Friday, December 09, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

THE SIKH RELIGION
ITS GURUS, SACRED WRITINGS AND AUTHORS
BY MAX ARTHUR MACAULIFFE

INTRODUCTION : CHAPTER VII

We shall now examine the principal current accounts of Guru Nanak and give brief notices of their authors.

The oldest authentic account of the Guru was written by Bhai Gur Das. who flourished in the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, dying in A.D. 1629. He was first cousin of the mother of Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs. He was Guru Arjan's amanuensis, and wrote out from his dictation the Adi[1] Granth, or sacred book of the Sikhs, which then contained the hymns of the first five Sikh Gurus and of the saints who preceded them. He next wrote what he called Wars or religious cantos. These are forty in number. The first War begins with the Sikh cosmology, and ends with a brief account of Guru Nanak and the succeeding Gurus to the date of Gur Das's composition. Gur Das's object was essentially religious. He delighted in singing the greatness of God, the littleness of man, and the excellence of the Guru. Besides the Wars, Gur Das wrote Kabits, which contains the Sikh tenets and a panegyric of the Gurus.

The details which Gur Das has given of Guru Nanak will be utilized in the life of that Guru. It is a matter of regret that he did not write a complete life of the Guru, as its details could at that time have been easily obtained. The date of the composition of his work is not given, but it is admitted on all hands that it was during the time of Guru Arjan. Making due allowance for Gur Das's protracted employment in copying and collating the sacred volume for Guru Arjan-a task which was completed in A.D. 1604--it may fairly be assumed that Gur Das wrote his own work not much more than sixty years after the demise of Guru Nanak, when some of his contemporaries

[1. The epithet Âdi, which means primitive or first, was bestowed on the Granth Sâhib of Guru Arjan to distinguish it from the Granth of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, which was subsequently compiled by Bhâi Mani Singh.]

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were still alive, and one of them at least retained the vigour of his intellectual faculties.

There was then living in the village of Ramdas [1] about twenty miles north of Amritsar, Bhai Budha, who had embraced the Sikh religion under Guru Nanak at Kartarpur, and who used to attend him on some of his peregrinations. This man was in the prime of life when Gur Das copied the Granth Sahib for Guru Arjan, and the latter made him reader and custodian of the sacred volume at Amritsar. Bhai Budha subsequently lived until the Guruship of Guru Har Gobind, when he died at the ripe age of one hundred and seven years. In such estimation was he held that he was specially appointed to impress the saffron tilak, or patch of Gurudom, on the foreheads of the Gurus of his time; and his descendants had the same honoured privilege as long as legitimate Gurus remained to be thus distinguished. He, however, has left no memoirs of the founder of his religion.

Mani Singh was the youngest of five sons of Bika of Kaibowal, in the Malwa country, and belonged to the Dullat section of the Hindu jats. The ruins of Kaibowal may now be seen near the village of Laugowal. When Guru Gobind Singh was going to Kurkhetar on a preaching excursion, Bika and his son Mani went to a place called Akoi to meet him and offer him their homage. Bika in due time returned home, leaving his son with the Guru. The Guru one day asked Mani to wipe the vessels from which the Sikhs had eaten, and, as an inducement, promised that as the vessels became bright so should his understanding. Mani wiped the dishes with great humility and devotion, and received baptism from the Guru as his reward. He remained a celibate and devoted his life to the Guru's service.

[1. This was Bhâi Budha's original name, and the village was called after him. The name Bhâi Budha was given him by Guru Nanak.

The word 'Bhâi' means brother. Guru Nanak, who disregarded caste and preached the doctrine of the brotherhood of man, desired that all his followers should be deemed brothers, and thus he addressed them. The title 'Bhâi' is now bestowed on Sikh priests and others who have made a special study of the Sikh sacred writings.]

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When the tenth Guru found it necessary to go to the south of India, he took Mani Singh, among others, with him. At Nander, or Abchalanagar, as it is now called by the Sikhs, the Guru expounded to his followers, among whom Mani Singh was an enthusiastic listener, the recondite language of the Granth Sahib or the book par excellence.

