Creation of Khalsa as described by Bhatt Sarup Singh Kaushish in "Guru Kian Sakhian"
Parchian Sewa Das, dated 1708 A.D. is probably the earliest available narration, in prose, of some episodes from the life of Guru Gobind Singh. Its date of completion coincides with the date of the passing away of Guru Sahib and it seems to have been written at Nander itself. Thirty- eight of the fifty episodes (Nos. 13 to 50) contained in the work pertain to Guru Gobind Singh, but none of them describes the event as such in any form. There is, however, a passing but significant reference to it in the very first episode which after giving "a brief sample" of the Zafarnamah1 is concluded as follows:
"The letter contained the warning, ‘Beware, the Khalsa is born, the real idol-breaker Khalsa. Khalsa will punish you. You will not be spared."
"The name of the messenger who took this letter was Bhai Daya Singh. When Aurangzeb read this line of the letter, he looked at Bhai Daya Singh and asked, ‘Has the Khalsa taken birth’? ‘Yes, Sir, the Khalsa has appeared,’ replied Bhai Daya Singh. ‘It should not have appeared15. That is a novel nectar to be prepared with the use of a double at this time. I see doom ahead.’ Saying this, Aurangzeb’s face turned pale, and he died." 19
Its episode No. 47 refers to a violation of Rehat, the Code of Socio-religious Conduct and discipline prescribed for the Khalsa, at Dadu Dwara - Guru’s salutation, Khalsa’s notice, Guru’s explanation and acceptance of the tankhah20 awarded by the Khalsa.21
The abolition of the Masand System and the removal of all masands is intrinsically linked with the creation of the Khalsa, that being its primary connotation. It was one of the first injunctions of the Guru and the Sikhs were told not to have any truck with them. This is corroborated even by the extant Hukamnamas22 sent by Guru Gobind Singh to various Sikh Sangats - the first of them being the one dated 12 March 1699 (that is, 19 days earlier than the event) addressed to the Sangat of Machhiwara23 (district Ludhiana). Chander Sen Sainapat, an eminent scholarly poet of the Guru’s Court, also confirms it by stating in his Sri Gur Sobha (completed in 1711) that by abrogating their institution, doing away with their mediacy and making all Sikhs his own Khalsa, the Guru affiliated and related the entire Sikh community directly with himself.
Karan har Kartar hukum karte kiya kar masand sabh dur, khalsa kar liya24
He actually transformed it into his Khalsa, so said Bhai Gurdas Singh, another contemporary, most probably an eye-witness to the event:
Gur-Sangat kini Khalsa
It was, therefore, quite right and appropriate on the part of Sarup Singh Kaushish to begin his account of that historic event with the condemnation, dismissal and summary punishment of the depraved masands.
Immediately after mentioning the above command of Guru Gobind Singh, Kaushish begins his narration of the event telling as under the date of its occurrence:
Charhde saal satrah seh pachawan baisakhi26
This is what we find neither in the Parchian of Sewa Das nor in Sri Gur Sobha of Sainapat. This is what is very wrongly given by Koer Singh in his Gurbilas Patshahi 10, completed in 1751 and so far the earliest available account of the same, commencing his narration in the relevant canto no. 9, as follows:
Yah bidhi panth banai hai27
He has mentioned it twice and both times 1746 BK.,28 corresponding to 1689 A.D., instead of 1699 A.D. universally accepted till now.
Sainapat began the writing of his work, Sri Gur Sobha, in 1701 - two years or so after the creation of the Khalsa in 1699. He completed it in 1711, within three years of the demise of Guru Gobind Singh. Having been an eminent poet of his court, both at Paonta Sahib and Anandpur Sahib, he would have been an eye-witness to all that happened on 30 March 1699 at Anandpur. But in spite of its being a contemporary historical significance and poetical excellence, it is quite silent over almost all those aspects and incidents of the event which have been noticed in the above narration of Guru Kian Sakhian and which are generally known to the people uptil now. He has referred, though, to the huge gathering on the occasion of Vaisakhi at Anandpur, without mentioning even its year, yet there is no explicit reference in it even to the thundering call for heads made by the Guru in that assemblage and what followed thereafter. He seems to have taken it for granted that unique and memorable event and the details associated with it were already known to his readers. Hence, he does not seem to have considered it necessary or useful to describe the same.
