After the death of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 1708, the spiritual authority of the Sikhs was passed on to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh’s own order.
On October 6, 1708, Guru Gobind Singh assembled the Sangat at Nanded and told them that he was the last in the line of human teachers—Gurus.
In his last farewell he said, “I have entrusted you to the immortal God. I have infused my mental and bodily spirit into the Granth Sahib, and the Khalsa should henceforth obey the Granth Sahib. It is the visible body of the Guru.”
To commemorate this fact into the memory of the Sikhs for all time, Munshi Sant Singh composed the verse that every Sikh recites after Ardas, “Guru Granth Ji maanio pargat gur’an ki deh, jo mujh ko mil-bo chahai, khoj shabd meh lay,” which means ”Recognize the Granth Sahib as the visible Body of the Guru; the Sikhs who wish to meet me, should find me therein.”
That is why it is called Sri Guru Granth Sahib or the Shabd Guru—the great compilation of sacred wisdom from God and Guru.
When Sikhs bow to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, they bow to infinity.
Sikhs strive to be humble, and reverent before the living Guru, the embodiment of the spirit of the Ten Gurus. In that humility and reverence Sikhs are able to receive the Guru’s guidance.
When bowing at the feet of the Guru in humility and reverence, Sikhs make themselves an empty slate so the Guru can rewrite the destiny on their forehead. Sikhs believe that the act of bowing enables past karmas to be erased. In the ‘Vars of Bhai Gurdas’ it is written: “The dust of the Guru’s feet will erase your bad karmas.”
A Sikh is not allowed to bow to any man as Guru, or believe in any other Gurus except the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs worship the Shabd Guru or the Word of the Guru, not any physical body.
~Resources: Living Reality (1994) by Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa.