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  1. Does anyone know any good tittles? I'm trying to learn more about Sikh History, Arts ( Gurmat Sangeet and Calligraphy etc) and Literature. I would prefer if it was written in English. Also Im interested in old paintings so if there is book full of them please let me know. Thanks Gur Fateh Ji.
  2. Evolving trends in pre-nineteenth century Sikh Historiography. The primary sphere of reverence, in Sikh academia, is the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji with second and tertiary accompaniments being the Dasam Granth and the compositions of Bhai Nand Lal. The latter are noteworthy in many respects. They establish a timeless connection between the reader and writer across several milieus, yet offer only tantalizing glimpses into the lives of the Gurus.' Fluidly focusing upon the Gurus' message, the aforementioned texts lack a cohesive narrative detailing who they where. To ameliorate just such a situation the Sikhs, as a whole, had to parent several distinct genres of literature which would not only detail the birth of their ethos, but also of their evolution under the sacrosanct Gurus. The primary corpus of these genres would not focus upon the tenets, and tutorials, of the faith but upon the lives of the promulgators of the faith itself! Not only would these genres have to incorporate the nuanced orthodoxy of the faith, Per se, but also define the Sikhs as a faith, and holistic force in light of their association with the Gurus. To this end three new literary models were born. The initial Janamsaakhi tradition, followed by the multi-faceted Gurbilas series and the ever-evolving Rehitnamas. The Janamsaakhis' (or tales of birth) incorporate a triumvirate design. They solely concentrate upon the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539) via specifying it in three general Parochial's. Birth, voyages and settlement. Janamsaakhis,' it seems, were written with three broad intentions. One, to provide an emulative biography of the Guru. Two, to grant Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike a literary darsan (glimpse) of the Guru. And three, to provide an exegetical source of Gurbani via incorporating contextual and environmental influences. The bibliography of these Saakhis consist of oral folklore prevalent in the Guru-era Punjab. Mcleod notes that despite the significant time lapses, prevalent between the writing of each Saakhi, the genre carries an authentic ring to it (1). Significant exegetical evolutions, and re-telling's penultimately catalysed in notable differences in each Saakhi. Plausibly nowhere is the latter more evident, than in the hierarchical number of Saakhis' which presently exist. The Bhai Bala Janamsaakhi claims to be the foremost manuscript of the genre. It's claims are evidenced by the fact that it has become a traditional component of many Sikh orders. The schismatic Meharbaan Janamsaakhi can be said to be the second oldest, but has been discarded due to it's perceived unorthodox content; whilst the Bhai Mani Singh Janamsaakhi is categorised as being the third oldest and authoritarian. Other Janamsaakhis' also exist with the most mooted being the recent B40 Janamsaakhi. Yet as Surjit Singh Hans and W. Owen Cole elucidate each Saakhi should be analysed carefully for veracity and authenticity. Cole is at pains to highlight that no scriptural, or preliminary, Sikh text mentions the existence of Bhai Bala. The fact that the latter's Saakhi eulogizes Baba Hindal, and Bhagat Kabir, at the expense of Guru Nanak Dev Ji makes it's relevance questionable. The Meharbaan Saakhi presents a coloured vision of events, especially in light of the fact that the author's father was opposed to the orthodox lineage of Guruship. Summarily, the criteria for essaying each Janamsaakhi might vary from manuscript to manuscript, but the genre represents the earliest pivotal point in Sikh literature. The Gurbilas series shows a poetic, and structural, strain derived from the Janamsaakhis but radically differs in many respects. A majority of the genre focuses on the life of one individual, although Kesar Singh Chibber's Bansavalinama Dasan Patshian Ka, runs as an anomaly to the genre's Status quo. The primary cataloguing point for this diverse genre hinges on the mythological, and political, content of each manuscript. Chibber's Brahmin ancestry stood him in an instrumental stead to utilise ancient Puranic, and mythological texts, in order to construct a magnetic genealogy of the Gurus.' Yet even his work is without bias. Reaching out to the dominant Hindu majority he rues the over-dominance of stratified Jatts, and Dalits, in the Khalsa whilst exposing Islam to a microscopic scrutiny. Simultaneously he mentions Akali-Nihung Guru Gobind Singh Ji as having manifested Kalika, for military aide, and the Gurus' being honorific avatars of Vishnu. With the commencement of the Sikh Reformative era, it's no wonder his work fell out of use. But Chibber's work is profoundly prolific. In 