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Introduction of Sikhism >> Prominent Sikh Scriptual Hymns of Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Subject Expert :   Dr. Amritpal Kaur
Department of Punjabi Literary Studies
Punjabi University, Patiala
Translator :   Dr. Amanjot Kaur
Voice Over :   Ms. Raman Chahal

          In Sikh religion, Sri Guru Granth Sahib is acknowledged as 'Shabad Guru'. The whole Bani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is enrolled and comprised according to a specific 31 Raga-based arrangement. First of all, the Bani by the Gurus precedes the Bani of the other poets, Saints and Bhagats. In this arrangement, first the classical and then the folk Bani forms are used. The various Bani-forms used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are as follows:

The Bani of Baramah is enrolled under two different Ragas. Baramah Tukhari is the composition of Guru Nanak Dev ji, enshrined on Page 1107, while Baramah Majh is the composition of Guru Arjan Dev ji enshrined on the Page 133. The literal meaning of the word Baramah is 'twelve months'. It is a poetic form which describes the twelve months. The ‘Baramah’ written in Guru Granth Sahib describes the nature of various months of the year, in which the soul is guided to mingle with the Divine Spirit. The seasons affect the atheists, whereas those who believe in the Guru feel divine bliss in every season.

Bavan Akhari
Sri Guru Arjan Dev ji and Sant Kabir composed their Banis under the title 'Bavan Akhari' in Raga Gauri. The word Bavan Akhari literally means the sermonize explanation of 52 words. The Bani composition of Guru Arjan Dev ji has been entered in Shri Guru Granth Sahib in 55 pauris, along with the Shaloks, on pages 200 to 262. This is a supplication or prayer of inquisitive soul for divine blessings. The compositions of Bhagat Kabir is transcribed as 45 verses on pages 340 to 343.

The Bani under the heading 'Thiti' includes the compositions of Guru Nanak Dev ji in Bilawal Raga and the composition of Guru Arjan Dev ji and Bhagat Kabir ji in Raga Gauri. The poetic composition based on the 'desi or native dates is called Thiti. The thiti Bani composition by Guru Nanak Dev ji is in 20 verses, which is transcribed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib on pages 838 to 840. In the verse of Rahao, Guruji has preached to connect with the Shabad Guru. The thiti Bani by Guru Arjan Dev ji is registered as 17 pauris along with Shaloks in Guru Granth Sahib from pages 296 to 300. The central idea of this Bani- form emphasizes on meditating the God's name everyday collectively in a congregation. The composition of Bhagat Kabir ji in 16 verses is entered on page 343 of Guru Granth Sahib. Bhagat ji reflects that with the blessings of God, the soul gets purified by reciting god’s name every day. These Bani-forms reject the superstitions related to various traditional Ekam, Dooj and 15 desi dates, and stress upon the name of Almighty.

Composition was composed by Guru Arjan Dev ji in Raga Gauri, the 'Sukhmani' Bani is transcribed on pages 262 to 296 of Guru Granth Sahib. The word Sukhmani is the combination of 'Sukh' and 'mani'. 'Sukh' literally means bills - The meaning of Sukhmani comes out to be a precious stone for bliss and happiness. The word Sukhmani is rendered into English as "consoler of mind". The Rahao verse:

  ਸੁਖਮਨੀ ਸੁਖ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਨਾਮੁ ||  

sukhmanee sukh amrit parabh naam.
(In the Sukhmani, is the joy raining nectarean Name of the Lord)

  ਭਗਤ ਜਨਾ ਕੈ ਮਨਿ ਬਿਸ੍ਰਾਮ || ਰਹਾਉ ||  

bhagat janaa kai man bisraam. rahaa-o.
(There is peace within the mind of Lord's slaves. Pause)

  (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, P. 262)  

explains the meaning of heading. In this composition, the Rahao verse comes only once. This Bani is the Bani of Ashtpadis (Octave) which comprises of total 24 octaves and 24 Shaloks. Each Ashtpadi begins with a Shalok and each Ashtpadi explains and strengthens the Shalok it follows.

