uru Granth Sahib is the universal eternal Guru of the Sikhs. Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the holy scripture of Sikhs’ that is treated with utmost respect and is respected by Sikhs as a living Guru and not merely a scripture. In this article, we will learn about the history of its compilation, Guruship, its structure and the writers.

First Compilation: The Adi Granth by Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Prithi Chand, the elder brother Guru Arjan Dev Ji, was enraged when his father Guru Ram Das Ji did not pass on the Guruship to him. So, Prithi Chand started selling compilations of ballads he had written. These were not in line with the Sikhi philosophy and were confusing the Sikhs. In the past, each Guru’s bani was compiled into separate Pothis. Guru Arjan Dev Ji decided to compile all the Bani into a single text and called it the Adi Granth to eliminate any confusion. Guru Arjan Dev Ji describes the Adi Granth in the following Gurbani quote saying:

ਥਾਲ ਵਿਚਿ ਤਿੰਨਿ ਵਸਤੂ ਪਈਓ ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੋ ॥

ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਾਮੁ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਕਾ ਪਇਓ ਜਿਸ ਕਾ ਸਭਸੁ ਅਧਾਰੋ ॥

Upon this Plate, three things have been placed: Truth, Contentment and Contemplation. 

The Ambrosial Nectar of the Naam, the Name of our Lord and Master, has been placed upon it as well; it is the Support of all.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji organized it by Raag. Guru Ji asked Bhai Gurdas Ji, the son of Guru Amar Das Ji’s brother and a leading Sikh scholar, to be the scribe. Guru Arjan Dev Ji uttered the Bani and Bhai Gurdas Ji scribed it. It is estimated to have taken 18 months for Bhai Gurdas Ji to finish this task. The Adi Granth was finished on Bhadon Vadi 1, 1661 BK ie. July 31st, 1604 AD. In the Adi Granth, Guru Ji had included their own Bani (Guru’s words) as well as that of the first four Gurus. Guru Ji looked through the Pothis and removed any shabads which had been added by imposters. Guru Arjan Dev Ji also added the Shabads of other Hindu and Muslim Saints, Sikhs and Bhatts. Nearly half of the shabads in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are written by Guru Arjan Dev Ji. This Bir is known as Kartarpuri Bir and is currently in the possession of Dhir Mal’s descendants in Kartarpur Sahib . The Adi Granth was installed at Harmandir Sahib in 1604 AD. Baba Buddha Ji was the first Granthi and was responsible for reading and interpreting the Adi Granth. After the installation of Adi Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjan Dev Ji never slept on a bed and did not let Sikhs’ bow down to them. Guru Ji told them to bow down to Adi Granth Sahib. Guru Ji taught the Sikhs’ on how to fully respect the Adi Granth by setting an example for them. Baba Buddha Ji took the first Hukumana which was 


ਸੰਤਾ ਕੇ ਕਾਰਜਿ ਆਪਿ ਖਲੋਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਕੰਮੁ ਕਰਾਵਣਿ ਆਇਆ ਰਾਮ ॥

The Lord Himself has stood up to resolve the affairs of the Saints; He has come to complete their tasks.

The Adi Granth was later developed into Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Arjan Dev Ji had specifically left pages in the Granth blank for the future Gurus’ Gurbani.

Second Compilation: Guru Gobind Singh Ji Recited the Guru Granth Sahib Ji

The original Adi Granth had been stolen by Dhir Mal, the nephew of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. He refused to give it back to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He said to Guru Ji, if you are the form of all the nine Gurus before you, then why don’t you compile it again? So, Guru Gobind Singh Ji dictated the entire Granth to Bhai Mani Singh Ji from memory. Guru Gobind Singh Ji uttered the Bani and  Bhai Mani Singh Ji scribed it. Baba Deep Singh Ji was made in charge to ensure the supply of material such as paper and ink was sufficient for the cause. The compilation took place at Sri Damdama Sahib. Hence, it is known as Damdami Bir. In this Granth, Guru Gobind Singh Ji included the Gurbani of their father Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji and the nine Dhun (Odes) introduced by Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. There was one Dohira added by Guru Gobind Singh himself. 


Guru Granth Sahib Ji received the Guruship on Kattak Sudi 2, 1765B i.e. 19th November 1708 AD at Hazoor Sahib, Nanded. While Guru Gobind Singh Ji was in Nanded in 1708 AD, Sirhind’s Nawab Wizir Khan had two of his men stab Guru Ji. Bahadur Shah, the Mughal Emperor of the time, sent the best surgeon to help Guru Ji recover. The wound was stitched and Guru Ji was on the road to recovery. However, when Guru Ji applied lots of pressure to pull a stiff bow, the wound ruptured and bled. In line with the previous tradition of passing the Gurgaddi (Guruship), Guru Ji placed a Kirpan, five pice and a coconut in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The inauguration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was done in the presence of Panj Pyare - Baba Deep Singh, Baba Gurbaksh Singh, Pyare Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Santokh Singh & Bhai Har Singh. Guru Ji told the Sangat that from now on, there will be no living Guru. Instead, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji would be the eternal Guru they could turn to for guidance. Guru Gobind Singh Ji ordered his Sikhs that from now on, your Guru is Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and there will be no physical Guru anymore. The following quote describes that order and is read in Ardas. 


ਆਗਿਆ ਭਈ ਅਕਾਲ ਕੀ ਤਬੀ ਚਲਾਯੋ ਪੰਥ ॥ 

ਸਭ ਸਿੱਖਨ ਕੋ ਹੁਕਮ ਹੈ ਗੁਰੂ ਮਾਨਿਓ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ॥

 ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਜੀ ਮਾਨਿਓ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਗੁਰਾਂ ਕੀ ਦੇਹ ॥ 

ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੋ ਮਿਲਬੋ ਚਹੈ ਖੋਜ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਮੇ ਲੇਹ ॥

As was ordained by the Timeless Vaheguru, the Panth was established.

