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History re Guru Gobind Singh Jis Ascension


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The Sikh Review

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This article was published in the Sikh Review, January 1967

Editors Comments:

This article is based on a recently discovered manuscript, and throws a new light on the last 20 days of Guru Gobind Singh's earthly sojourn. It is reproduced below (with slight modifications) from the October 1963 issue of the Sikh Review, in order to make a biographical account of Guru Gobind Singh's life and teachigs.

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Note: The photocopy of the historic document referred to in the article was also published in the magazine.

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GURU GOBIND SINGH'S ASCENSION

Dr. Trilochan Singh

The Guru period of Sikh history is at once the most interesting and most difficult one, in which a writer of history requires an unwavering inquisitiveness to search more and more material, a special aptitude an uncanny intution to reconstruct important historical facts in the true image and ideals of the Gurus, which a deep study of writings of the Gurus leave on the mind. A historian working working on this period should have the patience and insight of an archaelogist to enable him to unearth new material and manuscripts, and assess their correctness and importance. He should also have a good theological grounding and philosophical knowledge of the Scriptures, which alone can enable a writer to form the true image of the Guru's personality and character.

Any historical fact that contradicts the image of the Gurus presented by their own writings has to be rejected. For example, the writings of Guru Gobind Singh do not conceal his outspoken contempt for idolatry and for worship of all types of gods and goddesses. So any historical record which spins a story stating that the Guru indulged in some sort of worship of gods and goddesses cannot be accepted as correct.

Some historians chance to see a historical record, written by men who were condemned by contemporary writers of Sikh history, accept facts from these records uncritically, and jump to fantastic conclusions of their own.

Conflicting Accounts

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Another difficulty in the study of the Guru Period is that no two copies of the same historical record completely agree. Thus, no record is free from serious errors introduced mostly by copyists, or by those who deliberately corrupted the historical records. Bhai Mani Singh accuses Meharban (Guru Arjan' nephew) and his followers of corrupting the oldest "Janamsakhis", and warns against accepting the historical facts of "Janamsakhi" written by him. Kavi Santokh Singh accuses the Handalias of further corrupting the "Janamsakhis", and warns us against stories and legends introduced by them. These organized campaigns to corrupt all the "Janamsakhis" and "Gurbilasis" have left no work that can completely be depended upon, and yet all these works have germs of truth and many historical facts which have left unchanged. A comperative study of all the documents brings us very near the truth.

Study of Local History

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I have also found that the history of the Guru-period can be reconstructed by studying the events in places where they took place. Punjabi writers of the lives of the Guru did not have any correct idea of the geography of India. I have found more and realistic historical facts about the lives of the Gurus in the local history of other provinces. So whenever I come to know that there is some old historical recension of "Adi Guru Granth", or some historical record in some other province, I cannot rest till I have seen it. Sometimes after undertaking an expensive and arduous journey, I find nothing of much importance. At other times, sheer incidental inquiry leads to an important historical discovery.

Discovery in a Bihar village

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Guided by such a craze, I went to a village in Bihar and discovered a strange document, hitherto unknown to historians, revealling very realistically the last great event of the life of Guru Gobind Singh leading to his ascension. Had I arrived one hour later than I did, the document might have been completely destroyed. Had I reached the place two days earlier, I might not have found it, as it was lying in the waste paper basket.

The journey to this village, called Lachmipur, had to be undertaken on a bullock cart. The President of the Gurudwara was happy to find a Sikh from Punjab suddenly getting interested in his village. He asked the "granthi" to prepare some tea and "paranthas" for me, and as he showed me around, the happiest sight was the village children learning Punjabi and Sikh Scriptures, like "Panj Granthi", in the traditional manner. He then showed me some "Hukamnamas" written by the Jathedars of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib. The whole of Assam, Bihar and Bengal was under the jurisdiction of Takhat Sri Patna Sahib and the Takhat maintained a private army upto the British period. Just as I was examining these Hukamnamas, in the open light of the courtyard, I saw a man sweeping away some torn pages of some old handwritten manuscript. Some of the pages were already being blown about the courtyard.

Valuable Manuscript Retrieved From Waste

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I went and picked up one lot of about three pages. The President apologetically said, "We are cleaning up and whitewashing the whole place to celebrate Guru Nanak's birthday." The size of these manuscript pages was about nine inches by six inches. I found them to be pages from the biography of Guru Angad, giving some old stories with a few facts. Then I found another lot of five pages of the same size fluttering about in the courtyard. These pages were from the life of Guru Amar Das and the first page gave what may be called the "Rehatnama" of Guru Amar Das's period. Then I saw another five or six pages of the "Panj Granthi" size (about six inch by four inch).

I picked up one and read a vivid description of the Pathan who stabbed Guru Gobind Singh. I had never read anything like it before. It was a new record, but, whether I would be able to find other pages connecting the story was doubtful. I was overwhelmed and almost excited. I requested them to stop sweeping and pick up every page of these manuscripts. The President insisted that I should take teas first, but I told him that if I do not find the other pages of this historical event immediately, his men may sweep them away.

Historic Document

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I was able to get almost all the pages that were necessary for a complete version of the last days of Guru Gobind Singh. From these few pages it has not been possible to know the name of the author, or the name of the book. For that very reason I am giving the complete text, translation, historical notes, and comments and even the photostat copies of a few pages, so that these details may help us find the complete manuscript. This is the first historical manuscript relating to this great event, which is not only very realistic but helps in calculating the dates of all the happenings. A comparative study with other historical records is given in notes and comments:

INVOCATION

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"nanak gobind ik kar dekho ham tija mazhab calayoge

jat pat kachu rehan na deveh har Akal bulayoge.

ik onkar satgur prasad, sakhi patsahi dasvin

ji ko karam ka samat 1765 miti....Sri Vahguru"

Know Nanak and Gobind to be one. We have founded the Third Faith. (In it) we have eliminated all differences of caste and creed. (My disciples) are taught to take refuge only in the One God.

God is but One. He pervades all. By the Grace of the Guru (is He realized). Now I relate the story of Guru Gobind Singh's ascension.

