Concept of Guru in Sikhism

In Sikh religion the word 'Guru' is not denoted to its usual meaning such as a teacher or an expert or a guide or a human body, but this is composed of two words- GU and RU.

GU means darkness and RU means Light i.e. Light that dispels all darkness is called


When Impersonal God manifested His attributes in person, that person was called Guru Nanak:

'Jot rup har aap gur nanak kahayo.'
(Swayas Bhattan- p.1408)

Guru Nanak was thus the embodiment of Divine Light.

'In the true Guru (Nanak), He installed His Own Spirit,
Through him, God revealed Himself.'
(Asa di Var, pauri 6, page 466)

Guru Nanak seated Bhai Lehna (later called Guru Angad) on his throne, placed five paise and a coco-nut before him, and then bowed to him declaring him as GURU ANGAD. When Guruship was conferred on Guru Angad, he too became the embodiment of Divine Light.

'Jot uha jugat sai, seh kaya pher paltiae.'
(Sata Balwand, p-966)

'The Divine Light was the same,
The Way and Mode were the same,
The Master had merely changed the body.'
(Translation of the above)

The most important point to remember here is that the people bowed to Guru Angad ONLY when JOT was installed in him. No body bowed to him before the Guruship, which means the Sikhs did not bow to the human body (of Guru Angad) because human body was not Guru, but to the Divine Light which was passed on to that body by Guru Nanak.

The same process of conferring the Guruship continued till the tenth Guru. Then the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh seated the Adi Granth (the Holy Scripture- the Divine Word) on the throne of Guru Nanak, placed five paise and a coco- nut before it and then bowed declaring it as the Last Guru for ever. When the Guruship was passed on, Guru Granth Sahib too became the embodiment of Divine Light. It should, therefore, be remembered very clearly that bowing before Guru Granth Sahib as Sikhs do, is not a bowing before a book, but it is a bowing before the Divine Light or JOT (Guru) which was passed on when the Guruship was conferred upon it.

In Sikh religion the word 'Guru' has been used in three inter-related aspects:

Firstly it is used for God, the All-Pervading Divine Spirit, the Divine Light:

The Guru is Beneficent, the Sanctuary of peace,
The Guru is the Light of three worlds,
He is the Eternal Being,
O Nanak, he who believeth in Him, attaineth peace.'
(Slok Mohalla 1, p-137)

'The Guru is All-Powerful,
The Guru is the Formless Lord,
The Guru is the Highest, Fathomless and Limitless,
Ineffable is His praise; what can a sayer say?'
(Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-52)

'The Guru is Infinite God Himself
Nanak, meditate upon such a Guru day and night.'
(Asa Mohalla 5, p-387)

Secondly the word 'Guru' is also used for Guru Nanak as he was the Embodiment of God's Light:

'Guru Nanak is the perfect Guru,
With the true Guru I meditateth upon God.'
(Ramkali Mohalla 4, p-882)

'Guru Nanak is the true Guru,
The true Guru taketh me to God.'
(Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1310)

'The Guru and God are one,
Divine Master pervadeth everywhere.'
(Sri Rag Mohalla 5, p-53)

Thirdly the word 'Guru' is used for Gurbani, the Divine Word. Since Gurbani came direct from God, and as there is no difference between God and His order (Divine Word), Gurbani is Guru too:

'The Word is the Guru,
And the Guru is the Word,
The Guru's Word is full of life-giving Elixir,
Whosoever shall obey, what the Word commandeth,
Verily he shall get salvation.'
(Nat Mohalla 4, p-982)

'The Word is the True Guru and True Guru is the Word,
And the Word revealeth the path of salvation.'
(Kanra Mohalla 4, p-1310)


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