You are on page 1of 5


Jodh Singh
Professor of Sikhism,
Punjabi University, Patiala(INDIA)

The Book of the Tenth Guru

To quote Encyclopaedia of Sikhism �Dasam Granth� (lit. the Tenth

Book generally signifying the Book of the Tenth Guru) is how the
collection of compositions attributed to the Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind
Singh, is named to distinguish it from the earlier work, the Adi Granth
(now known as Sri Guru Granth Sahib) the First or Primary Book
(Volume), compiled by Guru Arjan, the fifth in the spiritual line from
Guru Nanak and to which Guru Gobind Singh added the hymns of the
Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, forbearing from adding any of his
own�. The works in the Dasam Granth are varied in contents and
their tenor. Some works such as 14 Cantos of the Bachitra Natakand
the Zafarnamah are almost autobiographical whereas the Chaubis
Autar, and Chandi Chritras may be treated as biographical. Japu Sahib
and Akal Ustati pertain to pure spirituality whereas Sastra Nammala
delineates the use of the weapons and elevates them to the status of
God. Covering the vast bulk of the Dasam Granth is Chritropakhyanin
which the narratives concerning the lust and cunningness of women
and some men are included. These stories are picked up ranging from
folklore, mythology to history and the contemporary situation of the
poet. In nutshell works in theDasam Granth are as follows:

1. Japu(Sahib) - contains 199 verses in 10 different metres such as

Chaupai, Bhujang - prayat, Chachri, Rual, Bhagvati, Haribolmana,
Charpat, Madhubhar Rasaval and Ek Achhari. Japu is strand of the
diverse names of God which further explain the nature of the supreme
reality. Love for Humanity and the creator Lord is the matrix of Sikh
thought and God is conceived in Japu as the abode and cause of all

The Theme of God Realization

2. Akal Ustati is the next step to the Japu. Whereas Japu may be
termed as the strnad of the different names of God, Akal Ustatitakes up
the theme of God realization. It touches upon the hypocritical sectarian
outlook besides holding the love and its activities be they spiritual or
secular as the true values of life. 271 and half verses of Akal Ustatiare
available in which the real ecumenical thought of Sikh religion as
enunciated in the Guru Granth Sahib about oneness of humanity,
brotherhood of mankind and fatherhood of One God, has been stressed

3. Bachitra Natak, consisting of fourteen chapters spread over 471

verses, deals with autobiographical notes of Guru Gobind Singh�s
earlier battles of Nadaun and Bhangani while he was camping at
Paonta, a small town in the present day Himachal Pradesh. In the very
beginning of the first canto, the Guru has obliterated the long cherished
practice of invoking Ganesh and Sarasvati and instead set up a new
Khalsa tradition of invoking the Sword whom he describes as the
protector of the saints and destroyer of the evil-doers. The Sikh
principle of one spirit and the same methodology of all the Gurus has
been reiterated in this work. One more interesting fact is revealed by
the poet when he discovers his family lineage linking himself to Lava
and Kush, the worthy sons of Ramchandra, the acknowledged
universal monarch of India and tells how their kingdom was shattered
because of the infightings of the family. Only twenty villages could
remain with the family by the time of Guru Nanak (5.3.4.) who first
raised a spiritual empire on whose foundations later on i.e. up to the
times of Ranjit Singh a vast and mighty temporal Khalsa empire was
built. In fact the purpose of the Guru is not of tracing of his lineage
here but is of telling the people that quarells and infightings always
prove to be self defeating. The Guru perhaps anticipating the present
day infightings among the masses as well as their spiritual and political
leaders, has already hinted about the self destroying effects of the
schismatic posture of the people who claim to be just brothers of one
and all and still hate agreeing to any common action for the common

