Dasam Guru Hindi Writings: An Introduction
Prof of Indian History, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
British rule led to numerous changes. It institutionalized the study of history in early nineteenth century. History became an important tool of legitimizing colonial domination in the subcontinent. Indians reading in different schools and other educational organizations tried to master it. Its learning not only generated a sense of British superiority over subject population but offered the latter a few other benefits. Indians, aspiring for jobs and other opportunities in life, vigorously studied approved history text books, including those of history. These were mostly authored by Indians and written in vernacular on the basis of earlier studies of the colonial officials. Learners did not take much time to derive ‘lessons’ from these writings.
Growth of political consciousness and discontent against the British Raj in the second half of the century widened the meaning and significance of the past. Development of print-culture and faster means of transport carried the message of British ‘oppressive presence’ to the distant parts of the country. Mother tongue became an important vehicle of political articulation communicating the spirit of patriotism. Authors sought to reconstruct an alternative Indian glorious past. A journey to India’s olden days and revisiting those sites through mother tongue gave Indian regional languages a new height and dignity.
Their voice of protest was communicated in diverse forms. Vernacular elite wrote for the consumption of their own people. These writings stimulated dialogue in the community. Their authors were neither professional historians nor did they belong to any well-defined social group. Indians under colonial rule gradually managed to evolve the tradition of writing history in vernacular though it did not strictly conform to the norms of the present day academic discipline. There also no denial of the itihas-puran tradition. But it was looking forward to incorporate some critical tools of historical enquiry. History in vernacular became a successor-discipline emerging out of India’s interactions with the West. With the wider popularity and significance, it became an important domain of study as well as favourite occupation of a few individuals, not necessarily a part of the colonial administration.1
The paper seeks to outline how the history of Dasam Guru written in Hindi became a popular form of political expression during the first half of twentieth century.2 With a few exceptions, these writings were not always of great literary value nor were written by well-known authors. A review of these works is, however, significant owing to their political message, cultural relevance and social implication in the contemporary Indian scenario. Their authors refer to the significance of studying the past (here the Sikh past) and its importance in the future march of the Indian nation.3
Writing about the Sikh past, these writings generally began with a brief reference to the Sikhs history of the days of Guru Nanak. Of these varied writings, biography received greatest attention reflecting the prevalent spirit of these writings. Many viewed that history represents the biography of great men endowed with supernatural attributes and ‘a mythical past’. It was recreated ‘mixing fact with fantasy’.
These writings were published in the background of the India’s struggle for national liberation and remained an important source of mass mobilization based on frenzied and deeply divisive appeals. Actually, there is enough indication pointing out that India’s struggle for independence was not completely free from the dictates of religion. These fuelled Indian imagination as well as stimulated communalization of politics precipitated the partition of India (1947) along religious lines. Some of its unfortunate legacies are still operating in the atmosphere of heightened sectarian politics that prevails in India today. Did these Hindi writings of the last century convey any similar message to readers? Or were these altogether free from the contemporary communal virus?
Another relevant issue was the search for a separate identity of the different ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. In stead of acknowledging their differences of culture, these moves led to bitter confrontations among communities under colonial rule. How did these Hindi writers responded to these issues? Did they ever debate these questions in different public arenas and literary columns? Are their responses available in Hindi writings which was often communicating the message of Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan identity? Were there any dissenting voices of the Sikhs against these aggressive assertions of the dominant community? Were their articulations receiving their due attention with toleration and sympathy? These questions need answers because ‘pogrom’ of the minorities had taken place in Punjab, Gujarat and many other parts of the country in course of the last twenty-five years.
Sikhs drew attention of modern Hindi authors during the Bharatendu Yuga in the late nineteenth century. Thus early masters of Hindi like Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850-1885)4 and Swami Dayananda Sarasvati (1824-1883)5 briefly referred to them on different occasions. Dayananda’s critical observations evoked bitter reactions among the Sikhs. These authors viewed Sikhs as an integral part of the larger Hindu society. Another contemporary was Raja Shivprasad Sitar-i-Hind. A popular school textbook writer, the Raja was well-known for his British loyalty and played an important role in popularizing Hindi in the last quarter of nineteenth century.6
Twentieth century added a few new areas to the Sikh Studies in Hindi. These may conveniently be reviewed under the following categories: (i) biographies of the Sikh Gurus, crown heads, military officials or other important personalities of history; (ii) a general account of the history of the Sikhs since the birth of Guru Nanak extended till the annexation of the province; (iii) a study of any specific aspect of Sikh history like the Akali struggle for gurdwara reforms and the Sikh Wars; (iv) translations in Hindi of some well-known works, first published in other languages like English, Bengali and Urdu, and (v) critical commentaries, notes, etc., on the sacred scripture of the Sikhs.
