Founded in India around 1500 AD by Guru Nanak, who lived from 1469 to 1539 AD, he was the first of the ten ‘gurus’, or teachers, of the Sikhs. Its main writings are contained in the Adi Granth, a Punjabi phrase meaning ‘The Original (or first) Book’, which was compiled by the fifth guru, Arjun, in 1604.
The Adi Granth is listed on the following page, with full link to a quite beautiful site detailing a full translation in English.
The Adi Granth (Punjabi: “First Book”), the sacred scripture of Sikhism, is also known as Granth, or Granth Sahib (“The Granth Personified”). It is a collection of nearly 6,000 hymns of the Sikh Gurus and various early and medieval saints of different religions and castes.
The Adi Granth is the central object of worship in all gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and is accorded the reverence paid a living Guru. It is ritually opened in the morning and wrapped up and put away for the night. On special occasions continuous readings of it are held, which last from 2 to 15 days. On the birthdays of the Gurus or anniversaries commemorating Sikh martyrs, the Granth is sometimes taken out in procession.
The first version of the book was compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru, Arjun, at Amritsar in AD 1604. He included his own hymns and those of his predecessors, the Gurus Nanak, Angad, Amar Das, and Ram Das, and a selection of devotional songs of both Hindu and Islamic saints (notably the poet Kabir). In AD 1704 the tenth and last Guru, Gobind Singh, added the hymns of his predecessor, Guru Tegh Bahadur (the sixth, seventh, and eighth Gurus did not write hymns), and enjoined that after his own death the Granth would take the place of the Guru. The book opens with the Mul Mantra (basic prayer), which is a declaration of the nature of God as Truth, followed by the Japji (Recital), the most important Sikh scripture, written by the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak. The hymns are arranged according to the musical modes (ragas) in which they are to be sung. The language is mostly Punjabi or Hindi, interspersed with Marathi, Persian, and Arabic words.
After the death of Guru Gobind Singh his hymns and other writings were compiled into a book known as the Dasam Granth (q.v.).
There are at least three recensions (versions) of the Adi Granth that differ from each other in minor detail. The version accepted by Sikhs as authentic is said to have been revised by Gobind Singh in 1704. The Adi Granth contains nearly 6,000 hymns composed by the first five Gurus: Nanak (974), Angad (62), Amar Das (907), Ram Das (679), and Arjun (2,218). Gobind incorporated 115 hymns written by his father, Tegh Bahadur, in it. Besides these compositions, the Adi Granth contains hymns of the Bhakta saints and Muslim Sufis (notably Ravidass, Kabir, and Farid Khan), and of a few of the bards attached to the courts of the Gurus.
The Dasam Granth (“Tenth Book”) is a compilation of writings ascribed to Gobind Singh. Scholars do not agree on the authenticity of the contents of this Granth, and it is not accorded the same sanctity as the Adi Granth. Traditions of the Khalsa are contained in the Rahatnamas (codes of conduct) by contemporaries of Gobind Singh.