Guru Gobind Singh Camps At Nander

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"dakhan ko guru ji Bahadur Shah badshah ke

sath[2] ae; dakhan ke bic ek gaon hai Nander;

taha dera hoya; sahib ka hukam hoa, jo ihan

Nander ka nao sat yug mai gobind nagri tha[3];

nander ke nechey nadi behti thi, ban ganga; hukam

hoa jo iha nadi satyug mau...tha; ihan dudh ki

nadi behti thi; hukam hua jo nau nath caurasi sidh

is gobind nagri bic baste the; ihan....pher car

sau; car kos dera age calya; tahan jae dera

sri vah jio ne carn dhara."

Guruji accompanied Emperor Bahadur Shah to Daccan. In Daccan there is a place called Nander. There the Guru camped. This place Nander was called the Guru Nagri in "satyuga". South of Nander flowed the river called Ban Ganga. Said the Guru: "On the banks of this river was the ashram of saints and sages...Here rivers of milk flowed. The Guru declared that eighty-four "sidhas"[4] and nine "nathas" resided here. Here there were gilded mansions and rich dwellings. The city was spread out over an area of four hundred "kos". From here the Guru went four miles ahead. Here the Lord pitched his tent.

Pathan Assassin's First Visit: September 18th, 1708

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"miti katik badi pancami; uhan ae divan

khana bana; divan laga; akai sahib darsan

denai lagai; ek din sara divan ek pathan baca

aya; us ki umar bars pacis ki thi; us aei kai

sahib ji ko salam kia; sahib ji un ko kaha

jo agai ae baith; sahib ji kich pucha; un bhi

kich bat kaha; koi saet baitha; jab uth cala

sahib ji panc rupya nama baksha; tis roj to

gaya"

Fifth bright half of the "Kartik" month. There a huge congregation hall was built. The congregation met daily. The Divine Lord (Guru Gobind Singh) gave audience daily. Once when the congregation was meeting a Pathan[5] came to the Guru's presence openly. His age was about twenty-five years.[6] He came and bowed low to the Guru. Guruji asked him to come near and sit in the front.[7]

The Master asked him something. He also spoke something in reply.[8] He sat for sometime and then stood up to depart. Guru Gobind Singh gave him five rupees[9] as charity. That day he went away.[10]

Assassin's Second Visit on September 19th, 1708

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"dusre din pher aya, pher sahib do rupya

baksha, us roj bhi gaya."

The next day[11] Pathan came again. The Master gave him two rupees[12] as charity. That day he also went away.[13]

Assassin Stabs Guru Gobind Sing on September 20th, 1708 at 6:30 P.M.

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"pahr tisre roz sare divan aya; sahib ji darsan

dete the, sarbatr khalsa darsan karta hai;

us pathan ko sahib ji bulaya najik carno pas

baithaya; revdian ka prasad dilaya; una

prasad le rakha; oh baitha raha badi der tak;

jab sanjh honai lagi, sahib ji ke uthne ka bela

hoya; ghadi ek din baki hai; tab un pathan

bace ne uth ke salam kityan; dusre salam

kar pher daud ke katari ka cot ghao kiya;

tino ghao nikare bhae; tab sahib ji ek katari

aisi mari jo us pathan bacai ki anti gir gai."

On the third day[14] he came again in the open congregation. Guru Sahib was giving audience. The whole Khalsa sat in reverence, looking at his gracious Presence. Guru Sahib called the Pathan near him and asked him to sit nearby. Guruji ordered that "prasad"[15] (sacramental food) should be offered to him. He accepted the prasad. He continued to sit till late in the evening, when the sun was about to set. It was now time for Guruji to rise up and end the audience. It was one "ghadi" (about an hour and half) before the end of the day. The Pathan youth got up and bowed low in reverence before the Guru. When he bowed for the second time, he rushed towards the Guru and stabbed him with a poniard.[16] All the three thrusts[17] of the dagger failed (to kill the Guru). Then Guru Sahib struck him with his dagger and the intestines of the Pathan youth youth fell out.[18] Then a Sikh of the Guru killed him on the spot.

Bahadur Shah Sends His Physicians and Surgeons

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"sahib ji hukam kia jo badshai hakim bulao;

eh khabar badshah ne sunah; badshah kehlae bheja

ji sahib hukam kijai jo us pathan bace ki

biradri mai sat sai pathan ji; hukam hovai ta

sabh kai hath katiyai; tau lau, badshai hakim

bhi aya; du pehar rat ko pati bandha."

Guru Gobind Singh immediately ordered that the Emperor's physicians and surgeons[19] should be sent for. On hearing the news the Emperor was grieved and sent words to Guru Sahib, he would cut the hands of all the Pathans[20] associated with the assassin youth (on investigation was found to be seven hundred). Then the physicians and surgeons of the Emperor also came. The wounds were stiched and bandaged when about two "paihars" (three hours) of the night had passed.[21]

Guru Gobind Singh Announces the Divine will for His Ascension on the morning of October 7th, 1708

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"ghao canga hone laga huya; sahib ap

sri vahguru ji daya dhari kai darsan denai

lagai; soleh roz tak divan laga raha. darsan

dete rahe. satarven din hukam kiya jo panc

sau rupai ka gurpurab karo; sau rupai ka

lakadian lai chalo...hukam so khalsa lai

aya; tan khalse ardas kiti, je patsah hukam

sat jo hukam: ta hukam hoa, hukam evai

tha honi; honi evai thi, honi evai hukam sat

hai; tad guruji hukam kia jo gurpurab karo;

khalse gurpurab kia."

The wound began to heal. The Lord out of infinite mercy began to attend the congregation daily so that the devotees could have a glimpse of the divine person.[22] For sixteen days Guruji came to bless the congregation and gave audience.[23] The devotees daily enjoyed his darsan (Presence).

On the seventeenth day[24] Guruji ordered that preparations should be made for celebrating "gurpurab" (the happiest occassion connected with the Guru).[25] And about five hundred gold coins should be spent on it. He also ordered firewood worth hundred rupees to be brought (for the funeral pyre). Obeying the command of Guruji, the Khalsa brought all these things.

