Bachitar Natak: Writing of Guru Gobind Singh?

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According to some people, the writer named Poet Shyam mentioned in the Dasam Granth was not actually the tenth Sikh Guru but someone who tried to impersonate Guru Gobind Singh. These critics say that the poet has used the then available knowledge of history to write from the viewpoint of the revered Guru. This impersonator using these known facts and by stating that "his father", Guru Tegh Bahadur died for the protection of Hinduism; that he fought the Battle of Bhangani, Nadaun battle etc. has misrepresented the tenth Guru. The critics also state that the impersonator has left many clues which show that the writer cannot be Guru Gobind Singh.

This article tries to answer the question: Was the composition Bachitar Natak the writing of Guru Gobind Singh? Below are some issues that are raised by the one who question the authenticity of the writer.

Summary of the Main issues

The main issues raised by the critic of Dasam Granth being the work of Guru Gobind Singh are listed here. The Bachitar Natak text states the following:

  1. The father of the writer went to the East and bathes at various Tirath asthans (places of pilgrimage). The critics say this is "Anti Gurmat" and so it proves that the writer is not the Guru.
  2. The text states that Guru Gobind Singh established Anandpur Sahib. This is factually wrong as Anandpur was established in 1665 by Guru Tegh Bahadur one year before Guru Gobind Singh's birth (in 1665 while the Guru was born in 1666) and so the writer cannot be the Guru.
  3. The text places Ramanand in history before Muhammad. In the opinion of the critics, this is a chronological mistake so it proves their point.
  4. The composition says that the first three Gurus are Bedis. In the opinion of the critics this is wrong; they state that the second Guru was Trehan and the third Guru was Bhalla.
  5. The text states that the ones who didn't participate in Battle were forced to leave town. The critics say that this is heartless and that Guru Gobind Singh couldn't do that.

Ideological mistakes

Sikhs Gurus could not visit places of pilgrimage?

The text that is disputed is on page 142-3 of the Dasam Granth in the Bani, Bachitar Natak in the seventh section of this composition called "Birth of the Poet". The relevant section is quoted below:

ਮ੝ਰ ਪਿਤ ਪੂਰਬ ਕੀਯਸਿ ਪਯਾਨਾ ॥ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕੇ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਨਾ ॥
ਜਬ ਹੀ ਜਾਤ ਤ੝ਰਿਬੇਣੀ ਭਝ ॥ ਪ੝ੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਦਿਨ ਕਰਤ ਬਿਤਝ ॥੧॥
Mur pit poorab kooyas(i) payaanaa. Bhaant(i) bhaant(i) ke toorah(i) naanaa.
Jab hoo jaat tribaanoo bhae. Punn daan din karat bitae (1)
My father proceeded towards the east and visited several places of pilgrimage.

When he went to Triveni (Prayag), he passed his days in act of charity.1.

ਤਹੀ ਪ੝ਰਕਾਸ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਭਯੋ ॥ ਪਟਨਾ ਸਹਰ ਬਿਖੈ ਭਵ ਲਯੋ ॥

ਮੱਦ੝ਰ ਦੇਸ ਹਮ ਕੋ ਲੇ ਆਝ ॥ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਦਾਈਅਨਿ ਦ੝ਲਰਾਝ ॥੨॥

Tahoo prakaas hamaaraa bhayo. Patnaa sahar bikhai bhav layo.

Maddra des ham ko le aae. Bhaant(i) bhaant(i) daaooan(i) dulraae (2)

I was conceived there and took birth at Patna.

Whence I was brought to Madra Desh (Punjab), where I was caressed by various nurses.2

View of the critics

My father proceeded towards the east and bathed (ਨਾਨਾ) at several places of pilgrimage. When he went to Triveni (Prayag), he passed his days in act of charity.1.

(The word ਨਾਨਾ (Nahna), is still used in Punjabi, more commonly as 'nauhna' meaning 'bathing'.)

The critics state that this is completely against the principles of Gurmat and Gurbani of Guru Tegh Bahadur himself. The other Gurus also visited holy places, but not to take dip or to give donations. They did so because there are hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the holy places, and the Gurus used that opportunity to educate them. The Gurus did donate money or other valuables to some people, not because they were Brahmans, but because they were needy and poor. Visiting holy places because they can rid you of sins or giving donations to Brahmans has been condemned by the Gurus.

