Historical Background

The spiritual founder of Sikhism is Guru Nanak. Born in 1469, early in adult life he travelled widely for 25 years on his quest to share the message of the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of mankind. On these journeys he was able to mingle with ordinary men as well as rulers and religious leaders.



After these Udasis (travels), he settled in Kartarpur with his family and lived as a householder. His unique teachings soon spread far and wide via the shabad (hymns) that he sang. He was acclaimed as a guru (teacher) of all true seekers (Sikhs), regardless of caste or status.

(SGGS 722 Rag Tilang M : 1)

ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥

Jaisee Meh Avai Khasam Kee Banee Thaisarra Karee Gian Vae Lalo

As the Banee of the Creator Lord comes to me, so do I express it, O beloved Sikhs.

Guru Nanak’s teachings reached Lehna who became his disciple and later his sucessor as Guru Angad. Subsequently, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das became the third and fourth gurus.

Each succeeding Guru was the exclusive custodion of the shabad (hymns) called Gurbani. This included compositions of other saints that were in line with the centrality of One Creator and the equality of man. The gurus continued the work started by Guru Nanak to share the message via Gurbani.

Guru Arjan, the fifth in line, compiled all these in Pothi Sahib or Granth (volume) that was then installed in the newly constructed Darbar Sahib in the new township of Amritsar.


(SGGS 763 Rag Suhi M : 5)

ਹਉ ਆਪਹੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਨ ਜਾਣਦਾ ਮੈ ਕਹਿਆ ਸਭੁ ਹੁਕਮਾਉ ਜੀਉ ॥

Hau Apoh Bol Na Janadha Mai Kehia Sabh Hukamao Jeeo ||

All that I speak is in the Lord’s Command.

The succeeding gurus – Guru Hargobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Krishen and Guru Tegh Bahadur all had the original scripts of the shabad

(Gurbani) in the form of Pothi Sahib which formed the basis of all their preaching. Guru Gobind Singh the tenth guru, added the hymns of Guru Tegh Bahadur into the Granth as per Guru Arjan’s coding system and before his demise in 1708, he proclaimed the new complete Granth as the eternal guru, the eternal embodiment of the Shabad Gurbani, SGGS ji.

The Sikhs were left with SGGS ji to be their guide /mentor henceforth.

This transformation from the embodiment of the Shabad from the physical guru to the SGGS was completed in 239 years. Soon SGGS ji became available via handwritten copies and later with the printed versions and teekas (translations). Today the Sikh Guru can be accessed by anyone anywhere to seek guidance.

(SGGS 1334 Rag Parbhati M : 3)

ਏਕੋ ਸਬਦੁ ਏਕੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਵਰਤੈ ਸਭ ਏਕਸੁ ਤੇ ਉਤਪਤਿ ਚਲੈ ॥

Eko Sabad Eko Prabh Varthai Sabh Ekas Thae Uthpath Chalai

The One Shabad, of the One God from Whom all creation came, is prevailing everywhere.


Gurbani text has been arranged by Guru Arjan (and later by Guru Gobind Singh) in meticulous detail according to topic and theme in the context. To ensure authenticity, all six Guru contributors to the Granth wrote under the name of Nanak while the other contributors like Kabir, Namdev have their names within the title and the verses proper.

The hymns are poems arranged in raags to be sung to music and are securely coded with a numbering system to ensure that any adulteration could be detected. The Gurbani within the SGGS has own grammar rules (singular, plural, noun, adverb, masculine, feminine etc). The rahao verse is used to incorporate the central idea in the shabad. In compositions that do not have the Rahao verse, the central idea can be found in the concluding verse.

Gurbani is mostly addressed to its composing authors and thus written in the first person format. Furthermore, it addresses the mind and not the physical body. Gurbani is appealing, authoritative and decisive as it is written in the common man’s language and centres around the common man’s lifestyle. And importantly, there are verses that verify that the text and message therein is dhur ki bani (Divine inspired).

(SGGS 795 Rag Bilaval M : 1)

ਆਪੇ ਸਬਦੁ ਆਪੇ ਨੀਸਾਨੁ ॥

Apeh Sabadh Apeh Neesan ||

He Himself is the Word of the Shabad, and He Himself is the Insignia.

The contents in SGGS ji are focused, amongst other things, on

a. The centrality of One-ness (creator n creation as one)

b. Human life (to Realize God, and live a good moral

life as a householder)

c. Redefining of many prevailing concepts and beliefs and giving

a fresh outlook to spirituality (refrain from worship of idols,

pilgrimage, fasting, and most rituals)

  1. The preamble of praise as the opening verse is meant to reinforce the vital message: to Realize the Divine.

ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥

Ek Oaangkar Sat Naam Karta Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akaal Moorat Ajooni Saibhung Gur Parsaad.

The One Omnipresent God who is in Existence, who is the Creator Being,

Fearless and without Enmity, Timeless and Formless, Does Not take Life Forms, and who is Self- Created, is Realized through the Blessings and Grace (Enlightenment) of the Shabad Guru.


