Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

More on Guru Granth Sahib's Tercentenary

The Sikh celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the Granth Sahib's elevation to the status of Guru is being covered by many news reports. The Hindu describes the various politicians involved in the celebration, including of course India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It also describes the procession (nagar keertan) of the Guru Granth:

The Guru Granth Sahib was carried in a ‘palki’ (palanquin) placed in a specially designed vehicle. ... The straight road between the two Gurdwaras was choked with an estimated 3 lakh [300,000] pilgrims. ... The sacred Guru Granth Sahib was received at the main gate amid the ‘shastra salami’ of swords. The process of enthroning it included its ‘prakash’ and application of sandalwood tilak and aarti. The Guru Granth Sahib was opened at random for the ‘hukamnama’ or the edict for the day.

NDTV provides a slideshow of the celebrations. NewsBlaze provides a more discoursive account of the meaning of the event:

The Adi Granth was conferred the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in October, 1708. The event, when Guru Gobind Singh installed Adi Granth as the Guru of Sikhism, was recorded in a Bhatt Vahi (a bard's scroll) by an eyewitness, Narbud Singh, who was a bard at the Guru's court. There are a variety of other documents attesting this proclamation by the tenth Guru.

As per the Guru's commandment: A close associate of Guru Gobind Singh and author of Rehit-nama, Prahlad Singh, recorded the Guru's commandment saying "With the order of the Eternal Lord has been established [Sikh] Panth: all the Sikhs hereby are commanded to obey the Granth as their Guru".(Rehat-nama, Bhai Prahlad Singh)

... Guru Gobind Singh Guru (1666-1708), the tenth Guru in Sikh tradition, affirmed the sacred text Adi Granth as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus, and elevating the text to Guru Granth Sahib. From that point on, the text remained not only the holy scripture of the Sikhs, but is also regarded by them as the living embodiment of the Ten Gurus. The role of Guru Granth Sahib, as a source or guide of prayer, is pivotal in worship in Sikhism.

... The 'Guru Granth Sahib' is a voluminous text of 1430 pages, compiled and composed during the period of Sikh Gurus from 1469 to 1708. It is compiled in the form of hymns written in praise of God, which describe what God is like and the right way to live.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been given status of juristic person -The Supreme Court of India has held that Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a juristic person and it is also very clearly clarified and left no lacuna to raise any misconceptions and controversies and the judgment does not equate Guru Granth Sahib with Hindu idol or deity. Rather the Supreme Court said when faith and belief of two religions are different; there is no question of equating one with another. The Court held categorically that Guru Granth Sahib couldn't be equated with an idol, as idol worship is contrary to the Sikh principles. Thus it clearly maintains and upholds the separate, unique and independent identity of Sikhism. It was held that no doubt the Sikh scripture is a sacred book but it can't be equated with the sacred books of other religions as the reverence of Guru Granth Sahib is based on different conceptual faith, belief and application. It is the living and eternal Guru of Sikhs.

... Huge properties worth crores of rupees exist in the name of Guru Granth Sahib in various parts of the country. These were encroached upon by usurpers as Guru Granth Sahib, not being a juristic person, could not be deemed to hold property in the eyes of law. It also could not sue to recover the property for the same reason. This judgment has plugged the loophole. Now Guru Granth Sahib is a juristic person that can hold and dispose of property and can sue for recovery of property belonging to Guru Granth Sahib in the wrongful possession of unscrupulous people who were taking the undue benefit the legal lacunae.....

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