Speeches by Youth
Part 1 – Context of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Joymaneet Kaur, Ekam Singh Brar and Sukhveer Singh Karlkut.
Text of Speeches
1 Joymaneet Kaur
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
Guru Granth Sahib is the central religious scripture of Sikhism, regarded by Sikhs as the final, sovereign and eternal living Guru.
Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki, a Sikh scholar, has written many books on Sikhism and Gurbani. On the context of Guru Granth Sahib, he writes, context is the ambience of a text- conditions that precede or follow it, and thereby fix its meaning and determine its significance.
First, the context of religious traditions states that Guru Nanak Dev ji concentrated more on spirituality which is the common core of religious life. He rejected formalism and rituals, prevalent in society at that time. Guru Nanak respected all revelations of God and wrote these words in Guru Granth Sahib.
ਸੂਰਜੁ ਏਕੋ ਰੁਤਿ ਅਨੇਕ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਕਰਤੇ ਕੇ ਕੇਤੇ ਵੇਸ ॥
Guru Nanak considered all men equal in the eyes of His god. He disapproved caste system, individual discrimination, gender inequality and strove to give women their rightful place.
Guru Nanak Dev ji rejected Avtar-vad as set forth in Bhagvad Gita, because God, the creator does not go into the cycle of birth and death.
ਸੋ ਮੁਖੁ ਜਲਉ ਜਿਤੁ ਕਹਹਿ ਠਾਕੁਰੁ ਜੋਨੀ ॥੩॥
Second, context of divine revelations states that Sikh Gurus have been asserting that Guru Granth Sahib is a work of Divine Revelations. The Mool Mantra is an enunciation of the essence of God made by Guru Nanak Dev Ji which occupies the beginning of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The revelatory nature of Gurbani is testified by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is preserved in Guru Granth Sahib.
ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥
Third, within Politio-historical context, during the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the Lodhis were ruling India. They were very unjust, tyrannical, and corrupt.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji felt that the people were having a lack of morale. He wanted them to get rid of slavery and achieve courage, and be free of fear.
ਤਖਿਤ ਰਾਜਾ ਸੋ ਬਹੈ ਿਜ ਤਖਤੈ ਲਾਇਕ ਹੋਈ ॥
Fourth, the context of scripture asserts that the Guru Granth Sahib is a scripture, as it is a holy text. Guru Granth Sahib has been the light house of the spiritual life of Sikh people for many centuries. It is not merely a scripture, but the living spirit of the Gurus thus designated as Guru Granth Sahib.
ਲੋਕ ਜਾਨੈ ਇਹ ਗੀਤ ਹੈ ॥ ਇਹ ਤੋ ਬ੍ਹ੍ਹਮ ਵੀਚਾਰ ॥
Prof. Owen asserts that the Guru Granth Sahib is both unique and distinctive. The content of sacred books of many religions differ from the content of Guru Granth Sahib.
First, the Abrahamic or Semitic scriptures have historical and biographical contents which tell refer to Jesus and Mohammad. Hindu religious literature is divided into two: Shruti and Smriti. Many other scriptures contain similar material. Those sacred books preach about men through whom the message of spiritual liberation was preached. But, in Guru Granth Sahib, the Sat Guru is Parmeshur, God, the Waheguru.
Second, scripture itself plays a very important role in Sikhism. A Gurudwara is a place where the scripture is installed. It is the Guru Granth Sahib that makes a Gurudwara, and not a place that makes Guru Granth Sahib. Worship in Sikhism is done in presence of Guru Granth Sahib, and it consists of singing or reading the Gurbani and explanation of holy hymns.
ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਇਸੁ ਜਗ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਕਰਮਿ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਏ ॥੧॥
The Guru Granth Sahib is also unique for its attitudes to other religions by stating that Guru Nanak was remarkable for his validation of other forms of religion and his attitude was one of critical universalism that is not found in other scripture. Sikhs have no need to convert people, but they have a need to practice the life style preached by the Guru.
ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥
Prof. Dhillon correctly says, “The principle of Spirit was the central unifying factor between Guru Nanak and his nine successors.” Although the Gurus are different in physical form, they are of the same spirit. As a lamp lights another lamp similarly the “spirit of Nanak” was enshrined in the successive Gurus.
The first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was imbued with the divine light of the Akal Purakh to fulfill God’s will and mission in the world.
When Guru Nanak conferred Guruship on Guru Angad Dev Ji, the same Jot was passed on. In the same way, the Divine Light was passed from 1 guru to the next.
ਗੁਰ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇਵ ਗੋਵਿੰਦ ਰੂਪ ॥
Guru Gobind Singh Ji named the Pothi Sahib as Granth consisting of two words, Gur and Ant meaning eternal Guru. He asserted: ” In future whoever wishes to seek enlightenment, guidance and solace, let him read the holy Granth. This is your Guru till eternity. “
ਸਬ ਸਿਖਨ ਕੋ ਹੁਕਮ ਹੈ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਾਨਿਓ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ॥
Dr. Ahmad writes on the Guru Granth Sahib as not only spiritual but also relevant in addressing social issues. First is, the dichotomy between between Gurmukh and the Manmukh. A Gurmukh praises the Naam, and the fire of egotism is extinguished. The lord abides within the mind of the Gurmukh.
But, the self-willed Manmukhs are polluted with egoism, wickedness and desire.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਲਾਹਾ ਲੈ ਗਏ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਚਲੇ ਮੂਲੁ ਗਵਾਇ ਜੀਉ
Secondly, the Guru Granth Sahib’s attitude on the issue of social equality is marked by contradictoriness. Some passages endorse social inequality and others endorse equality.
ਕੇਤੇ ਤੇਰੇ ਰੂਪ ਰੰਗ ਕੇਤੇ ਜਾਤਿ ਅਜਾਤਿ ॥
This contradiction arises out of the scripture having to deal with existing social inequality and outlining a future vision of equality.
Third, the issue of the distinction between believers and non-believers and their co-existence in society is addressed in the Guru Granth Sahib by separating community and power from their mutual relations.
Guru Granth Sahib teaches us to treat all humans as equal. Sikhism acknowledges and appreciates other religions and accepts their validity. This attitude helps the Sikhs understand and appreciate other religions and live in harmony with other faith communities.
ਫਕੜ ਜਾਤੀ ਫਕੜੁ ਨਾਉ ॥ ਸਭਨਾ ਜੀਆ ਇਕਾ ਛਾਉ ॥
As such, the Gurus gave equal regard to saints from all traditions. Guru Arjun Dev Ji had himself set an example by getting the foundation of Harimander Sahib laid by Saint Mian Mir.
Sikhism seeks to treat all human beings as spiritually equal irrespective of their religious belief. We must know Waheguru is present in everyone. We believe in God’s love for all beings. Therefore, we conclude prayers to Waheguru seeking welfare of all.
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮ ਚੜ੍ਹਦੀ ਕਲਾ ॥ ਤੇਰੇ ਭਾਣੇ ਸਰਬੱਤ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ ॥
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
2 Ekam Singh Brar
Sri Guru Granth Sahib
The intensity and emotion layered in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is evident at first glance. Its exquisite characterizations of Waheguru and extensive lyricism make for a compelling text with universal appeal. But in order to properly understand the purpose of this multi-layered text, we must first contextualize it.
Firstly, it is important to note the spirit of times. At this time in India, there was a galaxy of holy men, such as Dhanna, Kabir, Farid, Ramanand, and Namdev. Their writings are included in Guru Granth Sahib not only to indicate religious solidarity but also to enhance the universal appeal of the Granth.
Additionally, preceding historical traditions played a part in the ambience of this time. Guru Nanak believed that, to an extent, there was truth in all world religions. So he decided to preach spirituality instead of anchoring Sikhism to the dogma of other world religions. He separated elements of other religions that he found particularly distasteful and refused to include them in the Sikh faith. He sought to eliminate the repressive systems of prejudice and class warfare that plagued the society of his time.
