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In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, having consciously witnessed the sacrifice of the lives of all his four sons, handed over the legacy to the Guruship of the Shabad Guru, embodied in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. He understood that the age of lineage was over, and so he consciously left no heirs. The unique beauty of this is that the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, our present Guru, can neither be altered nor changed in any way. It is a touchstone for all humanity that exists beyond the limitations of time and space, now and in the future.
Artist’s note: The Gurgaddi Siri Guru Granth Sahib piece is how the painting was originally conceived in my mind and laid out in early sketches. However, in the fall of 2008, the 300 anniversary of the event was fast approaching and I decided to recompose the painting from the original grand conception of the historic event to a more intimate portrayal, focusing on the silent communion between Guru Gobind Singh ji and the Siri Guru Granth Sahib ji. The version that was released that year was well received and has become quite iconic. However, the desire to paint it exactly as I had originally conceived the painting never left me.
History records that when Guru Gobind Singh ji passed the Guruship to the Guru Granth Sahib ji, our eternal Guru, the event was witnessed by a loyal retinue of Sikhs who had accompanied him south to Nanded. This closely knit sangat, said to be composed of roughly three hundred Khalsa soldiers including Mai Bhago, devout Sikhs and the few remaining members of the Guru’s own family, had endured much tragedy and hardship to remain by his side in those difficult times. In 1708, on the banks of the river Godavari, on a spot chosen by the Guru, they assembled and bore witness this sublime moment that defined Sikhism forever after. Guru Gobind Singh instructed them to follow the Guru Granth Sahib just as if it were a living, breathing Guru:
“The Eternal Father willed and I raised the Panth. All my Sikhs are hereby ordered to accept the Granth as their preceptor. Have faith in the Holy Granth as your master and consider it the visible manifestation of the Gurus. He who hath a pure heart will seek guidance from its holy words.”