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Towards Distinctive Panthic Identity

As seen in Chapter 1, the Sikh Panth, or Nanak Panth as it was often called, had already acquired some distinctive features when Guru Amar Das ascended the gurgaddi. The doctrine of strict and unalloyed monotheism marked off the Sikhs from the general body of the polytheistic and idol-worshipping Indians. Avtarvad (God appearing in human form from time to time) which was a vital part of Hinduism was conspicuous by its absence in Sikhism. The Sikh mode of worship too had its novelties. Sikhs practised no rituals or karmkand; nor did they have any divinely ordained priesthood to assist them in the performance of worship. Their form of worship was very simple, its chief elements being: praying to God (ardas), singing of hymns (kirtan) and serving the Lord's creation (seva). The pivotal position of the Guru was another hallmark of Sikhism. The Sikh Guru was revered as Satguru (True Guru). He was the fountain of all knowledge and wisdom for his followers. His word was the supreme authority for them. Though not God Himself, not even God's reincarnation, the Satguru of the Sikhs was ever one with Him and thus touched the deepest chords of devotion in their hearts. His writings were to them a divine revelation and formed their sacred literature worthy of the highest veneration. A new script, Gurmukhi was evolved to record their utterances, whereas the script of the Hindu religious texts was Devnagri. The Sikh belief that all people being the creation of one and the same God are equal irrespective of their caste, colour, creed and sex was diametrically opposed to the varnashrama of the Hindu society. The caste system based on varnashrama, which divided the society into clearly demarcated grades of varying status and imparted to it a hierarchical structure, had been discarded by the Sikh Gurus, and the Sikhs being free from the social taboos of such a system came to acquire a position quite distinct from that of the general body of the Hindus. The Sikh institution of langer (free-kitchen) was run on egalitarian principles. To be fed from the Guru's kitchen all people had to sit on the ground in long rows (pangats ) and no distinction was made between one person and another in matters of either eating or seating-something which was unthinkable in the ranks of the Hindus. Still another trait distinguishing the Sikhs from others was that no contradiction was seen between normal family life and practice of religion. Rather it was believed that true religion could best be practiced within the society. Asceticism so highly valued among · Hindus was a disqualification for a Sikh. The operative mechanism of Sikhism, the sangat, further strengthened the uniqueness of the Sikh Panth. Apart from the central congregation headed by the Guru himself, there were a large number of widely scattered congregations constantly maintaining their links with the Guru through periodical visits.

Thus had been emerging the Nanak Panth before Guru Amar Das stepped on the stage and assumed responsibility of leading the flock. But the distinctive marks which the panth had acquired in course of time under the leadership of Guru Nanak and Guru Angad Dev had to be further consolidated and developed. To this problem Guru Amar Das addressed himself from the very outset of his pontificate. This is made amply clear by repeated and emphatic references in his writings to the subject. He laid maximum stress on the worship of the One God, the Lord Eternal, and denounced all those who offered their devotion to deities other than God. He wrote1:

My Lord is eternal; He is seen by him who abideth by His word.

He is ever imperishable and suffereth not transmigration.

Ever and ever serve Him who is contained in everything.

Why serve another who is born and dieth?

The lives of those who know not their Lord But fix their thoughts on others, are unprofitable.

Nanak, it cannot be known how much punishment the Creator will inflict on them.

In Vadhans ki Var2 he expressed himself in singularly strong language regarding the polytheistic idolater:

Curses on the lives, curses on the habitations of those who worship strange gods;

They abandon ambrosia and turn to poison;

They earn poison; poison is their stock-in-trade, Poison their food, poison their dress, morsels of poison they eat.

Here they are totally miserable, and when they die, their abode shall be in hell.

The people who turn to others for worship are compared by the Guru to an abandoned woman :

The perverse woman is filthy, iJI-conducted, and evil;

She leaveth her husband and her home through her love for another man;

Her passion is never extinguished; she burneth and crieth aloud.

Nanak, without the Name she appeareth misshapen and unlovely and her husband abandoneth her.3

His disapproval of the practice of recognizing deities other than the Supreme Being was equally strong. He wrote in an Ashtapadi4 :

The thirty-three crores of divinities are thy slaves;

Thou givest wealth and supernatural power;

Thou art the support of the soul…

Thou art the Creator; all creation is Thine;

What can mortal men do?

The four Vedas.Thou gavest to Brahma.

That he might read and reflect on them,

But the wretch understood not thine order, and so be wandereth from hell to heaven.

The kings created by Thee in different ages are sung of as Thine avtars.

Even they did not find Thy limits; What shall I say, however much I reflect?

He regarded the religious books such as Vedas, Smritis, Shastras and Darshans as worthy of respect but emphasized that none of them could be compared in authority to the True· Guru who revealed the Divine Word.5

The Smritis and the Shastras define good and evil but they · know nothing of the Real Thing;

They know nothing of the Real Thing; without the Guru they can know nothing of the Real Thing.

The world is asleep in Mammon and superstition; In sleep it passeth its time;

By the Guru's favour they who put God in their hearts and utter His ambrosial word are awake.

Saith Nanak, they who pass their time awake, and who day and night fix their attention on God, shall obtain the Real Thing.

Speaking about the Vedas6 in particular:

Wert thou to wander in all directions and read the Vedas through the four ages, it would be all in vain.

Nanak, if thou meet the true Guru, God will dwell in thy heart, and thou shall obtain the gate of deliverance.

The Satguru was proclaimed to be the supreme law-giver. No scripture, whatever its sanctity or antiquity, could be placed on par with him. Hence he attached maximum importance to the service of Satguru. In Rag Gauri he wrote7:

O my soul, doubt not this: Through the worship of the Guru thou shalt quaff nectar.

They who serve the true Guru are great men in the world; They are saved themselves and they save all their families.

They clasp God’s name to their hearts.

Dyed with the Name they cross over the terrible ocean.

They who with lowly minds ever serve the true Guru, expel their pride, and the lotuses of their hearts bloom.

They dwell in their own homes where the unbeaten strain resoundeth.

While hermits in their own houses they are dyed with the Name.

The words of those who serve the true Guru are true.

Woe betide the person who pays no heed to the true Guru;8

Those who turn away their faces from the true Guru, blackened are their foreheads.

Every day they suffer pain and are ever tormented by the Angel of Death.

They do not get peace even in dream; They are consumed by great worries.

The best form of worship, observed the Guru, was performed not by bathing at places of pilgrimage but by love and devotion rendered through the grace of the Satguru.

Through9 the kind disposition of the Guru, adore God who is in thy heart.

The foolish person wandereth and returneth again and again in transmigration.

O foolish man, meditate on the One God, And thou shalt at once cross the world’s ocean.

The Brahmanical priesthood received equally severe denunciation from Guru Amar Das.10

The Brahman when reading shouteth aloud through love of Mammon.

The foolish and ignorant man recognizeth not God who is within him.

He preacheth to the world through worldly love, but he understandeth not divine knowledge.

He spendeth his life in vain and dieth and is born again and again.

The perverse read and are called Pandits.

They suffer great pain from their worldly love, They are intoxicated by their evil passions and know nothing; they enter wombs again and again.

Men read the Vedas but obtain not God's nectar.

Infatuated by Mammon the Pandits engage in disputations.

Devoid of knowledge they are ever in darkness.