2,564 stanzas, and 14 chapters, he relates significant events from the lives of the ten Gurus', Banda Singh Bahadur, Ajit Singh (adopted son of Mata Sundar Kaur), and the life of the matriarchal Mata herself. Later Gurbilas additions would follow an emulative course, although fundamental differences would become significant in each serial generation. Gurbilas Patshai Chevin (sixth) orbits the life of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. It encapsulates the latter's birth, father's life, marriage, battles and other impactive events which shaped the subject's life. Despite chronological errors, the work is a well-grounded piece authentically narrating the important events in the life of the Guru. Koer Singh's Gurbilas Patshai Dasvin (tenth) completed in 1751 C.E. (the author was a confidant of Akali-Nihung Mani Singh Ji) is categorised as being the most inauthentic of the series. The author makes no avid distinction between myth, parable and reality in his narrative. He perpetually misplaces dates and implies (insubstantially) that the tenth Guru undertook a journey to Ayodhya. Sukkha Singh's emulative text, of the same name, is solely concerned with the Guru's battles and the ethics orbiting the latter's political mindset. All 31 Cantos of his work carry a scholarly ring and avoid the ardent mythologising found in initial texts of the genre. The most aberrant text, in the entire series, is that of Bhai Sobha Ram. His Gurbilas Bhai Sahib Singh Ji Bedi does not draw upon preliminary sources such as the Dasam Granth, and other contemporaneous accounts; but instead focuses on his own observance of Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi. The latter was an eighteenth century descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and an avid player in the politics of Lahore. Ram implies him to be the temporal emulation of Akali-Nihung Guru Gobind Singh Ji, dispatched to coronate Ranjit Singh as the emperor of Punjab. The latter makes evident the political appeal of the work, and one cannot help but wonder if the latter was the sole inspiration for the text's birth. The Rehitnamas are the most divergent of the three genres. They are not exegetical accounts, such as the Janamsaakhis', or even biographical sketches such as the Gurbilas series. They are more de imitatione Gurui, aiming to emulate the conduct of the Gurus' via an indirect mimesis. The Janamsaakhi, and Gurbilas, genres provide a literary darsan of the Gurus' but the Rehitnamas tend to rationalize, and interpret, their actions for the disciple's emulation. The Rehitnamas depict a direct strain of evolution, the genre has a Herculean amount of offshoots and each and every one of the latter depict changing political, and social, trends. Purnima Dhavan notes that the era from 1715-1748 A.D. was important in the evolution of the Rehitnamas. The Khalsa decided to cement an unique and ubiquitous identity, and the Rehitnamas became pivotal judge of it's social and political conduct. She provides an interesting example of this evolution orbiting military service for the Khalsa in the eighteenth century. Prahlaad Singh's Rehitnama warns, '...that the Sikh who bows his head to one who adorns a skull-cap (Muslim) will dwell in hell, but the Sikh who worships the Akal-Purakh will carry the benefits of his entire clan.' (2) Simultaneous Rehitnamas' also carry a similar tone, leading one to conclude that the eighteenth century ascension of the Khalsa polity played an unique role in the formation of each Rehitnama. The writers forewarned against the events which they witnessed, i.e. Khalsa adherents becoming mercenaries for Islamic rulers (Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Adina Beg). The latter was construed as being a grievous trespass. Especially in an era where the Khalsa was warring for political autonomy from radical Islam. The Chaupa Singh Rehitnama represents another facet of the genre. The separation of Khalsa socialism, and political precepts, from that of the contemporaneous Islamic polity. 'The rulers of the world should serve as lights, yet nowhere had a lamp been lit, nowhere could a light be seen. And so these rulers were driven out in order that the panth might rule in their place. He bestowed authority on the panth in order that it might take revenge on the alien Muslims (maleccha), ending their rule once and for all.' (3) The latter carries an impertinent warning for Khalsa rulers. Just as Islamic tyranny was brought to heel, so would the Khalsa state if it emulated the latter. One can easily conclude that no Rehitnama is definite. Whereas the genre, in the eighteenth century, concentrated on martial pursuits and politics; it's modern counterpart is more concerned with spirituality and day-to-day conduct. Thus, they reflect the periodical psyche of the Khalsa as it slowly evolves. They offer no firm insight into the perpetual, non-changing, psyche of the Khalsa because the latter does not exist. Unlike the Gurbilas genre however, they do tend to draw material from Gurbani and are often at pains to pinpoint their relevance to the latter. Whereas the Janamsaakhis, and the Gurbilas, are reminiscent of the past; the Rehitnama is a continuing genre ever-changing from milieu to milieu. Sources: (1) Fenech, E. L; Singh P. (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies.Oxford University Press, NY, USA, pg. 183. (2) Dhavan P. (2011) When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition. Oxford University Press, NY, USA, pg. 78. Source:
  3. These Singhs are from Maharajah Ranjit Singh Ji's times. Can we add more to the list with a short biography?? Gyani Sant Singh Ji (1768-1832 A.D.) The fifth head of Damdami Taksal and one of the famed proponents of the Nirmala order Gyani Sant Singh Ji's name has become synonymous with the divinity and mysticism of the Khalsa empire. Gurmat was a hereditary tradition of his family, his father Gyani Soorat Singh was the third head of Damdami Taksal followed suite by his brother Gyani Gurdass Singh Ji. Receiving an extensive amount of education in Gurmat from both his father and brother he became a famed treasure trove of spiritual knowledge at a young age, and imbued the unique saintliness given to the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Subsequently his brother nominated him for leading Taksal in his stead before encountering his demise, and from 1790 A.D. commenced the daily exegesis of the foremost recital of Guru Granth Sahib in Darbar Sahib. Parallel to this he tutored many youngsters in Gurmat-lore and Khalsa principles. His dynamic style of education, and blatant practicality brought him to the attention of Maharajah Ranjit Singh who decided to test his resolve. The Maharajah dispatched two messengers to the Gyani's residence ordering him to present himself before the Maharajah, the Gyani seated the two messengers in his abode and served them food and engaged them in conversation. After noticing the absence of his messengers the Maharajah dispatched two more messengers to the Gyani's stead. The Gyani treated them in the same fashion as their predecessors, he then had them accompany him to Darbar Sahib where he provided his daily exegesis to the congregation. The Maharajah also attended this service and after hearing the Gyani's melodious explanation, sought an audience with him and publicly praised him for his services. Captivated by the Gyani's mystical charisma the Maharajah bestowed upon the Gyani, the honor tutoring his own grandson, the illustrious Kanwar Nau Nihal Singh. An honor which the Gyani accepted in the context of a service and set about with a legendary enthusiasm. Despite being the head custodian of Darbar sahib the Gyani was extensively humble and did not hold any distinctions between highness and lowness. This quality of his was depicted by his daily routine in Darbar Sahib. He would observe a circular locomotion of the outer precincts of Darbar Sahib, and collect the various garbage in his hands and cremate it with the utmost respect. His faith in the Guru was tempered via steel. When Maharajah Ranjit Singh was displaced from his horse, in battle, and subsequently lost consciousness the Gyani lifted him on his back and traversed to a nearby fort unaided, unarmed and unprotected. As a result he was made one of the Maharajah's advisors, a move which catalyzed in the prosperity of the Khalsa empire. When the Maharajah plated Harmandir Sahib in gold, it was the Gyani who oversaw the service. After nominated Sant Daya Singh, an erstwhile student of his, as sixth head of Taksal he departed for his heavenly abode in 1832 A.D. Kabit – (This is the invocation to the teacher of Bhai Santokh Singh Ji) Forever was my teacher (Vidya Guru) imbued in the name of God as his consciousness was engrossed in the concentration of the Lord. The name of my Vidya Guru was ‘Bhai Sant Singh’ who was forever in the company of other saints. Bhai Sant Singh Ji was friendly, graceful, content and righteous. From childhood they ever remained engrossed in the meditation of the name of God. I have taken a drop of sweat from the feet of Bhai Sant Singh Ji and put it in my mouth (this is not a reference to Charan Pahul as Bhai Santokh Singh Ji took Khande Da Amrit however it is metaphoric for watching someone’s life and adopting the same as them). From accepting their spiritual discourses I have become great and diligent. The feet of Bhai Sant Singh Ji are beautiful like a lotus blossom and grant the gift of liberation. I am folding both of my hands and bowing to the feet of Bhai Sant Singh Ji as their feet are forever the abode of bliss. 