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(Late) Principal Harbhajan Singh


It is admitted by all historians that in the lifetime

of Guru Gobind Singh, there existed no such

manuscript, now known as Dasam Granth. However, there

is a mention of a granth named Vidya Sagar, which is

supposed to have been a compilation of some writings

of the Guru and the poets at his court. This granth,

if it ever existed, is said to have been lost at the

battle of Anandpur Sahib in the year 1704 AD.

Therefore, to understand the issue of the Dasam

Granth, one has to fall back on the writings of the

Guru's near contemporaries and, above all, on the

irrefutable criterion of the ideology of Guru Granth

Sahib. It is an established fact that Guru Gobind

Singh, at the time of his demise, bestowed Guruship on

Granth Sahib.-1 What is even more significant is that

the Guru neither prepared any granth of his own,

equivalent in holy status to Adi Granth, nor thought

it fit to include any composition of his own in the


How the title changed

The granth was given different names at different

times in the following


a) Bachittar Natak

B) Daswen Patshah ka Granth

c) Dasam Granth

d) Sri Dasam Granth

e) Sri Dasam Granth Sahib

f) Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib

These names are very misleading, and the pity is that

these have not been given by any responsible and

representative body, society, or the Panth as a whole,

but just by individuals, small organizations or

publishers. According to Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi, "There

is no unanimity among the historians regarding the

date of compilation of this granth, but according to

Sikh tradition the decision to compile it in one

volume was made conditional on the success of the

mission of Bhai Sukha Singh and Bhai Mehtab Singh.

Later, it is said Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Sukha Singh

of Patna prepared their own Birs (volumes) by adding

more material to it. Uptil then, the granth was named

as Bachittar Natak, which later came to be named as

the granth of the Tenth Guru."-3

As Bachittar Natak

Bachittar or Vachittar Natak, according to Mahan Kosh

of Bhai Kahan

Singh, denotes one of the following:

a) Wonderful or strange drama;

B) That part of Dasam Granth which pertains to the

stories of Avtars (incarnations) and other historical

narratives, written in dramatic style;

c) Part of the granth comprising fourteen chapters,

wherein some happenings in the life of Guru Gobind

Singh have been incorporated.

A careful analysis of the inner evidence of the granth

helps us to find out which meaning of Bachittar Natak,

given in Mahan Kosh, is appropriate or inappropriate

for different parts of the granth. In the first place,

those portions of the granth about the authorship of

which there are no two opinions among Sikh scholars,

do not have any internal indication anywhere, showing

them as Bachittar Nanak.-4

Secondly, fourteen chapters, wherein some happenings

of the life of Guru Gobind Singh have been

incorporated, are clearly marked as Bachittar Natak,

both as a sub-heading and at the end of each chapter.

Thirdly, Charitro Pakhyan and Hakayats (stories in

Persian) are so obscene that they are not worthy of

even being spoken of as Bachittar Natak, which has not

been done in the granth either.

Fourthly, the rest of the writings can be called

Bachit1ar Natak, and they have been so indicated at

the end of most of the writings, in the sense, that

these are mythical and dramatic narratives.

As Dasam Granth

The contents of the so-called Dasam Granth may be

divided broadly into the following categories for the

purpose of our study:


i) Hymns, considered by all to be compositions of

Guru Gobind Singh 50

ii) Bachittar Natak (14 Chapters) 36

iii)Both of the Chandi Charittras and Chandi Di Var 53

iv) Chaubis Avtars, etc. 674

v) Charittro Pakhyan and Hakayats in Persian 615

(Note: The total number of pages indicated in this

article are taken from the published volume of Dasam

Granth as available in 1428 pages).

Out of 1428 pages, the Guru's hymns occupy only 50

pages and Charittro Pakhyan and Hakayats (which

neither claim to be Bachittar Natak, nor can their

contents entitle them to be so), cover 615 pages. The

composition that has been given the heading of

Bachittar Natak comprises only 14 chapters and each

chapter ends with the remark, "Iti Bachittar Natak

Granthe ...." (Here ends the Bachittar Natak Granth).

In the rest of the writings, Bachittar Natak is not

given as a heading of any composition, but "Iti

Bachittar JVatak Granth..." occurs at the end of most

of the chapters related to Avtar stories.

