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Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji da Jiwan Birtant (Pbi)
(Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth by Bhai santokh Singh)

A Review by Gurbachan Singh Makin

Editor: Dr Kirpal Singh
Publisher: SGPC, Amritsar
Pages 664, Price Rs. 135/-

The Part II of the life of Sri Guru Arjun Dev ji from Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth by the great poet-laureate Bhai Santokh Singh ji has been translated by Dr Kirpal Singh in the easily understood Punjabi language with great precision, devotion and dedication. The language used by the great scholar is really praiseworthy and creates such an interest in the reader that one cannot afford to leave reading till the finish. It is truly a laudable effort by Dr Kirpal Singh along with his associates as revealed in the very first eighty one pages of the book. The information listed under Prastavna needs a special mention as it is full of invaluable information about the activities of the great Guru (Guru Arjun Dev ji) while compiling the first version of the Guru Granth Sahib (Pothi Sahib) in 1604, apart from his efforts at social welfare of the masses alongwith his celestial message of Guru Nanak Dev’s mission.

For instance, the details of collection of the writings of various Bhagats like Baba Farid ji, Bhagat Kabir ji, Bhagat Bani with their details needs special mention. The details of the compilation of various writings (Banis) with a brief mention about the role of Bhai Gurdas is equally important. The clarification about various doubts and misgivings about the origin of Ragmala and its inclusion at the end of the Guru Granth Sahib is worth reading; as it sets at rest all discussion about its origin and inclusion.

The information about various Ragas (musical notes) alongwith their origin is of special interest to the reader as it needed an indepth study and research by the scholar mentioned in part 6 of the Prastavna. There again a brief mention of the Guru’s social welfare activities alongwith his religious teachings to the masses gives an insight into the multi-operation efforts at the enlightenment of the masses for their daily needs, apart from establishing towns and centers of commercial activities.

Then the translation of various chapters from the original version of Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth by Bhai Santokh Singh ji is preceded with a brief footnote and description note (saar) of the events detailed in that chapter. This is equally invaluable in understanding the events described in that chapter. There are 69 chapters in this volume, the last one dealing with Bhai Bhikhari. Each page gives the original version in poetry form on the left side, with the explanatory version in Punjabi on the right side.

Another important factor in Dr Kirpal Singh’s work is the objective approach to the translation rather than the subjective angle. Wherever he finds the work of the great poet at variance with Gurmat philosophy he invariably refers to it without mincing words which make his work more gratifying and unique in approach.

For instance on Page 175 Dr Kirpal Singh has not accepted the version of Bhai Santokh Singh wherein he had stated that Guru ji had worshipped the tree of Kareer and went around the tree in worship, which is against the Gurmat principles. (see footnote on page 175). Thus the work of Dr Kirpal Singh is recommended to readers who are interested in the study of Sikh literature.



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