| Opinion | 5 Sept 2016 | Asia Samachar |
The author’s statement “Who is the God of Dasam Granth (DG)? This is the primary question that will be examined in this article” (The God of Dasam Granth – Part One in Asia Samachar, 9 Aug 2016), is a “statement of the problem” or the “claim of the author” in the classical sense, implies that the author is presenting a scholarly analysis.
In the ensuing it is shown that the author has performed an unconvincing analysis, insufficient to support his claim to a discerning reader.
We will analyse the author’s dissertation by first presenting an insight into the probable cause of the issue he is addressing. We will then show how Gurbani verses can be easily misinterpreted. The meanings of the words “durga” and “Mahakaal” will then be analysed followed by a brief exposition of the Dasam Granth. The analysis of the author’s dissertation will then be presented followed by statement of the findings. This dissertation then finishes with a conclusion.
[Note: In this article “the author” refers to the author of the article “Who is the God of Dasam Granth – Part One”].
Probable cause of the problem
The root of the problem in recent times quite likely lies in the highly critical views on Dasam Granth, citing it to be pro-Bipran, by Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afgana in his series of books Birpran Ki Reet To Sach Da Margh written in the nineties. A number of academic intellectuals rhymed with these views and the trend to discredit the Sikh literary work “Dasam Granth” started. About twenty years later we have still not learnt that this episode has divided the Sikh community which could lead to the eventual denigration and possible demise of important Sikh literary works.
Misinterpretation of Gurbani
The main intent of this section is to show how Gurbani can be misinterpreted.
We will illustrate this using the verse
ਸਕਤੀ ਅੰ ਦਿਰ ਵਰਤਦਾ ਕੂੜੁਿਤਸ ਕਾ ਹੈਉਪਾਉ ॥ SGGS 511 M:3 Goojree Ki Var
He remains engrossed in material wealth, and his efforts are false.
(Note: English translation of SGGS is by Sant Singh Khalsa)
Consider the words s ਸਕਤੀ, ਕੂੜੁ and ਉਪਾਉ.
Mahan Kosh directs us to refer to ਸਕਿਤ for ਸਕਤੀ.
Mahan Kosh directs us to refer to ਸਕਤਿ for ਸਕਤੀ.
The word ਸਕਤਿ has nine meanings as follows (1) ਤਾਕਤ strength (2) ਅਸਰ effect (3) ਮਾਇਆ material world (4) ) ਇਸਤੀ wife (5) ਕੁਦਰਤ creation (6) ਬਰਛੀ small spear or knife (7) ਸੱ ਤਾ word used in Buddhism (8) ਦੇਵਿਤਆਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਇਸਤੀਆਂ the wives of the devtaas (9) ਸੂਰਜ ਦੇਸੰ ਬੰ ਧ ਨਾਲ ਤਪਤ the heat from the sun.
The word ਕੂੜੁhas many meanings but we will consider two i.e. (1) ਝੂਠ falsehood (2) ਮਾਇਆ ਦਾ ਮੋਹ the attachment to maya and the word ਉਪਾਉ to mean ਉਦਮ effort, endeavour.
Interpret ਕੂੜੁ attachment to maya to mean lustful endeavour (because “lustful” related activites can be classed as attachment to maya) and use meaning (8) for ਸਕਤੀ.
Making an extreme interpretation we translate the verse above to be:
Involvement (ਵਰਤਦਾ) with (ਅੰਦਰਿ) the wife of the devta (ਸਕਤੀ) is an endeavour in (ਤਿਸ ਕਾ ਹੈ ਉਪਾਉ) lustfulness (ਕੂੜੁ).
It is shown how easily a misinterpretation can be made to say that this verse is teaching us the wrong thing, appears like it is from the sex manual and pro-Bipran and solicit the ban of this verse.
Note that here we are making a very extreme interpretation to illustrate the point which can create a contention between different groups. This can cause a divide within a community unless the community is vigilant and knows and understands the meanings.
Such contention not only divides the community, but damages the document that is the subject of the contention. This leaves the future generation without the document which is important for their knowledge. We must be wary of such misinterpretations.
Meaning of Durga and Mahakaal
Gurmat Martand Bhai Kahn Singh
Bhai Khan Singh in Gurmat Martand explains the following about Devi-Devtaa. He says that according to the Bachitar Natak (Part 2 Stanza 15), the meaning of Devi-Devtaa is explained in the following verses
“ਸਾਧ ਕਰਮ ਜੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਕਮਾਵੈ॥ ਨਾਮ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਜਗਤ ਕਹਾਵੈ॥
Because of virtuous actions, a purusha (person) is known as devta (god)
ਕੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਕਰਮ ਜੇ ਜਗ ਮੈ ਕਰਹੀਂ ॥ ਨਾਮ ਅਸੁਰ ਤਿਨ ਕੋ ਸਭ ਧਰਹੀਂ ॥੧੫॥
And because of evil actions, he is known as asura (demon)
The translation is: A person (ਜੇ ਪੁਰਖ) with virtuous qualities (ਸਾਧ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵੈ) is known as a devtaa (ਨਾਮ ਦੇਵਤਾ) in this world (ਜਗਤ ਕਹਾਵੈ) and if (ਜੇ) one performs (ਮੈ ਕਰਹੀਂ) evil actions (ਕੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਕਰਮ) in this world (ਜਗ ਮੈ), the world (ਸਭ) terms (ਧਰਹ) such a person ( ਤਿਨ ਕੋ) a demon (ਨਾਮ ਅਸੁਰ).
