Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Dasam Granth

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The collection of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's writings are known as the Dasam Granth. They consist of eighteen works written in four languages : Braj (frequently highly Sanskritised), Hindi, Persian and Punjabi. The Dasam Granth can be conveniently divided into three parts:

  • Mythological
  • Philosophical
  • Autobiographical

The largest portion is mythological and is devoted to retelling well known tales of Hindu mythology. The Chandi Charitra I and II and Var Bhaguti Ji Ki (Chandi di var) recount the battles of the deity Gurga and the Chaubis Avtar are tales of the incarnations of Vishnu. It is a common misconception by some ignorant people that Guru Gobind Singh ji workshipped the deities he wrote about. They are misled by the compositions on Ram Chandra, Krishna, Vishnu in the Chaubise Avtar and the vars of Chandi. They assume that since Guru ji praised them in verse, he must have admired and worshipped them also. These learned persons fail to recognise the fact that nowhere in his writings does Guru Ji accept them as anything other then the creations of the Formless Akal.

In reality Guru Sahib Ji wrote about them in the language of the people drawing from the mythological lore current at that time. He wrote about their exploits in colouful martial language to raise courage in the hearts of all who read them. It is meaningless to make one's own deductions ignoring the words of the Guru which are very clear.

Guru Ji writes in the Akal Ustat (Eulogy to God):

The Lord Akal creates millions of Krishna, annihilates them and recreates them.
Some hang stones as gods around their necks, while others erroneously call Mahesh 'God'
I have discarded all these false religions and am of the firm view that He who is the creator of the Universe, is the only Lord.
Everyone is caught in the noose of Death, no Rama or prophet can escape from it. All of them who made grand claims of being Avtars of God died repentant. Why doest not thou, O, hapless being seek the shelter of the One Lord. (15th swayya)

In clear concise language Guru Sahib Ji states :

I do not seek the blessings of Ganesh,
I do not worship Krishna or Vishnu.
I do not recognise them.
I am engrossed in the loving devotion of my Lord alone.
The Lord of Death, Akal, is my refuge and He saves me is all tribulations.
(Krishan Avtar, 434)

At the start of every composition in the Dasam Granth, Guru Ji first praises the One formless God and asks for his blessing before he continues - in the case of Chandi Di Var's, Var Bhaguti Ji Ki and Chaubis Avtar - to tell the exploits of various deities and Avtars. Why then do some learned people think that in these compositions Guru Gobind Singh Ji (who sought the protection of Akal Purkh only) was worshipping the deity?

Take the composition Var Bhaguti Ji Ki, this tells how the goddess Durga Devi was called upon by Inder Devta to help him in destroying the demons Sumb and Maha Kahsur and their legions. First and foremost Guru Ji bows and pays homage to Sri Bhaguti (God) and then recounts the names of the nine Gurus. He then says that you (God) created the world and that it was from you that Durga, Sri RamJi and Baghwan Krishan Ji got the strength to destroy their enemies.

Var Sri Bhaguti Ji : First and formost I remember Bhaguti Ji and then set my mind on Guru Nanak. Then I seek the help of Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das and Guru Ram Das. Arjan, Hargobind and (Guru) Har Rai be remembered. Sri Harkrishan be meditated upon whose mere glimpse removes all sorrows. (Guru) Tegh Bahadur be remembered as it causes home to flourish. They all help me at all times.

The Lord first created Khanda, the double edged sword and then his manifest world. Having created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, He created the entire play of Kudrat (manifest world). He created the oceans, mountains, earth and sky which stands above, unsupported by any pillars. He created both gods(deities) and demons and then created polemic. It was You who created Durga so as to destroy the demons. Rama also took strength from you to kill Ravan with his arrow. Krishan also got strength from You and thus threw down Kansa by his hair. Many great deities and ascetics underwent hard austerities, but none could fathom thy greatness.

As can be seen from this opening passage that Guru Gobind Singh Ji draws all his strength and inspiration from the one formless God, Akal Purkh. He says that Durga was created by You, O Lord. How then can Guru Ji be worshipping Durga?

