Dr Kharak Singh & Dr Gurnam Kaur
It is well-known that Christian missions started their activities in the Punjab in the second half of the nineteenth century. A Missionary Centre was started at Batala. Evidently, the object was to spread Christianity, and wean away people from their existing religions. At Amritsar Sikh students of a Mission School were openly sought to be converted to Christianity. The response from the Singh Sabha successfully checked these attacks from the Mission. Later, the Akali Movement in the early twenties brought about an awakening among the Sikh masses, and the missionary activities of the Batala Group were virtually stopped.
However, the Mission changed its tactics, and started another line of attack. It opened a Centre of Sikh Studies. The activities of some of its functionaries as the facts seem to disclose, have been subversive of the Sikh ideology and its institutions. In this paper we shall deal with their sustained attack on the authenticity of Guru Granth Sahib.
Guru Granth Sahib - A Unique Scripture:
The Sikh Scripture is unique in many ways. It completely embodies the Sikh ideology, and lays down firm foundations of all Sikh doctrines. Second, these principles are not man-made, but are spiritually revealed. The Gurus say: (1) "O, Lalo, I express what the Lord conveys me to speak." (2) "Nanak says the words of Truth, he expresses only the Truth, it is time to convey the Truth" (3) "I have expressed only what You made me say." (4) "1 have no voice of my own, all what I have said, is His Command." (5) Guru's words are divine nectar (Amrit). These quench all spiritual thirst." (6) "Consider the Bani of the Satguru the words of Truth. "0, Sikh, it is the Lord who makes me convey them." The message is repeatedly stressed by the Gurus in Bani. Third, this Scripture stands authenticated by the Guru himself.
Nothing that is revealed in Gurbani, is outside it. As such, it is unalterable. Lastly, the revealed Bani or Shabad has been declared the Living Guru of the Sikhs. In contrast, all other scriptures of the world are man-made, compiled or recorded centuries or decades after the demise of the concerned prophet.
For these reasons, there are a spate of controversies, and a growing crop of literature that casts doubt about the real message or canon of the prophet concerned.
Kartarpuri Bir Inspected:
The above gives the context as to why the Batala functionaries may be uneasy, and, seemingly, seek crudely to strike at the unshakable ideological base of Sikhism and its established canon. In 1945-46 there was a case going on between the SGPC and the Kartarpur Sodhis about the custody of the Kartarpuri Bir. It is unanimously accepted as the original Aad Granth, compiled by Guru Arjun Dev himself in 1604 A.D. The date of writing it, is recorded in the Granth itself, and it is authenticated by the Guru by writing his Nishan which is indexed in the List of Contents. During this period the Commission was allowed access to the Bir comprising three persons, namely, Rev. C.H. Loehlin of the Batala Mission, br. J.C. Archer, and Dr. Jodh Singh. They made separate examination of it. The notes of their examinations are extremely revealing as to the approach and the mind of these persons. Evidently, the most important fact about the originality or the authenticity of a document is the date of its writing, besides its author or scribe. It is undoubted that the date of writing in the Kartarpuri Bir is given at the very beginning of it. What is extremely significant, is that the dates of demise of the first four Gurus are in one handwriting and are in the same shade of ink and manner.
The date of demise of the Fifth Guru is also recorded by the same scribe, but the shade of ink is different as also the words thereof, because in this case, even the day, apart from the date of demise, is indicated.
Batala Group misrepresents authenticity of Adi Granth.
We give below the observations of these three scholars who in a way reported their findings at the Punjab History Conference held in November 1965. Loehlin read his paper in which he produces both his observations and those of Archer. They had full access to the Granth. In his own observations, he completely omits reference to the date on the Bir, including the clear proof as follows from the record about dates of death of the first five Sikh Gurus. He records that in the very beginning, there is Guru Arjun's writing as the nishan of the Guru. But he says that there are no signatures, little knowing that the recording of signatures was never an Indian practice then, and that the only and the recognised method of authentication was putting of Mul Mantar, called Nishan" by the Guru on. any Holy Granth. Similarly, Archer, while admitting the presence of the Index and mention of the Nishan of Guru Arjun therein, makes a very misleading observation that the Bir bears no dates and that its authenticity cannot be proved. Further, in this paper it is recorded that the problem of the book is acute and although the Granth is said to have been dictated by Guru Arjan Dev, yet its textual criticism like that of the Christian Scripture would be necessary. The paper records: "The observations are not so superficial, as they might at first seem.
For one thing, Dr. Archer's statements are those of a trained observer. Both are the reactions of friendly critics, who know how irreplaceable such a book is. Both are from men who have had to study the involved subject of textual study of the Christian Scriputre. Such self-recommendations by the author about the two observers in an academic paper is extremely uncommon and indeed amusing. How 'friendly' the two observers are, is evident from the fact that their eyes remain closed to see dates on the Bir and the proof of its writing, as was clear from the dates of demise of the five Gurus, and the traditional Nishan of the Fifth Guru.
Not only do they omit every fact about the date and authenticity of the Bir, but they also go on narrating its non existent defects and recommending textual criticism by these two 'friends'. Archer also goes to the extent of making a misstatement that the date is not there. That the omission and self recommendations of these friendly critics, seemingly deliberate, were made with apparently unfortunate objectives, is evident from the paper of Jodh Singh, the third person who also saw the Bir. His paper contributed at the same Conference, not only gives the date of the Bir, but also explains cogently the blank spaces and other seeming objections raised by Loehlin and Archer. Since Jodh Singh's paper at the Conference exposed the superficial scholarship, and perhaps also their intentions, the Batala Mission remained quiet for some time.