From the first rendition as the Pothi Sahib, the Granth was accorded special reverence and installed on a high pedestal within the Darbar Sahib in August 1604. Guru Arjan seated himself at a lower level and instructed all Sikhs to bow before it, not as an idol, but as the book of divine inspiration that instructed living men in the ways of God and dedicated secular life.

To this day, SGGS ji is regarded by all Sikhs as the One Sachey Patshah (the True Sovereign) and is accorded due respect on a palki (throne), under a chandoa (canopy) and with a chaur (whisk) over it as it is their Living Guru incorporating the message as shabad or Gurbani.

(SGGS 1066 Rag Maroo M : 3)

ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਵਰਤੀ ਜਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਇਸੁ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਪਾਇਦਾ ॥੩॥

Gurbanee Varthee Jag Anthar Eis Banee Teh Har Nam Paeidha

The Guru’s Bani prevails throughout my spiritual world; through this Bani, I Realized the Lord’s virtues.

Guru Arjan gave his life in 1606 as the first Sikh martyr to preserve the sanctity of this Divine Gurbani that he had compiled, The choice was between maintaining the sanctity of Gurbani or to allow it to be adulterated by the royal command of the Mogul administration of the day. He chose death by torture. Guru Arjun’s sacrifice ensured the unadulterated Gurbani would remain accessible to the common man and not be just a religious script in the unscrupulous hands of the Pujari / Clergy class.

In 1675 Guru Tegh Bahadur also gave his life in martyrdom in defiance

of the religious persecution by the Moghuls and in support of freedom of all faiths as per true Sikh beliefs. Sikh history also mentions the thousands of ordinary Sikhs who have given their lives /been mercilessly martyred throughout the years for their belief/faith in the SGGS ji, its sanctity and its unique teachings of One-ness.

The only Guru of the Sikhs is SGGS ji

How God sends his messages is infinite and beyond us. Gurbani speaks of such infinity on numerous occasions. ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬The important thing is our capacity to receive them. This is where the spirituality of shabad comes into play. ‬

(SGGS 139 Rag Majh Salok M :2)

ਅਖੀ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਵੇਖਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਕੰਨਾ ਸੁਨਣਾ ॥ ਪੈਰਾ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਚਲਣਾ ਵਿਣੁ ਹਥਾ ਕਰਣਾ ॥

Akhee Bajhoh Vekhana Vin Kanna Sunna ||

Paira Bajhoh Chalna Vin Hatha Karna ||

To see without physical eyes; to hear without bodily ears;

To walk without human feet; to work without fleshly hands;

ਜੀਭੈ ਬਾਝਹੁ ਬੋਲਣਾ ਇਉ ਜੀਵਤ ਮਰਣਾ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਪਛਾਣਿ ਕੈ ਤਉ ਖਸਮੈ ਮਿਲਣਾ ॥੧॥

Jeebhai Bajhoh Bolna Eio Jeevath Marna ||

Nanak Hukam Pachhan Kai Tau Khasmai Milna ||1||

To speak without a physical tongue, to be dead in ego while physically alive. O Nanak, recognize the Hukam of the Lord’s Command, and merge with your Lord and Master. ||1||

The shabad (Gurbani) provides us with accurate Godly messages that are meant for ALL of humanity. These messages are tested for their accuracy and truth through the collective intuitive capacities of ten Gurus operating on a single spiritual plane called Sikhi for 239 years.

(SGGS 946 Rag Raamkali M:1)

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਨੁ ਜੀਤਾ ਹਉਮੈ ਮਾਰਿ ॥ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਾਚੁ ਰਖਿਆ ਉਰ ਧਾਰਿ ॥

Gurmukh Man Jeetha Houmai Mar || Gurmukh Saach Rakhia Ur Dhar ||

The Gurmukh conquers his mind by subduing his ego. The Gurmukh enshrines the Creator within his mind.

These messages have been tested by our Gurus walking them into practicality. So shabad provides us with the certainty of Godly messages. We know they are valid because our Gurus said so.

(SGGS 688 Rag Dhanasree M:1)

ਗੁਰੁ ਭਰਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਏ ਅਕਥੁ ਕਹਾਏ ਸਚ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਚੁ ਸਮਾਣਾ ॥

Gur Bharam Chukaeh Akathh Kehaeh Sach Meh Sach Samana ||

The Guru dispelled all my doubts, I am absorbed into my Creator’s being.

SGGS ji as the Shabad Guru or Gurbani is complete and is the combined voice of all the ten gurus. Tatt Gurmatt Gyan (Authentic Sikhi) recognises only SGGS ji and its Gurbani as the Eternal Guru. There cannot be any deh dharee (human) Guru as all Sikhs are deemed to be of equal status.

NO other rachna (Granth) can be accorded similar status as our SGGS ji. Any attempt at creating or laying a claim for a rival has been and will be fiercely thwarted by true blue Sikhs of the Khalsa Panth.