Not the Brahman but the Satguru was presented as the savior:

He who serveth the true Guru obtaineth the Name; know and reflect upon this.

If a man's spirit have faith in the Universal Spirit, it shall be happy at home;

Through the kind disposition of the Guru it shall become Steady and waver not.

Without the Guru peace is not obtained, and the impurity of covetousness departeth not from the heart.

If for one moment God's name dwell in the heart, it is as bathing at the sixty-eight places of Hindu pilgrimage.


In this heart are Banaras, all the places of pilgrimage, and the Smritis, the true Guru hath explained this:

The sixty-eight places of pilgrimage are with him whose heart is filled with God.

Performance of rituals was regarded as worship of Mammon12:

Numerous rituals are performed,

The Name is lacking; accursed be the arrogance.

The bonds of Mammon are tightened as a hangman's noose,

Saith Nanak, release is possible only through the Guru's enlightenment.

Wandering in forests and other out-of-the-way places was condemned as futile.13

The ignorant man who goeth into the desert to chasten his heart cannot succeed.

Nanak, if the heart be chastened, it must be by reflection on the Guru's instruction.

Not was sectarial dress thought to be of any avail in purifying the heart. The Guru wrote in Basant Rag:14

Even if man take off his clothes, become naked And wear matted hair, how can he obtain union with God? His mind is not pure, nor tarrieth it at the tenth gate.

Again in Maru ki Var15:

God is not obtained by sectarial garbs;

All who adopt them shall be seized by the God of Death.

Nanak, their words are false, do thou remember the true Name.

Guru Amar Das's criticism of the caste system was as ruthless as his criticism of its chief creator and protector, the Brahman. He wrote in the Bhairo Measure16:

Let none be proud of his caste.

He who knoweth God is Brahman.

O stupid fool, he not proud of thy caste;

From such pride many sins result.

Everybody saith there are four castes,

But they proceeded from God's seed.

The world is all made of one clay,

But the Potter fashioned it into vessels of many sorts.

The body is formed from the union of five elements;

Let anyone consider if he hath less or more in his composition.

Saith Nanak, the soul is fettered by its acts;

Without meeting the true Guru salvation is not obtained.

It was stressed that men even of the lowest caste could obtain glory in God's court17:

Nama, a calico-printer, and Kabir, a weaver, obtained salvation from the perfect Guru.

Knowing God they embraced His word and lost their consciousness of caste.

To ensure that what he professed with regard to castes and sub-castes was actually observed, he made it obligatory, as has been noticed earlier, that anyone who wished to meet him must first partake of the food cooked and served in his free kitchen. No exceptions were allowed in this respect and even the highest in the land such as Emperor Akbar had to meet this requirement before he could be admitted into the Guru's presence.

Women too were not ignored. The maltreatment to which they were subjected did not escape his notice. We have seen elsewhere how strongly he remonstrated when a young lady of the entourage of the Raja of Haripur appeared before him with her face veiled with cloth. The widely current evil practice of sati in which women were forced to immolate themselves on the pyres of their deceased husbands, was reprobated in categorical terms.

Women are burnt in the fire with their husbands;

If they appreciate their husbands,

They undergo sufficient pain by their death,

Nanak, if they appreciate not their husbands, why should they be burnt?

Whether the husbands be alive or dead,

Such a woman will flee far away from him.18

Greatest emphasis was laid on living in the midst of society and leading a normal, healthy and socially meaningful life. Renunciation of worldly life in search of spiritual bliss was declared not only futile but also harmful. All ascetics19, such as udasis, jogis, jangams, sanyasis, naths and sidhs, were dubbed as misguided people.

In thine own home, O man, is everything; abroad is nothing.

By the Guru's favour everything is obtained, and the doors of the understanding opened.

God is obtained from the true Guru, my brethren,

The treasure of the Name is within the heart;

The perfect true Guru has shown it to me.20

What21 can be found by searching abroad? The Real Thing is in one's own home, my brethren.

The whole world wandereth astray in error; the perverse lose their honour.

The false one who leaves his own home and goeth elsewhere to worship,

Shall be seized like a thief, and being without the Name shall suffer punishment.

They who know God in their own homes are happy, my brethren.

They recognize God in their hearts by the power of the Guru.

God bestoweth gifts and conferreth understanding; and whom shall I address except Him?

Nanak, meditate on the Name, so shalt thou obtain glory in the court of the True One.

Once a Sikh named Jagga asked the Guru's permission to become a hermit. He said he had met a jogi and asked him for instruction. But the jogi would only give it on his relinquishing domestic life and adopting asceticism. The Guru replied that deliverance could not be obtained either by the relinquishment of home or by the practice of yoga. As a lotus while growing in the mud turns its petals towards the sun, so should a man while engaged in worldly affairs turn his thoughts to God by means of the instruction of the Guru.22

Comparing the Sikh system with the traditional Indian systems of philosophy, the Guru reflected:23

Very fortunate are they who obtain God's system.

True disregard of the world is obtained by the Guru's instruction.

Six Hindu religious systems pass current,

But the Guru's system is profound and unequalled.

By the Guru's system the way of salvation is obtained,

And the True One Himself abideth in the heart.

By the Guru's system the world is saved,

If men bestow love and affection on it.

We have noticed above a few of the many aspects regarding which the Guru underscored the distinctiveness of the Sikh faith which had been handed down to him. Many other things could be enumerated to further illustrate the contribution made by Guru Amar Das to the consolidation of the system of religious thought he had inherited from the previous Satgurus Nanak and Angad Dev. Among them the institutions of sangat (congregation of good people) and kirtan (singing of holy hymns) are especially noteworthy.

Both of these institutions had been in existence ever since Guru Nanak's time. Guru Amar Das in his writings returned to them again and again to point out the great role they could play in the spiritual and social elevation of people. A few illustrations are given below:

Kirtan (divine music)

This mind ever dwells in peace and ever trades in equipoise,

Should it constantly indulge in recitation of the Guru's inestimable hymns,

And should it utter the Guru's word, eternal in all ages.24

Sundar's Sad (ballad25) in the Ramkali measure refers to Guru Arnar Das's injunction at the time of his death stressing the high merit of kirtan.

In the end the Satguru spoke:

After me do nirban kirtan (pure sacred music)

Satsangat (holy congregation)

They who show great love for the true congregation and sing praises of God,

Beautiful are they who by the Guru's instruction meet together26

Beautiful is the site which is blessed by God,

Where the true congregation meets and sings praises of God.27

The consolidation work, however, represents only one side of the picture. The other side consists of the innovations whereby Guru Amar Das opened up fresh vistas of development for the Panth. These innovations as well were rooted in the past and were no deviations. Nevertheless, they possessed a certain flavour of originality which shows the constructive genius of the Guru.

