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Bansavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka

BANSAVALINAMA DASAN PATSHAHIAN KA is a poeticized account of the lives of the Gurus by Kesar Singh Chhibbar. The term bansavalinama means a genealogy. Another term used in the text is "kursinama" which is Persian for "genealogy." But, strictly speaking, this work is not a genealogical table. It is a rapid account, in rather incipient Punjabi verse, of the ten Gurus and of Banda Singh Bahadur and some other Sikhs. Description of historical events and mythological elements occasionally overlap in this work. Its peculiar feature is the wealth of chronological detail it contains about the lives of the Gurus and the members of their families. But the reliability of the dates recorded by the author is not established.

The author, Kesar Singh Chhibbar, came of a family who had served the Gurus as diwans or ministers. His grandfather, Dharam Chand, was in charge of the treasury of Guru Gobind Singh. Dharam Chand's father, Dargah Mall, had been diwan to Guru Tegh Bahadur, the Ninth Guru, and his two predecessors. Dharam Chand's son, Gurbakhsh Singh, served Guru Gobind Singh. Kesar Singh was Gurbakhsh Singh's son. Too young at the time of Guru Gobind Singh's passing away, he did have the privilege of the company of some eminent Sikhs of his day, notably scholar and martyr Bhai Mani Singh. For many years he lived at Amritsar and also attended upon Mata Sundari, widow of Guru Gobind Singh, in Delhi. As he records himself, he wrote the Bansavalinama in a dharamsala in Jammu and completed it in 1826 Bk/AD 1769. The book, comprising 2,564 stanzas, is divided into fourteen chapters. The first ten deal with the Ten Gurus. There is a chapter each on Banda Singh Bahadur, Jit (Ajit) Singh, adopted son of Mata Sundari, and Mata Sahib Devan. The last chapter of the book alludes to the state of the Sikhs in the early decades of the eighteenth century, persecution they suffered at the hands of the ruling authority and their will to survival. A point especially stressed is about the bestowal of Guruship on the Holy Book by Guru Gobind Singh before he passed away. Kesar Singh says, "At this time the Guru Granth Sahib is our Guru (i.e. prophetteacher)... Recognize him alone as the Guru's true Sikh who accepts as eternally true the word enshrined in.the Granth. He who abides by the word in the Granth, he alone will be the follower approved." He also mentions some other prescriptions for the Sikhs in the manner of Rahitnamas or manuals of Sikh code. But some of his assertions are not in conformity with Sikh belief and teachings. For example, he accepts the Gurus as incarnations of Visnu. The Gurus acknowledged no deity besides God, nor did they support the theory of incarnation. Again, the author has tried to prove the superiority of the Brahmans even among the Sikhs which may be due to his own Brahman ancestry. In any case, this is contrary to the principles of Sikhism which rejects caste. Till recently this Sikh chronicle was available only in manuscript. It was edited by Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi and published in 1972, in the Parakh, a research journal of the Punjab University, Chandigarh. The text used was a manuscript in a private collection at Batala. No date is mentioned on the manuscript, but it could be about 150 years old. A manuscript is also preserved in the Khalsa College Library at Amritsar; there was as well one in the Sikh Reference Library at Amritsar until it perished in the Army attack on the Golden Temple complex in 1984.


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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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