Stories of Indian mythology and folklore

4.5.6Chadi Chritra Ukti Bilas (233 Verses), Chandi Chritra (262

verses) and Chandi Di Var (55 verses); First two works are in Braj
Bhashaand the last one is composed in Punjabi language. In the whole
of the corpus of the Dasam Granth, the Guru has dealt with
innumerable anecdots and stories of Indian mythology and folklore but
nowhere the same story has been repeated thrice as is in the case of the
story of Durga. Indra, the god, cries and weeps over his lost kingdom
forcibly snatched away by Mahishasur, the demon and comes to
Durga, the supreme power of the Shivalik hills, to seek help. Durga
consoles Indra, fights with the forces of Mahishasur and killing all his
commanders restores back the kingdom to Indra the sole king of the
Aryans. Durga also known as the Indian mother goddess is powerful
example of the matrilineal society prevalent in India before the coming
of the Aryans to this land. The Aryans did have the patrilineal social
set-up and had no deep regards for female counterparts as is evident
from the literary epics and other religious works of the race. Guru
Gobind Singh seems to have considered Durga as the mighty queen
who could fight for the cause of righteousness and could even help
them who had destroyed her cultural fabric and were in the process of
destroying the civilization such as of Mohenjo Dero and Harappa etc.
Guru Gobind Singh found Durga as the epitome of womanhood and
consistent to the framework of Sikh thought in which the position of
woman is not only full of respect but also she is equal partner in all the
spiritual as well as secular regimen of the Sikh society. He found the
story of Durga fascinating and worthy undertaking its theme for
uplifting the honour of woman. In view of this the poet seems to be
untiring in eulogising Durga, though in the Chaubis Autarand at some
other places he categorically says that he does not accept these deities
as gods or goddesses. In Guru Granth Sahib also this is held that these
personalities are mighty kings and queens of different period whom
people out of their reverance for their actions of common weal started
considering supernatural powers.

7. Gian Prabodh (336 verses) hinges upon the framework of Indian

religious thought and when one finds in it the Guru dealing with the
supreme ideals of life viz. dharma, artha, kama and moksha and their
corollaries such as dan, charity and santokh, the contentmet, one feels
explicitly how Guru is deeply rooted in the Indian ethos. The Guru
knew about the erstwhile educational system because Gian
Prabodhabounds in hinting about the names of Sasskrit Grammer
works such as Kaumudi,Chandrika and Kashika etc.

8. Chaubis Autar - is considerably larger part of the Dasam Granth

where all the mythological twenty-four incarnations of Vishnu have
been dealt with. The Guru true to the spirit of Japuji makes people
uderstand here that Akal Purakh, the Supreme reality is above all the
gods and goddesses. In this work Vishnu is asked by the Akal Purakh
to go to earth in order to protect the saints and destroy the devils. The
stories of Rama (864 verses) and Lord Krishna (2492 verses) have
occupied sufficiently larger space in this work because these were the
mighty kings who have been reigning supreme in the hearts and minds
of Indian people since times immemorial. The Tenth Guru has used
these very popular stories as raw material for chisellig out and
founding the solid Sikh thought that later on appeared in the form of
Khalsa order. In the last verse of the Krishnavatar he portrays the
vertically and horizontally developed personality of an ideal human
being, and in the main body of this work while describing Krishna�s
battle with Jarasandh, the Guru creates uncommon characters in both
the armies. For example, he creates Shakti Singh, Amit Singh and
mighty Kharag Singh. Kharag Singh here is prototype of Khalsa to be
created after ten years and he is not only not getting killed by Krishna
and his associate gods and goddesses who come to help Krishna, they
rather have been depicted as fleeing the battlefield thus delineating the
Sikh spirit that Sikhs are not to be afraid of the devis and devatas. On
the other hand Dilawar Khan and the commanders of his ilk have been
shown as being destroyed at the hands of Singhs. The Guru for his own
purpose of rousing the spirits of medieval Indian people against the
oppressors has transformed the olden battlefield into his contemporary
world. Only such works of the Guru could realise his dream of
awakening the slavery ridden people from their dogmatic slumber to
create a strong Khalsa brotherhood in the year 1699 at Anandpur.
While writing these incarnation stories, the Guru is quite conscious of
his own ideology and at places gives his comments and notes that he is
not believing in the incarnations of these gods and only Mahakal, the
Supreme Reality beyond time and space is his protector.

