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Meaning Of Bibliography In Punjabi Vich

Part 1: An Introduction

Part 2: General and Historic Studies - A: General Studies

Part 3: General and Historic Studies - B: Studies of Ancient Gurbani manuscripts (Puratan Biran bare

Part 4: Interpretations and Commentaries: A – Studies of interpretive traditions

Part 5: Interpretations and Commentaries: B - Commentaries and exegesis in Punjabi

Part 6: Interpretations and Commentaries: C – Translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib

Part 7: Conceptual Studies:  A – Theological and Metaphysical Studies

Part 8: Conceptual Studies: B - Ethics and Social Philosophy

Part 9: Conceptual Studies: C - Mystical and Mythological Writing

Part 10: Linguistic Studies: A - Gurbani Grammars

Part 11: Linguistic Studies:  B – Studies of Gurbani pronunciation (ucharan)

Part 12: Linguistic Studies: C - Studies of Gurmukhi Script

Part 13: Literary Studies: B – General

Part 14: Literary Studies: Part B - Bhagats and Bhagat-Bani

Part 15: Musicological Studies

Part 16: Reference Literature

Part 17: Gurbani Search Tools


Part 1: An Introduction

Bibliography can be defined as “a list of books, articles, or other published writings on a particular subject or by a particular author.” This particular bibliography is related to the field of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies. It is one of the few (if any) such bibliographies written in the English language. In the coming weeks, this bibliography will be serialized in The Panthic Weekly, containing details of more than a hundred academic and scholarly writings.

Bibliographies have a great value for both advanced scholars and upcoming students. However, this work is meant for young Sikhs who are interested in Gurbani and are eager to learn about their meanings. The list of books provided in this work will be helpful for them in their self-study. The Bibliography will guide the users through the study of various aspects of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, providing a set of varying perspectives from famous scholars in this field.

The need for such a work is strongly felt, when we follow the thousands of young Sikhs debating daily on subjects related to Gurbani, on various internet sites and forums. We find a lack of proper sources and opinions are aired as certian knowledge. Such ways of communication can be identified as flat or horizontal discussion, where the participants are at a rather similar level of understanding. For those who want to dedicate some of their lives to the study of Gurbani and achieve a higher level of understanding, there is a need for textual sources, such as books and published articles, written by scholars of Sikhism and Gurbani. No doubt, subjective views can in some cases be correct, but any serious student of Gurbani should rely upon textual sources of knowledge. Therefore, this bibliography would be beneficial.

The Bibliography is divided into eight sections, and will be serialized in about twenty parts. It contains bibliographic information about historical, conceptual, lingual, literary and musical (raag-sangeet) studies of Gurbani. Apart from this, details about various commentaries (teeka) and reference works (kosh) related to Gurbani will also be presented. This bibliography includes a survey of various Gurbani research tools and software.

Every section has a short introduction, followed by a more detailed survey of the works written in that particual subject. This bibliography cannot be regarded as a fully annotated one, however the comments presented in each section give the reader a historic overview of the various studies that have been conducted so far.

We have tried to expose our young readers to a very broad field of Gurbani studies, and therefore different views and traditions have been represented in the titles found in this bibliography. In most cases, we have produced all the necessary details of the cited works, as found in any other conventional bibliography. However, the work is by no means complete. As new studies of Gurbani provide light on hitherto undiscovered attributes of Sri Guru Sahib's Holy Words, this bibliography will need updating.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Word of Guru Sahiban, filled with megascopic wisdom and philosophy, which contains Naam. Any controversial books or articles listed herein should be seen as a natural component of our broad presentation of Gurbani studies. Our firm belief is that Gurbani is the revealed Word and nothing will change that. We hope that our readers find this series beneficial. Any questions related to contents in this work can be directed to the writer or the editors of The Panthic Weekly.



Part 2: General and Historic Studies - A: General Studies


 The Words of Guru Sahiban, Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji have been the focus of numerous research works conducted by both Sikh and non-Sikh scholars. Gurbani is what defines Sikhism. Any research that is related to the Sikh religion and people ought to be based upon this notion. However, in this section we will look at studies that have had Gurbani itself as their primary theme. These are studies that give us information about the contents, composition, history and authority of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Lots of writings have been written with the purposes of missionary activity and spreading information about Gurbani among the masses. The information found in such works is basically the knowledge that has been fully accepted in the tradition, and lacks new perspectives. Secondly, basic information about Gurbani is found in the introductory parts of works related to different aspects of Gurbani. These introductions give insight into the contents of their work, and can be useful for readers who do not prefer to consult the whole book. Meanwhile, historical studies of Gurbani have become an important part of Sikh studies, as scholars questioning the authority of Gurbani try to re-write the history of Sri Adi Granth Sahib's composition. This has led to a wave of scholarly works trying to prove the authority and Guru-status of Gurbani. Such research is deeply connected to the studies of Gurbani manuscripts.    


Rattan Singh Jaggi (1991) and Giani Joginder Singh have written introductory works on Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which are useful for students of Gurbani. These works are based upon the Sikh tradition, with some insight into the new linguistic and historic discoveries.

 The beginning of historical studies of Gurbani can be traced to Prof. Sahib Singh, who had started his research on the subject already in 1946. Before him, Dr. Charan Singh, maternal grandfather of Bhai Vir Singh had written Bani Beora in 1902, but he had focused on the musicial components and raag system of Gurbani. Prof. Sahib Singh based his research upon the writings of Kavi Santokh Singh, Giani Gian Singh and Gurbilas Patshahi Chehvi. The classic works by these scholars contained some references about making of Gurbani. However, their focus was on the overall history of the Sikhs. Gurbilas Patshahi Chehvi tells about the ceremonies conducted at Sri Harimandir Sahib at the time of installation of Sri Adi Granth. Secondly, Prof. Sahib Singh relied upon traditional Sikh accounts, such as Janam-Sakhis to construct his historical model of Gurbani composition. Principal Harbhajan Singh (1981) developed the historial-lingual approach of Prof. Sahib Singh, mainly in the field of Gurbani pronunciation. He also highlighted the issue regarding the length of Mul-Mantar or Mangalacharan before Japji Sahib.   

 Giani Mahã Singh, editor of Khalsa Samachar published his book about the making of Sri Adi Granth in 1954. The background of his book was the controversy regarding the installation date of Sri Adi Granth at Sri Harimandir Sahib. Kesar Singh Chibber's Bansawalianama Patshahian Dasa Ka records 1601 AD as the year of composition of Gurbani, however Giani Mahã Singh argues that 1604 AD was the correct year. Later on, Ganda Singh (1972) and Giani Bhagat Singh 'Heera' (1992) have written works about the Guru-status of Gurbani in response to claims made by breakaway sects such as Nirankaris and Naamdharis who questioned the authority of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji in favor of their human-gurus. 

As universities and research institutions were formed in Punjab in the 60s, new works came forward. Surinder Singh Kohli wrote 'A Criticle Study of Adi Granth' in 1961, keeping in mind the modern ideals of research work. In 1974 Dr. Mohinder Kaur Gill's book on the composition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib was published. This work was based upon her PhD-thesis. Piara Singh Padam's 'Sri Guru Granth Parkash' from 1977 includes an introduction and an analytical part. This work is one of the famous philosophical studies of Gurbani conducted in this period. In the same period we find works by Hindi scholars such as Dr Jayaram Mishar (1960), Dharam Pal Maini (1962, 1966) and Manmohan Sehgal who have tried to study Gurbani in the context of Indian spirituality.

In the past ten years, historical research upon Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been conducted at various universities in USA and Canada. Supported by foreign research institutions, Pashaura Singh and Gurinder Singh Mann published their works related to Gurbani. The contents of their works created a controversy in the Panthic circles. In response to their views, Chandigarh-based Sikh scholars at Institute of Sikh Studies launched a campaign to counter the 'anti-Sikh' school. Another prolific scholar of Gurbani history, Giani Gurdit Singh has published two volumes on the history of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, related to Bhagat-Bani and Mundaavani. It seems that Giani Gurdit Singh has gained appreciation in wider sections of the Sikh community, despite efforts by traditional forces to get his writings censored.

 Works Cited

Bhagat Singh Heera, Giani. Guru Maneo Granth. New Delhi: National Book Shop, 1992. 

Charan Singh. Sri Guru Granth Bani Biaura. Amritsar: Khalsa Tract Society, 1902. 

A reprint of this book is found in Dr. Balbir Singh, Sri Charanhari Visthar, p. 298, Amritsar: Khalsa Samachar, 1945.  

Ganda Singh. Guru Gobind Singh's Death at Nanded: An examinantion of Succession theories. Faridkot: Guru Nanak Foundation, 1972. 

