SGPC not averse to printing Guru Granth Sahib abroad

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Amritsar: In what could come as a major relief for Sikhs across the world, especially non-resident Indians (NRIs), the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has said it is not averse to printing of the Sikh holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib in other countries provided certain conditions were fulfilled.

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The SGPC, the mini-parliament of Sikh religion headquartered in this holy city and with an annual budget of nearly Rs.450 crore (Rs.4.5 billion/nearly $100 million), has said that it can allow the printing of the Granth Sahib in other countries.

“We are open to the idea of allowing the printing of the holy scripture in other countries if the Sikh population in these countries can provide us the land and resources required for proper printing,” SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar told IANS.

“If the ‘sangat’ (people) can assure us this, we are ready to seek clearance from the ‘Singh Sahibaan’ (Sikh high priests),” Makkar added.

The 1,430-page Granth Sahib contains ‘Gurbani’ (Guru’s teachings). It is seen by the Sikhs as the Guru incarnate.

The holy scripture was originally installed at the Harmandar Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) in 1604 by the fifth Guru Arjan Dev. The 10th Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, had installed the Granth Sahib as the timeless Guru. The Guru Granth Sahib is a sort of living Guru in the midst of the Sikhs.

The SGPC controls all rights for the legal printing of the Granth Sahib which is now done only in Amritsar. The Sikh holy scripture, which is always in huge demand from Sikhs and Sikh institutions globally, is supplied and transported globally through the SGPC from Amritsar.

In recent years, chartered flights have been arranged by Sikhs from countries like the US and Canada to get copies of the Granth Sahib from Amritsar. On each such flight, the holy scripture is kept separately on each seat of the aircraft after following the religious maryada (decorum).

SGPC-appointed sewadars (volunteers) accompany the scriptures on such flights.

The Granth Sahib, also called Adi Granth, contains compositions of the first five Gurus, the ninth Guru, 15 Bhagats (Jai Dev, Nam Dev, Trilochan, Parmanand, Sadna, Ramanand, Beni, Dhanna, Pipa, Sain, Kabir, Ravidas, Farid, Surday and Bhikhan) and 11 Bhattas (Mathra, Jalap, Harbans, Talya, Salya, Bhal, Kulh Sahar, Nal, Kirat, Gayand and Sadrang).

The Guru Granth Sahib contains 5,894 hymns in 15,575 stanzas. Of them 974 hymns are written by the first Guru Nanak Dev, 62 by the second Guru Angad Dev, 907 by the third Guru Amar Das, 679 by the fourth Guru Ram Dass (founder of Harmandar Sahib), 2,218 by the fifth Guru Arjan Dev, and 115 by the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur. Among the remaining 922 hymns of Bhagats, the highest number of hymns (541) is by Kabir.

Considered an authentic scripture, the compositions of the Sikh Gurus were preserved and subsequently collected by Guru Arjan Dev. When the original copy (which is now at Kartarpur in Pakistan) could not be obtained, Guru Gobind Singh dictated it to Bhai Mani Singh.

The scripture is used by the Sikhs at the time of birth, marriage and death.

The Guru Granth Sahib is regarded as the body of the Guru and is kept on a raised platform under a canopy, covered in clean clothes. Devotees have to be barefoot with their heads covered before bowing before the Granth Sahib.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])