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Guru Granth Sahib: 15 Fascinating Facts on the Holy Book


By Imroze Singh Deol on September 1st, 2016

Local News

On September 4th, Abbotsford will be hosting an annual Sikh parade. This parade is the celebration of the establishment of the holy book “Guru Granth Sahib” as sikhs’ final sovereign and eternal guru.

What is Gur-Gadi Day?

Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru, and the ten successive Sikh gurus. After the death of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (the Sikh scripture) Guru Granth Sahib became the literal embodiment of the eternal, impersonal Guru – where the scripture’s word serves as the spiritual guide for Sikhs.

Sri_Guru_Granth_Sahib_NishanThe day when each Guru was installed as a Guru is referred to as “Gur gadi day” or “Gur Gadi diwas”. Gur-Gaddi literally means “Guru’s throne” and is used to refer to the installation of Guruship by each successive gurus.

The most celebrated Gur-gadi day is the day when the Guru Granth Sahib was installed as Guru.

Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be a spiritual guide not only for Sikhs but for all of humanity – it plays a central role in guiding the Sikh’s way of life.

Its place in Sikh devotional life is based on two fundamental principles:

  1. the text is the living Guru and that all answers regarding religion and morality can be discovered within it.
  2. Its hymns and teachings are called Gurbani or “Word of the guru” and sometimes Guru ki bani or “Word of Guru”.

Facts About Guru Granth Sahib

Since this holy book is the guide for the Sikhs, here are some teachings and facts about Guru Granth Sahib.

1. Establishment

The first rendition of the holy book was compiled by the fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1563-1606) and it was called Adi Granth. Later, the Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, added all the 115 of hymns of the ninth Guru, Gur Tegh Bahadur ji to the Adi Granth and affirmed the text as his successor. The second and the final rendition is known today as the Guru Granth Sahib.


b36974cf58cd6379e2359223bdbcdf4a2. General Facts

The text consists of 1430 Anks (pages) and 6,000 shabads (line compositions), which are poetically rendered and set to the rhythmic ancient north Indian classical form of music. The bulk of the scripture is classified into thirty one ragas (a pattern of notes having characteristic intervals, rhythms, and embellishments, used as a basis for improvisation), with each Granth raga subdivided according to length and author.

The hymns in the scripture are arranged primarily by the ragas in which they are read. The Guru Granth Sahib is written in the Gurmukhi (meaning literally “from the Guru’s mouth”) script, in various dialects – including Lahnda (Western Punjabi), Braj Bhasha, Khariboli, Sanskrit and Persian – often coalesced under the generic title of Sant Bhasha.

3. Spiritual Guide

The Guru Granth Sahib is truly unique among the world’s great scriptures. After the death of tenth Guru, this holy book is the guru for Sikhs.  It is considered the Supreme Spiritual Authority and Head of the Sikh religion, rather than any living person. And all answers regarding religion, ethics and morality can be discovered within it.


4. Writings of people from other faiths

Guru Granth sahib ji contains writings of not only the ten Sikh Gurus but also writings of people who belonged to other faiths, namely  Bhagats/saints like Kabir, sheikh fareed and many more.

a) Six Sikh Gurus, first Five (Guru Nanak dev ji, Guru angad dev ji, Guru Amar das ji, Guru Ram das ji, Guru  Arjan dev ji) and ninth guru ji (Guru Teg bhadur ji).

b) 3 Sikhs (Bhai satta ji, Bhai Balwand ji and bhai Sundar ji).

c) 17 Bhatts :The Bhatts were a group of musicians who lived in the sixteenth century. All of them were scholars, poets and singers. (namely :Bhat Kal, Bhat Kalsehar, Bhat Tal, Bhat Jalup, Bhat Jal, Bhat Kirat, Bhat Sal, Bhat Bahil, Bhat Nal, Bhat Bhikha, Bhat Jalan, Bhat Kas, Bhat Gend, Bhat Sevak, Bhat Mathra, Bhat Bal and Bhat Harbans).

d)15 Bhagats (Kabir, Namdev,Ravidas,Sheikh Farid, Trilochan, Dhanna, Beni, Sheikh  Bhikan, Jaidev,Surdas, Parmanand, Pipa, Ramanand, Sadhna, Sain).

