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Exploring Ram Katha In Dasam Granth


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I've just finished reading the section of Dasam Granth that describes Ram. I've often wondered what the exact reason for presenting these Hindu mythological stories was.

I think we may have a big clue to the purpose in various sections. I propose we go through these bits and apply ourselves to gleaning as best a translation we can, because, as will be seen later, some of the translations that currently exist offer quite different interpretations at places. I suggest we focus on rows 4,5,6 and 7 in the table I have attached to this post (it is in Word format): Translations from two sources (online and one published) are given as well as a transliteration (I think) in Devanagri script.

Sections 4 and 5 in the table are specifically of interest as they seem to contain statements directly relating to the purpose and mindset of the author/translator. Note also how the piece concludes with what is believed to be a direct reference by Dasmesh pita to himself as Gobind.

Sections 4 and 5 are as follows, translation 1 (Trans 1) comes from www.sridasam.org/dasam and translation 2 (Trans 2) comes from Sri Dasam Granth Sahib by Dr. Jodh Singh and Dr. Dharam Singh :

ਸਾਧ ਅਸਾਧ ਜਾਨੋ ਨਹੀ ਬਾਦ ਸੁਬਾਦ ਬਿਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਕਲ ਪੂਰਣ ਕੀਯੋ ਭਗਵਤਿ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥੮੬੨॥

Trans 1: The saint be not considered as unsaintly ever and the debate as controversial ever; this whole Granth (book) has been completed by the Grace of God.862.

Trans 2: Merits and demerits of the story (I have) not taken up : nor have (I involved myself) in any controversy, discussion or polemic (on any such point). The volume has only been completed through God’s grace. 862.

ਸ੍ਵੈਯਾ ॥

ਪਾਂਇ ਗਹੇ ਜਬ ਤੇ ਤੁਮਰੇ ਤਬ ਤੇ ਕੋਊ ਆਂਖ ਤਰੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਨਿਯੋ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਰਹੀਮ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਕੁਰਾਨ ਅਨੇਕ ਕਹੈਂ ਮਤਿ ਏਕ ਨ ਮਾਨਿਯੋ ॥

Trans 1: SWAYYA

O God ! the day when I caught hold of your feet, I do not bring anyone else under my sight; none other is liked by me now; the Puranas and the Quran try to know Thee by the names of Ram and Rahim and talk about you through several stories, but I do not accept any of their opinions;

Trans 2: Savaiya

Ever since I have united myself to Thy feet (O God !), none else (than Thee) ever pleases me. The Puranas (Hindu scriptures) and the Quran (Muslim scriptures) call Thee by the name of Rama, Rahim, and such other numerous names, but I owe allegiance to neither of these two traditions.

I think we should start by exactly identifying all of the words used in the original and then reconstructing our own translation based on these words to get as close to the original possible?

Original Gurmukhi Text.doc

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ਸਾਧ ਅਸਾਧ ਜਾਨੋ ਨਹੀ ਬਾਦ ਸੁਬਾਦ ਬਿਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਕਲ ਪੂਰਣ ਕੀਯੋ ਭਗਵਤਿ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥੮੬੨॥

Trans 1: The saint be not considered as unsaintly ever and the debate as controversial ever; this whole Granth (book) has been completed by the Grace of God.862.

Trans 2: Merits and demerits of the story (I have) not taken up : nor have (I involved myself) in any controversy, discussion or polemic (on any such point). The volume has only been completed through God’s grace. 862.

In katha, the sadh and a-sadh is explained as such:

"Who is a Saint, Who is not a Saint, I do not wish to enter into this debate, O God, whatever has been written is through your grace."

So the point Guru Ji wishes to make here, is not the importance of the characters to himself personally, but generally the theme running thru the Granth, ie Dharam Yudh.

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ਸਾਧ - Saints, saintly people, devote people, mendicant.

ਅਸਾਧ - Adj. (from Sk. Asādhya) Incurable, incorrigible.

ਜਾਨੋ - Recognise, know, understand.

ਨਹੀ - No, not.

ਬਾਦ - 1. n. 2. var. 3. per. n. 1. dispute, discussion, discourse, 2. from Bāta 3. air and (1) n.f. same as ਹਵਾ wind. (2) adv. same as ਬਾਅਦ later. (3) n.m. see ਵਾਦ dispute. (4) n.m.dia. syphilis.

