow respectfully to the Granth. (Mehma Parkaash, 350)

ਪੂਜਹੁ ਚੰਦਨ ਕੇਸਰ ਕੋ ਘਸਿ ਧੂਪ ਧੁਖਾਇ ਕੈ ਫੂਲ ਚਢੈ ਹੈ ॥੫॥ ( Suraj Parkaash)
Also, during the parkaash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as we worship Gurbani we are to scent the room with pleasant smells such as: sandalwood, incense, and flowers.

Historically the handling of Gurbani has always been given to exceptional Sikhs whose character and service to the Panth have been remarkable and unprecedented. The very first Sikhs to handle Gurbani where Baba Buddha Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, and Bhai Bhano Ji, all whose personal conduct and service to the Guru will remain unmatched throughout history.  These Gurmukhs are well known for the respect they gave to Aad Granth and Pothi Sahibs. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji told one of his most trusted Gursikhs “Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji” the following Hukum –

ਜੋ ਸਿੱਖ ਗੁਰ ਦਰਸ਼ਨ ਕੀ ਚਾਹਿ ਦਰਸ਼ਨ ਕਰੇ ਗੰਰ੍ਰ੍ਥ ਜੀ ਆਹਿ ॥ ਹਾਥ ਜੋੜ ਕਰ ਅਦਬ ਸੋਂ ਬੈਠੇ ਮੋਹਿ ਹਜ਼ੂਰ. ਸੀਸ ਟੇਕ ਗੁਰ ਗਰੰਥ ਜੀ ਬਚਨ ਸੁਣੇ ਸੋ ਹਜ਼ੂਰ ॥
The Sikh who wishes to have the Guru’s Darshan come to the Granth. With folded hands they should be seated, seeking my audience, and after bowing your head to Guru Granth Sahib Jee, listen to the celestial teachings (Bhai Nand Lal Singh Jis rehatnama).

This maryada was first practiced during the first parkaash of Aad Granth.

ਬੁੱਢਾ ਸਾਹਿਬ, ਖੋਲੋ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ! |ਲੇਹੁ ਆਵਾਜ਼, ਸੁਨਹਿ ਸਭ ਪੰਥ |ਅਦਬ ਸੰਗ ਤਬ ਗ੍ਰਿੰਥ ਸੁ ਖੋਲਾ |ਲੇ ਆਵਾਜ਼, ਬੁੱਢਾ ਮੁਖ ਬੋਲਾ – Gurbilas Chheva

Baba Buddha Ji respectfully opened Sri Aad Granth Sahib and spoke as the congregation listened attentively. While Baba Ji did parkaash of the Pothi Sahib, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji waved the Chaur sahib over Sri Aad Granth Sahib as a means of respect. Besides sleeping on the floor or waving the Chaur Sahib when Pothi Sahib was present, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji would always give prominence to the Pothi sahib. Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji told sangat the following Hukum –

ਮੇਰੇ ਸਰੂਪ ਤੇ ਯਾਂਤੇ ਹੈ ਦੀਰਘ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜਾਨਿ ਅਦਾਇਬ ਕੈ ਹੈ (Suraj Parkaash)
Know that the Pothi is greater than my physical form; therefore, respect and recognize the Pothi Sahib as the master.

When Bhai Bhano Ji was entrusted to copy the Kartarpur Bir, the Pothi Sahib was personally delivered by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji who carried the Pothi Sahib respectfully on his head. In fact any item associated with the Pothi Sahib was given the respectful suffix “Sahib”; for example, Rumalla Sahib, Manji Sahib, Chaur Sahib, and Pothi Sahib.

Sri Guru Raam Das Ji states –

ਬਾਣੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈ ਬਾਣੀ ਵਿਚਿ ਬਾਣੀ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਸਾਰੇ ॥ਗੁਰੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਕਹੈ ਸੇਵਕੁ ਜਨੁ ਮਾਨੈ ਪਰਤਖਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਿਸਤਾਰੇ ॥੫॥
The jot of Sri Guru Ji exist in Gurbani. Those Servants who believe and live according to the Gurus word receive liberation.