After the Guru's death Bhai Mani Singh remained as Granthi, or reader of the Granth in the Har Mandar in Amritsar.[1] The Sikhs commissioned him, while so employed, to write them a life of Guru Nanak. They represented that the Minas, or descendants of Prithi Chand, had interpolated much incorrect matter in the biography of the Guru, whereby doubts were produced in the minds of orthodox Sikhs; and they commissioned Mani Singh to discriminate the true from the false, and compile a trustworthy life of the founder of their religion. He accordingly expanded the first of Bhai Gur Das's Wars into a life of Guru Nanak. It is called the Gyan Ratanawali. Mani Singh wrote another work, the Bhagat Ralanawali, an expansion of Gur Das's eleventh War, which contains a list of famous Sikhs up to the time of Guru Har Gobind. After the demise of Bhai Mani Singh the copyists interlarded several Hindu ideas in his works.

The hymns of the Adi Granth are arranged under the musical measures to which they were intended to be sung. Mani Singh thought it would be better and more convenient to compile the hymns of each Guru separately. He therefore altered the arrangement of the Granth Sahib, on which he was censured by the Sikhs. He apologized, and was subsequently pardoned by the members of his faith.

In A.D. 1738 Mani Singh asked permission of Zakaria Khan, the Viceroy of Lahore, to allow the Diwali[2] fair to

[1. Bhâi Gyân Singh's Panth Parkâsh.

2 The Diwâli, originally a festival observed only by Hindus in honour of Lakshmi, their goddess of wealth, on the 15th day of Kârtik (Oct.-Nov.). It was the date on which Bhâi Budha the first Granthi {footnote p. lxxvi} completed his perusal of the Granth Sahib, and it consequently became a Sikh holiday also.]

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be held in Amritsar. The Viceroy gave permission on condition that Mani Singh undertook to pay a poll-tax for every Sikh who attended. Mani Singh accepted this condition, and sent circulars to the Sikhs to attend and hold a special Sikh gathering. The Viceroy sent troops to watch the movements of the Sikhs, but the Sikhs, mistaking their intention, dispersed. The result was that Mani Singh was unable to pay the stipulated tax. Upon this he was taken to Lahore for punishment. Zakaria Khan asked his Qazi what the punishment should be. The Qazi replied that Mani Singh must either accept Islam or suffer disjointment of his body. Mani Singh heroically accepted the latter alternative. The Viceroy adjudged this barbarous punishment, nominally on account of his victim's nonpayment of the tax, but in reality on account of his influence as a learned and holy man in maintaining the Sikh religion. Mani Singh manifested no pain on the occasion of his execution. He continued to his last breath to recite the Japji of Guru Nanak and the Sukhmani of Guru Arjan.

Bhai Santokh Singh, son of Deva Singh, was born in Amritsar in A.D. 1788. He received religious instruction in the Sikh faith from Bhai Sant Singh in his native city, and in the Hindu religion from a Pandit in Kaul in the Karnal district. He found a patron in Sardar Megh Singh of Buria, in the present district of Ambala in the Panjab, and under his auspices translated a work called Amar Kosh from the Sanskrit. In A.D. 1823 he wrote the Nanak Parkash, an exposition of the life and teachings of Guru Nanak.

After this Bhai Santokh Singh entered the employ of Maharaja Karm Singh of Patiala. In A.D. 1825, Bhai Ude Singh of Kaithal obtained his services from the Maharaja. In Kaithal Bhai Santokh Singh, with the aid of the Brahmans whom Bhai Ude Singh had placed at his disposal, translated several works from the Sanskrit. He then set about writing the lives of the remaining Gurus,

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and this task he completed during the rainy season of A.D. 1843 under the name of 'Gur Partap Suraj', popularly known as the 'Suraj Parkash', in six ponderous volumes. The lives of the Gurus, from the second to the ninth, inclusive, are divided into twelve ruts or sections, corresponding to the signs of the Zodiac. The life of the tenth Guru is presented in six ruts, or seasons, corresponding to the six Indian seasons, and into two ains, the ascending and descending nodes. The whole work is written in metre, and in difficult Hindi, with a large admixture of pure Sanskrit words. Santokh Singh's other works are a paraphrase of the Japji of Guru Nanak and of the Sanskrit works Atam Puran and Valmik's Ramayan.