Sainapat’s Sri Gur Sobha is followed by Koer Singh’s Gurbilas which is also a versified account of the life of Guru Gobind Singh, and is probably the first available work that covers in detail almost the entire span of his life, completed within 43 years of his passing away. As hinted above, it is also the so-far-first available work in which are recorded some details of the event that led to the creation of the Khalsa. But its narration falls short not only in telling us a wrong and misleading date of its occurrence but also in several other elements and aspects of the subject. Unlike that of Sainapat and Kaushish, Koer Singh’s account is doctrinally heterodox in its nature, content and presentation. It runs counter to the tenets, teachings and writings of Guru Gobind Singh. Quite contrary to the glaring facts of history, most of these are figments of Koer Singh’s poetic fancy, leading not only to heterodoxy but also to heresy. Hence, there is very little of historical, factual and, therefore, credible element in his account.29
According to Koer Singh, the first Piara, Bhai Daya Ram, belonged to Lahore, but Bawa Sarup Das Bhalla, author of the Mehma Parkash (dated 1776), and Sarup Singh Kaushish have mentioned him as a resident of Sialkot or Shalkot, respectively. 30 He was a Sopat or Softi (not Sobti, as it is now pronounced) Khatri, according to all of them.
The next work, in chronological order, is Bansavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka by Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibbar. He completed this poeticized work in 1769. There is no mention in it of the Sis-bhet episode nor of the very bold and spectacular method adopted by Guru Gobind Singh to select his Panj Piare (five Beloved ones).31 According to him, Guru Gobind Singh planned to create the Khalsa when the year 1750 Bk. (1693 A.D.) came to its end:
Sambat satara sai pachas pura hoya31
The last such work, that is Mehma Parkash, dated 1776, by Bawa Sarup Das Bhalla, seems to have followed Koer Singh’s Gurbilas in repeating the same heterodoxical element.32 Its account is not only insignificant but is also incredible to a very large extent.
On the other side, Bhai Sarup Singh Kaushish who wrote the above account of that great event 14 years after Bhalla, 21 years after Chhibbar and 39 years after Koer Singh, had steered clear of all such flights of poetical imagination, Brahmanical influences and heretical overtones. He seems to have followed only the first-hand information he found recorded in the Bhatt Vahis of his ancestors who remained in attendance with Sri Guru Gobind Singh and happened to be eye-witness to most of the events associated with his court and camp till he passed away.33
Basing his account on such an authentic and reliable contemporary source, Kaushish related the first "baptismal" ceremony, held at Keshgarh Sahib on the Vaisakhi Day (30 March) of 1699, in the next Sakhi, bearing no. 59, as follows:
That is, "now begins the anecdote regarding initiation with ambrosial baptism by the nectar of the double-edged broadsword."
"Guru ji asked Diwan Dharam Chand to bring a stone mortar, a steel bowl and the double-edged broadsword. Obeying the command, Diwan ji brought in the same.
"Placing the bowl on the stone mortar and putting in it the water of river Sutluj, Guru ji started the preparation of his ambrosial nectar. He began to stir the Khanda in it with his hand in front of the five Sikhs - Bhai Daya Ram and others. He recited at first Japji Sahib.
"The revered mother asked Bhai Kirpa Ram, ‘What Guru ji is doing?’ He said, ‘Revered mother’, Guru ji is preparing ambrosial nectar of the double-edged broadsword for administering it to the Sikhs.’ The revered mother was deeply moved on hearing this. She instantly came to Guru’s presence with a lawful of patasas. Paying at first her obeisance to Guru ji, she poured the patasas from her lap into that bowl. The all-knowing Guru ji did not look at her and continued with his recitation of Jap ji with full concentration. After reciting the sacred compositions of Jap ji, Jaap Sahib, Sawayyas and Chaupai, he recited Anand Sahib. When the ambrosial elixir became ready, he stood up and performed the Ardas. Concluding it with the prayer; he called out Fateh, and raised aloud the spirited chant of Sat Sri Akal.
"The True Guru, then, dripped the ambrosial nectar five times, from the edge of the Khanda into his own mouth, repeating each time the Fateh, salutation of God’s victory.
"The True Guru, thereafter, holding the Khanda in his right hand, said, ‘This broadsword with the stirring of which I am going to give you the ambrosial nectar of steel, was endowed to me by the Immanent and Eternal Being (God) on His calling me from the mountain of Hemkunt. Keep it (its replica) under your short turban. With its blessing you will gain victory in every field of activity.’
