Charitropakhyan

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ਜੋਰਾ ਦਾ ਆਖਿਆ ਪੁਰਖ ਕਮਾਵਦੇ ਸੇ ਅਪਵਿਤ ਅਮੇਧ ਖਲਾ ॥
जोरा दा आखिआ पुरख कमावदे से अपवित अमेध खला ॥
Men who dance to the orders of overbearing women are impure, filthy and foolish.

ਕਾਮਿ ਵਿਆਪੇ ਕੁਸੁਧ ਨਰ ਸੇ ਜੋਰਾ ਪੁਛਿ ਚਲਾ ॥
कामि विआपे कुसुध नर से जोरा पुछि चला ॥

Enslaved by lust, these impure men walk according to their women's wishes.
(Guru Granth Sahib page 304)
The teachings of Guru Gobind Singh tells men never to gaze carnally at anyone with whom they are not married

Ath Pakhyan Charitar Likhyatey or Charitropakhyan also called Triya Charitar, is a long composition of Triya(Budhi) tales in verse, which forms over one third of the Dasam Granth, having 404 distinct chapters. The work is generally ascribed to Guru Gobind Singh. Charitaropakhyan means those tales which were already told by someone, which means the tales consisting in this bani were already told in history. The Bani contains many moral messages for those who want to understand, others remain confused in scholarly matters. The Charitropakhyan is conversation between minister and king except Charitar 1. This bani contains symbolic language having different characters which have very less relation with history and more relation with spiritual theology.

A school of opinion, however, exists which asserts that Chritropakhyan and some other compositions included in the Dasam Granth are not by the Guru but by some of the poets of the Guru's Court but this is not proved. What is clear is that most of 404 tales give a moral message rather than being intended as a piece of actual history.

History of Writing

According to the date given in the last Charitar or narrative, this work was completed in 1753 Bk/AD 1696 on the bank of the River Sutlej, probably at Anandpur. The last tale in the series is numbered 405, but for some reason number 325 is missing. The tales predominantly centre on the theme of women's tricks, deceits and wiles orchestrated mainly against men to provide them with what they want; most of them are driven by lust (Kam), material or worldly attachment (Moh) and greed (Lobh) and other vices. There are a few Charitars which describe the heroic and virtuous deeds of both men and women.

The bani Start with ੴ ਸ੝ਰੀ ਵਾਹਿਗ੝ਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ ॥ which itself means that the bani is from Guru's House. This continues with ਸ੍ਰੀ ਭਗੌਤੀ ਏ ਨਮ ॥, Bhagauti means Gurmat/Icha Shakti of God, the term used by Guru Gobind Singh in other all Banis, this continues with ਅਥ ਪਖ੍ਯਾਨ ਚਰਿਤ੍ਰ ਲਿਖ੍ਯਤੇ ॥, which means The Charitar of Triya(Budhi) which Guru Sahib had understand going to write for us, continued with ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੀ ੧੦ ॥ which itself means that this was written by Patshahi 10, the 10th spiritual Ruler. Guru Sahib then continued with Charitar of Gurmat and continued with THE KNOWLEDGE OF THREE WORLDS and ended with Chaupai sahib where he is saying god to protect us from the world which can trap a human and take away from God.

Plot

In a literal sense, Charitropakhyan is a plot created by Guru Gobind Singh in which there is an account of stories told by the wise adviser/minister to his King,

Charitropakhyan consists of an account of various narratives or story-telling by the wise adviser of King Chitra Singh with a specific purpose in mind. Standing true to his job, the adviser intended to educate and prepare the King in order to improve his decision making skills and to refine his character and to save his handsome son Hanuvant from the false accusations of one of the younger queen Chitramati. The central plot and story is:

King Chitra Singh of Chitravati married a damsel from Indra's kingdom, and had a son named Hanuvant Singh through her. When the king got old, she deserted him and fled from his kingdom. He ordered a search party to find her, but instead found another similar looking girl named Chitramati, who was the daughter of the ruler of Orissa. He married her after he won a fight with her father, the ruler of Orissa. Chitramati was about the age of the son of Chitra Singh, and she got heavily attracted to him. She tried to seduce him into sexual relationship, but he was not to go for incest. She in turn, arranged a high profile drama and accused Hanuvant Singh of raping her, which the King Chitra Singh believed and sentenced his son to death.

The wise adviser of the King knew that his second wife was not of a pious character and was falsely blaming Hanuvant Singh. In order to prevent this injustice to be inflicted onto Hanuvant Singh, the adviser shared various accounts of stories depicting different situations intended to make the King realize his folly and improve his decision making skill.

