|Saturday, June 17, 2000||
The Dasam Granth was compiled by a group of trusted devotees of Guru Gobind Singh, under the guidance of Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed after more than two decades of hard work, because most of the writings were lost when he was treacherously attacked on the banks of the Sirsa by the armies of the Hill chiefs and Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. It was after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh that a search and compilation of his writings was undertaken. When all the writings that could be traced had been collected, a controversy among the leading Sikh scholars arose on whether the writings ascribed to Guru Gobind Singh should be bound in separate folios or together in one folio, writes S. S. Dhanoa.
GURU Gobind Singh, the tenth Nanak, is the spiritual father of the Khalsa Singhs and it is to be expected that his writings are revered by the Khalsa. However, the Nihangs are the only ones among the Sikh brotherhood, who hold the granth of the tenth Guru as worthy of veneration where as the Tat Khalsa, who constitute the mainstream, are ready to accept only some portions of the Dasam Granth as genuine writings of Guru Gobind Singh.
The Dasam Granth was compiled by a group of trusted devotees of Guru Gobind Singh under the guidance of Bhai Mani Singh Shaheed after more than two decades of hard work, because most of the writings of Guru Gobind Singh were lost when he was treacherously attacked on the banks of the Sirsa by the armies of the Hill chiefs and Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. It was after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh that a search and compilation of his writings was undertaken. When all the writings that could be traced had been collected, a controversy among the leading Sikh scholars arose on whether the writings ascribed to Guru Gobind Singh should be bound in separate folios or together in one folio.
This was the time when Massa Khan Ranghar, a local faujdar, had converted the Harmandir Saheb into a dancing hall. Sardar Mahtab Singh and Sucha Singh appeared before the sangat at the Damdama Saheb in 1740 to seek blessings for their enterprise to chastise Massa Ranghar. When they were asked to give their views on the controversy regarding compilation of the writings of Guru Gobind Singh, they said that if they succeeded in accomplishing their mission of beheading Massa Ranghar and returned in one piece, the writings of the 10th Guru should be bound and kept in one folio, otherwise not. They successfully returned to the Damdama Saheb with the severed head of Massa Ranghar as their trophy.
One would have expected that with such impeccable paternity, the Dasam Granth would continue to be revered by the followers of the Guru. However, only Takht Patna Saheb still has the practice of the Dasam Granth occupying the same position as the Guru Granth Saheb in the sanctum sanctorum of the gurdwara, commemorating the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, whereas in other gurdwaras the Dasam Granth could at best be seen in the gurdwara library.
It has to be stated that after his escape from Chamkaur Saheb, Guru Gobind Singh undertook to prepare and finalise the present recension of the Guru Granth Saheb in which the writings of the ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, were added in appropriate ragas and his shlokas were placed at the end. He spent about one year in completing this task at the Damdama Saheb but he did not consider it worth his while to recompile a granth of his bani nor did he include any of his writings in the final compilation of the Guru Granth Saheb, not even Jaap, Sudha Sawaiye and Chaupai, the three banis which are prescribed for daily recitation of the amritdhari Sikhs.
The Sikhs brought up in the Singh Sabha tradition find many of the contents of the Dasam Granth difficult to digest. According to the Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, 32 copies of the Granth were collected from different places and brought to the Akal Takht in 1895, where a group of eminent scholars pored over them, studying and discussing them threadbare between July 5, 1895, and February 17, 1896. Among these scholars were Bhai Manna Singh Hakim, Bhai Narain Singh, Bhai Thakur Singh, Bhai Sant Singh (son of Giani Gian Singh), Bhai Bishan Singh, Sant Gopal Das Udasi and Mahant Amir Singh. Opinions were invited from a wider circle by correspondence, and a complete report on the deliberations was published on October 14, 1897. The result was the recension of the Dasam Granth now current.
Therefore, it seems to be a bit late in the day to question credentials or authenticity of the Dasam Granth. There is no doubt that the Dasam Granth breaks new grounds in the Sikh religious tradition. The Guru Granth Saheb is replete with references to Ram, Hari and Krishna and the Gurbani also makes it clear that the Lord is Formless and One Reality. It acknowledges that the Formless Being manifested Himself in Ram and Krishan who could then perform the deeds ascribed to them and redeem humanity. However, no such divinity is ascribed to any female goddess in the Guru Granth Saheb.
Yet Guru Gobind Singh went lyrical to describe the valour and deeds of Goddess Chandi/Durga. Chandi di War is a part of the daily recitation of many Sikhs, especially the Nihang Sikhs. He clearly establishes his heritage from Lord Ramchandra, the son of Dasrath in Bachittar Natak which is accepted as an authentic autobiographical writing of Guru Gobind Singh. Many passages from it are sung with devotion in all gurdwaras.
It would be clear to any scholar of Sikhism that although many of the contents of the Dasam Granth may not fit in to the Singh Sabha mould of Sikhism, yet it cannot be easily disowned. The scholars who question the bona fides of the Rashtirya Sikh Sangat should also remember that the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh for a long time had on the masthead of the Organiser weekly, their official organ, a portrait of Guru Gobind Singh as one of the three heroes of the Hindus, the other two being Shivaji and Maharana Pratap. If the six Gurus in their bani could accept Ram and Krishan manifesting divinity of the Supreme Being, it seems that there is nothing wrong in Guru Gobind Singh describing Durga as manifesting the divinity and power of One Supreme Being.
It is the Divine in Ram or Krishan that is worthy of worship according to Gurbani, so it is the Divine manifestation in Durga that calls for our obeisance and that is how the daily Sikh prayer (ardas) starts with invocation of Bhagauti before mentioning Guru Nanak’s name. The Supreme Being is neither a male nor a female. The innovation of Guru Gobind Singh seems to lie in invoking the formless Almighty Being as a female.
The challenge before the scholars is to understand the purpose, design, symbolism and true import of the writings of Guru Gobind Singh rather than attributing motives to the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat. Just because some writings of Guru Gobind Singh do not fit into a particular mindset, those writings cannot just be disowned, as such an act questions the wisdom of the trusted first generation devotees of Guru Gobind Singh as well as the scholarship of the group that had critically examined the Dasam Granth from 1895 to 1897