Guru Gobinda Singha

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GURU GOBINDA SINGHA, by Basanta Kumar Banerjee, is a biography in Bengali of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth spiritual teacher of the Sikh faith. According to the author's statement, the book is an enlarged version of a chapter on the Tenth Guru in his book Sikh Guru. However, neither the Sikh Gurunor the Sikh Gharitra which he claims to have written is extant today. Guru Gobinda Singha, first published in 1909 and later translated into Hindi and English, begins with a general review of the political and religious conditions of the Punjab on the eve of the rise of Sikhism. According to the author. Guru Nanak preached the message of Hindu Muslim amity, but the Mughal policy of systematic religious persecution made the Sikhs a nation of soldiers. The birth of the Khalsa is described as an event which "paved the way for the foundation of a new state for the Sikhs and provided them a new rallying point to protect their faith in face of the fiercest persecution." In spite of the battles he had to engage in, Guru Gobind Singh, says the author, lived the life of a hermit and "never touched an article of luxury" even in his hour of success. The book presents an elaborate exposition of the Guru's character and of his influence on the history of India, but the Hindu predilections of the author impair his analysis. The narrative also suffers from factual errors. H.B.

GURU GOBINDA SINGHA, by Jogendranath Gupta, is a brief life sketch, in Bengali, of Guru Gobind Singh. Published in 1923, the booklet is meant for school children. Out of its total of 53 pages, the first 12 deal with the early history of the Sikhs under their first nine Gurus. The next 10 pages refer to some of the major historical developments leading to the birth of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib on the Baisakhi day (March 30) of AD 1699. The rest of the book reviews the history of the Tenth Guru's military encounters with the Mughals as well as with his "inconclusive political settlement" with Bahadur Shah shortly before his death in 1708. A significant aspect of the book is its detailed exposition of the Sikh code of conduct. However, the book contains some factual errors and the explanation the author provides for the rise of militancy among the Sikhs under Guru Hargobind and Guru Gobind Singh is utterly unacceptable. H.B.

GURU GOBIND SINGH, by Tirikari Banerjee, is a biography, in Bengali, of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last of the spiritual teachers of the Sikh faith. The author, a noted nineteenth century litterateur, felt moved by once listening to Guru Gobind Singh's Bhagauti hymns and this led him to undertake a biography of the Guru which "took thirty years of his labour and throughout this period he received all possible help from the Bara Bazar Sikh Sangat" and the bhais, i.e. Sikh priest preachers, of the Bara Bazar Gurdwara in Calcutta. The book, first published in AD 1896, had three fourths of it devoted to the lives of the nine preceding Gurus with the last three chapters describing the career of Guru Gobind Singh. However, the bulk of the second edition which came out in 1918 was taken up with the story of the Tenth Guru. The new edition also included portraits of the Ten Gurus and two maps, one of which showed the major political centres and religious places connected with the life of Guru Gobind Singh. The attitude of the author towards the Guru is one of wholehearted admiration and reverence. He considered him a true messenger of God, and he sums up his historical role as the creator of a body of men, saints as well as soldiers, committed to the defence of the weak and to challenging State tyranny.