 To all Sikhs, let this be the order, recognize the Granth as your Guru. 

The reverend Guru Granth is the visible body of the gurus.

 Those that seek to meet with Vaaheguru, delve into the Shabad.

Structure of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: 

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji has been standardised to 1430 Angs (pages). Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji begins an index. The first word is “ੴ” or “Ik Onkar” which describes the all-pervading force of Vaheguru. Followed by Basic Nitnem of a Sikh which contains Japji Sahib, Rehras Sahib and Sohila Sahib. Jap Ji Sahib out of these three entries is not written in a Raag. 

After Sohila Sahib, the Raag section begins which makes up the majority of the Granth. The Shabads (hymns) are arranged by 31 Raags. A Raag describes the musical scale, structure and how to create a melody. Each Raag reflects a different spiritual mood or tone and is sung at different times of the day. For example, Raag Suhi is used for undying love and extreme devotion. The Lavaan (wedding hymns) are composed in Raag Suhi. On the other hand, Raag Sarang evokes feelings of sadness and longing to meet Vaheguru. There are 31 Raag sections based on the 31 Shudh (pure) Raags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and within that section, the use of Mishrat (mixed) Raags makes the total Raags used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 60. Within each Raag, the Shabads are arranged in chronological order by Guru, followed by the Bhagats (Muslim and Hindu Saints). The 31 Main Raags are as follows 

  1. Sri Raag, 
  2. Maajh, 
  3. Gauree, 
  4. Aasa,
  5.  Gujree, 
  6. Devgandhaaree, 
  7. Bihagara, 
  8. Vadhans, 
  9. Sorath,
  10.  Dhanaasree, 
  11. Jaitsaree, 
  12. Todi, 
  13. Bairaaree, 
  14. Tilang, 
  15. Suhi,
  16.  Bilaaval
  17. Gond
  18. Raamkali
  19. Nat Narayan
  20. Mali Gauraa
  21. Maaroo, 
  22. Tukhaari
  23. Kedaraa
  24. Bhairo
  25. Basant
  26. Sarang
  27. Malaar,
  28. Kanraa,
  29. Kalyaan
  30. Prabhatee,
  31. Jaijaavantee 

After the Raag sections end, there are several compositions that are not written within any Raag. These include:

  • Saloks of Bhagat Kabir Ji and Bhagat Fareed Ji 
  • Svaiyes of 17 Bhatts 
  • Salok Vaaran Tey Vadheek
  • Salok Sehaskriti
  • Gatha, Funhe, Chaobole
  • Salok Mahala 9
  • Mundhavani and Salok Mahala 5
  • Raag Mala


Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in the Gurmukhi script, but the shabads are in a broad range of languages including Punjabi, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Lehndi, Gujrati, Marathi, Eastern Hindi, Western Hindi and Eastern Apabhramsa.

Writers of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:

  1. The Sikh Gurus

Name - Composition

Guru Nanak Dev Ji - 974 hymns in 19 Raags (musical modes)

Guru Angad Dev Ji - 62 Saloks within the Vaars (Ballards)

Guru Amar Das Ji - 907 hymns in 17 Raags

Guru Ram Das Ji - 679 hymns in 29 Raags

Guru Arjan Dev Ji - 2218 hymns in 30 Raags

Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji - 9 Dhuniaan (Ode) to 9 out of 22 Vaars 

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji - 115 hymns in 15 Raags

Guru Gobind Singh Ji - 1 Dohra in Salok Mahala 9 on Ang (Page) 1429

  1. Sikhs

Name - Composition

Bhai Mardana Ji (Sikh of Guru Nanak Dev Ji) - 3 Saloks in 1 Raag

Bhai Sundar Ji (Great Grandson of Guru Amar Das Ji) - 1 hymn in 1 Raag (Ramkali Sadh)

Bhai Satta Ji and Bhai Balwand Ji (Sikhs of Guru Arjan Dev Ji) - 1 Vaar in 1 Raag (Ramkali ki Vaar)

  1. Bhagats

Name - Composition

Bhagat Kabir Ji - 541 hymns in 17 Raags

Bhagat Fareed Ji - 134 hymns in 2 Raags

Bhagat Naamdev Ji - 60 hymns in 18 Raags

Bhagat Ravidaas Ji - 41 hymns in 16 Raags

Bhagat Dhanna Ji - 4 hymns in 2 Raags

Bhagat Trilochan Ji - 4 hymns in 3 Raags

Bhagat Beni Ji - 3 hymns in 3 Raags

Bhagat Bhikhan Ji - 2 hymns in 1 Raag

Bhagat Jaidev Ji - 2 hymns in 2 Raags

Bhagat Parmanand Ji - 1 hymn in 1 Raag

Bhagat Pipa Ji - 1 hymn in 1 Raag

Bhagat Ramanand Ji - 1 hymn in 1 Raag

Bhagat Sadhna Ji - 1 hymn in 1 Raag

Bhagat Surdas Ji - 1 hymn in 1 Raag

Bhagat Sain Ji - 1 hymn in 1 Raag

  1. Bhatts 

Total of 123 Svaiyes singing the praises of the first 5 Gurus 

Name - Number of Svaiye

Kal  - 47.5

Kal Sahar - 5.5

Tal - 1

Jalap - 4

Jal - 1

Kirat - 8

Bhikha - 2

Sal - 3

Bhal - 1

Nal - 6

Das - 7

Jelan - 1

Ganga - 5

Gayand - 8

Mathra - 14

Bal - 5

Harbans - 2

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