Biographical studies became very popular among these authors. Lives of all ten Gurus figured together at least in three monographs and they were: Sikhon Ke Dasguru by Jawaladatta Sharma,7 Sikh Guruon Ki Jiwani 8 by Shivnandan Sahay 8 and Dash Guru by Jaswant Singh.9 These three works were based on a number of printed Punjabi, English and Urdu sources and projected the Dasam Guru as one of the great personalities of medieval India. The size and significance of these biographers, however, differed significantly while explaining the precise relationship between Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab. Being a practising Sikh, Jaswant Singh underlined the separate communal identity of the Sikhs from that of the Hindus while the other two held the opposite view and denied it to Sikhism. Maithilisaran Gupta’s Gurukul may be placed in the category of biography though composed in poetry. Written in the background of the Akali satyagraha of the 1920s, the poet depicted the Gurus minus ‘their stories of miracles.’ It could not be satisfying to the Sikh faithful but Gupta did not show any disrespect towards the message of Sikhism.10
There were other categories of biography meant for younger people. With the large-scale participation of the Akalis in national struggle, there was a growing demand about the Sikh past. It was felt by many that the message of the Akali (Sikh) sacrifice should be reaching the hands of school going children. It stimulated the publication of a new genre of popular biography of Sikh Gurus. Here the life of any one of the Gurus, especially of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, was depicted separately. In this endeavour the Charu Charitmala volumes (Laheriasarai, Bihar)11 as well as the Onkar Four-Anna National Biography series (Prayag) merit attention. Their prices were comparatively cheap and written in a simple style so that young boys and girls could read and appreciate the essentials of the lives and teachings of the Sikh Gurus. A few of these titles had several editions and the well-known writers and journalists like Rambriksha Benipuri (1899-1968) and Radhamohan Gokulji (1865-1935) enriched them.12
Another biography of the Tenth Master is available in the form of a dialogue between one Hindu and a Sikh. Its author was a Sikh seeking to justify the distinctiveness of Sikhism in relation to Hinduism. It was an incomplete work in the sense that it had merely dealt with Guru’s early phase of life at the Patna Sahib. The monograph also did not suggest the author’ awareness of the relevant sources on the last Guru13 but the volume by Sardar Jaswant Singh underlined it eloquently.14
These biographies from the Sikh authors emphasize a distinct trend in contemporary Hindi writings. It was virtually brought out by dissenters in response to the overt Hindu tilt in Hindi writings. The Sikh biographers underlined an alternative view that they were not Hindus as suggested in other Hindi sources. It is likely that these biographers were closer to the Tat Khalsa (radical) Sikh philosophy of the period. It is doubtful whether their protests did receive wider attention of the Hindi world. In spite of their sporadic presence, these voices would be missing in other regional sources like Assamese, Bengali and Oriya.15
There were a few other significant works on the Dasam Guru pointing out his deep Hindu orientation. One of its leading exponents was Anand Kishore Mohta, a Punjabi Hindu actively involved in national movement of the 1920s. His Jibancharit Sri Guru Gobind Singhji (1914) refers to the Sikhs as Hindus engaged in ‘resisting medieval Muslim tyranny’.16 Saligram also expressed similar political sentiment though he did not belong to Punjab. His biography of Guru Nanak was published from Prayag in 1918.17 Instead of projecting the Guru as the symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity, toleration and co-operation which had figured in other writings, the author held that he was more concerned with the rejuvenation of a militant Hindu philosophy ready to invert the despotic Mughal State. In his opinion Guru Nanak was the precursor of Guru Gobind Singh because both of them had fought for the rightful place of Hindus against the oppressive state machinery. The similarity of views between an author living within Punjab and the other residing outside its territorial limts point out how the lengthening Hindu shadow brought them together under one Hindi-Hindu platform. In spite of their physical distance which is rooted in different regional contexts, they were ready to shake hands and come closer for presenting their views against the minority’s past.
