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Frequent Questions on Raagmala

The following is a point-by-point reply to an article “Ragmala The Undeniable Facts” (RTUF’s from now on) that has been distributed which questions the authenticity of God’s Gurbani – Ragmala.

“In reply to those who evangelize venomously that those who do not read Ragmala are not Sikhs. Even though it clearly states in the Sikh Code of Conduct that a Sikh can chose to read Ragmala or not read it according to their preference.” (RTUF)

The so called Sikh Code of Conduct (being referred to above) was originally published in the early 20th century after the leading Gursikhs of the time came together to try and agree a standard code of conduct. Many of these Gursikhs left the original meeting as it was obvious that some unscrupulous individuals would want to include things within this code that were obviously against Gurbani. Bhai Sahib Randheer Singh Jee and Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Jee Khalsa Bhindranwale are just two of these Sikhs that didn’t agree and that didn’t actually sign to the final draft of the Code (which coincidentally took many years of deliberation to form and proof of who actually agreed the final version has never been provided those who published the document). Some of the points included in this Code are:

  • Consumption of meat and alcohol are not cardinal sins

  • Sikhs need only read 3 Banis (namely Japji Sahib Jaap Sahib Tva Parsad Svaye) in their morning recital

  • Sikhs need only read shortened versions of certain Banis

If a Sikh is to use this Code as an arguing point then they should be prepared to abide by it in its entirerity not just picking and choosing what they feel is correct for example this Code clearly states that Kes is a Kakkar and not Keski and in praise of the Code it must be stated that it also says that a Sikh should recite one Sehaj Paath (whole of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee) monthly or the equivalent. If one is to use this code as a basis for arguing then they must be willing to abide by the stated previous points and practise what they preach. As shown this Code has many discrepancies and if Sikhs abided it they would actually be violating the eternal edicts of Gurbani.

“(1) Ragamala being the heading does not indicate which of our Great Gurus wrote Ragmala and since there is no mention of the word Nanak in the writing it is comprehensible that our Great Gurus had no hand in writing Ragmala.” (RTUF)

Ragmala has something in common with the most frequently read Bani around the world by Sikhs and non Sikhs alike Jap(u) Jee Sahib. Both do not indicate which of our Gurus wrote them in fact ‘Nanak’ doesn’t appear in 7 paurees (verses) of Jap(u) Jee Sahib and ‘Nanak’ doesn’t appear in several other Shabads in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. Arguing that Ragmala is not Gurbani due to the lack of the word ‘Nanak’ appearing in it is thus a fallacy and miscomprehension.

“(2) The order in which various rags are mentioned in Ragamala do not correspond to the order in which the same rag appears in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. The first rag in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is ‘Sri Rag’ while in Ragmala it is ‘Bhairo.”

The order of rags that appear in Ragmala are irrelevant to the writing of it as it is not an index of the rags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. Ragmala and Gurbani in general have deeper mystical meanings if we don’t understand or can’t comprehend these deeper hidden jewels that does not mean we should simply disregard Gurbani we don’t understand.

“(3) The following rags which are contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee do not emerge in Ragmala i.e. rags Maajh Bihagra Jaitsri Ramkali Mali Gaura Tukhari Prabhati and Jaijavanti. Therefore the assertion that Ragmala is a mala (rosary) of the rags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is not true.”

Nobody argued that Ragmala is a mere rosary of the rags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee Guru Jee decided what rags to include in Ragmala and it is not for us to doubt/question this decision. In Gurbani the word rag also means prem (love) so Ragmala is also a rosary of love it is not merely a rosary of rags (this is in reference to the deeper mystical meanings of Ragmala mentioned above).

“(4) In Ragmala the counting system of phrases is totally different to the system used in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee i.e. in Ragmala ||1|| or No. 1 appears after each phrase and the end of Ragmala. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee the totalling system is 123456 etc and this can be clearly seen in the first hymn in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee i.e. in Jap(u) Jee Sahib the first pauree has 1 and the last has 38.”

This statement is incorrect as Jap(u) Jee Sahib actually has two ‘1’s’ at the start and a ‘1’ at the end after the Salok. The 123456 etc numbering system is present in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee but is not consistent throughout. Just as in Jap(u) Jee Sahib there are other verses of Gurbani that have the No. 1 after paurees that follow each other – do we then also discount these as Gurbani as they are not adhering to this stringent numerical system.

“(5) Mudavani the word means the seal of closure therefore anything after Salok Mahalla 5 really cannot be accepted as Gurbani and since Ragamala is after Salok Mahalla 5 it cannot be sanctioned as part of Gurbani.”

If Mudavani is the seal of closure then technically we cannot accept Salok Mahalla 5 as this is a separate Shabad which comes after Mudhavani Mahalla 5. In fact the word Mudavani is present on two other occasions in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee on Ang 645 within the same Shabad in Vaar of Sorat(h). So if we follow this line of argument anything after this Shabad is not Gurbani – how ludicrous is that! The meaning of Mudavani is not ‘seal of closure’ but on the contrary it means ‘riddle’ a riddle that Guru Jee is stating in this Shabad. Guru Jee states in Mundavni

Thaal Vich

In this platter there are three things – they are truth discussion and discourse of the Shabad. In the next line Guru Jee states that Amrit Naam has been placed

Amrit Naam

The riddle is understanding the true meaning of these lines which is that in the platter of Sri Guru Granth Sahib the Amrit Naam of Shabad has been placed by contemplating and studying this Shabad one attains truth and contentment.