ਸੂਰਜੁ ਏਕੋ ਰੁਤਿ ਅਨੇਕ ॥
As a reaction to preceding historical traditions, the Guru Granth Sahib became more than a spiritual text to also become a quintessential example of social equality.
It is impossible to properly contextualize the Granth without also considering its context as a divine revelation– its source is Waheguru himself. It is ultimately a tribute to the glory of Waheguru, one commissioned by the creator himself.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਤਿ ਸਤਿ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਣਹੁ
ਗੁਰਸਿਖਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਆਪਿ ਮੁਹਹੁ ਕਢਾਏ ॥
So the Guru Granth isn’t just speculation on the nature of the Creator, it actually transcends theology through its status as divine revelation.
ਜੈਸੀ ਮੈ ਆਵੈ ਖਸਮ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਤੈਸੜਾ ਕਰੀ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਵੇ ਲਾਲੋ ॥
Finally, the aesthetic context of the granth is especially notable. Guru Granth Sahib is constructed almost entirely in musical form through various raags. These raags are designed to elicit varying emotions. The language is really simple, but modified to fit the music it is crafted around. And the gurus saw the musical medium as powerful enough to deliver the divine revelation so it’s implemented consistently and expertly in the Granth.
2. Sri Guru Granth Sahib differs from the Abrahamic texts especially in its content, but also in its worldview. The holy scriptures of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and their ilk largely vacillate between discussing matters of historical and biographical content, while the authors of Guru Granth Sahib largely discuss matters of philosophy and spirituality. While the Abrahamic scripts speak of Allah and his disciple Muhammad, of God and his son Jesus, Guru Granth Sahib speaks of man and Waheguru and discusses the elevation of man through the Shabad which culminates with the sublation of the soul into Waheguru. Guru Granth Sahib is thus defined by its discourses on the wonder of Waheguru’s grace.
In other words, those books are about men who preached spiritual liberation, while the Guru Granth Sahib is about us reaching spiritual liberation.
ਹਰਿ ਜੀਉ ਮਿਲੈ ਤਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੂਝੈ ਚੀਨੈ ਸਬਦੁ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਹੇ ॥੮॥
In its approach to scripture, Sri Guru Granth Sahib proves itself similarly unique. While other scriptures are only valuable to the extent that they extol the virtues of their prophets, Guru Granth Sahib extols the virtues of Waheguru and His Sikhs.
The attitude towards other religions depicted in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is respectfully critical. Guru Granth Sahib not only vindicates other religions, but testifies to the light of Waheguru and the lifestyle taught to us by the Gurus.
3. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is consistent in its principle of Spirit. B.S. Dhillon explains that although the Gurus existed in linear succession, they “were one in Spirit.” Guru Granth Sahib is unified because all of the Gurus that wrote in it shared this common experience of the Spirit. All of the Gurus worked for the same end, even as they all had different physical appearances.
ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਮਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੨॥੧॥੭॥
Every one of Guru Nanak’s nine human successors recognized themselves as an instrument of God and maintained that they were simply translating the divine experience into hymns. They distanced their personages from their work by humbly referring to themselves as “Nanak.” This selfless devotion to the principle of Spirit over self was a unifying factor for the Sikh gurus.
4. In his essay, Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad mentions three contemporary social issues: a hedonistic society, individuals competing for displays of wealth, and economic inequality. He describes these as primarily the result of duality and the human condition.
The human condition can be seen as the predisposition of humans to do both good and bad, an internal conflict that becomes compounded with the addition of religion. Why? Religion is a force that sees humans as imperfect beings working towards salvation and an ideal of “good.” Dr. Ahmad highlights that without religion to act as a moral anchor to the heavens, the human condition “has a natural propensity to deteriorate.” This is the human condition right here. It’s dealing with the human potential to be drawn to pleasure but simultaneously working towards harmony and spirituality.
This is the duality that Guru Granth Sahib addresses. One of the objectives of the Guru Granth Sahib is to nudge humanity away from vice and towards the pursuit of spiritual ascension.