Institution of Manjis

The establishment of manjis was the most important innovative measure introduced by the Guru. The word manji literally signifies cot or charpoy, a common Indian bedstead. But here it denotes a responsible religious position conferred by the Guru upon a pre-eminent devotee of his, or a seat of delegated authority. According to Macauliffe,28 the term derived its sacred connotation from the fact that the Gurus used to sit on manjis while imparting instruction to their audiences. Kirpal Singh Narang29 goes further and says that the cots on which the Gurus sat while preaching were called manjas. He differentiates between the two terms, manja and manji on the basis that though derived from a common root, manji is a diminutive of the word manja and occupies a lower position. The same differentiation is found between the uses made of the two terms in Sikh terminology. Whereas manja represented the central authority of the Guru, manji was used for a seat of delegated authority, which Kirpal Singh Narang has, not very appropriately of course, called branch gaddi. It is not definitely known how this term manji first came to be employed but the view put forth by Narang is plausible and aptly brings out the relationship subsisting between the Guru and his deputies. Principal Teja Singh traces30 the origin of manjis to Guru Nanak's period. He writes that wherever the Guru went, he left behind him a sangat. Each sangat was managed by a leader appointed by the Guru. The position of this leader, as we learn from the Life of Guru Nanak written by Bhai Sewa Dass in 1588, was known as manji from the fact that he sat on a manji or cot while preaching. Bhai Lallo held a manji in the north and Shaikh Sajjan in the south-west of the Punjab. Gopal Das functioned in Benaras, Jhanda Badi in Bushair, Budhan Shah in Kiratpur, Mahi in Mahisar, Kaljug, a priest's son, in Jagannath Puri, Devlut in Lushai (Tibet), Salis Rai in Patna and Bihar and Raja Shivnabh in Ceylon, and a host of other workers were scattered over the whole territory visited by Guru Nanak in and outside India. "Connection with the centre," says the same writer, "was kept up by the constant visits of the Sikhs to the Guru."

For several reasons it is difficult to accept the above view of Princip1l Teja Singh except in a very broad sense. The congregation s set up by Guru Nanak were widely scattered independent associations, and it may be too much to say that they formed links in any integrated system. Nor is there any trace of evidence to show that any one of these far-flung assemblies paid a visit to Guru Nanak or his immediate successor. The idea of a distinctive Sikh Panth had hardly yet emerged when these local sangats were taking shape. Therefore, to impart the nomenclature of manji to a sangat of Guru Nanak's time looks rather premature. It is not without significance that nowhere in the Janamsakhis of Guru Nanak there is any reference, implicit or explicit, to this subject. On the contrary all our other writers, old and new, excepting Balbir Singh Dil, are unanimous in the belief that the founder of the manji system was the third Guru, Amar Das.

Even the similarity between the views of Teja Singh and Balbir Singh Dil is only negative. Positively speaking, whereas the former holds that the manjis were first created in the time of Guru Nanak, the latter strikes at the very root of the belief in the creation of man)is by Guru Amar Das. Dr Dil writes: "Considering the above facts it becomes sufficiently clear that Guru Amar Das did not create 21 manjis for propagation of Sikhism. As against this, some of the Sikhs blessed by him on their own carried on the preaching of gurmat in their respective areas." The question arises: Then how did the tradition of the creation of 22 manjis start? The answer to this, to some extent, may be sought in the following lines of Mehma Prakash Sri Guru Amar Das (p. 210):

"The next story is this. Sri Amar Guru was holding a diwan. Then he asked how the Emperor held his court, how many companions and Amirs he had. The Sikh sangat replied, 'O true King, there are 22 Subas, 52 Bawanis, 10 Khans, and 72 Amirs. The Emperor (also) has in his presence a Wazir."

Hence, it appears to Dr Dil that the writers of Mehma Prakash and other works in their effort to glorify the spiritual sovereignty of Guru Amar Das imaginatively perceived the organisation of 22 manjis and 72 Sikhs for the reason that in so doing the administration of Guru Amar Das's spiritual kingdom could be made comparable to the administration of the temporal kingdom of the Mughal Emperors. In support of his contention, Dr Dil has advanced the following arguments:

(a) The available lists of manjis are not wholly identical because some places are mentioned in one list but not in another.

(b) Some of the places mentioned in the lists possess no evidence in support of the manji tradition.

(c) Some other places given in the lists have independent traditions not, or only remotely, connected with Sikhism.

These arguments may have some weight but they are relevant only to the number and situation of various manjis and not to the basic question whether or not they were created by Guru Amar Das. As such, it is difficult to accept the inference which Dr Dil has drawn on the basis of these arguments. So long as there is no definite evidence to the contrary, the long established tradition, commonly accepted and generally supported by writers, old and new, has to be recognised as valid.

We now turn to the considerations which led Guru Amar Das to institute manjis . On this aspect the view put forth by Dr Indubhusan Banerjee seems plausible. He has attributed the Guru's decision to the new situation brought about by the growing popularity of the Sikh faith. He writes31: "That the Sikhs had grown rapidly in number and Jay scattered throughout the province is evident from the fact that Amar Das found it necessary to devise some means for administering to the local needs of his followers. It was now impossible for the Guru to offer instruction to all his followers in person and the sangat or Sikh congregation that daily met around him no longer sufficed."

A few other explanations have been offered. For instance, it is argued that the Guru had become too old to move about and reach out to his congregations situated away from the centre and hence nominated some of his prominent Sikhs for the purpose, or that he was in need of funds for his free kitchen and the construction of a baoli at Goindwal and appointed some trusted people to preach Sikhism and collect offerings on his behalf from the devotees. Both of these explanations, however, do not seem to carry much weight. It is true that Guru Amar Das became Guru when he was already past 70 years of age. But he possessed robust physical health and was fit enough even to undertake long missionary tours, as has been seen in an earlier chapter. Moreover, the creation of manjis was spread over the entire span of the pontificate and in all probability the first manji was set up in the first four or five years of the period. In that case it could well be assumed that the process was initiated at a time when the old age was hardly a problem hindering the Guru from travelling about. But although old age may not he admitted as a real cause of the decision regarding the institution of manjis, it no doubt came very handy to the Guru in his later years. As regards the collection of funds through the agency of manjis, it is probably the projecting back of a later thought. In the time of Guru Ram Das and Arjun Dev, public works programme assumed great importance and it became necessary to collect funds for this purpose. So special functionaries called masands were appointed wno performed the twofold task of preaching and collecting offerings in the Guru’s name. But what is true of the masands may not be true of the manjis of Guru Amar Das's period. The only public work undertaken in the time of Guru Amar Das was the construction of a baoli at Goindwal. In the first place it was not a costly project for which it was essential to create such an elaborate arrangement as that of manjis . Nor was it necessary to have large drafts of manpower form any long years. It was indeed a simple project that could easily be accomplished within the normally available resources of the Guru's court. Secondly, the project of the baoli was undertaken about the year 1566 or 1567 when the Guru had been on the gaddi for nearly fifteen years. As pointed out earlier, the manji system had been launched long before and a number of manjis already established. As against this, it may be urged that funds were needed not only for the baoli but also to meet the continuously growing requirements of the Guru's kitchen, especially when the annual Baisakhi fair began to be held at Goindwal. Though apparently specious, this argument, too, suffers from a basic weakness. The Guru's kitchen never presented a problem. If the visitors who came to see the Guru ate from the langar, they also made handsome donations towards its upkeep. If among them there were people who consumed more than they offered, there were also many who donated much more than they consumed. All in all, there was hardly anyone among the whole lot of visitors who did not contribute his mite. As regards the Baisakhi fair, we have already noticed that it commenced several years after manjis had started coming into being.

