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A Sikh Perspective on Revelation and the Word

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As a young girl, I remember having very strict rules about my books. I was not allowed to have my books on the floor and they would have to be well looked after or placed neatly in my bookshelf. My parents would give me long lectures on how these books held knowledge and if I was to learn anything I would have to respect the written word, be it arithmetic or geography.


I did find it rather bizarre when I first visited the toilet at my western friend's house to find stacks of books and magazines to choose from. They were good people, a loving family, so how come they were allowed to read on the loo when I was not even allowed to put a book on the floor or write inside it as it was disrespectful?


I soon realised that many of the rules dictated to me at home had a direct link to the belief and value system my parents had. My parents would have extracts of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib around the house that they would constantly read and refer to. These texts are known as Gutkas and would be covered in a nice cotton cloth, kept in a clean place in the house and we even washed our hands before reading from them. A big contrast to reading on the toilet! Why then, I wondered, was there a difference in the written word. What did it mean for those coming from the eastern tradition and living a sikh lifestyle?


The ultimate teacher


The sacred text the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is the ultimate teacher (Guru) for Sikhs. Generally in the east, great respect is given to knowledge and due reverence is awarded as a part of nature.


The Shabad are the words written in the SGGS. It is like a Universal Sound which has been encapsulated and treasured in the form of the Word for us to connect to.

The Guru says, pothhee parmesar ka thaan ( This 'Pothi' [Holy Book] is the meeting place for God).


The power of the words


The idea is that the words have their own frequency which gives the individual an opportunity to have a relationship with the divine and themselves. The Shabad Guru is an experience of the truth within oneself, we are invited to align our own consciousness and embark on a journey of discovery. Many Sikhs who do not have the Gurmukhi text as their mother tongue profess that simply the sound and even the structure of the language allow them to have an experience of the shabad even without fully understanding the beauty and meaning.

It is true that Sikhs treat the Siri Guru Granth Sahib with great devotion and adoration and will refer to the teachings as a part of their daily routine.


bin sabadhai sabh jag bouraanaa birathhaa janam gavaaeiaa

Without the Shabad, the whole world is insane, and it loses its life in vain.



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