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Sri Gur Sobha
– In Braj Bhasha, Gurmukhi Script –

An Abstract by Gurcharan Singh*

Sainapat, Court poet of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
(Original Edited by Akali Kaur Singh Nihang
Present paper-back edition published by Bhagwant Attar Singh of Kashmirwale in Braj Bhasha, Gurmukhi Script)

Long ago I had seen this book edited/compiled by Akali Kaur Singh Nihang in our home library. The poet-writer being a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh, his composition was considered as one of the old sources of history on the Guru’s life. I had also read comments on Sainapat’s poetic work, Sri Gur Sobha of famous Punjabi writer S S Charan Singh Sahid in his journal ‘Hans’ (Punjabi). He questioned the usefulness of its contents in view of different names of Sahibzadas who fought in Chamkaur and some other incidents mentioned during travels of Guru Sahib towards the south. Recently after getting the present edition from S. Attar Singh my curiosity was again aroused, and I read the book thoroughly. This abstract and comments are based on this study.

The purpose of writing the book as mentioned by the poet is to place on record the glory of the Tenth Master. The poet accepts his limitations as a human being, but nevertheless wants to take up this work with the invocation of the blessings of the Guru so that his life’s mission is achieved.

He, begins by seeking the blessings of ten Sikh Gurus. The main topic is stated with the Akal Purkh’s declaration of the purpose for which Guru Gobind Singh was deputed to take birth in this world. This is reminiscent of ‘Akal Purkh’s Bach’ of Bachittar Natak.

The poet is silent about the Guru’s birth and early life. The biography starts with the battle of Bhagani when the Guru camping at Paonta by the side of the Jamuna river, followed by battles of Nadaun, attacking Khanzada and Hussaini all of which were won by the Guru’s. They more or less follow the same pattern as described in Bachittar Natak (included in Dasam Granth).

The fifth chapter is entirely devoted to elimination of the institution of masands and its substitution by the institution of the ‘Khalsa’. However, there is no description of Amrit ceremony or selection of Panj Piaras. Perhaps the author assumes these as well-known facts of those times. Unique principles of the New Panth and its way of life to be adopted are elaborated. Chapters six and seven also continue with the same theme. The stress on ‘Naam’, leaving five vices, importance of keeping hair, strict forbidding of bhadan ceremony and abstinence from smoking, elimination of the institution of masands and its substitution by direct relationship with the Guru after partaking ‘Khande-di-Pahul, are repeated.

Sri Gur Sobha describes a series of battles when the 10th Master was based at Anandpur. First is battle of Anandpur which started when Rajas of Kehloor and Handoor wanted Guru Sahib to make payment for land at Anandpur occupied by him, which they alleged belonged to them. They threatened to wage a war against the Guru if the latter did not make the payment. This resulted in the first battle of Anandpur in which the Hill Chiefs were defeated by Guru’s army. This is followed by battles of Nirmoh village and battles of Kalmot and Bisali in which hill rajas were routed. It also recants the second battle of Anandpur when the town was surrounded by hill rajas' armies assisted by Mughals and Pathans, and the provisions and even water supplies to Anandpur Sahib were cut off. When the Sikh army and population was starved and became almost skeletons, they were constrained to leave by pressurizing the Guru to that effect. However, The incidents of separation of Guru Mahals, Mata Gujri and younger sahibzadas while crossing flooded Sirsa rivulet, are omitted by Sainapat.

There is a graphic description of the battle of Chamkaur. In this battle, there was a fierce fighting by Sikhs and Sahibzadas Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh. Ajit Singh died a martyr while two sahibzadas were captured and taken to Sarhind and executed. The poet confuses the names of sahibzadas and the exact circumstances of their martyrdom as compared to the accounts given by other historians. Guru Sahib’s escape to Machhiwara through Malwa region is not elaborated. (Zorawar Singh is shown as having escaped after fierce fighting).

Then Guru Sahib’s arrival in the land of Brars and the last battle (probably at the pond near Muktsar) is described briefly.

Here the Master decides to write to Mughul emperor Aurangzeb about his brutality and excesses, and sends the letter through Bhai Daya Singh to Deccan near Ahmadnagar where Auragzeb is based. Other historians mention Zafarnama sent from a place called Dina Kangar. While there is hope of Aurangzeb’s wishing to meet him, and Guru Sahib is proceeding, news about the emperor’s death are received, which triggers off a war of succession between the younger son Azim and the eldest Muazzam (later Bahadur Shah).

Bahadur Shah seeks Guru Sahib’s help and blessings for the throne, which he occupies later as in the battle of Jaju. Azim dies fighting and his forces are defeated. Guru Sahib’s meeting with the new King and the robe of honour and other gifts presented to him are also described.

In the end, it is described that the Master is camping at Nanded where because of stabbing by a Pathan he meets his end. The poet is completely silent about the Guru’s meeting with Banda Bahadur or sending him to Punjab.

The book ends with poet’s wishful thinking that the Master will come again to Anandgarh to redeem the world by defeating the evil-forces and protecting and caring for the holy persons. This is on similar lines as Nihkalank Kalki Avtar described in Dasam Granth.

The last chapter is entirely in praise of Akal Purakh.

There are many questions and doubts left unanswered by the poet in his narration of Guru Sahib’s life but he has discharged his main commitment of singing the praise and glory of the Master and his mission of creation of the Khalsa and its distinct code of conduct and teachings of a spiritual life as ordered by Akal Purakh.

It is clear after reading Sri Gur Sobha that the poet had read Bachittar Natak and Nihkalank Kalki Avtar of Dasam Granth. It is a matter for research for historians to ascertain how far was Sainapat influenced by the contents of the latter two texts and whether such texts existed at that time. So far as Sainapat’s contribution is concerned it is indeed a paean, a poetic tribute and an ode to the great Guru’s glory in the heroic epic tradition.


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