Why this Project?
Every Poh (mid-Dec. to mid-Jan.) is an excellent reminder to the Panth (short for Guru Khalsa Panth, the Sikh collective) about all our connections with Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, our Tenth Sovereign. In Asa ki Var, Song of Hope, Guru Nanak Sahib proclaims: “The eternal Wisdom (Satigur) must be praised greatly, in whom are immense greatnesses.” This project shares elements of the Guru’s greatness via sabads attributed to the Tenth Guru Nanak Sahib.
In Sabad Hajare, I see the young progeny next-in-line Guru Gobind Rai witnessing the separation of the masses from the 1 in his journey from Patna to Anandpur Sahib. In Sabad Hajare, I understand the ascendance of the son-Sikh becoming the Guru Sahib to connect the separated ones with the 1 in Panjab and beyond. In Sabad Hajare, I witness the perfect genius of the Tenth Nanak training the Sikhs for two decades on the 1, in thought and action, addressing Rajas and Mughals. In Sabad Hajare, I visualize the mentor-protege Guru transferring the sovereignty received from the 1 to the Khalsa disciples for perpetuity. In Sabad Hajare, I feel the Tenth Sovereign disrupting the personalities and authorities to assure the Panth remains dedicated only to the 1, as declared to follow only the Guru Granth Sahib.
I have been closely witnessing the widening and the worsening gap between “pro” and “anti” Dasam Granth groups in the Panth since 1997. The large sections of both groups are Panth’s well-wishers and are well-intentioned Sikhs; they are Panthak (of the Panth) Sikhs.
To the “pro” group: By the very command of the Tenth Sovereign, Guru Granth Sahib is the Guru of the Sikhs.
To the “anti” group: Even if you deem it is not Gurbani, it is inseparable from the Sikh tradition.
To both: We read and quote many things that are not Gurbani but form the Sikh narrative as long as the content and context do not disturb the lyrical beauty and harmony in Guru Granth Sahib. Please pause and re-think how a 1-percenter issue, though significant, is causing insurmountable harm.
As far as the vision of the 1 is concerned, Sabad Hajare are the same as the complete and perfect sensibility of the Guru Granth Sahib. The sectarian use of 1’s attributes for the deities is categorically rejected in Sabad Hajare. This effort connects the seekers with Gurmat (the Guru’s Way). May we see and visualize the Guru through Sabad Hajare instead of the portraits? And may this end our separation with the 1 and 1’s Sovereign, who we lovingly call Nilevala (rider of the blue steed), Bajanvala (owner of the white hawk), Kalgianvala (adorner of the royal plume), and so much more.
Over the coming weeks, the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) will offer new artwork, translations, and commentaries of Sabad Hajare attributed to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib (1666-1708). They uniquely explore the Tenth Sovereign’s connection with the 1. For each week beginning on 5 Jan. 2023, the aforesaid will accompany a podcast discussion highlighting some of the themes of Sabad Hajare.
These new artworks, calligraphy, recitations, translations, commentaries, and podcasts result from a year-long team effort. Over the course of many long conversations (which often took long detours), each sabad’s understanding is articulated to preserve the original Gurmukhi text’s depth and beauty. Each week, we will invite readers and listeners into the content development process, which includes referring to the various published versions and manuscripts, consulting various dictionaries and existing translations (in Panjabi and English), and attempting to capture the many elements of a single line (or word) to produce a flowing art, sound, and translation accessible to the present-day reader. Of course, like any project, this is incomplete; our choices are inevitably shaped by the limited nature of who we are and what we know.
Above all, we attempt to convey the extent to which the Tenth Sovereign was intimately connected with the 1 and the various colors this connection embodied. Sabad Hajare takes us on a journey of separation and union. At times, the Guru directly addresses the 1 as Creator or Friend; at others, the Guru addresses us mortals’ minds or beings.
Bhai Balbir Singh’s (1933-2020) unique kirtan style and musical renditions are being shared to bring alive the moods, the emotions, and the aesthetics of the sabads.He was a hazuri ragi (vocalist present in the court) at Sri Harimandar Sahib (popularly Golden Temple) for 36 years. He was a Dhrupad exponent and a Dilruba instrumentalist. He sang three thousand sabads in two hundred rags from memory. His rendition of Sabad Hajare Patisahi 10 is a glorious celebration.
Additionally, with each sabad, we get a glimpse of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s cultural milieu. Not only do the sabads contain many references to the 1, but they also reveal the Guru’s engagement with the classical rag musical mode, particularly through direct reference to the words, ideas, and figures of the Hindu culture like Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as well as Rama, Krishna, and Arjuna.