McLeod Suggests Adi Granth is Tampered with :
But in 1975 the attack was repeated by W.H. McLeod, a Batala trained ex-employee of the Mission, in his book 'Evolution of the Sikh Community'. He went a step further from the attempts of Loehlin and Archer. He wrote that the Kartapuri Bir was not the original one and that the Banno Bir was the original Bir which had a hymn by the Fifth Guru, recording the alleged Tonsure ceremony of the Sixth Guru, conducted by Guru Arjun, and that probably the Sikhs had obliterated the hymn from the Bir at Kartarpur. He wrote "The conclusion which seems to be emerging with increasing assurance, was that the widely disseminated Banno version must represent the original text; and that the Kartarpuri manuscript must be a shortened version of the same text. A few portions must have been deleted because they could not be reconciled with beliefs subsequently accepted by the Panth. This much appears to be well-established..." "Later still, portions of the Kartarpuri manuscript (the original manuscript written by Bhai Gurdas) were rather ineptly obliterated in order to bring the two versions into line." "When the prohibition became mandatory, not merely for Jat Sikhs, but also those of other castes, the reference in the hymn could only be regarded as intolerable." McLeod's suggestion is that the Guru never prescribed the keeping of hair, and since it was a Jat cultural practice, others also started keeping their hair and the hymn in the Kartarpuri Bir was obliterated by the Sikhs. McLeod also pleads for textual examination, the same plan and pleas as made by the 'friendly' pair of scholar earlier.
The surprising parts of it are two. First, in 1968 had appeared Jodh Singh's study is detailed and a meticulous record, page by page, of the Bir, along with clear reasons and conclusions of its being the original Adi Granth dictated by the Fifth Guru. He stated that the blank spaces in the Bir were due to the reason that a fixed cluster of leaves was kept for each Raag, and since in some cases the cluster could not be filled from the available hymns, space at its end remained blank. In fact, this was a clear additional proof of its authenticity. Dr. Jodh Singh's book clearly recorded that there was no obliteration of the Ramkali hymn at the place alleged by McLeod. Thus McLeod's suggestion about obliteration was blatantly unwarranted, incorrect and misleading. McLeod was well aware of the work of Jodh Singh which he quoted in his book.
The second reason to doubt both McLeod's motive and scholarship is that he made these assertions without examining either the Kartatpuri Bir or the Banno Bir. Besides, he should have known that there was literature about the Banno Bir (Mahan Singh's book), saying that the recorded date on it showed that it was scribed in 1642 A.D., 38 years after the preparation of the Kartarpuri Bir, i.e., in the times of Guru Hargobind Sahib. Yet in his book of 1975, he wrote about four pages of his incorrect tirade again the Sikhs for obliterating the hymns and recommending textual examination.
McLeod Repeats Blasphemy:
The Batala Group did not rest at that. In 1979 a Conference of Sikh Studies was held at Berkeley, and both Loehlin and Mc1eod read papers on the Adi Granth. This time Loehlin was a little hesitant and, compared to McLeod, fair, and while he reproduced the statements of his own and those of Archer, he also gave some of the observations from Jodh Singh's paper of 1965 presented at the History Conference. But he repeated the mis-statement of Archer that there was no date on the Bir. He repeated this misstatement, even though he knew it to be incorrect, simply because he wanted to repeat, as he did in the end, his earlier suggestion for textual criticism. Similarly, McLeod repeated his blasphemous and baseless statement that the Ramkali hymn had been obliterated and that the Banno Bir was the original one, even though he had still not examined either of them. He wrote, "The earliest, representing nearest approach to Guru Arjan's dictation would be Banno. The second, and intermediate recension bearing the actual marks of a later revision through the excision of unacceptable material, would be Kartarpur."
It was, however, on record that there was no obliteration of the Ramkali hymn in the Kartarpuri Bir (Jodh Singh's book of 1968), and that the Banno Bir had been scribed in 1642 A.D. (Mahan Singh's book of 1952). Without examining the Birs and without caring to study the profuse and conclusive literature on the point, McLeod continued with his apparent blasphemy, even in 1989 in his book "The Sikhs". He wrote, "This comparison suggests that the Banno recension may actually represent the original text by Bhai Gurdas. The theory allows that the Kartarpur manuscript may well be the document recorded by Bhai Gurdas, but adds that if this is indeed the case, the original version has subsequently been amended by obliterating occasional portions of the text."
But the real facts are that not only had the examination of the Kartarpuri Bir by Jodh Singh (1968), Harbhajan Singh (1981) and Daljeet Singh (1987), been published proving unambiguously the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir, and accusing McLeod of making deliberate blasphemous statements, but many scholars like Mahan Singh (1952), the University Team from the GNDU Amritsar, Principal Harbhajan Singh (1981), and Professor Pritam Singh (1982-84), had published papers or reported that the Banno Bir had, on its own record, been scribed in 1642, and that even there the Ramkali hymn was just an interpolation made after that year.
And yet over the years without examining the two Birs and disregarding the available published University and other literature on the issues, McLeod went on with his baseless and unethical attacks saying (a) that the Banno Bir was the original Bir, (b) that there was motivated obliteration of the Ramkali hymn in the Kartarpuri Bir, and (c) that textual criticism was necessary. One wonders if any further .comments are necessary about his motives, level of scholarship and extraneous objectives.
