The Reality Of Chandi Charitars

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The Article is Research Work of Professor Trilochan Singh, Read it and get enlighten and know the purpose of Chandi Charitars in Dasam Granth.

THE CHANDI CHARITARS Chandi or Durga is a pre-Aryan deity. During the 12th and 13th centuries there was a great conflict between Durga worshippers and the followers of the Krishna cult as is clear from the lives of Chandi Das and Jaidev. Then there was a compromise. The Aryan Hindus also accepted her as a deity. The life of Chandi is in a number of Puranas, particularly Markande Puran, Devi Bhagwat and Padma Puran.

There are three versions of Chandi Charitar besides a short version in the Triya Charitar. These versions are translations from three different Puranas:

  1. First Chandi Charitar, 233 verses, translated most probably from Padam Puran.
  2. Second Chandi Charitar (Hindi), 266 verses, mention is made at the end that it is translated from Markande Puran. It forms part of the Bachiter Natak Granth.
  3. Third version Durga-di-var, 55 verses, translated most probably from Devi Bhagwat.

The Chandi Charitars have become more popular than other secular works by Guru Gobind Singh because they are the shortest compositions in the Dasm Granth and are available in all brief selections in complete form. All the other selections are bulky. These are the only writings available in Panjabi and the Panjabi version is written in a very popular form of poetry called the var.

There are three grievous misunderstandings about which a great deal of fuss has been made by those who used every false argument trying to prove that Guru Gobind Singh was a worshipper of Durga and he derived all his strength for fighting from her and not from the one unmanifested God as is believed by the Sikhs.

While the motive for creating the misunderstanding is one and the same, the misunderstandings about Guru Gobind Singh's conception of Durga are three:

  1. In one place Guru Gobind Singh wrote, "I bow to the bhagauti," and bhagauti, some say, means Chandi or Durga. So it-is implied that Guru Gobind Singh meditated on Durga.
  2. At the end of all these three Chandi Charitars is written what we call the mahatam or the powers that can be attained by reciting the writings. This implies that the Sikhs should recite the Chandi Charitar to attain those powers.
  3. The third misunderstanding is created by distorted histories which were mostly written in the 18th century, about 100 years after the death of Guru Gobind Singh. These histories carry the invented story that in the 1698 A. D., Samvat 1755, Guru Gobind Singh actually worshipped Durga with elaborate ceremonies asking for courage and power to fight the enemy.

These three views about Guru Gobind Singh have become so popular that even those who know nothing much about Guru Gobind Singh can talk loudly and emphatically about these things.

There are two distinctly different words even in the original Sanskrit Puranas from where the Chandi Charitars have been translated. These are bhagauti and Bhagvati. Throughout the Markande Puran, Padam Puran, Devi Bhagwat and Vishnu Puran, these two words occur frequently and everywhere Bhagvati means Durga and bhagauti means sword. Nowhere in these Purans is the word bhagauti used to mean Durga. Everywhere, throughout the Puranic literature, bhagauti means the sword and nowhere does it mean Durga.

In the whole of Dasm Granth the word bhagauti occurs in two lines in the text which are:

pritham bhagauti simar cai guru nanak lai dhyae

Remembering the supreme swordfirst, meditate on Guru Nanak.

lai bhagauti durg sah vajragan bhari

Durga caught hold of the bhagauti (sword) which glimmered like a flashing flame.

These are the only two lines in the whole of Dasm Granth in which the word bhagauti occurs and by no stretch of the imagination can it be interpreted as durga. The name of Durga occurs in the Dasm Granth over 120 times and innumerable popular names for Durga are repeatedly used such as Chandi, Chandika, Bhavani, Durga, Mahamai, Devi, Ambaka, Jambhha, Mundardani, etc.

Guru Gobind Singh gave many new attributive names to God as the wielder of the sword of dharma, and the sword became for him the righteous spirit of God in which was ingrained his deep rooted faith in the ultimate victory of good over evil. Those names are:

Asdhuj (one who has the sword on His banner), Asket (wielder of the sword), Aspan (with the sword in hand) and Kharagpan (with the sword in hand). Other words which occur signifying God's sword-spirit of dharma are khag, tegan, sri as, kirpan, sarbloh (all- steel), maha loh (great steel) and bhagauti.

The second point of confusion is about some lines occurring at the end of Chandi Charitar giving the fruit of reciting the Chandi song.

These lines are:

  • First Chandi Charitar: "For whatever purpose a person reads this life of Chandi, it shall definitely be granted to him."
  • Second Chandi Charitar: "Even if a foolish person reads the life of Chandi, immense wealth will be bestowed on him. If a coward reads it he will be able to fight most bravely; if a yogi reads it he will attain siddhi and if a student reads it he will attain knowledge."
  • Third Panjabi version Durga ki var: "He who recites Durga's life will not take birth again."

All these are not the opinions of Guru Gobind Singh. They are the opinions of the writers of the original which Guru Gobind Singh faithfully translated. To dissociate himself and his ideal from it, Guru Gobind Singh either added a short introduction or an epilogue to each of these versions of Chandi. Guru Gobind Singh's opinions, giving his own faith were:

  • In the First Chandi Charitar he said:

deh siva bar mohe ehai, shubh carman te kabhu na taro, na daro ar so jab jae laro, niscai kar aprni jit karo, ar sikh hau apne hi man kau eh lalac hau gun tau ucro, jab av kd audh nidan banai at hi ran mai tab jujh maro

Give me this power, O Almighty: From righteous deeds I may never refrain, Fearlessly may I fight all the battles of life, Full confidence may I ever have In asserting my moral victories, May my supreme ambition and learning be To sing of Thy glory and victory. When this mortal life comes to a close May I die with the joy and courage of a martyr.