The nature of the manjis created by the Guru also needs careful examination. There is at present considerable confusion surrounding it. Indubhusan Banerjee describes manjis as bishoprics,32 and Macauliffe, as districts.33 Teja Singh calls them by the name of dioceses.34 Kirpal Singh Naraag35 designates them as provinces or bishoprics. However, one thing i s common to all of them and that is their underlying assumption that manji was some sort of a territorial unit. The following quotations will make it clear:

"As the Emperor Akbar administered his empire by the agency of governors of provinces, so Guru Amar Das similarly partitioned the Sikh spiritual empire into twenty-two districts." (Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 151)

"Guru Amar Das, therefore, divided the Sikh spiritual empire into 22 bishoprics." (IB., Banerjee, op. cit., p. 168)

"He, therefore, divided the Sikh spiritual empire into twenty-two provinces or bishoprics which were called manjis." (K.S. Narang, op. cit., p. 89)

Similar positions are held by Principal Teja Singh, Dr Hari Ram Gupta and Khushwant Singh.

Two explanations may be offered for all these writers taking the manji in the sense of a territorial unit. The first is that they have uncritically followed Macauliffe who was probably the first person to represent a manji as a unit of territory. The second is a projection back of a later idea. When masands were appointed in the time of the fourth and fifth Gurus, each masand was assigned a particular area to operate in. The same analogy has been employed by our writers in the case of manjis as well. Here also a good deal of responsibility for the confusion rests on· the shoulders of Macauliffe. He was not fully familiar with Indian traditions but was very well acquainted with the organisation of the Christian Church in his own country, England. At the top of the church there was the Archbishop of Canterbury who had a number of Bishops under him. Each Bishop was in charge of a province which was sub-divided into districts called dioceses. Each diocese in its turn was split up into parishes, each one of which was looked after by a local priest. Born and bred in England and nurtured in the tradition of English church, Macauliffe imported the territorial concept into his study of the Sikh religion and thereby created a confusion which has only deepened with the passage of time.

The division of the Sikh spiritual empire into districts or provinces, or whatever that may be, is irrelevant to the manji system as conceived by Guru Amar Das. None of the Sikh writers writing before the close of the nineteenth century ever tried to impart a territorial sense to it. Wherever any reference is made by them to the institution of manji, the import is invariably spiritual rather than territorial or temporal. Take, for example, Giani Gian Singh, the author of Panth Prakash. He refers in some detail to the grant of manjis by Guru Amar Das to Bhais Manak Chand, Handal and Gangu Shah.36 In each case the grant is shown as a reward for selfless and devoted service rendered by the devotee. It may well be inferred from this that the manji system was not a territorial division of the Sikh spiritual empire as is commonly believed but a missionary order, and the grant of a manji to a person only meant the conferment upon him of membership of this missionary order. If this essential characteristic of the system is firmly grasped, there should be no difficulty in understanding the phenomenon of more than one manji being based at a single place such as Dalla or Vairowal-a problem which has so much puzzled Dr Dil37 that he has gone to the extent of denying the very creation of manjis by the third Guru. But the problem becomes insurmountable if on the other hand the term is used in the territorial sense. The kind of difficulty that comes up before us is well brought out in the following statement of Dr Dil38:

"It is also a matter of surprise that in the same village or town, according to the above lists, two, or quite often three manjis are found to have been set up by Guru Amar Das. For instance, according to the list of Gurusabad Ratnakar Mahankosh, Bhai Paro and Bhai Lallu both belonged to Dalla. According to Mehma Prakash Sri Guru Amar Das, besides these two, a third Gurmukh, Khana Chhurra, also belonged to Dalla. In the same way, according to the Golden Leaf list of Goindwal, Manak Das Jeewara, Sa wan Mal and Ballu, all the three, hailed from Vairowal."

Not only the territorial concept is inadmissible; the idea of simultaneous creation of manjis also seems to be untenable. As a matter of fact, both these ideas are interlinked as the first presupposes the second. If the Sikh spiritual empire was divided into districts or provinces called manjis, as has been observed by many of our writers, the implication is clear that a certain plan was drawn up on the basis of which manjis were created assigning one manji to each unit. But if the idea of territorial division is discarded as it should be, there is no valid ground left for holding on to the other idea i.e., the simultaneous creation of manjis. Even otherwise, this idea is not warranted by the evidence available to us. Rather, the evidence that we have gives the impression that a manji was granted only when a man earned it through his selfless and meritorious services. This would have us believe that it was a continuing process stretching over the entire period of Guru Amar Das's pontificate. Obviously, all the eminent Sikhs, who are believed to be the grantees of manjis, could not have joined the Guru's court simultaneously. Nor is there any historical basis to support the inference that they all, or even most of them, received this position of honour and responsibility at one and the same time.

Only men of recognised piety and sterling integrity were awarded the distinction of manji. It was also an essential qualification that they correctly understood and practised the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. They conducted their missionary work individually and also through congregations (sangats). But they did not always confine themselves to their native places. On the contrary whenever possible and convenient they moved about in the countryside carrying with them the torch of the Guru's message. They maintained their connection with the Guru at the centre by means of periodical visits to Goindwal. Later on when the annual Baisakhi fair started being held at Goindwal, they made their visits synchronize with that. But if necessary or desirable, they could even make more than one visit in a year. Usually during their visits they were accompanied by sangats, small or big, drawn from the general body of the local clientele. The offerings collected between the visits, if any, were also carried along on these occasions. It is not definitely known but it appears from an incident39 which occurred during Guru Amar Das's visit to village Dalla, that the manjis (not all of course) also helped in promoting knowledge of the gurmukhi script. The reference here pertains to a Brahmin named Bula who offered to write out sacred hymns for the benefit of the Sikhs and wanted to know if he could expect any remuneration for this work. He was advised by the Guru to do this work by way of social service (seva) and to accept payment only when made voluntarily. The incident is significant, though it would be wrong to generalize it or read too much into it. It implies that not only many people among the Sikh devotees knew how to re ad and write gurmukhi but also that there was even then some demand for reading material in gurmukhi.

Another important point to be considered regarding manjis is their actual number. Popular Sikh tradition puts it at 22, so much so that a reference to these manjis usually also carries with it the term bai (meaning twenty-two). However, the problem of identification of these twenty-two manjis bristles with many knotty problems. The earliest source, Sarup Das Bhalla's Mehma Prakash, gives no details at all. But we get three independent lists of manjis from a few other sources such as Gurdwara Haveli Sahib, Goindwal, Mehma Prakash Sri Guru Amar Das and Mahan Kosh. These lists read respectively as follows:40

1. Paro Julka (Dalla), Lalu Budhwar (Dalla), Mehesba Dhir (Sultanpur), Mai Das Bairagi, Manak Das Jeewara (Vairowal), Sawan Mal (Vairowal), Mall ji Sewa, Andal (Handall, Jat (Jandiala), Nesach, Gangu Khatri (Ghagon), Sadharan Luhar (Bakala village), Matho Murari, Kheda Soeri (Khem Karan), Phirya Katara (Malwa), Sain Das Gusain, Ditte ke Bhalle (Jamdauh), Mai Sewan (Kabul), Durgo Pandit (Mabera), Jeet Bengali, Bibi Bhago (Kashmir) and Ballu Nai (Vairowal). (Gurdwara Haveli Sahib, Goindwal).