"After this, he uttered the following three couplets38 in a roaring voice:
ਅਸਿ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਨ ਖੰਢੋ ਖੜਗ, ਤੁਬਕ ਤਬਰ ਅਰ ਤੀਰ।
ਸੈਫ਼ ਸਰੋਹੀ ਸੈਹਥੀਂ, ਯਹੀ ਹਮਾਰੇ ਪੀਰ ।
You are the Timeless
You are the goddess of death;
You are the arrow.
You are the symbol of victory.
You are the Almighty Hero of the world.38
"After uttering the above couplets, he looked towards the Five, Daya Ram and others, who were standing in front and watching with fixed gaze the bowl of nectar. Making them sit in the bir-asan, he administered to each, by turns, that ambrosial nectar of the broadsword. Then, starting at first from Bhai Daya Ram and going up to Bhai Himmat Chand, he made them drink three sips each of whatever nectar was left over in the bowl. Returning them from Bhai Himmat Rai and proceeding towards Bhai Daya Ram, he finished the nectar by letting them take two more sips each.
"Assigning the word Singh first to his own name and thence to the names of all the Five Chosen Sikhs, Guru ji called out Fateh (the victory salutation) and raised aloud the spirited chant of Sat Sri Akal.
"Thereafter, Guru ji pronounced, ‘on your rebirth in the Khalsa Panth, your previous lineage, caste, creed, calling, customs, beliefs and superstitions, etc. stand annulled from now onwards. Transforming you into the Order of Khalsa, I have endowed you with the apparel of the Almighty God, you shall have to keep its honour. Before administering this nectar of steel, I also bestowed you with five kakaars (Ks, i.e. defining emblems). You have never to keep them away from your body even by mistake. I gave you, at the start, a blue keski, kangha, kirpan, sarbloh ka kara and white kachhehra. In the event of the loss or misplacement of any of these, get its infringement pardoned in the Sangat by going to Gurdwara without any delay.
"Now listen to the following four bajjar kurehats (negative injunctions or transgressions) by the commission of any of them a Sikh becomes an apostate and cannot intermingle with the Sikh sangat. The first is the dishonouring of one’s rom (hair) from top to be. The next are eating of kutha, using of tobacco and cohabiting with a Muslim woman. In the event of the infringement of any one of these, you must get yourself pardoned by having yourself re-baptized with the nectar of the broadsword. Do not cherish any relation or communication with the five antagonists of the Panth, that is, the descendants and followers of Prithi Chand, Dhir Mal, Ram Rai, masands and the shaven. Whosoever from any of them shall come to the Sangat and shall present himself for forgiveness for his omissions or commissions, he should be forgiven without any suspicion or hesitation. You shall not fix your faith, even by mistake, in any monastery, crematory, tomb or grave, excepting in God, the only One Timeless Being. I have blended you with gold’ - So do not harbour delusions and suspicions, differentiation’s and discriminations among yourselves".
This too is almost a complete statement on the above aspect of the event, described in a simple, systematic, explicit and plausible way, which we miss in other available contemporary - or near-contemporary - accounts, including the works mentioned above. It is very useful and encouraging to note that the basic elements of the process of the preparation of the nectar and its administration, as mentioned by Kaushish, accords in their basic formation with what is outlined in the Sikh Rehat Maryada approved in 1945 by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar, and which are in actual practice uptil now, that is more than two hundred years after the completion of the text of Guru Kian Sakhian by Bhai Sarup Singh Kaushish.
His version is, however, deficient in missing (though hinted) one important incident of the event which is touched, as under, but not concluded in Koer Singh’s Gurbilas which tells that after baptising the Blessed Five, Guru Gobind Singh himself besought to be baptized likewise by the Blessed Five and admitted thereby to the Brotherhood:
Ja vidhi amrit tum Gur payo
taise mohe milayo bhayo.50
On the other hand, we do not find the inclusion of the above-mentioned Sarab Loh Ka Kara (steel bracelet) in the list of the 5 kakaars (five Ks. emblems) given in Koer Singh’s version. As far as I know, Sarup Singh’s Sakhian is the first such work which has included it in that list of five in so many words.
According to both Koer Singh and Sarup Singh, it was the revered mother who, after hearing from Kirpa Ram about what the Guru ji was doing, had come of her own and had poured a lawful of patasas (sugar puffs) in the bowl of nectar under preparation.51 But Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibbar’s Bansavalinama wrongly and unduly gives the credit of the sweetening of the ambrosial water to Diwan Sahib Chand, one of his own ancestors.52 Without mentioning the names of the universally accepted Panj Piare (Five Beloved Ones), Chhibbar had wound up his description of the ceremony rather casually and un-becomingly.