Exactly how do we fulfill this Hukum? How did Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji give a clear answer to his entrusted servant Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji –

ਜੋ ਮਮ ਸਾਥ ਚਾਹੇ ਕਰ ਬਾਤ. ਗ੍ਰ੍ਰ੍ਰੰਥ ਜੀ ਪੜ੍ਹ੍ਹ੍ਹੇ ਸੁਣੇ ਬਿਚਾਰੇ ਸਾਥ ॥ ਜੋ ਮੁਝ ਬਚਨ ਸੁਣਨ ਕੀ ਚਾਇ. ਗ੍ਰ੍ਰ੍ਰੰਥ ਪੜੇ ਸੁਣੇ ਚਿੱਤ ਲਾਇ ॥ ਮੇਰਾ ਰੂਪ ਗੰਰ੍ਰਥ ਜੀ ਜਾਣ.  ਇਸ ਮੇਂ ਭੇਤ ਨਹੀਂ ਕੁਝ ਮਾਨ ॥ – Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji rehatnama

One who wants to communicate with me should read, listen and contemplate from the Aad Granth. One who desires to listen to me should read and recite the Granth. Recognize the Granth Jee as my embodiment.

Also, In Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji’s rehatnama, Sri Guru Gobind Singh tells Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji that he has three forms. Nirgun Saroop which is invisble, GurShabad which is contained in the Aad Granth and thirdly –

ਤੀਸਰ ਰੂਪ ਸਿੱਖ ਹੈਂ ਮੋਰ. ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਰੱਤ ਜਹਿ ਨਸਿ ਭੋਰ ॥ (੨੧)
Those who remains imbued in the essence of Gurbani day and night is my third form ( Bhai Nand Lal Singh Ji rehatnama).

The first form, the nirgun saroop, which is pure light, exists in the Gurshabad; thus wherever there is Gurshabad present we should remember Guru Sahibs light is present in that place. We are to remember “Pothi Parmeshar Ka Than” – the Master resides in Gurbani and whichever book contains Gurbani should be highly respected.

ਧੰਨੁ ਸੁ ਕਾਗਦੁ ਕਲਮ ਧੰਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਭਾਂਡਾ ਧਨੁ ਮਸੁ ॥ਧਨੁ ਲੇਖਾਰੀ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਲਿਖਾਇਆ ਸਚੁ ॥੧॥
Blessed is the paper, blessed is the pen, blessed is the inkwell, and blessed is the ink.Blessed is the writer, O Nanak, who writes the True Name ( Gurbani)

Originally Gurbani was hand-written. Bhai Gurdas Ji mentions how the early Gursikhs would write Gurbani and teach Gurbani to others.

ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਸੁਣਿ ਸਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਿ ਲਿਖਾਇਆ। They listen to, write and make others write the hymns of the Gurus (Bhai Gurdas Jis Vaaran)

In such times Gurbani and respect for Gurbani was at the center of the Sikh faith. People regarded Gurbani as sacred and they would take the time to listen and recite Gurbani with humility and devotion. But since the printing press found its way in the Sikh faith, Gurbani is distributed on a large scale and there is little concern in taking proper care of Gurbani – the word of our Guru. Many times its common for people to listen to Gurbani while driving or while cooking in the kitchen, while their attention is not focused on Gurbani.  Although playing Gurbani is not bad, it should not be treated like background music only and one should try to contemplate as much as possible.  When Gurbani beadbi is at its peak we should take time to learn from Guru Sahib, and other puratan Gurmukhs how to properly respect Gurbani.

Editors’ Note: This article is being published in response to the recent and on going beadbi of Gurbani by Toronto based Gurcharan “Singh” Jeon Wala and his associates.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here