The picture that emerges clearly is that, whereas

Bachittar Natak Granth is referred to many times

within the so-called Dasam Granth, there is not a

single instance where Dasam Granth, as such, is

mentioned within its text. It is an established part

of Sikh tradition that the different portions of this

granth lay scattered at different places, and were

collected together to form one volume -5 some decades

after the demise of the Tenth Master and consequent to

the success of the mission of Bhai Sukha Singh and

Bhai Mehtab Singh. It did not end here. To the first

collection were added, later on, more writings, and it

is these collections which came to be named first as

Bachittar JVatak then as Daswen Patshah ka Granth,-6

still later as Dasam Granth, and recently by some

publisher as Sri Dasam Guru Granth Sahib.

Decision for Compilation

What is an even more significant part of the

established Sikh tradition is that when the decision

to compile the different pothis or writings for the

first time into one volume was made, there was a

serious debate at Damdama (Bathinda), as to whether

the different parts of this granth merited at all to

be joined together in a single volume.-7 The

overwhelming opinion in this debate, even then, was

not in favour of compiling the different pothis or

writings in a single volume; only the minority opinion

favoured different pothis to be compiled toghether.8

Hence, there is not even a prima facie case for

assuming this granth to be an integrated, single

one-piece work, much less can it to be regarded as the

composition of a single author. A summary reference to

the analysis of the contents of the granth by Dr Jaggi

would confirm this conclusion.

Here it is relevant to state that Dr Ashta has

attributed the collection of the granth to Bhai Mani

Singh. This he bases primarily on a letter purported

to have been written by Bhai Sahib to Mata Sundri. Dr

Jaggi, whose thesis Dasam Granth ka Kartritva, which

has been commended by Dr H.P. Dwivedi, has examined

this issue in det" il and comes to the conclusion that

the letter is fake.

Internal Evidence

a) There are only four extant manuscripts of the Cii

anth which are recognized by scholars. All these

differ malc.ria]ly even as regards the subject matter,

number of pages, the headings of the chapters, the

number of verses in them, and their sequences and

arrangements, etc. There are too many variations to be

recounted here. 9

B) Pen-names of Ram, Sham, Kali and Gobind are found

in different compositions indicating them to be the

poet-authors of these.'10

IdeoIogical Contradictions

a) Within the granth

There are glaring contradictions within the text

itself on ideological issues which are fundamental to

Sikhism. For example, Sikhism stands for unalloyed


"0 man, worship none but God,

not a thing made by Him.

Know that He Who was in the beginning,

Unborn, Invincible, and Indestructible is God.

What if Vishnu, coming into this world

killed some of the demons,

And exercising great deceit

induced every one to call him God.

Hear, O fool !

How can he who was drowned in the ocean

of the world save thee?"11

"One Shiv was born, one died,

and one was born again;

There have also been many incarnations

of Ram Chander and Krishan.

How many Brahmas and Vishnus there have been !

How many Veds and Puranas !

How many collections of Sirnritis

there have been and passed away !..."12

"Some fasten an idol firmly to their breasts;

Some say that Shiv is God; ...

Some say that Ram is God; some say Krishan;

Some in their hearts accept

the incarnations as God;

But I have forgotten all vain religions

and know in my heart

That the Creator is the only God."13

As against this clear-cut ideology of Guru Gobind

Singh himself, 455 pages have been devoted in the

granth to idolise Chaubis Avtaars and 99 pages to

idolise the Avtaars of Brahma, Rudra, and other.

One item that requires particular notice relates to

the worship of gods and goddesses, particularly that

of Durga, Bhawani, Kali, Shiva, Sitla, etc., which are

all supposed to be the incarnation of Parbati Devi, or

Shiva, meaning the spouse of Shivji and not Shivji

himself. What has been said about the condemnation of

the Avtaars of Vishnu and the Devi, applies equally to

the mythical incarnation of other gods and goddesses.

In addition, we have the hymn clearly condemning the

worship of Devi by name, "Boundless is His Form, and

boundless His Voice; in the shelter of His Feet

dwelleth Bhavani."14

B) With the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib

i) Whereas in Guru Granth Sahib the invocation is

invariably to God alone, here the invocations are to

Bhagauti, Durga, etc.

ii) By far the most weighty objection for not

considering this granth to be a unified work, is

ideological. For the largest portion of it cuts across

the fundamentals of the Sikh ideology, as enshrined in

Guru Granth Sahib.

