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1. Differences between the Banno Bir and the Kartarpuri Bir
According to the consistent tradition accepted by all concerned, there are certain writings and hymns present in the Banno Bir which are not present in the Kartarpuri Bir. These additional writings being unauthorised by the Guru, throughout the history and the tradition, the Banno Bir has been called the Khari or bitter Bir, meaning thereby that it is unauthenticated and not fit to be used for scriptural purposes. On this factual position there are no two opinions.
We shall now indicate the additional writing in the Banno Bir The total leaves of the Banno Bir are 467. Between folios 464 and 467 the following writings appear.
(I) Salok: Jit Dar Lakh Mohamda, (2) Ratan Mala, and (3) Haqiqat Raja Shivnabh Ki.
These appear towards the end of this Bir on 4 to 5 pages, starting from 465-A and extending to 467-A with Ragmala on page 467-B. The Ragmala is the last composition both in the Banno Bir and the Kartarpuri Bir.46 The last pages of the Kartarpuri Bir do not. suggest, either because of the presence of blank spaces, or scoring out, or obliteration by hortal, or otherwise, that there was or could have been the least intention to write these hymns, or co, positions in the Granth.47 The Mundavani is on page 973/1, pages 973/2 and 974/1 are blank, and on page 974/2 is the ,ragmala. As such, there could never have been the possibility, nor could it ever have been contemplated, that these three writings requiring a space of over four pages could have been accomodated on the two blank pages 973/2 and 974/1. Both the tradition and the Banno family accept that these writings are unapproved and were not present in the Granth compiled by the Guru.
Now, we shall take up the three items which appear at the earlier pages of the Banno Bir. These are (I) A hymn of Bhagat Surdas (2) A hymn of Mira Bai and (3) a part hymn said to be of Guru Arjun Dev Ji. In the case of the eight lines of the hymn of Bhagat Surdas, only the first one verse is in the band of the scribe who wrote the Banno Bir; the remaining lines of the hymn are in a different hand, suggesting their subsequent addition.48 But at page 885/2 of the Kartarpuri Bir there is only the first one verse of Bhagat Surdas and below it there is vacant space that could accommodate about four lines or even. less. We have seen that there are numerous blank spaces in the Kartarpuri Bir. These really mean nothing and in fact suggest the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir. In this case, both in the Kartarpuri Bir and the Banno Bir originally there was only one verse of Bhagat Surdas. But, in the Banno Bir some other hand has later added the remaining verses of the Sabad of Bhagat Surdas. Hence the suggestion that the whole Sabad was in the Banno Bir but only one verse was copied in the Kartarpuri Bir has no basis. On the contrary the Banno Bir being admittedly a copy of the Adi-Granth, only one line was originally copied in it, obviously because in the Kartarpuri Bir there was only one verse. But later some other hand, other than of the original scribe, copied out the additional hymn in the Banno Bir. Therefore, the suggestion that the Kartarpuri Bir is a copy of the Banno Bir and the scribe of Katrapuri Bir ommitted to record the full hymn of Bhagat Surdas is factually baseless.
The hymn of Mira Bai appears at page 369/A in the Banno Bir. In the Kartarpuri Bir at the last part of page 810/2, it stands scored out. We know that the scoring out of unapproved Bani is a common feature of the Kartarpuri Bir which suggests both that the Guru did not approve the concerned Bani and that the Kartarpuri Bir is the original Bir. Even otherwise as these hymns of Bhagat Surdas and Mira Bai involve no issues of ideology, the question of the scribe of Kartarpuri Bir having irregularly ommitted them does not really arise. On the contrary, this is a distinct pointer to the originality of the Kartarpuri Bir, because the scribe of the Karlarpuri Bir was not merely a copyist but he was a person working under the distinct directions and authority of the Guru, who alone approved or disapproved what had to be recorded or retained. Hence the absence of the hymn of Mira Bai and Bhagat Surdas in the Kartarpuri Bir and the presence of only one verse of Bhagat Surdas lends support to the original character of the Kartarpuri Bir and not at all to the contrary suggestion of the originality of the Banno Bir.
Lastly, there are said to be some hymns of Ramkali Mahla 5 which are present only in the Banno Bir but are not there in the Kartarpuri Bir. Here too the position is virtually the same as in the case of the additional verses of Bhagat Surdas. In the Kartarpuri Bir, there are only two verses of Ramkali Mahla 5, in the middle of page 703/1. The hymns are in the same hand as of the scribe who had written the earlier part of the page, but the pen and ink used for writing these verses are different. Below this the remaining half page and subsequent four pages are blank. This clearly shows that at the time the scribe wrote these two verses, the earlier half page already stood written upon, and that the scribe intended to write, and actually wrote, only these two verses. Had the scribe intended to write more, he had full 41/2 page of vacant space available to do so. Secondly, it also shows that this page of the Kartarpuri Bir including these two verses was not copied from another Granth or Banno Bir, because had this happened the pen and ink of the entire writing on the page would have been of one kind and not of two kinds as is actually the case i.e. use of one pen and ink for the earlier part of the page and use of a different pen and ink for these two verses.
The position of Ramkali Mahla 5 in Banno Bir is that only these two verses stand written there originally as in the Kartarpuri Bir. But, after that, twelve more verses were added to the first two. The proof of this later interpolation is two-fold. The size of these letters of 12 verses is compa- ratively small. Secondly, these 12 lines have been written in a space about 8 cms wide. The other 12 lines on this page, both above and below these additional lines, occupy about 50% more space than do these lines. Evidently, these 12 additional lines had to be sequeezed in the available space of about 8 cms between the lines above and below the earlier writing on the page. Hence the comparatively small letters and closely-spaced writings.49 It is, thus, very clear that both in the Kartarpuri Bir and the Banno Bir, originally only one line of Bhagat Surdas and two verses of Ramkali Mahla 5 were recorded; but in the Banno Bir more verses were interpolated on some later dates. In view of the facts as they are, it is baseless to suggest that the Kartarpuri Bir was copied from the Banno Bir and that the inconvenient verses were later deleted, or that the scribe while he wrote the first line of Bhagat Surdas and two verses of Ramkali Mahla 5, deliberately omitted to copy out the remaining verses of Bhagat Surdas and Ramkali Mahla 5, even though those were then present there before him in the Banno Bir. Facts belie the following observation of Dr. Mcleod. "There seemed to be only one possible reason for the appearance of these two fragments. The bulk of the hymn in each case must have been deleted, leaving a small remainder which was faithfully copied into the standard text."50
46 Pritam Singh's Paper, Journal of Sikh Studies, op. cit, pp. 109-112
47 Jodh Singh: Kartarpuri Bir De Darshan, pp. 121-122
48 Pritam Singh's Paper, op. cit, p. 107
50 Mcleod, W.H: The Evolution of the Sikh Community, pp.76-77
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