From the Jacket
Guru Granth Sahib (completed 1604) is the sacred Scripture of the Sikh faith, and is looked upon as the inspired Word of God. It is also venerated as Guru or holy Teacher, Guide and is the presiding Presence in every Sikh place of worship. Its contents are hymns of God-consciousness, loving devotion and deep moral reflections. Among its contributors are six of the Gurus of Sikhism and a number of medieval India, Saints, drawn from different denominations and castes. In the regional its language is medieval Hindi and Punjabi, with terminology drawn from several languages of Northern India and from Arabic and Persian. The present English translation, while following closely the original text has attempted to make its expression rhythmic and soulful. It is intended to serve as the basis for further renderings into Indian and foreign languages of the Scripture. With this last volume, the whole of Guru Granth Sahib becomes available to the English speaking world in its spiritual grandeur. This four-volume set will also help scholars to uncover different aspects of successful scriptural transcreaton.
Professor Gurbachan Singh Talib (b. 1911-1986) was Principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jullundur and Khalsa College, Bombay, Later he was Head, Guru Nanak Chair, Panjab University, Chandigarh and Banaras Hindu University. He retired as Head, Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala. He had written several books on the teachings of Sikhism.
The present English translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was called forth by a reiterated desire voiced over the years in the Syndicate of the Punjabi University that the University, equipped with a department devoted to the study of the holy Granth Sahib, its philosophy and other aspects related to the elucidation of its message, also undertake a new English translation of the sacred Volume. Such a translation was intended to serve as a definitive version for further renderings of the holy Book, complete or in parts, in other languages, Indian and foreign. It was felt that despite the existence of several English renderings from the Book, there was scope for a fresh attempt at presenting the volume in English, keeping the translation close to the original text in minute detail, in language that should be satisfying from the point of view of accuracy and as far as possible, of felicity. It was in this background that this undertaking was assigned early in 1977 to the present writer.
An added motivation was provided by the fact of the study of Sikhism now for some time being undertaken in different parts of the world by scholars and academicians, most of whom- can approach the basic writings of Sikhism only in translation. A good, authentic translation, suggestive of the deeper layers of the meaning and appeal of Gurubani was therefore, called forth. Within India itself, including the younger generation among the Sikhs, who are attuned to study under certain systems, the approach to the teachings of Sikhism via English is a convenient and motivating factor. Many settled outside Punjab within India, may similarly End Hindi an convenient medium. Such efforts do not however, dispense with `the need to acquire a knowledge of the Gurmukhi script as also of the Punjabi language, but their utility in stimulating the study of Sikhism is undoubted. It may be mentioned that generations of Sikhs are now growing up in Great Britain, the United States and Canada and many other countries cut off from Punjabi and Punjab, who nevertheless must be provided the basic knowledge of Sikhism. In addition to these are the neo-Sikhs of foreign races, particularly in the United States, to whom a closer knowledge of Sikhism must be brought.
While making this translation, which has inevitably taken a number of years to complete, the background and the objectives indicated above have been kept steadily in view. The perceptive reader will not miss certain specific features and emphasis of the translated text. Certain principles that have been kept in view in making the translation, may here be briefly stated.
Attempt has been made to render closely the original text in detail,-taking into account the verbal nuances, the vision enshrined in it and the sensitive poetic features. Along with the features just mentioned, an unobtrusive rhythmic structure has been adopted for the translated text, to aid an emotional and imaginative approach to the original, which is meant to inspire and arouse the self to attempt to live the spiritual experience.
In finding parallels for concepts and philosophical terms their signification in the relevent philosophical systems is kept in view. Terms drawn from the Hindu, Yogic and other systems are given their corresponding parallels, which when necessary, are clarified in the footnotes. The footnotes touch upon the philosophical and linguistic issues involved, and make for greater clarity of understanding. For the Supreme Being, according to the context, usually The Lord has been used, Original forms of the attributive names of God, whether from the Indian background or the Perso-Arabian are indicated and explicated in the footnotes wherever required by the context. The same is true of concepts. For Guru 'and its synonyms Muster, Preceptor and less often, 'Enlightener is used. All shades of differences of signification wherever arising, are accounted for and dealt with in the footnotes. The translated text, while it should guide in making for the spiritual approach to the Bani, should also be of use where in addition, hints for a scholarly or academic study are sought for. For the Supreme Being the pronoun He, with the capital ‘H’ and its other forms like ‘His’ and ‘Him’ are used. So also ‘Thou’, ‘Thee’, ‘Thy' and ‘Thine’. In compositions with the spiritual cast as Gurubani, to keep the aura of the original such forms of expression are helpful. For the more significant concepts like Maya, Word (Shabad), Ordinance (Hukam) the initial capital letter is given. ‘Jam’, the current form ‘of the name of the god of Death in Punjabi, is rendered as ‘Yama’ for wider recognition. This would also apply to other classical names and concepts.
