Bachitar Natak - Space for players
Dr Darshan Singh
The heading of this composition is “Now, writing a granth (book) Bachitar Natak with the grace of God. (Then there is a Dohara)
“I salute Sri Kharag, with love from heart.
I pray; let me complete this granth,
please be helpful to me.”
Sub-heading is “In praise of Sri Kaal ji.” (p. 39)
Bachitar Natak means wonderful play; implying that this world is a stage for the created ones, particularly human beings, i.e. men and women. They are actors, playing the role assigned to them by Akaal (God), unfolding in time (Kaal) i.e. history. Further implying that some lucky ones are given good roles (divines in the present context) to play and some unlucky ones are given bad roles (devils in the present context) to play. This way actors are not self-sufficient, in whichever form or of whatever status they are. They are only actors, playing the given role now. The efficiency depends upon how the role is played, the gain, spiritual or temporal. The praise the elevation or devaluation is the product of this efficiency. Further more it is dependant upon the grace of Guru/God. Thus there are four components of this wonderful play. God, time, stage and actor. God is creator, time is duration determined by God, (needed in the act) stage is situation and actor is obeying/ playing one. Obviously stage and scenes are designed by God. I am not going to discuss the theme or form scene by scene, yet while passing through the composition, this idea about the ideal is likely to come in the mind of a reader or an audience. The reader should note here that this text, technically speaking is not a drama (Natak), but a biographical sketch of the poet. It is called drama to impart its philosophical tenet, a common trait of Dassam Granth.
The story begins with saluting one (God) the creator of time and having Kharag. The Poet sets the stage, invites the created actors to play on the canvas of time. First there is a long list of the names, the attributes, the acts of bravery, mercy and compassion for His sons and daughters. The canvas of His beings, His names and His distribution is very wide, incomprehensible for the human mind and intelligence. If one has exalted and enriched wisdom, he can unfold and understand a little bit of glimpses about Him in the present composition. Next come the actors. A large, unlimited number, types and shades of actors are playing on this stage. They are extremely good, divines, at the same times extremely bad, devils. Their clash, represented by their mind-set and actions is a continuing process. In fact the caravan of civilization, in its fullest bloom, is the consequent of their clash. It is this clash, presented by divines and devils which is, the life-line of civilization. The poet of Dassam Granth is particularly touched by this theme happening throughout and is interested to touch the soul of his reader/audience by depicting different scenes of such actions happening on the given stage. But one thing is clear that evil must end up in learning a lesson from its actions and virtue must stand on its own feet. The greed in virtuous draws them towards fall and ego in evil beings draws them toward final finish.
Kaal is the finish product of Akaal. It represents the energy in Akaal. No doubt, only and final authority is God, but He, by His authority operates through time. This way time surely is not synonym of God, but surely a symbole of God. Thus it represents God through its process. Every small or big, divine or devil, every event of brewery of virtue, act of evil, no doubt, is the product of God but is controlled by time:
Many a times (Every thing) has perished, built and finished.
Elevated, dumped, again perished and created.
None could realise the process of time.
It falls upon many, it happens with many. (p. 81)
This is how, praise of time (Kaal), it s source of strength (God), its all encaging power, all embracing authority and all churning process is elaborately versified in the beginning of Bachitar Natak.
Next to it, the poet takes up the issue of his own clan. This he starts with the praise of God, like:
Your (God’s)praise is beyond every end, every limit.
None could know your limit.
You are divine of the divines king of the kings.
You are kind to the oppressed, boon for the poor.
... ... ... ... ...
Your excellence befits only you. None else can relate it. (p. 47)
Now the poet starts with the story which he intends to share with his readers, listeners. As is expected in the above given context, he begins the story while placing it in the process of time.
When in the beginning, time opted for expansion world was created by Formless.
Kaalsen (name) became first king he was uncomparably very powerful. (p. 47)
Then the story of kings and their successors, in time, starts. The poet claims that Raghu was the name of his clan. The rule of this clan passed through ages. This power in the process came down to Lov and Kush, thus:
Then the two sons of Sia (Sita) became kings,
They were blessed with kingdom and throne. (p. 48)
The name of the one of their successors was Kalrai. He was forced by his brother to leave the country. Running away from his country, he reached the country named Sanoudh. There he married the daughter of the king. She gave birth to Sodhi Rai, known as a descendant of Sanoudh dynasty.
Those sons and grandsons, who were born of him.
They, in all over the world, were called Sodhis. (p. 49)
They were comfortably ruling and expanding all through generations, but unfortunately; they fell apart and became each other’s enemy. The poet comments:
Since ages, wealth and land are grounds for enmity.
All the world is srounded and killed by these.
It is all the expansion of arrogance and malice.