Textual Analysis: Here, a few words about textual criticism and its relevance. As noted, except the Adi Granth, there is no scripture in the world that had been recorded either by or in the time of the original prophet. Whether it is the Torah, the Bible, the Dhamapada or the Quran, each was compiled and finalised after the demise of the prophet concerned. Hence the problems of correct canon or textual criticism, form criticism, redaction and like criticism have arisen. In the time between the demise of the prophet concerned and the date of its final compilation, there had been many man-made versions of concerned scriptures or parts thereof. In fact, in the case of the Jewish and Christian scriptures there are innumerable intervening manuscripts suggesting one inference or the other. It has given unlimited mass of material to scholars to exercise their intellectural ability or give vent to their idiosyncracies, some of them even malicious. So much so, that on the basis of a doubtful and unproven manuscript, Morton Smith went to the extent of casting unbecoming aspersions on Jesus Christ. Now the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 has put in confusion both the versions of the Talmud and the Bible. It is the unique vision of the Fifth Master that he eliminated all possibilities of such criticism by himself compiling and authenticating the Bani. Further, the Gurus established a tradition, in fact a firm direction, that since it was a revealed bani, no one had the right to change even a word of it, and that nothing outside the Guru Granth, unless a copy of it, is Gurbani. For, there could be no question for Guru Arjun to leave Gurbani outside and not to include it in the Adi Granth. The Seventh Guru even banished his own son for changing a single word of it, and the Tenth Master was very angry with a Sikh who wrongly pronounced a word, which could be misconstrued to change the meaning of the hymn.
These being the facts and realities, the Batala missionary has gone out of the way to muddy the waters by making unethical and unwarranted statements. These opinions, besides being clear misstatements, were un-academic, since these were made over the years without ever examining the Birs. These were written in clear contradiction to and in utter disregard of the readily available published literature on the subject before 1975 and 1979. Even a junior student of Sikhism knows that (a) the Kartarpuri Bir was dated and authentic, (b) that the Banno Bir was dated 1642 A.D. with a subsequent interpolation of the alleged Ramkali hymn, and (c) that the question of textual analysis could not arise in view of unambiguous statements of the Gurus, that the Bani was revealed and was authenticated by Guru Arjun himself. For these reasons, it would indeed, be arrogant for any scholar today (400 years later) to claim a better sense of judgement by suggesting that some authentic Bani was, mistakenly or otherwise left out by the Guru.
McLeod Accused of Blasphemy:
Thus the frivolous suggestions of the Batala Group died out, especially because McLeod had since lost all academic credibility by his having made baseless attacks against the Sikh scripture. In fact, in 1989-90 four Sikh Organizations wrote to the University demanding how McLeod, while knowing full well the truth from the publication of Dr. Jodh Singh had written page after page, suggesting 'inept deletion' of 'unacceptable' material from the Sikh Scripture, and how the University could defend such misconduct of their employee. Perhaps, in response to these accusations of blasphemy, he wrote a letter to the "India Abroad" in December of 1990 virtually saying that he had abandoned his doubts about the Kartarpuri Bir after reading Dr. Jodh Singh's book.
It was a strange and unbelievable denial, because every blasphemous statement of McLeod, whether of 1975 or 1979 or 1989, had been made after the publication of Jodh Singh's book of 1968, knowledge of which he had even accepted in his book of 1975.
Another Ghost Attack Starts:
After his exposure, McLeod seemingly changed his plank of attack against the Adi Granth. In 1987, a paper under the caption "Need for Textual and Historical Criticism" appeared under the name of Loehlin in the Sikh Courier' (U.K.). Therein parts of Loehlin's paper which had been published in 'Sikh Studies' in Berkeley were reproduced. The unfortunate part which exposes the motive of the author, is that whereas the statement of Archer that the Kartarpuri Bir was undated and unauthentic, was reproduced, it omitted the portion of Jodh Singh's paper wherein he had categorically concluded that the Bir was original, because it was dated and authenticated with the Nishan of the Fifth Guru. The article noted that it was a reproduction of Loehlin's paper read at the Punjab History Conference and published in 1966.
Evidently, this incongruous reference to Loehlin's Paper of 1965, 22 years old, by omitting reference to his later paper of Berkeley published in 1979, was significant, and perhaps deliberate, because evidently, the writer wanted to project the alleged faults of the Bir and to exclude from the notice of the readers, the views of Dr. Jodh Singh contradicting erroneous observations of Loehlin and Archer, that had appeared in the Proceedings of the Punjab History Conference of 1965 and the Berkeley Conference of 1979.
Further, even the foot - note was incorrect, because the present article contains considerable additional material, referring to the writings of Giani Partap Singh regarding Dasam Granth, to Grewaland Bal's book on Guru Gobind Singh, to the event of the creation of Khalsa, and to Dr. Radhakrishnan's observations in the Sacred Writings of the Sikhs. These additional 2 or 3 columns of the article concluded with the suggestion: "Western friends of Sikhism and Sikhs likewise have noted this lack of critical interest on the part of Sikhs. Fortunately many of their scholars and research experts are doing research of textual and historical problems."
The new concluding para exposes the objective of republishing an old paper. For, it was sought to be made a preparatory ground for reviving a dead issue. The anomalous part is that even the note "A Paper read at the Punjab History Conference and published in the proceedings, 1966" is also not quite accurate, since the article contains considerable additional material with a new slant. Second, The Western 'friends' of Sikhs would seem to be, perhaps, none other than the 'friendly' McLeod of the Batala Group and his student, Pashaura Singh, who had taken up research on the issue in 1987. Third, Loehlin who died in August 1987, stood admitted since 1983 to an old Home for Ex-missionaries in California, and was understood to have been incapable, since 1983 of doing any academic work. Further, according to the records of the Home he is reported neither to have written nor revised any such paper. Dr. Amrit Singh and Dr. J.S. Mann visited the Home and talked to Mr. Rollings, Executive Director of the Home, where Loehlin had lived since 1981. After the visit, Dr. Mann wrote to Mr. Rollins by way of confirmation of the information Mr. Rollins had conveyed to them. He says, "You also reviewed the above two papers published under the name of Dr. C. Loehlin in spring - summer of 1987 and March - April of 1990, as I had faxed you on October 7 of 1992. For the sake of records I am confirming our discussion and your opinion that 'You knew Dr. Loehlin very closely, and in your personal recollection since 1983 (when you Joined the centre) till his death, and also review of records of Westminister Gardens reflect that till his death Dr. Loehlin did not publish any article during his stay at Westminister Gardens'.
