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GURU PANTH: TRADATION AND HISTORY


Ideologically, ‘Sri Akal Takhat Sahib’ is a representative institution of the ‘Guru-Panth’ and no individual has any personal claim upon it. ‘Guru-Panth’ is compounded word of two words, wherein ‘Guru Granth’ is the light and the Panth is the scribe of ‘Strategy’. Both the words have been in use in ‘Guru-Oriented Ideology’ since beginning. In order to understand the doctrine of ‘Guru-Panth’, it is imperative to know the meanings of these words. The meaning of ‘Guru’ is derived from the word ‘Gur’. This word is derived from the root word ‘Gri’ which means ‘to swallow and make understand’. It swallows ignorance and helps a Sikh understand the ‘elemental knowledge’ and thus is called ‘Guru’. In Gurbani, the word ‘Guru’ has different variants with slight difference in vowel affixations, but they denote the same meaning. ‘Guru’ can be attributed to any religious preacher or a proponent of any sect, a teacher, a guide or some prophet like Guru Nanak etc.
Traditionally, the word ‘Guru’ has constitutionally been in use in Guru-oriented ideology as related to ‘Guru’, ‘Guru Sahiban’, ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’ or ‘Guru-Panth’.
Likewise, the word ‘Panth’, as interpreted in different faiths, means (i) ‘to go’ or ‘roam about’ (ii) ‘path’ or ‘route’ and (iii) way to godly achievement. In Gurmat interpretation, the word ‘Panth’ has mostly been used to denote a route as in various sects or beliefs, just as Bhai Gurdas ji has signified the ‘Sikh-faith’ as ‘Nanak Nirmal Panth’:

Maria Sikka Jagat(i) vich(i), Nanak nirmal panth(i) chalae-a.   (Var 1, Pauri 45)

Also:

Shabad(i) jiti sidh(i) mandli, kitos apna panth(u)nirala.   (Var 1, Pauri 31)

In the prevailing religious glossary, the word ‘Panth’ in Sikhism is used for the invisible mystic reality by those who have belief in this faith, and are ever exertive to promulgate the divine orders of earth. All the devoted Sikhs are indebted to this and have firm faith in it. A true Sikh is expected to sacrifice everything for the sake of Panth.
Complete realization of ‘Panth’ came with its ordaining of ‘Guru’ status. ‘Five Beloved Ones’ or the ‘Five Chosen Ones’ have always got recognition in Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh made a choice of ‘Five Beloved Ones’; blessed them first with the Amrit (nectar) of the ‘two-edged sword’ (khanda) and ‘Bowl’; acknowledged the ‘Five Beloved Ones’ as ‘Guru-incarnate’ and then begged of them the boon of Amrit – the nectar - and to be signified as ‘Singh’. Under the authority of being ‘Guru-Panth’, the ‘Five Beloved Ones’ exercised their decisive prerogative first time by ordering Guru Gobind Singh Sahib to abandon the fortress of Chamkaur Sahib in 1604 A.D.
Historically, we see that after the Baisakhi of 1699 A.D., Guru Gobind Singh never exercised his authority of Guruship on the personal level. Rather, this divine right got included in the rightful jurisdiction of the ‘Five Beloved Ones’.
Guru Gobind Singh made separate segments of the Guru-in-person and the Guru-in-word. One aspect each of Guruship was bestowed to the khalsa and the scared scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Both got ordained as ‘Guru’ - one as ‘Guru Granth’ and the other as ‘Guru Panth’ All Sikhs in communion got recognized as ‘Guru-Panth’ but the right of the true representation of the Sikhs as ‘Guru-Panth’ is entitled to the ‘Five Gursikhs’, only who are regarded traditionally as ‘Five Beloved Ones’.
History bears testimony that even during the time of first nine Gurus the Sikh commune was accorded immense regard and respect, but there used to be an apt urgency of the guru’s guidance at all times. Guru Gobind Singh ji put restriction to his chieftainship, unified the congregation to bestow it with personified Guruship and designated the Guru Granth Sahib for spiritual guidance.
The congregation- in-unity became the ‘Guru-Panth’. The total divine splendour and stratagem of Guruship was ordained to ‘Guru-Panth’. There in it every Amrit-oriented Sikh enjoys equal status religiously.
If we make research-oriented study of Sikh religion on the basis of history and ideology, it becomes apparent that the concept and compilation of sublime compositions came up in the form of Guru Granth Sahib, and the evolution and consolidation of the Sikh commune emerged in the form of ‘Guru-Panth’. ‘Guru-Granth’ is the ‘Nanak Nirmal Panth’ based ideology and the ‘Guru-Panth’ is the pragmatic part of this ideology. A cursive vision observes them in two forms, but in reality they are one. No doubt, a simple man count number of Gurus as ‘ten’, but as per the Guru-oriented ideology, they are all a form of one assimilation of ‘the Light of Guru Nanak’, and the harmonious oneness of the celestial splendour is explicitly enshrined in the scared hymns of Guru Granth Sahib;

