The Guru Granth Sahib begins with the word "Ek Onkar" – The All Pervading Being. From this Word to the tenth Word “Gur-parshad” is called the Mool Mantra. After this is the rest of the composition called the Japji composed by Guru Nanak Dev. This comprises 38 Pauris or stanzas, a Prologue and an Epilogue. This is one of the morning prayer of the Sikhs.
The next composition has two parts - (1) "So Dar" and (2) "So Purkh". The Bani, "So Dar" contains 5 Shabads and "So Purkh" contains 4 Shabads. This form most of the evening prayer of the Sikhs and is called the Rehras. After this is the Bani called Sohila (full name, Kirtan Sohila), which contains 5 Shabads and is the bed-time prayer.
The scripture contains compositions by:
- 6 Sikh Gurus: Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur (the first five Gurus and the ninth Guru)
- Seventeen saints/Bhagats: (Kabir, Farid, Namdev, Ravidas, Beni, Trilochan, Jaidev, Surdas, Parmanand, Sadhana, Ramanand, Dhanna, Pipa, Sain, Bhikhan, Surday, Mardana)
- Poets Balwand & Sata and eleven Bhatts: or poets of the Sikh Gurus (Bhatt Balh, Bhatt Bhalh, Bhatt Bhika, Bhatt Gayand, Bhatt Harbans, Bhatt Jalap, Bhatt Kalshar, Bhatt Kirat, Bhatt Mathura, Bhatt Nalh, Bhatt Salh)
The section of Bani before the Ragas as described above, can be summarised in relation to the page numbers as given below:
|#||#||Description of Bani||Pages|
|1.||Japji Sahib Guru Nanak Dev||1 to 8|
|b.||38 Pauris||1 to 8|
|2.||Rehras||8 to 12|
|a.||So Dar||8 to 10|
|b.||So Purakh||10 to 12|
|3.||Sohila||12 to 13|
Sri raga, Manjh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Devagandhari, Bihagara, Wadahans, Sorath, Dhanasri, Jaitsri, Todi, Bairari, Tilang, Suhi, Bilaval, Gond (Gaund), Ramkali, Nut-Narayan, Mali-Gaura, Maru, Tukhar, Kedara, Bhairav (Bhairo), Basant, Sarang, Malar, Kanra, Kalyan, Prabhati and Jaijawanti
Within it's 1430 pages, most of the Shabads (hymns) of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib are arranged in these thirty-one Ragas, the traditional Indian musical measures and scales. Within the Ragas, they are arranged by order of the Sikh Gurus, with the shabads of the Hindu and Muslim saints. The shabads are written in various meters and rhythms, and are organized accordingly. For instance, Ashtapadi - eight steps, or Panch-padi - five steps. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurmukhi script, but the shabads were written in many different languages including Punjabi, Sanskrit and Persian.
Index of Raga section
A raga is a reflection of a person's mood or emotional inclination and this is basically expressed musically by a set of rules to build a melody. This human emotion is reflected in music by specifying a scale, as well as rules for movements up and down the scale. Also, which notes should figure more and which notes should be used more sparingly; which notes take which ornamentation, which notes must be bent, which notes may be bent, phrases to be used, phrases to be avoided, and so on. The result is a framework that can be used to compose or improvise melodies in, so that melodies in a certain raga will always be recognisable yet allowing endless variation.
The Sequence of Compositions with the Raags
Within each Raag, the compositions are arranged in the following order:
Each section of Shabads, Astpadis, Chhants are arranged in the order of the Gurus. Surprisingly, there are no Shabads by Guru Arjan Dev - He only wrote Sloks. Each section of Shabads in each Raag is follwed by Astpadi again in order of the Gurus. There is no Astpadi written by Guru Tegh Bahadur. After the Astpadi section are Chhants in the same chronological order of the Gurus.