I also contacted Mrs. Marian Davies (Dr. C. Loehlin's daughter) via telephone on October 6th, 1992. She also does not recall that her Dad published any article on Sikhism in later years of his life when he moved to Westminister Gardens". This clearly proves that the real author of the paper is not Loehlin. Because Loehlin never worked at Berkeley, and could never describe himself as from Berkeley as noted in the ghost article.
Another incongruous and surprising event is that the same paper by Loehlin under the same heading was published in the Sikh Review of March - April 1990, making a plea for textual analysis of the Bir, even though Loehlin had died three years earlier.
Unfortunately, this time, even the note that it was a reproduction of the earlier paper was not there, giving thereby the impression that the article contained new academic research about the allegedly undated Bir. Thus even though exposed about his earlier statements regarding the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir and the alleged deletions, it appears that someone again resorted to pleas for textual examination under the name of a dead ex-Batala Missionary. Evidently, all this is inexplicable as a normal or ethical academic activity.
A Proxy Attack against the Bir Starts:
Having failed to attack the authenticity of the Guru Granth, an ob ious question arises, as to who is the ghost author or body sending articles in the name of a dead Loehlin, making misrepresentations that the Bir is undated and pleading for textual analysis, (which is supposed to have begun, or been taken up by 'friendly' persons) ? Facts tend to point out that it could be an ex-Batala man behind it. His antecedents suggest an apparent bias against the Sikh Scripture, because, without examining it, he went to the extent of making incorrect suggestions about its being a tampered with or forged Granth. Second is the subsequent coincident event as to who has implemented the suggestion in the paper about textual analysis that appeared in the name of dead Loehlin. In the same period, about 1987, it is McLeod who, as supervisor, and Pashaura Singh, as his student, who took up the so-called research on the text of Adi Granth. Pashaura Singh in his dissertation, guided by McLeod at Toronto starts his chapter on Textual Analysis with the observation and a quotation from the ghost paper of 1987; "In the 1940's two Western scholars, J.C. Archer and CH. Loehlin, had an opportunity to take a look at the Kartarpuri Bir. Although their comments are mainly concerned with the internal physiognomy of the manuscript, they have, nevertheless, stressed the need for textual and historical criticism of the Adi Granth. To quote Dr. Loehlin: The Sikhs will hold a unique position among the religions of the world, if they prove through careful textual criticism the widely accepted belief that the Kartarpuri Granth is the MS dictated by Guru Arjan.'
Concept of a Draft:
A significant and fundamental fact of Pashaura Singh's accepted dissertation is the ridiculous theory of a draft by Guru Arjun, based on a manuscript which is without antecedents, without history, without date, and without scribe's name, that was first heard of only in 1987. A very revealing fact is that this draft theory of Pashaura Singh is presumably based on the phoney idea of his supervisor, Dr. McLeod, which he brought into print (suggesting the theory of draft) in his book of 1975. He wrote, "Another has suggested that the present manuscript must be a first draft, subsequently amended by the Guru himself". (the manuscript referred to is the Kartarpuri Bir). The foot-note about the' another person' who made the suggestion, is as follows: "This opinion was advanced orally during the discussion which followed the reading of Dr. Loehlin's paper, 'A Westner looks at the Kartarpur Granth' at the First Session of the Punjab History Conference. "The name of another person, is not given, and there is no reference or record of that person or anyone giving, the draft idea, in the Conference Proceedings. Perhaps, it may not be inaccurate to suggest that the another person', author of draft idea, may be none other than Pashaura Singh's guide."
Here a few words about the irrelevance of the draft idea. In the available literature about the Adi Granth, the draft concept has been unknown. Because, this is just a modern western concept, and because, a draft in relation to the Adi Granth is a contradication in terms. The bani being revealed, had only to be copied or compiled. A draft has to be made about something that is half baked, sketchy, preparatory or rough, or something about which ideas are not clear or have yet to be formed or finalized. As such, to the concept of revealed and unalterable Bani, as emphasised by the Gurus themselves, the idea of a draft is inapplicable. Second, it would be impossible to think of drafts, when a sacred Granth of over 1400 pages has to be copied. As stated already, both the concepts of textual analysis and a draft are in the case of the Bani of the five Gurus. It is to eliminate all possibilities of controversy or confusion of authenticity that Guru Arjun took the sagacious step of compilation and authentication.
Unfortunately, McLeod is obsessed by the presence of such confusion and controversy regarding Christian and Jewish Scriptures, finalised centuries after Christ and Moses, respectively. They never recorded or authenticated their thought in their own times. What is available are often unowned, or sketchy manuscripts mostly in parts or patches. It is from these that the Scripture or the Canon has to be constructed (not reconstructed, because there never was an original in full, or complete) by men of variant beliefs, prejudices, abilities or learning. The Scripture had to be finalised by a process of consensus, possibility, feasibility and even guess by men, who, as professor Nichols emphasises, have or had culture entirely different from the earlier culture of the prophets and their times. Accordingly, when anyone has to construct, frame or finalise a scripture, or even to interpret it, he has to take into consideration the principles of form or redaction criticisms. For, there is nothing given or authenticated before him. The present scholar is as much human as the one who had made an earlier construction or interpretation from the portions or fragments from the works of the earlier writers. For, no earlier prophet authenticated his message. Because of the uncertainty and the lack of authenticity of the original works of the prophets, concepts of form or textual analysis or man-made drafts have some relevance. Evidently, McLeod's ideas of textual criticisms, drafts and hermeneutics are conditioned by the Christian background.