Guru Gobind Singh Makes Final Preparations for His Ascension during daytime on Thursday October 7th, 1708.

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"hukam kiya jo sarbatr khalsa ko prasad bartae

deo; hukam sion khalse prasad bartae dia;

hukam hoa jo cikha lakdion ka banao;

kanaten caro tarph ghero; hukam hoa jo asin

asvari karen ge; hukam sat hai; hukam sio

khalse cikha banaya; kanaten tana; samat

miti katik ki pancmai; din vir var svara hoa."

Guru Gobind Singh then ordered the Khalsa to distribute the whole of sacramental food.[26] According to Guruji's wishes the Khalsa distributed the whole of the sacramental food.

Guruji then commanded: 'Prepare the funeral pyre with the wood (bought for this purpose) and screen it by fixing a tent-wall[27] around it. I will now leave my body. Such is the Divine Will of God: the Truth.' In obedience to this command the Khalsa prepared the funeral pyre. A tent-wall was fixed all around it. In teh Sambat 1765, the month of Katik, the 5th dark half of the month (when it was Thursday October 7th, 1708). Guru Gobind Singh made preparation for ascension.

Last Sermon and Ascension on the Night of October 7th, 1708.

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"rat gujri, jab svara ka rup nadri aya, tab

khalse ardas kia, "ji sace patsah paki nai pak!

hukam hoe jo khalsa matha kahan teke?" tab

hukam hoa "jo khalse no akal purakh ko saunpa

hoi; asan agai gandh pae rakhya hai; khalse ke

guru sahai; hukam hoa jo dason patsaon ke

sabad bani padna; kadah gurpurab karte rehna;

guru sahai hai; jo koi khalse ki rehat bicare ga

tis ka beli han; eha hukam hoa; khalse ke bab;

din vir var svari hoi."

It was nightfall[28] when Guru Gobind Singh was seen in a state of leaving the body, then the Khalsa made a prayerful supplication: "Most revered King of kings! Pure and Gracious Lord, command us to whom should the Khalsa bow in future in reverence as Guru." Guru Gobind Singh commanded in reply: "I have dedicated the Khalsa to the Almighty God and placed him at His feet. We (ten Gurus) have established deep spiritual ties of the Khalsa with the Absolute being ("Akal Purakh"). The Guru (in his Eternal Spiritual Form) will always come to the aid of the Khalsa.[29]

Guru (Gobind Singh) then commanded: "The Sikhs should read the Scriptures of the ten Gurus.[30] All occassions should be celebrated in the name of the Guru, with prayers and sacramental feast. The Guru will always come to their aid. he who lives according to the code of conduct of the Khalsa[31], I shall always be his Protector and Saviour." This was the Divine Command, the last sermon to the Khalsa. On Thursday Guruji's ascension took place.

Cremation of the Body and Last Ceremony

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"khalse isnan karayia; va joda posak sire

pao pehnaya; hathyar sabh bandhaya; ar

jadao pehnaya; sir par kalgi rakh tyar kiya;

laijae ke cikha par rakha; cikha nu jalaya,

hathiar, poshak, jadao, samet; sahib karam kara,

dachan des nander madeh, das din again karan kia."

The Khalsa bathed the body of the Guru. Then he was dressed in royal robes, turban and other clothes. He was then attired in all the weapons he usually wore. Royal signet, pearl neclaces were put on. On his turban was fixed the jewelled Crest ("Kalgi"). Thus preparations were made for his cremation. Then his body was carried and placed on the funeral pyre. Fire was set to the pyre and in it all the clothes, weapons and royal ornaments were allowed to be burnt. Thus the Lord caused his ascension. Ten days[32] after the cremation, (Saturday October 17th) the last rites ("bhog" ceremony) was performed.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS

Probable Date of the Document

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The great historical event of the ascension of Guru Gobind Singh and a number of incidents associated with it have been a baffling problem for writers on Guru Gobind Singh's life. The sage-poet Bhai Vir Singh devoted nearly fifty years to the completion of his monumental fictional biography of Guru Gobind Singh, "Kalgidhar Chamatkar", but he is silent and avoids wriring about the death scene of Guru Gobind Singh.

This historical document, the author and date of which are still unknown has helped me to reconstruct the historical sequence of all the events of Guru Gobind Singh's last days. It will be noticed that all the versions of old historical documents differ considerably, and when read separately each appears to contradict the other. But on some of the very vital points they say the same things and they quote the same words. The probable date of this historical document can be assessed by comparing it to the oldest historical records.

NOTES & COMMENTS

[2] At this time the army was marching southwards towards Burhanpur, Guru Gobind Singh, one of the descendents of Nanak, had come into these districts to travel and accompanied the royal camp. He was in the habit of constantly addressing assemblies of worldly persons, religious fanatics and all sorts of people. "Twarik-he-Bahadur-Shahi", Eliot VII 566.

[3] Poet Sainapat also says in "Guru Sobha Granth":

(a) "gae manzil dar manzil aise sidhae

tabai sah ke katak ke nikat ae

cale sah ke sath hi sath mano..." (p.97)

(B) "ghane kuc kine kite divs lae

suni thaur nander hai nam taka

kia dham tahi guru nam jaka"

© "nagar nander basat bisala

jit mai rahen dhani narjala

adipuri satyug te basi

darbh adhik te diragh lasi"

[4] "Sidhas" and "nathas" represent the "Saiva" school of thought which has dominated South Indian philosophy ever since the pre-Aryan period. The "Sivamahapurana" and "Atma Samarpana" gives the names of 28 "yogacaryas" having four disciples each, most of whom resided in South India.

[5] "pathan baca": This record does not give the name of the pathan. "Suraj Prakash" gives it as Gul Khan, and describes him as grandson of Painda Khan, son of Sandhai Khan. Kavi Santokh Singh says that he came from the village Chatmir in the Jullundher District where his mother advised him to go to Guru Gobind Singh who was the "Pir" of Pirs.

"Akhbarat Darbar Maula" gives the name of the assassin as Jamshaid Khan, an Afghan. This name appears to be correct.