A pivotal organization for the popularization of the similar form of Hindi message was the Nagri Pracharani Sabha of Banaras. Founded in 1893, it had an equally impressive role in popularizing the message of the Sikh past. It brought out two biographies in its Manoranjan Pustakmala series which had significantly contributed to the financially crunched Sabha’s fund. One of it outlined the life story of Guru Gobind Singh (1914). It was written by Beni Prasad, a well-known biographer of the contemporary Hindi region. The volume ran over 200 pages and had 13 chapters. In spite of his contention that biographies of great men should be ‘written on the basis of a critical study of historical source materials’, Beni Prasad remained reluctant to divulge his sources of enquiry. He rather dwelt on numerous mythological details, skips over relevant information on some significant aspects of the Guru’s life and virtually turns it into a hagiography. A spirit of pauranic hero worship with an overt Hindu bias pervades Beni Prasad’s writings. His assessment of Guru’s mission in historical sequence was therefore not his perspective.18
There was a significant shift in Hindi-Hindu sentiment in the subsequent decades of the century. With the growing communalization of the Indian politics in the 1930s, it grew more aggressive. Contemporary writings on the Sikh past communicated some of its implications. It dominated the writings of a section Punjabi Hindus. Jiban Lal Prem from Lahore was one of them. His volume entitled Guru Gobind Singh (1946) was published when the birth of Pakistan as well as the prospect of the partition of Punjab was looming large in the horizon. It led to bitter communal rivalry and bickering at the local level. With the breakdown of the Unionist power in Punjab and the hesitation of a sizable number of Sikhs to abandon their ancestral holdings in the western districts of the province, these problems were intensified. Many Punjabi Hindus felt insecure. They anxiously looked forward to a common Hindu-Sikh assault against the Muslims. Jiban Lal Prem was possibly overwhelmed by some of the unfortunate experiences of the period. He made no secret of his bitterness towards the Muslims of Punjab and looked forward to the fighting role of the Sikhs against them. The volume virtually ended with an appeal to the successors of the Tenth Guru to defend the ‘poor, helpless and innocent Hindus’ of their time.19
A general account of the birth and evolution of the Panth in contrast to any specific period of its history introduces us to another range of Sikh studies dealing with the life and mission of Guru Gobind Singh in Hindi. Here a brief note on two well-known works would provide a glimpse of the pattern of these works. Gobind Singh’s Itihas Guru-Khalsa20 was one of the pioneering studies of the period. It runs a little over six hundred pages and is divided into seventy-one chapters. Its author belonged to the Sikhs of the Nirmala order with a profound command over Sanskrit and Punjabi sources. At the outset, the author refers to the scope of human history with a definite role of God in it and shows no hesitation of amalgamating the process of reconstructing past with numerous mythological details and narratives. It emphasizes the continuance of the itihas-purana tradition in Gobind Singh’s Itihas Guru-Khalsa.
While elaborating the birth of Sikhism under Guru Nanak, he goes back to the pauranic past but manages to come out of it in his depiction of the Muslim rule in India. Gobind Singh finally lands within the well-known chronological framework with the history of successive Sikh Gurus beginning with Guru Nanak. After outlining the history of the next eight Gurus, he took over the life story of the Tenth Guru.
Guru Gobind Singh’s biography was chronicled with adequate elaboration. According to him, the Dasam Padshah represents the fulfilment of the process initiated by Guru Nanak nearly two hundred years ago. Its essence was the creation of the Khalsa symbolizing the revival of ancient fighting tradition of the Aryans which had attained its high watermark under the Khalsa in the next century.
The Itihas Guru-Khalsa was written when the Singh Sabha’s struggle for a separate Sikh identity had considerably progressed in Punjab. While appreciating it, the author could not altogether get rid of the Nirmala-Sikh’s ambivalence towards Hinduism. The volume informs readers of the importance of the different Sikh dissenting groups and the role of rahit (code of conduct) in the evolution of the Sikh community.