These ideas are irrelevant and inapplicable to Sikhism where the Scripture, as now universally accepted by all, was authenticated by the Fifth Master himself, declaring it to be both revealed and final. Sniping by 'friends' apart, this is the academic and real position, as given to us by the Fifth Master.
Now we come to Manuscript 1245 on which Pashaura Singh Builds the entire edifice of his Ph.D. thesis. He calls it a draft of the Adi Granth prepared by Guru Arjun through Bhai Gurdas. (a) The raft theory, we find, is too flimsy to sustain. But Pashaura Singh seems to know of no wavering from the thinking or plan of his surpervisor, the ex-Batala Missionary. (b) The second significant feature of MS 1245 is the coincidence of its sudden appearance, almost from the blue, on the shelf of an Amritsar dealer and its purchase by the University in 1987. It is also in 1987 that the ghost article, recommending textual criticism and announcing the start of work by Western Sikh 'friends' appears. Again, it is in 1987 that Pashaura Singh supervised by McLeod takes up the subject of textual criticism for his Ph.D. work. It is difficult to dispel the thought that this triple coincidence of events in 1987 has an adverse significance for the authenticity of MS 1245 or that all this has some connection with the traditional plan of 'muddying' the waters. (c) The third unfortunate fact is the history or lack of history of MS 1245. It has no history whatsoever. The entire literature of Sikhism, including the Survey List of Shamsher Singh's Catalogue of old manuscripts, or the Sikh tradition does not refer to its existence anywhere. (d) The dealer who sold it in 1987 does not know of its history. The dealer's supposed note typed on the manuscript is very revealing. It contains almost every argument Pashaura Singh had given to suggest its antiquity, namely, its having been with Baba Budha whose hymn is written on it, its not having Bhagat Bani, its having Satgur Prasad and not Gurprasad, its not having the line of Aad Sach, jugad Sach, etc. On an oral and lengthy examination of the dealer, Harbhajan Singh, by scholars, he stated that he got this manuscript (which he said was the only one he had and sold it to the GND University in 1986 or 1987) from Rajasthan, alongwith a few other Mehrban group (Meena) books. He repeatedly mentioned its Mehrban antecedents. He did not say a word about its other noted characters or its Baba Budha antecedents. This would appear to suggest that the distorted note was written at the instance of someone else, and for that reason, the dealer had no idea or remembrance whatsoever of its contents. His only recollection was that it was a Mehrban Granth which he sold to the University in 1986-87.
On interview, the renowned successor, Sant Baba Darshan Singh, at the seat of Baba Budha, clearly stated that there was no handwritten Bir linked with Guru Arjun or Baba Budha with them, and that the question of selling such a prize, if available, could never arise. He also said that they had never known of Baba Budha jee having composed any poem or bani, and gave a written statement to that effect. But the most inexplicable fact is the complete silence of Pashaura Sigh about its history. He founds almost all of his conclusions, largely on this manuscript, and yet he says nothing about its source or custody during the preceding 400 years. There is not even a word suggesting that he made any attempts to trace its past or inquire from the dealer or elsewhere, its history, which is the basic requirement of the reliability of a manuscript. He makes a clear reference, without any supportive evidence or inquiry, that the manuscript had remained with the family of Baba Budha. But equally intriguing is the fact that although he was in Amritsar for about a week, and MS 1245 is the corner stone of his thesis, yet he never cared to verify its history from the well known Gurdwara or Centre of Baba Budha where the present successor is Sant Baba Darshan Singh, who lives only a few miles away from Amritsar. The successors at the Baba Budha centre completely deny any knowledge of it. All this demolishes the reliability or value of the manuscript. One wonders if a scholar working for a Ph.D. thesis could be so blissfully ignorant, smug, or unconcerned about the history of the basic manuscript of his work. Equally intriguing is the apparent lack of concern on the part of the supervisor in this respect.
(e) The Japuji in MS 1245 is virtually the same as in Mehrban literature. This with the presence of a couplet with the word Nanak seeking to attribute its authorship to the Guru, even though it is not Gurbani, shows that it is a Mina collection. One of the reasons for preparation of the Adi Granth was the circulation of such misleading hymns. All this and the clear statement of the dealer that he got it from Rajasthan from a Mehrban group, establishes its Meharban or Mina character.
(f) Lack of consistency is always a natural proof of one's bias or motive. In 1975 McLeod attacked the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir saying that the Banno bir was original, because it contained more material than the Kartarpuri Bir, "The conclusion which seems to be emerging with increasing assurance was that the widely disseminated Banno version must represent the original text; and that the Kartarpuri manuscript must be a shortened version of the same text." Now Pashaura Singh, approved by McLeod, uses manuscript 1245 to attack the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir, because it is a shorter version, "If the standard rule of textual criticism that "the shorter reading is to be preferred to the longer one is considered, the text of this manuscript comes out to be the earlier than the famous Kartarpuri manuscript." Both Pashaura Singh and his supervisor seek to attack the authenticity of Kartarpuri Bir on the basis of MS 1245, even though it is a Mina collection, and is, as facts prove conclusively, a post-1606 manuscript.
(g) Intriguing also is the contrast of approach of McLeod, to this manuscript, which is brought forward to oppose the authentic Sikh Scripture, on the one hand, and to the views attacking the Kartarpuri Bir, on the other. The Adi Granth is dated, and it has the Nishan, which is virtually the signature of the Fifth Guru. The Nishan is listed in the Table of Contents. Besides, the notes of dates of demise of the first four Gurus and the note regarding the Fifth Guru are in different shades of ink, although both are in the hand of Bhai Gurdas. All this, its proper custody over the centuries, and numerous other internal and external pieces of evidence, prove its authenticity. Despite the knowledge of this conclusive evidence, McLeod wrote in his Berkely paper of 1979, doubting the authenticity of Kartarpuri Bir: "One is the obscurity which envelops a significant period of the text's actual history."
