Concepts in sikhism

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CHAUTUKA. A hymn containing padas of four lines each. Chautukas are interspersed in many different ragas of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

DAKHNA. A salok in Lahndi dialect, western Punjabi, employed commonly in Guru Arjan’s hymns.

DUPADA. A hymn containing, besides the rahau lines, two stanzas.

PANJPADA. A panjpada is a hymn of five stanzas excluding the refrain (rahau).

PAURl, lit. ladder, is stanza adopted for vars, balladic poetry. Pauris of these vars generally consist of 6 to 8 lines each. Stanzas of Japuji are also traditionally called pauris.

SHABAD represents ‘Voice of the Master’, or word revealed. All forms of verse included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, padas, astpadis and chhants are shabads.

SALOK. A two-liner classical prosodic form allowing a variety of metrical arrangement. Though a salok may not unravel new strands of thought, it may well enlarge upon different aspects of an idea investing it with the freshness of an independent poem.

SOLAHA. A sixteen-stanza hymn. Raga Maru alone contains 62 Solahas 22 by Guru Nanak, 24 by Guru Amar Das, 2 by Guru Ram Das and 14 by Guru Arjan.

TIPADA. A hymn made up of 3 padas or stanzas.

TUK does not exist as a title or sub-title in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Any single line of the bani is a tuk and is close to what is known as sutraor aphorism in Sanskrit or in the orthodox system of philosophy.

VAR. An old form of Punjabi narrative poetry highlighting the exploits and acts of heroism and chivalry. On the psychological plane the struggle is between the good and evil propensities in man.


1. Talib, Gurbachan Singh, An Introduction to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Patiala, 1991

2. Kohli, Surindar Singh, A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961

3. Kapoor, S. S., “Guru Granth Sahib: The History, Arrangement and the Text” in The Sikh Courier. London, 1996

4. Harkirat Singh and Indar Singh, Gurbani da Suddh Ucharan. Amritsar, 1995

5. Sabdarath Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Amritsar, 1975

6. Sahib Singh, Sri Guru Granth Darpan. Jalandhar, 1962-64

7 Taran Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji da Sahitak Itihas. Amritsar, n.d

T. S.

SUKHMANI (G. S. Talib), titled Gauri Sukhmani in the Guru Granth Sahib after the musical measure Gauri to which it belongs, is a lengthy composition by Guru Arjan which many include in their daily regimen of prayers. The site, once enclosed by a dense wood, where it was composed around AD 1602-03, is still marked on the bank of the Ramsar pool in the city of Amritsar. It is said that Baba Sri Chand, elder son of Guru Nanak and founder of the Udasi order, came to Amritsar to meet Guru Arjan, then engaged in composing the poem. The Guru who had by that time completed sixteen astpadis, or cantos, requested him to continue the composition. Baba Sri Chand, out of humility, only recited the sloka of Guru Nanak following the Mul Mantra in the Japu—“adi sachu jugadi sachu hai bhi sachu Nanak hosi bhi sachu”—In the beginning, in the primal time was He the Eternal Reality; in the present is He the Eternal Reality. To eternity shall He the Reality abide (GG, 285). This sloka was thereupon repeated by Guru Arjan at the head of the seventeenth astpadi.

The word sukhmani is rendered into English as “consoler of the mind.” The entire poem has been translated into English more than once under the commonly preferred title, “Psalm of Peace” or “Song of Peace,” signifying the soothing effect it has on the mind of the reader. Sukh literally means peace or comfort and mani mind or heart. The couplet, constituting rahau, the only one in the composition, which means pause or rest and which is an equivalent of the Hebrew word selah occurring in the Psalms, sums up the most characteristic feature of this bani. According o this couplet, Sukhmani is the bringer of the bliss of the Lord’s name; it dwells in the hearts of those who love Him.

The Sukhmani comprises twenty-four astpadis or cantos, each comprising eight stanzas. They are composed in the metre chaupai. A sloka or couplet precedes each astpadi. The first seven stanzas of the astpadi explore the theme stated in the preceding sloka and the eighth sometimes sums up the astpadi but, more often, becomes a paean of praise placing the theme in the context of an overall vision of Eternal Reality. This structure is maintained throughout and though, from canto to canto, there may not be traceable progression of thought as in a philosophical work, there is a continuing unity of spiritual and ethical tone. One of the fundamental texts of the Sikh faith, the Sukhmani presents a complete scheme of the teachings of the Sikh faith. While each astpadi has a fresh vision to impart, a particular aspect of Truth to unfold, the whole text may be regarded as the reiteration of basic themes such as Divine immanence, Divine compassion, abundance of grace, God’s succouring hand, the merit of devotion, of holy company and humility. With such reiteration, the composition as a whole has a remarkable gripping quality reinforced by the striking imagery which in stanza after stanza brings home to the seeker the truths he must own.

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