The other significant account of the Sikhs from the birth of Guru Nanak till the annexation of Punjab was the Sikhon Ka Utthan Aura Patan 21 by Nandkumardev Sharma. The volume ran over 400 pages and had a number of editions. It referred to a few well-known works on Sikhism. Cunningham remained his ideal historian while other authorities from Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and English found mention in different footnotes. Each of the chapter initiated with small quotations from the writings of Tulsidas, Bharatendu, Bharatihari, Blake, Shakespeare and others. Sharma also reviews how the non-violent peace-loving sect under Guru Nanak was gradually transformed into a militant community under Guru Gobind Singh.
Like other works of the period, the study begins with a brief reference to the political tyranny, economic exploitation and religious oppression of the Muslim state towards the Hindus. Guru Nanak appeared on the scene with an eye to forge a broad unity among the Hindus and Muslims. The first Sikh Guru was a Vedantist generating ‘a new spirit’ among the Hindus and had no plan of introducing a separate religious system of his own. Sharma agrees with Cunningham that Guru Arjan ‘was the first who had clearly understood the wide import of the teachings of Nanak.’ But his execution, argues the historian, led to the community’s militarization. The Tenth Guru gave it a new height and dignity. It culminated in the rise of the Khalsa.
Sharma was aware of the contemporary Tat Khalsa Sikh aspiration but tried to neutralize it. His stiff opposition to the Tat Khalsa politics was derived out of intimate understanding of the history of India. While elaborating his hypothesis, he pointed out how internal disunity (aposmein phut ka karan) among Indians/Hindus had resulted in the frequent defeats of the Hindus. Their conquerors were all outsiders who had no respect for the right of the native inhabitants of the country. According to him, the reading of history conveyed numerous important lessons. It should be studied critically so that its readers would not be committing similar mistakes which their predecessors had done in the past. He was dismayed to learn that the Sikhs, who had been an integral part of the larger Hindu family, were no longer ready to shake hands with their parent community – the Hindus. It would lead to disastrous results in their struggle against the English. Sharma’s study underlined the significance of an overarching Hindu unity, irrespective of its inner diversity and competition
Sharma’s Sikhon Ka Utthan Aur Patan, therefore, differs from Gobind Singh’s Itihas Guru-Khalsa on many points. Besides differences in size, these two texts also varied in their use of source materials, scope and meaning of history, and above all, regarding the question of the identity of the Sikhs. Sharma was primarily a nationalist journalist cum historian. Contemporary Punjab political scenario made him anxious about the Hindu unity. Here Sharma remains a forerunner of Jiban Lal Prem of the 1940s. Like him, he was in search of a Hindu-Sikh unity for the larger interest of the Indian nation. On the other hand, Gobind Singh’s religious commitment prompted him to record the history of the Sikh Panth from the point of view of a devout Sikh. He was convinced that God had his own role there and it would be understandable to those who had faith in divine mission. These issues had very little relevance to Sharma’s scheme of history.
Sikh Studies in Hindi also include a number of titles on the Sikh sacred writings. As early as 1893 Munshi Navalkisore published from Lucknow a complete edition of the SriGuru Granth Sahib in Devnagari script. Besides, the writings of other Sikh Gurus figured in Hindi. A selection of Guru Gobind Singh’s writings entitled Daswi Guru Aur Granth Sahib Ka Sachcha Upadesh was already in circulation in 1923. It was edited by Pundit Sukh Lal, a missionary of the Sri Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Saba of Lyallpur (a central Punjab canal colony district now in Pakistan). It was published with an eye to denying the Sikhs any separate religious status from that of the Hindus. Later on another collection of the Tenth Guru’s writings was translated and printed in 1943. It represented a few of those works of the Tenth Guru (viz. Akal Ustat, Vichitr Natak, Chandi Charitr and Krishan Avtar) whose authorship is still debated by the community.
The volume was edited by Onkarnath Bharadwaj, then teaching in the Intermediate College, Campbellpur (Punjab). He portrays the Guru not only as a defender of Hinduism but a great champion of Hindi literature. Bharadwaj was sure that the Tenth Guru’s composition was all in the Braj variety of the medieval Hindi. In other words, he was not even ready to grant the Sikhs any distinct language/script of their own. His refusal to acknowledge Punjabi in Gurumukhi as a separate language of the Punjabi-Sikhs remains an important hidden agenda of bringing the collection of the Tenth Guru’s writings in Hindi. This stubborn conservatism of a section of the Punjabi-Hindus, however, evoked bitter Sikh response. Mohan Singh Vaid’s endeavour suggests an important step from the margin.