Aasa ki Vaar
This Bani registered under Raga Aasa on page 462 is sung according to 'Tunday as raajai kee Dhunee' (ਟੁੰਡੇ ਅਸ ਰਾਜੈ ਕੀ ਧੁਨੀ). Its literal meaning is ‘a Vaar in Raga Aasa’. This Bani is composed by Guru Nanak Dev ji, but the Asa ki Vaar to be sung in Kirtan includes the verses by Guru Ramdas ji, and Shalok by Guru Angad Dev ji as well. In the present times, the form of Aasa ki Vaar includes 24 Pauris and 44 Shaloks by Guru Nanak Dev ji, 15 Shaloks by Guru Angad Dev ji and 6 verses by Guru Ramdas ji.

This Bani composition by Guru Ramdas ji under the heading 'Ghorian' in Raga Wadhans is entered on pages 575 and 576. This Bani is composed in Chapudas (four stanzas). The word 'Ghorian' is the plural for mare. In the Punjabi folkloric tradition, this is a specific Punjabi folk song sung at the time of marriage. This Bani very beautifully describes the marriage of a soul, riding the mare (human body), accompanied by the saints and devotees to be wedded to the God. Reins and whip to control the mare, are the symbols used to keep one’s mind and soul in check. This riding is blissful as it ultimately reaches a union with God.

The Alahnian Bani transcribed on Page 578 to 585 in Guru Granth Sahib is the composition of Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Amar Das ji. The word Alahni literally means to sing or praise. This is a serious or mournful folk song which is sung in the memory of departed soul in a chorus by women. In Alahni Bani, the Gurus have stressed on meditating the name of God instead of mourning for the departed soul. There are total 9 Alahnian in Raga Wadhans. Out of which, 8 are in Raag Wadhans and one in Raag Wadhans Dakhani in Guru Granth Sahib.

It relates to the Shabad 'gagan mai thaal rav chand deepak banay taarikaa mandal janak motee' (ਗਗਨ ਮੈ ਥਾਲੁ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਬਨੇ ਤਾਰਿਕਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਜਨਕ ਮੋਤੀ) (In the sky's salver, the sun and the moon are the lamps and the stars with their orbs, are the studded pearls) in Raga Dhanasri by Guru Nanak Dev ji. This Shabad is registered on page 663 in Guru Granth Sahib. 'Aarati' is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Aratrik' which means light or the vessel containing light, which is waved before an idol, generally in the clockwise direction, accompanied by the chanting of mantras. But all this is not valid in Gurmat. In Gurmat, the Shabads, (which, with the passage of time have become part of this Kirtan Chauki) in the form of Aarati are sung in front of Guru Granth Sahib. In the present times, the Shabads of Aarati include the Bani of Guru Nanak Dev, Bhagat Ravidas, Bhagat Sain, Bhagat Dhanna and some Shabads from Dasam Granth.

Composition was composed by Guru Ramdas ji in Raga Suhi, the second verse is known as Lavan Bani, but there is no heading or subtitle given to this Bani. This Bani is transcribed on Page 773 in Guru Granth Sahib. It expresses the idea of taking the love of the spirit and the God to a climax with the symbolic folkloric medium. Lavan has an eternal importance in a Sikh's life as every Sikh begins his marital life with the preaching of this Bani.

Under the heading 'Anand', this Bani is entered on Page 917 in Guru Granth Sahib. This Bani is the composition of Sri Guru Amardas ji, under Raga Ramkali. The literal meaning of the word Anand is mystical experience, spiritual bliss or a state of happiness. This Bani is transcribed in 40 pauris (stanzas). The first five pauris and the last one are sung or recited on every happy or sad occasion in a Sikh's life.

Oankar Bani
The Oankar Shabad composition is written by Guru Nanak Dev ji in Raga Ramkali Dakhani, which is transcribed on pages 929 to 938 in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The full title of the Bani is Ramkali Mahala 1 Dakhani Oankaru. This is a composition of 54 verses. The very beginning of this Bani tells the origin of Barahmah from Oankar. The hills, eras, vedas all came into being from Oankar. Oankar opens with verses in praise of God who is remembered as the creator of all that exists, of time with all its different cycles, and of the entire universe. The objective of this composition is presented in its Rahao verses, “Hey Pande, if you want to write anything, write Ram Naam (God’s name). This explanation of Ram Naam is presented in the whole Bani.

This composition by Guru Arjan Dev ji in Raga Ramkali is transcribed on Page 927 under the heading 'Ruti' in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The word 'Ruti' is the plural of the Hindi word, 'Ritu'. Guru Sahib has described six seasons in this Bani-form which dwell upon the idea that there isn't any specific season to concentrate and meditate upon the name of the Supreme God. This Bani appears as 8 verses along with the Shaloks in Guru Granth Sahib.

