Saturday, June 23, 2007


There has been a lot of carca (discussion and incidents) on the be-adbi of Guru Granth Sahib. I have been thinking about this quite a bit, especially in light of the pakhandi Gurmeet Ram Rahim episode. What really is the disrespect of Guru Granth Sahib? I recall a speech of Baba Jarnail Singh which he says something like: Respect all your daughters and sisters, older generations and all people from different religions. Don't lay a hand on innocents. However, don't leave alone the "disrespectors" of the Guru Granth Sahib.

I agree with that...but we must all be careful and require the blessing of discerning intellect before acting (bibek dan).

Recently, we held a Nagar Kirtan from Milford Gurduara to Millis Gurduara here in Massachusetts. Someone came to me and mentioned that he cannot believe that we are doing parkash of Guru Granth Sahib on the lead truck and taking it in the Nagar Kirtan. Where he grew up, they always took Guru Granth Sahib in sukhasan form. Why - so as to avoid be-adbi along the way. sukhasan, no disrespect...when parkash...disrespect?

The key is to discern the difference between idolatry and worship of the word.

Respect Paid to the Holy Granth
Great respect is shown to the Book when opening, reading, or closing it. It is kept in clean clothes, is opened under a canopy and a flyflicker (chaur) is always kept at hand to wave over it. When it is brought in, all those present stand up with bowed heads.

These signs of royalty and the marked attention paid by Sikhs to the Holy Book - especially when it is exaggerated by ignorant people - give an impression to others that Sikhs worship their Book. This is wrong. Sikhs are enjoined to worship nothing by the Name (see Guru Nanak's Sri Rag, viii. 3) They can offer respect to any person or thing worthy of praise, but worship is due to God alone. Perhaps the bowing of Sikhs before the Book is misunderstood by Westerners whose way of salutation is different. They kiss their book as Sikhs bow before theirs, both conforming to the local custom of paying respect. Both ways of salutation are highly personal, but they cannot be called idolatry, as long as the Book is not given the place of God. In Sikhism the highest respect is paid to the Word, as in a modern state the greatest homage is paid to the Law, which stands even above the king. This sovereignty of the Shabd or the Word was acknowledged even by the Gurus who bowed before it in reverence.

Taken from "The Holy Granth Sri Rag to Majh" by Professor Teja Singh


  1. I have always wondered the same way as you say ".in sukhasan, no disrespect...when parkash...disrespect?"
    But i have never been able to get a proper answer.Only thing is that the damage during travel is likely to be more if there is prakash.That may be the reason for this practice.

  2. Upinder Kaur ji - thanks for the note. So, is it the case that at all the Nagar Kirtans in Delhi, the palki of maharaj has the Guru Granth Sahib in sukhasan form?

    I would really consider that to be strange. That would mean we are clearly idol worshippers as everyone is doing matha tek, there is no possibility of learning from the "words/sabad" get my point.

    This older gentleman did say that his whole life he had only seen Guru Granth Sahib in Nagar Kirtan (he called it jaloos) in sukhasan form not in prakash. So is that true?

    Carhdi Kala!