Bhai Ram Kanwar, a lineal descendant of Bhai Budha, was specially favoured by receiving the pahul, or baptism by the dagger, from Guru Gobind Singh himself; and on that occasion the name of Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh was bestowed on him.[1] Bhai Gurbakhsh Singh survived by twenty-five years the tenth and last Guru, and dictated his history to Bhai Sahib Singh. To the writings of the latter, which are now no longer extant, Bhai Santokh Singh is said to have been indebted. It is, however, doubtful whether Bhai Santokh Singh had access to any trustworthy authority. From his early education and environment he was largely tinctured with Hinduism. He was unquestionably a poet, and his imagination was largely stimulated by copious draughts of bhang and other intoxicants in which he freely indulged. The consequence was that he invented several stories discreditable to the Gurus and their religion. Some of his inventions are due to his exaggerated ideas of prowess and force in a bad as well as in a good cause--a reflex of the spirit of the marauding age in which he lived. His statements accordingly cannot often be accepted as even an approach to history.

[1. The genealogy of Bhâi Gurbakhsh Singh is as follows: Bhâi Budha, who lived from the time of Guru Nânak to that of Guru Har Gobind, begot Bhâna, who begot Sarwan, who begot Jalâl, who begot Jhanda, who begot Gurditta, who begot Bhâi Râm Kanwar (Gurbakhsh Singh).]

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We shall now notice works called Janamsakhis, which profess to be biographies of Guru Nanak. These compositions were obviously written at very different epochs after the demise of the Guru, and give very different and contradictory details of his life. In all of them miraculous acts and supernatural conversations are recorded. The question of these Janamsakhis is of such supreme importance, as showing the extent to which pious fiction can proceed in fabricating details of the lives of religious teachers,[1] that we must devote some space to a consideration of them.

One of the most popular Janamsakhis is a large volume of 588 folio pages lithographed at Lahore. It is plentifully embellished with woodcuts, and its editor states that in its compilation he has expended vast pains, having collated books which he had brought from great distances at vast trouble and expense. He boasts that no one can produce such a book. If any one dare reprint it without his permission, he shall be sued and mulcted in damages in a court of justice. The work is apparently based on Bhai Santokh Singh's Nanak Parkash.

To gain credence for a biography it is of course necessary to have a narrator, and to be assured that the narrator is no fictitious person. In the present, and indeed in all the popular Janamsakhis, which no doubt have been compiled by altering some one original volume, a person called Bhai Bala is made the narrator. He is represented as having been three years younger than Guru Nanak, and as having accompanied him in the capacity of faithful and confidential

[1. Compare the manner in which Janamsakhis or gospels were multiplied in the early Christian Church. 'Vast numbers of spurious writings bearing the names of apostles and their followers, and claiming more or less direct apostolic authority, were in circulation in the early Church-Gospels according to Peter, to Thomas, to James, to Judas, according to the Apostles, or according to the Twelve, to Barnabas, to Matthias, to Nicodemus, &c.; and ecclesiastical writers bear abundant testimony to the early and rapid growth of apocryphal literature.' Supernatural Religion, Vol. i, p. 292. It may be incidentally mentioned that it was the Gospel according to Barnabas which Muhammad used in the composition of the Quran.]

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attendant in all his wanderings. Bala is said to have dictated the biography to Paira by order of Guru Angad, the Guru next in succession to Guru Nanak. What the value of this Janamsakhi is we shall briefly consider.

It is generally written in the current Panjabi dialect, with a slight admixture of archaic words, and no more corresponds with the dialect of the age of Guru Nanak and Guru Angad, whose compositions have descended to us and can be examined, than the English of the present day corresponds with that of Chaucer or Piers Plowman. If Paira wrote from Bala's dictation, where is the original volume, which of course was written in the language of the time? When Bala proffered to dictate the biography, Guru Angad, who was well acquainted with Guru Nanak, knew so little of Bala that he is represented as having asked him whose disciple he was, and if he had ever seen Nanak. This does not appear as if Bala, supposing him to have ever existed, had been an eye-witness of Guru Nanak's deeds, or a trustworthy authority for the particulars of his life. If he had been, his fitness for the duty of biographer would have been well known to Guru Angad, who was a constant companion of Guru Nanak in the end of his life.

