An attempt to clarify Dasam Granth issue

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By Dya Singh | OPINION | 

The Dasam Granth Sahib (DG) issue is bewildering to those who just wish to practice simple Sikhi like Naam Japna, Vand Shekena and Kirt Karni, especially the younger generation of Sikhs. My personal interest is to give some basic information mainly to our younger generations, our future, so that they can get on with their lives supported by simple Sikhi spiritual principles and pursue the successes of this human life with gusto.

So, in the interests of brevity I shall attempt to keep to the facts as I know them. Like many contentious issues amongst Sikhs about Sikhi, this basic issue has existed since the phenomena of the last Sikh master – Guru Gobind Singh Ji. During my lifetime, it has been discussed by the luminaries in my life in Malaysia, but has lain dormant, rearing its ugly head once in a few years, and then subsiding.

Sikhi issues appear to rear their ugly heads from time to time needled by those who have their own agendas. Besides external forces wishing to disrupt Sikh unity, there are sadly also those who wish the same from within. And then we have our own splinters. Added to all that, is the inept current Akal Takht administration from Darbar Sahib strangled by the political power brokers in Punjab and broadly India.

First of all – roughly, by my understanding, there are five broad divisions in this issue:

  1. The far Right Wing. ‘All bani’ within DG, in fact any bani not within the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and accepted verses of Bhai Gurdas, should be banned from being presented or discussed in gurdwaras! (Loosely the extreme view of the ‘Ik Granth Ik Panth’ movement).
  2. Varying degrees of acceptance of certain authenticated bani of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
  3. The Centre Wing. The status quo. Accepted ‘bani’ of Guru Gobind Singh Ji should be allowed roughly as stipulated in the SRM (Sikh Rehat Maryadha – The official Sikh Code of Conduct) and as per the ‘status quo’ and importantly for ‘Amrit Sanchar’. Otherwise enjoy DG as part of Sikh literature. (I have acquired a double volume of an English translated version of part of the DG which I sometimes browse through. I find it interesting, in part, amusing, informative in part, quite boring in the main, and some great inspiring shabads which I even sing and record.)
  4. No formal parkash alongside Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) but otherwise all of DG should be allowed for kirtan and vichar in mainstream sangat and the occasional parkash when DG bani is being discoursed.
  5. The far Left Wing. There should be parkash of DG allowed alongside the SGGS or at least on one side and perhaps lower than the SGGS.

So there is plenty of scope to get at each others’ throats! Now, some ‘accepted’ facts.

  1. DG was not compiled by Guru Gobind Singh Ji nor during his lifetime.
  2. There are different versions of DG. Unlike the SGGS, no one DG is unequivocally accepted by all Sikhs.
  3. Guru Gobind Singh Ji anointed Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the last and eternal ‘guru’ of Sikhs in 1708 at Nanded. He left his own writings or ‘bani’ out of it. Why he left his ‘bani’ out completely even though he incorporated the bani of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji into SGGS is up for conjecture.
BRIEF HISTORY OF DG

Most of the literature of Guru Gobind Singh Ji was lost during the skirmish with the pursuing Moghul forces while crossing the Sirsa river in December 1705 after Guruji vacated the fort at Anandpur Sahib heading south. Gurdwara Parwar Vishoda Sahib marks the spot today.

From my knowledge, (Shahid) Bhai Mani Singh Ji collated the first ‘bir’ (book) from different sources as “Dasvayn Patshah ka Granth” (The Compilation of the bani of the Tenth King).

Wikipedia tells us that there are ‘many’ DG’s but the 4 below are specifically mentioned:

  1. Bhai Mani Singh Vaali Bir: written around 1728 before Bhai Mani Singh’s shaheedi (July 1737). (Writing experts say that it is mostly written by one person. Most probably, this is the ‘bir’ Bhai Mani Singh collated himself and he presented it to the Khalsa as per instructions from Mata Sundri ji. The Bir was in Hajoor Sahib until 1945 when it was bought by Raja Gulab Singh and is now with his family at Delhi.)
  2. Moti Baag (Patiala) Vali Bir, was probably written later by a Charat Singh, son of Patna Granthi Sukha Singh (a Devi Pujari himself) who even imitated Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s writing. So this DG has more than one writer.
  3. Sangroor Vali Bir presented by a Pathaan to Maharaja of Jind during the Indian Mutiny (when Sikhs sided the British).
  4. Patnay Vali Bir: It is in the museum at Patna Sahib together with many other DG ‘birs’ and has 713 pages.