2. Sawan Mal, Sachan Sach, Lalu, Mahesa Dhir, Bhat (Sultanpur), Paro (Dalla), Khana Chhurra (Dalla), Phira Katara (Malwa), Gang Das (Ghagon), Prema (Behrampur), Bibi Bhago (KabuJ), Manak Chand Jeewara (Vairowal), Mai Das (Narli), Kheda Soeri (Khem Karan), Matho Murari, Randal (Jandiala), Sadharan Luhar, Bhalle Bibi ke, Durgo Bhambi (Mahera), Bhikha Bhatt (Sultanpur), Kesho Pandit and Sain Das Gosain. Mehma Prakash Shri Guru Amar Das (unpublished Ms in the custody of Baba Sahib Singh Pahauriwale.)

3. Allahyar (Labori), Sachan Sach, Sadharan (Goindwal), Sawan Mal (Goindwal), Sakhan (Dhamyial, Pothohar), Handa), Kedari, Kheda, Gangu Shah (Garhshankar), Darbari, Paro, Phera (Mirpur, Jammu), Bua (Sri Hargobindpur), Beni Pandit (Chuhnian, Lahore), Mahesa (Sultanpur), Mai Das (Narli), Manak Chand (Vairowal), Matho Murari (Khai Pind, Lahore) , Raja Ram (Sandhma, Jullundur ), Rang Shah (Ma ldhore, Jullundur), Rang Das (Gharuan) and Lallo (Dalla). (Gurshabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh by Kahn Singh Nabha (1960), p. 634)

On comparing the above lists the following facts emerge: (a) 13 names are common to all the three lists; (b) 17 names are common to lists 1 and 2; (c) 13 names are common to lists 1 and 3; (d) 13 names are common to lists 2 and 3. The lists 1 and 3 need not be taken too seriously as both of them are comparatively of recent origin.41 List 2 is based on a much older source though still unpublished and may reasonably be credited with greater respect. But even this cannot be accepted in its entirety unless it is supported by some other fairly authentic source. As the problem stands now, the best method under the circumstances to solve the problem is to use the information furnished by Sarup Das Bhalla to bridge the unfilled gaps. This writer has mentioned quite a number of eminent Sikhs of Guru Amar Das. Although he has nowhere mentioned that any of them was granted manji, yet it may well be presumed that they were the most prominent devotees of the Guru and had in all likelihood been awarded the distinction of manjis . It is significant to note that as many as 16 out of a total of 23 names given by Sarup Das are common to list 2 referred to above . Of the remaining 7, Ballu was a personal attendant of the Guru and may safely be left out. The remaining six more or less figure in the other two lists. The final42 list worked out in this manner would be as follows:

1. Sawan Mal, 2. Sachan Sach, 3. Paro, 4. Lallu, 5. Sadharan, 6. Khana Chhaura, 7. Dipa, 8. Mailu Shah, 9. Kedara, 10. Mahesa Dhir, 11. Bhikha, 12. Manak Chand, 13. Gangu Shah, 14. Matho Murari, 15. Kheda Soeri, 16. Handal, 17. Beni Pandit, 18. Phirya, 19. Katara, 20. Prema, 21. Mai Das, 22. Allahyar.

Now let us turn to the objections raised by Dr Dil.43 We shall discuss only those objections which are relevant to the list that has been worked out above. He writes that he has personally visited Vatala and Mirpur to which Kedari (Kedara) and Phera (Phirya) respectively belonged but has found no testimony in support of the Sikh traditions. In the case of Kheda Soeri of Khem Karan, he says that a tradition no doubt exists there but Khem Karan itself was founded much later by Rai Khem Karan in the early years of the seventeenth century. Similarly, he mentions that a tradition is certainly in existence about Randal at Jandiala near Amritsar, but the birth of Han· dal just a year before the death of Guru Amar Das makes it doubtful. His objections to the manjis of Manak Chand (Vairowal) and Sadharan (Bakala) are that when he met their descendants at their respective places he found them very deficient in their knowledge of Sikhism. The descendants of Mahesa Dhir at Sultanpur were found smoking hooka when he visited them and they told him that they were Sehjdhari Sikhs and made only occasional visits to Goindwal. At some other places he found independent gaddis denying any connection with Sikhism.

As pointed out earlier, Dr Dill has been so much overwhelmed by these objections that he has gone to the extent of casting doubts even on the basic question of the institution of manjis by Guru Amar Das. A critical examination of these objections will show that they are not as serious as they have been made to appear, their factual accuracy notwithstanding. They are based on a total misconception of the real character of the manjis. It is wrong to understand them in the sense of gaddis permanently located at some previously chosen places. It is also incorrect to construe them as something hereditary. The recipients of manjis were, as explained earlier, missionaries with no fixed or geographically defined areas to operate in. They could move about in the country as they wished and it was not necessary that the holder of a manji would always, or even most of his time, be staying at his native place. Consequently, it is not an argument against a particular manji if the native place of the original grantee has no memorial or surviving tradition to support it. Manjis were conferred upon eminent devotees for their high spiritual and moral attainments and not upon their families. They were not intended to be handed down to descendants in hereditary succession. However, since hereditary tendency is strongly rooted in human nature, in certain cases, as for instance in the case of Sawan Mal, the manji tradition has survived in the family. But its non-survival need not necessarily be cited as a proof against the original grant of a manji. An illustration from subsequent Sikh history may clarify it. A large number of masands were appointed in the time of Gurus Ram Das and Arjan Dev. Do all the places to which they belonged possess any kind of memorials or traditions today? And in the case of those places which do not have any such mark of recognition, is it fair on that account to deny the fact that once upon a time some people hailing from them were appointed masands?

Further, Dr Dil's objections are based on a misunderstanding of human nature. If a certain person is great intellectually, morally, spiritually or materially, it is not essential that all of his subsequent generations will also possess the high qualities of their ancestor. Usually, it has been seen that deterioration starts in the third generation. Sometimes the reaction is total and the descendants might be quite the opposite of their great forbears. Even where the reaction is only partial, the degree of decadence may still be substantial. Hence it is unfair to hold that because the descendants of a particular grantee of manji are sehjdharis, or are deficient in their knowledge of Sikhism, therefore its original grant is also apocryphal.

Again, the inference that has been drawn by Dr Dil on the basis of his objections has the appearance of an act of hasty generalisation. They do not conclusively prove that Guru Amar Das created no manjis. At the most it could be said that some of the manjis mentioned in the three different lists appear to be of somewhat doubtful existence. Yet another misunderstanding about the institution of manjis in the time of Guru Amar Das needs to be cleared. It is often said that the Guru created twenty-two provinces on the pattern of Akbar's Empire. This cannot be accepted as valid for two reasons. First, the Mughal Empire under Akbar never had twenty-two provinces. The total number of Mughal provinces during the time of Guru Amar Das was never more than 12. When later the Deccan provinces of Berar, Khandesh and Ahmad Nagar were added, the number rose to 15 where it stood at the end of Akbar's reign. Secondly, as seen earlier, the manjis were created gradually and not simultaneously. Therefore, the question of the Guru in this regard following any territorial plan, much less that of the Mughal Empire, does not arise.