The Gurus are categorical on this point. "May that

mouth burn, which says that God incarnates."15

"0 Brother, fools worship gods and goddesses. They

know not that these mythical deities can give them

nothing. To beg anything from them is just like

putting stone idols in water, where they only sink.

How can they enable anyone else to swim across the


Bhagat Namdev in Guru Granth Sahib also says,

"They who worship Bhairav, shall become sprites; they

who worship Sitla, ride donkeys and scatter dust. For

myself I take the name of One God."17

Except for 50 pages, the granth contradicts the

ideology of Guru Granth Sahib. As 674 pages are

devoted to extolling Avtaars, etc. and 53 pages praise

Chandi and Durga (Chandi Chritras and Var Durga ki).

And, 615 pages relate to the utterly obscene Charittro


The conclusive evidence is that whereas the 50 pages

in every way synchronise with the bani of Guru Granth

Sahib, the main body of the granth relating to Devis

and Avtaars and Charittro Pakhyan are evidently in

contradiction to that ideology. Hence, when the acid

test is applied, except the 50 pages of the bani, the

writings in the granth are difficult to accept as

creations of the Tenth Master.


First, this is a granth which never existed as such in

the time of the Tenth Master, nor is there any

verifiable injunction by the Master in this regard.

Second, it was decades after the demise of Guru Gobind

Singh that it was joined together in one volume, just

because of a chance development.

Third, the very naming of the granth has been varying,

and the first name, Bachittar Natak, supported by

internal evidence, hardly suggests that the graiith

has a religious import. These names have been changed

from time to time. Fourth, the different jarts of it,

especially the 50 pages and the bulk of the granth

relating to Avtaars, Devis and lhe Charittro Pakhyan

are entirely contradictory in content. In fact, about

the Charittro Pakhyan, the S.G.P.C. has conveyed that

it is not the writing of Guru Gobind Singh, but is a

reproduction of some mythical stories." According to

known tradition, even originally the majority opinion

was against the different pothis being compiled into

one volume. Hence, it passes one's comprehension how

this granth can logically be regarded as a single

piece of work or the composition of a single author,

much less of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.

It is obvious that the material of the granth needs to

be sifted in order to separate the grain from the

chaff, and the only criterion for that is t.he bani of

Guru Granth Sahib. But this sifting should not he left

to the judgement of an individual or an organisation,

howsoever respected and highly placed it may be. It is

a matter of vital importance, and a decision on it.

should be the responsibility of the Panth.


l. Wahi (Record) of Narbudh Bhatt; Koer Singh,

Gtirbilas Patshahi Das (1745 AD), Chapter 21; Kesar

Singh Chhiber, Bansawlinama, (1769 AD), Chapter 10;

Sarup Das Bhalla, Mehma Parkash (1776 AD), p. 459

2. Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi in his scholarly thesis Dasam

Granth ka Kartritva, (i.e., Authorship of Dasam

Granth) has conclusively shown that Guru Ciobind Singh

did not give an equal status to his own writings with

that of the Adi Granth. He described his composition

as a play.

3. Rattan Singh Jaggi: Dasam Granth ka Kartritva, p.


4. Jap, Akal Ustat minus 20 stanzas (211 <a 230) in

the praise of Devi Durga; Swavyas; Shabads, and


5. Bhai Kahn Singh: Mahan Kosh, p. 6! 6

6. Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi: op. cit., p. 13

7. Bhai Kahn Singh: op. cit, p. 616

8. Ibid.

9. Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi: op. cit., Chapter 4 and

Appendix, pp. 100-101

10. Ibid., pp. 49-66

11. Macauliffe, M.A.: The Sikh Religion, Vol. V., pp.

325-326. Shabad Hazare

12. Ibid., Akal Ustat, p. 272

13. Ibid., Swayyas, pp. 318

14. Ibid., Akal Ustat, p. 262

15. Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1136

16. Ibid., p. 637

17. Ibid., p. 874; Macauliffe, Vol. VI., p. 57

18. Letter No. 36672, dated 3.8.1973, from the Dharam

Parchar Committee of the S.G.P.C., Amritsar.

AOSS Jan-Mar !999

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