The Contents of 31 Raags are:
|Guru Nanak Dev||209||123||25||357|
|Guru Amar Das||172||79||19||270|
|Guru Ram Das||264||58||38||360|
|Guru Arjan Dev||1322||45||63||1430|
|Guru Tegh Bahadur||59||-||-||59|
Post Raga Section
After the completion of the Raag section of the Guru Granth Sahib which form the majority of the holy scripture, the following compositions appear:
|#||#||Description of Bani||Slok|
|1.||Slok Saihskriti, Guru. Nanak Dev||8|
|2.||Slok Saihskriti, Guru Arjan Dev||67|
|3.||Gaatha, Guru. Arjan Dev||24|
|4.||Phunhe, Guru Arjan Dev||23|
|5.||Chaubole, Guru Arjan Dev||11|
|6.||Slok, Bhagat Kabir Ji||243|
|7.||Slok, Shaikh Farid Ji||130|
|8.||Swayye, Sri Mukh Wak||9|
|9.||Swayye, Sri Mukh Wak||11|
|10.||Swayye, 11 Bhatts||123|
|The Swayye of the 11 Bhatts can be broken down as:|
|a.||In Praise of Guru Nanak Dev||10|
|b.||In Praise of Guru Angad Dev||10|
|c.||In Praise of Guru Amar Das||22|
|d.||In Praise of Guru Ram Das||60|
|e.||In Praise of Guru Arjan Dev||21|
|11.||Sloks in addition to those in Vars:||152|
|a.||Guru Nanak Dev||33|
|b.||Guru Amar Das||67|
|c.||Guru Ram Das||30|
|d.||Guru Arjan Dev||22|
|12.||Sloks of Guru Tegh Bahadur||57|
|13.||Mundawani, Guru Arjan Dev||1|
|14.||Slok of Guru Arjan Dev||1|
|#||Writtten by:||Appears in Raags||Varan|
|1.||Guru Nanak Dev||Majh, Asa and Malar||3|
|2.||Guru Amar Das||Gujri, Suhi, Ramkali and Maru||4|
|3.||Guru Ram Das||Sri, Gaurhi, Bihagrha, Vadhans, Sorath, Bilawal, Sarang and Kanrha||8|
|4.||Guru Arjan Dev||Rag Gaurhi, Gujri, Jaitsri, Ramkali, Maru. and. Basant||6|
|5.||Satta and Balwand||Rag Ramkali||1|
Details of Vars in order of Raags
The following is the breakdown of the number of Varan in the Raags:
- Ramkali has 3 varaa
- Gaurhi, Gujri, Matu each have 2 varaa each.
- The remaining 13 raags each have 1 var: Sri, Majh, Asa, Baihagara, Vadhans, Sorath, Jaitsri, Suhi, Bilawal, Basant, Sarang, Malar and Karma.
Except for Satta and Baiwand’s Var in Rag Ramkali and the Var in Basant Rag of Guru Arjan Dev, in all the remaining Varaa, Sloks of first five Gurus have been attached to the Pauris of the Vars. The details of Pauris and Sloks of these Vars are given below:-
Details of Pauris of 21:
- Guru Nanak Dev 78 Pauris (stanzas)
- Guru Amar Das 85 Pauris
- Guru Ram Das 183 Pauris
- Guru Ram Das 183 Pauris
- Guru Arjan Dev 117 Pauris
- Total number of Pauris of 2l 463 Pauris
- Vars Satta-Baiwand’s Var 8 Pauris
- Grand Total of Pauris 471 Pauris
Details of Sloks of 21 Vars
- Guru Nanak Dev 227 Sloks
- Guru Angad Dev 63 Sloks
- Guru Amar Das 343 Sloks
- Guru Ram Das 105 Sloks
- Guru Arjan Dev 252 Sloks
- Kabir Ji 4 Sloks
- Total of 994 Sloks
Compositions of the Bhagats
The compositions of the Bhagats appears in 22 of the 31 raags. There are a total of 349 Shabads by the Bhagats. Within these 349 Shabads are also 3 Shabads by Guru Arjan Dev. The breakdown of these 352 shabads is given below:
|Written by||No of Shabads|
|Guru Arjan Dev||1|
In addition to the above Shabads, there are 3 more compositions by Bhagat Kabir in Raag Gauri. They are Bavan Akhari, Pandrah Thithi and Satt Var.