33. -Kavi Santokh Singh in praise of his educational Guru, Gyani Sant Singh Ji. Baba Sahib Singh Ji Bedi. A descendant of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and an extensively altruistic personage, Baba Sahib Singh Bedi was an embodiment of the Khalsa discipline during the latter's imperial period. Born in 1756 A.D. in Punjab, he joined his family in it's migration to the Sivalik hills where they found residence in the township of Una. An ancestral residence where the family held extensive properties. After the demise of his father in 1776 A.D, and his own subsequent succession, the Baba built a magnificent fortress at Una to ward off foreign raiders and provide an education in the Khalsa ethos. Hundreds flocked to his wing and simultaneously spread his fame far and wide, as a result thousands flocked to his abode to receive the Khalsa's initiatory rights at his blessed limbs. A strict adherent of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's commands he also mastered political science, and became a mediator in-between the various chieftains who plagued Punjab's political landscape in the mid-seventeenth century. A keen intellectual and an extensive adherent of military matters, the Baba planned an expedition against the Afghani governor Ata Ullah Khan of Malerkotla. In this he was joined by the famed Baghel Singh, chieftain of the Karora-Singhia confederacy; Tara Singh Ghaiba, and Bhanga Singh of Thanesar. Ironically however, in an extensive parallel to it's ancestor Ala Singh, the Phulkian confederacy aided Ata Ullah Khan and subsequently after adhering to a war indemnity, Baba Sahib Singh and his coalition retreated. Despite this early blow to his battle interests the Baba was not mentally vanquished, after re-assigning his forces he launched another extensive crusade in 1798 A.D. This time he renewed his prior coalition and with the aid of Tara Singh, Gurdit Singh and Jodh Singh he engaged Rai Illyas of Raikot in a tactical skirmish. After a stunning victory over his opponent, he traversed on wards to Jagroan, Dakha, Badoval, Ludhiana and ultimately Mansuran subsequently ending with his carving of these new territories into a new fiefdom. During Shah Zaman's prolonged invasion, and simultaneous looting, of Punjab he spearheaded an effective campaign against the latter's forces ultimately prolonging the Khalsa's resistance and inflicting a high amount of casualties on the Shah's forces. With the advent of Sukerchakia dominance, the Baba allied himself with the young Ranjit Singh and assisted the latter in vanquishing Gulab Singh, scion of the Bhangi confederacy. This allegiance ultimately catalyzed in the declaration of Ranjit Singh as emperor of Punjab in 1801 A.D. As a sign of gratitude Ranjit Singh made the Baba a honorary member of the polity, and on his ascension to the throne, had the Baba perform the coronation rites. A trail blazing reformer, in his own right, the Baba wrestled the property of various Khalsa shrines from corrupt administrations even going to the great length of confronting the latter. The proletariat accorded to him the status of a saint and conferred upon him many a honorary rank. It is said that before her son's coronation Maharajah Ranjit Singh's mother expressed her concern over her son's militant tendencies, the Baba chuckled at her nervousness and prophesied that even the rivers of Punjab would have to stop in front of her son's ambitions. Noticing the poverty afflicting the populace of Punjab, the Baba initiated a new crusade where langar was distributed freely to all or any individual, irregardless of caste or creed, who entered any Khalsa shrine or resided in it's vicinity. This practice of Guru Nanak Dev was extensively prolonged by the Baba who in it's aftermath migrated to Nanakana Sahib. Noticing the deficiency of food supplies in the shrine's kitchens the Baba sought an audience with Ranjit Singh. After hearing how the devotees were availed of all material cares by the shrine, yet the shrine itself lacked the basic necessities required for it's upkeep, Ranjit Singh gifted 1,000 acres of land towards Nanakana sahib's upkeep, property still preserved by the regional Sikh populace. An extensive treasure-trove of Khalsa lore and the third principle of the Bhai Daya Singh 'samprada' (order), the Baba breathed his last in 1834 A.D. The Legend of "Karnivala." Despite leading the sub-continent's, and simultaneously the Khalsa's, first revolution against Anglo expansionism the image of Bhai Maharaj Singh "Karnivala" still remains shrouded in mist. A veritable Bhindranwale of his times, he commenced a Herculean rebellion on an unprecedented scale to eradicate colonialism from the entire sub-continent. A unique vision which was not shared by any of his contemporary insurrectionists. Born in Ludhiana (his birth date is not known) to pious Sikh parents he was enrolled into the tutelage of Bhai Bir Singh, at Naurangabad, at a young age. His maturity and strict conformation of the Khalsa code soon saw him being delegated the chieftain ship of Naurangabad's kitchens and simultaneously the role of Bhai Bir Singh's aide-de-camp. His humility and high precepts catalyzed in him being blessed with amrit by his master and subsequently being renamed Bhai Bhagwan Singh. The Naurangabad congregation simultaneously bestowed on him the title of "Maharaj" or great authoritarian due to his high mindset and perception. The "Sotto