Giani Gurdit Singh

Itihaas Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Mundavani
Mera Pind



What Critics Say

>> Letter from the author, Mr. Khushwant Singh
>> India Journal, CA, USA
>> Punjabi Tribune
>> Ajit, Punjabi News Paper, India
>> The Sikh Review Calcutta, April 2004
By I.J. Singh (New York University)
>> Atam Rang Magazine
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This is to thank you for sending me Mundavani. I am in total agreement with you that Rag Mala is not a part of the Granth Sahib. It is not even an accurate index of the ragas in the scripture.  Yours truly, Khushwant Singh   <br>
                                Khushwant Singh

Revd Giani Gurdit Singh ji,

This is to thank you for sending me Mundavani. I am in total agreement with you that Rag Mala is not a part of the Granth Sahib. It is not even an accurate index of the ragas in the scripture.

Yours truly,
Khushwant Singh

New Delhi
22 December 2003




Research Scholar, Writer, Journalist, Editor, Author – All in One

Giani Gurdit Singh is a unique personality. He is a rare combination of a research scholar, writer, journalist, editor, author – all in one. He is a man of letters and author of books on religion, culture and folk lore. He excelled in every field of activity he touched.

Giani Gurdit Singh is a historian of a different sort. Like usual historians he did not write history of events and happenings. He has written history of the Sikh Scripture; who wrote it, how was it collected and by whom and how was it compiled.

He is author of a large number of books in Punjabi. More popular being Mera Pind (My Village) Maire Pind Da Jeevan (Life in my village), Culture of Punjab, Punjab’s Folk Tales (3 volumes), Festivals, Traditions and Customs, History of Guru Granth Sahib (Bani of Bhagats), Bhats and their writings, Takht Damdama Sahib and Mundawni.

He has also written biographies of 20 eminent religious and intellectual personalities; some of the prominent among them being Giani Ditt Singh, Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh, Akali Kaur Singh, Bawa Harkishen Singh, Principal Teja Singh, Sardar Hukam Singh, and Bhai Sahib Ardaman Singh Bagdian.

Giani Gurdit Singh was the publisher and editor of the daily Parkash newspaper which he founded in Patiala in 1947. He was only 24 years young at that time. He was also founder, editor and publisher of Singh Sabha Patrika which rendered invaluable service to Sikh religion and Sikh history.

He founded the Kendri Singh Sabha and worked as its General Secretary and President. He established two Sri Guru Granth Sahib Vidya Kendars. He initiated organizing series of Path Bodh samagams, seminars on religion and history. He possesses the gift of the gab. He edited over 100 rare booklets about the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth.

Though basically Giani Gurdit Singh is a writer of religious literature based on his research, he came in close and intimate association with some top politicians. He was one of the closest persons to Giani Zail Singh, the President of India, (1982-87), Home Minister (1980-81) and Chief Minister of Punjab, (1972-77). He was also very close to Sardar Gian Singh Rarewala, Chief Minister of erstwhile PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union) (1948-53) and Sardar Partap Singh Kairon, Chief Minister of Punjab (1956-62). Giani Zail Singh and Sardar Rarewala liked Giani ji mainly because he was doing research on Guru Granth Sahib, in addition, of course, to his other qualities of head and heart.

Giani Gurdit Singh is a very learned person. He, however, earned and self-acquired knowledge and wisdom the hard way from practical experience in life and not by attending academic institutes. God was very kind and generous in richly compensating him by making a top educationist as his “better half”, who rose to become Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala and later elevated as Chairman of the Staff Selection Commission, Government of India. One of his two sons obtained Master’s degree in Journalism from a prestigious university in America and is well placed in a prominent newspaper of India.

His latest contribution to Sikh religious literature is a book titled Mundawni. He has tried to convincingly and logically prove with the help of documents that Mundawni written by Guru Arjan Dev, whose contribution is the maximum in the compilation and editing of Guru Granth Sahib, is the last and final hymns enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. Raag Maala, printed in Guru Granth Sahib after Mundawni, he claims, is neither a divine scripture nor approved and authorized by Guru Arjun Dev. He has pleaded and proved that Raag Maala was not included in the Aad (First) Granth Sahib which Guru Arjun Dev got hand-written by Bhai Gurdas, and was ceremoniously installed in the Golden Temple, Amritsar in September 1604.

Though the book “Mundawni” was published in July 2003, Giani Gurdit Singh had started doing research and collecting material for this nearly 60 years back. It is on record that a meeting between the supporters and opponents of Raag Maala was held under the chairmanship of then SGPC President Jathedar Mohan Singh Nagoke in Amritsar on Dec 10, 1946. Nagoke was also holding the post of Akal Takht Jathedar at that time. The opponents of Raag Maala were led by then 23-year old Giani Gurdit Singh. The leader of the supporters of Raag Mala was Late Bhai Jodh Singh, then 60-year old Principal of Khalsa College, Amritsar, who described Giani Gurdit Singh as a “boy.” Giani Gurdit Singh presented several photographs of the last page of different volumes of Guru Granth Sahib which did not contain Raag Maala and had concluded with “Mundawni,” which means end.

Jathedar Mohan Singh Nagoke was so much impressed by Giani Gurdit Singh with his brilliant presentation supported by facts, figures and documentary proof that Raag Maala was not a part of the original Aad Granth and was a later fake addition, that he offered to designate him as “Gurbani Research Scholar”. But Principal Jodh Singh was so much upset with the “boy” stealing the show that he walked out of the meeting.

The ways of almighty God are strange and unpredictable. That “boy” became a member of the Punjab legislative Council (1956-62) at the age of 33 and Principal Jodh Singh got that honor much later. The wife of that “boy” succeeded Bhai Jodh Singh as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala.