This research work includes references from nearly every relevant account of the event. Also see a research paper by the same author: Guru Gobind Singh's Designation Guru Granth Sahib to be the Guru, in Perspective on the Sikh Tradition p. 219, (ed.) Justice Gurdev Singh, Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2nd edn, 1996.  

Gurdit Singh, Giani. Itihaas Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Bhagat Bani Bhag. Vol. 1. Chandigarh: Sikh Sahitt Sansathan, 1990. 

Gurdit Singh, Giani. Itihaas Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Mundavani, Vol. 2. 2003. 

Harbans Singh, Principal. Gurbani Sampadan Nirnay. Chandigarh: Satnam Parkashan, 1981. 

Joginder Singh. Sri Guru Granth Darpan. New Delhi: Punjabi Prakashan, 1966. 

Joginder Singh Talwara, Giani. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Bodh: Bani Biaura. Vol. 1. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 2000. 

Kohli, Surinder Singh. A Critical Study of the Adi Granth. New Delhi: Punjab Writers' Cooperative Industrial Society, 1961. 

By the same author, see also Sikhism and Guru Granth Sahib. Delhi: National Book Shop, 1990. 

Mahã Singh, Giani. Param Pavitar Adi Bir da Sankalan Kal. Amritsar: Khalsa Samachar, 1954. 

Giani Mahã Singh wrote nine articles in Khalsa Samachar, and compiled this book on the basis of these writings. 

Maini, Dharam Pal. Sri Guru Granth Sahib - Ik Parichay. Ludhiana: Lahore Book Shop, 1962.  

Mishr, Jayaram. Sri Guru Granth Darshan. [in Hindi] Allahabad: Sahitya Bhavan, 1960. 

Mohinder Kaur Gill. Guru Granth Sahib di Sampadan Kala. Amritsar: New Age Book Centre, 1982. 

Piara Singh Padam. Sri Guru Granth Parkash. Patiala: Lahore Mall, 1977.  

Randhir Singh. "Adi Granth da Kal." Punjabi Duniya. Patiala: Punjabi Language Department, May 1952. 

Rattan Singh Jaggi. Sri Guru Granth Prichay. New Delhi: Gobind Sadan, Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, 1991. 

Sahib Singh. Adi Bir bare . Patiala: Punjab Language Department, 1970. 

This is one of the first works of its kind. By the same author, see also Gurbani te Itihas bare. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1986 [1946]. 

Seva Singh, Bhai. Guru Pad Nirnay. Amritsar: Khalsa Samachar, 1934. 

This is a collection of articles published in Khalsa Samachar newspaper.  


Part 3: General and Historic Studies - B: Studies of Ancient Gurbani manuscripts (Puratan Biran bare)


The word 'puratan biran' is used for ancient manuscripts of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. By ancient we mean not only the hand-written volumes (hath-likhat biran), but also the volumes that were published through stone lithography (patthar shappa), before the modern printing press was introduced.

In the Sikh tradition, we find three major branches of Gurbani manuscripts. The most important is the Sri Adi Bir Sahib or Kartarpuri Bir, compiled in 1604 at the orders of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and later given the Guru-status (gur-gaddi) by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708 AD under the name of Damdami Bir. The standard printed versions of Gurbani are based upon this Bir. Second branch is the Bhai Banno vali Bir, that includes some extra writings. While the third is called Lahore vali Bir or Gianian vali Bir. Most Gurbani manuscripts can be related to these three branches. However, there are some other manuscripts that are not based on any of these three scriptural traditions.

Studies of ancient Gurbani manuscripts can be divided into three kinds depending upon the scope of the studies. First of all, scholars study the text (paath) and try to distinguish the specific manuscripts from the standard printed volumes. Apart from this, some are interested in the method of editing (sampadan kala) and they try to construct a model for the so-called 'evolution of Gurbani text,' as it was passed through the Guru Sahiban and enriched with spiritual knowledge at different stages of the Guru Sahiban's lives. These two kind of studies can be identified as philology or critical studies of Gurbani text. Other kinds of studies of Gurbani manuscripts are paleographic studies that focus on the development of Gurmukhi script (lipi) through the past centuries. In this section, we will look at general and text critical studies of Gurbani manuscripts. Another part of this bibliography is dedicated to studies of Gurmukhi script.


This subject is a very delicate one. Research scholars, while denying the traditional accounts, add their own assumptions and end up creating controversies in the Panth. In recent times, several such scholars who have questioned the authenicity of some ancient manuscripts have recieved tankhah (religious punishment) from Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. In this bibliography, we will mention some of their works and try to indicate how they hurt Sikh sentiments.

Basic information about Gurbani manuscripts kept in various library collections is found in catalogues published by the related institutions. In Punjabi, there are two such catalogues compiled by Shamsher Singh Ashok and Kirpal Singh. Christopher Shackle has published catalogues of Punjabi manuscripts in the India Office Library. Jeevan Deol is also working on a similar catalogue of all Punjabi manuscripts outside South Asia. Shamsher Singh Ashok's works are important as they include information about the 'destroyed or lost' manuscripts formerly kept at the Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar.

An important issue that has occupied a lot of attention among Sikh scholars is the authenticity of the pre-Kartarpuri Bir manuscripts, namely the two Goindval pothis; Ahiapur vali pothi and Pinjore vali pothi. Traditionally, these Pothis are said to have been compiled at the times of Guru Amardas Ji and scribed by Sahansram, grandson of Guru Sahib and son of Baba Mohan, based at Goindval Sahib. The Ahiapur pothi is still present at Jalandhar, while the second pothi is found at Pinjore.

Historic works such as Rahitnama of Chaupa Singh ji, Bansawalianama, Mahima Prakash, Bhagatmala, Gurpartap Suraj Granth and Giani Gian Singh's writings mention the existence of Gurbani manuscripts. However, the research studies of Gurbani manuscripts started with the works of G.B. Singh (1944). Before him, Prof. Sahib Singh and Prof. Teja Singh had been working on the subject. Both of them were of the view that the compilation of Gurbani began with Guru Nanak Sahib. Teja Singh accepted the traditional view that Guru Arjan Dev Ji borrowed the Goindval Pothis from Baba Mohan before compiling Sri Adi Granth. Meanwhile, Prof. Sahib Singh argued that Guru Arjan Dev Ji had recieved a manuscript from Guru Ramdas Ji that included the Bani of the first four Guru Sahiban. Thus, already in the early half of the twentieth century, there existed a scholarly debate about the pre-Kartarpuri Bir manuscripts.

In his book Prachin Biran, G.B. Singh gives information about 38 historic Gurbani manuscripts. He supports Prof. Teja Singh's view that Guru Sahib borrowed the Goindval Pothis from Baba Mohan, but he also recommends that Guru Sahib collected Bani from the oral traditions of local communities. Meanwhile, he argued that Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji's Bani was added to Sri Adi Granth Sahib during their lifetime, before 1675. One of the reasons why his works were not accepted in Sikh circles was because of his views against the Kartarpuri Bir and other historic pothis. In repsonse to G.B. Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh wrote Prachin Biran bare in 1945, based upon articles published in Khalsa Samachar. The raagmaala controversy had already hit the Sikh Panth, and G.B. Singh's book presented some evidence against this composition. But Bhai Jodh Singh who had examined the contents of Kartarpuri Bir as part of a research committee, constituted by the SGPC that year, was of the opposite view. Using Giani Mahã Singh's notes, Bhai Jodh Singh compiled another book Kartarpuri Bir de Darshan, that was published some years later in 1968. Sardar Daljeet Singh's work on Kartarpuri Bir from 1987 is a continuation of Bhai Jodh Singh's views. The information found in Bhai Jodh Singh's works about the Goindval Pothis was based upon the writings of Bawa Prem Singh Hoti from the mid-1940s. In 1987, his writings, under the title Baba Mohan valian Pothian, were edited and published by Dr Gursharan Kaur Jaggi.

Some other interesting works from this period are Swami Harnaamdass Udasin's Puratani Biran te Vichar in two volumes, and the writings of Piara Singh Padam, SGPC-based research scholars Randhir Singh, Kundan Singh and Gian Singh Nihang (1977). Randhir Singh, et al., give a list of textual variations found in Gurbani manuscripts and the printed versions of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The work was based upon manuscripts found in the Sikh Reference Library. A similar work, published by the SGPC gave information about the standard printed edition of Gurbani. It was authored by Rawel Singh (1959).