Introduction of Bisowa Divas

The manjis were required to maintain a continual liaison with the centre at Goindwal. The grantees of manjis were staunch devotees who must come to the Guru for his holy sight off and on. It was also necessary for them to seek the Guru's guidance on the problems or issues facing them from time to time. Quite often, local congregations expressed their keenness to have a sight of the Guru. Then there were the collections of voluntary offerings to be deposited with the centre. As long as there was no special occasion fixed for the purpose, people came as and when they found it convenient. This practice looked at right in the beginning when the number of visitors was not large. However, a serious flaw of this practice was that it was only rarely and even then by accident that the Sikhs coming from different areas could have the opportunity of meeting together. With the passing of years the ranks of Sikhism expanded and it began to be felt that a certain occasion in the year should be earmarked when the followers of the Guru could assemble at a central place and meet each other. The idea first suggested itself to Bhai Paro. Accompanied by a large deputation of Sikhs he waited upon the Guru and broached the subject to him. The Guru welcomed the suggestion because he himself had been thinking along the same lines for quite some time. According to Mehma Prakash,44 Paro thus spoke to the Guru:

"O benefactor of the lowly, if it meets your approval a day in the year may be fixed when all Sikhs could assemble for the Guru's sight. By dint of that they would swim across the ocean of the world and also have their bonds of love strengthened between themselves."45

To this the Guru responded:

"What you have thought is already in my mind. All should come on the day of Baisakhi. Send letters to all Sikhs. On hearing this all will come in promotion of love and devotion."

The instructions of the Guru were implemented with promptness, and when the next Baisakhi came, Goindwal assumed the festive look of a large fair. The success of the first Bisowa Divas, as it was termed, gave great encouragement and it was decided to make it an annual affair. The holding of these yearly assemblies46at the centre under the personal care of the Guru turned a new leaf in the evolution of the Sikh Panth. It not only promoted solidarity in the Sikh ranks but also accelerated the growth process of the Sikh faith. The annual gatherings on the Baisakhi day rendered possible collective deliberations on matters of importance. This greatly helped in the shaping of common programmes. But there was the debit side also. The detractors of the Guru felt scared by the impressive scenes of the Bisowa Divas and started indulging in mud-slinging against the Sikhs. Some of the conspiracies arising from it have already been mentioned in an earlier chapter.

Construction of Baoli47

There is little doubt that the construction of the baoli at Goindwal was undertaken sometime after the organisation of Bisowa Divas. In this belief we are supported by the fact that Sarup Das, Santokh Singh and Macauliffe all refer to the latter event much earlier than they do to the former. This is a significant point which, if true, points to the fact that the Bisowa Divas festival had a close bearing on the origin of the baoli. It is most likely that when Sikhs began to assemble at Goindwal in large numbers, the existing arrangements for drinking water were found inadequate to meet the requirements and hence the need of a large-sized well This drinking water theory, however, may at best be only a partial explanation of the origin of the baoli. The theory which finds frequent mention in Sikh chronicles is that it originated as a pilgrimage-centre (tirath). For instance Sarup Das writes 48:

"Satguru, the protector of Dharma and the doer of good, revealing the baoli tirath promoted the welfare of all."


"The merciful and beneficent Guru on one auspicious day conceived this idea: I should reveal a tirath in the world so that general weal may be ensured and woe removed. Then the ocean of kindness sent for all his Sikhs, and showed them the site of the tirath"

Similar references are found in the writings of Santokh Singh and Macauliffe. In the presence of all this evidence it is not possible to dismiss the pilgrimage-centre theory entirely out of court. Moreover, the eighty-four steps49 corresponding to the traditional eighty-four lakhs of existences in the total transmigratory cycle suggest that the purpose of the baoli was more than mere provision of drinking water.

An important question needs to be answered here. When the preceding Gurus Nanak and Angad Dev had made scathing criticism of pilgrimage and when Guru A mar Das himself had strongly denounced it, then why did he want to create a new centre of pilgrimage? We generally meet with two answers to this poser. One is that the Guru did not create any pilgrimage centre, and the idea is really a projection back on the part of later writers who were very much under Brahmanical influence. This brings us back to the drinking water theory of the origin of the baoli. That there is a grain of truth in it may be conceded but it fails to explain why the number of the steps leading down to the water level in the well was fixed at 84, neither less nor more. The Sikh tradition relating to it is not without significance. It says that if a person makes 84 recitations of Japji, the famous composition of Guru Nanak, one at each step, that person will attain emancipation from the cycle of 84 lakhs of junas (existences). The clear implication of this fact is that the baoli was conceived of not marely as a new source of drinking water but also as a kind of pilgrimage-centre. According to the second view, there should be no doubt that in constructing the baoli Guru Amar Das wanted to create a Sikh place of pilgrimage. It is said that though the Sikh theoretical position on the subject was opposed to a measure such as this, it was necessitated by considerations of expediency. McLeod writes50: "If we set this new well against the teachings of Guru Nanak, we find an apparent contradiction. Guru Nanak, with all the characteristic sant emphasis upon interiority, had declared in very plain terms that there was only one tirath, only one pilgrimage-centre for the true devotee, and that was within his own heart. All others were useless. Here, however, we find his second successor apparently inaugurating the very thing he had spurned. Obviously, we have in the establishment of this new pilgrimage-centre the response of a leader who is facing problems of definition and of organisation: Such problems would have been slight in the early days, but now the Panth is growing. A second generation is coming up and the bond of immediate personal commitment is weakening. Bonds other than those based upon religious belief are becoming necessary and the third Guru finds the solution in recourse to traditional Indian institutions. Not only did he provide this new pilgrimage-centre, but also distinctive festival days, distinctive rituals, and a collection of sacred writings. Guru Nanak had rejected all of these. Guru A mar Das, in different and more difficult circumstances was compelled to return to them."

Macauliffe has commented upon this problem in a similar vein but he does not go as far as McLeod does. Without going into the question whether or not the creation of a Sikh tirath by Guru Amar Das was a deviation from the theoretical line enunciated by Guru Nanak he has stated51 that the measures like this were intended to wean away the Sikhs from the Hindu practice of going on "idolatrous pilgrimages."

Broadly speaking, the argument of McLeod may be split up into two parts: (i) emergence of a new situation, (ii) departure from the theoretical line of Guru Nanak. The first part will be readily accepted. The Panth had registered considerable progress since the days of Guru Nanak with the result that problems connected with its organisational set-up had assumed great importance. Guru Amar Das was cognizant of all such problems and devoted urgent attention to them. But the second part of the argument stands on a flimsy ground. His view that by building the baoli at Goindwal the third Guru deviated from the teaching of Guru Nanak is unacceptable. Guru Nanak had denounced tirathism and not tirath as such. His doctrine of interiority which McLeod has particularly stressed, was certainly opposed to any religious practice laying stress on mere formalism and thereby becoming an end by itself but it did not deny its utility if it was used as a means to self-improvement. Going on pilgrimage may be harmful or useful depending upon how it is viewed and used. As a substitute for true religion it is meaningless but if it is taken as an aid to betterment of one's self, it may have a useful purpose to serve.

Thus, both of the two views discussed earlier cannot be accepted or rejected completely. The correct position as it appears to us may be summed up as under:

(i) The main purpose of constructing the baoli was to create a Sikh sacred centre so that Sikhs could come there rather than go to Hindu pilgrimage-centres.52

(ii) It marked no deviation from the path shown by Guru Nanak.

(iii) The consideration of having a more dependable source of drinking water was also present in the Guru's mind, but only as a subsidiary factor.

