Revelation in Sikhism

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The Sikh religion originated about 500 years ago, based on the spiritual teachings of the Sikh Gurus. The writings of the Gurus form the verses of the holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, a text compiled by the Gurus themselves. Sikh philosophy regards the words in the Guru Granth Sahib to have been revealed directly from the divine through the Gurus. Indeed, many of the verses written by the Gurus bear testimony to such divine revelation.

The idea of revelation in Sikhism is a unique one, states Gurnam Kaur. It is in the form of the bani (the word). Specifically, the Guru does not claim himself to be an incarnation of God (the theory of God's incarnation has been rejected by the Sikh Gurus), but the knowledge contained in the bani (the word) is stated to be given by God, and it is the expression of the direct experience of Truth by the Guru. She adds that the Gurus value most their statements about communion with God, and do not attach much importance to their own corporeal form, and therefore there is no difference between the Guru and the bani. Kaur states that revelation can be the appropriate word to be used for bani (Punjabi version of the word Vani in Sanskrit language, which has been defined as “sound, voice, music, speech, language, words, diction” and “the goddess of speech”), stressing that the notion that bani comes directly from God has clearly been conveyed by the Gurus.

Cole and Sambhi add that Sikhism is a revealed religion (and not a social protest movement or an attempt to reconcile Hinduism and Islam) which began with Guru Nanak's awareness of being taken to the divine court and commissioned to be God's messenger. A passage in the Guru Granth Sahib, written by Guru Nanak, is said to be a description of Guru Nanak's revelatory experience

I was once a worthless minstrel then the Divine One gave me work; I received the primal injunction: Sing divine glory night and day! The sovereign called the minstrel to the True Mansion: I was given the robe of honouring and exalting; I tasted the food of the true ambrosial Name. Those who, through the Guru feast on the Divine food win eternal joy and peace. Your minstrel spreads your glory by singing your Word. Nanak says, by exalting the Truth we attain the Absolute One. (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 150)

Kapur Singh states that the Sikhs are bidden to accept the revelation of the true Guru as true for ever and ever, citing the verse "For it is God Himself who maketh the Guru utter it (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 308)". He adds that "Nanak is the first born in India who claims that the religion he preaches is a revealed religion", and quotes the verses

I am completely dumb as I am and I speak as I am made to, by God; I utter and preach the Word just as it comes to me. (Guru Granth Sahib, p 763)

Other verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, written by the Sikh Gurus themselves, conveying that the "divine word in the scripture came to the Gurus directly from God", include

Jaisi mai aavai Khasam ki Baani taisara kari gian ve lalo: As the Word of the Forgiving Lord comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo (Guru Granth Sahib, p 722)

Shabde upje amrit baani Gurmukh aakh Sunavnia : From God springs ambrosial Gurbani. The exalted Guru narrates and preaches the same to the world (Guru Granth Sahib, p 125) ;

Eh akhar tin akhia, Jin Jagat sabh upaaia: This Word come from Him, Who hath created the World (Guru Granth Sahib: p 306). ;

Jeh bid Gur updeshia so sunre bhaai: Whatever the Lord hath instructed me, Hear, O my brother (Guru Granth Sahib, p 727).

Hao Aaphu Bol Na Janda Main Kehya Sabh Hukmao Jio: By myself, I do not even know how to speak; I speak all that the Lord commands (Guru Granth Sahib, p 763).


Further quotes

Mahalla 1

ਪੰਨਾ 420, ਸਤਰ 11

ਸਾਈ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਵਣੀ ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਫੁਰਮਾਈ ॥
Do those deeds which the Primal Lord has ordered for you.

ਜੇ ਮਨੁ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਦੇ ਮਿਲੈ ਕਿਨਿ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਪਾਈ ॥੭॥
If one surrenders his mind upon meeting the True Guru, who can estimate its value? ||7||

Mahalla 5

ਪੰਨਾ 628, ਸਤਰ 2

ਧੁਰ ਕੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਆਈ ॥
The Bani of His Word emanated from the Primal Lord.

ਤਿਨਿ ਸਗਲੀ ਚਿੰਤ ਮਿਟਾਈ ॥
It eradicates all anxiety.

Mahalla 1

ਪੰਨਾ 935, ਸਤਰ 13

ਬਾਣੀ ਬਿਰਲਉ ਬੀਚਾਰਸੀ ਜੇ ਕੋ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਹੋਇ ॥
How rare are those who contemplate the Word of the Guru's Bani; they become Gurmukh.

ਇਹ ਬਾਣੀ ਮਹਾ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਨਿਜ ਘਰਿ ਵਾਸਾ ਹੋਇ ॥੪੦॥
This is the Bani of the Supreme Being; through it, one dwells within the home of his inner being. ||40||


References

Gurnam Kaur , Revelation and Reason in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, In "Fundamental Issues in Sikh Studies", Institute of Sikh Studies, http://sikhinstitute.org/fundamental_issues/ch4.html , 1996

W. Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi , A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: Sikh Religion and Philosophy, Taylor & Francis, 1997, page=71, isbn=0203986091

William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi (1995), The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Sussex Academic Press, page 11, ISBN 978-1898723134.

Kapur Singh, Parasaraprasna : The Baisakhi Of Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Nanak Dev University Press, ISBN= 81-7770-014-6

Kapur Singh, Guru Nanak: The founder of a world religion, Sikh Review, Feb Mar 1975, 5-10; and 1981 5-11. Also in Journal of Sikh Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, 2(1), Feb 1975, 9—16

Bhagat Singh & G.P. Singh, Japji, Hemkunt Press, pages 9-12