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Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s
tercentenary celebrations

Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s Guru-ta Gaddi Diwas

Balbir Singh Sooch, Advocate,

The Guru Granth Sahib’s Guru-ta Gaddi Diwas, the tercentenary celebrations at the historic Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra are like big festivities in nature without any political controversies and leaving aside the solution of any questions of religious importance for Sikhs. The  large number of Sikhs and the foreign converts to Sikhism from all over the world especially belonging to rural areas participating with great enthusiasm having deep devotion and faith comparatively in the celebrations as being seen on different TV channels and the reports pouring in directly from the devotees who personally witnessed the celebrations. The steady flow of devotees and pilgrims from all over the world continues and is flooding the city Nanded. 

Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib is one of the five Takhats, the others being the Sri Akal Takhat Sahib at Sri Amritsar, Takhat Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib  and Takhat Sri Patna Sahib.

Elevation of Adi Granth to Guru Granth Sahib:The Adi Granth was conferred the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in October, 1708. The event, when Guru Gobind Singh installed Adi Granth as the Guru of Sikhism, was recorded in a Bhatt Vahi (a bard's scroll) by an eyewitness, Narbud Singh, who was a bard at the Guru's court. There are a variety of other documents attesting this proclamation by the tenth Guru.

As per the Guru's commandment: A close associate of Guru Gobind Singh and author of Rehit-nama, Prahlad Singh, recorded the Guru's commandment saying "With the order of the Eternal Lord has been established [Sikh] Panth: all the Sikhs hereby are commanded to obey the Granth as their Guru".(Rehat-nama, Bhai Prahlad Singh) Similarly Chaupa Singh, another associate of Guru Gobind Singh, has mentioned this commandment in his Rehat-nama.

The Adi Granth was first compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606), from hymns of the first five Sikh Gurus and other great saints of the Hindu and Muslim traditions. The original scribe of the Adi Granth was Bhai Gurdas and later Bhai Mani Singh. This Granth  is the Holy Scripture of the Sikhs. The tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh added further holy Shabads to this Granth during the period 1704 to 1706. Then in 1708, before his death, Guru Gobind Singh affirmed the Adi Granth as the perpetual Guru of the Sikhs and the Granth then became known as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

Guru  Gobind Singh Guru (1666-1708), the tenth Guru in Sikh tradition, affirmed the sacred text Adi Granth as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus, and elevating the text to Guru Granth Sahib. From that point on, the text remained not only the holy scripture of the Sikhs, but is also regarded by them as the living embodiment of the Ten Gurus. The role of Guru Granth Sahib, as a source or guide of prayer, is pivotal in worship in Sikhism.

To remove or dispell any aberrations created, the tercentenary celebrations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is being celebrated  at large scale to educate the Sikh masses; the holy city of Nanded, where the event is being held, is undergoing a remarkable metamorphosis  This has been the understanding and conviction of the Sikhs, since that October day of 1708. That’s why even in the present era Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been given status of juristic person.

Democratic presidential nominee of U S, Mr. Barack Obama has extended his greetings to the Sikh community in America on the tercentenary celebrations of consecration of the Guru Granth Sahib sent a message and wrote, “Sri Guru Granth Sahib is considered the universal spiritual leader and guiding light for the Sikh community. In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh officially ordained Guru Granth Sahib as the final and perpetual Guru of Sikhs. This worldwide celebration will commemorate the 300 years of consecration of Guru Granth Sahib and the anniversary of the accession of Guru Gobind Singh," 

The 'Guru Granth Sahib' is a voluminous text of 1430 pages, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh Gurus from 1469 to 1708. It is compiled in the form of hymns written in praise of God, which describe what God is like and the right way to live. 

Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been given status of juristic person -The Supreme Court of India has held that Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a juristic person and it is also very clearly clarified and left no lacuna to raise any misconceptions and controversies and the judgment does not equate Guru Granth Sahib with Hindu idol or deity. Rather the Supreme Court said when faith and belief of two religions are different; there is no question of equating one with another. The Court held categorically that Guru Granth Sahib couldn’t be equated with an idol, as idol worship is contrary to the Sikh principles. Thus it clearly maintains and upholds the separate, unique and independent identity of Sikhism. It was held that no doubt the Sikh scripture is a sacred book but it can’t be equated with the sacred books of other religions as the reverence of Guru Granth Sahib is based on different conceptual faith, belief and application. It is the living and eternal Guru of Sikhs.   

It seems rightly concluded by Dr. Kashmir Singh; Professor of Law, GNDU, Amritsar, in his paper entitled “SRI GURU GRANTH SAHIB-A JURISTIC PERSON” that the judgment is a landmark and historic judgment of far-reaching consequences and great significance. Huge properties worth crores of rupees exist in the name of Guru Granth Sahib in various parts of the country. These were encroached upon by usurpers as Guru Granth Sahib, not being a juristic person, could not be deemed to hold property in the eyes of law. It also could not sue to recover the property for the same reason. This judgment has plugged the loophole. Now Guru Granth Sahib is a juristic person that can hold and dispose of property and can sue for recovery of property belonging to Guru Granth Sahib in the wrongful possession of unscrupulous people who were taking the undue benefit the legal lacunae….. . Our Ten Gurus were persons made of flesh and blood. They preached and taught the humanity by personal conduct. They never called themselves as Super Human Beings. So there is nothing wrong if the Supreme Court has also accepted Guru Granth Sahib, the reigning Guru of the Sikhs, as person in which the spirit of Ten Gurus lies. Besides, the Supreme Court of India has highlighted various Sikh principles in a right perspective…”. 

Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib with the golden dome and intricate art work was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.   The other pilgrim sites i.e. Gurdwaras of historical importance for Sikhs are the Nagina Ghat, Bandh Ghat, Maltekri, Heera Ghat, Mata sahib, Shikar Ghat, Sangat Sahib, Ratangarh, Gobind Bagh, Damdama Sahib, The Nanaksar, Langar Sahib and Bhajangarh Sahib in the vicinity of Nanded. 

Some of the devotees from different parts of country are there with the precious and the unique historical relics related with the Sikh Guru for exhibition purpose or to hand over to the Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur  Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara Board, as Baba Makhan Singh from Sri Amritsar has reached there with a CHHATTAR (Umbrella of Gold), a relic of Guru made of gold of about twelve and half Kilo grams in weight  and 3 to 4 feet in size in a iron box for exhibition and to hand it over forever to the Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara Board as a  Guru’s Memento remained with him so far. 

The English speaking devotees, pilgrims and visitors from all walks of life attending the celebrations demanded separate and better accommodation than the true devotees who seemed to be satisfied for the reasons of their deep devotion.

The writer of this note never visited the pilgrim sites, Nanded after 1970 and could not reach now to celebrate the historical occasion  but he has something to console himself as his childhood fast friend, Ex-Colonel Jarnail Singh got an opportunity to perform  the administrative services under the well coordinated centralized command and to celebrate  the occasion there as the most trustworthy associate of  the Chairman, Dr. P. S. Pasricha. 

Dr. P. S. Pasricha, a former director-general of police for the state now the Chairman, Administration of the Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur  Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara Board, Nanded said, “We were fighting Mughals during the first centenary and the British during the bicentenary”. “Now it is time to celebrate”. “We expect it to be peaceful, as the philosophy of Sikhism is universal brotherhood".

I owe a deep debt of gratitude to the various persons consulted to write this note.

Edited by:
Kamaljeet Kaur Sooch (Daughter of Balbir Singh Sooch)

B.A (Hons.); LL.M; (UGC Net Qualified);
Ph.D., (Research Scholar)
Punjabi University, Patiala .
Oct 29, 2008
11:32 PM (Released)
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