In the past decade or so, four major works related to Gurbani manuscripts have been published. However, most of the research has been a matter of discussion and controversy in Panthic circles. Pashaura Singh wrote his doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto in 1991. The striking contents of his work brought him to Sri Akal Takht for tankhah in 1994. With a limited comparison of Gurbani manuscripts, he tried to formulate the 'editorical policy' of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. He argued that Guru Sahib created several drafts of Gurbani before the Kartarpuri Bir, thus applying that they didn't compile Sri Adi Granth at one time, something that was taken as an attack on Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Following this, the Chandigarh-based Centre of Sikh Studies published an alarming work about the biased research done at North-American universities on Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Meanwhile in Punjab, Piar Singh's Gatha Sri Adi Granth was published by Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in 1992. This work also became the matter of a serious controversy. Piar Singh gives a detailed description of forty-four Gurbani manuscripts. Like G.B. Singh, he made the claim that the present-day Kartarpuri Pothi was not the Bir prepared by Bhai Gurdas under Guru Arjan Dev Ji's supervision. Such conclusions pressured GNDU to withdraw the book from publication. Piar Singh was also given tankhah. Later on, Piar Singh went on to publish parts of his book in English under the title Gatha Sri Adi Granth and the Controversy. However, Balwant Singh Dhillon (1999) has questioned the authority of GNDU-MS # 1245, that formed the basis of both Piar Singh and Pashaura Singh's theories about early Sikh scriptural tradition.

After this, two more works related to Goindval Pothis arrived. The first was written by Gurinder Singh Mann (1996) and the other by GNDU-based Pritam Singh (1998). While Mann accepts the traditional approach about Guru Arjan Dev Ji borrowing the Pothis from Baba Mohan, Pritam Singh argues otherwise. In many ways, the same debate that happened between Sahib Singh and Teja Singh about the 'borrowing theory or succession theory' has been revitalized in these two works. Gurinder Singh Mann had examined both the Pothis and written a work based upon the tradition. He does not agree with G.B. Singh and Pashaura Singh's views that oral sources, along with Goindval Pothis, were also used while compiling Sri Adi Granth. However, Pritam Singh rejected the traditional stand and argued that the Pothis were compiled by Baba Mohan in order to challenge the authority of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Only the first volume of Pritam Singh's work has yet been published, the second part will be the author's edition of Ahiapur vali Pothi.

Works Cited

Bachittar Singh, Giani, ed. Planned Attack on Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Chandigarh: International Centre of Sikh Studies, 1994.
Daljit Singh. Essays on the Authenticity of Katarpuri Bir and The Integrated Logic and Unity of Sikhism. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1987.
Dhillon, Balwant Singh. Early Sikh Scriptural Tradition, Myth and Reality. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1999.
Gurbaksh (G.B.) Singh. Sri Guru Granth Sahib dian Prachin Biran. Lahore: Modern Publications, 1944.
Jaggi, Gursharan Kaur, ed. Babe Mohan valian Pothian. Delhi: Arsi, 1987.
Jodh Singh, Bhai. Kartarpuri Bir de Darshan. 3rd ed. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1990 [1968].
Jodh Singh, Bhai. Prachin Biran bare Bhullan di Sodhan. Ludhiana: Lahore Book Shop, 1947.
Mann, Gurinder Singh. The Goindval Pothis: the Earliest Extant Source of the Sikh Canon. Cambridge: Harvard Oriental Series, 1996.
Mann, Gurinder Singh. The Making of Sikh Scripture. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.
This work is a published version of the PhD thesis compiled by the author in 1993 at Columbia University, USA.
Pashaura Singh. Guru Granth Sahib: Canon, Meaning and Authority. New Delhi: Oxford UP, 2000.
Piara Singh Padam. Sri Guru Granth dian Puratan Biran. 2nd ed. Patiala: Kalam Mandir Loyar Mall, 1990.
Piar Singh. Gatha Sri Adi Granth. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University, 1992.
Piar Singh. Gatha Sri Adi Granth and the Controversy. Grand Ledge, Mich.: Anant Education and Rural Development Foundation, 1996.
Pritam Singh, ed. Ahiapur wali Pothi. Vol. 1, Bhumika. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University, 1998.
Randhir Singh, et al., eds. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji dian Santhya-Sanchian ate Puratan Hathlikhit Pavan Biran de Praspar Path-Bhedan di Suchi. Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committer, 1977.
Rawel Singh. Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee valõ Chhapi Gai Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji di Bir bare Zaroori Vakfiat. Amritsar: SGPC, 1959.
Sahib Singh. Adi Bir Bare. Patiala: Punjab Language Department, 1970.
Shackle, Christopher. Catalogue of the Punjabi and Sindhi Manuscripts in the India Office Library. London: India Office Library and Records, 1977.
Shamsher Singh Ashok. Punjabi Hathlikhatan di Suchi. 2 vols. Patiala: Punjab Language Department, 1961-1963.
Also see by the same author 'Saada Hath-Likhat Punjabi Sahit: A descriptive catalogue of manuscripts and rare books in Guru Ram Das Library and Central Sikh Museum'. Amritsar: Sikh History Research Board, 1968, 520 p. These catalogues contain information on the collection of manuscripts and books held at Sikh Reference Library before 1984.
Udasin, Swami Harnaamdass. Adi Shri Guru Granth Sahib dian Puratani Biran te Vichaar. 2 vols. Kapurtala: Kantesh Pharmecy, 1969-1972.


Part 4: Interpretations and Commentaries: A – Studies of interpretive traditions


The interpretation of Gurbani, or vichaar is an important part of the Sikh tradition. The primary goal for this activity is to explain the Words of Guru Sahiban in such a way that they could be understood by a common person. However, this tradition is also a dynamic one, changing through the ages, with new interpretive traditions appearing on the scene, while others become less important.

 In Sikh and Indian literary circles four techniques of scriptural interpretation have been common: teeka, viakhia, bhashya, and paramarth. A teeka, or commentary provides the meaning of a particular hymn or composition in simple language and is widely used by Sikh scholars. While a teeka gives a simplified meaning, viakhya would include an extended commentary on a shabad and is the basic mode of Gurbani vichaar done at Gurdwaras or Deras. The paramarth, different from shabadarth that is a glossary or 'word-meanings', gives spiritual meanings of mystic and religious terms found in the scriptures. Another less used method of interpretation is the bhash or bhashya, where the writer explains some difficult terms found in the text.

 Certain lexical studies can also be listed as interpretations of Gurbani, as the writers' of such works will thoroughly use interpretive methods in their works. That may include nirukat (etymology), pariyay/priya (glossary) and kosh (dictionary).


 Our knowledge of Gurbani interpretive traditions rests mainly upon the work of Dr Taran Singh (1980). He names the different traditions for pranalian, or technique of learning, and lists seven different schools of Gurbani interpretation. These are Sehaj Pranali (spontaneous interpretation, Bani of later Guru Sahiban explain Guru Nanak Sahib's Bani), Bhai Pranali (Bhai Gurdas' works), Paramarth Pranali (Meharban janamsakhi and writings of the Mina sect, see Jeevan Deol (1998)), Udasi Pranali, Nirmala Pranali, Giani Pranali and Singh Sabha Pranali.

 Another important work in this field is written by Dr Piar Singh (1985). He criticized Taran Singh's categorization as being based upon subjective judgement. The main reason for this was the enlisting of Sehaj Pranali as one of the traditions. In Sikh circles, the whole of Gurbani is recognized as being equally Divine, and no sections are "secondary". In this way, Piar Singh argued that the Bani of later Guru Sahiban was not less inspiring than Guru Nanak Sahib Ji's Words. Piar Singh's categorization is as such: sampardai pranali (traditional school), shastri pranali (brahminical school) and adhunic school (modern school). Even though this classification is very fixed, it reduces different studies to these three groups. Apart from writings by Hindu Brahmins, works by scholars of Nirmala, Udasin and Mina sects would allfall in the shastri pranali. Thus, the variations between the different 'brahminical schools' could be neglected. The debate between Kavi Santokh Singh Nirmala and Swami Anand Ghan Udasi on the interpretation of sections of Japji Sahib reflects this point.

 Another Sikh scholar, Dr Joginder Singh (1981) has given an intermediate approach in the introductory section of Japji de Teeke (a survey of commentaries on Japji Sahib). He lists five major schools: Meharban, Udasi, Nirmala, Giani and the modern school. Thus the debate around the authority of Sehaj Pranali has been avoided, while Singh Sabha scholars are classified as modern scholars.

 Randhir Singh (1977), the SGPC-based scholar, has also written a work on the interpretive traditions. In recent years, two doctoral dissertations related to this field have been completed at Punjabi University, Patiala. These include the works of Rajinder Kaur (1998) and Gurnek Singh, who has published a book. 

 Detailed studies of lexical works have been conducted by Dr Harnam Singh Shan (1998). In his Guru Granth Sahib di Koshkari (lexicography), he enlists every available work from Guru Sahiban's ages till modern day. Many titles related to our subject are also found in this work.