Jot(i) oha jugat(i) sae, saih kae-a pher palti-ai     (SGGS, P.966)

Guru Gobind Singh ji made it crystal clear that without recognition of oneness of the ‘Guru-Light’, no one can comprehend the axiom of Sikhism.


Sri Nanak Angad kar(i) mana.
Bin(u) samjhe sidh hath(i) na ai.    (Bachittra Natak)

Gurbani is splendid from the meditation - Naam Simran - through which we move on the path of Truth. The so improved path is named ‘Panth’ for a seeker, which is known as ‘Light’ infused ‘strategy’. Light relates to the ideology emerged from Gurbani of the Granth and strategy is that mode of the life-behavior or living skills which we work with to become Truthful. In other words, if we say that Gurbani or Granth in its pragmatic from becomes ‘Panth’, it won’t be wrong in any way. Just like the attributive and distributive traits of the Almighty, ‘Granth’ and ‘Panth’ also constitute two sides of the same picture.
Even when Sidhas asked Guru Nanak as to that were the foundation of ideology, the Guru made it explicit that the Guru-oriented ideology is based on Gurbani and the Gur-sangat, and to submit to any other belief was not his mission. Cf;

Gur(u) sangat(i) Bani bina duji ot nahi hai rai     (Var 1, Pauri 42)

In the text of living Code for Sikhs, the definition of ‘Guru-Panth’ testifies the above view points.
‘A collective group of ready and prompt Sikhs is known as ‘Guru-Panth’. They were readied by the ten Gurus, and the tenth Master consolidated its final form and bestowed Guruship to them.’
It is clear from this definition that Guru Gobind Singh best bestowed Guruship to ‘Panth’ was attributed to the ‘Five Singhs’ or the ‘Five Beloved Ones’. As such, we can say that the prerogative of representing the ‘Guru-Panth’ remains with the ‘Five Beloved Ones’. The privilege of ‘Five beloved Ones’ is not confined only to the proffering Amrit-the nectar; rather the ‘Five beloved Ones’, being representatives of ‘Guru-Panth’, are authorized to guide the religious , social, political, and cultural issues. The overall world-wide Sikh commune is within the functional jurisdiction of ‘Guru-Panth’, and the ‘Five Chosen Ones’, in submission to Guru Granth and in the form of ‘Guru Panth’, are in authority to take decisions; though otherwise, they are all equal on personal level.
As such, the ‘Five Beloveds’ as representatives of ‘Guru-Panth’, in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and gathering at Sri Akal Takhat Sahib - the supreme and sovereign seat of ‘Guru-Panth’ - have authority to take decisions on religion-related issues in the light of Guru-guided ideology. Such judgements in religious lexicon are termed as Edicts- Hukamnamas; Religious Resolutions - Gurmate and Directives – Aadesh.


With thanks from Editcs of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib. Edited by S.Roop Singh Secretary S.G.P.C