5. Text is divine revelation 

The Gurus have stressed in gurbani that the words/hymns being written are not their own but the result of what God/Waheguru wants them to write and  thus these hymns/shabads are the direct message of God/Waheguru.


Map_birth_place_of_Writers_of_Guru_Granth_Sahib6. It is not same as idol worship

The key is that a sikh bows to the words and ideas contained within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, and not the book, the binding, the paper, or the ink. A Sikh prostrates to God alone. Bowing to Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee is a sign of submission before the Word of God.

It is not worshipping the physical body, be it the Granth (Scripture) form now or when Guru Sahib was in human form the human body, it is a submission to the Shabad (the Divine Infinite Wisdom).

What is being worshipped is the Shabad (Word), which is the revealed Order/Instructions/Word of God and that which offers enlightenment. The Shabad is by no means an idol. Therefore, bowing before the ‘Spoken revealed Word’ of God and submitting to God’s Order is in fact bowing to God.

6. Women are equal to men

SGGS Page 473 Shabad 1748
“From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.”
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman. That mouth which praises the Lord continually is blessed and beautiful. O Nanak, those faces shall be radiant in the Court of the True Lord.
SGGS Page 223 Shabad 706
“In the earth and in the sky, I do not see any second. Among all the women and the men, His Light is shining. (3)”

 8. Equality

The Guru Granth Sahib promotes the message of equality of all beings and at the same time state that Sikh believers “obtain the supreme status” (SSGS, Page 446). Discrimination of all types is strictly forbidden based on the Sikh tenet Fatherhood of God which states that no one should be reckoned low or high, stating that instead believers should –“reckon the entire mankind as One” (Akal Ustat, 15.85).

Sri Guru Granth Sahib promotes the concept of equality by highlighting the fact that we are made of the same flesh, blood and bone and we have the same light of God with us – Soul.

Our building bricks are the same:
The God-conscious being is always unstained, like the sun, which gives its comfort and warmth to all. The God-conscious being looks upon all alike, like the wind, which blows equally upon the king and the poor beggar.— Sri Guru Granth Sahib page 272.

The Gurus also encourage believers to promote social equality by sharing earnings with those in need.

9. One God for All

Sikhism is strictly monotheistic in its belief. This means that God is believed to be the one and sole reality in the cosmos, meaning that no other being has extra-human power. Sikh Gurus state that God alone is worthy of worship, and the highest end of existence, that is mukti or liberation can come through Devotion to God alone.

God is merciful and infinite. The One and Only is all-pervading.
He Himself is all-in-all. Who else can we speak of? God Himself grants His gifts, and He Himself receives them.
Coming and going are all by the Hukam of Your Will; Your place is steady and unchanging. (20,1)— Sri Guru Granth Sahib page 710

10. Speak and Live Truthfully

Sikhs believe in the importance of truthful living, which can only be created by purity of mind and not through religious purification rites. They believe that impurity of mind leads to many other vices such as anger, lust, attachment, ego, and greed.
“So how can you become truthful? And how can the veil of illusion be torn away?
O Nanak, it is written that you shall obey the Hukam of His Command, and walk in the Way of His Will.”


11. Control the five vices

The SGGS tells us to control our animal instincts of Pride/Ego, Anger/Temper, Greed/Urges, Attachment/Dependency and Lust/Addiction

SGGS Page 1388 Shabad 5352
“All virtues are obtained, all fruits and rewards, and the desires of the mind; my hopes have been totally fulfilled. The Medicine, the Mantra, the Magic Charm, will cure all illnesses and totally take away all pain. Lust, anger, egotism, jealousy and desire are eliminated by chanting the Name of the Lord.”

