Sunday, December 6, 2009

“Dasam” Granth - A Look At The Core Problems

By Gaurav Singh

Like so many other issues that contemporary Sikhs choose to deal with, this issue is contrived and, indeed, a red herring (in that, it is meant to divert attention). I largely agree with Sardar I. J. Singh’s take on things and would like to make some further distinctions that may help separate "the wheat from the chaff".

Rather than getting into minutiae, historical or otherwise, it is sometimes more helpful to understand the basis, the fundamentals, the core, the Tat of the issue under consideration. In my understanding the fundamentals under concern here are:

1) Who/what is Guru?
2) Who has the right to decide the status of what is and what is not Guru?
3) In light of the above, what is the status of the so-called Dasam Granth?

Sardar I. J. Singh has shed light upon this by exposing, quite simply, the hypocrisy practiced by those who believe in any real relation between Guru Gobind Singh and Hemkunt (as a historical GurAsthan). Of course, if Sikhs give no credence to the Hindu pilgrimages visited by Lehna ji (later became a Sikh, and then, Guru Angad) and Amar ji (later became a Sikh, and then, Guru Amar Das) in the same life which saw them first become Sikhs and then the Guru, then how can a GurSikh deign to validate an alleged previous life of Guru Gobind Singh?

The Gurmat here is that we are engaged with and get our guidance from the Guru, and the actions of Nanak II & III prior to their ascension to the status of the Guru do not have the sanction of (what I term) Guru-authority. So, any validity to an alleged previous life of Nanak X is beyond baffling and, certainly, not Gurmat.

Now back to the core. Who is the Guru?

The Guru existed prior to Guru Nanak and shall always exist, as long as there is existence, since the Guru is Shabad. This fact is also apparent because of the inclusion (within Guru Granth Sahib) of the Bani of Sheikh Farid and Bhagat Kabir, etc. who preceded Guru Nanak Sahib.

At this time, I should make clear the distinction between Guru and, what I term, Guru-authority. When Guru Nanak sanctioned Guru Angad as the Guru going forward, he himself lived for some time thereafter. No sane person would suggest that the Guru within Guru Nanak suddenly left him and went into Bhai Lehna. When Guru Angad becomes Guru it does not mean that Guru Nanak is not Guru. Guriai is not a zero-sum game. Rather, it is akin to a Jot (en)light(en)ing another Jot.

Therefore, what Guru Nanak passed onto Bhai Lehna was the Guru-authority. Bhai Lehna was, in fact, indistinguishable from Guru Nanak, hence his Ang(ad). What they had in common was the enlightenment from Shabad Guru!

So, at the same time in 1539 CE existed Guru Angad Sahib (Guru-authority) and Guru Nanak. In a smaller sense this could be understood through the concept of Presidency in the United States. Barack Obama is the President, while George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Carter are also Presidents. All but Obama, however, are not charged with the authority to make executive decisions for the 50 states in the union.

The difference here is that the de jure authority for Presidents is conferred by the constitution and, loosely speaking, by the people. Whereas, the Guru-authority is conferred upon Guru Nanak by the 1 and this authority is further recognized by the people with the ability to make that distinction – the Sikhs (and I would distinguish them from the “Sikhs”, for instance, Sain Mian Mir was a Sikh of the Shabad Guru, yet not a “Sikh”). The de facto and moral charge of the Guru is given by the people whose commitment is to themselves be transformed by the Mat of the Guru.

The transfer of Guru-authority continued 9 more times when it came to Guru Gobind Singh. It was Guru Gobind Singh’s charge, as it was of every Guru-authority before him, to decide what is and what is not Guru(bani). With this established, I shall point out a fact:

Not every word communicated by the Guru-authority, whether spoken or written, is Gurbani or Guru!

For instance, if the Guru (Nanak I-X) asked a mundane question – the address to someone’s home – it is not Gurbani. Only that which the Guru confers with the status of Gurbani is such. This is obvious, yet clearly not understood by many.

There is not a single word of Nanak VI-VIII in what was to become Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). Of course, in their lifetime each Guru Sahiban spoke and, no doubt, wrote words.

But mere words, no matter how powerful, do not Gurbani make!

Word(s) becomes Shabad Guru, only when it is given such status by the Guru-authority.

But more relevant to our issue, Guru Gobind Singh (who completed the authorship of what was to be SGGS) consciously chose to include Guru Tegh Bahadar Sahib’s Bani and also made a conscious decision not to include any of his own Bani within SGGS.

I ask for your patience in looking at further implications and urge the readers to keep their emotional responses and mental discomfort in check as they read on.

Whether one word or the entire so-called Dasam Granth is written by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib himself, it is not Gurbani or Shabad Guru, on its own. The Guru himself decided that by not including a single word of his own within SGGS.

