Sri Gur Sobha

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SRI GUR SOBHA, or SriGur Sobha Granth, a poetical work, part eulogy and part history, is an admixture of Braj and eastern Punjabi, by Sainapati who enjoyed Guru Gobind Singh's patronage for several years. The work, which had remained unknown to scholars of the recent period, was rediscovered by Akali Kaur Singh and published through Bhai Nanak Singh Kirpal Singh Hazuria, Amritsar, in December 1925. Another edition was brought out by Dr Ganda Singh (Punjabi University, Patiala, 1967). Two copies of the manuscript existed in the Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar, which were destroyed in, the Army action in 1984. In Sn GurSobha the poet o uses neither his name nor penname. It is from his two other works, Chanakya NitTand SrJSain Sukh, that we get the clue to the name. Sn Gur Sobha opens with the phrase khalsa bach ("says the Khalsa") instead of the usual kaviovach ("says the poet"), suggesting that Sainapati had possibly received the rites of the Khalsa and become a "Singh." This led Bava Sumer Singh to name him Saina Singh. Sainapati, different from his namesake from the eastern provinces who wrote Kavyakalpadrum and JKavftt Ra.tana.kar, was the son of Bal Chand, a ManJatt of Lahore, who was himself a literate man and writer. Sainapati's original name was Chandra Sain. Sainapati and Sain Kavi were his pennames. Chandra Sain joined Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur as one of the poets in his retinue. There he translated Chanakya NJti, an ancient treatise on politics and diplomacy, into old Hindi verse. Sometime around the close of the seventeenth century or possibly after the evacuation of Anandpur in 1705, Chandra Sain went to stay at Wazirabad in presentday Gujranwala district of Pakistan. There at the instance of his friend Vaid Jagat Rai, he translated into Bhakha an old treatise on medicine, Ram Chand's Ram Binod, under the title Sn Sain Sukh. The SnGurSobha was written, according to the author's testimony, in 1701 (completed on Bhadon sudi 15, 1758 Bk/ 6 September 1701), but the fact that it includes accounts of events occurring as late as October 1708 has led scholars to surmise that 1701 may be the date of the first draft, and that the poet may have enlarged it later and completed it probably in 1711. The main theme of the book, as indicated in the invocatory passages, is the praise of Guru Gobind Singh. At least six of the twenty cantos, besides several passages in others, are devoted to directly panegyrizing the Guru and the Khalsa. In the events the work sets forth to highlight their heroic exploits lies its real historical value. Among the events described with much poetic flourish are battles fought by the Sikhs under Guru Gobind Singh, the war of succession among the sons of Emperor Aurangzib, the Guru's meeting with Emperor Bahadur Shah and the Guru's assassination at Nanded. A fairly well defined outline of Guru Gobind Singh's life emerges from the work as a whole. Besides its historical significance and poetic excellence, Sn Gur Sobha helps elucidate contemporary terminology in at least two instances; Sainapati uses the term misi as a military subunit (ii, 12,52 ; xviii. 6, 771); and Khalsa is defined as the Sikh community in direct relation with the Guru subsequent to the elimination by him of the intermediary masands or local community leaders ministering their dioceses in different parts. To enumerate the twenty different adhyayas or chapters, the first entitled "Panth Pragas Barnan" contains, besides introductory stanzas, names of the ten Gurus and describes, on the lines of the fifth canto of Guru Gobind Singh's Bachitra Natak, that the tenth Guru created Khalsa Panth in response to a divine command. The chapters that follow are (2) "Teg Pragas" depicting the battle of Bhangani; (3) "Rajan Het Sangram," the batde of Nadaun; (4) battles with Khanzada and Husain Khan: (5) "Bachan Pragas" describing cessation of masand system and the creation of the Khalsa: (6) "Bachan Bichar" delineating ideals of the Khalsa ; (7) "Rahit Pragas" announcing the way of life of the Khalsa ; (8) the first battle of Anandpur; (9) the battle ofNirmohgarh; (10) battles of Basali and Kalmot; (11) the second battle of Anandpur ; (12) the battle of Chamkaur ; (13) "Kala Pragas" describing the Guru's journey from Chamkaur to Malva, battle of Muktsar and Epistle of Victory; (14) "Kichak Mar" giving details of journey towards the South and the battle of Baghaur ; (15) "Zikr Badshahi" regarding the war of succession between two sons of Aurangzib ; (16) "Mulaqat Badshah Ki," i.e. meeting with Emperor Bahadur Shah; (17) "Sahibzada kaJudh ar Zikr Rah Ka " describing journey through Rajasthan and skirmish at Chittorgarh ; (18) "Joti Jot Samavana", i.e. the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh ; (19) "Agam Pragas," an expression of the poet's view about the future of the Khalsa ; and (20) "Sarb Upama" is the poet's salutation to the Omnipresent God.