12. Live in God’s hukam (will/order)

A Sikh or person of God should live and accept the command of God easily and without too much emotional distress. Live in contentment and in Chardikala (positive attitude)

SGGS Page 209 Shabad 657
“Renounce the intellectual cleverness of your mind, O humble servants of the Lord; understanding the Hukam of His Command, peace is found.

Whatever God does, accept that with pleasure; in comfort and in suffering, meditate on Him.”

SGGS Page 253 Shabad 792

He wanders around in the four quarters and in the ten directions, according to the dictates of his karma. Pleasure and pain, liberation and reincarnation, O Nanak, come according to one’s pre-ordained destiny.”


10. Practice Humilty, Kindness, Compassion, Love, etc.

The necessity of controlling the mind and subduing one’s egoity is repeatedly taught in the Sikh religion. All the virtues such as Truth (Sat), contentment (santokh), Love (Pyar), Compassion/Mercy (daya), Service (seva), Charity (dana), forgiveness (ksama), humility (nimrata), patience (dheerjh), non-attachment (vairagya) and renunciation (taiga), are fundamental constituents of the Sikh religion and ethics.

14. Composed/Written by Gurus themselves

Max Arthur Macauliffe writes about the authenticity of the scriptures. The Sikh religion differs as regards the authenticity of its dogmas from most other theological systems. Many of the great teachers the world has known, have not left a line of their own composition and we only know what they taught through tradition or second-hand information. If Pythagoras wrote of his tenets, his writings have not descended to us.

We know the teachings of Socrates only through the writings of Plato and Xenophon. Buddha has left no written memorial of his teaching. Kung fu-tze, known to Europeans as Confucius, left no documents in which he detailed the principles of his moral and social system. The founder of Christianity did not reduce his doctrines to writing and for them we  are obliged to trust to the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Muhammad did not reduce himself to writing the chapters of the Quran.

They were written or compiled by his adherents and followers. But the compositions of Sikh Gurus are preserved and we know at first hand what they taught.

15. Recitation

tumblr_m3qpvcS8qU1rprwwko1_1280Guru Granth Sahib is always the focal point in any Gurdwara, being placed in the centre on a raised platform known as a Takht (throne), while the congregation of devotees sits on the floor and bow before the Guru as a sign of respect. Guru Granth Sahib is given the greatest respect and honour.

Sikhs cover their heads and remove their shoes while in the presence of this sacred text. Guru Granth Sahib is normally carried on the head and as a sign of respect, never touched with unwashed hands or put on the floor. It is attended with all signs of royalty, with a canopy placed over it.

A chaur sahib is waved above the book. Peacock-feather fans were waved over royal or saintly beings as a mark of great spiritual or temporal status; this was later replaced by the modern Chaur sahib.

The Guru Granth Sahib is taken care of by a Granthi, who is responsible for reciting from the sacred text and leading Sikh prayers. The Granthi also acts as caretaker for the Guru Granth Sahib, keeping the holy book covered in clean cloths, known as rumala, to protect from heat, dust, pollution, etc. The Guru Granth Sahib rests on a manji sahib under a rumala until brought out again.

What Can We Learn?

The Guru Granth Sahib plays a crucial role in the life of a Sikh. Every Sikh yearns to engage with it at some level and benefit from its overarching Divine wisdom. From the first renditions to the final compilation, this holy book has provided the guidance to not only Sikhs but humanity. This book teaches people about love, compassion, courage, justice and ways to live life.

It teaches us to recognize as one- that we are humans first. SGGS has works of saints from different religions and walks of life. This goes to show that this holy book preaches about equality and acceptance. We should definitely implement these teachings in our life.



[1] Sikhri
[2] Sikh it to the Max
[3] Wikipedia

Imroze Singh Deol

About the Author

Imroze Singh Deol is Graphic Designer at Brighton College but when’s not working he loves photography, listening to podcasts and being a “not-so-professional” ping-pong athlete. He also enjoys being a part-time batman whenever he has a free evening.

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