And similarly, Archer wrote in his article, "It is said that Guru Tegh Bahadur hid it once for 14 days in the river Beas to protect it but there are no signs of water damage." He concluded that "Its authenticity cannot be proved.' In one case the alleged uncertainty of custody for 14 days disproves the authenticity of a manuscript, but in the other case its lack of history or knowledge of custody for 400 years is ignored as of no consequence. As against it, MS 1245 has no date, no Nishan of the Fifth Guru, and no clues about its scribe, or the history of its custody in 400 years. And yet, McLeod seems to have suddenly turned the Nelson's eye to all this. Bias could be a reason for such incongruous conduct.
(h) There is another intriguing contrast. Whereas the Kartarpuri Bir contains the Fifth Guru's Nishan, MS 1245, according to Pashaura Singh, and as seen by us, has a forged Nishan pasted on it which is considered to be that of the Ninth Guru, on the basis of identity of handwriting. But the owner represents this Nishan as that of the Sixth Guru. And yet, on the basis of MS 1245, whose owner has evidently forged the Nishan of the Sixth Guru, Pashaura Sigh and his Supervisor suggest that Guru Arjun made theological changes in the Bani of Guru Nanak. We wonder if modem scholarship or textual criticism involves attacking authentic Scripture on the basis of a forged manuscript, especially when even its owner does not pretend to claim it as of Guru Arjun's period. No one can be blamed, if such 'friendly Western scholarhip' is considered to be suspect, and to have brought its reputation to an unenviable level.
(i) MS 1245 is not a Bir. It is just a collection of 'hymns recording as the scribe has been able to find them. The collection includes both Bani and non-Bani, and the hymns stand recorded without any order of ragas or any other order as in the Adi Granth.
It is significant that the dates of demise of first five Gurus are written on leaf 1255. Normally these dates are written either in the beginning or at the end of a manuscript. But even after writing these dates on leaf 1255, the scribe went on collecting upto leaf 1266, the Bani of third, fourth and fifth Gurus as well as non-Bani. The recording is all haphazard, without any system or sequence of any kind. By no stretch of reason can the manuscript be called a Bir or a draft. It is just an odd recording of available hymns the scribe could lay his hands upon.
(j) There is another intriguing fact. We are not told that MS 1245 has any known history. It entered the vision of academic forum in 1987 after it was listed in the university catalogue following its purchase. The entire thesis of Pashaura Singh and the arguments of textual analysis are largely based on this manuscript. Without it, Pashaura Singh could make no comparison or progress in the field of his research, because in the Sikh academic world no such manuscript or first draft has ever been mentioned. Neither Pashaura Singh nor McLeod ever visited Amristar after the cataloguing of this manuscript until 1990. How is that Pashaura Singh chose the subject and his supervisor approved of it, when both of them had no knowledge of the existence of MS 1245, or anything like it, in the absence of which no one could make any headway in this field? Besides this a number of other questions arise. Did Pashaura Singh know of it and its contents? Did he include mention of its basic importance in his synopsis? If so, who conveyed the presence and the detailed contents of MS 1245 to him in 1987 so as to give him both material and confidence to start his textual venture? In the background of ghost articles the truth may be quite revealing.
MS 1245 was Scribed after 1606 A.D. :
As one fact alone is enough to knock the bottom of the dating or period regarding the time of scribing of MS 1245, we need not go into many other details and facts. Manuscript 1245, according to Pashaura Singh, contains the dates of demise of all the first five Gurus. He writes that they are in the same hand, and although he gives no reasons for it, he says that the date' of the fifth Guru was recorded later. The factual position, as clear from our examination, and the photocopy of the five dates, is that the dates of demise of all the five Gurus are in one hand and in the same shade of ink. This shows conclusively that the manuscript was scribed after the demise of the Fifth Guru (1606). And, thus, the question of its being a draft by Guru Arjun cannot arise.
Accordingly, the entire rationale of the thesis of Pashaura Singh regarding alleged changes by Guru Arjun becomes baseless. Pashaura Singh well understood the significance of this feature of the manuscript. Therefore, he appears to have been obliged to make the mis-statement that the date of demise of the Fifth Guru had been written later, although, he could give no reason to support it, since the hand and shade of ink were the same. Second, the scribe or the owner of the manuscript does not attempt to give by way of the forged Nishan of the Sixth Guru, a date earlier than the period of Guru Hargobind. This shows that its being a manuscript of a time prior to 1606 is out of the question, and was not claimed as such. Actually the handwriting of Nishan shows it to be of 10th Guru, and, thus MS 1245 could only be of the time of the Ninth Guru.
Pashaura Singh's guess about the scribe of MS 1245 is also untenable. He conceded that although the hand writing of the scribe does not match with that of Bhai Gurdas in the Kartarpuri Bir, Bhai Gurdas must have improved it by the time he wrote Guru Arjun's Granth. Seemingly, he also improved his knowledge of Gurmukhi writing, since MS 1245 is not written in the kind of script with matras, in vogue in the period of the Fifth Master.
