This week’s article is inspired by the index of the Guru Granth Sahib as found on the ‘Sikhitothemax’ download version. The first folder is called ‘Beginning’ and is followed by 31 folders, one for each rág in which most shabads are arranged.
The first shabad in the ‘Beginning’ folder is Japji Sahib. Japji Sahib is a beautiful spiritual poem, meant for reciting, not for singing. The second and third entries are Rahras and Sohila, both compilations of shabads in different rágs. These are usually recited but can also be sung.
Each shabad in Rahras and Sohila appears twice in the Guru Granth Sahib, once in these compilations and once under their respective rágs.
Why did Guru Arjan separate these out ? Japji Sahib is a very special composition by first Guru, Guru Nanak, and discusses many of the basic teachings of Sikhí. It fully deserves its position as the first spiritual poem of the Guru Granth.
I think that by publishing Japji Sahib, Rahras and Sohila on the first 13 pages, Guru Arjan, who compiled the first version of the Guru Granth (the Ádi Granth), instructed the Sikhs to recite these every day.
I have of course no authority to change the Rahit Maryada. According to the 1945 Sikh Rahit Maryada we have to read Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib and the ten Svaye starting with ‘Srávag Sudh’ in the morning. In the evening we should read an extended Rahras and then before going to bed an unchanged Sohila.
Mostly this leads to speed reading, or listening to recorded versions while doing other things. Reading Japji Sahib with full attention should at least take half an hour. Follow that by some simran and you have a very nice opening of your day. Similarly for Rahras, a beautiful collection of shabads, very well balanced and full of important teachings.
Most Sikhs, encouraged by Taksal and AKJ, want to read more, not less. But what is often practised is either speed reading or listening to a recording via iPod or computer. Listening to recordings is not bad, but after having listened to Japji Sahib or Jaap Sahib our minds have problems concentrating on more input. Does not Guru prefer quality over quantity ?
Any suggestions from Sangat ?