The following sacred Shabads play down the importance of any pilgrimage or charity (donations to Brahmans).

Kote tirath majan ishnana is Kal mein mail bhareejai.
Sadh sang jo Har goon gavai so nirmal ker leejai. (Suhi M:5)
Na bheejai roopeen maaleen rang. Na bheejai tirath bhaviyan nang.
Na bheejai daateen keetai poonn. Na bheejai baahar bathiyan soonn. (Vaar Sarnag M:1)
Ja mein bhajan Ram ko nahi..........
Tirath karre bert phoon rakhe neh manua bas ja ko.
Nihfal dherm tahi tum manou saach kehat main ya ko. (Bilawal M:9)
Tirath bert er daan ker mun mein dharre gumaan.
Nanak nihfal jaat tih jioun kuncher ishnaan. (Sloak M:9)

The Tenth Master Himself did not believe in the importance of any pilgrimage or paying the tithe required by the Brahman priests who ran such sites. Why would Guru Gobind Singh ever write that his father was on a pilgrimage? Also, what is so special about Tribaini (Allahabad)? Moreover, according to Bhai Vir Singh’s “Kalgidhar Chamatkaar”, Guru Tegh Bahadur was a guest of the Rajah of Assam (Rajah Ram Rai) when he had received the news of the birth of his son, Gobind Rai and could not have been in Allahabad.

So, clearly, the Naatak has been written by someone who has a strong belief in the value of pilgrimage, and in charitable donations to Brahmans. He even lied or twisted the historical facts that the Ninth Guru was in Allahabad, to support his belief.


What is the Difference between Nana and Ishnaan?

Traditional view

Going to places of pilgrimage and having a bath is not against Sikhi principles as can be seen from the following Shabads and Vaars of Bhai Gurdas ji:

ਬਾਬਾ ਆਇਆ ਤੀਰਥੈ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਪ੝ਰਬਿ ਸਭੇ ਫਿਰਿ ਦੇਖੈ ।
baabaa aaiaa teerthaa teerthee purab sabhay phiri daykhai.
Baba (Nanak) came to the pilgrimage centres and by participating in the ceremonies there he observed them minutely.

The following Shabad by the fifth Sikh master, Guru Arjan Dev clearly states the Guru "Journeying to sacred shrines of pilgrimage" thus:

ਤੀਰਥਿ ਜਾਉ ਤ ਹਉ ਹਉ ਕਰਤੇ ॥ ਪੰਡਿਤ ਪੂਛਉ ਤ ਮਾਇਆ ਰਾਤੇ ॥੧॥
Ŧirath jĝ▫o ṯa ha▫o ha▫o karṯe. Pandiṯ pūcẖẖa▫o ṯa mĝ▫i▫ĝ rĝṯe. (1)
Journeying to sacred shrines of pilgrimage, I see the mortals acting in ego.

If I ask the Pandits, I find them tainted by Maya. (1)

In this shabad below by Guru Nanak, the Guru goes much further; he say that he is "so tired of taking baths at sacred shrines of pilgrimage". So taking baths at places of pilgrimage is not "anti-Sikhi" but if you think it will provide you with anything more than a "free bath" then that is against Gurmat!

ਬਨ੝ ਬਨ੝ ਫਿਰਤੀ ਖੋਜਤੀ ਹਾਰੀ ਬਹ੝ ਅਵਗਾਹਿ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਭੇਟੇ ਸਾਧ ਜਬ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਮਨ ਮਾਹਿ ॥੧॥
Ban ban firṯī kẖojṯī hĝrī baho avgĝhi. Nĝnak bẖete sĝḝẖ jab har pĝ▫i▫ĝ man mĝhi. (1)
From forest to forest, I wandered searching; I am so tired of taking baths at sacred shrines of pilgrimage.

O Nanak, when I met the Holy Saint, I found the Lord within my mind. (1)

What is not acceptable is the ritualistic believe that having a bath at these places of pilgrimage or just attending these places will cleanse all your sins or provide you with any other merit apart from perhaps a refreshing clean body!