Works Cited
Amarjit Singh, ed. Teekakari, Viakhiakari Te Pattarkari, Kujh Dristikaun. (Seminar paper) Patiala: Punjabi University, 1989. 

Gurnek Singh. Guru Granth Sahib: Interpretation, Meaning and Nature. Delhi: National Book Shop, 1998. 

           The book is based upon author's doctoral dissertation. 

Jeevan Deol. "The Minas and Their Literature." Journal of the American Oriental Society 118 (1998): 172-184. 

Joginder Singh. Japji de Teeke: Samikhyatmak Adhyan. Patiala: Srimati Mohinder Kaur, 1981.

Piar Singh. "Gurbani Teeka Parnalian." Nanak Parkash Patrika, 20(2). Patiala: Punjabi University, 1985. 

Rajinder Kaur. "Sikh Exegetical Writings: A study of the various traditions." Diss. Punjabi University, Patiala, 1998. 

Randhir Singh, ed. Guru-Parnalian. Amritsar: SGPC, 1977. 

Shan, Harnam Singh. Guru Granth Sahib di Koshkari. Patiala: Language Department, 1998. 

Taran Singh. Gurbani dian Viakhia Pranalian. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1980.

Part 5: Interpretations and Commentaries: B - Commentaries and exegesis in Punjabi


 Exegesis, or analysis of scripture, is an important part of any scriptural religious tradition. Sikhism, being a faith based upon the teachings of the Guru Sahiban, as given in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is not an exception. In the last part of this bibliography, we introduced several interpretive traditions, where scholars have given their views about the Sikh religion and Gurbani. In this section, we will have a look at the ten major commentaries on Sri Guru Granth Sahib given by scholars of different interpretive schools in Punjabi.


 The art of teekakari or hermeneutics was present in the Sikh religious circles from the times of the Guru Sahiban, however it was a German linguist, Ernest Trumpp who first tried to compile a complete translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He was unable to translate the whole of Gurbani, but went on to publish The Adi Granth in 1877. His views about Sikhism given in the introductory part of the work created a controversy in the Panth. Later on, several Sikh scholars tried to make an authentic commentary on Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

 Raja Bikram Singh, ruler of Faridkot (1842-98) and patron of Amritsar Khalsa Diwan ordered a full scale commentary on Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Giani Badan Singh, of Sekhvan prepared the first draft of what came to be known as Faridkot wala Teeka in 1883. A committee of scholars from different sampradas, such as Udasis, Nirmala Mahants, Giani and other scholars was formed to revise the commentary. By 1918 the four volumes of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sateek were published. The suffix 'sa-teek' meant that the volumes contained a teeka (annotation or commentary) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Faridkoti Teeka, being the first complete commentary on Gurbani was widely used by scholars in the beginning of the last century. However, as the Teeka contained a mixture of Braj Bhasha (a dialect of Hindi) and the religious terminology used at various seminaries (sampradas), it become difficult for a common reader to understand its language.

 The next phase of Gurbani commentaries came in the decade between 1930 and 1940. Giani Narain Singh Munjangawale (Lahore) was the first to compile a commentary in Punjabi. He started the work in 1928, and after several revisions the volumes were finally published between 1934 and 1940. His commentary has the influence of Nirmala pranali. The next scholar who tried to give a commentary was Sirdar Nihal Singh 'Suri' of Rawalpindi, who had started his own press in 1930. Several volumes came under the title Sri Gurumati Bhau Prakashni Teeka Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. For some reasons, the work stopped in 1936 and the commentary was incomplete. The third in line of these scholars was Giani Bishan Singh Lakhuwal, the Granthi at Khalsa College Amritsar. He started the work on the commentary in 1918, and completed it in eight volumes, published by 1945. These three scholars give simple meanings of Gurbani, and their works were often used by gianis, bhais and pracharaks of Gurmat.

 The first academic commentary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib came with the efforts of mainly Prof. Teja Singh, Bawa Harkrishan Singh and Prof. Narain Singh. Between 1936 and 1941, the Gurseva Sabha published Shabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in four volumes. However, the Shabadarth did not contain a complete annotation or commentary on Gurbani. Only the meanings of difficult words were given. Prof. Teja Singh, being a linguist himself who authored several dictionaries, gave an academic approach to the meanings of Gurbani.

 Towards the end of this decade, Bhai Veer Singh started the work on his Santhya Sri Guru Granth Sahib. But due to his physical death in 1958, Bhai Sahib left the work incomplete. Within the next four years, Bhai Balbir Singh published the Santhya of Bhai Veer Singh in seven volumes, comprising of 3,661 pages. Bhai Sahib provides an excellent combination of the four techniques of interpretation, comprising of teeka, shabadarth, viakhya and nirukat. His typical approach was to explore the meaning of every line (tuk) in the context of the whole hymn (shabad). Bhai Sahib writes that the santhya or lesson was not meant to be a regular commentary on Gurbani. "The santhya is the lesson given to a student who takes the shelter of Gurbani," he writes. This commentary is unique, but it is hard for a regular reader to fully grasp Bhai Sahib's explanation. His language comes from the mouth of a poet, and in order to understand the Santhya the reader has to first get familiar with his spiritual poetry.

 Prof. Sahib Singh was the next scholar to attempt a commentary on Sri Guru Granth Sahib. He started his work in 1957 and completed the ten volumes in 1961. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan was published between 1962 and 1964. The uniqueness of this commentary is that Prof. Sahib Singh has used his Gurbani Vyakaran (grammar) and his linguistic knowledge to give us an understanding of Guru Sahiban's Words. Because of this, later Sikh scholars often use the work as an authentic commentary on Gurbani. Actually, Prof Sahib Singh had already published commentaries on various Banis as part of the syllabus at various Punjabi universities. In the Darpan, he has compiled many of these commentaries to form a complete exegesis of Gurbani.

 In the same period, Giani Kirpal Singh of Sewapanthic Tikana, Bazaar Sato wala, Amritsar presented his Sampradai Sateek Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji di in 1961. The ten volumes, with second editions of some volumes were published in the coming years. The Sateek includes janamsakhis and other stories related to Gurbani. Thus, it is said to be helpful for traditionalkatha-vachaks and other preachers, however it lacks the natural flow of a commentary with frequent passages containing mythological stories and in vogue meanings.

 Giani Mani Singh, former head Granthi of Sri Harimandir Sahib was the next to give a commentary, titled Sidhantik Sateek Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: Prashan-Uttar Vikas in eight volumes published between 1980 and 1994. Giani Mani Singh gives regular meanings of Gurbani, and the commentary is useful for preaching purposes. It contains question-answers on several concepts of Gurbani.

 In recent years another Sikh scholar, Giani Harbans Singh of Patiala has written a large commentary on Gurbani. The work titled Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darshan Nirnai Sateek: Tulnatmik Adhyan in fourteen volumes was published between 1982 and 1992. The work was meant as a comparative study of Gurbani and the writings of Bhagats. However, the interpretation is not quite what the title suggests.


 1. Giani Badan Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sateek ('Faridkoti Teeka' 4 vols. 1918) On

2. Pandit Narain Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sateek (10 vols. 1934-1940)

3. Nihal Singh Suri, Sri Gurumati Bhau Prakashni Teeka Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (1930-1936) In

4. Giani Bishan Singh, Teeka Sri Guru Granth Sahib (8 vols. 1918-1945)

5. Prof. Teja Singh, Shabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (4 vols. 1936-1941) 

6. Bhai Veer Singh, Santhya Sri Guru Granth Sahib (7 vols. 1939-1958) In

7. Prof. Sahib Singh, Sri Guru Granth Darpan (10 vols. 1962-1964) On

8. Giani Kirpal Singh, Sampradai Sateek Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji di (10 vols. from 1961)

9. Giani Mani Singh, Sidhantik Sateek Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji: Prashan-Uttar Vikas (8 vols. 1980-1994)

10. Giani Harbans Singh, Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darshan Nirnai Sateek: Tulnatmik Adhyan (14 vols. 1982-1992) 


On:Available online


Part 6: Interpretations and Commentaries: C – Translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib


With the new generations of Sikhs who did not fully understand Punjabi, came the need for English translations. Before 1900, only the German scholar Ernest Trumpp had made an effort to translate Sri Guru Granth Sahib in English. In the last century, however, several complete translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib prepared by Sikh scholars were published. Numerous successful attempts have been made to translate Sikh prayers and regularly recited portions of Gurbani. Apart from English, there are some translations in Hindi. French, Spanish, Sindhi, Urdu and recently Thai translations are also available.