Therefore, these stories serve for the reader a set of crunch situations and provides oneself with morals to be drawn. Guru Gobind Singh gave these Opakhyan(means already told) stories to Sikhs as a test of their morality.

The first part of CHaritropakhyan is Chandi Charitar i.e Ath Chandi Charitar Likh-yatey of Guru Gobind Singh. It continued with story of Chiter Singh who had a long communication with his Minister on Charitropakhyan. The First charitar ends up with ਇਤਿ ਸ੝ਰੀ ਚਰਿਤ੝ਰ ਪਖ੝ਯਾਨੇ ਚੰਡੀ ਚਰਿਤ੝ਰੇ ਪ੝ਰਥਮ ਧ੝ਯਾਇ ਸਮਾਪਤਮ ਸਤ੝ ਸ੝ਭਮ ਸਤ੝ ॥੧॥੪੮॥ਅਫਜੂੰ॥ and all other charitars are end with ਇਤਿ ਸ੝ਰੀ ਚਰਿਤ੝ਰ ਪਖ੝ਯਾਨੇ ਤ੝ਰਿਯਾ ਚਰਿਤ੝ਰੇ ਮੰਤ੝ਰੀ ਭੂਪ ਸੰਬਾਦੇ ਦ੝ਤਿਯ ਚਰਿਤ੝ਰ ਸਮਾਪਤਮ ਸਤ੝ ਸ੝ਭਮ ਸਤ੝ ॥੨॥੭੮॥ਅਫਜੂੰ॥ which itself says that these Charitars was discourse between chitra singh and his minister on foolish decision which a person take closing their eyes not going into the reality, and foolishly act acc. to Wives will without knowing truth and lie. Guru Ram Das said such person a foolish ਜੋਰਾ ਦਾ ਆਖਿਆ ਪ੝ਰਖ ਕਮਾਵਦੇ ਸੇ ਅਪਵਿਤ ਅਮੇਧ ਖਲਾ ॥

Theological Terms

Though there are many theological terms in this composition but following are widely used two terms:

Charitar

Charitar means "miracle", "wonder", "trick", "charm", "play", "fun" or "show". Here, Charitar means Function or Characteristics or Significance. This is generic term which is used for Almighty and Soul in Guru Granth Sahib. In this composition, there are over 400 tales of trickery, deception and play of mainly women but also a few men for wrongful and right purposes.

In Adi Granth, Almighty's charitar is mentioned in following lines:

ਦੇਖਿ ਚਰਿਤ੍ਰ ਭਈ ਹਉ ਬਿਸਮਨਿ ਗੁਰਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਪੁਰਖਿ ਮਿਲਾਈ ॥
देखि चरित्र भई हउ बिसमनि गुरि सतिगुरि पुरखि मिलाई ॥
I am wonder-struck, gazing upon the wondrous play of God. The Guru, the True Guru, has led me to meet the Primal Lord.

ਪ੍ਰਭ ਰੰਗ ਦਇਆਲ ਮੋਹਿ ਗ੍ਰਿਹ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਤਪਤਿ ਬੁਝਾਈ ॥੪॥੧॥੧੫॥
प्रभ रंग दइआल मोहि ग्रिह महि पाइआ जन नानक तपति बुझाई ॥४॥१॥१५॥
I have found God, my Merciful Loving Lord, within the home of my own heart. O Nanak, the fire within me has been quenched. ||4||1||15||
(ਪੰਨਾ 1207, ਸਤਰ 4, ਮਃ 5)


Triya

In Gurmat, Triya or (Gurmukhi: ਤ੍ਰੀਅ) or (Gurmukhi: ਤਰਿਯਾ) is a feminine term means "mind" or "intellect" i.e Budhi. Triya is a generic term which is not taken for woman only because Women does not play characters it is mind and intellect of soul which plays different character.

Following is character of Gurmukhi Buddhi taken from Adi Granth:

ਅਲਪ ਸੁਖ ਛਾਡਿ ਪਰਮ ਸੁਖ ਪਾਵਾ ॥
Renouncing the shallow pleasures of the world, she obtains the supreme delight.
ਤਬ ਇਹ ਤ੍ਰੀਅ ਓ‍ੁਹੁ ਕੰਤੁ ਕਹਾਵਾ ॥੪੧॥
Then, she is the soul-bride; He is called her Husband Lord. ||41||
(ਪੰਨਾ 342, ਸਤਰ 15, ਭਗਤ ਕਬੀਰ ਜੀ)


Here Triya is not any Male or Female but our inner Spirit (mind and heart), which leave all worldly things and immerses in God. The above is definition of (Gurmukhi: ਤ੝ਰੀਅ) or (Gurmukhi: ਤ੝ਰਿਯਾ), Triya (soul bride). When there is no contentment in the person till then he or she consider himself male or female but when he or she has contentment, then he/she will calls their self a "Soul bride" (Triya) of God. This type of Triya is also called Gurmuk(i) or Suchaji or Gunwanti. Adi Granth has information about such Triya in Bani under title Suchaji, Gunwanti. Such triya (budhi) is always within the realm of Gurmat.

