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)!