  • The second Chandi Charitar is a part of the Bachiter Natak Granth. The Bachiter Natak has a collective introduction in which Guru Gobind Singh repeatedly wrote that he did not believe in the worship of gods and goddesses. In verses 92 and 93 Guruji said, "It is through Thy power, O God, that Durga destroyed the demons like Sumbh, Nisumbh, Dhumer and Lochan, Chand and Mund. It is through Thy power, O God, that Rama destroyed Ravana." And he concludes, Also “so sahib pae kaha parvah rahi eh das tiharo— With such a supreme One as my Lord, what care I, Thy servant, for anything or anyone?"

In the next stanza Guruji commented on the avatars and goddesses who were instrumental in killing all these and said,

"Kahe ko kur kare tapasa inki kou kaudi ke kam na aihai— Why indulge ye in the futile worship of these deities? Their worship is not worth a kaudi (one-twentieth of a penny)

  • The third Panjabi version has a long introduction, a part which forms the national prayer. In it the Guru invoked the grace and blessings of God and the nine Gurus.

taihi durga saj kai daita da nas karaya, taitho hi bal ram lai nal bana dehsir ghaia, taitho hi bal krishan lai kans kesi pakad giraya, bade bade muni devte kai jug tini tan laia, kini tera nht na paya.

It is Thou who created Durga and had the demons destroyed, From Thee derived Rama all the strength to kill the ten-headed Ravana. From Thee derived Krishna all his strength to catch Kans by the hair and dash him to the ground. Great seers and sages in all ages strained hard in penance to know Thee. None, none has attained Thy end.

In these short prologues and epilogues Guru Gobind Singh made his own opinion about Durga quite clear. He took these figures simply as historical persons of note and nothing else.

  • The third question is, did Guru Gobind Singh actually worship Durga for strength before the creation of the Khalsa in 1698? This story was introduced to some partially unreliable records in order to distort or discredit the great creation of the Khalsa which in its dramatic way of imparting the spiritual powers and responsibility of the Guru to the people was historically unique. By this time Guru Gobind Singh had fought about eight or nine of his major and minor battles. If he had managed to fight all the severe battles without invoking Chandi so far,

where was the necessity of invoking the strength of Chandi for one or two more battles?

How was it that Guru Har Gobind fought all his battles without even thinking of Chandi? Even the places where Guru Gobind Singh rested for a while became sacred to the Sikhs and were worshipped by them. How is it that no Sikh, not even stray individuals, ever pay homage to Durga nor do they ever worship her? In the Zafarnama, which was written only six years later, Guru Gobind Singh called himself an idol breaker.

In 1698 a Muslim reporter of Aurangzeb's who witnessed the creation of the Khalsa quoted the speech of Guru Gobind Singh in his despatch to Aurangzeb as follows:

"Let all embrace one creed and obliterate the differences of religion. Let the four Hindu castes who have different rules of guidance abandon them all, adopt the one form of adoration and become brothers. Let no one deem himself superior to another. Let no one pay heed to the Ganges and other places of pilgrimage which are spoken of with reverence in the Shastras or adore incarnations such as Rama, Krishna, Brahma and Durga but believe in Guru Nanak and other Gurus. Let men of four castes receive my baptism, eat out of one dish and feel no disgust or contempt for another."

In none of his philosophic compositions did he invoke Durga, nor did he invoke the goddess when writing his letters to Aurangzeb. Everywhere it is the invocation of God as the protector of the good through the sword of dharma. The Durga worship story is generally placed in history in Baisakh 1755 Samvat. We learn from the Dasm Granth that Guru Gobind Singh completed his Ramayan (Life of Lord Rama which forms a part of Bachiter Natak Granth) in Baisakh 1755. The epilogue which he wrote to this Ramayan in this very month in which he is alleged to have worshipped Durga is as follows:

paen gahe jab te tumre, tab te kou atikh tare nahi aneo, ram raJiim puran kuran, anek kahai'n mat ek na rnaneo, simrit sastar bed sabai balm bhed kahain ham ek na janeo sri aspan kiipa tumri kar main na kaheo sab tohe bakhaneo. dohra: sagal duar kau chad kai gaheo tuharo duar bauhe gahe kl laj as gobihd das tuhar.

Ever since I took refuge at Thy feet, O God, I have brought no other god under the eye of my faith. Rain and Rahim are various deities of the Puran and Quran. They describe the One so differently; But I believe in none, I have faith in none but Thee, O God. The Vedas, Shastras and Simritis give various forms of worship; I believe in none and I have faith in none of them. O Glorious Weilder of the sword of dharma, It is only through Thy grace I have been able to write all this. dohra: After leaving all other doors, O God, I have come to Thy door. O make me Thinefor having once called me Thine own. I, Gobind, am just a humble servant of Thine.

These verses express the thoughts and the moods, the faith, the philosophy and the spiritual ideal to which he was inwardly attached in the very month in which he is alleged to have worshipped Durga. By comparing Guru Gobind Singh's translation with the original in Sanskrit written by Rishi Markande I have noticed that Guru Gobind Singh has deliberately excluded those chapters which give the list of siddhis, psychic powers, that can be attained by reciting it. The siddhis range from the cure of leprosy, smallpox and snake bite to the power of defeating the enemy.

He translated these lives of Durga in the literary language of those times to reveal Durga in the true light. He was pained to see that millions of Bengalis and Biharis worshipped Durga and yet they were timid and weak. The idea of fighting dharamyudh, the battles of righteousness, had disappeared from their consciousness. The worship of Durga had degenerated into a worship of a low type of psychic powers.

Even Rishi Markande gives over 108 names to Durga in his Markande Puran but bhagauti is not among them.