News & Views




  I S C

  Research Projects

  About Us




            We have considered the issue of the authenticity of the, Adi-Granth, and after examining both the evidence in favour of its authenticity and the criticism of this view, come to the conclusion that there is not the least doubt that the Kartarpuri Bir is incontrovertibly the Bir written by Bhai Gurdas.
            An objection raised by Mcleod is that in order to remove scholarly doubts access to the Kartarpuri Bir would need to be allowed and "the alternative may well be a growing conviction that there is something to bide". The Karfarpuri Bir is private property and we do not hold any brief for its custodians. True, the Sodhis of Kartarpur while they do not permit access to every person, who claims to be scholar, yet, by all standards, their policy to allow access to the Kartarpuri Bir has been very liberal. In fact, during the current century there has been an extremely profuse exposure of the Kartarpuri Bir before genuine scholars and theoligians. In the twenties Master Ishher Singh of the Sikh Vidyala, Tarn Taran, sent a team of scholars who made a most detailed page by page and line by line study in order to prepare a standard version of the Adi-Granth. Second is an equally major attempt of the Shiromini Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to prepare a meticulously accurate version of the Kartarpuri Bir. This team consisting of two scholars, namely, Giani Piara Singh Sukhi and Sant Harbhajan Singh Nirmla worked from day to day for six months at Kartarpur. In addition other scholars also visited Kartarpur so as to supervise the work of the team. Leaf by leaf comparison of an unbound Bir of the Guru Granth was made with the Kartarpuri Bir. Every variation in the unbound Bir was corrected in accordance with the Kartarpuri Bir. Thereafter, caligraphists prepared another faultless copy of the Granth. This having been done, printing blocks of this new version were made. A committee of scholars was again appointed to verify and approve the corrected version. Actually, about 733 variations, major or minor, were found in the old printed version and these were all corrected. Finally, faultlessly accurate version of the Katarpui Bir was approved and printed through the Punjabi Press, Hall Bazar, Amritsar. These versions have been printed a number of times and these printed copies of the Kartarpuri Bir are there for every scholar to see and study. Dr. Jodh Singh's note recorded after the publication of Mcleod's lecture, states that this printed version today tallies completely with the Kartarpuri Bir. (This report received with the courtesy of Prof. Harbans Singh forms appendix A).92 Apart from that, many times groups of scholars, individual scholars, both foreign and Indian, have been allowed access to the Kartarpuri Bir. Many reports of the committees of scholars who examined the Kartarpuri Bir for general and specific purposes are available. Jodh Singh's' Kartarpuri Bir De Darshan' is a detailed page by page record of the Kartar- puri Bir giving an account of every feature on each page, including variation in words, spellings, lagmatras; use of hartal, blank spaces, size of margins, obliterations by use of hartal, over-writing on hartal, scoring-out, writing in-between lines, above the lines and in the margins, variations in the size of letters, hand writing, ink, etc. etc. Among individual records of examination these notes by Jodh Singh (recorded by Giani Mahan Singh) are the most detailed and give a scrupulously accurate picture of the Kartarpuri Bir. In this background it would be both unfair and incorrect to blame the custodians of the Bir that they have barred scholarly study by or exposure to the genuine scholars. The difficulty is that wild conjectures of some scholars like G.B. Singh have raised the suspicions of the custodians of the Bir. Similarly, wild conjectural and tendentious writings of Mcleod have placed all scholars at a discount. It is difficult to deny that the conduct of the scholars has a practical bearing on their receptivity among private religious circles. Nor can it be seriously asserted that the conduct of scholars like Trump, G.B. Singh and Mcleod has in any way enhanced the credit of the academic world among the general Sikh Public. At present, the Kartarpuri Bir is the property of the Dhir Mal family, and no one is to blame if the custodians want to be sure of the bonafides of a scholar before allowing him access to it for a study of the Kartarpuri Bir. Their exercise of such discretion is natural, understandable and un-objectionable.
            On the main issue we have come to the conclusion that all the surmises of G.B. Sing regarding the Kartarpuri Bir are baseless. G.B. Singh was neither a simple nor a gullible person who might have been misled into errors. But, his was a determined attempt at distorting and misrepresenting things. For, we have seen that whenever he was confronted with hard or inconvenient facts controveriing his earlier stand, he would, in order to support his version, have no hesitation in making a U turn and contradict his earlier theory by inventing new explanations, howsoever ridiculous those be. All this makes one point clear, namely, that his entire stand was aimed at what Jodh Singh calls cutting at the very root of the Sikh faith. We are aware that no other prophet took the care to define his spiritual thesis and doctrines and authenticate the scripture: Guru Arjun is unique in having done that and this was done in a manner that created a tradition for having the highest regard for the meticulous maintenance of the purity and the authenticity of the Bani or the revealed Sabad. We refer to (a) the story of the rejection of