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Reviews

Selected Sayings of Guru Gobind Singh

A Review by Gajindar Singh

Author: Dr Harnam Singh Shan
Publisher: Government of Punjab, Information & Public Relations Department, Punjab.
Pages: 474; Price: not given
First Edition, 2008; Copies: Deluxe 3000

Dr Harnam Singh Shan, Professor Emeritus of Punjab University, Chandigarh, has a life-long pursuit of excellence in Sikh studies and is a much admired and celebrated intellectual to need any laudatory introduction. The mettle of a scholar is judged from his willing acceptance of challenges to handle formidable subjects which ordinary scholars would fight shy of. One such challenge was to explore and successfully present the multi-dimensional personality of Guru Gobind Singh, the subject matter of his monumental research work presented by Dr Harnam Singh Shan in the volume “Selected Sayings of Guru Gobind Singh.”

There is a message from S Prakash Singh Badal in praise of the contents of the book, so meticulously arranged by Prof Shan on the occasion of tercentenary of the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib by the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh for perpetuity as well as the 300th year of the passing away of the Great Guru at Nanded. Dr Shan’s monumental work in collecting the sayings of Guru Gobind Singh has been praised by Dr Noel Q King in an apt Preface that details the achievements of Prof Harnam Singh Shan in his life-long quest of Sikhism.

The Introduction to the Volume gives a rich description of the personality of the great Guru Gobind Singh, his objectives and achievements, directing and canalizing the steaming energies of the vivacious young community of the Sikhs, fully committed to follow the leader and offer untold sacrifices in establishing society of the pure and virtuous and banishing evil. The genius of the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh lay in his beckoning ordinary mortals to willingly and gladly offer themselves for supreme sacrifices without lure of rich returns now or hereafter.

The major work in compilation of the contents is the wide canvas of subjects mooted by Prof Shan and then finding the Master’s suitable and fitting quotes from the vast mass of literature in the “Daswen Patshah ka Granth” and it indicates the pain, labour and study undergone by the compiler so that no aspect of the wide spectrum of the Xth Master is remiss. Guru Gobind Singh was a colossus such as had not appeared in the history of mankind. Whatever he did or handled was par excellent and unique. He had such captivating personality that captivated one and all, even the opponents. He was warrior and a poet of high order, teacher and law-giver, eagerly sought by the followers to sacrifice their lives and homes and hearths for his cause and he exhibited the miracle of turning cowards into heroes like of which had not happened in the annals of history.

Embellished with Subject Index at the beginning and Line Index at the end, it becomes easy for the reader to access the subject and appropriate quotation to serve as a dictionary as suggested by the eminent author on the title page.

One has to refer to the bibliography at the end of the volume to understand all the various angles considered in gleaning the quotations and their vast range by Prof Shan in preparing this highly recommended referral book, useful for the scholars as well as lay readers to browse and understand the charisma of the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh.

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