In Gur Das's eleventh War is found a list of well-known Sikhs up to his time. He does not state what Sikhs were converted by or lived in the time of each Guru. Mani Singh, in the Bhagat Ratanwali, has given the same list with fuller particulars of the Sikhs. Among them Bhai Bala is not mentioned. This Janamsakhi professes to have been written in the Sambat year 1592,[1] when Guru Nanak was still alive, and three years before Angad had obtained the Guruship. An earlier recension of the same biography professes to have been written in Sambat 1582, or thirteen years before the demise of Guru Nanak.

There were three great schisms of the Sikh religion which led to the falsification of old, or the composition of new Janamsakhis. The schismatics were known as the Udasis,

[1. The Sambat or Vikramâditya era is fifty-seven years prior to annus domini.]

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the Minas, and the Handalis. The first schism of the Sikhs began immediately after the demise of Guru Nanak.[1] Some of his followers adopted Sri Chand, his elder son, as his successor, and repudiated the nomination of Guru Angad. The followers of Sri Chand were termed Udasis, or the solitary; and they now constitute a large body of devout and earnest men. Anand Ghan, one of their number, has in recent times written the life of Guru Nanak. It contains an apotheosis of Sri Chand, and states that he was an incarnation of God, and the only true successor of Guru Nanak.

The second schismatical body of the Sikhs were the Minas. Ram Das, the fourth Guru, had three sons, Prithi Chand, Mahadev, and Arjan. Prithi Chand proved unfilial and disobedient, Mahadev became a religious enthusiast, while Arjan, the youngest, followed in the steps of his father. To Arjan, therefore, he bequeathed the Guruship. Prithi Chand he stigmatized as Mina or deceitful, a name given to a robber tribe in Rajputana. Prithi Chand, however, succeeded in obtaining a following, whom he warned against association with the Sikhs of Guru Arjan. Consequently enmity between both sects has existed up to the present time. Miharban, the son of Prithi Chand, wrote a Janamsakhi of Guru Nanak in which he glorified his own father. Here there was ample opportunity for the manipulation of details. It is in this Janamsakhi of the Minas we first find mention of Bhai Bala.

The Handalis, the third schismatic sect of the Sikhs, were the followers of Handal, a Jat of the Manjha, who had been converted to the Sikh religion by Guru Amar Das,

[1. There are now several sects of the religion of Guru Nanak. It appears from the testimony of St. Paul that the early Christian Church was similarly divided. 'For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?' (i Cor. i. 11-13). Schisms appear to be the law of all religions. They began in Islâm after the death of the Prophet's companions. Islâm, it is said, now numbers seventy three different sects.]

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the third Sikh Guru. Bidhi Chand, a descendant of Handal, was a Sikh priest at Jandiala, in the Amritsar district. He took unto himself a Muhammadan woman, whom he attached to him rather by ties of love than of law, and upon this he was abandoned by his followers.

He then devised a religion of his own, and compiled a Granth and a Janamsakhi to correspond. In both he sought to exalt to the rank of chief apostle his father Handal, and degrade Guru Nanak, the legitimate Sikh Guru. For this purpose creative fancy was largely employed. To serve the double object of debasing Guru Nanak and justifying himself to men, he stated that Nanak had also taken unto himself a Muhammadan woman bound to him by no bonds save those of lucre and ephemeral affection.

According to this biographer, Guru Nanak, on his journey to Sach Khand, the true region, or the Land of the Leal, met the Hindu saint Dhru. One day while on earth Dhru sat on his father's lap, and was removed by his step-mother. For this trivial slight he left his home and turned his thoughts to God. God accepted his worship, and in recognition thereof offered him the highest place in heaven. The pole, as not moving, is supposed to have the position of honour, and there Vishnu set him in the centre of the stars. Dhru began to converse with Guru Nanak, and told him that only one man, Kabir, had previously been able to visit that select and happy region. Here there was a covert depreciation of Guru Nanak. Kabir, a famous religious teacher, by caste a weaver, was his precursor, and the Handali's object was to show that Guru Nanak was a follower of Kabir and not an original thinker. Guru Nanak is then represented to have said that a third man, Handal, was approaching, and would be present in the twinkling of an eye.