ਬਾਬਾ ਆਖੇ ਹਾਜੀਆ ਸ੝ਭਿ ਅਮਲਾ ਬਾਝਹ੝ ਦੋਨੋ ਰੋਈ ।
baabaa aakhay haajeeaa subh amalaa baajhu dhono roee
Baba replied to the pilgrim hajis, that, without good deeds both will have to weep and wail.

One can only cleanse themselves spiritually by doing good deeds and remembering the way of the Lord!

It should be clear from the quotations above the the view expressed by the critics is undefendable as previous Gurus have visited places of pilgrimage and taken part in the ceremonies and also taken baths at these holy places be it just to teach the people who were attending these places. Also read the sakhi of Guru Nanak in Hardvar - Watering the Crops

Other relevant Gurbani & Vaar

Gobind Rai: Birth and aftermath?

ਤਹੀ ਪ੝ਰਕਾਸ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਭਯੋ ॥ ਪਟਨਾ ਸਹਰ ਬਿਖੈ ਭਵ ਲਯੋ ॥
I was conceived there and took birth at Patna.
ਮਦ੝ਰ ਦੇਸ ਹਮ ਕੋ ਲੇ ਆਝ ॥ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਦਾਈਅਨਿ ਦ੝ਲਰਾਝ ॥੨॥
Whence I was brought to Madra Desh (Punjab), where I was caressed by various nurses.2
ਕੀਨੀ ਅਨਿਕ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਤਨ ਰਛਾ ॥ ਦੀਨੀ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕੀ ਸਿਛਾ ॥
I was given physical protection in various ways and given various types of education.

Was Gobind Rai brought to Punjab some time after birth? NO. Gobind Rai spent the first five years of his life in Patna. As a child, he used to play war games with other children, leading mock battles. He had many admirers, including a learned Brahmin called Pandit Shiv Dutt. Once, Raja Fateh Chand of Patna and his Rani, a childless couple, visited Shiv Dutt, and asked him to bless them with a child. Shiv Dutt suggested that if an innocent child like Gobind Rai prayed to God, their desire would be fulfilled. The couple then asked young Gobind Rai to visit their palace, where the Rani asked Gobind Rai to pray to God to bless her with a son like him. Gobind Rai smiled and said that there can be nobody like him, so the Rani should call him her son. From that day, the Rani started calling him Bala Pritam ("child god"), a name that is used even today to refer to the Guru. The royal couple allowed Gobind Rai and his friends to freely play in their palace, and also built a big dining hall for the children.

Other admirers of the boy included two Nawabs, Rahim Baksh and Karim Baksh. Nawab Karim Baksh had gifted a village and gardens to the child.

Guru Tegh Bahadur had founded the city of Anandpur Sahib in the year 1665, on the land purchased from the ruler of Bilaspur (Kahlur). After his tour of eastern parts of India ended, he asked his family to come to Anandpur. Gobind Rai reached Anandpur (then known as Chakk Nanaki), on the foothills of the Sivalik Hills, in March 1672.

Critical of previous religious leaders

  • The Poet says that all prophets before him are fake. Poet tried to break communal Harmony; this not in keeping with the tone of the holy Guru Granth.

Here the impersonator theorist take the view that as the writer of Bachitar Natak has been very critical almost to the point of condemnation of the previous prophets and religious leaders, the writer cannot be a Sikh Guru as the Guru Granth Sahib has never been so critical of these previous religious leaders.

ਜੇ ਜੇ ਭਝ ਪਹਿਲ ਅਵਤਾਰਾ ॥ ਆਪ੝ ਆਪ੝ ਤਿਨ ਜਾਪ੝ ਉਚਾਰਾ ॥
All the earlier incarnations caused only their names to be remembered.

ਪ੝ਰਭ ਦੋਖੀ ਕੋਈ ਨ ਬਿਦਾਰਾ ॥ ਧਰਮ ਕਰਨ ਕੋ ਰਾਹ੝ ਨ ਡਾਰਾ ॥੪੪॥
They did not strike the tyrants and did not make them follow th path of Dharma.44.

ਜੇ ਜੇ ਗਉਸ ਅੰਬੀਆ ਭਝ ॥ ਮੈ ਮੈ ਕਰਤ ਜਗਤ ਤੇ ਗਝ ॥
All the earlier prophets ended themselves in ego.