Dr Gopal Singh was the first to prepare a complete translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The translation in English verse was published in four volumes around 1960. Bhai Manmohan Singh ‘Advocate’ prepared another unique work at nearly the same time. He translated Sri Guru Granth Sahib in both English and Punjabi. Thus, the work became very useful for ordinary readers. For years to come, Bhai Manmohan Singh’s translations, printed by the SGPC, were used as the ‘Standard English’ of Gurbani, as it included the Gurmukhi text of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, along with the two translations. In 1977, Dr Gurcharan Singh Talib was assigned the task of compiling a new translation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib by Punjabi University, Patiala. This academic work was published in four volumes from 1984 to 1990.

In the past decade, some more translations of Gurbani have appeared. Pritam Singh Chahil published his translations of Gurbani. This work is a revision of Bhai Manmohan Singh’s English translation. Meanwhile, it was the first complete translation of Gurbani that included romanised transliteration, which helped the reader in pronouncing Gurbani. It was published in four volumes starting from 1993.

Another important work from recent years is the English translation in prose done by Gurbachan Singh Makin. It is quite different from the other translations. Along with the translations, Makin gives an insight into the substance of each pauri. It looks as if he has attempted to compile an English commentary on Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The language used is very simple and understandable for a common reader. The work was published in five volumes in 1998.

The translations available online and in the Gurbani-CD are the work of Sant Singh Khalsa of USA. The translation has become quite popular, however at places it differs from Punjabi commentaries. Still, there is a need for fully authentic translations and commentaries on Gurbani.

Apart from English, several translations are available in Hindi. Punjabi University scholars, Dr Manmohan Sehgal and Dr Jodh Singh have each published their translations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Hindi. Sindhi mystic scholar, Lakhman Chela Ram prepared a teeka or commentary in Hindi in 1987. The Shabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Punjabi was also revised and translated in Hindi by a group of Punjabi University scholars. Several attempts have been made to transliterate Gurbani’s original Gurmukhi text into Devanagri, or Hindi script. The recent work by Winand M. Callewaret is an important effort in this direction.

In the past decade, translations of Gurbani in French by Dr Jarnail Singh, in Spanish by Gurdev Singh Khalsa, in the Thai language by Bibi Jaspal Kaur and in Sindhi by the family of Dada Chela Ram (and DSGMC) have been published. Apart from this, an Urdu transliteration of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is also made available online, with the courtesy of Kirpal Singh Pannu. Translations in other languages are underway.


Dr. Gopal Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (4 vols. 1960, 2. ed 1978)
Bhai Manmohan Singh, Guru Granth Sahib (8 vols. 1962-1969)
Dr Gurbachan Singh Talib, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (4 vols. 1984-1990)
Pritam Singh Chahil, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (4 vols. 1993)
Gurbachan Singh Makin, The Essence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (5 vols. 1998)
Sant Singh Khalsa, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Gurbani-CD)

Other languages

Manmohan Sehgal, Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Hindi translation and Devanagri transliteration, 4 vols. 1978-1982
Shri Lakshman Chela Ram, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Hindi teeka, 6 vols. 1987)
Dr Gurcharan Singh Anand, Shabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Hindi, 4 vols 1989-)
Dr Jodh Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Hindi, 4 vols. 2005)
Winand M. Callewaret, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Devanagri transliteration, 1996)
Dada Chela Ram/DSGMC, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Sindhi translation and Urdu transliteration, 4 vols. 2000)
Dr Jarnail Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (French, 4 vols. 1995-96)
Gurdev Singh Khalsa, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Spanish, 2003)
Bibi Jaspal Kaur, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Thai, 2004)
Kirpal Singh Pannu, Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Urdu ’Shahmukhi’ transliteration, 2004 on Gurbani-CD)


Part 7: Conceptual Studies:  A – Theological and Metaphysical Studies


This is one of the few fields of Sri Guru Granth Sahib studies where large numbers of books have been written. In the beginning of the past century, certain individual attempts were made to use the philosophical tools to build a model of Sikh theology. Before this, the area of Gurbani’s conceptual studies had remained the stronghold of Nirmalas and Gianis. However, in the later half of the centuries, as modern universities were established at Chandigarh, Patiala and Amritsar, conceptual studies became a major part of the scholarly research.

In this section, we will look at some of the major analytic studies of Gurbani. The section is divided in three parts: Theology and Metaphysical studies, Ethics and social philosophy, and Mystical writings. Sikhism, being a God-oriented religion has a theology of its own. The common approach adapted by modern scholars studying Gurbani is the one based upon logic and reason. Scholars, who study Sikhism from such a perspective, use philosophy as a tool while developing the models of Sikh theology. Meanwhile, like all religious writings, Gurbani is a field with mystical terms and frequent references to mythological figures and ideas. The traditional scholars who try to interpret Gurbani use the mystical framework as a tool. Thus, there is an important difference between the two types of scholars, not only in the contents, but also in the methodology. Another important part of philosophical studies is ethics and social philosophy that will be made available in the coming weeks.

Philosophical studies of a religion, ideology or any ‘ism’ would try to distinguish a metaphysical, epistemological and an ethical understanding of the field. By metaphysics the scholars mean a study of the ultimate reality. Subjects related to life, creation, existence and the relation of man-body are discussed. Epistemology is the study concerned with the nature and origin of knowledge. For a religious system, its theology is its philosophy. Thus, the scriptural ideas about the creation, humankind, life and death become the religious metaphysics, while the religious theories about spiritual knowledge (gian) are seen as its epistemology.        


The modern studies of Sikh philosophy, translated as Gurmat Chintan, Gurmat Darshan, or Sikh vichaardhara, began with the work of Sirdar Khazan Singh, titled ‘History and Philosophy of Sikh Religion’ from 1914. Part two of the book is dedicated to the philosophical analysis. The writer lacking the proper knowledge of philosophy has given a very simplified version of Gurmat, useful for preaching purposes. Later on, Bhai Jodh Singh wrote ‘Gurmat Nirnay’, which became a standard work on Sikh philosophy. The author has frequently referred to Gurbani, without indulging in philosophical discussion.

The next work on Sikh philosophy, titled ‘Sikh Studies’ was written by Sardar Sardool Singh Kavishar in 1937. A Punjabi edition, ‘Sikh Dharam Darshan’ was also prepared in the following years. In this book, Bhai Sardool Singh has written four essays on the concepts of Akaal-Purakh, Creation, Life-Soul and Salvation from the Gurmat perspective. Another important work, ‘Philosophy of Sikhism’ came in 1944. The writer, Dr Sher Singh, having lived in the West was influenced by the Christian and Islamic philosophies. The work was prepared as part of his doctoral thesis. He has focused on the metaphysical aspects of Sikh philosophy.

Meanwhile, Sikh scholars based at Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar have given the largest contribution to the field of Sikh philosophy in modern times. Some important works have been written by Avtar Singh (1998), Gurnam Kaur (1981), Pritam Singh (1975) and Guninder Kaur (1981) have been written. Daljeet Singh, a highly respected scholar of Sikhism wrote a work on comparative studies of Sikh theology and mysticism in 1979. Another important work on metaphysics by a Sikh scholar, Dr Santokh Singh was published in 1983, followed by Jaswinder Kaur Dhillon’s recent book on the topic. Other major projects are under way at the universities.

Recently, Dr Kharak Singh, SGPC-scholar and Director of Institute of Sikh studies wrote ‘Philosophy of Sikhism and History‘. The author of several works on Sikhism, Dr Nirbhai Singh published his ‘Sikh Dynamic Vision’ in 2003. Earlier in 1990, the author had written ‘Philosophy of Sikhism’ which also became a popular reading. The latest book comprises of 436 pages, and gives a comprehensive interpretative of Sikh philosophy. 

Avtar Singh. Philosophical Perspectives of Sikhism. ed. Gurnam Kaur. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1998. 
Bhagat Singh Heera, Giani. Gurmat Vichardhara. New Delhi: National Book Shop, 1969. 
Daljeet Singh. Sikhism: A Comparative Study of its Theology and Mysticism. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1979. 
Dhillon, Jaswinder Kaur. Guru Nanak Keemat-Mimansa. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University.
Guninder Kaur. The Guru Granth Sahib: Its Physics and Metaphysics. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, 1981. 
Gurnam Kaur. Sikh Value System and Social Change. Patiala: Punjabi University.
Jodh Singh, Bhai. Gurmat Nirnai. 3rd ed. Patiala: Language Department, 1980. 
Kharak Singh. Philosophy of Sikhism and History. Chandigarh: Institute of Sikh Studies, 1999. 
Khazan Singh, Sardar. History and Philosophy of Sikhism. 1914. 
Nirbhai Singh. Sikh Dynamic Vision. New Delhi: Harnam Publications, 2003. 
Pritam Singh (ed.). Sikh Falsafe di Roop-Rekha. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University, 1975.  Also see ‘Sikh Vichardhara’  from 1968.  
Santokh Singh. Philosophical Foundations of the Sikh Value System. New Delhi: Munshi Ram Manohar Lal Publishers, 1983. 
Sardool Singh Kavishar. Sikh Dharam Darshan. ed. Dr. Wazir Singh, Patiala: Punjabi University, 1969. Sher Singh. Philosophy of Sikhism. Ludhiana: Chardi Kala Publications, 1966 [1944].