Guru Nanak, proceeds the Handali writer, continued his journey to Sach Khand, and there found Kabir fanning God, who is represented as the four-armed Hindu deity Vishnu. A rude drawing in the Handali Janamsakhi represents God and Kabir in truly anthropomorphic fashion as a priest and his attendant disciple.

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Nanak informed God that he had not fully carried out the orders he had obtained prior to his departure to earth and his human manifestation. He had only promulgated God's message in three directions. The western portion of the world remained still ignorant and unvisited. He was therefore remanded by God to fully accomplish his mission. On his return to earth he met in one of the lower worlds a Jogi with whom, as. was his wont, he entered into familiar conversation. The Jogi, in reply to Nanak's question, told him that he had been, in a previous state of existence in the Treta age, a servant of Raja Janak, King of Mithila, and father-in-law of the renowned deified hero Ram Chandar. Nanak is made to confess to him that he, too, had been a servant of Raja Janak, and that they had both served under, the same roof in the same menial capacity. The Jogi then questioned Nanak as to his secular position in the Dwapar age. Nanak is represented as saying with the same unsuspecting frankness that he had been the son of a teli or oil-presser, a trade held to be offensive and degrading to Hindus. Thus was the depreciation of Guru Nanak complete.

Such were the fictitious narratives introduced into the Janamsakhis, and, the reins of fancy having once been let loose, it was difficult for the Handalis to know at what goal to pause. The result was a total transformation of the biographies of Guru Nanak which they had found in existence. This occurred about the year A.D. 1640. Bidhi Chand died in the year A.D. 1654. His successor was Devi Das, whom his Musalman companion bore him.

The Handali heresy was opportune for its followers. Zakaria Khan Bahadur, the Muhammadan Governor of the Panjab, about a century afterwards, set a price on the head of every Sikh. At first he offered twenty-five, then ten, and finally five rupees. The heads of Sikhs were supplied in abundance by both Musalmans and Hindus,[1]

[1. It was, as we shall subsequently see, a Brâhman who betrayed the sons of Guru Gobind Singh, and placed them at the disposal of the Muhammadan Governor of Sarhind, who barbarously murdered them.]

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and the price offered was consequently reduced by degrees. The Handalis protested to the officials of Zakaria that they were not Sikhs of Nanak, but a totally different sect who merited not persecution; and in proof of this they pointed to their Granth, and their Janamsakhi, and to the Musalman companion of Bidhi Chand. Notwithstanding these subterfuges, the Handalis were subsequently persecuted and deprived of their land by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, but they still exist as a small community, whose head quarters are at Jandiala, where the guardians of their temple enjoy a jagir or fief from the British Government. They are now .known by the name of Niranjanie, or followers of the bright God (Niranjan).

In the present age, accustomed as we are to the use and multiplication of printed books, it is not at once easy to realize how records of every description could have been forged, altered, and destroyed in an age when manuscripts only existed. It must be remembered that books then were few, and that combinations among their possessors, especially if supported by political power or religious fanaticism, could easily be effected. The Handalis apparently had sufficient influence to destroy nearly all the older accounts of the life: of Guru Nanak.

But, apart from this altogether, there is no doubt that there was a great destruction of Sikh manuscripts during the persecution of the Sikh faith by the Muhammadan authorities. Sikh works or treatises preserved in shrines became special objects of attack. Their existence was known and could not be denied by the Sikh priests, and systematic raids were organized to take possession of them. It was only copies preserved by private individuals, living at a distance from the scenes of persecution, which had any chance of escape from the fury of the Moslems.[1]

[1. This finds a parallel in the destruction of Christian writings by fanatical Romans prior to the time of the Emperor Constantine. The records of the Christian persecutions show that the Christian priests who surrendered their sacred writings subsequently received severe treatment at the hands of their co-religionists. Compare the manner {footnote p. lxxxiv} in which the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Memoirs of the Apostles, and other valuable Christian records used by the early fathers of the Church, have been destroyed and lost for ever to the world.]