From Encyclopaedia of Sikhism (PU, Patiala):

“Thirty-two copies of the Granth (DG) were collected from different places and brought to Akal Takht, where a group of eminent scholars pored over them, studying and discussing them threadbare between 5 July 1895 and 17 February 1896. [Names of many scholars are given]. Opinions were invited from a wider circle by correspondence, and a complete report on the deliberations was published on 14 October 1897. The result was the recension now current. It was first published by Wazir Hind Press, Amritsar, in October 1902.” (Unquote)

Note: This main generally accepted DG ‘bir’ (1428 pages) is almost the same number of pages as our SGGS (1430 pages).

Even today there are contentious debates and also research going on about Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani and Dasam Granth. As mentioned earlier, the extreme views are that some wish to do away with any bani which is not within the Guru Granth Sahib while others want ‘all’ of DG to be completely accepted as part of Sikhism and even demand some form of parkash of DG in gurdwaras.

A number of ‘banis’ within the accepted DG are being questioned. In fact, some question all of them! Generally there appears minimal opposition against Jaap Sahib and Sawaiyay.

One contentious piece of literary work within DG for example, is called Charitropakhyan also called Triya Charitar. It is a long composition of Triya (Budhi) tales in verse, which forms over one third of the Dasam Granth, having 404 distinct chapters. Charitaropakhyan means those tales which were already told by someone else. So, they are not necessarily written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji but recounted perhaps by other poets in his court, just like we have bani of bhagats besides our Guru Sahibs incorporated in the SGGS.

The common grouse against this work is that it espouses the wiles of womenhood, and that is not the spirit of Sikhi philosophy, because women are held in high esteem in Sikhi. Many stories in this composition present woman as adulterous, infidel and immoral.

What is not often mentioned is that the composition also has numerous stories about the wiles of men too. The main thrust though, of all these stories is, to remain faithful to one’s spouse – to love one’s spouse and not seek sexual gratification outside marriage even in dreams. It is therefore a fairly ‘secular’ piece of literary work about the weaknesses of men and women and about ideal conduct of married life. Interestingly, the Chaupayee which also forms part of our evening prayer Rehras Sahib comes from this piece of literary work! (Information on Charitropakhyan from First Volume of ‘Sri Dasam Granth Sahib – Text and Translation by Drs. Jodh Singh and Dharam Singh, Sikh Heritage Publications, Patiala.)

I will hazard an opinion here. It will appear that many of Dasam Granth compositions are translations of Puranic stories besides some narratives like Akal Ustat and Bachitar Natak,  the main Panth-accepted ‘bani’ like Jaap Sahib and Sawaiyay, but interestingly, there are instances when Guru Gobind Singh Ji appears to clarify the pristine Khalsa position. For example: Main n Ganesai pritham menauun, Kishan Bishan kabhoo na dhiaoon (Chaubis Avtar) {I do not, foremostly, worship Ganesha, nor meditate on Krishna and Vishnu}. We already know of: Ram Rahim Puran Kuran, anaik kehai mutt aik n maneo from Chaupayi Sahib.{I do not accept names like Ram and Raheem as the Puranas and the Koran mention them.}

CONCLUSION

I urge youth to ignore the contentious issues surrounding DG. It cannot be elevated to Guru status by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, it has some useful information for those interested. There is plenty of information about Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani which can be accessed from many sources now.

Besides my favourite Jaap Sahib, Sawaiyay and Chaupayi, I find some very inspiring ‘shabads’ by Guru Gobind Singh Ji or ascribed to him. Off hand, to name a few gems:

  • Mitre pyaray nu haal muridhan dha kehna
  • Rogan te ar sogan te jal jogan te
  • Inhi ki kirpa ke sejay Hum hain
  • Khalsa mero roop hai khas
  • Deh Shiva bar mohe ehain
  • Re man, aiso kar senayasa
  • and my favourite tongue twister! Jhagedeng, Nagedeng, Bagedeng, Bajay

Basically keep to the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Singh!