Devi-Devtaas and demons are actually certain traits or qualities of human beings and are used metaphorically in our scriptures. Virtuous traits imply godly qualities, hence devtaas; and evil traits imply demon like qualities, hence demon.
Bhai Khan Singh goes on to explain that the Vedas and Puranas have imagined special forms and qualities for the Devi-Devtaas and people have come to believe in them as gods (DeviDevtaas) or demons (Asur). The time period of the Vedas (~1400 BC) and Purans (~350 AD) was when people were animistic and hence the need to represent qualities with forms. These traditions have carried on until today in the Vedic/Puranic faiths.
Encyclopaedia of Sikhism ed. Harbans Singh:
The encyclopaedia gives detailed account of Bhagauti which also means Durga and sums up as follows. Finally, the word bhagauti stands for God or His devotee on the one hand (signifying piri), for the sword on the other (signifying miri). This integration of piri and miri in Bhagauti encapsulates another major dimension of Sikh thought.
Two term ਦੁਰਗਾ and ਦੁਰਗ refer. The meanings are as follow.
ਦੁਰਗਾ Durga – (1) ਦੁÅਗ ਦੈਤ ਦੇਮਾਰਨ ਵਾਲੀ ਦੇਵੀ The Devi that destroys evil demons (2) ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਅਮਰਦਾਸ ਜੀ ਦਾ ਇੱ ਕ ਿਸੱਖ। A sikh of Guru Amar Das (3) ਭੰਭੀ ਜਾਿਤ ਦਾ ਬਾਹਮਣ A Brahmin of the Bhimbi caste (4) ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਅਰਜਨ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਾ ਇੱਕ ਪ੍ਰੇਮੀ ਸਿੱਖ A devout sikh of Guru Arjan Dev.
ਦੁਰਗ Durg – (1) ਜਿੱਥੇ ਗਮਨ ਕਰਨਾ ਔਖਾ ਹੋਵੇ. ਜਿੱਥੇ ਔਖਾ ਪਹੁਚਿਆ ਜਾਵੇ A place that is difficult to go away from or difficult to access (2) ਕਿਲਾ fort (3) ਰੁਰੂ ਦਾ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ ਇੱਕ ਦੈਤ, ਜਿਸ ਨੂੰ ਮਾਰਨ ਤੋਂ ਦੇਵੀ ਦਾ ਨਾਉਂ ਦੁਰ੍ਗਾ ਹੋਇਆ.
The meaning (3) is probably related to the Shiva Mahapurana (in “The Puranas A compact, English only version of the Major 18 puranas in one document, Issue 1, Draft 1, Complied by the Dharmic Scriptures Team, Octorber 3, 2002) section 5.5.20 which outlines how Durga killed the demon Durgam.
Summary from the meanings above
Devi-Devtaas and Demons signify certain characters, traits or qualities of human beings. The Devi-Devtaas/Demons are used metaphorically in our scriptures to signify these traits. Further Bhagauti/Durga in particular is used to signify the defending and destroying quality of the Sword on one hand or God/disciple on the other unless the context points to other meanings.
ਮਹਾਕਾਲ Mahakaal – (1) ਕਾਲ ਦਾ ਭੀ ਕਾਲ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲਾ. ਯਮ ਸ਼ਿਵ ਆਦਿ ਜਗਤ ਦਾ ਅੰਤ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲੇ ਭੀ ਜਿਸ ਵਿੱਚ ਲੈ ਹੋ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ. ਵਾਹਗੁਰੂ. ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ. One who is the death of death, to whom Yum (God of death) and Shiv pay obeisance to, Vaheguru, God (2) ਉਹ ਲੰਮਾ ਸਮਾਂ, ਜਿਸ ਦਾ ਅੰਤ ਅਸੀਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਣ ਸਕਦੇ। A very long period of time to which we cannot imagine the end (3) ਸਮੇਂ ਨੂੰ ਹੀ ਕਰਤਾ ਹਰਤਾ ਮੰਨਣ ਵਾਲਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਮਤ ਅਨੁਸਾਰ ਅਨੰਤ ਰੂਪ ਕਾਲ Those who believe in the timeless creatordestroyer as the lord (4) ਕਾਲਿਕਾ ਪੁਰਾਣ ਅਨੁਸਾਰ ਸ਼ਿਵ ਦਾ ਇੱਕ ਪੁਤ੍ਰ. ਇੱਕ ਵਾਰ ਸ਼ਿਵ ਨੇ ਆਪਣਾ ਵੀਰਯ ਅਗਨਿ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਸਥਾਪਨ ਕੀਤਾ, ਉਸ ਵੇਲੇ ਦੋ ਬੂੰਦਾਂ ਬਾਹਰ ਡਿਗ ਪਈਆਂ. ਇੱਕ ਬੂੰਦ ਤੋਂ ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਅਤੇ ਦੂਜੀ ਤੋਂ ਭ੍ਰਿੰਗੀ ਪੈਦਾ ਹੋਇਆ. The Kalka Puran states that Shiv manifested as fire Agni from which two sparks produced Mahakaal and Bhringi (5) ਉੱਜੈਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਨਾਮਕ ਸ਼ਿਵਲਿੰਗ the Jyotirlinga at Mahakaleshwar Ujjian is called Mahakaal.
