Charitar ਚਰਿਤਰ s is a Punjabi words which means "miracle", "wonder", "trick", "charm", "play", "fun" or "show". Charitar also means Function or Characteristics or Significance. This word is used in the Dasam Granth for the bani called Charitropakhyan which is a collection of over 400 tales of trickery, deception and play of mainly women but also a few men for wrongful purposes.
This Bani of Charitropakhyan is based on the conversation between a wise adviser (minister or "manteree" ਮੰਤਰੀ s ) and Raja (king) Chitar Singh; the conversation is told by the minister in order to save the King's handsome son, Hanuvant from the false accusations of one of the younger ranis (queens) who was known as Chitramatti.
The minister tries to explain to the Raja that there is trickery in human behaviour and that one needs to analyse the situation carefully before drawing any conclusion.
Guru Gobind Singh gave these "opakhyan" (already told) stories to Sikhs as a guide to upholding morality; each tale has a moral principle behind it and a lesson to be learnt.
Classification and interpretation
Gurmukhs claim there are two types of people in the world - Gurmukh(i)(or Sabudhi) and Manmukh(i)(or Kubudhi). Gurmukhi are one who have Gurmat(mind of wisdom) but Manmukh(i) are those which have mind of ignorance and that ignorance does not contain fear of God.
We can categorize charitar into two types:
1) Shudh Charitar (True Charitars)
2) Ashudh Charitar (Untrue Charitars)
Shudh Charitar contains the light of Gurmat. These types of charitars are also called Gurmat Charitar or Charitar of Gurmat. There are few Charitars in Charitropakhyan which can be categorize at Shudh Charitar, which are played to finish the evils or bring wrong people onto the path of righteousness, as per the principles of Gurmat. In Shudh charitar, everyone benefits, including one's own spirit; those who took part in the tale but if we go opposite to Gurmat then such charitar will become our second category.
Ashudh Charitars are those which are played for the benefit of the person propagating the charitar. These are Anti-Gurmat charitar or charitar based on ego or greed or lust or other such personal motivation or simply we can say Charitar of Manmatt. The Ashudh Charitar spoils one's body and mind and takes one away from Dharam and one who does not have light of Gurmat get spoiled by these worldly issues. Charitropakhyan has many Ashudh Charitars, which only Gurmukh (person with God driven wisdom) can understand.
1) Opakhyan means "already told", Charitar means Functions or characters, which means Charitars which have already been told
2) Pakhyan also means to get understand and realize, Charitars are characters which means Characters which are realized before written i.e Guru Gobind Singh having understood the Gurmat aspect found in these tales has given these to for the benefit of Sikhs to read.