Further, if Bhai Gurdas wrote MS 1245, how did this manuscript travel from the Bhallas to the area of the Baba Budha family? Since the handwriting of all the five dates is the same, as seen by us, the 'improvement of handwriting' theory of Pashaura Singh falls to the ground and the scribe could never be Bhai Gurdas. For, the five dates stand written simultaneously by the same scribe. And, what was the need of writing the date of demise of the Fifth Guru, if it was merely a discarded draft? Further, why were the dates of demise of subsequent Gurus not mentioned? Evidently, the writer never intended to claim a date prior to 1606 A.D., i.e., the period of the Sixth Guru, which is fixed by the author having forged the Nishan of Guru Hargobind. Just as the author of the manuscript has, by the pasted forged Nishan, sought to extend his ambitious claim about the time of scribing MS 1245, Pashaura Singh has now so irrationally sought further to extend that period to the time of the Fifth Master.
The fact that the dates of demise are on leaf 1255 and the scribe records the Bani of Gurus and other hymns on the subsequent over twenty pages, shows clearly that manuscript continued under use and preparation even after 1606 A.D. Further, the manuscript has a hymn alleged to be of Baba Budha in which the author uses the word 'Nanak' for himself, as was done by the Gurus. This fact, as referred to earlier alone is sufficient to prove that MS 1245 is spurious, and is a production of an anti- Guru or anti-Sikh section. Because a devout Sikh would never pass his own poetry as Bani of Guru Nanak or his successors. Such pretentious profanity on the part of Baba Budha is inherently impossible.
Available Material is Unauthentic:
As it is, there are hundreds of manuscripts of the Aad Granth, with private owners and in the Sikh Gurdwaras. Everywhere the owners keep them with utmost respect and veneration, and usually try to establish their antiquity by linking them with one of the Gurus or some other historic figure. Yet, so far, never has the story of a draft or the claim of a Bir being earlier than 1604 A.D. been made. This is the deadline, because, in the existing tradition, history and facts, everyone knows that any claim beyond that date would be unacceptable and even ridiculous. The earliest story in this regard was the Banno story, claiming the simultaneous scribing of the Bir by Bhai Banno in 1604 AD. The facts have conclusively revealed that the story has no basis, and that this Bir is dated 1642 AD. Human ingenuity can be unlimited but so far no one has dared to claim the existence of a manuscript of the Adi Granth earlier than that of 1604 AD.
Of course this 'research' has now come from the so-called 'friendly Western scholarship'. The point to stress is that there are innumerable hand-written copies of the Adi Granth. If this kind of irrational claim is entertained, anyone can come forward with spurious arguments, seeking to claim authenticity for his Bir, and to 'muddy' the waters.
Need for Investigation to Stop Malpractice:
One fact more needs to be mentioned. After the destruction of the Sikh Reference Library in 1984, the story is current that many of its manuscripts are still available and persons are making claims of their ability to procure them for a price. Such trade is said to be going on both inside and outside India. MS 1245 could be part of the goods being traded about. It is, therefore, essential that the entire transaction and the matter be looked into.
Significance of Kartarpuri Bir :
The creation of the Kartarpuri Bir or the authenticated Adi Granth by the Fifth Master is a landmark in academic and religions history, which, apart from showing the Guru's vision and sagacity, has the deepest significance. The Guru had all the authentic material available to him. The Sikh Sangat of the time, although sizeable, was well known to the Guru. Second, the Bani of the earlier Gurus, if claimed to be present with any Sikh, could not remain unknown or undisclosed to the Guru. In fact, every claim of such Bani in existence would have been proudly and voluntarily offered to the Gurus. The Fifth Master took a long period to complete the Bir, which he considered to be sacred. Every Bani, hymn or couplet in the Adi Granth is numbered, with progressive totals indicated in the text. These are also listed in the Table of Contents. It shows his decision to make sure that no one could in the future make any interpolation or change in the text. He would certainly have exercised utmost care to ascertain the authenticity of the material before recording it in his Adi Granth. We have the story of Pransangli which was obtained from Ceylon, but later rejected as unauthentic on scrutiny. We can be absolutely sure that any Bani in existence at that time, was available to him. It is rather far fetched that after 400 years someone should come forward and claim a greater sense of discrimination, spiritual perception, vision or ability to know or test the authenticity of the Bani, than Guru Arjun Dev ji. His preparation of the Adi Granth was a clear declaration of three facts. One, that the Bani in the Adi Granth is the only true Bani of the Gurus. Two, that no Bani of the Gurus has been left out by him outside the Adi Granth. Three, that any claimed existence of the Bani could not be true, since the same would have been scrutinized and tested by the Fifth Master himself. Obviously any claim made subsequent to that would be meaningless, since in the above context post-facto claims would always be spurious.
It is also impossible that anyone withheld any Bani from the Fifth Master, only to disclose it now. The Gurus lived for over a hundred years after 1604 AD., and there is no record of any additional bani having been offered during this period. Only the Bani of the Ninth Master was included in the Guru Granth. The Guru has given us not only an authentic Scripture but also a supreme touchstone to test whether anything produced or represented by anyone is Gurbani or not. The corollary of Guru's edict or decision is that any suggestion of a hymn which is outside the Adi Granth, being called Gurbani is a clear act of blasphemy.
From the above context one conclusion is inevitable. Since the very object of Guru Arjun was to locate, identify and compile authetic Bani in order to exclude all pretensions that were being made about it in some quarters, including Minas, what he included in the Adi Granth, is the only true text of the Bani. Consequently even if there was anything elsewhere in a form different from that in the Adi Granth, the logical corollary is that it was either spurious or stood incorrectly recorded, which was the reason for the Fifth Master having rejected it or having rejected it in the form in which it was there.