Punjabi University Patiala Punjabi- English Dictionary
ਮਹਾਕਾਲ Mahakaal – eternal time, God.
The verse below refers to this word
ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ ਸਿਮਰਿ ਤੂ ਜੀਵਹਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਨ ਖਾਈ ਮਹਾ ਕਾਲੁ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ SGGS 885 M:5 Ramkalee
Meditating in remembrance on the Lord’s Name, you shall live, and the Great Death shall not consume you ever again. ||1||Pause||
Here ਮਹਾ ਕਾਲੁ is translated as “Great Death” by Sant Singh Khalsa.
God is attributed with the qualities of creation, preservation and destruction. The destruction aspect of God is “Maha Kaal” or “Great Death” as translated above. Why use the word “great death”. Why not just “death”? Death as we perceive it is the loss of life of a living entity. When a building burns down, do we say the building had incurred death? This is why God’s destroying power is called “Maha Kaal”. The destroying power extends to living or non-living entities. The word Kaal is generally understood to be death, but according to the Punjabi-English dictionary (Uni Patiala) it also means time. So death also means “Ante (ਅੰ ਤ) Kaal”. Maha Kaal, on the other end is the power of destruction by terminating the time dimension of an entity and this destruction can destroy the entire universe; only God can do this. The above verse therefore means
You (ਤੂ), meditate on (ਸਿਮਰਿ) the Name of God (ਰਾਮ ਨਾਮ), then you will never be consumed (ਫਿਰਿ ਨ ਖਾਈ) by the destroying power God (ਮਹਾ ਕਾਲੁ).
Summary from the meanings above
Mahakaal means God, to who both Yum and Shiv pay obeisance unless the context points to a different meaning.
Brief exposition of the Dasam Granth
Let us go to the time when Guru Gobind was nine years old. To protect the Kashmiri Pandits his father Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed his head at the behest of Guru Gobind. Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred with a SWORD. Guru Gobind wrote in Bachitar Natak
ਤਿਲਕ ਜੰਵੂ ਰਾਖਾ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਤਾ ਕਾ ॥ ਕੀਨੋ ਬਡੋ ਕਲੂ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਕਾ ॥
He protected the forehead mark and sacred thread (of the Hindus) which marked a great event in the Iron age.
ਸਾਧਨ ਹੇਤਿ ਇਤੀ ਜਿਨਿ ਕਰੀ ॥ ਸੀਸੁ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸੀ ਨ ਉਚਰੀ ॥੧੩॥
For the sake of saints, he laid down his head without even a sign.
ਧਰਮ ਹੇਤਿ ਸਾਕਾ ਜਿਨਿ ਕੀਆ ॥ ਸੀਸੁ ਦੀਆ ਪਰ ਸਿਰਰੁ ਨ ਦੀਆ ॥
For the sake of Dharma, he sacrificed himself. He laid down his head but not his creed.
ਨਾਟਕ ਚੇਟਕ ਕੀਏ ਕੁਕਾਜਾ ॥ ਪਭ ਲੋਗਨ ਕਹ ਆਵਤ ਲਾਜਾ ॥੧੪॥
The saints of the Lord abhor the performance of miracles and malpractices.
It is from this composition that we know what happened. This event, having been documented, nobody can deny the event. Don’t forget that Guru Teg Bahadur is now no more a saviour of Hindus in educational literature in India whence he was taught to be so previously.
The availability of such literature (DG) ensures that our future generation will have a record of what happened in history, lest it be forgotten the sacrifices our Gurus and Sikhs made. Further such literature is invaluable in the learning and understanding of SGGS.
The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur was the introduction of martial exposure to Guru Gobind; the sword (Bhagvati/Durga) effected the matyrdom and Mahakaal (God) took the life. This was wartimes where the sword stood between Guru Gobind and the enemies. The sword can defend and protect when attacked and be the aggressor and destroy when attacking. From then on Guru Gobind was involved in war; being attacked, defending, attacking, seeing death, was the daily norm. He waged a war of righteousness to defend the Sikh faith and other Indic faiths in particular the Hindu faiths. He sacrificed his entire family for this purpose. His frame of mind was martial and Guru Gobind’s and his 52 poets’ writings were martially oriented. Bhai Kahn Singh in Gurmat Martand states that the writings of Guru Gobind and the 52 poets were collected in a granth called Vidiya Sagar which was destroyed in the final Anandpur war in 1761, however some parts of the Vidiya Sagar had been copied or memorised by the Sikhs. Bhai Mani Singh collected those available writings and prepared the Dasam Granth.
It is pointed out that the Dasam Granth should not be accorded the same status as the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Bhai Kahn Singh in Gurmat Martand states: “Some ignorant Sikhs arrogate the Dasam Granth as Guru’s shabad which is against Gurmat.” It is however a literaty works par excellence and an inseparable and integral part of Sikh literature to supplement in the learning of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Additionally, the martially inclined writings in the Dasam Granth are invaluable in a dharmic righteous undertaking. We shall discuss some of the main writings in the Dasam Granth starting with the compositions of our morning prayer.
The First Nanak, Guru Nanak Dev wrote the extended mool mantar (“ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ … … ਭੀ ਸਚੁ Ek Oangkar … Bhi Sach”) which highlighted important qualities, both transcendent qualities (ਿਨਰਗੁਣੁ) and the immanent related qualities (ਸਰਗੁਣੁ) of God. The Tenth Nanak Guru Gobind wrote the Jaap which expounded on the extended mool mantar and detailed more qualities of God in the 199 stanzas with multiple qualities in each verse. Both transcendent and the immanent qualities were included, the emphasis being on immanent qualities. An inclination towards martial qualities is also apparent in the Jaap Sahib. When recited with feeling, the Jaap Sahib brings out the mood of war. This shows another dimension of Jaap Sahib. This is illustrated as follows. The commencing part gives the mood of discussion/planning when reciting slowly about a second between words.
ਚੱਕ੍ਰ ਚਿਹਨ ਅਰੁ ਬਰਨ ਜਾਤਿ ਅਰੁ ਪਾਤਿ ਨਹਿਨ ਜਿਹ ॥
ਰੂਪ ਰੰਗ ਅਰੁ ਰੇਖ ਭੇਖ ਕੋਊ ਕਹਿ ਨ ਸਕਤ ਕਿਹ ॥
This part gives the mood of marching (step-step) when reciting slowly about a second between words.
ਨਮਸਤ੍ਵੰ ਅਕਾਲੇ ॥ ਨਮਸਤ੍ਵੰ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਲੇ ॥
ਨਮਸਤੰ ਅਰੂਪੇ ॥ ਨਮਸਤੰ ਅਨੂਪੇ ॥੨॥
This part gives the mood of fighting with swords (cling-clang) when read continuously without any pause between words.
ਅਰੂਪ ਹੈਂ ॥ ਅਨੂਪ ਹੈਂ ॥ ਅਜੂ ਹੈਂ ॥ ਅਭੂ ਹੈਂ ॥੨੯॥
Of course this is very subjective and an individual experience but it presents an area for exploration.
The general mood of the Jaap Sahib is martial while that of JapJi is more saintly. Jap (JapJi) means meditate while Jaap means meditation. While JapJi Sahib gives a brief view of God and goes on to explore our place in the creation, our relationship and interaction with the creation and our relationship and interaction with the creator, Jaap is solely qualifying the creator. It gives us a feeling that it was meant to be this way. The First Nanak introduces the qualities of God briefly and the Tenth Nanak expounds extensively on the qualities of God to give us a good understanding of the creator, sufficient for the purposes of our life and mission as a part of the creation.
Without doubt Jaap Sahib and JapJi Sahib both expound qualities of the same God. Though it is our belief that there is only one God for mankind (in fact the whole creation) we use the word same to go along with the author who seems to believe in multiple Gods (one God of SGGS and one God for DG etc). Encyclopaedia of Sikhism states that in Jaap “God is described by a variety of names which are all notable for their linguistic and poetic ingenuity”.
Tav Parsaad Sawaeeyay (part of Akal Ustat)
The mood of Tav Parsaad Sawaeeyay is closer to the SGGS with a martial inclination. There is a feeling of drums beating in the background. It expounds on the five evils that instinctively plague us and that without God we are worth practically nothing. It covers how we are immersed in these evils in the areas of faith/ religion, material wealth, ritual practice, reading of holy books, those with power, hypocrisy, keeping company with evil ones, DeviDevtaas, Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Indra, demons, spirits, idol worship and preaching location of God.
It espouses good deeds to rid of sins and God orientation to happiness and liberation. The thoughts and concepts are the same as SGGS meaning the same God.
Chaupaee is the supplication to God. The mood is similar to the feel of reciting JapJi, thoughts are also in line with the thoughts in JapJi and there is a minor martial tone in the words. This blends in with the act of supplication. Chaupaee is a supplication to God to support and protect one (from the five evils). It covers the following main areas:
- God, who created the creation, also created Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu, who are within the command and law of God. God also created the Devi-Devtaas, demi-Devi-Devtaas and Demons
- God was (existence) in the beginning and will be (existence) in the end
- God created the creation, takes care of the creation and also destroys the creation. We cannot know the extent of the creation. The creation was created in various forms
- God destroys enemies/evil (five evils)
- God manifests in the creation, is fully in the know of and feels the creation
- One must stay detached from everything and this is known to the Vedas and those with knowledge
- God is formless, without colour, true, self-sufficient and self-existent
- God removes sufferings of those who surrender to God
- Supplicate to God who is the spirit of the sword.
The thoughts and concepts in Chaupaee are the same as SGGS meaning the same God.
The opening invocation to the Creator and Saviour hailed as the Sword (referred to as ਲੋਹ iron – the sword is made of iron) eulogises God and God’s spirit Sword as the protector.
ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਕੀ ਰਛਾ ਹਮਨੈ ॥ ਸਰਬ ਲੋਹ ਦੀ ਰਛਿਆ ਹਮਨੈ ॥
The non-temporal Purusha (All-Pervading Lord) is my Protector.
ਸਰਬ ਕਾਲ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਰਿਛਆ ਹਮਨੈ ॥ ਸਰਬ ਲੋਹ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਸਦਾ ਰਿਛਆ ਹਮਨੈ ॥
The All-Steel Lord is my Protector.
This concept of sword as a protector is also stated in the SGGS as shown below.
ਜਾ ਤੁਧੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਤੇਗ ਵਗਾਵਿਹ ਿਸਰ ਮੁੰਡੀ ਕਿਟ ਜਾਵਿਹ ॥ SGGS 145 M:1 Majh
When it pleases You, we wield the sword, and cut off the heads of our enemies.
An extract from the Encyclopaedia of Sikhism summarises the Akal Usat as follows:
The Akal Ustat focusses upon the unity of all mankind, saying that the temple and mosque are the same. All mankind is one. It is but error to see it divided. Guru Gobind Singh commences this poem with an invocation to God, All Steel, and ends it picturing Hindus and Muslims, in fact people the world over, as one, seeking the same God whose blessings they cherish.
Dr Trilochan Singh in “The History and Compilation of the Dasam Granth (Part 1) Sikh Review 1955” has pointed out that verses 211 to 230 are inconsistent with the development of thought in Akal Ustat but are more in line with Chandi Charitar. This composition has a very strong martial inclination.
The Bachitar Natak style is autobiographical and gives Guru Gobind’s personal faith and philosophy. The opening stanza (written below) clearly states Guru Gobind’s conception of God as the Sword (ਸੀ ਖੜਗ) of dharma, asking for help to complete the compilation and set the mood for battle scenes with beautiful and inspirational stanza 2.
ਨਮਸਕਾਰ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਖੜਗ ਕੋ ਕਰੋਂ ਸੁ ਹਿਤੁ ਚਿਤੁ ਲਾਇ ॥
I salute the Glorious SWORD with all my heart’s affection.
ਪੂਰਨ ਕਰੋਂ ਗਿਰੰਥ ਇਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਮੁਹਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਸਹਾਇ ॥੧॥
I shall complete this Granth only if Thou Helpest me.
It starts with where Guru Gobind Singh is called into the world to uphold dharma. Detailed descriptions of battles between the armies of Lava and Kusa are given. Death on the battlefield is glorious. Verses of war and worship intermingle and a picture emerges of an ideal warrior saint (source: Encyclopaedia of Sikhism).
This concept of sword as spiritual protector (albeit metaphorically) is also stated in the SGGS as shown below.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰਿ ਗਿਆਨ ਖੜਗੁ ਹਥਿ ਦੀਨਾ ਜਮਕੰਕਰ ਮਾਰਿ ਬਿਦਾਰੇ ॥ SGGS 574 M: Vadhans
The True Guru has placed the sword of spiritual wisdom in my hands; I have overcome and slain the Messenger of Death.
The “introduction” to Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.com” states that the “main aim of writing this composition was to delineate the courage, the strength and the might of Guru Gobind Singh Ji against the backdrop of a world stage”. This composition has a very strong martial inclination. Chandi Charitra 1 and 2 and Chandi ki Var The “introduction” to Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.com” states the “aim of writing this composition was to inspire the common man to rise up against the tyrannical rulers of the time and to fight and sacrifice all they had for their freedom”. The blessings of the Almighty God are invoked to achieve this.
Dr Trilochan Singh in “The History and Compilation of the Dasam Granth (Part 2) Sikh Review 1955” states:
that Gobind Singh gave many new attributive names to God as the wielder of the sword of dharma. The sword was 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.
These compositions have a very strong martial inclination.
The thoughts and concepts are the same as SGGS meaning the same God the difference being that in this composition God is the wielder of the sword of dharma because these compositions were composed during the times of war.
This is a literary composition on the 24 Avatars. The “introduction” to Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.com” states:
Guru Gobind Singh Ji has clearly stated his aim for writing this literary composition. In this God has been referred to as the source and fountain head from which all avatars have come forth. Whenever the earth gets weighed down by evil and sin, God sends down lord Vishnu as an avatar. But even the avatars fall prey to their inflated ego and hence face the displeasure of God who then sends another avatar. Each of these avatars is an expert at martial arts and strategies. It is this aspect of their personalities that is of utmost significance to the Guru.
Dr Trilochan Singh (“The History and Compilation of the Dasam Granth Sikh Review, 1955”) explains that the “word pakhyan is a Prakrit derivative of the Sanskrit word upakhyan which means a short tale, narrative, already told or heard from others” and that “charitar does not mean wiles, as is generally understood” but “biography, adventure, habit, behaviour, acts and deeds”. He further adds that “prevalent idea that all the stories are about the wiles of women is wrong”. He states that this compilation is not a religious work and therefore it is “foolish to look for religion in every type of writing”.
The “introduction” to Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.com outlines that this composition “highlights the various faces of woman. While the positive roles played by woman as a wife, as a mother, as a soldier are outlined, the negative aspect of some women who stoop to lowly activities has also been brought out”.
We cannot ignore the fact that this composition also shows the weakness of man in the area of KAAM. Think of the people who have succumbed to this instinct; tales of Sage Vyasa’s grandmother Girikaa in Mahabharata; David who lusted after Bathsheba in the Bible; the sexually obsesses much revered Holy Man of Russia, Grigori Rasputin; the Nehru-JinnahEdina triangle which caused a split in India; kaam almost brought down a president of the United States. On the other end of the scale is the episode where Hari Singh Nalwa, who was in tune with our Gurus teachings, did not succumb to the approaches of Begum Bano.
This compilation is useful as a dramatization of aspects of the five evils and the five virtues. We must remember as times change the social acceptance of certain acts becomes a norm. Such compilations are important reference material to understand the teachings in the SGGS, more so related to our five instinctive evils, especially when social norms are in flux.
The above is a brief expose on the Dasam Granth. Two useful references are:
- The “introduction” to Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.com” which gives a good overview of the Dasam Granth
- “The History and Compilation of the Dasam Granth Sikh Review, 1955” by Dr Trilochan Singh which provides a fairly detailed record on the Dasam Granth is a very important resource. It is stated that up till recent times this document remains a benchmark work on the history and compilation of Sri Dasam Granth. It is available here.
The thoughts and concepts in DG are the same as SGGS meaning the same God, the difference being that in this composition God is the wielder of the sword of dharma because these compositions were composed during the times of war. Other compilations are examples which pen stories that illustrate the five evils. Gurbani (SGGS) says
ਪੰਚ ਭੂ ਆਤਮਾ ਵਸਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਤਾ ਤੀਰਥ ਕਰਹਿ ਨਿਵਾਸੁ ॥੨॥ SGGS 491 M:3 Goojree
If your soul overcomes the five elements, then you shall come to have a home at the true place of pilgrimage. ||2||
This verse clearly points out the need to know about the five evils and the illustration and examples are the best means to understand these concepts more so in a changing environment.
Some compilations in the DG are of direct religious content for example Jaap Sahib, Tav Parsaad Sawaeeyay and Chaupaee. Others compilations are story based poetic renditions which illustrate the interplay of the five evils and five virtues in society.
As to the question of the God of Dasam Granth, it has been clearly shown above that the God of Dasam Granth and the SGGS is the same. Though it is our belief that there is only one God for mankind (in fact the whole creation) we use the word same to go along with the author who seems to believe in multiple Gods (one God of SGGS and one God for DG etc). The thoughts, concepts and illustration in the Dasam Granth are in complete synchrony with the SGGS.
Analysis of the dissertation of the author
The author states “A cursory study of the Dasam Granth brings forth obeisance of its authors to two primary entities – Mahakaal and Durga”. A “cursory study” is hardly a methodology to use when making such a damming claim.
Mahakaal and Durga
The author claims that both “Mahakaal” and “Durga” have a plethora of names in the Mahan Kosh. It is clearly seen under section “Meaning of Durga and Mahakaal” that this is not the case. However the author did not cite the Mahan Kosh for the meaning of “Mahakaal”, Mahan Kosh lists the meaning of Mahakaal as God ਵਾਿਹਗੁਰੂ, ਪਾਰਬਹਮ, not Shiva.
Linking Mahakaal and Durga
The author claims that Shiv Puran depicts two forms of Shivji (male and female) as the concept of duality defined as Ardh Narishvar Saroop using pictures to substantiate his claim.
Ardhanarishwar is described in section 5.3.7 of the Shiva Mahapurana in “The Puranas A compact, English only version of the Major 18 puranas in one document, Issue 1, Draft 1, Complied by the Dharmic Scriptures Team, Octorber 3, 2002). In this section the male/female form of Shiva was a temporary state to enable creation of a woman so that expansion of the creation can take place. This can hardly be referred to as duality. Conclusions drawn from pictures are generally not used in scholarly works.
The author claims that Raam, Syam and Nul appear hundreds of times in the DG without citing supporting evidence. On this basis he concludes that they are the writers of the vast majority of Dasam Granth.
Dr Trilochan, who is an authoritative exponent of Sikh history, theology, philosophy and culture, in “The History and Compilation of the Dasam Granth Sikh Review, 1955”, analyses the authenticity of the Dasam Granth pointing out the shallow intellect of those who denigrate it and states that “the genius of one mind, the art style of one poet is visible in the whole of Dasam Granth”.
Dr Trilocan Singh shows that Ram and Syam were poetic translation of Guru Gobind’s name. He shows that in Sikh theology the three words Govind, Ram and Syam mean the same thing. Dr Trilocan gives a detailed analysis of this in his paper.
As for the word nul ਨਲ, it is found in the DG as follows.
Chandi Charitar 1 Stanza 151; Nul refers to one of the two monkeys Nal and Neel.
Gian Parbodh Stanza 787; Nul refers to one of the two monkeys Nal and Neel.
Krishan Avatar Stanzas 1491, 1494, 1496, 1548, 1897; Nul refers to King Nal.
Rudra Avatar Stanza 492; Nul refers to one of the two monkeys Nal and Neel.
Charitropakhayan Et Sri Section 157, 3129 Stanzas 8, 11, 12, 14, 18, 20 to 24, 26 to 28; Nul refers to King Nal.
These characters are mentioned in the Mahabharata. Nal and Neel were two monkeys in the army of Sri Ram (page 554 Mahabharata Book 3 Vana Parva: Draupadi-harana Parva: Section CCLXXXI). King Nal was the king of Nishadas (page 14 Mahabharata Book 1 Adi Pava Section I). By any stretch of our imagination we would not expect these characters of the Mahabharata written in 200BC on events that occurred in 3200BC (source http:// www.scaruffi.com/politics/indians.html) to be writing the Dasam Granth!
The author further goes on to say that these “Raam, Syam and Nul” are members of the Vam Margi Sect and links them to the Lingam adorned with a picture of Shiva, who he claims is Mahakaal (using duality links Mahakaal to Durga) in Shri Mahakaleshwar Temple providing pictures to support his claim. Reference “The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, by R V Russell, Macmillan and Co, London 1916” states that Vam Margi is a secret sect that follows the worship of the female principle in nature and indulge in sensuality at their rites according to the precepts of the Tantras. The sect appears to be localised to central India it is believed that it does not have a large membership. This is based on that, an internet search shows sparse information and a number of websites do not have any positive words for this sect. The author has not cited any evidence for this claim.
Based on the analysis in the section under Durga and Mahakaal we feel that it would be a wasted exercise to continue further analysis of this section because these are pinned on the incorrect interpretation of Durga and Mahakaal (the meaning of Mahakaal is further elucidated below).
Mahakaal in Dasam Granth
Akal Ustat Stanza 253 defines what Mahakaal is. This shows God, the death of deaths, to be the Mahakaal. This is in line with the definition given in Mahan Kosh and the analysis of the verse in SGGS above. Therefore generally in the Dasam Granth Mahakaal should be interpret as God (the same God as in SGGS) unless the context shows otherwise. Thus there is a need to use discriminative intelligence in making interpretations of the Dasam Granth (as well as SGGS). It is quite easy for someone to misinterpret SGGS or DG as shown above (section Misinterpretation of Gurbani).
Now to stanza 434-435 from Krishan Avtar. In stanza 434 it is clearly stated that Guru Gobind does not pay obeisance to Ganesh, Krishan and Vishnu; meaning he does not subscribe to Devi-Devtaas, who as Bhai Kahn Singh described as attributes of people. We cannot imagine that Guru Gobind would then make a “U-Turn” and state that a Devi-Devtaa is his protector in Stanza 435. Remember it was war times, in Stanza 435 Guru Gobind is paying obeisance to the protector God, the Mahakaal, in the form of the Sword in his hand, used metaphorically to mean the destroying quality, to protect him from his enemies’ relentless attacks.
The next part the author is referring to is Stanza 17 in Pakhayan Charitar. We shall analyse the first part of the Pakhayan Charitar from Stanza 1 to 48 of which Stanza 17 is a part. This is the proper methodology of analysis. It is a folly to just analyse one stanza to make a judgement. It is like looking at the tyre of a car and making a decision that the car is black and soft and round!
The title of this composition “Chandi” means “sword” (Punjabi-English Dictionary Punjabi University Patiala). The first stanza introduces the sword and like arms of war (arrow, dagger etc), which are the main focus of the 48 stanzas, confirming the meaning of the title. As stated above, the sword was the righteous spirit of God which is the ultimate victory of good over evil. In 48 verses, the character of ‘Chandi’ the righteous spirit of God has been described. This spirit from the beginning of time, is diverse and widespread even in far off lands, has been active in destroying evil forces. This spirit is personified by Saraswati, Bhawani, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and other Devi-Devtaas, exhibiting the various natures of motherliness, kindness, benevolence, extermination, destruction, annihilation etc describing in detail the expression of these natures. The execution of these natures on the “good” and the “evil” as well as the state of the “good” or “evil”, including the happenings (beating of drums) during and after the nature is executed are also described. Stanza 17 describes the personified state and expression of two of these natures, benevolence and destruction.
The author claims that Stanza 17 is depicting “Necklace of Skulls, Nude, charcoal etc”. These words do not appear in the English translation (Chritro Pakhayan Vol 1 English Adaptation by Pritipal Singh Bindra, Pub. B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh Amritsar, 1st Ed. 2002) reproduced below:
Surrounded by robes, you adore your head with rosary, and wearing a heavy sword. Your dreadful red eyes, illuminating your forehead, are auspicious. Your tresses are flaring, and teeth are sparkling. Your viperous hands are snarling out flames. And God Almighty is your protector. (17)
The author’s claim of the use of “Sarab Kaal, Astujh, Karag, Asket etc” for Mahakaal (God) does not consider the immanent ਸਰਗੁਣੁ aspect of God. A major part of Dasam Granth is the didactics of the immanent ਸਰਗੁਣੁ aspect of God and our relationship with the five evils and five virtues. The sword and its variations are used as traits of God (Mahakaal) related to the Martial environment during his time.
The author claims that there is no reference to these terms in SGGS. We allude the author to that, SGGS focuses more on the transcendent aspect of God. However, in spite of this there is reference in SGGS to Maha Kaal (God) as shown above and substantial reference to Tegband, Teg, Khadag, Khanda which are types of swords used metaphorically to represent traits. So it is wrong to state that such terms do not appear in the SGGS.
Mahakaal and Durga as the primary Gods of DG / Sources of Compositions in DG
Analysis of the rest of the parts quoted by the author, in the same manner as above, shows that he misses the basis, purpose and intent of the Dasam Granth.
The very essence of Guru Gobind’s thought is encapsulated in the definition of Mahakaal in Akal Ustat, his position on Devi-Devtaas in Bachitar Natak and the spirit of the sword in Chandi (Durga) Ki Var.
Mahakaal is God and Chandi/Durga is the Sword, the righteous spirit of God and it is misleading to advocate otherwise.
Further as stated by Bhai Kahn Singh (see above under Meaning of Durga and Mahakaal) Devi-Devtaas and demons are actually certain traits or qualities of human beings and are used metaphorically in our scriptures. Virtuous traits imply godly qualities, hence devtaas; and evil traits imply demon like qualities, hence demon. This concept of devi-devtaas to personify traits is used throughout the Dasam Granth.
The author claims that “large portions of DG are lifted from Markanday Puran and Shivji Puran” but does not give details and references of the parts which are lifted. Adequate references should be provided in making such damming claims; as such these statements are false and misleading.
The standard verse “Et Sri Markandey Puraney Sri Chandee Chhritar Ukat Bilas Dev Suresh Sahit Jaikar Shabad Kra Astmo Dhiaye Sampurnang Masta Subh Masat” that the author claims exists at the end of virtually every composition of the DG is not true. This verse does not exist in the Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.com” as well as Dasam Granth (Baba Virsa Singh). The word Markandey appears only seven times in the DG. We wish to highlight that there is reference to Markandey in the SGGS, would the author imply that SGGS is also paying obeisance to Markandey? There is also substantial reference to Shiva in the SGGS; would the author also say these portions in SGGS are lifted from the Shiva Puran? Would the author say that Dhakani Oangkar in SGGS is also lifted from the Shiva Puran since the word Omkar is present in this purana?
Following the author’s logic, then every religious text would have been lifted from an earlier one because of presence of common words!
As stated above the Vam Margee Sect follows the worship of the female principle in nature and indulge in sensuality at their rites according to the precepts of the Tantras. The word “tantra” is not revealed in the Markandey Purana (“The Puranas A compact, English only version of the Major 18 puranas in one document, Issue 1, Draft 1, Complied by the Dharmic Scriptures Team, Octorber 3, 2002). Neither does this word exist in Wikipedia’s description of Markandeya Purana (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markandeya_Purana). Hence it is very unlikely that the Vam Margee sect, because of their “tantra” related rites have strong link with the Markandey Purana or its author as claimed. This is further supported by the fact that a number of websites do not have any positive words for this sect.
The God of SGGS
The meaning of Maha Kaal in the SGGS has been analysed above and is same as the meaning meant in the Dasam Granth.
Statement of findings
The DG has a complementary message to the SGGS. During Guru Gobind’s time the Sikh Faith took a martial tone and this is exhibit in the DG. It is a literary work par excellence. The author’s dissertation is very damming to one of the invaluable literary works of the Sikh Panth. Using pictures and untenable justifications to discredit the DG, the author could be misleading the reader. The author has missed that the very essence of Guru Gobind’s thought is encapsulated in the definition of Mahakaal in Akal Ustat, his position of Devi-Devtaa in Bachitar Natak and the spirit of the sword in Chandi (Durga) Ki Var. These concepts are in complete synchrony with SGGS.
All the claims by the author have been shown to be untenable. He appears to have missed the essence of concepts in the Dasam Granth and their synchronous relationship with the SGGS. The God of DG is the same as the God of SGGS.
Harnaak Singh Khalsa is a retired engineer while Ajit Kaur Khalsa is a retired nurse. They are both Malaysian-born now residing in Australia.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Samachar.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
Let’s battle hate and ignorance instead (Asia Samachar, 5 Sept 2016)
The God of Dasam Granth – Part One (Asia Samachar, 9 Aug 2016)
Dasam Granth Debate: The double edged sword (Asia Samachar, 4 Aug 2016)
SGGS-DG Discourse: Another stumbling block towards Ekta of the Sikh panth? (Asia Samachar, 4 Aug 2016)
Sikh council tells Malaysian gurdwaras not to permit Dasam Granth preaching (Asia Samachar, 3 Aug 2016)
MGC: Dasam Granth video clips not a ‘directive’ (Asia Samachar, 3 Aug 2016)
Dasam Granth video directive ignites debate in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 1 Aug 2016)
Dasam Granth: Twisting Bones Till They Snap (Asia Samachar, 30 June 2016)
‘One Granth One Panth’ call from Global Sikh Council – Asia Samachar (Asia Samachar, 11 April 2016)
Are our Gurdwaras Dysfunctional? The Assessment. (Asia Samachar, 9 Jan 2016)
One gurpurab, two dates. Why the confusion? (Asia Samachar, 5 Jan 2016)
Lessons for the Task Force (Asia Samachar, 14 Dec 2015)
JAGIR: MGC managing granthi entry, standardising maryada at gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2015)
Sarbat Khalsa at Chabba historic, but may have been hijacked (Asia Samachar, 11 Nov 2015)
MGC passionately protects religious rights of Sikhs, others in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 19 Nov 2015)
Lawyer challenges Akal Takht order on new gurdwaras (Asia Samachar, 27 Sept 2015)
The fallen amongst us (Asia Samachar, 22 Aug 2015)