Debating the Dasam Granth by Robin Rinehart

By Robin Rinehart

The Dasam Granth is a 1,428-page anthology of various compositions attributed to the 10th Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, and a subject matter of significant controversy between Sikhs. the talk stems from significant concerns: a considerable component to the Dasam Granth relates stories from Hindu mythology, suggesting a disconnect from normative Sikh theology; and an extended composition entitled Charitropakhian tells a number of hundred particularly image tales approximately illicit liaisons among women and men. Sikhs have debated no matter if the textual content merits prestige as a "scripture" or could be learn as an alternative as "literature." Sikh students have additionally lengthy debated even if Guru Gobind Singh in truth authored the total Dasam Granth. a lot of the secondary literature at the Dasam Granth specializes in this authorship factor, and regardless of an ever-growing physique of articles, essays, and books (mainly in Punjabi), the controversy has no longer moved ahead. The to be had manuscript and different historic facts don't supply conclusive solutions relating to authorship. the talk has been so acrimonious from time to time that during 2000, Sikh chief Joginder Singh Vedanti issued a directive that Sikh students no longer touch upon the Dasam Granth publicly in any respect pending a committee inquiry into the problem. Debating the Dasam Granth is the 1st English language, book-length serious learn of this arguable Sikh textual content in lots of years. in accordance with study at the unique textual content within the Brajbhasha and Punjabi languages, a severe analyzing of the secondary literature in Punjabi, Hindi, and English, and interviews with students and Sikh leaders in India, it bargains a radical creation to the Dasam Granth, its historical past, debates approximately its authenticity, and an in-depth research of its most vital compositions.

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There are also references to collections of Guru Gobind Singh’s work, but it is not entirely clear what compositions they may have contained and what, if any, relation they bore to the Dasam Granth. A slightly later source, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha's [Bhāī Kāhn Singh Nābhā]1 1930 Gurshabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh [Gurshabada Ratnākara Mahān Kosha], provides an intriguing story in its entry on the Dasam Granth. First, Nabha explains (Nabha 1990, 616), Bhai Mani Singh carried out the wishes of Mata Sundari that he gather whatever he could of Guru Gobind Singh’s writings, and then he put both those compositions that presented the Guru’s teachings and those that were translations from Sanskrit into a single volume called Dasven Pātshāh kā Granth.

But these references are often all too brief, lost in the press of exploring equally important matters or of asserting a particular argument about the authorship and authenticity of the Dasam Granth. While the field of Sikh Studies is growing both in India and in the West, and much has been written about the Dasam Granth, there is still much more to be learned from this significant and controversial text with respect not only to Sikh literature but to Indian literature as a whole. Additionally, the sheer length and breadth of the Dasam Granth have meant that scholarly studies that have dealt with the whole text 16 Debating the Dasam Granth have, perhaps of necessity, sometimes devoted more focus to various forms of description such as long lists of meters and summaries of the compositions within the text at the expense of sustained analysis.

The Life of Guru Gobind Singh 41 In addition to Sikh texts that mention Guru Gobind Singh and his literary pursuits, another important source of answers about the authorship and origins of the Dasam Granth is the available and surviving manuscripts. In this regard Rattan Singh Jaggi’s research is extremely important. Jaggi wrote his doctoral dissertation, Dasam-Granth kī Paurāṇik Pṛṣṭhabhūmi (The Puranic Background of the Dasam Granth) in Hindi for Punjab University, and it was published in 1965.

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