Guru Nanak Dev Ji brought the Word of God to manifestation upon the Earth. Through his Hymns and Prayers, he inspired and uplifted humankind to live a life of truth, righteousness and spirituality. These enlightening words were sung by his companions, Bala Ji and Mardana Ji, and by the Sangat which grew up around Guru Nanak Dev Ji. In his later years, at Kartarpur, it became customary for the members of the Sikh community to sing certain hymns on a daily basis: Jap Ji Sahib in the morning, So Dar and So Purakh, the beginnings of Reharaas Sahib Ji, in the evenings.
Guru Angad Dev Ji, Guru Amar Das Ji and Guru Ram Das Ji all composed Shabads, and the Sikhs began to collect these in books called Pothis. Chanting these Shabads, the Sikhs became vehicles for the vibrations of the Word of God, and they achieved a state of higher consciousness, a transcendent meditative union with God and Guru.
The complete collection of Shabads of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji and Guru Amar Das Ji was in the possession of Mohan, a son of Guru Amar Das Ji. Guru Arjun Dev Ji sent Bhai Gur Das Ji to Mohan’s home in Goindwal, to request this collection of Shabads. Guru Amar Das Ji, had seen the Divine Light in Guru Ram Das Ji, and had bestowed the Guruship upon him instead of Mohan. Mohan refused to answer the door when Bhai Gur Das Ji knocked and so he returned to Guru Arjun Dev Ji empty-handed.
Guru Arjun Dev Ji then sent Bhai Buddha Ji to Mohan’s house. Bhai Buddha was by then a very old and respected man in the Sikh community, having been a disciple of all the Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev Ji through Guru Arjun Dev Ji. When Mohan did not answer Bhai Buddha’s knock, he entered the house anyway. Inside, he found Mohan in a deep meditative trance. Mohan’s younger brother convinced Bhai Buddha Ji not to disturb him, and so he also returned to Guru Arjun Dev Ji empty-handed.
It was that in 1603, Guru Arjun Dev Ji found it necessary to proceed himself to Mohan’s house, to retrieve the Shabads. When Guru Arjun Dev Ji approached his house and called out in a sweet voice, but there was no response. The Guru Ji sat upon his doorstep and began to sing,
“Oh, Mohan, your mansion is so lofty, there is no other place like yours.
Oh, Mohan, even the Saints adorn the door of your temple.
Show compassion and kindness, Oh Kind Lord–be merciful to the poor.
Says Nanak, I am thirsting for the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan Grant me this gift, and I shall be happy.”
Mohan is a name of God, calling upon him as the Beloved. When Guru Arjun Dev Ji sang this Hymn, he was singing the Praises of God, in the form of a song to win Mohan’s heart. Mohan threw open the window and called out to Guru Arjun Dev Ji, “You stole the Guruship from my family, and now you come to steal what remains of my heritage” Guru Arjun Dev Ji responded with sweet words,
“Oh Mohan, your words are like no others, and your behaviour is exemplary.
Oh Mohan, you believe in the One God and treat all others as garbage.
Says Nanak, please preserve my honour all your servants seek Your Sanctuary.”
Mohan grumbled and protested, muttering about his claim to the Shabads. But finally, he came down and sat by Guru Arjun Dev Ji, as the Guru Ji continued to sing,
“Oh Mohan, the Sadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, meditates upon You, and yearns to obtain the Blessed Vision of Your Darshan.
Oh Mohan, at the very last moment of life, death shall not approach you.
All who worship you in thought, word and deed shall obtain Your Gifts.
Even the impure, the stupid and the foolish obtain Divine Knowledge upon seeing you.
Says Nanak, Oh God, You are present within all, You are above all.”
Gazing upon Guru Arjun Dev Ji’s enlightened face, feeling the love and radiance emanating from him, hearing the sweet words of love and humility, Mohan’s heart was softened, and opened at last. He acknowledged Guru Arjun Dev Ji’s true place upon the throne of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and gave all of the Shabads in his possession to Guru Arjun Dev Ji.
Guru Arjun Dev Ji then set to compile the Shabads into a single volume, the Adi Granth Ji. He sifted through the Shabads, which had been passed down from the first four Gurus, and filtered out those which had been added by impostors. Bhai Gur Das Ji was the scribe who recorded the Words of Guru Arjun Dev Ji. When he asked Guru Arjun Dev Ji how he could distinguish between the true and the false Shabads, Guru Arjun Dev Ji replied, “Even in a great herd of cows and calves, the mother cow will recognise the cry of her calf, above all others. Just so, the True Shabad resonates truly, and is easily distinguished from the false.”
Guru Arjun Dev Ji added many of his own Shabads to those of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji, Guru Amar Das Ji and Guru Ram Das Ji. He also added Shabads of thirty-six Hindu and Muslim Saints, among them Kabir Ji, Ravi Das Ji, Naam Dev Ji, Trilochan Ji and Sheikh Farid Ji. This was the first time any religion incorporated the works of sincere devotees of other religions into its own scripture; it reflects the equality of thought which underlies the Sikh belief in One God, and the one family of humanity as children of God.
Guru Arjun Dev Ji left some blank pages in the Adi Granth Ji. When Bhai Gur Das Ji asked the purpose of this, he answered that one of the Gurus to follow him would add the Shabads in their right place at the right time. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib Ji, the ninth Manifestation of the Guru s Light, added these Shabads and completed the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Adi Granth Ji was completed in 1604, and installed in the Golden Temple; Baba Buddha Ji was appointed Guru Granthi. Guru Arjun Dev Ji told his Sikhs that the Adi Granth Ji was the embodiment of the Guru, and should be treated with all the respect accorded to himself. When Guru Arjun Dev Ji first completed the Adi Granth Ji, he placed it upon his own bed and slept on the floor.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth of the Sikh Gurus to take human form, dictated the entire Granth Sahib Ji at Damdama Sahib. Dhir Mal, the son of Baba Gurditta Ji and grandson of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, had taken possession of the Adi Granth Ji, he refused to give it to Guru Gobind Singh when the Guru asked for it. Dhir Mal taunted the Guru Ji, “If you are a Guru, then prepare your own”. Guru Gobind Singh Ji proceeded to dictate it to Bhai Mani Singh Ji, who recorded it. While some have questioned the authenticity of this story, it is well for us to remember that, of course, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was no ordinary person at all. Guru Gobind Singh Ji included the Shabads of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, but he did not include his own Shabads; instead, he placed them in a separate Granth, the Dasam Granth. The Dasam Granth is not revered as Guru, however.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji installed the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Guru. Guru Gobind Singh Ji declared that the Word of God embodied in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was to be Guru for all time. He said, “O Beloved Khalsa, let any who desire to behold me, behold and obey the Guru Granth Sahib Ji for it is the visible body of the Guru Ji. Let any who desire to meet me, diligently search its Bani”. Thus the Word of God, which has manifested as Guru in Nanak, and had passed through the ten incarnations of Guru, was now returned to its form as the Word, the Bani, the Shabad.
When the Guruship was passed on, Guru Granth Sahib Ji became the embodiment of Divine Light. It should, therefore, be remembered very clearly that bowing before the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Sikhs do, is not a bowing before a book, but it is a bowing before the Divine Light or Joth (Guru) which was passed on when the Guruship was conferred upon it. Guru Granth Sahib Ji is completely authentic and is preserved in its original form. It is a highly valuable possession which, Sikhs have received from God through Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is held in supreme reverence by them.