So, are the supporters of the “Dasam” Granth then challenging the Guru by conferring the status of Gurbani to parts of the so-called Dasam Granth? Yes and No!

Yes: Because of the pervasive ignorance of the reasoning above, on its face – Yes, these “Sikhs” are in a way challenging the Guru’s decision. They are doing so under the garb of Sharda (faith), which is in fact Anni Sharda (blind faith). They claim to do so out of respect for the Guru. I say claim, because they do not respect the Guru sufficiently enough to accept the Guru’s Hukam.

Before I get to the "No", I want to clarify another matter. Just as Guru-authority was passed from Nanak I - X, in 1699 CE Guru Gobind Singh (Nanak X) passed Guru-authority to the Guru Khalsa Panth, when after administering the Khande-ki-Pahul to the Panj Piare he asked them to initiate him into the Panth Khalsa. At that moment, the Guru-authority was passed onto the Guru Khalsa Panth. Hence, by the reasoning presented above, the supporters of the so-called Dasam Granth may not be directly opposing the Guru.

No: Since, in part, the status of Gurbani or Shabad Guru can be conferred only by the Guru-authority, the Guru Khalsa Panth does presumably have the authority to confer the status of Gurbani or Shabad Guru. This is where some complexity arises.

The Guru Khalsa Panth, drafted a widely circulated document, the final draft of which, has henceforth been accepted as the “Sikh Rehit Mariada” and published by several organizations, including the SGPC’s Dharam Parchar Committee. In it are some Banis which are included in the Nitnem – Jaap, Sawaiye, and a carefully chosen portion of Chaupai. No other portion of the writings within the so-called Dasam Granth has been included in the Panthic Rehit, with the exception of portions in the beginning of the formal Ardas and the previously mentioned Bani as a part of Amrit Sanskar, or during administration of the Khande-ki-Pahul (initiation into the Khalsa collective).

The folks, whom I shall refer to as the ominous “they” going forward, who are now forwarding the legitimacy of the so-called Dasam Granth and some of whom are displaying it in parallel with SGGS are also generally opposed to the Panthic Rehit Mariada. They have two problems and neither of these problems is insubstantial.

If they say they call the writings within the so-called Dasam Granth "Gurbani" because they claim it is, in part or wholly, Guru Gobind Singh’s, then they dismiss the Guru’s own decision and Hukam that only that which is within SGGS is sanctioned by the Guru-authority as Shabad Guru or Gurbani. These people become Guru-dokhi (Detractors of the Guru)!

The other issue is that the Guru Khalsa Panth can and has already made decisions as the Guru-authority. But by disavowing or working actively to undermine the credibility and authority of the Guru Khalsa Panth, they (the blind supporters of the so-called Dasam Granth) become Panth-dokhi (Detractors of the Panth)!


  1. A Good Article however not a neutral one.... anyone who wants to support Dasam Granth and also those who who oppose it, should first read and understand SGGS in complete totality ( including Sikh history and Vyakhya of all the Shabad's) and then in the same way do for DG and then they would not need to fall under misconceptions and find the answer for themselves.

    They would in the Process know the complete Truth which was the Guru's Real Motive... However that may not happen as Sikhs we are not ready to do all that effort.

  2. GurFateh

    After reading I.J. Singh's article followed by Gaurav Singh's article. In the mist of all the confusion and cynical fog I feel the vision clearly expressed puts the "self-made" controversy strongly on the table, in direction and in momentum to a solution.

    1) Who/what is Guru?
    2) Who has the right to decide the status of what is and what is not Guru?
    3) In light of the above, what is the status of the so-called Dasam Granth?

    The above questions are critical and can be an awakening to lead one to personal liberation from this overdue controversy. For many, if not majority of the Khalsa Panth - feelings for and against the Granth have been expressed in fragmented cliché generalizations. Not to mention, holding strong personal emotions, attachments and group affiliations. This has left the Panth fractured and disabled. One is first deciding if one’s personal affiliation abides with the view of the Guru Khalsa Panth. Irrespective of the collective thought, one is operating out of his/her own state of mind. This is a fractured, stale and an enslaved thought process in which the possibility of new “Sikhia” (knowledge/teaching) to enlighten the mind is diminished. This causes the mental paradigm to shift, which causes one to believe one self is the most important and all others are second. This also causes one to judge others based out of one’s personal affiliation (Man-math/Guru-dhoki) and not from the visionary eye of the operating Guru Khalsa Panth.