"(6) In some hand written versions of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee the following works appear:

  • Salok Mahalla 1 Jit Dhar Lakh muha(n)madha…

  • Salok Mahalla 1 Bia aatas aab

  • Rag Ramkali Ratan Male

  • Hakikat Rah Mukam Raja Sivnat Ki

In all the handwritten Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jees Ragmala appears at the end of all other works. Since it is acceptable that the works are not Gurbani how is it that pro Ragmala accept Ragmala as Gurbani and that the other works are not Gurbani even though they come before Ragmala this seems a very illogical attitude on their part. “

In 1945 the SGPC set up a sub-committee to investigate whether Ragmala is included in the original Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee Saroop that was compiled by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee. The following is from their: “We can most definitely say that nobody other than Bhai Gurdas Jee who was the scribe included Ragmala in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. Ragmala is an ang of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.” They also stated that they the ink paper and handwriting of Ragmala was consistent with the rest of the saroop. When this first saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee was compiled many had made supplications to Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee to include their writings but Guru Jee rejected many only those who had merged with God could utter Gurbani as it is the word of God Himself.

The final Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee as we know it today was compiled by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee and Baba Deep Singh Jee compiled 4 other Saroops of this final version and they were sent to all Five Takhats. All these Saroops have Ragmala in them again it is written in the same handwriting ink and upon the same paper. The above mentioned works are not present in any of these Saroops and they unanimously accepted not as the writings of the Guru and only few Saroops have these works in them.

“(7) Ragmala which comes after Mudavni in the printed versions of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee was not written by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee. It is part of a book called Mudhavnal Kamkandla written by poet Alam in 1640 Bikramee (1583 AD) 21 years before Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee was compiled by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Jee.”

This point is a fallacy it was a poet named Jodh who wrote Madhvanal Kamkandla in 1583 AD - Ragmala or anything even resembling it is not present in the original version of this book. The poet Alam lived from 1655 to 1717 AD and after listening to/reading Ragmala he wrote a book called Madhvanal Sangeet that was mostly copied work from other poets including Jodh. There is also a poem in this compilation which doubters of Ragmala believe is Ragmala but it is actually very different to Ragmala. In the past century people have mistakenly linked the work of these poets’ as one and the same because Alam plagerised much of his work from Jodh and they try to prove that Ragmala is not Gurbani with this mistaken line of argument. Historically there are 11 different versions of Ragmala they all differ from the original which is in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee different writers over time have gained inspiration from Ragmal in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee and then gone on to write their own versions of Ragmala. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee there are 2 different versions of Barah Maha one in Raag Maaj and the other in Raag Tukaree. There are also many versions of Barah Maha written by various authors should we then argue that these two Barah Maha’s are not Gurbani?

“(8) Ragmala Bhagats preach that whatever is contained in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee should be read. Then why don’t they read the 11 pages containing the index to the contents of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee or the publishers name on the first page or the seal of certification? Why the hypocracy?”

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is not a book and it is blasphemous to suggest so it is God’s word and should be respected as such. This line of argument is obviously of one who does not view Sri Guru Granth Sahib with reverence and it may be pointed out that such people also argue that you don’t have to do Bhog to food in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee or even doing Bhog is a mere ritual. The faithful offer food to Guru Jee to bless and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee is the living embodiment of the 10 Guru’s thus it is logical to offer food in the presence of the Guru.

“(9) The following great Sikh and non Sikh scholars believed that Ragmala is not Gurbani:

  • Great Poet Bhai Santokh Singh

  • Pandit Tara Singh Nakoola

  • Giani Dit Singh

  • Professor Gurmukh Singh

  • Giani Gian Singh

  • Sadhu Gobind Singh Nirmala

  • Pandit Basant Singh ..."

It would be very easy to make a list of Gursikhs who were held in high regard that believed Ragmala is Gurbani. The list would include great scholars freedom fighters spiritualists and selfless servants of the Khalsa Panth. The other point to note is that Sikhs throughout the world read Ragmala and it only a minority who question or doubt it’s authenticity there are only a few Gurdwaras throughout the world where Ragmala is not recited and it is recited at Sri Akhal Takhat Sahib and Sri Harimander Sahib (Golden Temple).

Giani Sobha Singh who lived at Takhar Dyal Singh’s Dharamsala in Amritsar was one of the first Sikhs to start the debate over the authenticity of Ragmala over a 100 years ago. He even compiled a Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee without Ragmala in it and he took it to Sri Akhal Takhat Sahib for approval. The senior Sikhs of the day decided to offer an Ardas to Guru Jee in this Ardas they said

‘If Bhai Sobha Singh has done right then nothing should happen but if he has done wrong then punish him accordingly.’

After just a week he became ill and his mouth was full of ulcers and he was in much pain to the extent that he could not even speak. He wrote a letter begging for forgiveness and brought it to Sri Akhal Takhat Sahib and he said that no-one should ever make the same mistake again. Shaheed Bhai Mani Singh Jee has told us of the greatness of reading Ragmala in his work Gur Bilaas:

Bhog Paavhu ….

Ragmala is read at the end of a complete recital of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee by doing this all your sins are eradicated. Ragmala Parr …

By reading Ragmala the recital is complete without it’s recitation it is incomplete.

We can only pray that Guru Jee brings the people who don’t believe in Ragmala to their senses in this life as who knows what they will have to endure if they die doubting the authenticity of Ragmala.

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