Bawa Sarup Das Bhalla, on the other hand, has given Mata Nanaki53 as the name of the revered mother on whose suggestion, he says, the Guru had sent for some lump sugar and after getting that powdered, he put that in the bowl:
tab Satguru misri layi mangai.54
Without making any mention of the Guru’s call for the Sis-bhet and prompt response of the Five Beloved Ones, and also without giving any detail of the baptismal ceremony, he has disposed of the entire event by just stating thereafter:
Prabh nij kar pahul sangat ko diya.
Singh sangia naam padvi sabh diya.
Kesadhari sabh ko kina
Bir saroop sabh ko Prabh dina.55
- End of Part II
16. That is, the Guru alone know the purport of his thoughts and actions.
17. Nanak Dev, Sri Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, compiled & edited by Sri Guru Arjan Dev in 1604 at Amritsar, Raga Ramkali, p.933.
18. That is, Epistle of Victory, Guru Gobind Singh’s historical letter, dated 1706, addressed to Emperor Aurangzeb and got delivered to him at Ahmednagar.
19 & 21. Sewa Das, Parchian, op. cit., parchi no.13; Episodes from Lives of the Gurus, Chandigarh-1995, op. cit., pp. 39 & 135/83, 157-8.
20. i.e., punishment, in the Sikh parlance.
22. That is, the edicts, epistles or letters of the Sikh Masters.
23. Gobind Singh, Sri Guru, edict or epistle dated 12 March 1699, as reproduced in Hukamnamae, compiled & edited by Dr. Ganda Singh, Patiala-1985, pp. 152-153. See also another, dated 1 February, 1700, op. cit., pp. 160-61.
24. Sainapat, Chander Sen, Sri Gur Sobha, Wazirabad-1711, canto 5, st. 32/148; edited by Dr. Ganda Singh, Patiala-1967; 2nd ed. 1980, p.24. Also see st. 2/115-16/122, p.20 & 46/162, p.26.
25. Gurdas Singh, Bhai, Var Ramkali Patshahi Daswin Ki, st.1.
26. Kaushish, Guru Kian Sakhian, op. cit., p.111. See foot-note 8 in this connection.
27. Koer Singh, Bhai, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, Amritsar-1751; edited by S. Shamsher Singh Ashok with introduction by Dr. Fauja Singh, Patiala-1968; 2edn. - 1986, canto 9, st.1, p.127.
28. (p.136) - Ibid, sts.87 & 104; pp.134 & 136.
29. Gurbilas Patshahi 10, op. cit., cantos 5, 7-9; pp.68, 71, 107-09; 115, 120-21, 127, 129-30; etc.
30. Bhalla, Mehma Parkash, op. cit., Sakhi no. 19, st. 1; p.829.
31. Chhibbar, Bhai Kesar Singh, Banswavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka, Amritsar-1769, Charan 10; edited by Dr. Rattan Singh Jaggi, Chandigarh-1972, sts. 288, 316-318.
32. Bhalla, Bawa Sarup Das, Mehma Parkash, Goindwal-1776, Sakhi no. 17 sts. 29-40; edited by S. Gobind Singh Lamba, Patiala-1971, pp. 821-23.
33. See, for instance, the noting dated 7 October 1708 of Bhatt Narbad Singh in the Bhatt Vahi Talauda, Parganah Jind regarding the last commandment of Guru Gobind Singh in Sri Guru Granth Sahib; The Guru Eternal for the Sikhs by Prof. Harbans Singh, Patiala-1988, p.9-10.
38. Gobind Singh, Sri Guru, Shastar Nam Mala, as included in the Dasam Granth Sahib, compiled by Bhai Mani Singh in 1713 (?) at Amritsar; edited by Bhai Randhir Singh and published by Punjabi University, Patiala-1995, Vol.III, P.102, sts.3-5.
50. Koer Singh, Bhai, Gurbilas Patshahi 10, op. cit. canto 9, st. 57, p. 131.
51. Ibid, canto 9, sts. 25-26, p.129; Kaushish, Sakhi no. 59, p. 114.
52. Chhibbar, Bansavalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka, op. cit., canto 10, sts. 320-21, p. 120.
53. The holy grandmother of Guru Gobind Singh ji.
54. Bhalla, Mehma Parkash, op. cit., Vol.II, Sakhian Patshahi 10, Sakhi no. 18, st.8, p.826.
55. Ibid, st. 9, p.826.