    The time has come to solve this matter once and for all. Many are using generalizations, and aligning them self with the term "faith" (Sharda) to justify emotional outcries. One has to ask oneself if the “Sharda” Guru Sahib expresses in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is born out of ignorance and blind ritualiziam (Anni Sharda)? Or in fact its core and base is out of “Anthar Gian.” Sikhi was never meant to be a walk in the park, but a journey in this deep beautiful vast colorful jungle.

    Questions to Address:

    If one is claiming there is no Khalsa Panth, or any Sikhi without “Dasam” Granth. (A common view amongst Sikh circles). Then is one also claiming that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is incomplete and not “Sampuran” (complete)?

    In respect to Gurmat and Khalsa protocol - Is the leading body of the Guru Khalsa Panth allowed to have meetings and “Pesh” (summons) behind closed doors (particularly, when we are trying to find out who our Guru is)?

    All victory to Akaal and may he bless us all with the “Atal Gian” and the Chardi-Kalan to separate fact from fiction; helping us rise victoriously.

  3. There are good logical arguments presented in this article, but they are fallible.

    One can extend the argument presented that it is within Guru Panth's authority to elevate even today's piece of some literature to the status of Gurbani - if Guru Panth so desires

    This would be simply popular interpretation of divine, but hardly the truth itself. Imagine if Khalsa Panth had to vote a couple of centuries ago to decide if world was flat or not! I am afraid this contradicts Gurbanee itself:

    1) Aiso gian birlo ee paayae -803
    2) Birlo giani boojnou, satgur saach mialayee - 935

    It is a nice way to reject Dassam Granth without even getting bogged down into its historicity. I am afraid the roots of corrupted history within the panth are much deeper than what even most intellectuals are willing to accept. These extend well beyond Dassam Granth - seekers beware!

  4. Thank you for your comments.

    Here are some issues I have identified through your comments. I shall primarily focus upon the critical feedback as that offers me the best opportunity to refine my own views.

    • Perceived bias in my writing,
    • Bold, yet unsubstantiated, claims made by Anonymous #1,
    • Insufficient proof of the fallibility of my case by Anonymous #2,
    • Request to Anonymous #2 to be less cryptic with his/her comments.

    I shall deal with these in separate comments to both Anonymous #1 and #2.

    Of course, you are free to comment while retaining your anonymity. But I invite those commenting to reveal your names.

  5. Dear Anonymous #1,

    Neutrality and perceived bias:

    I certainly do not claim to be without all bias. Making such a claim would be futile and hardly based in authenticity. We all approach every issue with a set of ideas based upon our collective experiences. The critical distinction is whether we are open to finding what is there, and open to not being “right”. Or shall we distort what we find to fit our preconceived notions? It is only there that our bias becomes a hindrance to our search.

    I am open to not be “right” and I am not committed to staying consistent in my folly.

    Therefore, Anonymous #1 my question to you is: have you found any meaningful deficiency in the case that I have put forth?

    You are probably correct in saying that should one read and completely understand SGGS and the so-called Dasam Granth, one would find the answer themselves. However, I am laying a clear case identifying the fundamental problems with the status of Gurbani being attributed to the collection of writings known today as the Dasam Granth. Your comment does not meaningfully consider the distinctions I have made.

    The truism that When one knows the answer one shall not ask the question, does not necessarily make clear that which is at the core of this controversy.

    Anonymous #1, you said “They would…know the complete Truth which was the Guru’s Real Motive”

    The Guru has never claimed that anyone shall or even can know the complete Truth. Actually, Guru Sahib repeatedly states that no one, but the One, can fully know the Infinite One. For instance, in Jap ji, Guru Nanak says "Jevad bhavai Tevad hoi. Nanak, janai Sacha soi." Also, that the One is, essentially, Unknowable through the senses (Agochar). And those who claim to know the full extent of the One are recognized as the most ignorant amongst legions of ignoramuses - "Je ko akhai bol vigarh, tan likhiai, sir gavaran gavar."

    To which “complete Truth” do you refer?

    Secondly, one should be very careful in ascribing the “real motives” to Guru Sahib’s actions and to our understanding of Gurbani. It would assume knowledge of the Guru's motives, which no one can irrefutably make. We can make inferences. This is the trap into which many true “believers” regularly fall.

    (Note: Soon, I shall explore the problem of belief /disbelief vs. doubt/faith.)

  6. Anonymous #2 has said:
    “One can extend the argument presented that it is within Guru Panth's authority to elevate even today's piece of some literature to the status of Gurbani - if Guru Panth so desires”

    Anonymous #2, your comment does not prove the fallibility of my case. Rather, what you have done is to look at the potential implications of what it means to have the Guru-authority decide what is and what is not Gurbani.

    Do you have any reasoned disagreement with my case up to this point? I shall proceed with the assumption that you do not or you would have stated it.

