Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


Text and lineage in early Sikh history: issues in the study of the Adi Granth

a1 St John's College, Cambridge


This paper is concerned with the textual study of the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth. Beginning with a survey of previous approaches to the text of the Adi Granth, it argues that the traditional framework that has previously governed such studies is unable to deal with the complexity of the extant manuscript traditions of the bani (the corpus of compositions in the Granth). In the earliest period, a number of concurrent oral repertoires of the bani were in existence; over time, the written Adi Granth evolved into a number of relatively standardized recensions. Future textual studies on the Adi Granth must also begin to take into account the ways in which the text was received and read in the pre-modern period. Finally, the field must take cognizance of the contexts within which texts were produced and read, particularly those arising from merchant literacy.