A survey of these works underlines complexities associated with the reconstruction of the Sikh past. These sources communicate a message of living present and offer the dominant community opportunity of legitimizing its perceptions upon the imagined minority past. Hindi-Hindu authors enthusiastically projected an over arching Hindu identity through these works and contextualized the Sikhs there. Participation of authors from different professions added diversity of colour but there was never any attempt at diluting the message of Hinduism in these Sikh projections. There were enough regional aspirations as well as local angularities but these materials were not ready to accommodate the Sikhs any distinct community identity. Heroism, martyrdom and sacrifice of the Sikh Panth were widely appreciated because these were highlighted in terms of diverse political needs of the dominant community- the Hindus. Thus historians, litterateurs, journalists, religious propagandists and others joined hands to celebrate the Sikh past without parting their Sikhs’ Hindu affiliation.
A sizable section of these writings carried the voice of Indian protest against British rule but the spirit of communalism accompanied it on many points. Wider waves of Indian nationalism thus came closer to the forces of religious divide and left behind a lengthening shadow over these sources. It would be, however, difficult to suggest that participants were not conscious of the wider implications of their creative imaginations. Perhaps they found nothing wrong if their literary activity was ignoring the thin dividing line separating nationalism from communalism. They frequently oscillated between these two points of consciousness and it would perhaps be misleading to regard one of them as marker of ‘consciousness’ while discrediting the other as ‘false consciousness’. Both these representations are adequately represented in these materials and Nandkumardev Sharma’s long career would illustrate the point.
As an ardent admirer of Gandhi led national politics and an enthusiastic supporter of the contemporary Hindi Movement, Nandkumardev was a widely travelled man. His struggling life took him to different parts of the country from Punjab to Kolkata via Mumbai, Allahabad and Patna and introduced him to the conflicting aspirations of different linguistic groups of the country. He also held many important positions in Hindi newspaper and publication house. Sharma’s nationalist credential could not be questioned by any known standard of his time. Nandkumardev’s numerous publications, if critically read against the contemporary aspirations of the Sikh community, would add some additional dimensions to his career.
Even a nationalist of his stature who had suffered so many difficulties and privations for the cause of popularizing Hindi and India’s struggle for independence was never ready to acknowledge the Sikhs any distinct communal identity. On the contrary, the contemporary Sikh aspiration alarmed him and his writings on the Sikh past time and again emphasized it. While opposing the contemporary Sikh struggle for a separate identity, he drew attention to a number of unfortunate developments from the history of India. His imagined India was essentially the land of the Hindus and contextualized the Sikhs as an integral part of them. Since the Indian unity (for example, the Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh or the Khalsa Raj under Ranjit Singh) brought success while disunity among the Indians (for example, the rivalry between two northern Indian Rajput dynasties headed by Prithviraj Chauhan and Joychand against Muhammad Ghori) led to defeat, he emphasized the significance of understanding the message of Indian history.
With this format of history for the Sikhs, he warned the community of the unfortunate implications of their deteriorating relationship with the big brother- the Hindus of Punjab. He criticized the Tat Khalsa leaders for widening the Hindu-Sikh divide and requested them to bridge differences with their Hindu brothers. Sharma concluded that unless their bitterness was amicably settled, the national struggle against the British and, by implications with that of the Muslims, would not be achieved complete. Sharma’s politics of Sikh-Hindu friendship was primarily dictated by his Hindu emotional considerations.
This denial of space to the Sikhs was orchestrated by other Hindi-Hindu authors. A few Sikh biographers sometimes came forward to voice their dissent against these Hindi writings. A few of these monographs were published22 when there was much talk of a broad based Hindu-Sikh amity during the Akali Movement of the 1920s. The recently founded (1925) Sikh apex body (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar) realized its unfortunate implications. It occasionally came forward to finance one or two Hindi publications by some Sikh authors as well as encouraging their free circulation.23 Espousal of marginalized religious demand hardly led to any significant shift in the mentality of Hindi-Hindu authors in favour of the Sikhs. On the contrary, ‘mainstream’ authors closed their ranks. It resulted in their other publications pointing out Sikhism’s closeness to Hinduism. Voices of the margins, therefore, created ripples here and there but these were not in mood to tolerate minority aspirations.