the Bani of Shah Hussain, Bhagats Kanha, Pilo, Mira Bai, and others; (b) the story of punishing and disowning Ram Rai, far misquoting the Bani; and (c) the story of the tenth Guru frowning on a Sikh who inadvertently made a very small change in quoting a couplet of the Bani by saying 'Kay Jane' instead of 'Kai Jane.'93 What we wish to convey is that the G.B. Singh's attempt was neither ignorant nor misguided, but it was clearly a work aimed at attacking the strongest pillar of the Sikh faith. And this attempt could be any thing but unintentional. One thing would explain it. The work of G B. Singh created a shock among the Sikhs and a sober person like Jodh Singh protested at this motivated attack to demolish the very foundation of the Sikh faith by preaching, what Jodh Singh calls, a poisonous principle. But, where as the Sikhs like Jodh Singh and the Sikh academic world were outraged at this attempt, one Harnam Dass was very happy at the publication. He calls it a good work of research by which he was greately influenced, impressed, and thereby encouraged. He writes that he was emboldened to persue the kind of research made by G.B. Singh. The cat is out of bag when Harnam Dass writes that Britishers, like Macauliffe, had their own axe to grind and they wanted to create differences between Hindus and Sikhs by preaching that there were two separate communities and faiths.94 We have seen that G.B.Singh's views are neither based on correct facts nor on good sense. Evidently, a scholar who is neither willing to examine closely the available material about which he was writing, nor was inclined to stick to known facts, nor exhibited any regard for truth or reason, and makes baseless attacks on the foundations of a religion, could be motivated only by consideration, that were neither academic, nor moral. The very fact that his views have been found to be perverse and poisonous by a person like Jodh Singh, and in contrast have been welcomed by persons like Harnam Dass, who are not willing to accept even the independent identity of the Sikh religion, makes very clear the destructive direction of the work of G.B. Singh. The work of Jodh Singh exposed not only the crude attempt of G.B. Singh but gave a coup de grace to his views. It is not an accident that in 1975 we find that Mcleod has tried to suggest or repeat the very assertions made by G.B. Singh, namely, that there is no authentic Adi-Granth, the Kartarpuri Bir is not the Adi-Granth got written by the fifth Guru and that the Kartarpuri Bir is a copy of the Banno Bir, or a copy of its copy; and that the additional hymns found in the Banno Bir had been copied in the Kartarpuri Bir but were later deleted by hartal. All we wish to state is that the thesis propounded and the method used by Mcleod were similar to those of G.B. Singh, since, without an attempt at verification, incorrect suggestions were made about known facts regarding the Kartarpuri and the Banno Birs, neither of which nor their related works he ever cared to examine closely. Mcleod had long association with the Christian Missionary Centre in Punjab and his bias is quite natural and understandable, but no one ever thought that a scholar would try to use the kind of weapon employed by him. As a scholar, Mcleod had expressed certain views including his Jat theory regarding militancy in the Sikh religion. His views were contradicted by Jagjit Singh in his book, 'The Sikh Revolution' both on the issue of caste in the Sikh. religion, and the appearance of Sikh militancy. In 1984 Mcleod at the instance of the University of Manchester prepared a textual source book for the Sikh religion. It is strange to find that Mcleod has completely made a black-out of standard or scholarly works on the Sikh religion and history, like (1) All five works of Dr. H.R. Gupta on the Sikh history and the Sikh Gurus; Gupta has devoted about 60 years of research on Sikh History, (2) The works of Dr. A.C. Bannerji, Professor of Sikh studies at Jadavpur Univesity; Bannerji has devoted about forty years on Sikh History; (3) 'The Sikh Philosophy' by Dr. Sher Singh; (4) 'The Sikh Ethics' by Dr. Avtar Singh, professor of philosophy, Punjabi University, Patiala; (5) Dr. Indu Bhushan Bannerji's 'Evolution of the Khalsa'; (6) J.D. Cunnigham's 'History of the Sikhs'; (7) Duncan-Greenles's 'Gospal of Guru Granth' (8) Dorthy Field 'Religion of the Sikhs', etc., etc. including the work of Jagjit Singh. Here it is amusing to record one fact to show that Dr. Mcleod is fully aware of the work of Prof. Jagjit Singh.95 For, when in recent years he met the Director of the Guru Nanak foundation, Delhi, he expressed high esteem for the work of Jagjit Singh on the two subjects mentioned above. And, yet, when he prepared his source book in 1984, he excluded Jagjit Singh's work of 1981, because presumably, that opposed and contradicted his views, but included the work of Dr. W.O. Cole, published in 1984 as it supported his Jat theory. This contrasted incongrauity of conduct between word and deed is, to say the least. un-understandable.
            All we wish to suggest is that because many standard works controverted many of the views of Mcleod or expressed different or contrary ideas, he has chosen to exclude them from the list of source material compiled by him for students of world religions. One wonders whether in the interests of academic discussion and development such things are ever done and whether such black-out of standard works serves the growth of free discussion and expression on academic issues in non-totalitarian countries.