Part 8: Conceptual Studies: B - Ethics and Social Philosophy


In this part of the Bibliography, we will have a look at some of the works written on Sikh ethics and social philosophy. Ethics can be defined as a philosophical study of moral values and rules, where we try to evaluate human conduct as good or bad in light of moral principles. A Sikh term for such moral principles is suggested to be the large numbers of Rehats; either found in traditional Rehatnamas or in the Sikh Rehat Maryada. However, the term 'rehat' would be closer to norm or living rules. A more correct translation is perhaps sidhant, meaning moral principles or ideals. Thus, scholars who are engaged in the study of Sikh ethics would try to highlight moral principles as found in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. However, the study of Sikh Rehat Maryada is also part of the ethical field--but a more specifically laid out plan. A comparison can be made: the universal moral principles and values found in Gurbani, and how these principles become a concrete Rehat, that is the accepted Sikh way of life.

Meanwhile, other topics such as educational, political and socio-economic thoughts are also considered a part of the social philosophy. Thus, the modern scholars try to correlate the individual rehats with the social principles given by the Guru Sahiban.


Besides the Rehatnama anthologies prepared by Piara Singh Padam, few other major studies of Sikh ethics have come forward. At Punjabi University (Patiala), Dr Avtar Singh, who remained the dean of the Department of Philosophy for some time, wrote several articles on ethical thoughts found in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. His book Ethics of the Sikhs still remains an important work in the field. Surinder Singh Kohli, a well-known Sikh scholar, also wrote a book on Sikh ethics. Meanwhile, another early work on ethics was written by Jagbeer Singh and published in 1970 by the Punjab Languages Department, Patiala.

Nripinder Singh has also given a historical study of the Sikh Rehat. Published by South Asia Publications in 1990, Nripinder Singh's The Sikh Moral Tradition gives an account of how the Sikh Rehat was regarded within the Tat Khalsa circles and its subsequent importance for the Singh Sabha movement. He has given many references of Punjabi writings, such those of Babu Teja Singh, the leader of Panch Khalsa Diwan Bhasaur, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth.

Amrit Kaur Raina (1987), D.N. Khosla (1988) and T.S. Sodhi (1996) have written works on the educational philosophy of the Sikh Gurus. Gurdeep Kaur and Kanwarjit Singh have written about the Sikh political philosophy. Kanwarjit Singh's book is also available online. Avtar Singh (1980), Harbans Singh Chawla (1983) and Harbans Singh (1990) have written books on the social thoughts and descriptions found in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. J.S Dass (1988) has written an interesting work on the economic policy of the Sikh Gurus.

 Recent works include Madan Mohan Gopal's study of Bhagat-Bani from an ethical viewpoint, published 2001 by Punjab Languages Department, Patiala.   

Works Cited

Avtar Singh. Adi Guru de Guru Kavi da Samajik Pakh. Chandigarh: Punjabi University, 1980.
Avtar Singh. Ethics of the Sikhs. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1970. 
Chawla, Harbans Singh. Gurbani Vich Samkali Samajak Chittar. (Ph.D. Thesis) Delhi: Adhunik Bharti Bhashawan Vibhag, Delhi University, 1983.
Gurdeep Kaur. Political Ethics of Guru Granth Sahib.
Harbans Singh. Gurbani vich Samkali Samajik Chintan. New Delhi: Punjab Writers' Cooperative Society, 1990. 
Jagbeer Singh. Guru Nanak Bani vich Naitikta da Sankalp. Patiala: Language Department, 1970.
J.D. Dass. Economic Thought of the Sikh Gurus. New Delhi: National Book Organisation, 1988.
Kanwarjit Singh. Political Philosophy of the Sikh Gurus. New Delhi: Atlantic and Distributers.
Khosla, D.N. The Sikh Gurus on Education. New Delhi: Adi-Jugad Prakashan, 1988.
Madan Mohan Gopal. Adi Granth vich Sankalit Bhagat-Bani vich Naitikta da Sankalp Patiala: Language Department, 2001.
Nripinder Singh. The Sikh Moral Tradition: Ethical Perceptions of the Sikhs in the Late Nineteenth/Early Twentieth Century. Columbia, Missouri: South Asia Publications, 1990.
Raina, Amrit Kaur. The Educational Philosophy of the Sikh Gurus. Patiala: Language Department, 1987.
Surinder Singh Kohli. Sikh Ethics. New Delhi: Munshi Ram Manohar Lal Publishers, 1973.
T.S. Sodhi. Guru Nanak di Vidhya Falsafa. Patiala: Bawa Publications, 1996. This is a Punjabi translation of the author's doctoral dissertation 'Educational Philosophy of Guru Nanak'.


Part 9: Conceptual Studies: C - Mystical and Mythological Writing


One might wonder why they is a need a section containing information about mystical and mythological works. Before we answer that let us look at what lies behind these terms. Mysticism, a very broad term, is related to spirituality. In religion, mysticism points to the attempt by an individual to achieve a personal union with God. A mystic would often search for God, or Ultimate Reality from within. One does not need to have a solid understand of the Sikh faith and religous thought to see that mysticism would be part of any devoted Sikh. Gurbani tells the Sikhs to search for God within, and the ultimate goal for any human is the unity with Waheguru. Thus, writings about this theme have found their place in this Bibliography.

Meanwhile, mythology refers to the myths and stories found in the folklore. What could be the reason that Gurus included myths in the Bani? One explanation could be that myths were part of the daily life and thinking of the people. In order to teach their Sikhs about the Spiritual Path, Gurus used the examples from the folklore to emphasize morals and ideals. That does not mean that the myths and stories should be taken as 'facts'. What we can try to do is to learn the morals from such stories. It is evident that mythology was important for the Sikhs in past. Bhai Gurdas Ji who did the major work of explaining Gurbani to the masses, also refers to mythological figures. And in Sri Dasam Granth, we find hundreds of such stories, that do not state historic facts but rather fantasy. Throughout the centuries, Sikh mystics have been interpreting Gurbani along the mythological lines and concepts. Being modern students of Sikhism, we can't neglect this aspect of Sikh studies. It should be seen in its true context.


We can start by having a look at some introductory writings about Sikh mysticism. Dr Mohan Singh Uberoi wrote a work on the relation between Sikhism and mysticism, titled 'Sikh Mysticism - the Seven fold Yoga of Sikhism' from 1964.

Prof Ram Singh, a scholar of Sikh mysticism wrote the book 'Guru Nanak da Rahasvad' in 1974. His doctoral thesis was about the Panj Khands of Japu Ji Sahib. The thesis was published as 'Japuji de Panj Khand' (1989) and later a more indepth study was done in 'Japuji De Panj Khandan Da Bahupakhi Adhiyan' (1997).

Another Sikh scholar who has tried to highlight some aspects of Sikh mysticism is Dr Dewan Singh. An introductory work 'What is Mysticism?' was published in 1988, where the author has tried to study mysticism according to the Sikh perspective. Also Dewan Singh took his PhD on this subject, and published the thesis as 'Mysticism of Guru Nanak' in 1995. Dr Balkar Singh, a major Sikh scholar at Punjabi University has also written a book on this topic titled 'Sikh Rahasvad'.

One of the recent publications is Prof Gulwant Singh's article 'Guru Nanak Dev ate Tasawuf' in Gurmat Sahib Chintan from 1997, where the authors gives a contemporary study of Sikh philosophy and the Sufi Islamic mystical tradition of Tasawuf. He was a noted scholar of Persian classic literature who compiled a Punjabi-Persian dictory and wrote several books on Sufism. He was also engaged in the translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in Persian, before he died in 2001.

Rajinderjit Kaur Dhindsa was written a work on Sri Arjan Dev Ji's writings, from a mystical perspective.

Meanwhile, apart from such introductory works, there have been written numerous writings that have focused upon Sikh mysticism. Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh, a Sikh mystic par-excellence wrote more than twenty books on Sikh theology, philosophy and mysticism. Bhai Randhir Singh Ji explains Gurmat concepts in light of mystical concepts and also mentions various types of spiritual powers, energies and mystical notions. Some of the books include 'Jail Chittian (Auto-biography)', 'Amrit ki Hai? (What is the meaning of Amrit?), 'Anhad Shabad Dasam Duar', 'Gurmat Vichar', 'Scahkhand Darshan' and 'An-Dithi Duniya' (The Unseen World). Bhai Randhir Singh has in a very special way explained hidden concepts of mysticism. In the books such as 'Sachkhand Darshan' and The Unseen World, Bhai Sahib gives an account of the after-life. 'Gurmat Vichar' is one of his works on Sikh philosophy, that also from a mystical viewpoint. An important concept of Sikh mysticism being the 'Dasam Duar', or the Tenth gate that opens the channels of spiritual wisdom is also explained in his writings.