[6] This is the first record which gives the age of the Pathan assassin. In a manuscript, "Chatarjugi", by Bhagwan Singh which I found in the possession of the late Bhai Vir Singh, it is stated that the Pathan was 'Sirhindi'. He may not have been from Sirhind, but this indicates that he was sent by the Nawab of Sirhind.

[7] Special visitors and those who brought messages from some well-known personalities were duly announced and then received in audience. Visitors who were close friends, relatives or messengers were generally given the honour to sit near the Guru and the Guru personally inquired about their welfare and the welfare of those whose message the man brought. The author of "Chatarjugi" says that this Pathan first went to Delhi and met Mata Sundri. Probably he knew the Holy Mother personally. The Holy Mother directed him to go to Deccan. The intimacy with which he was received shows that the young Pathan and his parents were known to Guru Gobind Singh, and the Pathan also knew quite a lot about the Guru's Darbar and household which enabled him easy access.

[8] The Pathan being quite young might not have personal relationship with the Guru. But it appears that he carried with him an introductory letter or some sort of credential from some Muslim friend of Guru Gobind Singh.

[9] Kavi Santokh Singh also says that five "ashrafis" were given.

[10] Poet Sainapati points out that on the first day he found too many people around Guru Gobind Singh, even at the moment of retiring. As he did not get a chance to kill the Guru he went away. He came again after two or three days but finding no opportunity went away.

[11] Sainapati says that he came again after 2 or 3 days but finding no opportunity went away. But it is quite probable that he came the very next day after being shown so much honour.

[12] Suraj Prakash Ain 2 Ansu 17.

[13] Sri Gur Sobha: Sainapati, p.101

[14] Although poet Sainapati is not sure after how many days the Pathan came back again, as he has only heard about the incident from some people: "suni sakh aisai". He says that he came many times but did not get a chance to attack.

[15] Sainapati agrees that the Guru offered him "prasad", which he ate.

[16] This is the first document which says that the Pathan attacked just when Guruji was about to leave the congregation hall and not as Sainapati says, in his bedroom when he was sleeping. For 3 days the Pathan had been planning to kill and run away and this was possible only at the time and place he chose.

[17] Poet Sainapati says that the Pathan made only one attack while Guruji was sleeping, and he was killed before he made another attack. Guruji shouted: 'Is there no one nearby.' "kari ap avaj hai ant koi". Two of his companions were seen running away. They were killed by the Sikhs: "bhaje tah sathi ghane singh dhae liai mar dono nahi jan pae." (Sri Guru Sobha)

[18] Kavi Santokh Singh makes the circumstances leading to the attack unbelievably absurd by saying that Guru Gobind Sing, tempted the Pathan to take revenge of his grandfather, Paindai Khan, who was killed by Guruji's grandfather Guru Hargobind. Just before allowing him to stab him, he takes a little opium as sedative. When Guruji is actually stabbed he calls for his disciples and kills the Pathan.

But even in this fantastic and self-contradictory version he states that the Pathan made three attacks. He missed the first two and only the third one hit the Guru. The description of the actual attack is very realistic and tallies with this record:

"jamdhar nagan hath mai dhari

samukh ridai ko jabai calai

trasat hath kampat gaio

pun ekal hi prabh ko her

bhuj ke tare gayo so var

pun dhar dhir tisro mara

tat chin sri prabh var prahario

parabh ko tak praharan kari

gai nehphal nahi pavisi jae

tan ko tanak ghav neh bheo

jamdhar mari dusar ber

lagi na tan ko thire jujhar

lag udar mai ketak phara

udar pathan sat ko phario." (Suraj Prakash Ain 2:19)

The author of "Bahadur-Shah-Nama" also says: 'The Afghan...stabbed him twice or thrice with a poniard.' It appears Guruji evaded the first two attacks aimed at the heart, but while he was himself about to draw his dagger for self defense the Pathan attacked him in the side. The very next moment Guruji gave him a fatal blow which was followed by an attack on him by Guruji's bodyguards, who must have been at a distance.

[19] Bhai Santokh Singh, author of "Gurbilas Patshai Dasvin" states that the "hakims" of the Emperor were immediately acquired; "dhyae" 29:47,48.

[20] Both "Suraj Prakash" and "Gurbilas" Sukha Singh support this:

(i) "Gurbilas" Sukha Singh, "Adhya" 29.49. (ii) "Suraj Prakash Ain" 2:19,17

Kavi Santokh Singhadds that Guruji did not consider it proper to punish any relatives or friends of the assassin.

[21] The physicians and surgeons bandaged the wound by 10:30 P.M. and according to "Gurbilas" Sukha Singh they were given precious gifts as a mark of gratitude. (Gurbilas Patshai Dasvin)

[22] Sainapati says that after three or four days Guruji started giving audience. (Sri Guru Sobha: 21 790)

Kavi Santokh Singh says that in 15 days the wound was completely healed.

[23] This is the first historical record which from definite knowledge gives the exact number of days Guruji lived on earth after the stabbing incident. He traces the events very realistically and gives the days, dates and time without doubting and without saying like other authors on this incident that they had only heard about it and were not quite definite about anything.

[24] Kavi Sainapati only hints at it: "karo beg parsad aisai batayo". Gur Sobha.

Gurbilas of Sukha Singh and following him Kavi Santokh Singh gives more details.

[25] Guru Gobind Singh, not only gave strict instructions that no one should mourn him but started the joyful celebration of his departure before he breathed his last.

[26] Kavi Santokh Singh suggests that Guruji also took a little food and then went into solitude. Sukha Singh says that food was distributed on Wednesday. As Guruji passed away on Thursady night, the sacramental food must have been distributed on Thursday afternoon. The time given by Kavi Santokh Singh is after 6 hours of the day had passed i.e. between 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM.