The Metres and types of compositions
All hymns contained in Guru Granth Sahib are classified in different Ragas except the first hymn 'JAP JI, and SWAYYAS AND SLOAKS' at the end. The composition of the hymns in Guru Granth Sahib can be classified as:
a. Shabads (religious sayings of different number of verses and their count in Guru Granth Sahib is as follows:
- 2 verses - (dupadas), 608
- 3 verses - (tripade), 73
- 4 verses - (chaupadas), 1,255
- 5 verses - (panchpadas), 80
- 6 verses - (chhepedas), 11 verses
- 8 verses - (Ashtpadian), 311
- 16 verses - (sohilas), 62
b. Pauris - Literally there is no difference between a shabad and a pauri. The practical difference is that a pauri carries its idea further. In Punjabi language a pauri means a ladder. The word pauri is used in the Granth Sahib to define different parts of a 'VAR' - a heroic ballad e.g. Var Rankali of the third Guru or a long verse e.g. Jap Ji of Guru Nanak. The pauri is a long verse and may or may not have uniformity i.e. they may differ in metre and in number.
c. Vars (ballads) - Var means a long poem in which the praises of a hero are sung. The religious Vars included in Guru Granth Sahib contain a slok, a small verse complete in itself which is mostly subjective, before each pauri in order to clarify the idea contain in the pauri. The Pauris of a Var are by the same writer but it is not necessary for the sloks. If the name/number of the composer is not given before the sloks then the composer is the same as that of the Var otherwise the name or number of the composer is given. There are 22 Vars in Guru Granth Sahib written as follows: Guru Nanak - 3 Guru Amardas - 4 Guru Ramdas - 8 Guru Arjan - 6 Satta and Balwand (Bards) - 1 (This Var has no sloaks in it)
d. Chhants - means verses of praise. Majority of the Chhants in Guru Granth Sahib contain one or more stanzas. A stanza of a Chhant contains four to six verses. There are some Chhants which are preceded by sloaks like Pauris in Vars.
e. Swayas - it is a particular stanza form. In Guru Granth Sahib are the Bards/Bhats who.composed Swayas to praise the Sikh Gurus and used many other metres under the heading Swayas. They also used different arrangements of long and short syllables at the end of the verses or within the serves. There are 122 Swayas composed by the Bhats in praise of the Gurus included in Guru Granth Sahib.
Patti is a long verse in which each letter of an alphabet is represented by a stanza. Guru Nanak has used Punjabi alphabet while Guru Amardas has used some other alphabet of the period. Two more similar verses have been named as Bawankhris, meaning fifty-two letters. Guru Nanak's Bawan-Akhri has 52 letters whereas Kabir's Bawan-Akhri has only 36 letters. Onkar also means the beginning of an alphabet and dakhni means 'o f the south'. Thus a southern alphabet is used in this verse. It is composed by Guru Nanak and has 54 letters in it.
g. Pehre, Bara Mah, Thhitti and Rutti. These are the long verses in which stanzas are composed on the names of the four parts of the day, seven days of the week, twelve months of the year, fifteen lunar dates and six seasons.
h. Gatha and Phune. These are special type of sloaks. In Gatha, like Sahaskriti sloaks couplets, do not rhyme. Phune means repetition. In phunhay word 'Harihan' is repeated in the fourth verse of each stanza.
i. Chaubole - Chaubole actually means a popular song. In Guru Granth Sahib it means an utterance of four persons, four Bhats - Somoan, Moos, Jan and Patting.