Authentic Sikh Scriptures, Authors, History & Identity

Charnjit Singh Bal

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As a rational and analytical minded Sikh one is obliged to refute any literature or propaganda that in his or her opinion tends to project Sikh philosophy, religiosity, history and Identity in a light incompatible with the authentic Guru Granth Sahib’s pragmatic Gurbani and relevant periods’ contemporary writers/historians. I base my opinions upon the rational interpretations of Gurbani and authentications of Sikh history by the stalwart Sikh scholars and historians i.e. Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Giani Ditt Singh, Dr. Sahib Singh, Dr. Ganda Singh, Prin. Harbhajan Singh Hamraz, Prin. Teja Singh, Prof. Karam Singh, Prof. Kartar Singh, Giani Sohan Singh Seetal, Giani Bhag Singh et al.

Many Sikhs including scholars with penchant for mythology, or lack of in-depth comprehension of the fundamental rules that determine the authorship of Shabds and Slokes of Guru Granth Sahib’s Gurbani erroneously believe, profess and ascribe one Sloke of Guru Teg Bahadur to Guru Gobind Singh.

blu hoAw bMDn Cuty, sB ikCu hoq aupwie] nwnk sB ikCu qumrY hwQ mY, qumhI hoq shwie ]54]

If there is fortitude, materialistic bonds are removed, every adversity can be remedied.

Nanak, everything is in your hand (O Lord), only you render support.

The mythology oriented Sikhs profess that to bolster Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib’s sagging courage in face of looming martyrdom, Gobind Singh Sahib wrote and sent the above sloke in response to Guru Teg Bahadur’s below mentioned sloke,

blu CutikE bMDn pry, kCU n hoq aupwie] khu nwnk Ab Et hir, gj ijau hoq shwie ]53]

If fortitude is lost, materialistic bonds take hold, (that) no remedy can undo.

Says Nanak, now God (alone) can help, just as He saved elephant (from octopus’ hold).

This belief is not only erroneous but also blasphemous because for a scholar, historian or theologian especially a Sikh, to believe and profess that indomitable Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib or any other invincible Sikh guru needed morale support to face martyrdom. It is sacrilege of Guru's august persona. The simple rule that determines the authorship of Gurus’ Bani is that the slokes and shabds that the six Gurus composed and are compiled in Granth Sahib are stamped with Guru Nanak’s name. Guru Nanak's successors could use moniker 'Nanak' only after they assumed the Guru-ship of Sikhism. And Guru Gobind Singh assumed Guru-ship after the martyrdom of his father Guru Teg Bahadur. Since he wasn’t the Guru at the time prior to Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom he couldn’t have used it. Also, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, for reasons best known to him only, never used that signature.

Then there is the question of communication between Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib who was being kept in isolation and tortured by Aurangzeb’s hatchet men at Delhi and Gobind Singh Sahib at Anandpur at a time when it took months to travel between the two destinations. No rationalist can believe that they communicated through telepathy. It is the mythologists’ prerogative.


All religious and socio-cultural communities have distinct apparels and articles of wear that identify them as distinct separate entities and signify solidarity within the given community. The garb and religious paraphernalia that depend upon the time, locale’s climatic conditions, socio-cultural and personal preferences, merely determine the identity of adherents of that religion. Although the identity is an integral part of a religion, it does not enhance a man’s spiritual consciousness. But the zealous orthodox religionists profess that the religious garb takes precedence over exalted spiritual consciousness. They dogmatically propagate the religious garb and paraphernalia as an essential part of religiosity.

Exalted spiritual consciousness, piety, moral rectitude, social justice and cultural harmony aught to be the cardinal features of a religion. The Guru Granth Sahib's Gurbani (Sikh scriptures) denounce ostentatious garb and sanctimonious religious paraphernalia. Instead it professes exalted spiritual awareness, moral rectitude, human virtues and socio-religious values. Sikhism’s scriptures explicitly reiterate that the sanctimonious religious garb gives false sense of exalted spirituality and piety and boosts a man’s ego and conceit.

nwnk scy nwmu ibnu ikAw itkw ikAw qgu] Awsw dI vwr, m: 1, pMnw 467

Nanak, without eternal Name (God’s praise) what good is colored mark (on Hindu’s forehead) and multi-strand twine (he wears)

Sikh Identity

On 30th March 1699, the last and the tenth Nanak, (Dasmesh) Guru Gobind Singh faced with the crucial choice between survival and annihilation of Sikhism, at the hands of tyrannical Muslim rulers, transformed a Sikh into Khalsa (noble warrior) and the Sikh religion into Khalsa Panth (Noble Nation). The process of transformation redefined the role and identity of a Sikh-turned-Khalsa. In addition to being a devout religionist he was now the champion of socio-political justice and universal religious freedom. To fulfill his added socio-political role it was imperative for him to wear befitting uniform and equipment.

Authentic Sources of Sikh Identity and History

If there was any authentic record of Sikh identity, scriptures recited at the baptismal ceremonial of that crucial historical day, it went missing during the furious battle between the Khalsa and the combined forces of Mogul rulers and the Himalayan Hill Hindu Rajas on the banks of raging Sarsa River. The two lines in Dasmesh Guru’s contemporary poet Senapat’s book Guru Sobha do not render much information to corroborate the version of Sikh baptismal ceremony's import, Sikh identity or the scriptures recited as propagated by the Sikh orthodoxy. The only other available sources of information are the mythical literature of 18th and 19th century by anonymous and pseudonymous poets.