[27] The pitching of the tent wall is supported by most of the early records. It had one of the two significances: Either Guruji wished to leave his body at the time appointed by the Divine Will or he wanted to prevent devout Sikhs from jumping into the funeral pyre, as some of them did at the cremation of Guru Hargobind. (see additional comments)

[28] Poet Sainapati gives the time of passing away as past midnight. As he depends for his information on what he has heard, he describes the end as completely unexpected and sudden. According to him Guruji suddenly woke up, awakened his Sikhs in a hurry and saying 'Vahguru ji ki Fateh', breathed his last in a matter of minutes. then probably relying on some other information, he says that he gave his last sermon to the Khalsa and gave specific instructions about their future loyalty as disciples. The two things contradict each other.

[29] This is supported by all historical records with slight variation: See Gurbilas, Sukha Singh; Suraj Prakash Ain 2:23:9; Gur Sobha, Sainapat, Adhya:18:41,810

[30] (i) "das mehlan ki padiai bani; acut sukh pavoh nirbani" Gurbilas: Sukha Singh

(ii) "padiai sabh guran ki bani; rakhiai rehat jo hamai bikhani" Suraj Prakash

The instruction to study the bani of all the Gurus indicate two things: Guru Gobind Singh's religious bani was to be treated at par with the bani of other Gurus. Although some Gurus did not contribute any bani, all the ten Gurus were to be treated as one in spirit and the Guru Granth was to be the embodiment of the Spirit of all the ten Gurus.

See also "Rehatnama". Bhai Desa Singh and Rehatnama Bhai Caupa Singh.

[31] In the 'Ardas' composed by Guru Gobind Singh long before his death the invocation of the nine Gurus is followed by Guruji's own assurance of being the saviour of his true disciples: "sabh thain hoe sahae". The same assurance is given before he leaves the body: "khalsa so jin tan man dhan akal purakh nu saunpia" - Khalsa is he who has dedicated his mind, body and soul to the Supreme being. Rahatnama, Bhai Daya Singh.

(ii) "Guru srup khalsa hyiai; janaki tehal parmsukh lahyiai" - The Khalsa is the living image of the Guru. Serving him one attains the highest bliss. Rahatnama, Bhai Desa Singh.

[32] According to Sainapati the cremation ceremony was performed immediately after Guruji breathed his last. This was quite natural as everything was ready for cremation. But the story given by Suraj Prakash and some others is different. Guruji went behind the tent-wall, sat in fulldress on the funeral pyre and breathed his last. While he left his body, he lighted the funeral pyre, with yoga-agni, the fire of yoga.

The version given by this manuscript is more realistic and probable. Only the Panj Pyaras were allowed to light the funeral pyre. Everyone else was kept at a distance. Guru Gobind Singh did not want any of his remains to be preserved or worshipped. Like Guru Amar Das he also made it clear that it was a moment of joy for him and should not be mourned by anyone. (See Gurbilas Sukha Singh)

Continued

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Sainapati Not An Eye Witness

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So far the oldest document we have is Sainapati's "Sur Sobha Granth", a crude copy of which was acquired by Akali kaur Singh and published at his own cost. But it appears that Sainapati was not an eye witness to the events after 1700. In his haste to complete his account , he did not interrogate the eye witnesses, but just recorded the events in the light of hearsay and random reports. His information about the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh's sons is also not correct. So his version, though contemporary, has to be accepted with a grain of salt. He frankly says that his account is based on hearsay: "suni sakh aise", 'so have I heard the story.'

Sukha Singh's Fanciful Twist

------------------------------

Eighty-nine years after Guru Gobind Singh's death, Sukha Singh, the High Priest of Anandpur Sahib, who had been born and brought up there, wrote his famous "Gurbilas Patsahi Dasvin". Sukha Singh is the first writer who introduced the pious invention of making Guru Gobind Singh entice the Pathan to stab him. The motivated twist in the story was introduced to show that Guru Gobind Singh, through his omniscience, knew that his killer had come, and by tempting him to stab him, he obeyed the Divine Will.

To obey the Divine Will and suffer according to it was the highest spiritual achievement. This pious invention made nearly 90 years later after Guruji's death makes the death-scene a virtual suicide, though the rest of the story, is nearly correct, contradicts this clumsy theory of abiding by His Will, by saying that the Guru defended himself and killed the assassin. Yet Sukha Singh does not take any responsibility for believing this story to be true:

"ab nij din dyal ke asvare ki gatha

jatha suni tas barn hau; suno prem ke sath."

Now the story of the ascension of the Lord I relate. Just as I have 'heard' it from others, listen to it with devotion.

Also:

"jaise suni sat sangat bhitar so

keh kai tum sang sunai

din dyal ke gud caritar su kaun sakai

teh kau so lakhai."

I have related the story as I have 'heard' it in 'sadh sangat'. O' who can describe the profound end of the Merciful Lord.

Story Based On Hearsay

-------------------------

Thus Sukha Singh does not refer to any previously recorded history, but bases his version on hearsay and the popular oral tale. All subsequent writers have accepted this version uncritically. Kavi Santokh Singh accepts it verbatim, but because he was a better poet and man of remarkable and colourful imagination, he elaborated the whole story into more poetic details dramatizing it still further by introducing intoxicants to help Guru to take the assassin's dagger-thrusts gracefully as the ordained happening. He also contradicts himself saying that the assassin's first two thrusts missed their mark and while he hit the Guru for the third time, Guruji killed him on the spot.

Bhagwan Singh's Novel and Suggestions

---------------------------------------

Bhai Vir Singh unearthed a work written in the last century, "Chatar Yugi", by Bhagwan Singh. This record follows the old version, but gives two new suggestions. This writer says that the Pathan was a Sirhindi, thereby clearly suggesting that he was deputed by the Nawab of Sirhind to assassinate Guru Gobind Singh. He also says that he met Mata Sundri in Delhi to inquire Guru Gobind Singh's exact whereabouts.

New Record Authentic

----------------------

This new record, now presented to readers, avoids all later pious inventions and legendary accounts popular at the time of Sukha Singh's Gurbilas. It is far clearer, more definite and realistic than even the contemporary record, Gur Sobha, by Sainapati. There is no event in this historical record on which a serious doubt may be cast. So it would not be unreasonable that this is a near contemporary account based on a more definite knowledge of events than even Sainapati possessed. He also does not ward off responsibility for the account, like Sainapati and Sukha Singh by saying that he is basing his account on hearsay. He appears to be confident of its historicity.

