I have started to do katha in English on every last Friday of the month in the Hounslow Singh Sabha. This is aimed at younger members of the sangat but everybody is welcome.
During my first session I spoke about the definition of a Sikh as found in the Sikh Rehat Maryada, on the 27th of November I started talking about Rahras, beginning with So Dar.
During this katha session I told the sangat that the So Dar appears three times in the Guru Granth, first as pauri 27 of Japji Sahib (pana 6), then as the opening verse of Rahras (pana 8) and finally under Rág Asá (pana 347).
The version in Japji Sahib is slightly different from the one found in Rahras and Rág Asá. The main differences are that Japji Sahib is not in rág and that ‘tudhno’ appears as ‘tuhno’. I think that the slightly different words give a better rhythm to the text and make it easier to sing.
Rahras is a compilation of sabads that all can also be found under their own rágs (Asá and Gujri). It includes 5th Guru’s sabads which makes it likely that the Rahras was compiled by him when Guru Arjan compiled the Ádi Granth.
It is possible that Guru Nanak wrote two versions of the So Dar, or that it was Guru Arjan who made the changes. The important thing to keep in mind is that whoever made the changes did not in any way change the meaning.
This is where a Singh who daily does seva in the Gurdwara took exception, and although I did initially not understand his objections, I now worked out what is issue was.
This Singh thinks that the Guru Granth Sahib has come about by divine dictation, the Guru’s mouth spoke God’s words, the Guru’s hand wrote God’s words. And I agree, based on my understanding of the Guru Granth.
But I think that God dictated meanings, not the actual words. Guru writes about humans not being able to describe God. He writes that even if we had hundreds of thousands of lives and all the paper, all the pens in the world, we still would not be able to describe God.
In other passages in the Guru Granth Sahib, Guru (the collective of all authors of the Guru Granth), describes the same using different images, different words. The ideas are from God, and were absorbed by our Gurus and Bhagats whose minds and souls were very close to God. From these wonderful human beings blessed by God, come creative images to make us understand God’s message. Our ultimate Guru is God and God is in the writings of the Bhagats and the Sikh Gurus, in the Guru Granth Sahib.