Immediately after this work in the Dasam Granth thirty-three Svaiyas

have been appended which further affirm the ideological stand of Guru
Gobind Singh who is the devotee of Akal, the ever burning flame of
righteousness and piety and who cannot be confused with the people
working in the space and time, however mighty they might have been.

The scholars and soldiers

9. Sastra Namamala or �Inventory of Weapons� is such an abstruse

work that could be a good treat for the scholars and soldiers alike. The
weapons such as double edged sword, musket, and arrow etc. have
been elevated to the status of the Divine. In most cryptic and coded
terminology numerous names of five weapons i.e., sword, sheel
(chakra), arrow, noose and musket have been defined. At few places
the names of spear and dagger have also been hinted at which shows
that perhaps this work is incomplete one. According to Patna recension
of the Dasam Granth, Sastra Namamala had 1455 verses whereas now
only 1318 verses are available.

How a spiritual person can save himself in disastrous


10. Chritra Pakhyan, Pakhyan Charitra or more commonly known as

TriyaCharitra - contains 7559 verses and thus happens to the largest
work compiled in the Dasam Granth. It consists of 404 episodes
rooted in Puranas, Mahabharata, Kathasarit Sagar, Panchtantra,
Baital Pachisi and Alif Laila etc. This is an interesting collection of
Indian and non Indian contemporary stories pertaining to the wiles of
different varieties of women and at few places of men. Many of the
themes of the stories have been picked up from the folklore and a very
thoughtful psychological analysis of different characters whether they
are feudal lords, ascetics or warriors, has been undertaken. This work
in the DasamGranth owes much to considering the authorship of the
Granth as controversial because some scholars feel that the stories
touching the prostitution and other allied activities could not be the
work of the Guru. However it is worth noting that this portion of the
Dasam Granthis found in all the extant manuscripts of the work, apart
from also being independently available. Hanuvant Singh is a young
prince whose mother is no more. His father King Chitra Singh
remarries and the new queen wants to involve the young prince in
incest with her to which the prince refuses. The queen intimates and
incites the King who becoming furious arrests the prince. The wise
minister understanding the whole affair tells the king, the stories of
different fraudulent women, deeply engrossed in cajolery and quite.
The aim behind these stories seems to caution the men of their possible
involvement in extra marital relationship and not to denigrate the
women folk but to denounce the trapping women. However, benati
chaupai is available in all the manuscripts of this work. The basic
stress of most of the stories in this work is on maintaining a pure and
lust free character as is evident from episodes, sixteen, twenty-one,
eighty-one, one hundred eighty-three etc.

11.Zafarnamahcomprising 111 verses is one of the three Persian

works of Guru Gobind Singh, the other two being Fatahnamah and
Hakayats. Fatahamahresembles Zafarnamah whereas Hakayats have
the same theme as of the Pakhyan Chritra. Zafarnamah is that letter
which was written by the Guru at Dina, a town in Malva region of the
Punjab when he happened to be there after the battle of Chamkaur.
Bhai Daya Singh was entrusted the work of delivery of this letter to
Aurangzeb who was camping at that time at Ahmad Nagar in the
Southern India. This letter seems to be the reply of a personal message
or letter by the Emperor to Guru Gobind Singh. Zafarnamahshows
explicitly how a spiritual person can be in high spirits even in most
disastrous circumstances. The Guru very badly has reprimanded
Aurangzeb for his misdeeds, and in one verse the Guru says, "O
Aurangzeb, of course you are king emperor but you are totally devoid
of honesty and religious mindedness. So long your service to Islam is
cocerned, this also is your hypocrisy. In fact you have no faith either
on Hazarat Mohammad or God the great. Then, the oft quoted verse
that �when all the efforts fail then it is incumbent upon a person to
take to the sword and set the things right' is there in the Zafarnamahto
infuse the spirit of righteousness and fight against the tyranny. The
entailing verses of the Dasam Granth as said above are Hikayatswhich
are tales almost similar to Charitropakhyan with the difference that the
latter work is in Brajbhasha and the Hikayats are in Persian.