The ego, the anger has won the whole world. (p. 49)
The struggle for power started between the families of two brothers: Lov and Kush. Series of battles between two families continued. Consequently, the descendants of Lov were all victors; when all of Kush were defeated. So, the later ones moved to Kashi. There they specialized, reading and explaining Vedas, so they became Bedis. After specializing Vedas, they came back to mother land. There they arranged the recitation of Vedas and thus they impressed the king. He, was so pleased that he handed over the kingdom to Bedi’s and himself left for jungles. In return Bedis; when pleased with the gift of kingdom, showered a boon upon loviz:
When I will come in Kal (dark age) by the name of Nanak,
you will be blessed with heighest position the world will worship you. (p. 53)
Again the rulers were victim of conflicts. So they lost the kingdom. They were engaged in farming. With the passage of time, Nanak’s time to take birth came:
In the family of those Bedis, Nanak Rai took birth.
He granted happiness to all Sikhs,
and became helpful to them here and there.
He started this religion in Kal (dark age)
And he told the way to sainthood to all.
Those who step upon his path,
They are never torched by sins.
Who and whoever do join his Panth
God takes away their sins and sufferings.
They are never torched by hunger and pain,
And are saved from the net of death.
Nanak appointed Angad as his form (Son)
He (Angad) spread his (Nanak’s) religion in the world
Then Amar Dass was known as his (Angad’s) name
He enlightened the lamp from lamp.
When the time to gift the same came.
Then Ram Dass came to be called as Guru.
This way, the earlier promise to gift was fulfilled.
Amar Dass moved to the way to heaven.
Angad came to be known as Sri Nanak.
Amar Dass came to be realized as Angad.
Ram Dass was known as Amar Dass
The saints saw so, but idiots did not realise.
Many perceived them different ones.
Very few could find them as one.
Whoever could know this, he achieved the perfection.
Without understanding this, perfection is not achieved
Ram Dass merged in God.
He gave the Guruship to Arjun
When Arjun marched towards other world (heaven)
He appointed Hargobind.
When Hargobind moved to the world of God.
In his place, he got Hari Rai to sit.
Har Kishan (next Guru) was his son.
After him Teg Bahadar became (Guru
Master (Guru Teg Bahadar) became the saviour of sacred spot (Tilk) and sacred thread (for Hindus)
He mastered a great event in History.
He did this for his love for good (oppressed) people.
He sacrificed his head, but did not feel to sigh.
He was one who mastered this event for religion
He submitted his head but did not compromise his conviction.
The evil doers play trick in plays.
But the men of God feel shy of these.
Breaking the pot (body) at Delhi
He (Guru Tegh Bahadar) left for the city of God.
What Teg Bahadar could do, none else came to do.
When Teg Bahadar left, the world was dipped in sadness
There were cies and cies in the world
But hail and hail in the heaven. (p. 54)
Now Guru Gobind Singh comes to illustrate his own bio-graphical sketch. He says, he was deeply meditating in the hills surrounded by seven tops. With the meditation and service he performed, God became very happy. He wanted me to go to the world, on earth. I was deeply involved in love at his feet, so I was reluctant to act on earth. Then God explained me the situation. From here, God speaks through the poet. He was not happy with the men He sent on earth for a specific job. In His view every one attempted to build his own image, in getting surrounded by the people, getting them to obey him instead of Master and thus trying to build his own empire in spiritual or physical world. There is a long list of the great persons, He sent, but the result was not encouraging. In this context, He ordered him to go on earth. God said to him:
I have given you the honour to be my son
and assigned you a duty to expand the religion. (p. 57)
Thus the theme of Bachitar Natak and in fact of Dassam Granth unfolds itself before the reader. In the words of the poet:
God has sent me for the protection of religion.
I have come to the world for this purpose.
He said to me, where and wherever you place religion.
Defeat the devils, the jealous and hold them.
This is the assignment for me in life.
Know O! saints, in your mind. (p. 57)
After this the story of hypocricy, the corruption and exploitation in religion, by those who claim to be defenders and propagators ofhigher values of life, is detailed. The irony of the fate is that they fully knew that such acts of omission are ultimately not only fruitless but disastrous for them. Such characters suck the blood of mind and body and create hell for themselves and for others. The poet again and again tries to create an awareness about the futility of’ such erring acts, the product of the malicious mind. He says:
“Who and who ever indulge in conflicts, in ego.
God remains away from them”.
Then he explains:
God and His men (including women) are one
There is no other thought.
Like the wave that sprigs out of water,
merges in the same. (p. 59)
After this the poet begins to relate the life story of his life, of the hero who takes birth in Patna, a city now in Bihar in India. He tells:
My father left for east.
He visited many places of pilgrimage.
Then he reached Tribani.
There he spent day in giving alms.