If this ‘status quo’ was good enough for my luminaries like Sant Baba Sohan Singh Ji of Malaysia including my venerable father Giani Harchand Singh Ji and many many more in whose bosom I grew up, then it is good enough for me. That should be good enough for you youth.

Happy Sikhing!

 

Malaysian-born Dya Singh, who now resides in Australia, is an accomplished musician and a roving Sikh preacher. The Dya Singh World Music Group performs full scale concerts on ‘music for the soul’ based on North Indian classical and semi-classical styles of music with hymns from mainly the Sikh, Hindu and Sufi ‘faiths’. He is also the author of SIKH-ING: Success and Happiness. He can be contacted at dyasingh@khalsa.com

* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

RELATED STORY:

Reignition of Dasam Granth controversy (Asia Samachar, 21 Aug 2020)

Corona maha-mari: A period of transformation? (Asia Samachar, 8 April 2020)

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Well written article on DG. I should congratulate Daya Ji for being secular on this issue. 

    Honestly speaking, this issue will never end. In fact it will get diluted with time.

    What basically we need to know as general Sikh Sangat., is that, Yes take DS as one elevated literature to read and draw wisdom from. Like we will do reading any books of knowledge. 

    To revere and bow, it should be only SGGS. Because Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s strong words are “When my beloved Sikh remembers me with true heart, I will be there present – “Hazar Nazar”. In that lines in mind when a Sikh starts reading Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani starting with “Patshahi Dasmi(Dasvi), we must Stop our thoughts and remember Guru Ji’s presence. Then read those lines as though Guru ji is speaking.

    This simple methods will make us feel close to our Guru Ji. The basic element in all ourselves is his Jo’ot – Soal. It has its natural connectivity when the connection with the Creator is through a clear path uninterrupted by our Mind’s intervention.

    As for the parkash, every Gurdwara must follow a common uniformity. It shoukd be of SGGS only. The kirtan that are sung, should be confined to SGGS Bani only. This will obviously avoid conflicting and controversial moments. This will not in actual fact confuse the coming generation. 

    Any other literature if anyone wants to read apart from SGGS, should be at their own accord. Most of the infomation are  available on the net. 

    All the analysis given by Bhai Daya Ji, can he taken as information wrt the Bir from various compiler. 

    Whenever some matters regarding DG is raised . The senior should wisely tell them to read it and extract good points. 

    However to any Sikh, reading DG should raise no eyebrows to anyone. 

    Sikh should never have doubts on Guru ji’s writings. They are absolute, well contained and are a gift to us as an epitome of wisdom. 

  2. Dear KK, you sent me scurrying to my ref. books on politics to reevaluate by stance. By the way leave US politics and especially Trump out of this. (LOL)
    My understanding. The words left and right first came up during the French Revolution. But, generally left means revolutionary and right means authoritarian monarchical system buttressed by a clergy.
    I called One Granth system as the Right and the two Granth as Left. My reasoning – the two Granth system would mean revolution. One Granth is the norm. But strictly One Granth is authoritarian and suppressive. No, I stand by my assessment. That is my interpretation.
    And if ‘status quo’ means trying to placate both sides -.you are right. Discuss, research, talk but stay together. If change is to come, it cannot be overnight.
    My thrust is clear and my subtle biases do come through. Thanks for getting me to reassess my position. The two extreme positions are ripping our community apart. I for one do not want either.

  3. Your bearings ok, mate? You described the ‘Left Wing’ as below:

    QUOTE

    5. The far Left Wing. There should be parkash of DG allowed alongside the SGGS or at least on one side and perhaps lower than the SGGS.

    END QUOTE

    If going US politics, these people seem a better fit with the Right Wing. How they went left in yours?

    I find your arguments muddled. Are you trying to placate all sides, by any chance?

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