Idea of a New Centre

There are two different opinions as to the time when the city of Amritsar was founded. The prevailing view is that this was done by the fourth Guru Ram Das in 1577 A.D. three years after the death of Guru Amar Das. The account given in Sarup Das Bhalla's Mehma Prakash (pp. 289-290) seems to lend support to this view. On the other hand Santokh Singh and Macaulilfe have stated that the work was begun during the time of Guru Amar Das. Macauliffe says53:

"Probably anticipating the trouble that his sons Mohan and Mohri would cause Jetha, the Guru said to him, 'Search for some place other than Goindwal for the residence of our Sikhs. Go thither, build a great city, and cause it to be inhabited. Thou possessest the lands assigned thee by the Emperor. First build a house therein for thyself, and then excavate a tank to the east of it as a place of Sikh pilgrimage.''

"Jetha, searched and found an open uninhabited tract of country some twenty-five miles from Goindwal and there he established himself. He built a house for his residence and employed a crowd of labourers to excavate the earth for the construction of a tank. After some time, when a portion of the work was accomplished and several people had built huts for themselves on the new site, Jetha suffering from the pain of separation from the Guru, returned to Goindwal to report the extent of the work be had performed."

Continuing the account Macauliffe states that in due course Guru Amar Das sent Bhai Jetha back to his work with detailed instructions. The work proceeded rapidly for several months until it was time for Guru Amar Das to appoint a successor. Before his return to Goindwal, Jetha had excavated a somewhat deep pit near the ber tree now called Dukhbhanjani. But the tankl was yet incomplete.54

Of the two views mentioned above, the second commands greater plausibility. Even the first view which places the event much later in time, does not rule out the possibility that the land was originally obtained in the time of the third Guru. As to how this land was acquired, there are again two theories in the field. One of them is the long-standing and firmly-entrenched Sikh tradition that the land measuring 500 bighas was conferred upon Bibi Bhani by Emperor Akbar during his meeting with Guru Amar Das at Goindwal. It is said that the Emperor first wanted to give this land to the Guru for the maintenance of his Iangar (community kitchen) but on the Guru's refusal to accept the offer, the gift was made to his daughter. The other view holds that the land was purchased from the people of the village Tung for a sum of Rs 700/- (Akbari Tankas).55 In the absence of authentic historical evidence, it is difficult to say which of these views is correct. But they are not incapable of being reconciled. The first, and perhaps the greater, possibility is that the land was purchased earlier and later it was converted into rent-free (muaji) land by the Emperor. The other possibility is that when the land was granted by the Emperor, its possession had to be acquired by paying money to the people of the village Tung. If the former view is accepted, the land had been acquired prior to Akbar's visit to Goindwal in the year 1571. In the latter case, it was obtained at the time of his visit. In both cases the event happened during the period of Guru Amar Das.

There is thus a reasonable ground to suppose that it was Guru Amar Das who thought of creating a new centre of Sikhism and also made a selection of the site for the purpose. As to the considerations which lay behind this move, Macauliffe expresses the view56 that Guru Amar Das had anticipated that his sons Mohan and Mohri would cause trouble to Bhai Jetha if he stayed on at Goindwal, and so he advised him to develop a new place for his residence. He seems to hold the analogy in his mind that just as Guru Angad had, in view of his sons' unfriendly attitude towards him, advised Guru Amar Das to shift from Khadur to Goindwal, in the same way and for similar reasons, did Guru Amar Das counsel Bhai Jetha to develop a new place. But on closer scrutiny the two situations appear to be quite apart from each other. Whereas Guru A mar Das never visited Khadur after he had taken up his residence at Goindwal, Guru Ram Das (formerly Bhai Jetha) not only made frequent visits to Goindwal but also stayed there for long periods. This indicates that the fourth Guru did not experience any trouble from the third Guru's family.

There must be then some other considerations responsible for the idea of a second centre of Sikhism and selection of the site for this purpose. First, there was a certain serious disadvantage attached to the location of Goindwal. Being situated on the highway between Delhi and Lahore, it was too much exposed to official gaze. The frequency of high government officials, Mughal contingents and convoys passing through Goindwal posed a constant danger to the peaceful and quiet tenor of its life. It was therefore felt that a place away from the main route and yet not far removed from it, would make a better Sikh centre than Goindwal. The site selected fitted this qualification. Besides, it offered certain other advantages. It lay along an important trade route connecting the Delhi-Lahore highway on one side with the sub-montane route passing along the foot of the Himalayas on the other. The place had some sacred associations as well. For instance, it had the tradition of having been visited by Guru Nanak. It was also thought to be the site of an ancient holy tank, which belief is implicit in the story of Rajni whose husband, a leper, was cured of his dangerous disease by a dip in the miracle waters of a pool situated there.

Collection of Gurbani

Another significant step which contributed towards defining the identity of the Panth was to get together the compositions of the preceding Satgurus together with that of the third Guru. Faith in the satguru and his word (gurshabad or gurbani) was basic to the Sikh creed, and maximum emphasis had been laid on that ever since the time of the founder, Guru Nanak. How· ever, of late attempts had begun to be made by not so-well-disposed quarters to create confusion in the ranks of the emerging Panth by trying to pass spurious writings for those of the Sikh Gurus. A grave danger was inherent in this situation. Spurious hymns tended to deflect the devotees from the right path and thereby weaken the Panth. Such things, if not checked well in time, could lead to the rise of inconsistencies in Sikh religious beliefs and practices, which in due course could encourage fissiparous tendencies. They could also pave the way for a relapse of the Sikhs into the traditional Hindu fold. Well aware of the evil possibilities of this perilous situation, Guru Amar Das strongly urged upon his followers to spurn all false or spurious hymns and to accept only those which were genuine and authoritative. This will be evident from the following extract from his famous composition Anand Sahib57:

Come, ye disciples, beloved of the true Guru, sing a true song. Sing a song of the Guru, the song of songs, It will enter the hearts of those on whom God looketh with favour.

Abide in the love of God, repeat His Name, and He shall ever quaff nectar: Saith Nanak, ever sing this true song.

Without the true Guru every song is false, Every song is false without the true Guru;

They who utter it are false, they who hear it are false, and false is its author.

They may continually repeat God's name with their tongues, but they heed not what they say.

They whose hearts are seized by maya pray mechanically.

Saith Nanak, without the true Guru all songs are false.

No faith can be placed on any song other than that of the Guru.

Verbal exhortations, needed to be followed up by concrete steps. With this object in view, the Guru resolved to make a collection of all hymns composed by the preceding Gurus as well as by himself and to put them together under the seal of his approval. This important task was entrusted to Sans Ram, his grandson, for whom be had great love and affection. Sarup Das58 explains the Guru's fondness for him in these words:

His (Sans Ram's) mother expired during his infancy.

On seeing this, the compassionate Guru felt deeply moved.59

The Guru personally attended to his upbringing.

And let him eat and drink with him.

He (thus) grew up under the Guru's personal care,

He ate with the Guru from his own plate

And obtained all his knowledge and wisdom from that.

As regards the task entrusted to Sans Ram, Sarup Das writes60:

He (Sans Ram) wrote the bani (compositions) of the Satguru.

He who desired could learn it from him.

Fortunately the two pothis (manuscripts) prepared by Sans Ram are still extant. One of them is in the custody of Baba Dalip of Mandi Darapur in the district of Hoshiarpur while the other is preserved in the family of Bawa Bhagat Singh of Patiala city. The first is displayed for public view on every Sangrand (first day of an Indian solar month) and the second on every Puranmashi (full moon day).61 They are believed to be the same pothis for which Guru Arjan Dev had to proceed to Baba Mohan's house personally and to request him for their loan. Baba Mohan (second son of Guru Amar Das) who had at first declined to part with the pothis, was ultimately persuaded by the fifth Guru to lend them for the purpose of compiling the Adi Granth.