RESUME

Guru Gobind Singh camped at Nander towards the middle of the last week of August 1708. Knowing it to be a historical place, he bought a large part of the land and pitched his camp there with the sole intention of establishing a Pontifical Seat of the Khalsa Panth.

On September 18th, a young Pathan presented himself with some special credentials to the congregation while Guru Gobind Singh was giving audience. Either his parents were known to Guruji, or he bore a special message from some eminent Muslim friend of Guru Gobind Singh. He was shown the respect that is generally shown to the messengers of prominent personalities, and, according to the custom of Royal Darbars, he was given five gold coins for his extraordinary service and some money for his maintenance for the period he wished to stay. Even Guruji's messengers, who carried his letters, "Hukamnamas", to the sangats, were paid about five rupees and instruction for this payment was written on the Hukamnamas.

Assassin Received With Courtesy

----------------------------------

On the day of his arrival, the young Pathan showed great respect and reverence for Guruji, and no one was in the least suspicious about his real motive. Because of the special audience given to him and the intimacy with which he spoke to Guru Gobind Singh, he began to be treated as a special visitor whom Guruji had permitted to sit very near and to talk intimately with him. The Guru's special attendants and bodyguards did not suspect the Pathan in the least.

So when the Pathan came the next day, he was allowed to have free access to the Guru's presence. He was again given some prasad and a little money. He probably told Guruji that he was leaving the next day. He sat in the 'Divan' till it was quite late and the congregation had dispersed. He was probably looking for the opportunity when the congregation would disperse, and Guruji would be at a safe distance from his bodyguard and personal attendants. At such a moment, he could strike a fatal blow and make good his escape. Two people were waiting outside to help him escape with horses and weapons. But, on the second day, he did not get a chance. He bowed low to the Guru and went away, without creating any suspicion about his movements and motives.

Murderous Attack On The Guru

-----------------------------

On the third day, September 20th, 1708, he went again and sat near Guruji like a devout devotee for the whole of the evening service. After the congregation had dispersed, he moved inside along with Guruji. Guruji's personal attendants finding them engaged in intimate talk, remained at a respectable distance. It is quite possible that no personal attendant of Gurujifollowed him to the retiring room, merely because an honoured visitor was talking to him about some personal matters.

Now was the only chance for the Pathan. He humbly bowed in reverence uttering a very courteous salutation, and Guruji possibly raised his hand to bless him and then move on. It was at this moment when Guruji turned away, he bowed for the second time, with the sole intention of taking out his dagger and striking his long contemplated trecheous blow. He aimed at the heart, according to many accounts. Guruji, a trained warrior, parried the first attack, by stepping aside. By this time Guruji was alert, but without a weapon in his hands. By the time Guruji unsheathed his kirpan the Pathan had struck the second blow, followed in quick succession by a third. Guruji drove his kirpan into his abdomen. It was during this scuffle that Guru Gobind Singh received a serious wound. The Pathan had been pushed to the ground and his intestines had fallen out. He was about to move again, when the bodyguard, who was not far away, cut him to pieces and others chased his companions (not mentioned by this record) and killed them.

Deep Wound

------------

Guru Gobind Singh stood there unmoved and undisturbed. For a moment everyone felt that nothing serious had happened. But then Bhai Santokh Singh[33] (who was later nominated Jathedar of Hazur Sahib) saw blood pouring out from his side. Then everyone was overwhelmed with grief. The wound was deep and no one knew what may happen the next moment. This was the first physical injury Guru Gobind Singh had received during his stormy career full of battles and hand-to-hand fights. The whole stabbing incident was over within two minutes, some time between 7 and 8 PM.

The wound was cleaned and bandaged and the Emperor's surgeons were sent for. They arrived betwen two or three hours and stiched the wound with great efficiency and skill. After two or three days, Guruji started attending the 'Divan' for a few hours in the evening and those who came to see him received his blessings. After fifteen days, the wounds were completely healed.

Reopening of Wound

--------------------

This record does not mention the reopening of the wound after Guruji tried to bend a stiff bow. If the Guru had died from the re-opening of the wound, he might have died soon after it in the daytime and no one could have gone to sleep with Guruji profusely bleeding. Kavi Sainapati, the contemporary writer, does not mention it. No one told him that Guruji died from profuse bleeding by the re-opening of the wound. This story is first introduced by Sukha Singh in the "Gurbilas", who states that from some foreign country ("valayat") some one brought a bow. Gurji tried to bend it and the healed wound opened and blood flowed copiously. Guruji died that very day.

Emperor Sends Envoys

-----------------------

Kavi Santokh Singh, with his remarkable imagination and discriptive power, dramatizes the occassion and the incident by adding to it elements of exaggerated action and colour. He says that Emperor Bahadur Shah sent two envoys of Ministerial rank to inquire after Guruji's condition. They were happy to find that the wounds had healed.

They sent for all the Pathans of Nander numbering seven hundred and told Guruji that they were prepared to give them the severest punishment. But Guruji forgave them, and did not think it proper to punish them. Then the Guru displayed his weapons. Amongst them there were two very heavily built bows, and the Envoys began to wonder whether Guruji could really bend them. Guruji divined their thoughts and to show his physical skill and prowess, he took both the bows at a time and stringd them simultaneously with two arrows and drew the bows, as a result of which the healed wound opened and blood flowed copiously. Guruji then gave some presents to the Emperor's Envoys and told them, that he was about to leave his body.[35] The same night Guruji passed away.

New Record's Ommission

-----------------------

However ingenuous and dramatic the story, it appears that it was first introduced by Sukha Singh, dramatized by Kavi Santokh Singh and uncritically followed by subsequent writers. It was done to seek an immediate physical reason for Guru Gobind Singh's death.

Kavi Sainapati, a contemporary, and this newly found document do not mention this incident. Unless some other evidence older than Sukha Singh is found, it is not reasonable to give much credence to this story. There was no physical cause for the death of Guru Nanak, Guru Angad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Hargobind and Guru Har Rai. They all announced their intention to leave their physical body a few days before they died. Guru Hargobind went into silence and solitude five days before his death. So did Guru Gobind Singh announce his departure from earth after the wounds were healed.