While for transliteration of the text a key is given below, for the writing down of proper-classical names and concepts the system prevalent in Indian scholarship is partly adopted. Certain names like Rama, Krishna and Shiva are familiar to the average student of Indian religious thought in the forms given just now. To omit their end—vowel would only create confusion. There is no fear of these names being pronounced as Rama, Krishna and Shiva. For the elongated ‘ah’ sound the diacritical sign as indicated here, is provided where necessary. So also in raga and amrita, ‘Mana’ for mind has to be distinguished from man (male human being) and so is set down as indicated. Similarly with some other classical terms like moha (illusion, attachment). In Guru and Nanak the diacritical marks are not given, as these two words and their correct pronunciation are assumed to be familiar to every reader. Where ‘Guru’ occurs as part of a compound. formation, as in ‘Gurubani’, ‘Gurumukh’, the second ‘u’ in ‘Guru’. should be taken to be silent. In the original Gurmukhi the vowel sign in this part is omitted. The translated text being intended for study as much by those unfamiliar with the Sikh background as by Sikhs, some of these hints and concessions to established usage have been deemed necessary.
Pages of the standard 1430-page printed texts of Guru Granth Sahib are indicated in the right-hand side of the margin of the translated text. This will facilitate the tracing of the text of each hymn from the holy Book in its original form as well as establishing the correct parallels as adopted. The numbering of the hymns is as in the original text. This process of identification is further helped by the first lines of the ‘Shabads’ being given in transliteration at the head of the translated text in each case. In transliterating these first lines the correct pronunciation of the original, as far as available and authenticated, has been adopted as the base. For indicating the long and short vowels, diacritical marks, as shown in the Hints to follow, have been adopted. So also for the nasal sounds which usually are not indicated in the original text, but are to be pronounced for obtaining the correct form of the words. For the murdhana or fore-palate ‘n’, equivalent to the Gurmukhi and the Hindi a special sign has been adopted. The hard and soft ‘d’, ‘dh’ and ‘th’ sounds are distinguished by placing a dot below each in the case of the harder sound. The r sound, peculiar to Punjabi and many Indian languages is similarly indicated. So also its compound form rh as in Careful attention to these details will help in closer and more accurate study and pronunciation. For Rahau, occurring everywhere in the original text, the term ‘Pause’ has been used, as by the earlier translators. A difficulty is presented by Ghar as a musical term. For this the paralleld adopted is ‘Score’, which is the term used for notation in writing out music in the Western tradition. A detailed understanding of Ghar is a matter for the higher study of the science of musicology.
Under the Ragas in the translated text, the sub-heading of groups of Shabads, indicating the authorship, the Ghar and other details are given before each group. Indicating the authorship of each Shabad as in the original has been dispensed with, and is to be understood to apply to the entire group.
Before closing, the present writer must acknowledge his debt to the late Bhai Jodh Singh, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala and a profound scholar of Sikhism, who went through the translated text and discussed with him all controversial points of interpretation. From his ninety-fifth year on when this work went under way, for live years till his last days, he never spared any pains in the task that he had been persuaded to take upon himself. With this collaboration, the translation may claim a great degree of authenticity. In the course of the discussions with him, reference was constantly made to the exegetical works on Gurubani, some of which are mentioned in the Introduction, and all issues settled with a view to achieving accuracy. The final shaping of the language and its tone has been mainly the responsibility of the present writer.
In helping the process of printing this volume, whole-hearted encouragement has come from Dr. S. S. Johl, the present Vice- Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala. The proprietor of the Phulkian Press, Shri Jagdish Roy Mangla and the Head of the Publication Bureau of the University, Sardar Hazara Singh and his stall have handled painstakingly a somewhat difficult printing assignment, for which thanks are due to them.
The present volume will at short intervals be followed by three successive volumes till the complete text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in translation is made available.
Preface to Volume Two
The presentation of the Second Volume of the English Translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, containing the Ragas from Asa to Telang has been slightly delayed because of certain problems in printing that arose. In this Volume too the scheme of presentation identical with the first in respect of giving the caption lines in the original, indication of pages of the holy Granth Sahib and marginal notes etc. has been maintained. A detailed Introduction containing the basic principles of Sikh thought has been included in the First Volume. So also the Glossary of key-terms occurring in the course of Gurubani. The Glossary however, is reproduced in the present Volume to facilitate ready reference in the course of a detailed study of the text.