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All the Handali and modem Janamsakhis give Kartik as the month in which Baba Nanak was born. In Mani Singh's and all the old Janamsakhis the Guru's natal month is given as Baisakh. The following is the manner in which Kartik began to be considered as the Guru's natal month: There lived in the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, at Amritsar, Bhai Sant Singh Gyani, who was held in high estimation by that monarch. Some five miles from Amritsar is an ancient tank called the Râm Tirath or place of pilgrimage of the Hindu god Ram. At that place a Hindu fair was and is still held at the time of the full moon in the month of Kartik. The spot is essentially Hindu, and it had the further demerit in the eyes of the Bhai of having been repaired by Lakhpat, the prime minister of Zakaria Khan Bahadur, the inhuman persecutor of the Sikhs. Bhai Sant Singh desired to establish an opposition fair in Amritsar on the same date, and thus prevent the Sikhs from making the Hindu pilgrimage to Ram Tirath. He gravely adopted the Handali date of Guru Nanak's birth, and proclaimed that his new fair at Amritsar at the full moon in the month of Kartik was in honour of the nativity of the founder of his religion.

There is no doubt that Guru Nanak was born in Baisakh. All the older Janamsakhis give that as Guru Nanak's natal month. As late as the Sambat year 1872 it was in Baisakh that the anniversary fair of Guru Nanak's birth was always celebrated at Nankana. And finally the Nanak Parkash, which gives the full moon in Kartik, Sambat 1526, as the time of Guru Nanak's birth and the tenth of the dark half of Assu, Sambat 1596, as the date of his death, states with strange inconsistency that he lived seventy years five months and seven days,[1] a total which is irreconcilable with these dates, but it is very nearly reconcilable with the date of the Guru's birth given in the old Janamsakhi.

[1. The usually accepted horoscopes and ages of the Gurus are given in a work called the Gur Parnâli.]

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How the month of Kartik was subsequently ratified by orthodox Sikhs as the month of Guru Nanak's nativity is also a curious instance of the manner in which religious anniversaries and observances can be prescribed and adopted. Bhai Harbhagat Singh, of Shahid Ganj in Lahore, was a Sikh of high consideration. He long debated in his own mind whether he would accept Baisakh or Kartik as the month of Guru Nanak's nativity. At last he submitted the matter to the arbitrament of chance. He wrote the word Baisakh on one slip of paper and Kartik on the other, placed both papers in front of the Granth Sahib, and sent an unlettered boy, who had previously performed religious ablution in the sacred tank, to take up one of them. The boy selected the one on which Kartik had been written.[1]

Other reasons, too, for the alterations of the date can easily be imagined. In the beginning of the month of Baisakh there have been large Hindu fairs held from time immemorial to celebrate the advent of spring. These fairs were visited by the early Sikhs as well as by their Hindu countrymen; and it would on many accounts have been very inconvenient to make the birth of Guru Nanak synchronize with them. The comparatively small number of Sikh visitors at a special Sikh fair in the early days of the Sikh religion would have compared unfavourably with the large number of Hindu pilgrims at the Baisakhi fair, and furthermore, the selection of the month of October, when few Hindu fairs are held, and when the weather is more suitable for the distant journey to Nankana, would probably lead to a large gathering of Hindus at a Sikh shrine.

One difference of opinion among the victims of priestcraft is apt to produce many. When the month of Kartik was adopted by the Handalis as Guru Nanak's birth time, a discussion arose as to whether it was the lunar or the solar

[1. In the East sacred books are often employed in this way for purposes of divination. In the Middle Ages the Bible, and in earlier times the poems of Homer, Virgil, and others, were used for the same purpose.]