It is sheer lack of logic of Pashaura Singh's argument, that has led him to make the main suggestion that Guru Arjun changed his own Bani in the final Adi Granth. The evident, the logical and the simple inference is that the scribe of MS 1245 has wrongly copied not only the Bani of Guru Nanak but also of Guru Arjun, and has forged the Nishan of the Sixth Guru to claim authenticity to hide the spurious character of his work. It is the good luck of the scribe of MS 1245 that posthumously he has found in Pashaura Singh and his supervisor enthusiastic advocates and logicians who have called his work an original compilation. If the topsy turvy logic of Pashaura Singh is to be followed, every plagiarist would claim to be the author and every author would be in the dock.
Pashaura Singh seeks to depict the Fifth Master almost as a political figure, anxious to attract followers in order to gain sociopolitical prominence and standing. He writes, "their (Ravidas's and Dhanna's hymns) inclusion in the scriptures reflects a situtation wherein the followers of those Bhagats (The Jats and Cobblers) were attracted to the Sikh fold in large numbers." "Although Kabir is prominently represented in the Sikh Scripture followed by Namdev, Ravidas and Sheikh Farid, eleven other figures from different regions and castes are given a token representation to justify the Sikh claim to universality". Further it is the same logic that makes Pashaura Singh also to say, because of the absence of Bhagat Bani in MS 1245, that the reasons for inclusion of some Bhagat Bani in the Adi Granth were not ideological but mundane or almost political. For he writes regarding the Bani of Bhagat Dhanna, "Its later addition may reflect a situation when Jats were attracted into the Sikh fold in large numbers. It should be emphasised that the inclusion of Bhagat Bani in the Adi Granth, may have been motivated primarily by the popular impulse of the times in which different sectarian traditions (Sampradays) were equally involved ..."
Change of Guru Nanak's Bani Theologically Impossible:
We have already given reasons why a change in revealed Bani is a theological contradiction. So far as Guru Nanak's Bani is concerned, it is doubly so, because his spiritual status has been recognised to be unique and exalted. As explained by Bhai Gurdas in his 20th Var, Guru Nanak was Guru or Gurmukh from the very start, and received directly the Grace of God. But every other Guru, as stated in the Var, was first a Gursikh, and subsequenty became the beneficiary of His Grace through Guru Nanak or his successor, Accordingly it is an inherent theological impossibility that Guru Arjun could ever think of altering the Bani of Guru Nanak, much less his theology.
Mohan Pothis :
Apparently Pashaura Singh's presumption is that Mohan Pothis were got recorded at the instance of the Third Master. This presumption is also baseless. For, the date on one of the Mohan Pothis as claimed and recorded, is 1595 AD. Evidently to give priority to Mohan Pothis by calling them a pre-Fifth Guru manuscript, is as ridiculous as to consider MS 1245 with the forged Nishan of the Sixth Guru, to be an earlier draft. While there can be some plausible reasons for considering a manuscript to actually be of a date later than the one recorded on it, it is absurd to attribute it to a date earlier than the one written thereon. The story about Mohan Pothis is impossible and self-contradictory. Because, it is unthinkable that the Third Master after having appointed Guru Ram Das as his successor, would give the Bani dictated by him to his adversary who openly refused to recognise the Fourth Master. The hymn in the manuscript cursing those who did not recognise their 'Hundi', could only be from a frustrated and discarded group and never from the benevolent and beneficent Guru.
Our review of Pashaura Singh's thesis supervised by McLeod leads to some clear conclusions: (1) For several individually conclusive reasons, like forged Nishan of the Sixth Guru, the one-time record of the dates of demise of the first five Gurus, its lack of known writer (or scribe), dating, history, etc., MS 1245 is obviously of a date far later than 1606 AD. (2) Because of a couplet with the word Nanak now attributed to Baba Budha, it is certain that the manuscript is the preparation of someone in the anti-Sikh quarters, i.e., the Mehrban group as also disclosed by the dealer. (3) There are numerous factors and facts to suggest that in the preparation of the thesis the concerned persons have crossed bounds of academic propriety and made statements that are apparently indefensible or blasphemous. For example, it is not possible for a disinterested person to ignore that (a) In 1975 McLeod wrote that in the Adi Granth, now Guru Granth Sahib, 'inept deletions' of an unacceptable hymn' had been made, and even when he knew from Jodh Singh's book that there were no such deletions, and even when he had never examined the Kartarpuri Bir, and the Banno Bir, for which he claimed originality. He continued repeating these unwarranted and incorrect allegations, but virtually retraced them only after he had been accused of blasphemy. (b) Apparently doctored reproduction of Dr. Leohlin's papers appeared under his name in 1987 and 1990 even when Loehlin was invalid or dead, and for these reasons was unlikely to write them. (c) The triple coincidence of the appearance of a ghost article, Pashaura Singh taking up his research work on the subject and the appearance of MS 1245 in the same year (1987) is a very intriguing circumstance. This coupled with the idea of a draft by Guru Arjun, which first appeared in McLoed's book of 1975, and which forms the entire base of Pashaura Singh's thesis would, together with the other factors, seemingly suggests a planned course of events in calling a post 1606 manuscript, with a forged Nishan, a draft by Guru Arjun, and alleging on that account that the Guru had made changes in the Bani of Guru Nanak, Pashaura Singh supervised by McLeod has made unwarranted and blasphemous statement against the Guru Granth, Guru Arjun and the entire Sikh community. In fact both these attempts would appear to be quite inter-connected, the singular objective being to attack the authenticity of Guru Granth Sahib which has the unique distinction of its having been compiled by the Prophet himself. Irrelevant arguments of deletion, tampering with, a first draft, textual analysis, etc., are being advanced, the apparent objective being to cloud the originality of the Adi Granth (now Guru Granth) through frivolous and uncalled for attempts. (5) The facts, chain of events and the matter are too serious to be ignored. These need to be investigated with a view to taking, if called for, action according to the law, the religious code and the academic regulations, because, there seem to be reasons to suggest that the author could have an objective other than academic.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2015, All