Vocce" assertions of the Dogra polity and it's subtle maneuvers catalyzed in the emergence of heavy factionalism in-between the Lahore polity and in order to save their lives, two strident critics of the Dogra influence, Attar Singh Sandhanwalia and Prince Kashmira Singh sought refugee at Naurangabad. Simultaneously Naurangabad was besieged by Hira Singh Dogra and his formidable entourage of 20,000 troops and 50 cannons. On receiving the blatant refusal of his preposterous demands he commenced a bloody barrage which saw the fiery demise of the two refugees and their senior patron, Bhai Bir Singh. In the aftermath of the carnage, Bhai Maharaj Singh was declared as successor to Bhai Bir Singh's mystical legacy and the veritable head of his dera. Garnering knowledge of the Dogra treachery, via indigenous sources, the Bhai shifted camp to Jalandhar and established a headquarters from where he cemented contact with the disposed Maharani Jind Kaur. Availing her of her difficulties during her imprisonment, he also established contact with the young Prince Deep Singh's aboriginal wards and commenced an agenda which encapsulated the remaining independent entities of Punjab and incited them to revolt against their new despots. Gaining intelligence regarding the Bhai's designs, the British dispatched the young Deep Singh to Mussori and placed extensive surveillance on the Bhai. In 1847 A.D. they confiscated the Bhai's property and instigated him in an assassination plot targeting Henry Lawrence, the contemporary British Resident to Lahore. Unwilling to surrender and extinguish his young crusade the Bhai, along with six hundred of his ardent adherents, sought shelter in the jungles of Chumbh and commenced the execution of a new operation. One which would see the birth of a sub-continental coalition aiming to eradicate all colonial designs for India. Garnering knowledge of his whereabouts the British incited the regional Islamic zealots to commence a manhunt and capture the Bhai, who proved to be far too elusive and subtly departed Chumbh. Knowing that an extensive number of the Khalsa chieftains would not willingly submit to the British yoke, the Bhai set about contacting them. With the blessings of Chattar Singh Attari he contacted Mul-Raaj, the governor of Multan and explained his future designs to him. The latter was highly captivated by the Bhai's charismatic character and set a series of events in motion, which upon execution, resulted in the commencement of the second Anglo-Sikh war. With the advent of the war, the Bhai was found serving at Ram-Nagar, Chillianwala and Gujrat, in the aftermath of which he elusively retreated from the battlefield and commenced a long-drawn dance against the British antagonists. Endeared to the regional populace, the Bhai and his entourage rapidly increased, and found shelter with an extensive amount of proletariat(s). His ability to evade capture and incite the masses soon saw the Bhai earn the title of "Karnivala" or the performer of miracles. After his failure in inviting a confounded Dost Muhammad Khan (the latter had submitted to Maharajah Sher Singh, and joined the Attari's at Chillianwala in the aftermath of which he had retreated) to incorporate himself into a potential coalition, the Bhai drew up a new plan. He aimed to unleash a two pronged strike against the British heart. The commencement would incite the Jalandhar region into rebellion, and the conclusion would catalyze in a potential national coalition and the expulsion of colonialism. To this end he set about testing the British resolve. He commenced ruthless raids and subsequent destruction of the Hajipur, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar cantonments. Emboldened by the feeble British resistance he commenced to loot the treasury at Bajwara. Realizing that he had created a fertile atmosphere for rebellion he announced his intention to annihilate all the British cantonments in Jalandhar. Heavily supported by the local populace he traveled from village to village spreading his gospel of justice and rebellion. The attack would commence on 3rd January 1850 A.D. and plausibly end with the expulsion of the entire colonial administration from Punjab. Ironically only five days before his planned execution of the sub-continental rebellion, he was arrested near Adampur by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jalandhar. Along with twenty unarmed prisoners he was imprisoned in the residential jail. Fearing an outburst of pro-secessionist violence, the local authorities had him deported to Singapore after a Kangaroo court. On 9th July 1850 A.D. he was imprisoned in Outram Jail Singapore. Over the next six years he developed tongue cancer, rheumatic swelling among other anatomical diseases. Yet even these did not break his ever optimistic spirit, and iron-resolve in the obedience of his Guru's will. Ultimately on 5th July 1956 A.D. he breathed his last and discarded the mortal plane for a more spiritual one. Akali Phoola Singh, I have to complete that one.