    You should note that I have not discussed every potential contingency in this short piece. Rather, I have focused on the fundamental issues with the so-called Dasam Granth being considered Gurbani. I have presented, to the best of my ability, a cogent reasoning how in the absence of (Guru) Panthic sanction there is no validity to the claim that even a single word from the numerous writings within the “Dasam” Granth is or could be Gurbani.

    That said, Anonymous #2, you have identified an important aspect of what can or cannot be Gurbani – its consistency with Gurmat.

    Please keep in mind that first a Bani has to be completely in line with Gurmat and then it has to be given sanction by the Guru-authority, for it to become “Gurbani”. Mere consistency with Gurmat does not make it Gurbani. Guru Sahib chose to include some but not other Bani from all that existed – that shows there is a very refined method at work.

    In the post Nanak (I-X) period, this sanction can only come from the Guru Khalsa Panth. There are plenty of powerful writings by Walt Whitman, Bulle Shah and Zen Koans among many others that, I can make a strong case, are in line with Gurmat. But I do not have the authority to call it “Gurbani”. Nor do a million other people who may come to agree with me. But acting as a representative body of the Khalsa collective, with the consent of the Panth, the Guru Khalsa can presumably ascribe the status of Gurbani.

  7. Anonymous #2 has said:
    “This would be simply popular interpretation of divine, but hardly the truth itself. Imagine if Khalsa Panth had to vote a couple of centuries ago to decide if world was flat or not! I am afraid this contradicts Gurbanee itself:

    1) Aiso gian birlo ee paayae -803
    2) Birlo giani boojnou, satgur saach mialayee – 935”

    The Guru Khalsa Panth does not function on the simplistic democratic principle of “one man, one vote” as the means to come up with decisions. Any decision made by the Guru has to be totally in line with Gurmat – SGGS. It is extremely difficult to get such coherence within the Panth and that is why it is highly unlikely, yet theoretically possible, that writings outside of SGGS shall be given the status of Gurbani.

    There are no frivolous claims made within Gurbani that can be refuted by science or other inquiries. Satigur is Universal Enlightening Truth that is beyond parochial and temporal understandings. It is the principle at work. Therefore, the question whether the Earth is flat or not would not be addressed in Gurbani, since it is not a question that addresses the fundamental concern of the Guru – Kiv Sachiara hoiai, kiv kurhai tutai pal? How shall I BE authentic, and how shall the veil of duality/falsehood/temporality be removed?

    I looked to the complete Shabads that you have referred. To my understanding, this is what they say:

    1) This line, you have picked up, is actually from the 1st Chaupada in Rag Bilaval by Nanak V. This Shabad talks of the One Akal Purakh being in all and all that is as a manifestation of the One. This is a fact. And it is “seen” by rare beings who operate in life recognizing the One.

    But in order to understand better what Guru Sahib may be referring to here, I looked to the following Shabads and, like beads on a string, the links speak of the amazing nature of “being” where the One dwells within all and I (the recipient of the Satigur) who is drowning within the ocean of pain and suffering (born of duality), ask for Nam. The feeble, drowning person – myself – realized that by imbibing Nam, the Divine attributes, I can be liberated. With this realization, I then ask to be blessed with the ability to make these distinctions.
    (This is a brief summary of what I got from this Chaupada)

    2) The second line you mentioned is from Nanak I’s Oankar in Rag Ramkali “Dakhani”, which has 54 Paurhis. The essence of Oankar bani is in its Rahao.

    Here, Guru Nanak says to the Pandit (intellectuals and those who lead others in “religious” matters) that mere argumentation is of no use. Unless the discussion helps us in our path to union with Akal Purakh, the discussions and arguments are all useless. If we wish to be successful in our life, then we must reflect upon and practice the Divine attributes, until we are one with the One.

    a. You have quoted a line from the 40th Paurhi. It says that most people perish without having union with the One, whiling away their life in empty, temporary, pursuits. Only those rare individuals who live guided by the Satigur understand this.

    Therefore, as is evident by the discussion of the Shabads above, mere argumentation is futile and if we wish to unite with the Infinite One, then guided by the Satigur we can navigate the pitfalls of this (dualistic) existence. And that is the answer to your concern about the Panth.

    The Guru Khalsa Panth is a collection of those rare individuals who have the wisdom discussed by Guru Sahib in the 2 Shabads where you got those lines.

    The Guru Khalsa Panth are the rare ones who are guided by the Satigur. The Guru-authority Khalsa Panth is guided by the Shabad Guru Granth Sahib. They are inseparable.

    So, Anonymous #2, where is the contradiction?

  8. Jan 29,2010 is black day for Khalsa Panth ant bright day for kalka panth.