When a mind or intellect play charitars crossing the limits of Gurmat, such Triya is called Kuchaji; Guru Granth Sahib contains hymns describing Kuchaji (budhi).

The Charitropakhyan is about Triya (budhi or mind-set) which plays Charitar in limits or out of limits of Gurmat. It may be Male's Triya (Aadmi di Budhi) or Female's Triya (Aurat di Budhi).

Charitropakhyan is character of Triya (Budhi) which is Manmat(i) (self or ego driven). This is a test of Gurmukh (driven by Guru's wisdom) and a warning to Gurmukh to get away from such things negative thoughts and actions. Guru Gobind Singh collected all these stories for his Sikhs to read learn and know how the world really works and how the Gurmukh can save him or herself from such Triyas(Maleen Budhi).

Temporal meaning of Triya is Woman too but this charitar is not only about woman's budhi but also about man's budhi too.

Content

Type of Charitars

There are three types of charitars, according to identity:

  1. Purakh's, Charitar (Male Charitar)
  2. Triya's, Charitar (Female Mind Charitar)
  3. Chandi Chairtar (Gurmukh Chairtar)

Purakh Charitar: Purakh Charitar are those TRIYA CHARITARS, in which characters are Male. The Male's mind(Budhi) play charitar are placed under this category. These are added to show that TRIYA doesn't mean only female but it's mind or budhi which play such charitars.

Triya Charitar: Triya Charitar are those TRIYA CHARITARS, where characters are female. Temporal meaning of Triya is Female too. The Female's mind(Budhi) play charitar are placed under this category. These charitars are more in number then Purakh's Triya Charitars as aim of these charitar was to guide King that even female's mind can be Manmat(i) and she can play such wrong charitar to satisfy her rage.

Story/Tales/Morals

The way to read these Charitars is to become ant first. If elephants starts reading the charitar they will get nothing out of it.

ਹਰਿ ਹੈ ਖਾਂਡੁ ਰੇਤੁ ਮਹਿ ਬਿਖਰੀ ਹਾਥੀ ਚੁਨੀ ਨ ਜਾਇ ॥

The Lord is like sugar, scattered in the sand; the elephant cannot pick it up.

ਕਹਿ ਕਬੀਰ ਗੁਰਿ ਭਲੀ ਬੁਝਾਈ ਕੀਟੀ ਹੋਇ ਕੈ ਖਾਇ ॥੨੩੮॥

Says Kabeer, the Gur(Wisdom) has given me this sublime understanding: become an ant, and feed on it. ||238||


A moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim. As an example of the latter, at the end of Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, in which the plodding and determined tortoise wins a race against the much-faster yet extremely arrogant hare, the stated moral is "slow and steady wins the race". However, other morals can often be taken from the story itself; for instance, that "arrogance or overconfidence in one's abilities may lead to failure or the loss of an event, race, or contest". These stories are not given to find the historical corrections or errors. Who was that hare? where this race held bla bla

Similar This Bani is for Gurmukhs, for one who have understand Guru Granth Sahib, because person who do not know what Gurmat will not able to interpret it properly. So one who is not able to understand these charitars are recommended to stick with Guru Granth Sahib or contact some Gurmukh to interpret it for you. In other religions, subjects related to KAAM are kept at first, but here this subject has been kept at last when a person is so dare to face the world.

The Flavour of Tales

  • The chapters are of wondrous variety, being sensual, romantic, humourous, philosophical, valiant and entertaining. Many stories also deal with the darker side of human nature, such as incest, magic of myth, the mystical nature of legend, homosexuality, adultery, etc. These stories were collected from Punjabi folklore, Indian folklore and classical traditional texts.
  • Charitars arise from foreign sources, personal experiences of the Tenth Guru and others miscellaneous sources.
  • Many scandalous stories floating about the society of the time, imaginary stories, urban legends etc., also found their way into Triya Chritar.
  • In some cases, multiple tales are mismashed together to produce a wonderful new concoction of stories. Some of these stories are spread over several chapters such as those of 'Noop Kuaar' which is spread over chapters 21,22 and 23. These stories though predominately deal with the wiles of women.
  • Some of these tales were taken from old Hindu books such as the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Puranas, the Hitopadesa, the Panchatantra, from Mughal family stories, from folk tales of Rajputana and the Punjab, and even from ancient Hebrew lore.