Another Sikh mystical scholar is Sardar Raghbir Singh Bir (1896 - 1974). His Bandgi Nama or 'Communion with the Divine' is a famous work on various concepts of Sikh mysticism and spirituality. In the book he explains the relation between Gyan (Spiritual knowledge), Simran-Prayer and the ultimate state of 'Mystic Immortality'. Among his other works include Anubhav Parkash ('Knowledge through Intuition') and Simran Mehma ('Importance of Remembering God').

Sant Naranjan Singh (1921 - 1994), a Sikh mystic who held position as a 'Shiromani Kathakar' (Chief Exponent of Gurbani) compiled 'Divine Mystic Reflections on Gurmat' (two volumes) based upon his talks and dialogues. A free English translation has been made available by Dr Harcharanjit Singh. The work addresses several topics related to Sikh mysticism and philosophy.


Balkar Singh. Sikh Rahasvad. Patiala:Punjabi University.

Dewan Singh. What is Mysticism? (in Sikh perspective). Amritsar: Ravi Sahit Parkashan, 1988.

Dewan Singh. Mysticism of Guru Nanak. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1995.

Gulwant Singh. "Guru Nanak ate Tasawuf" in Gurmat Sahib Chintan. Amritsar: Singh Brothers, 1997.

Mohan Singh Uberoi. Sikh Mysicism - the Seven fold Yoga of Sikhism. Pub: author, 1994.

Raghbir Singh 'Bir'. Bandgi Nama - Communion with the Divine.

(Bhai Sahib) Randhir Singh. Jail Chittian (Auto-biography). Also see 'Amrit ki Hai? (What is the meaning of Amrit?), 'Anhad Shabad Dasam Duar', 'Gurmat Vichar', 'Scahkhand Darshan' and 'An-Dithi Duniya' (The Unseen World) by the same author.

Ram Singh. Japuji de Panj Khand. Patiala: Punjabi University, 1989.

Ram Singh. Japuji De Panj Khandan Da Bahupakhi Adhiyan.

Sant Naranjan Singh. Divine Mystic Reflections on Gurmat.

Writings Available Online


Part 10: Linguistic Studies: A - Gurbani Grammars


 From a linguistic perspective, Sri Guru Granth Sahib is an ocean of medieval Punjabi and Hindi dialect forms, and loanwords from Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit languages, as tadbhav (localized forms) and tatsam (original) terms. For a linguist who studies the history and origin of the Punjabi language, Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the primary resource. Meanwhile, our intentions are somewhat different. Being students of Gurbani, our main purpose of understanding the language is to comprehend, or at least try to comprehend Guru's Words and Teachings in a proper way.

 In this part of the Bibliography, we will present works dealing with the language of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In the past century, a great number of writings on the 'Sikh Sacred Language' have been prepared; however, as still is the situation, the Sikhs at large lack the understanding of this language.


 Before we take a look at the serious studies in the field, we may mention the two special works written by Western scholars. Dr Ernest Trumpp, a German linguist who studied Indian languages and literature, tried to translate Sri Guru Granth Sahib, publishing the incomplete translation in 1877. According to Dr Harnam Singh Shan, the author of 'Guru Granth Sahib di Koshkari', Trumpp had prepared a grammar of the Gurbani before he started on the translation. However, no such work has yet been published and if the book does exist then it is the first attempt by any writer to construct a grammar of the 'Sikh Sacred Language'. Dr Shan located a manuscript titled 'Grammar to the Adi Granth', Dr Ernest Trumpp, 1873 at the State Library Munich, stored under the reference MSS.NO.Cod.Panj.3.

The second Western scholar who has written a work on what he calls the 'Sacred Language of the Sikhs' is Christopher Shackle, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. His books is more like the modern language learning books and gives the reader tutorials and exercises in the Gurmukhi script, besides the grammar and includes selected readings. Along with 'A Guru Nanak glossary' (1981), Shackle's books are prescribed to western students of Sikhism, who have no initial knowledge of the Punjabi language and script. The book will also be helpful for some of our readers who do not understand the difficult Punjabi used in Punjabi Vyakarans, and in many ways this is the only alternative for understanding Gurbani language, without actually learning the special terminology of the Punjabi grammarians.

 Among the Sikh scholars, Principal Teja Singh (1922) and Prof. Sahib Singh (1932) pioneered the field of Gurbani linguistics. The core of Principal Teja Singh's 'Shabadãtar Lagã-Matrã de Gujje Bhed' is that the importance of Gurmukhi vowels (sehari, behari, aunkar, etc) is as the tools for interpreting the Shabad-vaak. The work had immense popularity among Panthic scholars and had a great affect on the standardized printing of Sri Guru Granth Sahib by the SGPC, as the Shabadarth was normalized according to the rules found in this book. Thirty years after Teja Singh Ji, Bhai Randhir Singh Ji wrote a similar work that supported the view that vowels are in fact interpretive tools. However, there is a differentiation of thought between Bhai Randhir Singh and Principal Teja Singh. In the foreword of 'Gurbani dian Lagã-Matrã di Vilakhanta', the publisher, Giani Nahar Singh says: "The main purpose of this book is [to highlight] that Gurbani Shabads can have only one meaning. The functional placing of Lagã-Matrãs makes this clear."

Meanwhile, Prof. Sahib Singh went on to produce a full-fledged grammar of Gurbani, published in 1932. Initially, sections of the Panth did not accept the Gurbani Vyakaran as an authentic grammar; however as linguistics and modern scholars saw the value of this work, Prof Sahib Singh started to be called the 'Panini of the Sikhs' (Panini being the first person to construct a Sanskrit grammar). It should be noted that the grammarians Sahib Singh and Teja Singh, and Bhai Randhir Singh agreed upon the 'one-meaning' interpretation of Gurbani. This front consisting of modern linguists and Panthic scholars stood against the traditional views that Gurbani was not written according to any grammatical rules, and that there were endless meanings that must remain oral and not be published as written commentaries.

 Another work from this era is 'Sri Guru Vyakaran Panchain' by Pandit Kartar Singh Dakha, published in 1945. The book is no longer published, and old copies are only available at specific Sikh Sahit libraries.

 The next period starts from after 1975, when new debates arise in the Panth, specially related to the correct pronunciation of Gurbani and the logical justification of the practise through the authentic grammar. The works produced in the debate would be presented in the next part of this Bibliography; however we must mention some authors who have given us new linguistic insights of Gurbani.

Punjabi is an Indo-Aryan language native to the region of Punjab of Pakistan and India and spoken by the Punjabi people. This page discusses the grammar of Modern Standard Punjabi as defined by the relevant sources below (see #Bibliography).

Word order[edit]

Punjabi has a canonical word order of SOV (subject–object–verb).[1] It has postpositions rather than prepositions.[2]


In matters of script, Punjabi uses Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. On this grammar page Punjabi is written in "standard orientalist" transcription as outlined in Masica (1991:xv). Being "primarily a system of transliteration from the Indian scripts, [and] based in turn upon Sanskrit" (cf. IAST), these are its salient features: subscriptdots for retroflex consonants; macrons for etymologically, contrastively long vowels; h denoting aspiratedplosives. Tildes denote nasalized vowels, while grave and acute accents denote low and high tones respectively.

Vowels and consonants are outlined in the tables below. The vowels table shows the character used in the article (ex. ī) followed by its IPA value in backslashes (ex. /iː/). See Punjabi phonology for further clarification.



Punjabi distinguishes two genders, two numbers, and five cases of direct, oblique, vocative, ablative, and locative/instrumental. The latter two cases are essentially now vestigial: the ablative occurs only in the singular, in free variation with oblique case plus ablative postposition, and the locative/instrumental is confined to set adverbial expressions.[3] Nouns may be further divided into extended and unextendeddeclensional subtypes, with the former characteristically consisting of masculines ending in unaccented and feminines in .

The below tables displays the suffix paradigms, as outlined in Shackle (2003:600–601). Regarding the masculine, "the [extended] case-morphemes, very similar to those of the unextended declension, are added to the obl. base -e-, which is shortened to -i- (phonetically [e̯]) before back vowels and is lost before front vowels."[4] The division between feminine unextendeds and extendeds ending in looks to be now merely an etymological consideration, as there is neither a distinct oblique base nor any morphophonemic considerations.


