The Sikh Concept of Guru


Photograph of Guruke and Guru Prasad Kaur by Soorya Kaur

This article was originally published in a 1984 issue of Beads of Truth.


The Sikh Concept of Guru

Guru is the Guiding Word for the Sikh, the student of Truth. But what does the word Guru mean?

Literally, Guru means in the Sanskrit original, “from dark to light.” It refers to that technology, that source, which takes us from the darkness of ignorance to the light of God.

In the historic sense, Guru is the Word of God as spoken by the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak, who in his ecstasy of love for God sang about the nature of God and man.

The Sikh sings these poetic songs of Nanak, and so comes to love and live with the Guru’s word implanted in the heart, mind and soul. He may express that love of the Guru in many ways — the Guru is his breath of life, his sustenance, most personal friend, companion, source of divine wisdom and joy. The Word of the Guru is the path on which a Sikh walks. By obeying the word of the Guru the Sikh is transformed, healed and he becomes a source of light and wisdom for others.

Guru Nanak wrote his songs and passed them on to his successors who also sang God’s praise in their own poetic style. These compositions, along with others of the same divine inspiration were compiled by the Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev, and brought together in the form of a Granth. A Granth, from the sanskrit root, means that which “ties one to the Infinite Master.”

The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, added the poetry of the Ninth Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur and sealed the Granth forever so that no word could be altered or added.  He declared the Granth as Guru for Sikhs for all time and called it the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (Great Guru). Since that time there has never been, nor will there ever be any other Guru in human form for the Sikhs.

The Siri Guru Granth Sahib is what gives you the experience of your higher nature. For the Sikh it is the supreme living wisdom which removes ignorance (the cause of suffering) through its Truth and through the repetition of its powerful sound current.

Unlike other religious scriptures, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is not the history of a people or of a religion. It is the experience of the soul, and its journey through life to oneness with God. Thus, the Siri Guru Granth Sahib speaks universal Truth; that Truth which was before time began, which is True now and which will be True for eternity. It relates to all people in all places at all times. Just as in the Bible, it says, “In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God,” so Sikhs recognize the Siri Guru Granth Sahib to be the embodiment of God’s word in written form.

It is the pivot point around which a Sikh’s mind revolves throughout the busy hours of the day. The Guru guides the mind to the experience that God’s light lives within the soul of mankind, and that God is One.


View this article as it originally appeared in Beads of Truth in the Summer of 1984


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    • OngKar Kaur Khalsa says:

      Thank you, Soorya Kaur for letting us know this was your photograph. We added it to the caption of the photograph.

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