The composition commonly referred to as 'Chaupee Sahib' amongst mainstream Sikhs is actually the conclusion to the Triya Charitar. The stories are wonderfully chosen to show every aspect of Triya(Budhi), how Budhi can go wrong side and what it can do for herself and for others.

Underlying message

  • Charitropakhyan is the study of Human Nature in this world. It gives detailed explanation of positive and negative characters, so that Khalsa could play Safe Game
  • Charitropakhyan is study of Hell. The world is like hell where we are thrown out to improve ourselves. Khalsa is one who is convict as he ran away from hell. So Guru Sahib showed him that, never ever come to this hell.

According to Bhai Mani Singh, who in the Bhagat Mala has said,

The Charitar acts as a warning so that the devout do not get trapped in women's intrigues and machinations.

ਜੋਰਾ ਦਾ ਆਖਿਆ ਪ੝ਰਖ ਕਮਾਵਦੇ ਸੇ ਅਪਵਿਤ ਅਮੇਧ ਖਲਾ ॥
Those men who act according to the orders of women are impure, filthy and foolish.

The moral they aim at is that one should not become entangled in the intrigues of wily women by becoming a slave to lust, for trusting them is dangerous. This does not mean that it is wrong to trust one's own wife, or worthy women; but that it is fatal to lose this world and the next by becoming enamored of strange women and entrapped in their wiles.

The theme of most of the tales, however, is that many women will stop at nothing; slander, arson, even murder to obtain their heart's desire; that men are helpless in their clutches; and that if men spurn them they have to reckon with the vilest and deadliest of enemies; but that, conversely, worthy women are the staunchest of allies, and think nothing of sacrificing their lives for their beloved.

Tales with moral messages

In the Dasam Granth a title is given at the end of each tale. Thirty two of a total of 404 Tales are thus labelled "Tales of Intrigue." The remaining 372 Tales are labelled as "The Wiles of Women." However, while most of these are about lustful, deceitful women, there are some 74 tales of the bravery and intelligence of women, such as Tale 102 where Ram Kaikeyi drives Raja Dasaratha into battle when his charioteer is killed; or Tale 137 where Draupadi rescues the unconscious Arjun and puts his enemies to flight. Men come in for at least a small share of being deceivers. In this mixture of tales of various sorts, there are ten "moral stories" of the folly of gambling, drinking, and opium eating.

There are also folk tales; love stories of Krisna and Radha; of Krsna and Rukmini; of Aurangzeb's sister (Tale 278); and of Joseph and Zulaikha, based on the Biblical story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife in Genesis.

The closing verses of Tale 405 have some lofty teaching about the Timeless Creator, His understanding love, and ends with a plea for His continuing protection. Verses of gratitude for help in completing the composition form the final prayer of the author and close this strange mixture of the tales of intrigue, of women mostly, some worthy, many sinful, in which men are often pictured as the gullible tools of these enchantresses.

Akali Baba Mohinder Singh States, "‘If we travel a road in which are dangerous potholes. Is it not wisdom to be aware of them and thus avoid them? Treh Chrittar forewarn the Khalsa of the potholes we encounter in daily life. They warn us of all the evil consequences of lust, blind rage, greed, vices, etc.’"

Historical accounts on Charitropakhyan

Letter of Bhai Mani Singh

A Letter Clearly mentions that charitropakhyan is gurus bani

From a historic letter addressed by him from Amritsar to Mata Sundari Ji (the wife of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) at Delhi in April 1716 mentioning chritropahyan.

Letter of Bhai Mani Singh to Mata Sundari Ji:

May the Almighty help us.