There I was revealed (for the world)
Thus I was born in the city named Patna. (p. 59)
... ... ... ...
When I became able to enter religion, action.
My father left for the city of God.
... ... ... ...
Now the instrument of state (without borders) was handed over to me.
Then as per my capacity,
I handled religion to function. (p. 60)
From Patna, Guru Gobind Singh shifted to Anandpur Sahib. There he had good time. He started giving discourses about religion, ethics, martial art and also hunting like tigers, lions etc in jungle. Then he left for Paunta. There he stayed for sometime, doing what he was doing at Anadpur Sahib. There was a king, named Fateh Shah, who came into conflict with Guru, without any reason. Now the story of treason and turbulation starts. It is a fact of history that elders (kings) of these hilly states were rotting in jail in Gwaliyar. Guru Hargobind, the grand father of Guru Gobind Singh was also there in the same jail. He accepted his release with the condition that these kings should also be released. This condition was accepted, so they were released. The descendants of same rulers turned against Guru Gobind Singh to satisfy their hunger and ego. They collaborated with the rulers at Delhi. In fact, they were the cause of his troubles.
From here the beginning of the series of battles took place. First battle was imposed upon here and it was fought and won at Bhangani, a place near Pounta. Then he came to Anandur Sahib. There the battles took place at Nadaun, Hussaini etc and in all battles the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh were victors.
As a result of these battles, the poet comes to the conclusion that only two houses did matter for the country. The two houses, throughout their parallel history, were in love and hate relationship with each other. These two houses were:
Babe Ke (house of Guru Nanak)
and Babar Ke (House Mughals) both,
are created by God himself.
First one be known as ruler in religion.
Second one be understood as ruler in the world. (p. 71)
This relationship in between the two reaches the time of Guru Gobind Singh and Aurangzeb. The external reality by now had changed drastically. Babar ke had become dogmatic, wanting India to be a monoreligious country. Babe ke believed in multi-religious i.e. plural society. So they wanted to accommodate the currents of future society, which must, in the process, become a pluralistic one. History has to move ahead, it cannot be turned back. Therefore the dream of Babar ke was unrealistic. They tried to realise their dream by force, committing atrocities, cruelty and gruesome acts. They tried to hit the dignity of their subjects particularly Hindus. Babe Ke were committed to stand by oppressed ones, to struggle for protecting individual freedom and sovereignty and to maintain religious purity and cultural harmony. Two houses had drastically opposing agenda and will to implement it. One had the political power to rule over the subjects and the other had spiritual power to rule in the hearts of people. One wanted to have a close ending society whereas other wanted to have an open ending society. So, the clash was imminent It happened, and happened leading to clashes, battles, killings, fueling blood and finishing with cultural decencies.
So, there is a long list of battles, which happened between the representatives of two houses: In the battles mentioned in Dasam Granth, Guru Gobind Singh, representing the house of Babe Ke, won all the battles. Truth always has a fair chance for combating the evil. In fact, Bachitar Natak, and then Dasam Granth is the story of struggle of forces between for evil and against evil. In the ending part of Bachitar Natak, the poet reveals his person, his programme and his source. He says:
“As and when God blessed awareness to my mind.
Then and there, I wrote and related books.
First, the way I saw true age
Then, first I told about the charitar (character) of divines.
First I composed the charitar (Character) of Chandi.
Everything, from head to foot, I spoke to relate in sequence.
Then, firstly, I related a small story (of Bachitar Natak)
Now, again I want to versify her praise.” (p. 73)
After this, poet ventures to write Chandi charitar.
This way Bachitar Natak is a brief bio-graphical sketch of Guru Gobind Singh. Of course, it starts from his previous birth, but ends up some where in between his career. Reasons of not completing it are obvious.
As stated above, Bachitar Natak, in fact unfolds the entirety of theme of Dasam Granth. It tries to resolve the riddle of previous birth, the interaction of myth and history, the utility and futility of rightly directed mind and wrongly fixed mind, inter-placing of friends and foes, love hate relationship between nations, dynasties and darlings. It reveals intensity of love between God and Guru, Guru and his Sikhs. Sacrifice and situations of strife between good and bad. This way it teaches to free our mind, not body. Therefore it also demands the sense of understanding and appreciation from the reader.
In fact Bachitar Natak. (A wonderful play) is an auto-biographical sketch of the poet, but its continuity does not end with this composition. The name Bachitar Natak travels through many compositions, like Bachitar Natak, Chavbis Avtar, Chandi-Charitar. Excepting Pakhyan charitar, it occurs in the narratives under different names. At one place (p. 85) Chandi charitar and Bachitar Natak figure together in the same line.
This way Bachitar Natak is not one composition. It turns out to include a series of compositions. This aspect makes the Bachitar Natak, philosophically a rich source.
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