Guru Arjan Dev (1563 - 1606), the third and youngest son of Guru Ram Das and the fifth Guru of the Sikhs is the author of a considerable part of the Gurubani or poetry in the Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Arjan Dev's composition in the Granth Sahib can be divided into three main categories - a long organized poem called 'Sukhmani', the 'Bavan Akhari' and the 'Barah Maha' in Rag Megh. The 'Sukhmani' comprising 24 sections is noted for its simplicity in theme and diction. It is generally recited in part or whole in the morning in most Sikh temples and homes.
The 'Bara Mana which is also similarly recited, especially on the first of every month, is written in a lucid language and of all Guru Arjan's compositions, its language is nearest to Punjabi in Idlom and structure. The other writings of the Guru are written in a language somewhere between modern Punjabi and old Braj or Sadhavi.
The general tone of Guru Arjan's writing is that of saintly devotion to God and simple but meaningful teaching of the deity and virtuous living.
Guru Arjan made use of all metres known to Indian prosody but he never sacrificed the clarity of his idea, the vibrance of his emotion or the lyricality of his note up to make his verse conform strictly to the rules of a confined metre.
His felicity of expression is so consummate that he can make the briefest possible lines carry his most profound ideas.
Guru Arjan Dev will be ever remembered, as the builder of the Golden Temple, one of the wonders of Indian architecture.
Mohinder Singh Joshi (b. 1919), the author of this monograph is a retired judge in the Supreme Court and now resides in Amritsar. He is also the author of several works in Punjabi.
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