Sri Akal Ustat

Realized through the grace of the True Protector;

Copy of the original in the hand of the Tenth Guru.

Blessed am I with the protection of Akal; Available to me is the defense of Sarbloh (AllSteel)
Blessed am I with the shield of Sarbkal; Available ever is the protection of Sarbloh.

Salutations to the Primal Ek Onkar, He permeates over the earth and sea. He is Primal Being, unmanifest and indestructible. His spirit pervades all the fourteen regions.

The opening passage of the Akal Ustat (eulogy to God) makes no mistake as to whose protection Guru Ji seeks.

Bachitra Natak Victory be to the wondrous Lord.
Now commences the writing of the Bachitra Natak Granth.
From my heart and soul I salute the double-edged sword (God). I invoke you to help me complete this granth

The opening passage of Guru Ji's autobiographical composition the Bachitra Natak calls upon God in the form of the double edged sword (Khanda) to help him successfully complete the granth.

Every composition starts this way, then why is it that some people say that Guru ji worshipped this devi or that , if it was not for mischief making?

Guru Ji's writings have a universal appeal, they touch the tender strings of the human heart with the strains of the brotherhood of Man. They arouse one with martial spirit with graphic descriptions of battle scenes, bringing the battle field alive before ones eyes. The neighing of the horses, the groaning and wounded warriors, the clash of weapons and the clamour of war. The descriptions of the battle scenes are steeped in extremely vigorous staccato rhythm often reduced to lines of one word. The battles waged by Chandi and Guru Ji's encounters with the hill rajas at Bhangani and Naduan are amongst the most stirring. All the mythological compositions have been written in such a way as to put a Sikh slant on them so that they fall in line with Sikh philosophy and thought. At no point does Guru Ji 'worship' these deities, these compositions were written to rouse the spirit of a people who had forgotten the taste of freedom, who held their heads low as slaves.

The Charitro Pukhyan

It has been said by some people who regard themselves as interlectuals that passages like the Charito Pukhyan cannot be the compositions of Guru Gobind Singh Ji as they are tales of the wiles of women and full of erotic imagery.

All around you one sees the ruchna or creation of Akal Purkh. He has created the good things and the bad things. Akal Purkh has created the plants, and trees, the natural beauty of the forests and the wilderness. He has also created good people, Sants, Mahapursh, Rishis, Munies, people with goodness in their hearts. He has also created the bad people, the oppressors, tyrants, murderers and thieves, the swindlers and the crooks and those people who are stuck in the clutches of Kaam. All is his khale or play – the good, the bad and the ugly.

So, if everything is as He wills it then why is it so difficult to accept that the Gurus wrote about it also. If the Gurus have written about the good things in a mans heart and the good things he can achieve then it follows that they can and must write about the seedier side of life and existence also. This is exactly what Guru Gobind Singh has done with the Charitro Pukhyan. Guru Ji has written about the wiles of not just women but about the bad deeds of men also, so that we as Sikhs, members of the Khalsa are aware of the traps and pitfalls, so that we can avoid them. Guru Sahib Ji has written in the Sarb Loh Granth

Khalsa mero roop hai khaas : Khalsa is my form and shape
Khalsay may hau karo nivaas : In the Khalsa I reside in spirit

This is how close Guru Sahib Ji regards himself to the Khalsa so it follows that Guru Ji wants to protect and make us aware of what goes on in the area of Kaam so that we are fully prepared for any eventuality. Also, these erotic passages are what happens in the world around us, this is part of the khale or ruchna that is around us, Guru Ji is simply writing as things stand. It is only the way that our clouded mind interprets it that is wrong. Guru Sahib Ji is writing nothing wrong, Guru Sahib Ji is writing as things are, for the Gurus mind is pure and he writes as he sees, it is our minds that takes the false root, for kaam or lust takes over our minds when we read these passages and we start to judge Guru Sahib Ji with our own inadequate standards, it is us who are wrong, not the Guru.