ਮਹਾਪ੝ਰਖ ਕਾਹੂੰ ਨ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮ ਕੋ ਕਛੂ ਨ ਜਾਨਾ ॥੪੫॥
And did not comprehend the supreme Purusha, they did not care for the righteous actions.45.

  • These lines is about Avtarwaad like Rama, Krishna, Varah etc, and is not related to Sikhism. Prophets are "paigambars" and this word is not related to sikhism.
    Sikhs have word Guru and Gurmukh. Prophets are related to Christianity and Islam Jesus, Muhammad, Noah etc.
    In Bachitar Natak, Poet clearly mentioned role of 9 Nanaks in spreading God words and poet Shyam himself did so. The 9 Gurus were not avtars and not paigambars and the poet has not said that any of them were avatar or paigambar

It is clear Poet is not against the 9 Nanaks - if this was so he should have mentioned their name in list of ((Trideva, Bairagis, Jogis, Prophet Followers)). According to the poet, God is against the way made by Trideva, Muhamad, Ramanand, Gorakh, but he has not mentioned Sikhi or Gurmat. This interpretation here is left to the reader. It is upto the individual what to deduce from this wrting but the impersonator theorists say that Poet Shyam tried to break communal harmony. and Sikhism promotes Communal Harmony. Guru Granth sahib says Shiva an egoistic. In Shabad Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar Guru Sahib ust criticize Rama, Indra, Parshurama by saying those all Dukhi, Status equal to normal human. So Harmony is there in sikhism.


These are the Popular Banis of Sikhism

Mool Mantar | Japji | Jaap | Anand | Rehras | Benti Chaupai | Tav-Prasad Savaiye | Kirtan Sohila | Shabad Hazaray | Sukhmani | Salok Mahala 9 | Asa di Var | Ardas

Chronological mistakes

  • It is alleged by the critics that the writer of Bachitar Natak makes mistakes in the chronology of historical event. One example cited by the nonconformist is the placing of Ramanand in history before Muhammad.

The ones defending it say it is another Ramanand, but that is not possible. No other Ramanand is as famous or atleast comparable in popularity as Gorakh Nath and Muhammad. The writer shows his ignorance by saying he is a bairagi, while he was a Bhagat.

If we see the list of some of Bhagat Ramanands disciples, we can easily conclude in what time phase Ramanand lived. Dhanna (born 1415), Kabir (born 1440), Pipa (born 1425) and Ravidas (died in 1529). Bhagat Ramanand was either born in 14th or 15th century, that is a sure fact. If we compare that to Muhammad (born 570 – 6th century), we see that there is a difference of 8 or 9 centuries between the two. So placing Ramanand before Muhammad is a very big mistake, and can not have been made by Guru Gobind Singh.

Other mistakes

  • The description of circumcision is vulgar ling bina - without penis instead of the proper Arabic word, sunat (suMnq) used in the AGGS. It is vulgar, because it means 'without penis' which is also an incorrect term, and a hateful description of the circumcision.
    • Writer hates Circumcision but Sikhism is not against Circumcision or you can show no hate to circumcision. Writer against Idol worship and sikhism supports it.
  • Says that first three Gurus were Bedis. This is not true because the second Guru was Trehan and third was Bhalla. SGGS (Panna 1396 and 1401) says that third Guru was a Bhalla which is historical truth

Battles

Battle of Bhangani

There is no mention of the sacrifice of Pir Budhu Shah in the battle of Bhangani and the help by Khan brothers, Rai Kalah and others to Guru Gobind Singh.

Pir Buddhu Shah was one of the MOST important figures in the battle. In 1688, during the Battle of Bhangani when Guru Gobind Singh was attacked by a combined force of the hill chiefs led by Raja Fateh Shah of Srinagar (Garhwal), all the Pathans with the exception of Kale Khan deserted him and joined forces of the attacking hill chieftains. When The Guru conveyed the news of the treachery to Pir Buddhu Shah, Pir came to the Guru's aid with his seven hundred followers, four sons and two brothers. Guru was very much happy to see his followers fighting against hill chiefs as they were not professionally soldiers. Guru sahib felt very happy seeing the devotion of peer Buddhu Shah. Many of the Pir's disciples as well as two of his sons, Ashraf and Muhammad Shah, and his brother, Bhure Shah fell in the action.

