Guru Granth Sahib (Granth is Punjabi for book, Sahib is Hindi meaning master, from Arabic, meaning companion, friend, owner, or master) or Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji or SGGS for short, is more than a holy book of the Sikhs. The Sikhs treat this Granth (holy book) as a living Guru. The holy text spans 1430 pages and contains the actual words spoken by the founders of the Sikh religion (the Ten Gurus of Sikhism) and various other Saints from other religions including Hinduism and Islam.
The SGGS was given the Guruship by the last of the living Sikh Masters, Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708. Guru Gobind Singh said before his demise that the Sikhs were to treat the SGGS as their next Guru. Guru Ji said "Sab Sikhan ko hokam hai Guru Manyo Granth" meaning "All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru".
When one visits a Sikh Temple or Gurdwara the SGGS forms the Main Part of the Darbar Sahib or Main Hall. The holy Book is placed on a dominant platform and covered in very beautiful and attractive coloured fine cloth. The platform is always covered by a canopy, which is also decorated in expensive and very attractive coloured materials. Although the original text is written in Gurmukhi, it contains many languages including Punjabi, Sanskrit and Persian.
The holy text comprises over 5000 Shabhads or hymns which are poetically constructed; are designed for various different musical Ragas; can be set to predetermined musical Talas (rhythmic beats) and have a definite message for the whole of humanity. Below is a translated quote from the Page 15 of SGGS.
?O Nanak, if I had hundreds of thousands of stacks of paper, and if I were to read and recite your prises, and if ink were never to fail me, and if my pen were able to move like the wind -even so, I could not express Your Worth. How can I describe Your Greatness? ||4||2||?
See also Sikhism and Sikh Religious Philosophy
This is what Macauliffe wrote about the authenticity of the Guru's teaching
- The Sikh religion differs as regards the authenticity of its dogmas from most other theological systems. Many of the great teachers the world has known, have not left a line of their own composition and we only know what they taught through tradition or second-hand information. If Pythagoras wrote of his tenets, his writings have not descended to us. We know the teachings of Socrates only through the writings of Plato and Xenophanes. Buddha has left no written memorial of his teaching. Kungfu-tze, known to Europeans as Confuscius, left no documents in which he detailed the principles of his moral and social system. The founder of Christianity did not reduce his doctrines to writing and for them we are obliged to trust to the gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Arabian Prophet did not himself reduce to writing the chapters of the Quran. They were written or compiled by his adherents and followers. But the compositions of the Sikh Gurus are persevered and we know at first hand what they taught.