ਸੁਬਾਦ - ? Presumably related to or a variant of ਸੁਬਿਦਿਆ defined as - P. n. Good education, good learning and in Mahan Kosh as - ਸੁਵਿਦ੍ਯਾ. ਆਤਮਵਿਦ੍ਯਾ. ਪਰਮਾਰਥ ਵਿਦ੍ਯਾ। (2) ਵਿ- ਉੱਤਮ ਵਿਦ੍ਯਾ, ਜਿਸਤੋਂ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਲਾਭ ਪਹੁਚੇ ਅਤੇ ਆਪੋ- ਵਿੱਚੀ ਪ੍ਰੇਮਭਾਵ ਵਧੇ.

ਬਿਬਾਦਿ - ? Presumably related to, or a variant of ਬਿਬਾਦ which is defined thus in Mahan Kosh - ਸੰ. ਵਿਵਾਦ. {ਸੰਗ੍ਯਾ}. ਵਿਰੁੱਧ ਕਥਨ. ਝਗੜਾ. ਕਲਹ. "ਭਾਈ ਮੀਤ ਕੁਟੰਬ ਦੇਖਿ ਬਿਬਾਦੇ". (ਆਸਾ ਮਃ ੫).

I've found a third translation of the above from www.patshahi10.org:

ਸਾਧ ਅਸਾਧ ਜਾਨੋ ਨਹੀ ਬਾਦ ਸੁਬਾਦ ਬਿਬਾਦਿ ॥ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਕਲ ਪੂਰਣ ਕੀਯੋ ਭਗਵਤ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥੮੬੨॥

Who (between Ram and Ravana) is a saint and who is not a saint is a controversial subject; This whole Granth has been completed by the Grace of God.862

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[ਮੈਂ]ਸਾਧ ਅਸਾਧ ਜਾਨੋ ਨਹੀ - I don't know who is a saint and who an incorrigible [sinner]

[ਮੈਂ ਕੋਈ] ਬਾਦ [ਜਾਂ] ਸੁਬਾਦ [ਦਾ] ਬਿਬਾਦਿ [ਵਿੱਚ ਨਹੀ ਆਉਣਾ] - I do not wish to enter in any debate, higher discussion or polemic [in these matters]

???

So by the sounds of this, the exercise was purely taken as a translative effort?? It would REALLY help to know how tightly the DG version maps to older Hindu versions!

I wonder how translations take place given the seemingly free way the words can be interpreted? Obviously translators must have additional grammar/structural understandings.

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So if Guru ji is talking about the contents of the work preceding the statement above in the Bachittar Natak Granth. Can we extrapolate that in his physical lifetime there was debate and conflict about the characters in Ramayan? Specifically in relation to their motives being positive or negatives ones?

The story ends with (spoiler alert!) Sita being absorbed back into the earth (possibly a euphemism for suicide) in reaction to Rama's suggestion that she secretly harboured some feelings for Ravan.

Rama then gives up "all hope of ruling anymore".

It continues:

This world is like a house of smoke; nothing is permanent and eternal. Sita had refused to live without Rama, now Rama will not remain alive without Sita.848.

Rama bade Lakshman [his younger brother] to sit on the doorsteps and not allow anyone to enter in. He entered the interior of the dwellings and discarded his body to leave for the other world.

It then describes the deaths of all of Rama's brothers as well as the sati of their wives. The ascension of Rama's sons (Lav and Kush) are briefly related to after this.

This is very significant because in the part of Bachittar Natak Granth considered Autobiographical, the narrative picks up from this very point to described the connection between Lav and Kush and Guru ji himself.

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So by the sounds of this, the exercise was purely taken as a translative effort??

An objective of Chaubis Avtaara was to give to the lowcastes who were not allowed to read sanskrit granths for 3 yugs, access to the teachings and knowledge within. So there are instances where Guru Ji has combined the translative element with the war episodes to give a truly unique granth to the jagat.

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So by the sounds of this, the exercise was purely taken as a translative effort?? It would REALLY help to know how tightly the DG version maps to older Hindu versions!

Not just the story of Vishnu's avtars, it is said that Dasam Patshah and his poets had translated nearly all the granths of India, but most of it was all drowned in the river. The remainder was collected together into the Dasam Granth. Sarbloh Granth also seems to be Dasam Bani which it seems must have been independently collected and compiled into a single volume granth, it's history is still unknown to us.

Apart from many translations that Dasam Patshah did of Hindu Granths, he also seems to have added his own "flavour" to the stories so it cannot be said to be 100% pure translation of the original Sanskrit Granth.

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So what was the big controversy about Ramayan in Guru ji's time that is being alluded to?

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If we use the translation you provided:

Who is a Saint, Who is not a Saint, I do not wish to enter into this debate,

I presume the text is related to that which precedes it? What is this 'question mark' on who is good and who bad? The words seem indicative of some existing debate. Do they not?

Of course I could be reading it all wrong.

