1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Granth

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GRANTH, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs, containing the spiritual and moral teaching of Sikhism (q.v.). The book is called the Adi Granth Sahib by the Sikhs as a title of respect, because it is believed by them to be an embodiment of the gurus. The title is generally applied to the volume compiled by the fifth guru Arjan, which contains the compositions of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion; of his successors, Guru Angad, Amar Das, Ram Das and Arjan; hymns of the Hindu bhagats or saints, Jaidev, Namdev, Trilochan, Sain, Ramanand, Kabir, Rai Das, Pipa, Bhikhan, Beni, Parmanand Das, Sur Das, Sadhna and Dhanna Jat; verses of the Mahommedan saint called Farid; and panegyrics of the gurus by bards who either attended them or admired their characters. The compositions of the ninth guru, Teg Bahadur, were subsequently added to the Adi Granth by Guru Govind Singh. One recension of the sacred volume preserved at Mangat in the Gujrat district contains a hymn composed by Mira Bai, queen of Chitor. The Adi Granth contains passages of great picturesqueness and beauty. The original copy is said to be in Kartarpur in the Jullundur district, but the chief copy in use is now in the Har Mandar or Golden Temple at Amritsar, where it is daily read aloud by the attendant Granthis or scripture readers.

There is also a second Granth which was compiled by the Sikhs in 1734, and popularly known as the Granth of the tenth Guru, but it has not the same authority as the Adi Granth. It contains Guru Govind Singh’s Jāpji, the Akāl Ustit or Praise of the Creator, thirty-three sawaias (quatrains containing some of the main tenets of the guru and strong reprobation of idolatry and hypocrisy), and the Vachitar Natak or wonderful drama, in which the guru gives an account of his parentage, divine mission and the battles in which he was engaged. Then come three abridged translations by different hands of the Devi Mahatamya, an episode in the Markandeya Puran, in praise of Durga, the goddess of war. Then follow the Gyan Parbodh or awakening of knowledge, accounts of twenty-four incarnations of the deity, selected because of their warlike character; the Hazare de Shabd; the Shastar Nam Mala, which is a list of offensive and defensive weapons used in the guru’s time, with special reference to the attributes of the Creator; the Tria Charitar or tales illustrating the qualities, but principally the deceit of women; the Kabit, compositions of a miscellaneous character; the Zafarnama containing the tenth guru’s epistle to the emperor Aurangzeb, and several metrical tales in the Persian language. This Granth is only partially the composition of the tenth guru. The greater portion of it was written by bards in his employ.

The two volumes are written in several different languages and dialects. The Adi Granth is largely in old Punjabi and Hindi, but Prakrit, Persian, Mahratti and Gujrati are also represented. The Granth of the Tenth Guru is written in the old and very difficult Hindi affected by literary men in the Patna district in the 16th century. In Form of the Granth.neither of these sacred volumes is there any separation of words. As there is no separation of words in Sanskrit, the gyanis or interpreters of the guru’s hymns prefer to follow the ancient practice of junction of words. This makes the reading of the Sikh scriptures very difficult, and is one of the causes of the decline of the Sikh religion.

The hymns in the Adi Granth are arranged not according to the gurus or bhagats who compose them, but according to rags or musical measures. There are thirty-one such measures in the Adi Granth, and the hymns are arranged according to the measures to which they are composed. The gurus who composed hymns, namely the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and ninth gurus, all used the name Nanak as their nom-de-plume. Their compositions are distinguished by mahallas or wards. Thus the compositions of Guru Nanak are styled mahalla one, the compositions of Guru Angad are styled mahalla two, and so on. After the hymns of the gurus are found the hymns of the bhagats under their several musical measures. The Sikhs generally dislike any arrangement of the Adi Granth by which the compositions of each guru or bhagat should be separately shown.

All the doctrines of the Sikhs are found set forth in the two Granths and in compositions called Rahit Namas and Tanakhwah Namas, which are believed to have been the utterances of the tenth guru. The cardinal principle of the sacred books is the unity of God, and starting from this premiss the rejection of idolatry and superstition.The Sikh doctrines. Thus Guru Govind Singh writes:

Some worshipping stones, put them on their heads;
 Some suspend lingams from their necks;
Some see the God in the South; some bow their heads to the West.
 Some fools worship idols, others busy themselves with worshipping the dead.
The whole world entangled in false ceremonies hath not found God's secret.”

Next to the unity of God comes the equality of all men in His sight, and so the abolition of caste distinctions. Guru Nanak says:

Caste hath no power in the next world; there is a new order of beings,
Those whose accounts are honoured are the good.”

The concremation of widows, though practised in later times by Hinduized Sikhs, is forbidden in the Granth. Guru Arjan writes:

She who considereth her beloved as her God,
Is the blessed sati who shall be acceptable in God's Court.”

It is a common belief that the Sikhs are allowed to drink wine and other intoxicants. This is not the case. Guru Nanak wrote:

“By drinking wine man committeth many sins.”

Guru Arjan wrote:

“The fool who drinketh evil wine is involved in sin.”

And in the Rahit Nama of Bhai Desa Singh there is the following:

“Let a Sikh take no intoxicant; it maketh the body lazy; it diverteth men from their temporal and spiritual duties, and inciteth them to evil deeds.”

It is also generally believed that the Sikhs are bound to abstain from the flesh of kine. This, too, is a mistake, arising from the Sikh adoption of Hindu usages. The two Granths of the Sikhs and all their canonical works are absolutely silent on the subject. The Sikhs are not bound to abstain from any flesh, except that which is obviously unfit for human food, or what is killed in the Mahommedan fashion by jagging an animal's throat with a knife. This flesh-eating practice is one of the main sources of their physical strength. Smoking is strictly prohibited by the Sikh religion. Guru Teg Bahadur preached to his host as follows:

“Save the people from the vile drug, and employ thyself in the service of Sikhs and holy men. When the people abandon the degrading smoke and cultivate their lands, their wealth and prosperity shall increase, and they shall want for nothing . . . but when they smoke the vile vegetable, they shall grow poor and lose their wealth.”

Guru Govind Singh also said:

“Wine is bad, bhang destroyeth one generation, but tobacco destroyeth all generations.”

In addition to these prohibitions Sikhism inculcates most of the positive virtues of Christianity, and specially loyalty to rulers, a quality which has made the Sikhs valuable servants of the British crown.

The Granth was translated by Dr Trumpp, a German missionary, on behalf Of the Punjab government in 1877, but his rendering is in many respects incorrect, owing to insufficient knowledge of the Punjabi dialects. The Sikh Religion, &c., in 6 vols. (London, 1909) is an authoritative version prepared by M. Macauliffe, in concert with the modern leaders of the Sikh sect.  (M. M.)