Sidh Goshti
Guru Nanak Dev ji recited the Bani under the heading 'Sidh Goshti' in Raga Ramkali, transcribed on pages 938 to 946. In the above title, the literal meaning of the word 'Sidh' is to go, order, preach, do some noble deed, become famous, accomplishing, being pure etc. and the word 'Goshti' stands for dialogue or exchange of ideas. So the title 'Sidh Goshti' means the Bani composition which describes the dialogue of Guru Nanak Dev ji with the saints having mystical, mysterious and supernatural powers. In this Bani, the questions asked by the mystical saints (sid) and then the answers to those given by Guru Nanak Dev ji are included through which Guru Nanak imparted spiritual knowledge to those mystical saints. This Bani is recited in 73 various pade (verses).

Basant ki Vaar

The Bani composition under the heading Basant ki Vaar is recited by Guru Arjan Dev ji. This is the shortest vaar among all twenty-two vaars in Guru Granth Sahib, which is entered on page 1193. In this Bani, Guru ji has explained the 'spring season' which fills the human soul with greenery and happiness. According to Guru Sahib, the place where God's name resides is always full of 'Basant'. It is a tradition of singing kirtan in Basant raga followed by singing the pauris in this raga in specific season beginning from the Sangrand of Maghh till Hola Mahalla.

In the above prominent Banis of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, some other Banis of daily regimen like Japu, Jaapu, Sawayyas, Sodar Rehras and Sohila are discussed in the second lesson of this course are also included.


1.       Anand Bani is the composition of which Guru?
          I. Guru Amardas            II. Guru Ramdas 
          III. Guru Arjan Dev       IV. Guru Teg Bahadur

2.      In which Raga is the Anand Bani composed?
          I. Tukhari          II. Siri         III. Ramkali         IV. Majh

3.       How many Alahnian are there in Guru Granth Sahib?
          I. 5         II. 8         III. 9         IV. 10

4.      ‘Ghori’ Bani has been composed by which Guru?
          I. Guru Amardas                II. Guru Ramdas      
          III. Guru Teg Bahadur       IV. Guru Gobind Singh

5        In which Raga, the ‘Ghorian’ Bani is composed?
          I. Ramkali           II. Bilawal           III. Wadhans         IV. Tukhari

6.       How many Pauris are there in Aasa Ki Var?
          I. 20           II. 22          III.24           IV. 30

7.       In which Raga is the Aarati recited?
          I. Ramkali         II. Dhanasari         III. Siri        IV. Jaitsari

8.       Who is the composer of ‘Siddh Goshti’ Bani?
          I. Guru Nanak Dev ji               II. Guru Angad Dev ji
          III. Guru Amardas ji                IV. Guru Ramdas ji

9.       How many Ashtpadis are there in Sukhmani Sahib?
          I. 28           II. 38          III. 40             IV. 24

10.     How many Pauris are there in ‘Basant Ki Var’?
          I. 5           II. 3           III. 4           IV. 6

11.    Who is the composer of ‘Barahmah Tukhari?
          I. Guru Nanak Dev ji                II. Guru Ramdas ji
          III. Guru Arjan Dev ji               IV. Guru Teg Bahadur ji

12.     In which Raga did Guru Arjan Dev compose ‘Barahmah’?
          I. Tukhari         II. Siri         III. Majh      IV. Wadhans

13.     In which Raga is the ‘Bavan Akhari’ Bani composed?
          I. Siri        II. Majh          III. Aasa         IV. Gauri

14.     Which Guru is the composer of Lavan?
          I. Guru Nanak Dev ji             II. Guru Angad Dev ji
          III. Guru Ramdas ji               IV. Guru Amardas ji

15.     Oankar Bani is composed of how many stanzas?
          I. 24         II. 54        III. 40        IV. 42


1.    Mahan Kosh, Kahn Singh Nabha, Language Department Punjab,      Patiala, 2006
2.    Guru Granth Vishav Kosh, Dr. Rattan Singh Jaggi, Punjabi     University   Patiala, 2002
3.    Shabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji (Part I-IV), Shiromani   Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Sri Amritsar, 2004
4.    Sri Guru Granth Sahib (English & Punjabi Translation) (Vol. I - VIII), Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Commitee, Sri Amritsar, 2006
5.    Sri Guru Granth Sahib Kosh, Bhai Vir Singh, Singh Brothers Amritsar, 2003

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