PATH, from the Sanskrit pdtha which means reading or recitation, is, in the religious context, reading or recitation of the holy texts. In Sikhism, it implies daily repetition of scriptural texts from the Guru Granth Sahib. Reading of certain bdnis is part of a Sikh`s nitnem or daily religious regimen. Path of these prescribed texts is performed from a handy collection, called gutkd (missal or breviary) or from memory.
Three of the bdnis. Guru Nanak`s/a/w and Guru Gobind Singh `sJdpu and Savaiye constitute the Sikhs mandatory morning path or devotions, and two Rahrdsi and Kirtan Sohild evening path. Individuals add certain other texts as well such as Shabad Hajdre, Anandu and Sukhmani.The path is also performed individually and more particularly in sangat from the Guru Granth Sahib itself.
The Holy Volume is ceremonially installed under coverlets on a decorated seat resting on a raised platform, with a canopy above, and is opened by the pdthi or reader who sits reverentially behind. Usually, another man stands in attendance, waving the flywhisk over the Holy Book. The pdthi should have bathed and be dressed in clean clothes.Besides the reading of one single hymn to obtain vdk or hukamndmd (lesson or command for the day) or of some passages, three forms of complete path of the Guru Granth Sahib are current: akhand (unbroken recitation completed in forty-eight hours), saptdhik (completed in a week) and sddhdran or sahij (taken in slow parts with no timelimit for completion).
A rarest variety is all akhand path, hardly ever practised, in which a single participant reads within the prescribed 48 hours the entire text. Another variety is the sampat path. No time limit is specified for it.Different schools and different groups or pdthishave their own schedules.But the commonest factor in this variety of path is that a whole sabda or a portion of it from the holy text will be set apart for repetition after every full stanza or apportioned section of it has been recited.
Time limit will thus be variable, depending upon the length of the verse or verses chosen for repetition. The hymn or portions of it chosen for repeated recitation will be governed by the occasion or purpose of the path. At certain places even the Mul Mantra is repeated with the chosen line or lines. The relay of pdthis in this instance will naturally be larger than in the case of a normal akhand path.
1. Cole, W. Owen and Sambhi, P.S., The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Delhi, 1978