            Prof. Pritam Singh is the third person in the line of G.B. Singh who doubts the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir without ever having seen it. During discussion he seems to tow the line of G.B. Singh in suggesting that perhaps the Guru Granth does not contain all the authentic Bani of ‘the Gurus’ and that the genuine Bani of the Gurus is in the Mohan Pothies. It was after the publication of Mcleod's 'Evolution of the Sikh Community' that Prof. Jagjit Singh, Principal Harbhajan Singh and others requested Prof. Pritam Singh, Head Deptt. of Sikh studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, to send a team of scholars to Kanpur to examine the Banno Bir so as to find out how far the views of Mcleod were correct. He did send the team of scholars in 1977 to study the Banno Bir at Kanpur. They reported, as was also found by Pritam Singh himself later on that the Banno Bir was prepared in 1699, 38 years after the completion of the Adi-Granth. (A copy of a note by a member of the team is appendix B). This report of the University team was neither published, nor discussed, nor placed before scholars for criticism eyen though it controverted the Banno story of the Bir being a copy prepared in 1604 A.D. In fact the present head of that Department writes that the report is not traceable and has not been available since 1981. If it had been published it would have demolished the theory of G.B. Singh and Mcleod that the Kartarpuri Bir is a copy of the Banno Bir and is not the original Granth. Instead, in 1979 Prof. Pritam Singh voiced a complaint that the free expression of views by scholars like G.B. Singh and Mcleod was being thwarted by unthinking, narrow-minded, and stick-wieiding persons.96 As to who were those crude critics he did not quite specify. In 1981 Pritam Singh himself examined the Banno Bir at Kanpur. He could not, for obvious reasons, come to a conclusion different from the report of the University scholars. But his conclusion too exposed the superficial character of the views of G.B. Singh and Mcleod. However, he tried to pump a new life in the Banno myth by saying that the present Banno Dir is a copy of the real Banno Bir, of Samat 1661, though of the very material existence of it, there is not a ghost of evidence.
            All we wish to stress is that G.B. Singh, Mcleod and Pritam Singh belong to a group of scholars some of whom seem to have exhibited a common belief in repeating, without examining the available writings or materials, the three incorrect suggestions that (a) Guru Granth is not the authentic version of all the Bani of the Gurus; (b) Kartarpuri Bir is not the Adi-Granth prepared by the fifth Guru; and (c) Kartarpuri Bir is a copy or a copy of the copy of Banno Bir which is the first true copy of the Adi-Granth. These suggestions appear to give currency to what Jodh Singh calls the poisonous principle of causing confusion by casting doubt on the very authenticity of the scripture of the Sikhs that forms the fundamental pillar of their faith. One wonders whether this is being done as a matter of design. For, before making the sinister move neither G.B. Singh nor Mcleod had made any serious examination of either the Kartarpuri Bir, or the Mohan Pothies, or the Banno Bir. And, when Pritam Singh was confronted with the report of his University scholars that Banno Bir was a Granth written thirty-eight years after the Kartarpuri Bir, he has raised the ghost of another B 1 which no one has ever seen, much less examined. In short, whatever be the objective of this move, in effect it will just cloud the issues and tend to destroy the work of the fifth Guru, who with his singular fore-sight and vision once for all authenticated the scripture so that persons like G.B. Singh do not create any confusion. In fact, the attack of Pritam Singh on the critics of G.B. Singh and Mcleod was perhaps only an act to raise an academic smoke screen since as a wide awake scholar he could not be quite unconscious of the role the Mcleod group was playing. For this is what even an outsider like Dr. Noel King of the university of California writes about the books of Dr. Mcleod. "Whatever Dr. Mcleod intended many readers will ask his books the wrong questions and get the wrong answers. The books to an uninitiated reader seem to reiterate the notion that a great amount of Sikh belief appears to be based on uncritical religiosity. The reader seeking the well-springs of what Sikhism is will not be assisted. The only successful opponent to thousands of years of passing conquerors must have something that 'makes him tick'. Nowhere in these books is there an attempt to tell us what it is."97 And now finding that not many persons have welcomed their moves or come forward to support unfounded suggestions, Prof. Pritam Singh is exhorting foreign scholars to join the demolition squad by saying: "If the Sikhs fail to do their duty towards Guru Arjan's monumental work, there is no reason why the wide awake internitional scholarship should not take the work into its own hands."98
            Our anaiysis and examination of the available materials on the subject and the statements of various authors leads us to the conclusion that the Kartarpuri Bir is the authentic Adi-Granth prepared by the fifth Guru and, that the views of the three authors or critics are without any basis either factual or rational. In fact, it is important to note that there is no claim of originality made for any Bir other than the Kartarpuri Bir.

92 Jodh Singh, op. cit., Appendix A.

93 Jodh Singh, Prachin Biran Bare, p. 47

94 Harnam Das, op. cit., pp. 3, 138

95 Mcleod : Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhims, pp. 159-160.

96 Agle Dahake Vili Punjab Parkashan

97 Sikh Tradition, op. cit, p. 49

98 Pritam Singh, op. cit, p. 113



©Copyright Institute of Sikh Studies, All rights reserved. Designed by Jaswant (09915861422)