What is Sabad Hajare Patisahi 10?
Sabad Hajare is a collection of ten sabads (popularly shabads). A sabad is a word-sound song in musical mode or style filled with infinite wisdom. Hajare is from the Arabic hijr, which means separation. Hazare seems popular likely due to incorrectly attributing it to reciting them one thousand times to fulfill a wish. Shabad Hazare phrase is popularly referred to as a collection of sabads from the Guru Granth Sahib as well. Patisahi (popularly patshahi) 10 is the tenth sovereign and refers to Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. So, Sabad Hajare Patisahi 10 to us means the yearning of the Tenth Sovereign for the union with the 1. The Tenth Sovereign is already in union with the 1; this is how the Wisdom-Guru guides us by identifying with us the separated ones. It is the same when the Wisdom-Guru identifies with us mortals in the Guru Granth Sahib, so even in utter darkness, the light of hope shows us the way. How to end our separation, as Sikhs and as the Panth? Recite them one time or thousand times! Feel the hazur’s hazuri, the Presence’s presence in the powerful accents of pangs and longing.
Nine of these sabads are presented in rags or musical modes; one is presented in Khial (popularly Khyal) or musical style. Nine are in the six rags: Ramkali, Sorathi, Kalian, Tilang Kaphi, Bilaval, and Devgandhari (spellings retained as in the original Gurmukhi text). All these rags are also in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Braj is the language of the nine rag sabads; several words are of Sanskrit origin. The structure of the nine rag sabads is also the same: a central theme in rahau-pause implies this main idea’s reflection on the entire sabad; three padas (complete sentences of 2-line rhyme). They are considered to be part of the Bishanpade poetic tradition. A variant Bisanpad is also referenced in the Guru Granth Sahib. Originally and literally ‘feet of Vishnu,’ they were short compositions in praise. They became a form of the popular medieval Indic poetic genre in Awadhi, Maithili, and Braj languages. Bishanpade compositions are also found in the twentieth century by Panjabi poets. The language of one Khial sabad is Panjabi.
How was the Text Finalized?
There is considerable text variation amongst the handwritten manuscripts as well as the published works. After extensive research and multiple discussions, we selected the source text as found in the Panth Khalsa Gutka. It is based on the Shabadarth Dasam Granth Sahib edited by Bhai Randhir Singh (Oriental Scholar), which was discussed and corrected by a team of scholars which included Dr. Taran Singh, Dr. Prem Prakash Singh, Prof. Gulwant Singh, and Dr. Jit Singh Sital with consultations from S. Kirpal Singh Narang and Bhai Jodh Singh.
Even then, we had to make several decisions because of inconsistencies within the text described above, word or spelling irregularities due to typos, contextual meanings, and handwritten manuscripts corroborations. The following amendments were made in our text:
1. Added adhak in a few places if it was available in handwritten manuscripts and where it aided pronunciation and suited the meaning since it is already present in the text in the manuscripts. It is known that adhak was not used during the era. It was removed if it was not available in handwritten manuscripts.
2. Added sihari and aunkar on ending consonants if it was available in handwritten manuscripts and where they suited the meaning.
3. Removed ragu, rag, or ragi where inscribed because it is not available in handwritten manuscripts. It also creates inconsistency; rag’s presence is inscribed by their name where applicable.
4. Spacing is added to aid the pause during recitation, where it suits the meaning. 3 spaces in the sabads mean pause.
5. Puran Vishram (complete pause) “॥” is not inscribed on titles because it is not found in handwritten manuscripts.
6. Half or Full Yayya are kept as they are found in the handwritten manuscripts.
7. ਬਾਜੈ (dulav instead of lav). Braj language spelling in the present tense; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
8.ਸੰਗ੍ਰਹਿ (sihari added). Braj language spelling without sihari makes it a verb; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
9. ਹਉਂ (pronoun). Braj language spelling ਹੌਂ is an auxiliary verb; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
10. ਕਹ (without adhak). No such word with adhak; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
11. ਗੜ੍ਹਨ (noun; without sihari). Removed sihari in one instance; made it consistent with another occurrence in the text. Braj language spelling with sihari (ਗੜ੍ਹਨਿ) becomes a verb; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
12. ਜਾਤਿ (noun; with sihari). Braj language spelling without sihari becomes a verb; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
13. ਪਾਹਨ (noun; without sihari). Braj language spelling with sihari (ਪਾਹਨਿ) is not a word; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
14. ਹੈ ending lines were separated from previous words as they were inconsistent in the source text; this is a poetic device for a rhyme in medieval languages.
15. ਜਾਕਹ in one instance replaced with ਜਾਕਰ already in source text for consistency; also available in handwritten manuscripts.