Mani Singh makes his humble prostration at the holy feet of his venerable mother. Further news is that the climate of this place has aggravated my rheumatism and my health deteriorates fast. I will have to listen to the healing parable of the tertian fever. But my illness has caused no slackness in the performance of the holy service of the Hari Mandir (Golden Temple). The Khalsa no more holds sway over the country and its power has waned. The Sikhs have migrated to the mountain retreats. The Malechhas reign supreme in the country. There is no security for the (Sikh) children and women in any habitation. They are hunted out and killed. The opposing states have also joined hands with them. The Hindalis spy on the Sikhs. All (the Sikhs) have deserted the Chak (The earliest name of Amritsar). The Mutsaddis (priests) have also fled. So far the Immortal Lord protects me. Tomorrow is uncertain. What is ordained by the Lord shall prevail. The adopted son of Binod Singh has passed away. Among the books I sent per Jhanda Singh, there is one entitled "303 Chritra Upakhyans" by the Lord (Guru Gobind Singh). Give that to Sihan Singh in the Mahal (Matia Mahal in the interior of Delhi City). So far there is no trace of the book "Nam Mala". I found the first part of "Krishna Avtar" but not the second. I shall send it when available. There is a rumour in the country that Banda (Bahadur) has made good his escape from the Emperor's jail. May the Guru protect him. The Guru's family (the descendants of the Guru) at Khandur have sent five tolas of gold as a gift for your son's bride (an adopted son of Mata Ji, as her four sons had been martyred). Recovered seventeen rupees from Jhanda Singh; I gave him five rupees to meet the expenses of the journey…(?) These expenses will be incurred by him. The Mutsaddis have not yet settled accounts, otherwise I would have sent a draft from the city (presumably Lahore). If my health improves I shall come in the month of assu.

Baisakh 22

Signed- Mani Singh,

Guruchak, Bunga

P.S. Reply in bamboo stick.’’

(the above P.S. being a reference, to the practice of concealing a message in a bamboo danda, which an uneducated Mughal soldier would only perceive as a poor man's laathi)

Saroop Das Bhalla - 1776

404 Charitar written by Guru Gobind Singh and was avilable to Sarup Das Bhalla in 1776
  • It is clearly mentioned by Saroop Das Bhalla that whole 404 Charitars were written by Guru Gobind Singh and completed it in Anandpur Sahib.
  • He have access of all Triya Charitars in Mid 18th Century. Acc. to Bhalla, it is the best description ever read

Language Nature of Charitropakhyan

It is often questioned that language used in Charitaropakhyan is not appropriate and is misleading due to terminology of Sex is present in it.

The aim of Charitropakhyan is very clear, to make people understand how Manmat exists. How different type of brains play games(whether in haq of gurmat or against) . As this composition includes subject of lust and terminology related to Lust is used in Charitropakhyan, which is demand of such poetry. In Guru Granth Sahib, there are different forms of poetry like Ghodian, Suhaag, Suhagni, Duhagni, Gunvanti, Patee which are well known and all terminologies which are used by society regarding these used in these poetic form.

Even at many places of Guru Granth Sahib, lust terminology is used whose direct meanings may not be socially acceptable, but when we understand morals of those then the real message comes out for eg. ਗਿਆਨ ਰਾਉ ਜਬ ਸੇਜੈ ਆਵੈ ਤ ਨਾਨਕ ਭੋਗ ਕਰੇਈ ॥੪॥੧॥੩੫॥ which means then, when the King of spiritual wisdom comes to her bed, He shall take her, and enjoy her. ||4||1||35|| etc. If person still at significance of creation of composition then he could learn many aspects of Temporal and Spiritual life from this huge composition.

Women in Charitropakhyan

Various aspects of human intelligence (feminine; budhi) using the example of different women characteristics have been delineated in Charitropakhyan. These aspects pertaining to the state of awareness of a woman (also feminine budhi) lead to Gurmukhi, Manumukhi and Durmati women. While in some of the narratives woman are shown to the intelligent, benevolent and acting according to Gurbani, in others the dark side of a woman's character using trickery for selfish motives is depicted. Somewhere one will find the state of a helpless woman, while in others a fierce and warrior nature of a woman is discussed.

The common misconception is that Charitropakhyan has brought females to disrepute by highlighting their negative character. This isn't true because such select depictions are for the Manmukhi and Durmati females, while there are others that include positive depiction of Gurmukhi females.

For instance, in Charitar 266 a woman defies the rituals and does not indulge in idol worship (Gurmukhi character) while in Charitar 349/21316 a Durmati woman character is shown which uses religious things as a pretext to do immoral acts.

Such type of incidents are part and parcel of a social setup and a Khalsa fauji is educated through these narratives using situational psychology. A devout Khalsa fauji reads these narratives as the characters of good/bad human intelligence (budhi) in which physical aspect is just the fallout. Therefore, in the Khalsa terminology, Triya stands for Budhi and not woman.

See also

References

  1. Dharam Pal Ashta, The Poetry of the Dasam Granth. Delhi, 1959
  2. C.H. Loehlin, The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa Brotherhood. Lucknow, 1971
  3. Ratan Singh Jaggi, Dasam Granth Parichaya. Delhi, 1990

External Links

Original Script and Translations