After the incarnate Sikh Gurus’ period there have been two schools of thought, the rationalist Sikhs who reject; and the fundamentalist Sikhs who blindly accept the mythical and erotic literature as the works of the Dasmesh Guru Gobind Singh and devout Sikh scholars. They passionately profess the mythical and erotic literature as an authentic source of Sikh philosophy, religiosity, history, code and identity. They liken this literature to the sacrosanct Guru Granth Sahib. Consequently highly contentious issues of Sikh philosophy, religiosity, history and identity keep cropping up between the rationalist minority and the fundamentalist majority of Sikhs. The fundamentalists quote references from these allegorical granths i.e. Dasam granth, Gurbilas, Panth Prakash, Gurpertap Soorya, janam sakhis etc. to support their arguments in favor of dogmatic Sikh dicta and identity.

Dusht Damman (Dasmesh) and Khalsa Born out of Khal (Lion's Skin)?

If one believes that Bachiter Natak is Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s work and hence an authentic source of Sikh history and creed, he will have to believe that Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and Khalsa Panth were born out of the Khal (lion’s skin) on which a reclusive Hindu mendicant was sitting and meditating at a mythical place called Hemkund on the snowy Himalayan Mountain.

The synoptic narrative of the mythical composition called Bachiter Natak, a typical puranic fable, is that in the Satyug (Hindus’ primeval eon) the Hindus’ mythical Godess Durga Devi (who has sixteen names), was tired after fighting and annihilating 9 zillion demons, retreated and took refuge in the Himalayan hills. Two surviving demons, Bail and Subail, along with their armies, came searching for her and asked a mendicant sitting on lion’s skin meditating on the mythical icy Hemkund about Devi’s whereabouts. The resentful mendicant scolded the demons; who charged towards the mendicant to kill him. The mendicant pulled out the Khal (lion’s skin) from under him and flipped it. Out of that skin appeared a mighty warrior who fought the demons for thousands of years and exterminated the demons.

Durga Devi who was cowering in a Himalayan hideout all this time, came out and said obligingly to the mighty warrior, "You have protected me ---now I will protect you --- you go to the planet earth and worship me, I will manifest and guard you whenever you invoke me." Then she said, "Since you were born out of the Khal (lion’s skin) your Panth’s name will be Khalsa; and since you have exterminated the demons, from now on you will be called Dusht-Damman, (demon-exterminator)."

The Dusht-Damman (Dasmesh Nanak) meditated on Hemkund, standing on one leg, without food or water for two eons (Treta and Duaper yug) before being summoned by the Creator (Brahma?) and sent to the planet earth in the fourth eon (Kalyug) to eradicate evil and initiate noble (Khalsa) Panth. The question is how do the mythical Sikhs who believe in the Bachiter Natak’s burlesque tale of Dusht Damman, i.e. Dasmesh Guru and Khalsa Panth being born out of Khal (Lion's skin), reconcile it with the historical event of Vasakhi day 31st of March 1699 AD?

Sehajdhari, Amritdhari Sikh

Like other orthodox religious denominations, the Sikh counterparts are intrinsically averse to a liberal school of thought. Their dogmatic concept of redemption tends to differ with that of Sikhism's pragmatic concept. As per Sikhism's concept identity, per say, is of no avail in pursuit of redemption. Guru Gobind Singh's definition of Khalsa i.e. a amritdhari Sikh's identity that the orthodox Sikhs purport-

jwgiq joiq jpY insu bwsur, eyk ibnw mnu nYku n AwnY]

pUrn pRym pRqIq sjY, bRq gor mVI mt BUil n mwnY]

qIrQ dwn dieAw qp sMjm eyk ibnw nh eyk pCwnY]

pUrn joq jgY Gt mY, qb Kwlsw qwih inKwls jwnY] 33 svYXY,

(If one) sings magnificent Lord’s praise; doesn’t believe anyone other than One God.

Nurtures absolute love and faith; doesn’t believe in ritual fast, grave, tomb.

(Shuns) sanctimonious pilgrimage, charity, compassion, penance; doesn’t revere anyone except the One (God).

His magnificent light is lit inside him; then only he can differentiate between noble and ignoble.

khu kbIr jn Bey Kwlsy, pRym Bgiq ijh jwnI[ rwgu soriT, kbIr jI, pMnw 654-55

Says Kabir, men become Khalsa those who learnt love and devotion. Page 654-55

kbIr pRIiq iek isau kIey, Awn duibDw jwie]

BwvY lWby kys kru, BwvY Grir mufwie] slok 25, kbIr jI, pMnw 1365

Kabir, inculcating devotion to the One (God) dispels double-mindedness;

Whether one grows long hair or he shaves his head. Page 1375

jogu n iKMQw, jogu n fMfY, jogu n Bsm cVweIAY[ jogu n muMdI mUMif muMfwieAY, jogu n isM|I vweIAY]

AMjn mwih inrMjin rhIAY, jogu jugiq iev pweIAY] rwgu sUhI, m: 1, pMnw 730

Re-union isn’t in (ascetic’s) patchy quilt, re-union isn’t in staff, re-union isn’t coating (body) with ash.

Re-union isn’t in earrings, shaving one’s head; reunion isn’t in blowing small horn;

In the smutty (materialistic world) remaining un-blemished is the way to realize re-union.

mUMf muMfwey jy isiD pweI[ mukqI Byd n geIAw kweI] rwgu gauVI, kbIr jI, pMnw 324

If shaving one’s head begets salvation, (why then) no sheep was ever redeemed it when passed away?

Pro-amritdhari or anti-sehajdhari Sikh bias makes one oblivious to the fact that there have always been noble, righteous, deviant and felonious Sikhs in both categories. However the felonious activities of the sanctimonious Sikhs, who are more conspicuous, is much more deleterious to the worthy cause of Sikhism and international Sikh community

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