Insensitive face of the supporters of Hindi was also vindicated as authors whose mother tongue was not Hindi had participated in it. One of its early participants was Amritlal Chakrabarty, a Bengali journalist from Kolkata of the late nineteenth century. Like Sharma, he had a struggling career as a journalist which brought him to Mumbai to join the locally well-known Venkateswar Samachar. In spite of his pioneering role in Hindi journalism, he was jeered at by some Hindi-speaking colleagues. They caricatured Chakrabarty’s style as an example of Bengali-Hindi representation, i.e. Hindi corrupted by the use of Bengali literary style. Similarly, those writings of the Sikh authors in Urdu admixture Hindi from Punjab had hardly yielded any better result.
In spite of their participations, the contemporary Hindi world bitterly reacted to it. It was claimed that Hindi in Punjab had a bleak future.24 It was primarily due to the long continuance of Muslim rule in the province resulting in the dominance of Urdu as an official language. A significant section of Hindi sympathizers even asserted that it was no less due to the Sikh refusal to write Punjabi in Devnagari script.
Front ranking Hindi authors like Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, the editor of the Sarasvati, Santram, a noted Arya Samaj leader from Punjab, Shibpujan Sahay from Bihar and others emphasized the purity (shudha) of Khariboli (Hindi). Those who were incapable of writing correct Hindi, they continued, their literary skill should be rigorously scrutinized. Editors enjoy the privilege of correcting their Hindi writings submitted for publication in their journals. These interventions should be encouraged for improving their quality of Hindi writing. They also firmly held that Khariboli was only the standard form of Hindi language and it should exclusively be written in the Devnagari script. In other words, those contributions who had acquired skill in Khariboli should pass through a grueling editorial scanner. Otherwise their unrestricted participation would likely to lead to many unhealthy literary consequences in the development of pure (shuddha) Hindi. Participation of ‘other’ voices would likely to invite de-Khoribolization of Hindi in near future unless properly guided by a competent group of people at the higher level.
The cultural policing of the language therefore remained an important strategy of the makers of the Hindi in Khariboli. It set the tune of protecting the new language as well as giving it the seal of legitimacy at the cost of additional fragmentation of Indian plural cultural mosaic. It steadily pushed to the background Hindustani (Urdu) which had emerged out of India’s encounter with Islam over the centuries. The new guardians of Khariboli suggested a paradigm shift where the voice of the dominant community would be reigning supreme. It was a new vision of India emphasized by the writers of the Bharatendu age in the late nineteenth century.
It was no doubt the result of a lurking fear of those who had deep interest in evolving what is known as modern Hindi. It was carved out of Hindustani as well as coercing regional dialects like Magadhi, Awadhi, Maithili and Bhojpuri to rally under the hegemonic Hindi-Hindu umbrella in the early twentieth century. It suggested not only a break with the medieval Islamic syncretism but seeking to forge a new alignment with the assertive Hindu-Hindi identity. Its’ visualization of the Indian nation as a dominant Hindu territorial space (Hindustan) with an equally powerful Sikh sub-text for the Sikhs remained one of its constituent partners. It became an important tool of mass mobilization readily available in recreating a mythical past in the name of reconstructing the Sikh past. The crisis in Punjab of the 1980s and the resultant 1984 experiences provided it almost an unbridled pasturage. There were occasional dissenting voices.25 These are generally voices from the margin and represent an irregular trend in an otherwise dark luminous cloud dominating Hindu-Sikh relationship in Punjab.
1 For a wider discussion on the point, see Sudhir Chandra, Oppressive Present: Literature and Social Consciousness in Colonial India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992; Sumit Sarkar, Writings Social History, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997; Partha Chatterjee, ‘The Burden of the Past’, in Subaltern Studies, Vol. VI, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 1-57; Raziuddin Aquil and Partha Chatterjee, eds., History in the Vernaculars, New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2008, p. 12.