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If we use the translation you provided:

I presume the text is related to that which precedes it? What is this 'question mark' on who is good and who bad? The words seem indicative of some existing debate. Do they not?

Of course I could be reading it all wrong.

This is just a guess, but could the "who is a saint and who is not a saint" refer to Ram and Ravan? maybe Guru Jee is saying he does not want to get into who is the good guy and bad buy in this story since both have gunns and augunns.

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I am learning a whole bunch of new stuff here.

Rama and Lakhsman chop off the nose of Ravan's sister whilst they are first in exile (she tries to seduce them apparently). Implying Ravana's actions were in retaliation.

Also Seeta's second exile is after her rescue her from Lanka. The people of Ayodhaya start to cast aspersions on her fidelity during her incarceration with Ravana. So she goes into exile again (whilst pregnant) and raises two sons with someone she meets in the forest (Valmiki).

Original/older versions of Ramayan are split into a number of sections like: Bala kanda, Ayodha kanda, Aranya and yuddha kandas. Dasam Granth version seems to do away with this organisation. It is also seriously shorter than original versions going by online translations I've briefly looked at. So it does seem like Guru Gobind Singh ji wanted to familiarise Sikhs with the contents albeit in an extremely abridged form.

Interestingly there is also an apparent reference to Chariter Pakyaan in the Rama text according to Drs. Jodh & Dharam Singh's translation.

I'm wondering why none of our scholars has done an indepth research into the the versions? Maybe they have and I am just unaware of it?

I also can't seem to find the episode concerning Sita's test of fidelity by walking through fire on Ravan's killing in the Dasam Granth version?

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Original/older versions of Ramayan are split into a number of sections like: Bala kanda, Ayodha kanda, Aranya and yuddha kandas. Dasam Granth version seems to do away with this organisation. It is also seriously shorter than original versions going by online translations I've briefly looked at. So it does seem like Guru Gobind Singh ji wanted to familiarise Sikhs with the contents albeit in an extremely abridged form.

I also can't seem to find the episode concerning Sita's test of fidelity by walking through fire on Ravan's killing in the Dasam Granth version?

Bro, Guru Ji skips out on a lot of stuff, because it jusnt wasnt keeping in the theme of this Granth. Maharishi Balmiks granth is massive. I think that Guru Ji has just focused on the war aspects whilst holding onto the most important instances that led to war or battles in the Granth. Im gonna have a look thru my copy again in some days.

RE Sita Mata's firetest, I cant see that Guru Ji himself would have been appreciative of this act by Bhagwan Ji.

Also another thought that has come to me, Guru Ji many times throughout this Granth says " Accept the poets words in brief, Im afraid of the Granth getting too bulky/long." This maybe why Guru Ji kept the works short. I mean just imagine what kind of a Granth it would be if GuruJi included everything, it would be massive, and need 4 people to carry it.

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Hmmmm......

If we look at the statements disavowing any faith in what seems like ANY Hindu scripture it becomes even more interesting, like:

ਪਾਂਇ ਗਹੇ ਜਬ ਤੇ ਤੁਮਰੇ ਤਬ ਤੇ ਕੋਊ ਆਂਖ ਤਰੇ ਨਹੀ ਆਨਿਯੋ ॥ ਰਾਮ ਰਹੀਮ ਪੁਰਾਨ ਕੁਰਾਨ ਅਨੇਕ ਕਹੈਂ ਮਤਿ ਏਕ ਨ ਮਾਨਿਯੋ ॥

O God ! the day when I caught hold of your feet, I do not bring anyone else under my sight; none other is liked by me now; the Puranas and the Quran try to know Thee by the names of Ram and Rahim and talk about you through several stories, but I do not accept any of their opinions;

ਸਿੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਸਾਸਤ੍ਰ ਬੇਦ ਸਭੈ ਬਹੁ ਭੇਦ ਕਹੈ ਹਮ ਏਕ ਨ ਜਾਨਿਯੋ ॥ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਸਿਪਾਨਿ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਤੁਮਰੀ ਕਰਿ ਮੈ ਨ ਕਹਿਯੋ ਸਭ ਤੋਹਿ ਬਖਾਨਿਯੋ ॥੮੬੩॥

The Simritis, Shastras and Vedas describe several mysteries of yours, but I do not agree with any of them. O sword-wielder God! This all has been described by Thy Grace, what power can I have to write all this?.863.

You know I also think that the works referred to as 'Avtaar Leela' in puratan granths that were supposedly lost, are in fact Chaubis Avtaar. Or at least Chaubis Avtaar were a part of them.