The duality creates a paradigm. Through this dichotomy, two types of men are made- the Gurmukh and the Manmukh. Although they were both reared in the smoldering ashes of maya, the two are distinctly different. The Gurmukh is devoted to worship of Waheguru and practicing truth, but the manmukh is consumed with anger and egoism
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਮੁਗਧੁ ਗੁਬਾਰੁ ॥
- Sikhism recognizes that there is validity in all religions and encourages us to treats everyone with kindness. This mindset is the foundation of a healthy relationship with other religions and harmony with other faiths. This is why we pray “sarbat da bhala”- because we respect and appreciate other religions.
Sri Guru Granth calls on humans to tolerate religious pluralism and co-exist peacefully with those of others faith simply because we all have the same light of Waheguru inside us.
ਏਕੁ ਪਿਤਾ ਏਕਸ ਕੇ ਹਮ ਬਾਰਿਕ ਤੂ ਮੇਰਾ ਗੁਰ ਹਾਈ ॥
This isn’t just taught- it’s applied in Sikhism as well. The Gurus preached that we should give consideration to all religious leaders. Guru Arjan Dev Ji even called upon Shah Mian Mir to lay the foundation of Sri Harmandir Sahib.
The idea that all humans are ethically equal and deserve equal treatment was radical for the time, but seems more appropriate now, in the age of chaos, than it has ever been. This is the core of the Sikh religion. We must pray for the welfare of all. We must pray for each other. We are one in the eyes of Waheguru.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
3 Sukhveer Singh
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji embodies the spiritual compositions of our Gurus and other holy men. Dr. Neki describes many contexts surrounding this monumental work.
In the first context, “Spirit of the times”, he writes that there was great spiritual awareness during the time of the Gurus. Those who met Guru Nanak Dev Ji were impressed by his humility and clear thinking. Furthermore, Guru Ji created models for inter-faith dialog.
In the second context, “Religious traditions”, Dr. Neki writes that Guru Ji accepted religious traditions that concentrated on spirituality or the praise of God. However, any that were sacrificial or ritualistic were rejected. Guru Ji viewed all men and women as equal in the eyes of God and advocated social justice for all.
In the third context, “Aesthetic”, he writes that while other scriptures are to be read or chanted, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is meant to be sung. It is arranged under a number of ragas of a peaceful tempo to match the spiritual nature of the text. Our Gurus recognized that music is the medium which can make an inroad to our soul and cultivate unity in all those that hear it.
In the fourth context, “Divine Revelations”, Dr. Neki writes about Guru Ji’s profound mystical experience from when He was summoned to the Divine Presence, which he then expressed in the Mool Mantra. When God revealed Bani to our Gurus, they shared it with us through verbal expression and preserved it for future generations in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
sathigur vich aap rakhioun kar paragatt aakh sunaaeiaa ||
He has placed Himself within the True Guru; revealing Himself, He declares this openly.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS Page 466
It is these four contexts that form the core essence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and so justify the title of the paper.
It is clear from Professor Cole’s paper that the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is both unique and distinctive in several ways.
He notes that it is distinctive by being focused entirely on God – and not on any religious leader. While the Gurus are held in the highest esteem and reverence, it is the message that God revealed to them, that is in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
log jaanai eihu geeth hai eihu tho breham beechaar ||
People believe that this is just a song, but it is a meditation on God.
Bhagat Kabeer Ji, SGGS Page 335
Professor Cole highlights another distinction from other sacred texts by noting that congregational worship is centered around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It is the presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib that makes a Gurdwara – without it, the Gurdwara becomes just a building.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is also distinctive by including Bani of Hindu Bhagats, Muslim Sufis, and other holy men. It exemplifies the message of “religious equality” and offers advice for Muslims to be better Muslims and for Hindus to be better Hindus.
As the sole successor of our ten Gurus, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is truly unique by making the Guru-ship a continuous institution ever since its inception and forever into the future. There is no other sacred text that holds such a position in any other religion.
baanee guroo guroo hai baanee vich baanee a(n)mrith saarae ||
The Word, the Bani is Guru, and Guru is the Bani. Within the Bani, the Ambrosial Nectar is contained.