Guruji's End

---------------

Guru Gobind Singh breathed his last on the evening of October 7th, 1708. Preparations for his cremation had already been made according to his instructions. The Panj Pyaras bathed the body. They dressed him in full royal dress and arms and carried him to the funeral pyre, which was enclosed in a tent. No one except the Panj Pyaras were allowed to go inside. They said the last prayers and set fire to the pyre. The tent-wall prevented the people from coming near. Probably, Guruji took this extraordinary precaution to prevent zealous devotees from jumping into the fire, as some did when Guru Hargobind was cremated.[36]

Yogik Self-Cremation

----------------------

While Kavi Sainapati and this new record says that Guru Gobind Singh's body was taken to the pyre by the Khalsa after his death and cremated within the tent-wall, Sukha Singh and Kavi Santokh Singh give another cause of the tent-wall. They say Guru Gobind Singh walked on to the funeral pyre, and after bidding farewell to the Khalsa, sat on the funeral pyre in 'samadhi' and, as the soul left the body, he lighted the funeral pyre with yogik fire emitted from within. It may or may not be true. In the Dasam Granth we find many heroes, sages and saints dying in this way.

In Bhai Mani Singh's "Janamsakhi", Guru Nanak's death is depicted in the same way:

"sabnan Guru Angad ji age matha tekia ar

babe ne padam asan kar trikuti ka dhyan kita

ar jap japde pehar rat rehindi brahmrandh nu

phodke una de pran brahmlok nu gae."

Everyone bowed before Guru Angad. Then Baba Nanak sat in padamsna and concentrating his dhyanam on trikuti, he broke his brahmrandh and through it his pranas escaped to brahmloka.

For the present there is in-sufficient historical evidence to accept this version of Guru Gobind Singh's passing away, though the tent-wall fixed around the funeral pyre may suggest it.

The oldest record including this Manuscript do not accept this. What they describe appears to be the correct version.

Bahadur Shah and Guru Gobind Singh

-----------------------------------

The relations between Bahadur Shah and Guru Gobind Singh have been seriously misunderstood and misinterpreted by writers who were ignorant of the character of both and who do not take into consideration the friendly relations that existed between them even during Aurangzeb's lifetime. As Bahadur Shah was closely associated with all that happened during Guru Gobind Singh's last days, and as some writers accuse him of actually sending the assassin, it would be proper to discuss this problem and bring out the historical facts as they are: European writers conclude from this friendship that Guru Gobind Singh took employment under the Emperor. Daulat Ram goes to the other extreme and says that the Emperor's friendship was only a cloak to get Guruji murdered through the assassin. Sikh writers are puzzled as to why Guru Gobind Singh failed to punish the Governor of Sirhind through him. The key to understanding all these problems lies in Bahadur Shah's character, and his relations with Guruji since 1697.

Shah Alam's Early Life

------------------------

Muhammed Muazzam, who as Emperor came to be known as Bahadur Shah, was styled as Shah Alam in his father's lifetime. His mother, Nawab Bai, a Kashmiri Princess, gave birth to him at Burhanpur. For twelve years, from 1667, he was Subedar of the Deccan. 'The art of reigning', his wily father told him, 'is so delicate that a king must be jealous of his own shadow. Be wise, or a fate like you brother's will befall you also'. His elder brother had paid the penalty of his brief and flighty treason by a life long captivity. In these circumstances, and by temperament, he became, to use Lanepool's words, 'docility personified'. On March 4th, 1687, he was arrested with all his family and personal staff for suspected contumacy to Abul Hasan, ruler of Golconda, and kept in rigorous confinement for seven years. It was, most probably, just before this arrest that Bhai Nand Lal, his Mir Munshi, was compelled to leave him and take refuge at Anandpur, where he became the 'Poet Laureate' of Guruji's Darbar and an outstanding '

Apostle of the Sikh Faith.'

Refuses To Attack Guru

------------------------

Shah Alam was released on May 24th, 1695. Two years later, he was, sent with a large army to attack Guru Gobind Singh and arrest him. The Hindu Rajas of the Himalayas and the Governors of Lahore and Sirhind had all reported that their collective might had failed to uproot the Guru. When Shah Alam entered the Punjab, Bhai Nand Lal Goya requested him to investigate the charges before he attacked. Shah Alam sent his ablest administrator, General Mirza Beg, who finding that Guru Gobind Singh was innocent, punished those who had turned against him, or deserted him. Thus, Shah Alam disobeyed his father's orders in not attacking Guru Gobind Singh. Aurangzeb was very annoyed. He sent four of his own Generals with a large army. Through Shah Alam's and his General's influence, Aurangzeb's envoys supported Shah Alam's policy of friendship with Guru Gobind Singh.

Guru Deeply Impressed

---------------------

This brave and heroic gesture of friendship of Shah Alam left a deep impression of the Prince's generosity and nobility on Guru Gobind Singh's mind. To flout the orders of a despotic and suspicious father, after suffering seven years of imprisonment for a similar offence was a courageous deed. Shah Alam was then posted at Kabul, and I do not doubt that during this period he maintained personal diplomatic relations with the Guru, which made it easy for him to contact Guruji when he required his help in the war of succession. Guru Gobind Singh was honour bound to help such a prince, who on the other hand assured him that all wrong-doers would be punished.

Generous To A Fault

---------------------

Bahadur Shah was nearly seventy. According to the author of "Siyar-ul-Mutakhrin", 'he was mild to a fault, having remembered a vow which he had once made to the Creator of all things that if even he should ascend the throne, he would never deny any man's request, he now wanted to act up to the letter of that vow'. He became so liberal that within four years of his rule, the treasure of 15 lakhs to which he succeeded was spent to the last penny. When a dog keeper applied for a title, the Emperor, by his private order, gave him the title 'Lord Dog Keeper'.

