Punjabi (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ in Gurmukhi, پنجابی in Shahmukhi) is a word that refers to the native language of the residents of the area of India and Pakistan (formerly India) called Punjab and also to the people who live in this region. This area is situated in North West part of India and North East Pakistan and includes the cities of Amritsar, Lahore, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, etc.
The Punjabi language can be written in two different scripts – Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi script. The Gurmukhi script is derived from the Landa Script and standardized by Guru Angad Dev (the second Sikh Guru) in the 16th century. This script was designed to write the Punjabi language and other native languages. The word Gurmukhi literally means – “From the Mouth of the Guru”. The whole of the Guru Granth Sahib’s 1430 pages are written in this script.
Punjabi is an Indo-European language of the Indo-Iranian subfamily. Unusually for an Indo-European language, Punjabi is tonal; the tones arose as a reinterpretation of different consonant series in terms of pitch. In terms of morphological complexity, it is an agglutinative language (also very unusual for an Indo-European language, most of which are inflecting) and words are usually ordered ‘Subject Object Verb’.
The Punjabi people suffered a split between India and Pakistan during the Partition of 1947. However, Punjabi language and culture tend to be uniting factors in spite of national and religious affiliations.
Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Sri Granth Sahib Ji (Punjabi ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ; also called the Adi Granth or Adi Guru Darbar) is more than just a scripture of the Sikhs, for the Sikhs treat this Granth (holy book) as their living Guru. The holy text spans 1430 pages and contains the actual words spoken by the founders of the Sikh religion (the Ten Gurus of Sikhism) and the words of various other Saints from other religions including Hinduism and Islam.
Guru Granth Sahib was given the Guruship by the last of the living Sikh Masters, Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708. Guru Gobind Singh said before his demise that the Sikhs were to treat the Granth Sahib as their next Guru. Guru Ji said – “Sab Sikhan ko hokam hai Guru Manyo Granth” meaning “All Sikhs are commanded to take the Granth as Guru”. So today, if asked, the Sikhs will tell you that they have a total of 11 Gurus. (10 in human form and the SGGS).
When one visits a Gurdwara (a Sikh temple), the Guru Granth Sahib forms the main part of the Darbar Sahib or Main Hall. The holy book is placed on a dominant platform and covered in a very beautiful and attractively coloured fine cloth. The platform is always covered by a canopy, which is also decorated in expensive and very attractive coloured materials. The text in which the Granth is written is a script called Gurmukhi (literally “From the Guru’s mouth”), which is considered a modern development of the ancient language called Sanskrit.
The Mool Mantar (also spelt Mul Mantra) is the most important composition contained within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs; it is the basis of Sikhism. The word “Mool” means “main”, “root” or “chief” and “Mantar” means “magic chant” or “magic portion”.
Together the words “Mool Mantar” mean the “Main chant” or “root verse”. It’s importance is emphasised by the fact that it is the first composition to appear in the holy Granth of the Sikhs and that it appears before the commencement of the main section which comprises of 31 Raags or chapters.
The Mool Mantar is said to be the first composition uttered by Guru Nanak Dev upon enlightenment at the age of about 30. Being the basis of Sikhism it encapsulates the entire theology of Sikhism. When a person begins to learn Gurbani, this is the first verse that most would learn.
It is a most brief composition encompassing the entire universally complex theology of the Sikh faith. It has religious, social, political, logical, martial and eternal implication for human existence; a truly humanitarian and global concepts of the Supreme power for all to understand and appreciate.
This Mantar encompasses concepts which have been evaluated and proven over many eras (or yugs) and known to be flawless beyond any ambiguity what so ever. The rest of Japji sahib that follows this mantar is said to be a eloboration of the main mantar and that the rest of the Guru Granth Sahib totalling 1430 pages, is a detailed amplification of the Mool Mantar.
There are 134 hymns of Sheik Farid incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib. Many Sikh scholars ascribe them to Farid Shakarganj (1173 – 1265AD or 569-664 AH) of Pak Pattan, a disciple of the Sufi Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. The tenth in succession to his post was Sheikh Brahm (Ibrahim), also known as “Farid Sani” or “Farid the 2nd”, and it is this Farid who Guru Nanak Dev met on two occasions.
Max Arthur Macauliffe who has been described as a ‘Matchless Scholar of Sikh Lore’ states that hymns ascribed to Farid are compositions by the latter Farid, whereas others have ascribed them to Farid Shakarganj.
There are still other scholars who believe that the hymns were composed by different Sufis of the Pak Pattan centre, all using the poetic name Farid as was the custom in those days as the leader of an order chose his most suitable devotee to take his place shortly before his death.
The Sikh tradition of kirtana or Gurmat Sangeet was started by Guru Nanak at Kartarpur in the early 16th century and was strengthened by his successors, particularly Guru Arjan, at AmritsarIn spite of several interruptions, kirtana continues to be performed at the Golden Temple and other historical gurdwaras.
Sikhs refer to a hymn or section of the Guru Granth Sahib (GGS) as a shabad. The first shabad in the GGS is the Mool Mantar. The hymns are arranged in chapters named after musical ragas. The shabads in any chapter is to be sung to that particular raga with due attention to tala and dhuni (melody) (See also Sikh music).
The following texts show the importance the Sikh gurus gave to kirtana;
- Let your mind remain awake and aware, singing the kirtana of the Lord’s praises.
- Singing the kirtana of the Lord’s praises, the Name abides within the mind.
- Singing the kirtana of His praises, my mind has become peaceful. The sins of countless incarnations have been washed away. I have seen all treasures within my own mind; why should I now go out searching for them?
One is saved from hell, suffering is destroyed, countless pains depart, death is overcome, and one escapes the Messenger of Death, by absorption in the kirtana of the Lord’s praises