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Zooming out a bit, I found this apparent extract about the Dasam Granth from Kesar Singh Chibber's Bansawalinama written in 1779

ਛੋਟਾ ਗਰੰਥ ਜੀ ਜਨਮੇ ਸਾਜਿਬ ਦਸਵੇਂ ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਕੇ ਧਾਮ ।

ਸਿਖਾਂ ਕੀਤੀ ਅਰਦਾਸ, ਜੀ ਅਗਲੇ ਭਾਵ ਗੁਰੁ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਨਾਲਿ ਚਾਹੀਏ ਰਲਾਇਆ ।

ਬਚਨ ਕੀਤਾ, ਗਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਹੈ ਉਹ ਏਹ ਅਸਾਡੀ ਖੇਡ ਹੈ ।

ਨਾਲਿ ਨ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਆਹਾ ਪਿਆਰਾ, ਕਉਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਭੇਦ

Lets try and translate:

The smaller granth was begotten in the house of the tenth emperor.

The Sikhs raised a petition (ardaas), sir please integrate the aforementioned works with Guru Granth Sahib.

[Guru Gobind Singh ji] spoke thus: The granth is the master and this is my play.

Do not mix them my beloved, [the last bit in bold in the Gurmukhi text above seems ambiguous, either:]

(1) who knows the mystery.

or (2) who will recognise the difference.

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ਛੋਟਾ ਗਰੰਥ ਜੀ ਜਨਮੇ ਸਾਜਿਬ ਦਸਵੇਂ ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹ ਕੇ ਧਾਮ ।

ਸਿਖਾਂ ਕੀਤੀ ਅਰਦਾਸ, ਜੀ ਅਗਲੇ ਭਾਵ ਗੁਰੁ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਨਾਲਿ ਚਾਹੀਏ ਰਲਾਇਆ ।

ਬਚਨ ਕੀਤਾ, ਗਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਹੈ ਉਹ ਏਹ ਅਸਾਡੀ ਖੇਡ ਹੈ ।

ਨਾਲਿ ਨ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਆਹਾ ਪਿਆਰਾ, ਕਉਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਭੇਦ ।

On reflection, maybe this is more accurate?

The smaller granth was begotten in the house of the Lord tenth emperor.

The Sikhs presented a supplication (ardaas), sir please we wish for the aforementioned works to be integrated with Guru Granth Sahib.

[Guru Gobind Singh ji] spoke thus: The granth is the master and this is my play.

Do not mix them my beloved,.....

Then either:

(1) who [will] know its mysteries.

or (2) who will [then] recognise the difference.

???

Feedback appreciated as always.

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Correction:

ਨਾਲਿ ਨ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਆਹਾ ਪਿਆਰਾ - I used "my beloved" in the translation before. thinking it was referring to the sangat, but if you look at the last word, note it is piara i.e. singular not the plural piaray.This changes the context quite a lot. If this text accurately represents Guru ji's batchan then I'm sure Guru ji is referring to his beloved granth.

So it would be:

Do not mix my beloved [granth] with it

ਕਉਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਭੇਦ

Chatanga veer, I looked up instances of the use of the word ਭੇਦ in DG and found it is used copiously as both mystery/secret AND difference. So there appears to be no conclusive way to clinch the matter definitively in terms of semantics. We shouldn't discount the possibility of intentional ambiguity here either, I mean this is exactly what the very best poets do, is it not?

Plus the granth does require unraveling of its mysteries doesn't it? For example, on the surface it could be taken as pro devi/devtay but when you extract certain passages they are pretty strongly worded statements to the opposite effect. Also it does require deciphering in certain sections like Shaster naam mala. Maybe both 'difference' and 'mystery' are implied here? As in connotations?

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Let's try again......

The smaller granth was begotten in the house of the Lord tenth emperor.

The Sikhs presented a supplication (ardaas), sir we wish for the aforementioned works to be integrated with Guru Granth Sahib.

[Guru Gobind Singh ji] spoke thus: The granth is the master and this is my play.

Do not mix this beloved [granth], or who will know the difference/its mysteries.

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Isn't the purpose of Ram Katha to present the Ram Raj, the righteous rule of Ram Chander?

That isn't something that seems to 'clearly' stand out on reading it. At least it didn't to me. How does the original Ramayan end? DG version has Seeta being absorbed back into the earth on the suggestion that she still had feelings for Ravana. And Ram ending his life as well. It doesn't appear to exhalt Rama to some super level?

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  • 5 years later...

I had a discussion with a Kathakaar of SriDasam Granth Sahib a year or 2 ago and asked him as to why were the puratan granths translated and he told him that the Mughals had been destroying the taksaals and it was quite possible that all of this would be totally lost so since India was always inspired by these granths and their content Guru Maharaj had them recomposed in a way .

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