The 81-year old Giani Gurdit Singh with his so much research on Guru Granth Sahib has given more to the community than the community has given to him. Giani ji richly deserves something more. The community has not yet repaid its gratefulness to him. As Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh told Giani ji on Oct 24, 1945 in a letter “Satgur will grant you everything.”


Santa Fe Springs, CA USA
FEBRUARY 6, 2004



Atam Rang Magazine




Punjabi Tribune



Whether the Guru Granth ends with Mundavni, a composition of Guru Arjan, or with Raagmaala, which has a disputed authorship, is a matter that has sporadically engaged the attention of Sikh scholars for over a century. Mundavni, literally a legally binding seal should appear at the end because it indicates the closure or completion of a seminally important document. (This is the accepted translation of Mundavni, though in some dialects of Punjabi the word also means a conundrum or a brainteaser.) Then where did the little over one page of Raagmaala come from? 


Most educated Sikhs would agree that Raagmaala is an index or listing of the ragas in the Guru Granth, and it is incomplete at that.  We read it though that it fits neither the style nor the substance of the Guru Granth.  Yet it has become integral to the Guru Granth and I reckon it appears in every printed copy that is available in the marketplace.  Scholars have debated it and rejected it, yet its persistent appearance continues to give it life.  So much so that the Sikh Code of Conduct (Rehat Maryada) takes no position on this issue.  Its recommendation is that Sikhs may chose to read this composition or not, as they wish.  How did this happen is evidence of the power of politics or of benign neglect.


Giani Gurdit Singh is a dedicated scholar and respected interpreter of Sikh scripture and related literature.  It is appropriate, therefore, that he has cast an analytical eye on the controversy that surrounds the Raagmaala- how it arose and how it continues to be fed so that it still survives. 


In the early 17th century, when Guru Arjan compiled the main corpus of the Guru Granth, a spurious rescension (Bhai Banno's Birth) appeared and this contained many additional compositions, including the Raagmaala and even a recipe for making ink.  In these early days before printing when handwritten copies of sacred liturgy were made by scribes, errors and additions were not uncommon, either through ignorance, carelessness or because the spirit so moved the scribe.  Also Indian culture, rich as it is, is really one of oral tradition.  It has never valued consistency, precision or accuracy in evidence, whether in history or literature.  The first printed copy of the Guru Granth debuted in 1864, almost 400 years after the Guttenberg Bible was printed.


Giani Gurdit Singh ably explores almost all available historical rescensions of the Guru Granth and finds that most did not contain this spurious composition.  Early history is fascinating and provides some interesting vignettes.  In 1907, controversy broke out in the Police gurdwara at Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) on whether to read the Raagmaala or not.  The matter was referred to the Chief Khalsa Diwan (founded 1901), which ruled that Raagmaala was not gurbani.  A similar decision followed controversy in Nairobi gurdwara in 1917.  Some gurdwaras resorted to placing two slips of paper with the choices written on them in front of the Guru Granth and picking one at random after prayer.  Raagmaala stood consistently rejected.


Most Sikh reformers of that time, including the Bhassaur group, Chief Khalsa Diwan and Bhai Veer Singh took a principled stand against the Raagmaala.  Mcauliffe too concluded that the Guru Granth concluded with Mundavni, which was inexplicably followed by Raagmaala- a composition of a Muslim poet, Alam.  Yet, Bhai Veer Singh, a luminary of the period, changed his mind in 1917 and started advocating the inclusion of Raagmaala.  In 1918 Bhai Jodh Singh, another celebrated Sikh scholar concluded the reading of the Guru Granth with Mundavni. 


In 1920 when Sikhs regained control over the Akaal Takht, once again they started concluding the reading of Guru Granth at Mundavni.  This remained true for all the Akhand paaths that were concluded during the Gurdwara Reform Movement in the 1920's.  In the first draft of the Rehat Maryada in 1936, Raagmaala was rejected.  Yet in 1945, the question was revisited and finally tabled without its resolution.  At this meeting Bhai Jodh Singh had done an about turn and now supported Raagmaala.  By then Bhai Kahn Singh (Nabha) was no longer alive, and the debate was dominated by the sants and mahants of the time.  To be fair, Bhai Jodh Singh was seriously challenged on his changed stance on this issue.  He answered some and then preferred to walk out of the meeting. The author of this book - Giani Gurdit Singh - was also present at the meeting, so we have an eyewitness account of history in the making. 


Giani Gurdit Singh also takes a pleasantly educational detour and lists several Raagmaalas composed by poets and musicians of that era; apparently it was a much-favored style of versification.


A whole chapter is devoted to the Muslim poet Alam who is reputed to have been a contemporary of Guru Arjan and of Emperor Akbar. With a plethora of citations from Sikh and non-Sikh scholars, Giani Gurdit Singh leaves little doubt that this Raagmaala, which has become a part of the Guru Granth, is in fact derived from an epic poem of Alam celebrating a love story - a la Romeo and Juliet - that would be found in every culture.  How it jumped to the pages of Guru Granth still remains a mystery.  Why do Sikhs keep it there is a bigger riddle?  It appears to me at times somewhat like the Indian equivalent of the Gordian knot with its frustrating persistence, which will only respond to similar treatment.


This discussion of Mundavni is an integral part of Giani Gurdit Singh's fundamental work on Sikh scripture, "Ithihas of Guru Granth sahib." The author has a website,, where his works are available.


 It is a sad commentary on the popularity of Sikh literature that this book, which analyzes such an important matter, is privately published and not by an important house with worldwide distribution facilities.

The Sikh Review, Calcutta, April 2004

Book Review
- By I.J. Singh
New York University