Saturday, 29 December 2007

Sri Gur Panth Parkash - Rattan Singh Bhangoo

I have recently purchased a copy of Sri Gur Panth Parkash by Rattan Singh Bhangoo and translated by Kulwant Singh. It is only a volume 1 which has been translated, i assume the rest is still in the process. I was lead to believe by several reviews that this was indeed a master piece, as it had been written by the grandson of the Sikh hero - Mehtab Singh (who along with Sukha Singh killed Massa Rangarh for his act of desecrating Shri Harmandir Sahib).

I've not read the book fully yet, but i have become slightly weary of the information contained in this book, as it does not correlate with any other sources that i have read before on Sikh history (i know this doesn't mean that it is automatically incorrect).

Below i'm going to try and highlight some of the concerns i have with this book:

  • Episode 1 Pages 43 -47

  • This episode details Guru Nanak Dev Ji's visit to Mecca and Medina. Now as far as i'm aware from all the accounts i've read previously, and from what is taught in Gurudwara's, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was laying with feet towards Mecca, and we all know the rest of this Sakhi. This book however has a different take on this account.

"After that Baba Nanak laid down at the back of Kaaba, where the entrance from the backside was locked and closed. It was locked and kept closed deliberatley so that, whenever a great prophet approached, it would open automatically. There happened such a miracle with the grace of Baba Nanak, that the gate opened automatically without a key. When this miracle came to the notice of the Shrine In-charge, he understood that a great prophet had arrived."

The book then goes onto explain how the people in charge went out looking for the person who was responsible for this miracle...

"When they carried out a search, they spotted out Baba Nanak. He was dressed in the manner of a hindu. Since he was lying with his fet outstretched (towards the Kaaba), they
dragged his body to change the direction of his feet. Instantly, the shrine door facing Baba
Nanaks feet opened,when they dragged him out, the remaining gates closed. This
incited and infuriated them further, and they pulled Baba Nanak out of the shrine's
premises. There upon, all the gates of the shrine got shut, despite all the force they applied to open the gates. Incidentally, there were some people from the Punjab among the Haj pilgrims, who, recognising Guru Nanak, revealed his true identity. They declared he was Guru Nanak a Saint, who was a prophet of both the Hindus and the Muslims. Who showered his benevolence equally on both the Muslims and Hindus. Who considered both as equal patners"

The book then explains how the people in charge felt that they lost all their prestige and status as all the gates had been locked. They decided to talk to the prophet and ask him to open the doors so that all the pilgrims may complete their Hajj. They appealed to him with folded hands to open the doors. Guru Nanak Dev Ji called Mardana, and gave him some instructions, after which Mardana opened the doors.

Now reading this chapter really amazed me, as i've never heard this event being told in this fashion before. Why is it that all Gurudwara's teach a completley different version? As i've mentioned before it maybe that this is the authentic one and the rest are watered down.

  • Episode 12 Pages 67 -69
  • This episode deals with the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. The scene is set when Aurangzeb asks Guru Ji to perform a miracle if he truely was a saint. Guru Ji refused.
"At this refusal, Aurangzeb feeling extremely infuriated, accused Guru Tegh Bahadur of making his escape through polemics. He warned the Guru to either get converted to islam, or he must be prepared to face death through execution. He (Aurangzeb) would have his body sewn in a cover of raw leather, and then he would put up his sealed body in the sun to dry up. As the raw leather containing his body would dry and tighten, he would have to bear the torture of a squeezed leather grip. Accusing him of wearing the mantle of a prophet, and exploiting the masses, how could he now escape to embrace Islam after that? Were the Muslims not as similar human beings as the Hindus, why did the Hindus have such a contempt for the Muslims"

The narration then moves onto the execution.

"Then Guru Ji addressed Aurangzeb in this vein, that he would now have a glimpse of his spiritual powers. He (Guru Ji) would bring about such a miracle, that he (Aurangzeb) would never be able to get hold of his(Guru Ji's) head. Whichever sword he may choose to severe his head with, but will it not be a miracle if it failed to cut through his throat. So he might arrange for the sharpest sword for executing him, because an ordinary sword used for daily executions might not work. After addressing these words, Guru Tegh Bahadur sat on the executioners slab after ablutions. Guru Tegh Bahadur made the executioners sword just touch his head, But it was just a ploy to hoodwink the authorities. Thus Guru Ji made the supreme sacrifice without compromising his dignity, and protected both his religion as well as its practices. Not only he saved his body from being sewn in raw leather, but also laid the blame of execution squarely on the Muslims."

Now I'm not sure if I'm interpreting this correctly, and i apologise if I'm incorrect, but the account seems to portray Guru Ji wanting a quick death, and tricking the Mughals into giving him that so that he does not have to endure the slow tortures. We must remember that 3 of the Guru's companions (Bhai Dayala, Bhai Mati Das, and Bhai Sati Das) were tortured by being boiled, sawn in half, and wrapped in cotton and then set on fire respectively. So why would the Guru's of these Sikhs, want an easy death. Obviously people like me would be running away or if given the choice we'd take the easier death. However in the case of the Guru, i don't accept he would have done this. He'd have known about the torture endured by his own Grand Father (Guru Arjan Dev Ji). Sikhs believe that the body is only the temporary home (vessel) of the soul, so the truly enlightened ones feel no pain, as they accept everything as the will of the almighty, and on the contrary would find this torture as bliss.

  • Episode 15 Pages 83 -89
  • This episodes deals with the birth of Khalsa.
The book does not mention anything about beheading the 5 Pyaarey. However it does mention that the Guru told them that "they should eat mutton only after slaughtering the animal with one stroke and desist from eating the meat of dead animals"

Again i find this rather bizzare that no mention of the beheading was made. The meat issue is one that many people will distort for their own benefit, and try to justify what they they believe by distorting facts. Personally i don't think the Guru's allowed the consumption of meat, but i'm sure many others will disagree with me on this one.

I'm still reading the book and will add more to this post (If anyones interested)....


Gurvinder Singh said...

I have never read Panth Parkash, but I do know that it is dodgy in some areas. The quotes you have provided all seem to back up this viewpoint.

A lot of people tend to believe anything that is written in books, but we Sikhs should only ever believe in Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr. Singh said...

Gurvinder, i completley agree with you that we should place total faith in Gurbani. However i think theres a line in Gurbani which is translated as:

Telling the stories of one's ancestors make the children, good children. (Ang 951, SGGS)

So i think it is also important for us to educate ourselves on our history. But if the sources are as controversial as this one then its difficult to get a clear picture.

Conqueror of the world said...

Please post the books viewpoint about Banda Singh Bahadur. When I was younger he was always a controversial character with elder Sikhs, but when I read about him, he was an amazing Gursikh, however I think this book tells a different story about him!

Mr. Singh said...

Conqueror, i'm afraid the chapters on Banda Bahadur are inparticular very disturbing, and make him out to be totally anti Sikh in his later years. Infact it even states that he never got executed and used his magic to escape and live on. I will definatley post the quotes at some point in the very near future

Anonymous said...


As far as i know about Banda Singh , is that he did sacrifice himself and his son but yes he did went against TAT KHALSA in declaring himself soverign in his later years. It is said that due to this also many singhs left him.
But he was a great Sikh and great leader.
G.P Singh

Mr. Singh said...

SSA veerji,

Theres no doubt that Banda Singh Bahadur was a great military leader.

The book however really maligns his character by saying that he practiced acts such a female foeticide, illicit relationship with a prostitute, etc...

Also the book claims that by using his magic powers he was able to escape execution, and went to live in the hills...

Really shocking to read all these allegations