The initiative taken by Guru Amar Das thus paved the way for the subsequent compilation of Adi Granth by Guru Arjan Devin 1604 A.D. in several ways. First it made available an authentic version of the compositions of the earlier Gurus. Secondly, it underscored the desirability of fulfilling the long felt need of the Sikhs for easy accessibility of their sacred hymns. Thirdly, it carried a warning that if the spurious hymns which were gaining increasing currency among the Sikhs were not checked well in time, many simple-minded people among the Guru's devotees might be led astray.


1. Adi Granth, p. 300. Here and henceforward, I have mostly depended for English translation of quotations from Gurbani on Macauliffe's work, The Sikh Religion, Vol. II.

2. ibid. p. 586.

3. Adi Granth, 89.

4. Ibid., 423.

5. ibid. 920.

6. ibid. 1421.

7. ibid., 161.

8. Adi Granth, 30.

9. ibid., 39.

10. ibid., 85, 86.

11. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 198; Adi, Granth, 491.

12. Adi Granth, 162.

13. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. 11, p. 236.

14. Adi Granth, 1172.

I5. ibid., 1089. Also see Adi Granth, 1173, 1175, 1176.

16. ibid., 1128.

17. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 160; Adi Granth, 64. We have seen earlier in this book that the Guru's utter disregard of castes created a great stir in the country and wherever he proceeded, he was met with anxious inquiries about his views on the subject. A deputation of the protagonists of the caste system (varnashram) even lodged a complaint with Emperor Akbar against the Guru's innovations but to no avail.

18. Adi Granth, 787.

19. Guru Angad had made it clear in unequivocal terms that Sikhism was essentially a religion of householders and was distinct from the 'Udasi' faith of Baba Sri Chand, elder son of Baba Nanak. When Guru Amar Das ascended the gaddl, it is said that Baba Sri Chand revived his claim to the gaddi of his father. Many pious Hindus who were greatly impressed by his asceticism and piety lent their moral support to him. Guru Amar Das faced this 'Udasi' danger boldly. He told his disciples that Guru Nanak was strongly opposed to udas (asceticism) and it was for this reason that after his udasis (long journeys in the garb of an udasi) he finally settled down at Kartarpur and lived for 20 long years in the manner of a householder. See Kirpal Singh Narang, History of the Punjab (1965), p, 87.

20. Adi Granth, 425.

21. ibid., 425. Also see Adl Granth, 26, 29, 232, 587, 599.

22. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 84.

23. Adi Granth, 361-Asa Mahalia 3. The word in the original text is darshan which means system of thought. The word, 'system' here should be taken in the same sense.

24. ibid., 593-Wadhans ki Var Mahalla 4 (Slokas of Guru Amar Das).

25. ibid., 923.

26. ibid., 849.

27. ibid., p. 115 - Majh Astpadi of Guru Amar Das. Also see Adi Granth, 114, 129,158, 160, 362.

28. ibid., Vol. II, p. 151, (fn).

29. K.S. Narang, History of the Punjab (1965), p. 90.

30. Teja Singh, Sikhism: Its Ideals and Institutions (1938), pp. 41-42.

31. I.B. Banerjee, Evolution of the Khalsa, p. 168-Second Edition (1963). Earlier on p. 167 he cites "the increased activity of the Langar to show that the Sikh movement was daily gaining in strength and popularity."

32. Banerjee, op. cit., p. 168.

33. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 151.

34. Teja Singh, op. cit., p. 42.

35. K.S . Narang. op. cit., p. 89.

36. G.G. Singh, op. cit., pp. 94-95.

37. Dr Dil, op. cit., p. 61.

38. Ibid.

39. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 85; Bhai Vir Singh, op. cit., p. 164.

40. Dr B.S. Dil, op. cit. pp. 57, 58.

41. Bhai Kanh Singh published his Mahan Kosh in 1931. He has not indicated the sources on which he has based his list. The Goindwal list, too, is not very old, considering the time of the photograph on which it is found inscribed. Moreover, there is no evidence to show the basis of information on which the list given here was drawn.

42. A detailed account of the various manjis has been given in the appendix to this chapter as it was not possible to adjust it in the body of the text here.

43. Dr B.S. Dil, op. cit., PP. 58-60.

44. Sarup Das, op. cit. p. 132.

45. ibid., pp. 132, 133.

46. Macauliffe (op. cit., Vol. II, p. 79) mentions that two other annual gatherings were also decided upon on this occasion. One was to be held on the first day of the month or Magh and the other on the ancient festival of Diwali. But there is support for this view in the pages of Mehma Prakash.

47. The questions when the baoli project was begun, how long it remained under construction and when it was brought to completion have been discussed in an earlier chapter, See Chapter V. The chroniclers have mentioned a number of events associated with the construction work of the baoli. They h1ve been referred to at different places in this work. To avoid repetition it has been thought unnecessary to give them here once again.

48. Sarup Das, op. cit., p. 158.

49. ibid. 1 p, 194.

50. W.H. Mcleod, The Evolution of the Sikh Community, p. 8, (Oxford University Press, 1975).

51. Macauliffe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 79.

52. Sarup Das (op. cit., pp. 197-199) has given an anecdote which throws significant light on this point. Once a large group of people were going to Hardwar for holy bath in the Ganga water. On the way they passed through Goindwal. Seeing the Guru standing near the baoli, they came to meet him. Addressing them the Guru told them not to make the arduous journey but to have a dip in the baoli which too had the Ganga water. One of them actually had a dip but he did not want to violate his resolve and resumed his journey along with other members of the group. On his departure the Guru asked him to bring for him some Ganga water. After his bath in the Ganga when he was trying to fill his jug with the holy water, the vessel slipped suddenly out of his hand and was sunk. On his way back at Goindwal he waited upon the Guru and told him what had happened to his vessel at Hardwar. The Guru informed him that his vessel had come into the baoli and asked him to get down to the place where he could find it. He acted as he was instructed and to his great surprise recovered his lost jug from there. Thereupon, he begged the Guru's forgiveness for not obeying him on the earlier occasion.

The event may not have happened as it is mentioned here, but at least its moral can be appreciated. The most significant part of the anecdote is that the Guru tells the group to abandon the journey to the Ganga saying:

"My dear ones, why take this trouble? I have brought the Ganga into the baoli. Accept my word and have your bath here, Don't have any doubt about this and harvest the fruit of your heart's desire."

53. Macaulitfe, op. cit., Vol. 11, p. 141.

54. ibid., 142.

55. Narang and Gupta, History of the Punjab (Delhi 1969), p. 88. Also see Amrltsar Gazetteer.

56. Macaulitfe, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 141.

57. Adi Granth (Ramkali Anand ), 920. The English translation is from Macauliffe (op. cit., Vol. II, p. 124).

58. Sarup Das, op. cit., p. 208.

59. Mohan lived in seclusion and paid no attention to the new · born child. This factor is not mentioned but is no doubt implied here.

60. Sarup Das, op. cit., p. 208.

61. Dr B.S. Dil, op. cit., p. 54. Both the custodians have so far refused to allow any scholarly scrutiny of these manuscripts to be made. All the same there is no doubt about their genuineness.