In the course of the study of Sri Gum Granth Sahib it should be noted, particularly by readers unfamiliar with it that its contents are arranged in accordance with the Indian classical Ragas or musical measures. No sequential order of progression is postulated, all portions being on an equal level as revelation and inspiration. In taking the Vak or an oracular pronouncement from the holy Book any page at which the Book is opened, is accepted reverently as the word of God and the Guru's directive for the higher life. Within each Raga a well-thought- out scheme of arrangement may also be discerned, as placing the Bani of the holy Gurus in the order of their appearance, in Chaupadas (Quartets), Ashtpadis (Octets), Chhants (Lyrics), Vars and any Bani bearing special titles. The Bani of Bhaktas follows after the Bani of the holy Gurus, with Bhakta Kabir getting the primacy. The Var of Satta and Balwand in Volume Three and Swayyas of the Bhatts in Volume Four are given in appropriate places, as also the groups of Slokas in the same volume.
On a careful study these features of arrangement will become visible.
The present Volume contains among others, the celebrated text of Asa-ki-Var and the four hymns collectively known as Babar- Vani, under Ragas Asa and Telang. So also a number of portions familiar in the daily service, such as certain hymns included in Rahiras and the Chhants in Raga Asa, of Sri Guru Ram Das, beginning Hari amrit bhinnei loinan mana prem ratanna Rama-raje, chanted during performance of Asa-ki-Var.
Grateful thanks are due to the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Dr. S.S. Johl for his sympathetic interest in the successful completion of the project of the publication of the translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Publication Bereau of the Punjabi University under S. Hazara Singh has, as usual taken pains about the printing and presentation of the Volume.
Volumes Three and Four will follow at short intervals.
Preface From Third Volume
The Punjabi University presents the third volume of the English translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The warm reception with which the earlier set of two volumes was greeted by the intelligentsia, is a matter of great satisfaction to the University. It is also a tribute to the translator, Professor Gurbachan Singh Talib, whose learning, erudition and command over the languages concerned are widely acknowledged. Our only regret is that Professor Tablib did not live to see the completion of the volume in hand.
The project is supervised by our Department of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies. The zeal and devotion of the Departmental staff is commendable. We hope to publish the 4th and the final Volume in the near future.
The present volume covers the sacred compositions in musical measures (ragas) from Suhi to Maru. It includes, among others, Raga Ramakali, and some of the well-known banis of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, such as Anand Sahib, Sidha-goshti and Onkar.
I hope the scholars of religious literature as well as the general readers will welcome this Volume.
Preface from Fourth Volume
There are moments in the history of institutions decisively stamped with fulfilment. One such moment has been reached in the history of Punjabi University with the production of the fourth and final volume of the English translation by Professor Gurbachan Singh Talib of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib covering the sacred text from Riga Tukhari to the Ragmala.
The Punjabi University undertook through its department of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies to bring out a complete translation of the Holy Writ in four volumes and we feel truly gratified at the completion of the project.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, as a repository of Indian wisdom, is a precious gift of the Gurus to mankind. The Holy Granth is the pivot of Sikh religious life. It symbolizes serenity and repose, meditation on God's Name, purification and yearning for the Timeless, Formless One. The hautingly beautiful hymns of the Scripture inspired by supreme love of God, teaching an ecstasy instruct, exhort and express the fervent longing of the spirit in quest of the Almighty. Reiterating the transcendence of God, the poet-prophets, add philosophical and social dimensions of their reflections by asserting their belief in monotheism, concretizing their vision of God, man him, the Word, the Gum, karma, transmigration and their unqualified rejection of the caste system.
The subtle philosophical contours of the sacred text carrying nuances of a long philosophical tradition and its linguistic eclectic character make the process of "cultural transference", if not altogether impossible, challengingly arduous. Professor Gurbachan Singh Talib was a versatile scholar, who has a sure sense of the languages involved in the task and had the capacity to convey and interpret the beauty, delicacy, economy and nuances of the religio-philosophical thought and epiphany points in the target language. Once conceived, he identified himself zealously with the protracted enterprise that would have defied the efforts of lesser scholars. His copious introduction to these volumes, prefixed to Volume One constitutes a valuable treatise on the composition of the Holy Volume, the focus and craftsmanship of its contributors, and on their teachings and philosophy as a whole.
(Dr. Gurnam Kaur of the Department of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies was assigned to the responsibility of seeing the manuscript through the press and checking proofs and I compliment her on the diligence with which she carried it out. I record my appreciation of the very handsome format Dr. Hazara Singh, Head of Publication Bureau, designed for this work. I must also here recall the contribution of the late Dr. Taran Singh and the late Bhai Jodh Sing who helped with the revision of the text. I pay my respectful homage to their memory.
I believe that volumes will be of immense value not only to the academicians in our multi-lingual country but to scholars and researchers in the West in an environment of growing interest in Sikhism and in its Holy Scripture.
For its literary grace and reliability of interpretation this translation will, I am convinced, retain its superiority among its peers.
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