2 For some of the major trends of the contemporary Hindi writings, see, Vijayendra Snatak, Hindi Sahitya Ka Itihas, New Delhi reprint: Sahitya Akademi, 2006.
3 Sarasvati, Januray 1914, pp. 98-102; Ibid., August 1916, pp. 73-76.
4 Vasudha Dalmia, The Nationalization of Hindu Traditions: Bharatendu Harishchandra and Nineteenth -century Banaras, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.
5 For Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s bitter comments regarding Guru Nanak, see his Satayarth Prarash quoted in Jones, ‘Ham Hindu Nahin-The Arya-Sikh Relations, 1877-1905’, The Punjab Past and Present, Vol. XII, October 1977, pp.332-33; Ganda Singh, ‘The Origin of the Hindu-Sikh Tension in the Punjab’, Ibid. pp. 325-29.
6 For Raja’s four decade long intimate association with the British bureaucracy, see Shyamsundar Das, Hindi-Kavid- Ratnamala, Prayag: Indian Press, 1924, p. 2; Idem, Meri Atmakahani, Prayag: Indian Press,1941, p.22. Steady sale of the Raja’s school text books, their several editions as well as rendering of the Itihas-Timirnasak into English, perhaps owed a great deal to colonial patronage. cf. H.L. Gupta, ‘Modern Historical Writings in Hindi,’ in C. H. Philips (ed.), Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, London: Oxford University Press, 1961, pp. 461-72.
7 Jwaladatta Sharma, Sikhon Ke Dash-Guru, Muradabad: Sankardatta Sharma, 1924. I consulted the second edition of the book. Its first one had a favourable review in the Sarasvati, July 1916, p.427. Sharma’s (1888-1958) work points out his association with different Indian languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali and English. He was the editor of the journal Pratima published from Muradabad.
8 Shivnandan Sahay, Sikh Guruon Ki Jivani, Bankipur: Aara Nagri Pracharani Saba, n. d. Like Sharma, Sahay (1860-1932) was well versed in different Indian languages and played an important role in the development of Hindi in Bihar. He was a Nanakpanthi and worked as translator at the Patna Court. His study on the Sikhs was favorably reviewed in Prabha, May 1921, p. 312.
9 A part of it was first published in the Kalyan in August 1937. Subsequently, it was enlarged in a book form. Its third edition was sponsored by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. According to author’s estimate nearly ten thousand copies of it were sold over the years. The biographer served as the Principal of an educational institution at Lucknow and had two more separate works to his credit, viz., Srigurugobind Singh and Dasam Guru Kavyamrita. Singh also played an important role in the Akhil Bharatiya Kavi Sanmelan held in Lucknow (1941).
10 Maithilisaran Gupta, Gurukul, Chirgaon: Sahitya-Sadan, 1926. He was a nationalist poet and made no secret of his debt to Narang’s well-known work Transformation of Sikhism. He had no sympathy for those who were championing the cause of a Sikh separate identity from that of the Hindus in the early decades of twentieth century. His Gurukul received warm reception. For it, see Sudha, May 1930, p.472 and Sarasvati, May 1930, pp. 671-72.
11 Rambriksha Benipuri, Guru Gobind Singh, Laheriasarai: Hindi Pushtak Bhandar, 1927. Benipuri (1899-1968) also wrote a brief character sketch of Guru Tegh Bahadur. He participated in the national movement and suffered imprisonment. His simple style of writing was acclaimed in Madhuri and Sudha. For it, see Madhuri, December 1928, p.604 and Sudha, June 1931, p.642. See also Gajanan Chauhan, Rambriksha Benipuri Aur Unka Sahitya, Allahabad, Sahitya Bhavan Pvt. Ltd., 1984. Benipuri had a significant role in the development of Hindi in Bihar. He edited the monthly children magazine Balak published from Laheriasarai.
12 Radhamohan Gokulji, Guru Gobind Singh, Prayag: Onkar Press, 1918. I consulted its second edition. It was reprinted for the third time in 1984 Bikrami (1927). Gokulji was associated with Congress struggle till the early 1920s. Later on he moved towards the leftist politics and suffered imprisoned. For his life-sketch,. see Shivprasad Pachori, ed., Radhamohan Gokulji Smarika, Agra: Sailyabala, 1983. See also Divangat Hindi-Sevi, Vol. I, pp. 435-36; Beena, October 1936, p. 671. Another biography entitled Guru Gobind Singh, Prayag: Chharta Hitakari Pushtalaya, 1933 by Thakur Suryanath Singh merits mention. It belonged to the same group of popular works written by Benipuri and Gokulji.