The Gurmukhi spellings were finalized for this project, as explained above. The transcription spellings followed the finalized Gurmukhi script per the guidelines that convert written characters into a roman script that reproduces spoken words in writing. The translation and commentary spellings are contemporary popular spellings.
For recitation, the pronunciation follows the simple non-discretionary pattern meant for masses: Pronounce the way it is inscribed.
We are of the Guru. We can understand a few things. We practice devotion and reason simultaneously. Our sole purpose is to make the Guru’s Sabads accessible to the seekers.
Who are the Team?
Albel Singh is a research scientist and a nature photographer as a hobbyist. He has an MS in Conservation Biology & Genetics. His inspiration is Bhai Gurdas; he strives to develop as a Gurbani scribe and spend time with the Guru. He is the calligrapher of The Guru Granth Sahib Project.
Harinder Singh is a Co-founder and an Innovation Director at the Sikh Research Institute. He has a BS in Aerospace Engineering, a MS in Engineering Management, and a MPhil in the linguistics of the Guru Granth Sahib. His current focus is developing critical thinking for Sikh institutions via the State of the Panth report series and decoding infinite message for a global audience via The Guru Granth Sahib Project.
Harjinder Singh ‘Gharsana’ is a Research Associate of Gurbani Linguistics at the Sikh Research Institute. He has a BA in Sanskrit, a MA in Panjabi, and a DLitt in Persian and Urdu. He worked as a Language Researcher and published several articles in Panjabi and Sanskrit. He is the etymologist of The Guru Granth Sahib Project.
Jasleen Kaur is a Research Associate at the Sikh Research Institute. She has a BA and MA in Religious Studies focused on South Asian Religions through the lens of literature and poetry. She is one of the commentators and transcreators of The Guru Granth Sahib Project.
Kiran Kaur is pursuing her MA in Global Studies with research interests in diaspora politics and ethno-religious identity. She says she has always been a part-time artist, inheriting the passion from her Dadiji (paternal grandmother) and using art as a medium to understand her Sikhi, her community, and her research interests.
References and Further Reading
Dasam Patshahi ka Guru Granth Sahib. Lahore, Anglo Sanskrit Printers, 1895.
Jaggi, Ratan Singh. Sri Dasam Granth Sahib: Path-Sampadan ate Viakhia. Vol. 3, New Delhi, Gobind Sadan, 2007.
Khalis Foundation. www.sikhitothemax.org. Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.
Khalsa, Giani Harman Singh, compiler. Beant Banian da Sundar Gutka. Amritsar, Jatha Bhindran (Mahita), 2016.
Nabha, Bhai Kahn Singh. Mahankosh, 3rd ed. Patiala, Language Department, 1974.
Panth Khalsa Nitnem Gutka Sahib. Edited by Gurvinder Singh Nangli. Sri Baba Bakala Sahib, Singh Sahib Jathedar Baba Gajjan Singh, Tarna Dal, c. 2020.
“Shabad (Sabad) Hajare.” The Encyclopedia of Sikhism. Edited by Harbans Singh, Punjabi University, 1995.
“Shabad Hajare Patshahi 10.” The Encyclopedia of Sikhism. Edited by Harbans Singh, Punjabi University, 1995.
Shabadarth Dasam Granth Sahib. Edited by Bhai Randhir Singh, vol. 3, 3rd ed., Patiala, Punjabi University, 1995.
Sharma, Shri Dvarka Prasad. Sahitiyak Brajbhasha Kosh. Vols. 1-3, Luckhnow, Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan, 1985.
Singh, Giani Ishar. Dasam Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: Shiromani Stik. Moga, Baba Teja Singh Ji Nihang Singh, 1999.
Singh, Giani Lal. Kosh Sri Dasam Granth Sahib. Vol. 2, Sangrur, Janak Pustak Bhandar, 1949.
“Sri Dasam Granth.” 1764, no. M3776. Amar Singh. Handwritten Manuscript.
“Sri Dasam Granth.” 1777, no 21. Gurduara Shahidi Bagh, Taruna Dal, Giani Gurdev Singh, Anandpur Sahib. Handwritten Manuscript. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Adhian Vibhag, Punjabi University, Patiala.
"Sri Dasam Granth." 1793, no. 23. Gurduara Shahidi Bagh, Taruna Dal, Giani Gurdev Singh, Anandpur Sahib. Handwritten Manuscript. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Adhian Vibhag, Punjabi University, Patiala.
Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji. Vol. 2, Amritsar, Bhai Jawahar Singh Kripal Singh, Bajar Mai Sevan, 1979.