The ones defending Bachitar Natak say that the description of the battle is brief and thus its normal not to have Pir Buddhu Shahs name. This is a big excuse. There are 39 chhands describing the battle of Bhangani in Bachittar Natak.

Several people are mentioned: Fateh Shah, Sango Shah, Jit Mal, Gulab, Mahari Chand, Ganga Ram and Lal Chand. Then why is a person, Buddhu Shah, who without any greed helped Guru Ji with 700 of his soldiers, sons and brothers, NOT mentioned even ONCE?

  • It's Wish of Poet what to write what to note. These Anti Dasam Granth people think themselves great than Guru Gobind SIngh. They actually want to give directions to Gobind Singh.

Establishing Anandpur Sahib

ਜ੝ਧ ਜੀਤ ਆਝ ਜਬੈ ਟਿਕੈ ਨ ਤਿਨ ਪ੝ਰ ਪਾਂਵ ॥ जढ़ध जीत आझ जबै टिकै न तिन पढ़र पांव ॥ When I returned after victory, I did not remain at Paonta.

ਕਾਹਲੂਰ ਮੈਂ ਬਾਂਧਿਯੋ ਆਨ ਆਨੰਦਪ੝ਰ ਗਾਂਵ ॥੩੬॥ काहलूर मैं बांधियो आन आनंदपढ़र गांव ॥३६॥ I came to Kahlur and established the village Anandpur.36.

Another mistake, Guru Tegh Bahadur founded Anandpur and not Guru Gobind Singh. Anandpur Sahib was founded in the year 1665 by the ninth Sikh Guru near the ruins of an ancient place, Makhowal.

No Humility

Statements that contradict Sikh ethics humility, forgiveness and compassion.

The ones that didn't participate

jy jy nr q~h n iBry dIny ngr inkwr ] je je nar tah na bhire deene nagar nikar. jy iqh Taur Bly iBry iqnY krI pRiqpwr ] je teh thaur bhale bhire tinai karee paritpar.

“Those who did not participate in the battle (to help us) were forced to leave the town, whereas those who did were rewarded.”

Sikhs know that Guru Har Gobind Sahib forgave Emperor Jahangir, who was responsible for the cruel death of his father, Guru Arjan Dev. Sikhs also know that Guru Gobind Singh forgave Emperor Aurangjeb, who was responsible for the death of his father, mother, four sons and hundreds of Sikhs. Sikh Gurus were the embodiment of humility, compassion and forgiveness. How could any Sikh in his right mind believe that Guru Gobind Singh forced people to leave the town simply because they did not help him in the battle?

Treatment of enemies

Talking about the treatment of the enemies the writer say: “The wicked) ones were tortured and they died like dogs.” tWg tWg kir hny indwnw ] tang tang kar hane nidana. kUkr ijim iqn qjy pRwnw ] kookar jim tin the prana. Now compare this statement with the story of Bhai Kanhyia. When Sikhs complained to Guru Gobind Singh that Bahi Kanhyia was helping the wounded enemies, he hugged Bhai Kanhyia and honored him by calling him a true Sikh. How could any Sikh believe that Guru Gobind Singh degraded his enemies to the level of dogs and tortured them to death?

    • Weak Hearted people could die of Bachittar Natak. Guru ji never treat enemies Harshly, He Just Kill them. Guru Ji Killed many in Battle of Bhangani. Even Guru Ji killed those pathans who hit them with sword. So Guru Gobind Singh treat enemies very beautifully, He Forgive enemy by killing them. Once Pathan tried to kill guru, Guru Ji saved himself and killed him with utensil by hitting hard on his head. How compassionate. Those people who read Zafarnama, could read ""Halal Ast Burdan Ba Samsheer dasat"".
      Before Guru Hargobind Bhagwan Das Ghirarh was killed and chandu was killed mercilessly our gurus are so so so so so compassionate.
      Zabar Khan was killed by Guru Gobind Singh by digging hole put him in and face outside earth and dogs bhow bhow. This how Guru Sahiban treat enemies.