One has also to understand that if this composition was not of Guru Sahib Ji's hand, then why would Guru Sahib Ji select one of the passages from it (Bainty Chaupai) to be part of the five banis (prayers) that all Khalsa members must recite on a daily basis ?

The following is a list of prominent scholars who agree that the Dasam Granth is the work of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

  • In 1902 A.D., Bhai Bishan Singh of Sangrur, son of Bhai Gurdiyal Singh Anandpuri, wrote the book Dasam Granth Sahib Kisne Banaiya? ("Who Created the Tenth Granth?"). According to the method and style of the writings and much other evidence, he proved that the Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh. In 1935, Bhai Sher Singh of Kashmir wrote a book, Dasmesh Darpan ("Mirror of the Tenth Guru") in which he gave many proofs that the Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh.
  • In 1937, Dr. Jaswant Singh of Lucknow published a series of articles in Amrit magazine. This was scholarly research in which after great effort, giving many proofs from the scripture itself and the style of writing, he concluded that the whole book was written by Guru Gobind Singh.
  • In 1955, Dr. Tarlochan Singh published his scholarly writing in 4 consecutive issues of Sikh Review, giving the history of the compilation of the Dasam Granth. He provided solid proofs that all the writings in Dasam Granth are those of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • In 1955, Bhai Randhir Singh, eminent member of Sikh History Society Amritsar, wrote a book entitled Dasme Patshah Ji ka Granth da Itihas ("History of the Tenth Guru's Granth"). After 20 years of labour collecting proofs, he firmly established that the Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh. This book was published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee. The first printing was sold out within a few days of its publication, and there was great demand from the public. Ultimately, three printings were made of this publication.

In April 1959, Sardar Kapoor Singh, I.C.S., published an article in the Gurmat Prakash magazine and proved that the whole of the Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh.

  • Dr. Taran Singh, Punjabi University, Patiala, published a book in 1967 entitled Dasam Granth Roop te Ras ("Dasam Granth's Form and Taste"). He proved that the whole of the Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh. This book was published by the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Chandigarh.In 1980, Giani Harbans Singh, Chandigarh, wrote the book Dasam Granth Darpan ("Mirror of the Dasam Granth"), and proved that the entire Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh.
  • Professor Piara Singh Padam wrote a book entitled Dasam Granth Darshan, printed in 1968, again proving that the whole scripture was written by Guru Ji.
  • Pandit Tara Singh Narodam, in his writing, has concurred that the whole of Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh.
  • Bhagwant Singh Hari, son of Bhai Kahn Singh Nabna, wrote Dasam Granth Tuk Tatkara ("Line Index of Dasam Granth"), published in 1969. The preface of this book is written by Dr. Balbir Singh, who was younger brother of the, famous scholar Bhai Vir Singh. In that preface, he has written that the entire Dasam Granth is the writing of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • After 1955, people began research of Dasam Granth to obtain PhD degrees.
  • In 1955 Dr. Dharam Pal Ashta and in 1959 Dr. Harbajan Singh proved in their research papers that the entire Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh.
  • In 1961, Dr. Parsini Sehgal offered her research paper along the lines of the former two scholars. Dr. Lal Manohar Upadihiya of Benares University, Dr. Om Prakash Bhardwaj of Agra University, Dr. Sushila Devi of Punjab University, Dr. Shamir Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr. Mohan Jit Singh of Usmaniya University, Dr. Bhushan Sach Dev of Punjabi University, Dr. Nirmal Gupta of Punjabi University, etc.-about two dozen scholars wrote their PhD and DLit research papers on the subject. They have all agreed that the Dasam Granth was written by Guru Sahib. After all this research, it is clearly evident that this scripture is great not only due to its religious aspects but also due to its literary merit. The scholars who have studied the Dasam Granth have written great praises of the high standard of its poetry.

Today the Dasam Granth is being kept open with reverence at Takht Patna Sahib, Takht Sach Khand Hazur Sahib Nander, and all gurdwaras maintained by Nihang Singh. In these places, its meanings are being explained and hukamnama (holy commandment for the congregation) is also being taken from the scripture.