Apparently the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhism, is always printed as 1430 pages. This is very unusual for a book: if you typeset a text twice you are quite likely to come up with a different page count: maybe one or two pages different if you are using the same design specs, but if you change the type size and page format obviously potentially vast — just look at those Bibles lying around the house. The pages of the Guru Granth Sahib, called angs, include 5894 shabads, hymns and prayers, and can be divided into 60 rāgas. The book is the focal point in any gurdwara. The reader/chanter performs from a raised platform known as a Takht (throne).

Clearly having the book make fewer pages would make handling it a bit easier.

Official versions of the Guru Granth Sahib are only allowed be printed in the basement the Gurudwara Ramsar in Amritsar by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Obviously this makes it simpler to control the 1430pp page count. As the book is composed in verse lines, keeping the same number of lines per page might have been a fairly obvious idea to come up with back in 1704 when the text was finalized. That page count has nothing to do with even working — why would any religious directive be divisible by 16 any way? Actually 1430 isn’t even divisible by 4, but of course maybe there’s also some front matter to help the mathematics a bit more.

Early 19th-century manuscript ang (Schoyen Collection Norway)

The Guru Granth Sahib was largely composed by six Sikh gurus: Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan, Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It also contains the poetic teachings of thirteen Hindu Bhakti sant poets and two Sufi Muslim poets. The script used for the text is Gurmukhi, an abugida developed from the Laṇḍā scripts, and is available in several languages including Lahnda, Braj Bhasha, Kauravi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, and Persian.

Dr Alex Bubb, who noted at the SHARP listserv the unusual fact that Guru Granth Sahib has a constant page layout and length, asked if there might be any example of such a phenomenon. Dr Paul Tankard has replied noting one — “G. B. Hill’s Clarendon edition (1887) of Boswell’s Life of Johnson, in six volumes, quickly became regarded as ‘standard’. When in 1923 L. F. Powell was invited to revise the edition, it was stipulated that (with regard to Boswell’s text) Hill’s pagination was to be preserved. This necessitated the creation of an extra level of annotation, and the addition of various appendices to each volume. So, 133 years later, Hill’s pagination is still being used for a text that remains in print.” But of course you can get editions of Boswell with different pagination.