Reprinted from “Victory and Virtue: Ceremonies and Code of Conduct of Sikh Dharma,” published by the Office of the Bhai Sahiba of Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere.
The Granthi is a dedicated, trained Minister who is fully attached to the activities of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. The word Granthi in essence is “gra-nath” or knot…tied to the Guru.
The Granthi has a relationship of understanding of, as well as service to the “Living Word of God.” He or she must be fluent in reading Gurmukhi, and educated in all aspects of the Guru’s care. He or she will develop an esoteric relationship with the Guru and will have some experience and faith in the subtle magnitude of the Guru’s power to uplift, direct and transform any person who comes to the Guru for help.
This is an esteemed position which requires a person who exemplifies Khalsa values in practice and reputation. The duty of serving the Guru also extends to service of the Sadh Sangat. A sangat of five Amritdhari Sikhs becomes the Guru. Grace, dignity and humility are important characteristics of the Granthi.
History of the Guru Granthi
The first Granthi was Baba Buddha Ji. Although only seven years old, Baba Buddha Ji would come regularly to listen to the singing of hymns that Guru Nanak initiated to be sung daily in the Amrit Vela. Guru Nanak noticed him. Baba Buddha’s name at that time was Bhai Bura.
One day Guru Nanak asked Bhai Bura why he came in Amrit Vela rather than sleep or eat or play as other young children his age would do. Bhai Bura responded that he had observed that when his mother asked him to light a cooking fire he saw that the smaller sticks burned before the larger sticks. Since that day he said he thought his death might come at any time. Therefore, he enjoyed hearing Guru Nanak’s hymns of the Divine.
Guru Nanak said that he was wise like an old man and named him Baba Buddha Ji which means “wise old man.” Baba Buddha Ji remained in the company of the five Gurus who succeeded Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Baba Buddha Ji had the unique honor of being the one to bestow the crown of Guru to each of these five Gurus.
When Guru Arjan Dev completed his compilation of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib in 1604, two Granths were installed in the Golden Temple in Amritsar and Baba Buddha Ji was appointed to be the first Granthi.
Bhai Mani Singh Ji
Bhai Mani Singh Ji assisted Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1705 at Takhat Dam Damma Sahib and transcribed the complete Siri Guru Granth Sahib as we know it today. Guru Gobind Singh dictated the entire text as compiled by Guru Arjun Dev Ji from memory. It was at this time that Guru Gobind Singh Ji added the writings of his father, the Ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur, and one final composition of his own to seal the Guru complete and closed to further alteration.
In the year 1737, 29 years after the final merger of Guru Gobind Singh Ji into God’s Light, Guru Gobind Singh’s wife, Mata Sundri Ji appointed Bhai Mani Singh to be the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple. Bhai Mani Singh was also martyred in the same year.
Duties of the Guru Granthi
The Guru Granthi administrates and oversees all the functions associated with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. Please note that the duties and care given can be done by any trained member of the Sadh Sangat. The correct protocol and guidance would be given by the Guru Granthi. These include:
- Guru’s Prakaash – Ensures that the prakash of the Guru be done in the Amrit Vela, preferably during the gathering of the Sadh Sangat in the hall so all can hear the Hukam, the order for the day.
- Guru’s Sukhaasan – Ensures that the Guru’s Sukhasan takes place at the close of the day.
- Hukamnamma – Reads the Hukam, may explain it, and give discourse on Sikh philosophy when appropriate.
- Chor Seva – Presides over the Guru during programs
- Ardas, Teaching of Gurmukhi and Gurbani, Manager for the Guru’s clothing and belongings (Ramalas, Chindoah (canopy), etc.)
- He or she should encourage the participation by other members of the Sadh Sangat in the above duties, and be active in the training of these individuals.