The next table of noun declensions shows the above suffix paradigms in action. Words, from Shackle (2003:600–601): kṑṛā "stallion", sakhī "girlfriend", kàr "house", gall "thing, matter (being talked about)".



Adjectives may be divided into declinable and indeclinable categories. Declinables are marked, through termination, for the gender, number, case of the nouns they qualify. The set of declinable adjective terminations is similar but greatly simplified in comparison to that of noun terminations[5]

Obl.-ē-ē, -iā̃

Indeclinable adjectives are completely invariable, and can end in either consonants or vowels (including ā and ī ). Dir. masc. sg. () is the citation form. As a rule, adjectives ending in consonants are always indeclinable.

Masc.Sg.caṅgā kṑṛācaṅgē kṑṛēcaṅgē kṑṛiācaṅgē kṑṛiȭ(caṅge kṑṛē)
Pl.caṅgē kṑṛēcaṅgiā̃ kṑṛiā̃caṅgiā̃ kṑṛiō
Fem.Sg.caṅgī sakhīcaṅgī sakhīē
Pl.caṅgīā̃ sakhīā̃caṅgīā̃ sakhīō
Masc.Sg.caṅgā kàrcaṅgē kàrcaṅgē kàrācaṅgē kàrȭcaṅgē kàrē
Pl.caṅge kàrcaṅgiā̃ kàrā̃caṅgiā̃ kàrōcaṅgiā̃ kàrī̃
Fem.Sg.caṅgī gall(caṅgī gallē)caṅgī gallȭcaṅgī gallē
Pl.caṅgīā̃ gallā̃caṅgīā̃ gallōcaṅgīā̃ gallī̃
Masc.Sg.xarāb kṑṛāxarāb kṑṛēxarāb kṑṛiāxarāb kṑṛiȭ(xarāb kṑṛē)
Pl.xarāb kṑṛēxarāb kṑṛiā̃xarāb kṑṛiō
Fem.Sg.xarāb sakhīxarāb sakhīē
Pl.xarāb sakhīā̃xarāb sakhīō
Masc.Sg.xarāb kàrxarāb kàrāxarāb kàrȭxarāb kàrē
Pl.xarāb kàrxarāb kàrā̃xarāb kàrōxarāb kàrī̃
Fem.Sg.xarāb gall(xarāb gallē)xarāb gallȭxarāb gallē
Pl.xarāb gallā̃xarāb gallōxarāb gallī̃

All adjectives can be used either attributively, predicatively, or substantively. Those used substantively are declined as nouns rather than adjectives. Finally, additional inflections are often marked in colloquial speech, e.g. fem. sg. voc. nī sóṇīē kuṛīē! "hey pretty girl!".[5]


The aforementioned inflectionalcase system only goes so far on its own, and rather serves as that upon which is built a system of particles known as postpositions, which parallel English's prepositions. It is their use with a noun or verb that is what necessitates the noun or verb taking the oblique case, and it is with them that the locus of grammatical function or "case-marking" then lies. Such core postpositions include:

  • – genitive marker;
    • declines like an adjective.
    • Example: "X dā/dī/etc. Y" means "X's Y", with dā/dī/etc. agreeing with Y.
  • nū̃ – marks the indirect object (dative marker), or, if definite, the direct object (accusative marker).
  • – ergative case marker; applicable to subjects of transitiveperfectiveverbs.
  • - ablative marker, "from"
  • - superessive marker, "on" or "at"
  • vall - orientative marker; "towards"
  • kōḷ - possessive marker; "with" (as in possession) ex. kuṛī (de) kōḷ, "in the girl's possession."
  • vikhē - "at (a specific location)." Often colloquially replaced with . (e.g. Hoshiarpur vikhē, "at Hoshiarpur" (a city).
  • takk - "until, up to"
  • laī, vāstē - benefactive marker; "for"
  • bārē - "about"
  • vargā - comparative marker; "like"
  • duāḷē - "around, surrounding" ex. manjē (de) duāḷē, "around the bed."
  • binā̃ - abessive marker; "without"
  • nēṛē - "near"
  • lāgē - apudessive marker; "adjacent/next to"
  • hár/'ár - like - e.g. o de 'ár ("like him")
  • varga e.g. like him ude varga (his similarity)
  • vicc "in" → viccȭ "from in, among," for instance, jantē (de) viccȭ, "from among the people" and
  • nāḷ "with"→ nāḷȭ "compared to," for instance, kṑṛē (de) nāḷȭ, "compared to the stallion."



Punjabi has personal pronouns for the first and second persons, while for the third person demonstratives are used, which can be categorized deictically as near and remote. Pronouns do not distinguish gender.

The language has a T-V distinction in tū̃ and tusī̃. This latter "polite" form is also grammatically plural.

[6]1st pn.2nd pn.
3rd pn.RelativeInterrogative
Directkoṇ, kī́
Obliqueḗ, isḗnā̃ṓ, usṓnā̃jí, jisjinā̃kí, kiskinā̃

koṇ and are colloquially replaced by kḗṛā "which?" jḗṛā "which". Indefinites include kōī (obl. kisē) "some(one)" and kúj "some(thing)". The reflexive pronoun is āp, with a genitive of āpṇā. The pronominal obl. -nā̃ also occurs in ik, iknā̃ "some", hor, hornā̃ "others", sab, sabnā̃ "all".[7]


Based on table in Shackle (2003:604). Indefinites are extended forms of the interrogative set; e.g. kitē "somewhere", kadē "sometimes". The multiple versions under "place" and "manner" are dialectal variations; the second row of "place" forms are the ablative forms of the first.

Qualitykío jíājíāéo jíāóo jíā



The Punjabi verbal system is largely structured around a combination of aspect and tense/mood. Like the nominal system, the Punjabi verb takes a single inflectional suffix, and is often followed by successive layers of elements like auxiliary verbs and postpositions to the right of the lexical base.[8]

Punjabi has two aspects in the perfective and the habitual, and possibly a third in the continuous, with each having overt morphological correlates. These are participle forms, inflecting for gender and number by way of vowel termination, like adjectives. The perfective, displaying a number of irregularities and morphophonemic adjustments, is formally the verb stem, followed by -i-, capped off by the agreement vowel. The habitual forms from the imperfective participle; verb stem, plus -d-, then vowel. The continuous forms periphrastically through compounding with the perfective of ráíṇā "to stay".

Derived from hoṇā "to be" are five copula forms: present, past, subjunctive, presumptive, contrafactual (also known as "past conditional"). Used both in basic predicative/existential sentences and as verbal auxiliaries to aspectual forms, these constitute the basis of tense and mood.

Non-aspectual forms include the infinitive, the imperative, and the conjunctive. Mentioned morphological conditions such as the subjunctive, "presumptive", etc. are applicable to both copula roots for auxiliary usage with aspectual forms and to non-copula roots directly for often unspecified (non-aspectual) finite forms.

Finite verbalagreement is with the nominative subject, except in the transitive perfective, where it can be with the direct object, with the erstwhile subject taking the ergative construction -ne (see postpositions above). The perfective aspect thus displays split ergativity.

Tabled below on the left are the paradigms for the major Gender and Number termination (GN), along the line of that introduced in the adjectives section. To the right are the paradigms for the Person and Number termination (PN), used by the subjunctive (which has 1st pl. -īe) and future (which has 1st pl. -ā̃).



The sample verb is intransitive naccṇā "to dance", and the sample inflection is 3rd. masc. sg. (PN = e, GN = ā) where applicable.

Dir. Infinitive/
Obl. Infinitive*-(a)ṇnaccaṇ
Abl. Infinitive*-ṇ-ȭnaccṇȭ
Perfective*-GN hō-GNnacciā hōiā
Imperfective*-d-GN hō-GNnaccdā hōiā
Imperfective*-d-ē, -d-iā̃naccdē, naccdiā̃
Contingent Future*-PNnaccē
Definite Future*-PN-g-GNnaccēgā
*-(i)-GN*-d-GN* ráí-GN
Presenth-?nacciā henaccdā henacc ríā he
Pasts-?nacciā sīnaccdā sīnacc ríā sī
Subjunctiveho-v-PNnacciā hōvēnaccdā hōvē
Presumptiveho-v-PN-g-GNnacciā hōvēgānaccdā hōvēgā
Contrafactualhun-d-GNnacciā hundānaccdā hundā


  • Bhatia, Tej K. (1993). Punjabi: A Cognitive-Descriptive Grammar. London: Routledge.


  • Masica, Colin (1991), The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-29944-2 .
  • Shackle, Christopher (2003), "Panjabi", in Cardona, George; Jain, Dhanesh, The Indo-Aryan Languages, Routledge, pp. 581–621, ISBN 978-0-415-77294-5 .