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Kartik, there being a considerable difference between these forms of chronology. The partisans of the lunar Kartik, however, prevailed, the lunar month being the earlier form of calculation, and consequently the most acceptable to all persons whose religion is based on any form of Hinduism, Generally the confusion of solar and lunar chronology is the cause of much perplexity and qualms of conscience to the pious.[1]

The last Janamsakhi which we shall notice was written by a Sikh called Sewa Das.[2] Of this we have obtained several copies. One of them in our possession bears the date Sambat 1645 = A.D. 1588. It was therefore completed at least sixteen years before the compilation of the Granth Sahib by Guru Arjan, which is admitted to have taken place in A.D. 1604. Its language is that of Pothohar, the country between the Jihlam and the Indus, and its written character is unmistakably more ancient than that of any other Gurumukhi book now in existence.

This Janamsakhi appears to have escaped the notice of both Gur Das and Mani Singh. Had Gur Das seen it, he would doubtless have given a fuller account of the life of Guru Nanak; and, had it been known to Mani Singh, he would probably have referred to it or criticized its details. While persecutions of the Sikhs were raging south of Lahore, and the other detailed memoirs of Guru Nanak's life, including those of Bhai Mani Singh, were destroyed, this Janamsakhi was preserved in Pothohar, where Moslem bigotry. was not then aggressively exercised.

In this biography there is no mention whatever of Bhai

[1. The late Bhâi Gurumukh Singh, who first gave the author these details, afterwards put himself at the head of a deputation to move the Government of the Panjâb to declare the fictitious anniversary of Guru Nânak's birth a public holiday. That Government accordingly added a second Sikh holiday to the already long list of Christian, Hindu, and Muhammadan holidays sanctioned in its calendar. The other special Sikh holiday is the Hola Mahalla, the day on which the tenth Guru held a mimic battle for the instruction of his troops.

2. The late Sir Atar Singh, Chief of Bhadaur, gave the author this information.]

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Bala. There is, however, mention made of Mardana, who undoubtedly accompanied Baba Nanak as his minstrel in most, if not all, of his wanderings. This Janamsakhi again is deformed by mythological matter which Baba Nanak himself would have been the first to repudiate.

Notwithstanding exaggerations, such as occur in all religions which deal with avatars or incarnations, the Janamsakhi now under consideration is beyond dispute the most trustworthy detailed record we possess of the life of Guru Nanak. It contains much less mythological matter than any other Gurumukhi life of the Guru, and is a much more rational, consistent, and satisfactory narrative. At the same time it is, of course, the product of legend and tradition, but these have, in at least one memorable instance, been thought more trustworthy than written records in such cases.[1] We shall make this ancient Janamsakhi the basis of our own details of the life of Guru Nanak[2], supplementing it when necessary by cullings from the later lives of the Guru. At the same time we must premise that several of the details of this and of all the current Janamsakhis appear to us to be simply settings for the verses and sayings of Guru Nanak. His followers and admirers found dainty word-pictures in his compositions. They considered under what circumstances they could have been produced, and thus devised the framework of a biography in which to exhibit them to the populace.

The deeds that have been done, the prophecies that have been uttered, and the instruction that has been imparted by that great procession of holy men, the Sikh Gurus, will be found described in the following pages. In the Gurus the East shook off the torpor of ages, and unburdened itself

[1. Papias, a father of the Christian Church, who flourished about A.D. 130, wrote that he considered what he obtained from the living and abiding voice of men would profit him more in obtaining accurate details of the life of Christ than what was recorded in the gospels.

2. That accomplished Sikh scholar and saintly man, the late Bhâi Dit Singh, has also made the Janamsakhi that we use the basis of his Gurumukhi life of Guru Nânak.]

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of the heavy weight of ultra-conservatism which had paralysed the genius and intelligence of its people. Only those who know India by actual experience can adequately appreciate the difficulties the Gurus encountered in their efforts to reform and awaken the sleeping nation.

Those who, secure in their own wisdom and infallibility, and dwelling apart from the Indian people spurn all knowledge of their theological systems, and thus deem Sikhism a heathen religion, and the spiritual happiness and loyalty of its followers negligeable items, are men whose triumph shall be short-lived and whose glory shall not descend with the accompaniment of minstrel raptures to future generations. I am not without hope that when enlightened rulers become acquainted with the merits of the Sikh religion they will not willingly let it perish in the great abyss in which so many creeds have been engulfed.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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