Sacred Literature & Sikh Studies

In some Gutkas, why are the Banis and Ardaas longer than normal?

All Gutkas have the same length of Banis in them. It is only in the case of Rehras that a few Gutkas have a couple of additional Shabads. Ardas of course is different in different Gutkas because it was written by different persons. We should all follow the standard Ardas and Rehras written in the Gutkas printed by the Gurdwara committee, Amritsar and the Sikh Missionary College, Ludhiana. Differences in Rehras have history behind them. This Bani was originally known as So-Dar. The title Rehras however became popular later on, perhaps because of the live – Har Keerat Hamri Rehras — in the fourth shabad. The Rehras approved by the Khalsa Panth and mentioned in the Sikh Reht Maryada Tract and regularly read at Akal Takhat consists of: a) i) So-Dar ii) So-Purkh. Nine Shabads in all as mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib before the start of Ragas. b) Chaupai including Swaya and Dohra from Dasam Granth. c) The Rehras is concluded by reading the first five and last Pauri of Anand Sahib, followed by the last Slokas in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Additions to the above prescribed Paath and reasons for them:

In every Gurdwara people get together for evening Diwan callled So-Dar Diwan. Before starting the So-Dar Bani recitation, it was common (it is practiced at Akal Takhat and many other Gurdwaras even now) to sing some Shabads. When the Kirtan starts, Sangat knows that it is time for So-Dar recitation. They gather there and listen to the Kirtan of the Shabads before the start of the Rehras Paath. This helps tuning their minds to Gurbani. At the fixed time the Kirtan is stopped and a Sikh recites the Paath. Wherever Kirtan could not be sung in a Gurdwara, because of the non-availability of the Ragis there, the Sangat would jointly recite Shabads in rhythm. This would give Sikhs time to sit, settle and concentrate their minds before the start of reciting Rehras.

Later, when printing of Gutkas started, the Shabads commonly read by the Sangat were also printed along with the Rehras. This was to facilitate the correct singing of Shabads before starting the Rehras. However, having sung these Shabads over a long period of time, Sikhs mistakenly assumed the Shabads to be a part of Rehras. As different Sangats recited different Shabads to their liking, the contents and hence the length of the Rehras became different accordingly. To remove this misunderstanding, the Sikh Reht Maryada expressly states that Rehras Paath starts from the Shabad So-Dar and ends at Salok Mahala 5: Tera Keeta … Anything printed before So-Dar or after Mahala 5 is not a part of Rehras. Some Sikhs, however, made many more additions on their own after the Chaupai. The Khalsa Panth have decided not to include any of them as a part of Rehras. They are not allowed to be read as a part of Rehras. Even a little attention paid to the meaning of additional couplets chosen from Avtar Kathas easily proves that their reading as a part of Rehras is wrong. For example, one couplet tells that Vishnu devotees face no problems while the other couplet contradicts it saying that one should not pray to Vishnu, Krishan or other gods. Basically, the message of many of the added couplets is against the directions of Gurbani. They were picked up from the stories of Hindu Avtars included in a compilation now called Dasam Granth.

The Gutkas published by the Gurdwara Committee, Amritsar and other such organizations have the correct Rehras Paath. Only the Gutkas published by the private printers include extra Shabads after Chaupai. This is against the ruling of the Reht Maryada. Instead of agreeing with the scholars and the orders of the Guru Khalsa Panth, some Sikhs argue that reading extra Bani is more beneficial. Hence, they think that they are “better” Sikhs than those who read the standard Rehras.

One is welcome to read as many hymns as he wishes to but no individual has a right to make any additions to the approved Rehras Paath. It should be read as directed. Other Banis can be read whenever one wants, but not as a part of the Rehras.