13 Sunder Singh Amritsari, Sri Guru Gobindsinghji Ka Sankhipt Itihas, Vol. I, Lucknow: Author, 1927. The author was the Vice-President, Sri Guru Singh Sahba, Lucknow and the volume was meant for free distribution. He was a bitter critic of the medieval Muslim tyranny but emphasized Sikh’s distinct communal identity. Amritsari’s sympathy in favour the Sikhs was perhaps responsible for a critical review of his book. For it, see Sarasvati, August 1927, p.883-84.
14 Jaswant Singh, Srigurugobind Singhji, Mathura: United Sikh Missionary Society, 1935. For its receptive review, see Sudha, November 1939, p.130.
15 For it, see author’s The Other Sikhs, Vol. I, A View from Eastern India, New Delhi: Manohar, 2003; Idem.,‘Sikh History in Marathi Writings’, Journal of Sikh Studies, June-December 2009 (forthcoming).
16 Annandkishore Mohta, Jiban-Charitra Sri Guru Gobind Singh, Lahore: Barman & Co., 1914. Mohta was a Punjab-Hindu and had access to the relevant Punjabi and Urdu sources. He was critical of the Muslim rule. For its review, see Sarasvati, December 1914, p.116. A member of Punjab Congress Committee, Mohat suffered imprisonment.His career points out close political connection between Congress and Hindu Mahasabha in Punjab.
17 Saligram, Guru Nanak, Prayag: Onkar Book Depot, 1979 Samvat.
18 Beni Prasad, Guru Gobind Singh, Banaras: Nagri Pracharani Saba, 1914. Prior to it, Beni Prasad wrote biographies of all ten Sikh Gurus in different issues of the Saravati. It was serialized over a period of nearly six years (1900 - 1905).
19 Jiban Lal Perm, Guru Gobind Singh, Lahore: Rajpal & Sons, 1947. It was first published in July 1946. But I consulted its second edition (1947). In its preface, the author refers to authorities like Macauliffe, Cunningham, Latif and Paine. Of these authors, he was extremely critical of Muhammad Latif. Jibanlal also completed a biography of Rana Pratap of Mewar.
20 Gobind Singh, Itihas Guru-Khalsa, Bombay: Khemraj Srikrishnadas, 1959 Samvat. A disciple of Thakur Nihal Singh, a well-known late nineteenth century commentator of the Japuji, he also wrote Vedanta Paribhasa and the Naya Tatwa Samiksha. For it, see Gobindnath Rajguru, Gurumukhi Lipi Mei Hindi Gadya, New Delhi: Rajkamal Prakashan, 1969, p.203.
21 Nandkumardev Sharma, Sikhon Ka Utthan Aur Patan, Banaras: Nagri Pracharani Sabha, 2003 Bikrami. First published in 1915, it had at least four reprints which indicate its widespread appreciation. It was brought out in the Manoranjan Pushtakmala series.
22 The survey has referred to Sikh authors like Jaswant Singh, Subarna Singh Verma Sundar Singh Amritsari and Bhai Mohan Singh Vaid as well as authors belonging to Udasins and Nirmalas representing two distinct Sikh sects.
23 Supra, p. 5, note 16.
24 A number of authors contributing to the Sarasvati frequently dealt with the issue and expressed anxiety and bitterness. For it, see Ramchandra Shastri, ‘Punjab Aur Hindi’, Sarasvati, 1925, August, pp. 185- 89; Santram, ‘Punjab Mei Bhasha Ka Prashna’, Ibid., September 1929, pp. 425-30; Santram, ‘Punjab Mei Hindi Par Sankat’, Ibid., August 1930, pp. 152-55; Ramnath Sharma, Sikh Aur Hindi’, Ibid, September 1940, pp. 321-23.
25 Pushpappal Singh (ed.), Rajaneetik Paridrasy aur Hindi Kahanee, New Delhi: Atmaram & Sons,1994.
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