Guru Raam Daas Ji, SGGS Page 982
Bhai Dhillon’s paper discusses why the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the unified embodiment and teaching of our first ten Gurus.
It is the religious experience of the ‘spirit of Nanak’ that was the central unifying factor between our ten Gurus.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji received revelations from God and delivered them to the world through Bani.
jaisee mai aavai khasam kee baanee thaisarraa karee giaan vae laalo ||
As the Word of the Forgiving Lord comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS Page 722
The sacred hymns from Guru Ji’s Pothi were added to and then passed on by His successors. Guru Arjan Dev Ji proclaimed:
pothhee paramaesar kaa thhaan ||
This Holy Book is the home of the Transcendent Lord God.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS Page 1226
Finally, Guru Gobind Singh Ji conferred eternal Guru-ship to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
All the Gurus being of the same devotion, service, ability, humility, and allegiance to the mission possessed the same spirit.
joth ouhaa jugath saae sehi kaaeiaa faer palatteeai ||
They shared the One Light and the same way; the King just changed His body.
Bhatt Sathaa & Balvand, SGGS Page 966
To emphasize this, the Gurus added Bani that was revealed to them under the name of ‘Nanak’ rather than that of their own name. As Guru Amar Das Ji writes:
eikaa baanee eik gur eiko sabadh veechaar ||
There is One Bani; there is One Guru; there is one Shabad to contemplate.
Guru Amar Daas Ji, SGGS Page 646
Dr Ahmad, paints a bleak picture of a world without religious guidance where our lives would be threatened by social evils and inequalities.
Three of the social issues he mentions are:
- Gurmukh versus Manmukh
- Positive virtues versus vices
Many verses in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib speak of the effects of duality and how to overcome it. Duality pollutes the mind and draws us to worldly pleasures and committing sins.
man mailaa hai dhoojai bhaae ||
mailaa choukaa mailai thhaae ||
The mind is polluted by the love of duality.
Filthy is that kitchen, and filthy is that dwelling
Guru Amar Daas Ji, SGGS Page 121
The message of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is that we have access to God provided we live the life of a Gurmukh – and not that of a Manmukh.
A Gurmukh follows the path of devotion and obtains spiritual wisdom, whereas a manmukh is filled with darkness and attracted to worldly goods.
guramukh chaanan jaaneeai manamukh mugadhh gubaar ||
The Gurmukh knows the Divine Light, while the foolish self-willed manmukh gropes around in the darkness
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS Page 20
The central social message of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is to give up the five vices: kaam, krodh lobh, moh, and Ahankaar. Living by positive virtues such as sat, santokh, daya, nimrata and pyaar, we can live in social balance and harmony.
sath sa(n)gath maelaap kar pa(n)ch dhooth sa(n)ghaarae||
When one joins the True Assembly, the five vices are liquidated.
Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Vaars Bhai Gurdaas
In his essay, Dharam Singh emphasizes that we live in a world of religious pluralism.
There is no place for an exclusivist attitude to religion as it is harmful to our social fabric. The object of religion is to unite mankind and not to divide it.
sarab dhharam mehi sraesatt dhharam ||
har ko naam jap niramal karam ||
Of all religions, the best religion is to chant the Name of the Lord and maintain pure conduct.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS Page 266
Our Gurus taught us that everyone is equal, regardless of our appearance. We are spiritually one with God and ethnically equal, no matter our religious beliefs.
Sadh Sangat Ji, it is our duty to respect, understand, and co-operate with other faith communities. Dharam Singh gives us many examples in his essay:
- Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited places of pilgrimage important to Hindus and Muslims.
- Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji gave up his life in order to defend the religious freedom of Hindus.
- Bhai Kanhaiya served water to all those injured on the battlefield.
The Ardas reminds us that the same One God resides within all of us.
ghatt ghatt mai har joo basai sa(n)than kehiou pukaar ||
The Dear Lord abides in each and every heart; the Saints proclaim this as true.
Guru Tegh Bahaadur Ji, SGGS Page 1427
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh