| Opinion | 22 Nov 2016 | Asia Samachar |
By Giani Jagtar Singh Jachak (Translated by Jarnail Singh Arshi)
History is proof that before 1790 in Darbar Sahib, Amrtisar, and up to 1825 in Nankana Sahib, the birth of Guru Nanak Ji, the founder of Sikhi, was celebrated on 1st of Vaisakh – which is the actual birth date of Guru Nanak ji in 1469. Then, how, when and why was this date changed?
None now disputes that the birth of Guru Nanak took place on Vaisakh suede tin samvat 1576 equivalent to April 1469. There is not much need to stress this point. After much discussion and research by various academicians and historians such as Karam Singh, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in its 2003 Nanaksahi Calendar decided to approve this date. It’s a different matter, however, that despite coming to the right conclusions, tradition is still uppermost and the wrong date is being celebrated.
Historically, it is true that before 1790, the Darbar Sahib, Amritsar, celebrated the birth, or Gurpurab, of Guru Nanakji on 1st Vaisakh in April each year. The same was observed in Nankanna Sahib well till 1825. Macauliffe in his book History of the Sikhs writes that on Katak Pooranmashi, the Ram Teerath Mela used to be a big affair in Amritsar with huge crowds gathering.
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ਕੱਤਕ ਦੀ ਪੂਰਨਮਾਸ਼ੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦਾ ਜਨਮ ਦਿਨ ਹੈ ਜਾਂ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੇ ਆਕੀ ਪੁੱਤ ਬਾਬਾ ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਚੰਦ ਦਾ ?
Giani Sant Singh, the Granthi at Darbar Sahib, decided to begin celebrating Guru Nanak Ji Birth Gurpurab on Katak Pooranmashi date. His intention probably was to wean away Sikhs from the Ram Teerath Mela and his political connections enabled him to make other Gurdwaras in Punjab follow suit. Despite this, however, the Gurdwara Janam Asthaan Nankana Sahib kept on celebrating Guru Nanak Parkash Purab in April – this went on until 1825. This was also despite the influence of the Gurbilas Patshahi Chhevin book which had encouraged the ikadei ishnaan at Nankanna Sahib in Kartik Pooranmashi.
Historian Karam Singh writes: “…it’s the year 1925 and the first year that the Gurpurab of Guru Nanakji was changed from April to November. Prior to this, no one even heard of this date.” If this continues for about 60 years more, he laments, the people will begin to think this must be the original date from time immemorial. He mentions the role of Giani Sant Singh in this date change. (Book: Katak ki Visakh, Page 137).
Historically, when the Third Nanak, Guru Amar Dass ji, decided to call for Sikhs to gather at one palce to centralise the teachings and maryada, Guru ji chose the date in Vaisakh. And when Guru Gobind Singh Ji chose to reveal the Khalsa, he chose Vaisakh as well. This is not a mere coincidence. The Khalsa is the fauj of Akaal Purakh. The Aad is Akal Purakh, the Aad Guru is Guru Nanakji, the Khalsa follows the completion of the AAD MISSION of Guru Nanakji on Vaisakhi 1699. This is a perfectly normal conclusion of events. After Vaisakhi 1699 till long after the passing of Gurgadee to the Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on the passing on of Guru Gobind Singh ji in 1708, the Khalsa met on Vaisakhi each year because the Sikh leaders and religious mukhees were well aware of the significance of the birth date of Aad Guru Nanak Ji.
Macauliffe mentions that the Raam Teerath Fair used to attract large crowds in Amritsar and it was held in November’s full moon and that many Sikhs used to attend as well. Giani Sant Singh was given the important task of beginning the continuous katha exposition of the Aad Sri Guru Grant Sahib Ji. It ran from 1790 to 1822. Sant Singh was heavily Nirmala/Udasee influenced and had numerous Nirmala scholars around him. He must have been under this influence when he decided to sync the Raam Teerath Fair date with the Parkash Purab of Guru Nanak ji to divert Sikhs towards the Darbar Sahib instead. These Nirmalas and Udasees knew very well that mid-November was also the birth date of the Baba Sri Chand, the eldest son of Guru Nanak ji who was rejected for succession by Guru Nanak ji due to many reasons. He then began the Udasee sect. Thus it was in their interest to begin celebrating Sri Chand’s birth in Darbar Sahib and Nankana Sahib to push his legitimacy despite the Gurgadee being passed to Guru Angad Ji. This continues till today whereby a small section of Sikhs continue to celebrate Sri Chand even though he is rejected by mainstream Sikhs. Udasee sources reveal the birthdate of Sri Chand as mid-November smavat 1551 (1494). Since Sri Chand was being rejected, the Udasees thought of this clever scheme to switch the Vasakh Gurpurab to November and in a way celebrate Sri Chands birth date and grab the chance to do katha of Sri Chand under guise of Baba Nanak’s Gurpurab. They knew very well that the only way to gather large numbers of Sikhs was on Gurpurabs. Many derawallahs do the same trick even till today by joining their waddeh baba jis’ birthdates to Gurpurabs.
Famous Sikh academician Prof Piara Singh Padam in his book Sikh Smapardavalee mentions this joining of Sri Chand to Guru Nanak ji’s Gurpurab in around about way. He writes in a footnote: Baba Sri Chand was born in the House of Nanak in Bikremee 1551 in mid-November Katak Pooran Mashee day. Bedi Daljit Singh in his family tradition, writes the same information in his book Sri Chola Sahib Sakhi. The book Guru Nanak Bans Parkash the writer Sukhwasiraam also writes this date.
It’s possible that the Udasees wanted to celebrate both father and son on the same date and thus force Sikhs to acknowledge Sri Chand as well. Thus was born the “well meaning and economically beneficial advice” of the Udasees and Nirmalas to Giani Sant Singh’s receptive mind that Guru Nanak ji’s Gurpurab ought to be celebrated on Raam Teerath day to entice Sikhs away from that fair. On the surface, it looks very pro-Sikhi but the sugary coated poison within escaped attention. The “basis” of this change was also to be the Niranjan written totally false Bhai Bala Janam Sakhi. This is the one and only Janamsakhi that lists Guru Nanak ji’s birth in November. All other sources, including Bhai Gurdas ji’s Vaars, declare the date to be 1st Vaisakh.
The low level thought process working behind this fake Bhai Bala Janam Sakhi was the Niranjannee tactic to prove that the birth of their competitor Guru was on an inopportune day – Pooran Mashi Katak. A baby born on this date is considered of ill luck and is usually given away to the Brahmin, who in return asks for certain gifts, etc. In exchange, he “blesses” the bad luck bearing baby and returns it to the parents. The intention was to prove that Guru Nanak ji was of low birth, brought bad luck and was unholy. Seemingly, two self-contradicting theories at work here.
Historian Karam Singh writes in his book: ”Dear readers, I am in complete agreement with the late Sardar Gurmukh Singh (Singh Sabha movement founder), that the Bhai Bala Janam Sakhi is a totally false, fraudulent book from start to finish. It’s chock full of Guru nindya (bad mouthing the Sikh Gurus), creating false stories, wild stories, totally unbelievable stories, tall tales. This book should be buried miles deep…so deep never to be found ever again.”
In the later part of the 18th century, when the Sikhs were fighting battle for survival, Sikh heads were being rewarded with handsome sum of 80 pieces of gold. Sikhs were being hunted day and night, from pillar to post. The Udasis and the Nirmalas grabbed the Sikh gurdwaras and Sikh Granths and manuscripts. The rewriting and adulteration of these began in earnest with Brahmin-based maryadas implemented and enforced. The entire Sikh Panth was on horseback fighting for its very survival. Udasees and Nirmalas like Sant Singh began their nefarious designs to implement whatever maryadas and however they liked, even if they were totally opposed to the Gurbani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS).
The Chuurramnn Kavi Bhai Santokh Singh writer of Suraj Parkash was a student of Giani Sant Singh. That’s why his book is so heavily Nirmala-influenced. Due to that book katha being done, the booksellers and printers took the economic opportunity to print and sell the fake Bhai Bala Janam Sakhi in vast numbers. This was because the Bhai Bala Janam Sakhi was the prose rendition of Kavi Santokh Singh’s Suraj Parkash. Even the later Giani Gian Singh Sri Guru Panth Parkash and Tavarikh Guru Khalsa took this same road of Udasee/Nirmala version of Sikh history as it was of most economic benefit.
One of the benefits of the Singh Sabha Lehr was the total stoppage of Sri Chand Katha in gurdwaras and the removal of Hindu demi gods and Shivlings from gurdwaras and even Darbar Sahib, Amrtisar. These moortees (statues) were shifted under protest to the Durgian Mandir made in exact replica of Darbar Sahib by the Hindus.
Even today, Udasees and Nirmalas celebrate Baba Sri Chand’s birthday as a Gurpurab on the same day but not in gurdwaras. This day is also a public holiday granted by the Punjab state government. Looks like the battle is far from over. The parallel railway tracks continue to run.
It is up to the awakened Sikhs to put pressure on the SGPC to revert to the 2003 Nanak Shahi Calendar and celebrate the Guru Nanak Parkash Ushtav on Vaisakhi Day in April. This will bring complete meaning to the divine mission of Guru Nanak: Aad Guru = Khalsa Panth.
The original article, ‘Katak Di Puranmashi Guru Nanak Sahib Da Janam Hey Ja Uhna Dey Aaki Puter Baba Sri Chand Da?’ by Giani Jagtar Singh Jachak was published by Khalsa News (14 Nov 2016). Formerly head granthi at Gurdwara Glenckow, US, Gaini Jagtar is now a full time Sikh missionary parcahrak. He was given 1st ranking in All India Gurbani Paath Competiton in 1979 held at Takht Damdamm Sahib.
TRANSLATOR Giani Jarnail Singh Arshi is a retired Malaysian government teacher and now full time Gurbani researcher. and writer. He is also the Punjabi Editor for Community Times Canada Weekly.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of the Asia Samachar.
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