Emperor's Homage

------------------

As he still had to fight a good many opponents of his succession, and as the Governor of Sirhind had expressed his loyalty to him, he could not take the courageous step of punishing him. This noble and docile prince could never be the murderer of Guru Gobind Singh. As soon as he came to know about the tragic incident, he sent his surgeons. The Pathans feared that the Emperor might punish them. So through some influential ministers, they invented a story and conveyed to the Emperor that the Pathan had attacked Guru Gobind Singh, because in his sermons he was speaking against the Prophet of Islam. So the young man fell a martyr to the cause of Faith. Moved by the story represented in the petition, Bahadur Shah true to his nature and temperament gave a "maymi khilat", "Robe of Reverence to the Dead" to his relatives. This happened on October 26th, 1708 and was recorded[38] the next day in the news letter. When the Sikhs came to know about it, they sent a representation stating the truth and informing the Emperor

of Guru Gobind Singh's subsequent death. The Emperor was deeply moved. He sent a "matmi khilat" to Holy Mother Sundri through those Sikhs.[39]

Guru's Propert Not Confiscated

---------------------------------

Some Ministers fearing that Guruji's disciples, who were well armed and rich, might react against the Mughals, requested the Emperor to confiscate Guru Gobind Singh's property because he had died issueless, and as such his property could go to the State. The Emperor again showed that he had great respect for the Guru by telling his Ministers that Guru Gobind Singh was a "darvesh" and he would not touch anything that belonged to him.[40]

To the last he remained a sincere and loyal friend of Guru Gobind Singh, and an eminent historian aptly suggests, that if he had captured Banda he would not have killed him, and there is considerable truth in Rattan Singh Bhangu's statement that both Bhai Nand Lal Goya and Mata Sundri resented Banda's clash with Bahadur Shah and did not approve of his military exploits beyond punishing the Governor of Sirhind and his accomplice.

NOTES

[33] Suraj Prakash Ain 2:19 and Gur Sobha: 17, 787

[34] Gurbilas, Sukha Singh

[35] Suraj Prakas Ain 2:19

[36] "Dabistani-i-Mazahib", Mohsan Fani.

[37] Traditional accounts of Bhai Nand Lal Goya say that when Aurangzeb came to know about the scholarship and learning of Bhai Nand Lal, he was about to convert him to Islam, when Bahadur Shah helped him escape. This incident is said to have taken place in Delhi, six years after Guru Tegh Bahadur's martyrdom. Aurangzeb left Delhi and never came back during his lifetime. This incident, if historical, took place in South India where Aurangzeb and Bahadur Shah met frequently. To me it appears that Bhai Nand Lal came to Aurangzeb's notice just before the Prince's arrest, when, as an astute diplomat, Bhai Nand Lal might even have pleaded the innocence of his master before Aurangzeb.

[38]Akhbarat Darbar Maula 27 Oct. 1708: "B'arz rasid ki Guru Gobind Rae Jamsaid Khan, Afghan rabjan kusta bud khilat matmi ba pisar mazkor marehmat sud."

[39] Akhbarat Darbar Maula 29 oct. 1708: "hukam sud ki be pisar Guru Gobind Rae Nanak Panthi khilat matmi pidar ba dhind."

[40] In "Bahadurshahnama" we find that on November 17th, 1708, a report was made to the Emperor as to the disposal of the movable property left by Guru Gobind Nanak. It was of considerable value and according to the rule ought to be confiscated. The Emperor remarking that he was not in want of the goods of the 'darvesh' ordered that the whole to be relinquished to his heirs. (Irvine, 1844)

"B'arz rasid ki amval Guru Gobind Singh mutaphi basiarast darbab zabat an ha ce amar hukam sud ki azin amval khazane badsah ma murnami sud darvesan ast; mazhamnasevrnd." Akhbarat Darbar Maula.

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amardeep,

The Namdhari website bases its commentary "considering all Reliable Historical Sources such as Panth Parkash, Suraj Parkash, GurBilas Patshahi Dasvi, as well as Historical events that were recorded by Sikhs, Hindus and muslims, the following briefly describes what actually took place at Nander in 1708 A.D"

This is no different to the Sanatanis on their website claiming to use "ancient texts" (i.e. those listed above), when in fact the vast majority of these are 19th century texts and not ancient or that matter "most reliable".

I do not wish for this thread to move into a question concerning the Namdhari beliefs, that has already been done elsewhere and is not the purpose of my comments above, in any event, the Sanatani Nihang analysis of the said texts proves their take on history and the Namdharis theirs - therein also lies an interesting contradiction in view of the numerous aspects of Nihang behaviour (supported by the same text) which is directly opposite to Namdhari protocol...just food for thought...

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"The instruction to study the bani of all the Gurus indicate two things: Guru Gobind Singh's religious bani was to be treated at par with the bani of other Gurus. Although some Gurus did not contribute any bani, all the ten Gurus were to be treated as one in spirit and the Guru Granth was to be the embodiment of the Spirit of all the ten Gurus."

assume much Dr. Trilochan Singh? :LOL:

To me it rather sounds illiterate when everyone knows there is no Bani of 4 out of 10 Gurus in the Sri Aad Granth Sahib.

This document could have been anything including a note pad early singh sabha writers used to try to recreate historical events the same way there was a cliff's note size Suraj Parkash published by SGPC. They should be put together on display at Ripley's believe it or not!

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Gurfateh !

Coming back to the topic .....

Here is an interesting 19th century watercolour from the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh.

It shows the tent mentioned in the above document - however it also shows Guru Sahib riding alone to the pyre.

Many have speculated on the need for a tent, some argue it was to prevent Sikhs from jumping into the pyre. I believe Namdharees argue that it was an elaborate method or 'ruse' to 'escape' or 'leave to appear again' in the same vein as the leaving of Chamkaur fort. (Please correct me if I am wrong Fateh Singh Ji)

The painting shows Guru Sahib riding into the tent , while some accounts say the Punj Pyaras carried Guru Sahib's body and placed it on the pyre, while others state Guru Sahib sat on the pyre himself and asked his Sikhs to leave the tent.

While there is no definitive account or text , I feel the painting is acceptable to all traditions.

Bhul Chuk Maaf

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*from Marg. Vol. 54 No. 4. - June 2003 pg 12

Freed

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