Dr. W. H. Mcleod has made certain observations in the chapter, entitled 'The Sikh Scriptures, of his book The Evolution of the Sikh Community, which are misleading and contrary to facts. The author has seen my book Sri Kartarpuri Bir De Darshan. But if he had read it carefully, he would not have made the remarks and suggestions that he has. It is, for instance, fantastic to suggest, as the author has done, that "the widely disseminated Banno version must represent the original text." and that "a few portions must have been deleted because they could not be reconciled with beliefs subsequently accepted by the Panth." The author seems to insinuate that poltions from the "original" version which were not acceptble to "modern" Sikh thought were deleted. Who did this, how and when has not been explained. From the position assigned to Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the Sikh system, this just could not have happened. And it did not. The first lithographed edition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib appeared in the 1870's and it is identical with the subsequent printed editions. That lithographed edition appeared much before the Singh Sabha reform movenent had established itself. Secondly, the Kartarpuri Bir, which was installed in the Harimandir (Golden Temple) by Guru Arjan, was not available for being copied. Copies were generally made of the Banno Bir which was freely available. There was an additional reason why this version gained the vogue. The Sikhs were reluctant to start the beginners, who were likely to make errors, on the accepted bir. They were trained in the reading on the khari bir; i.e. Banno's before starting on the authorized bir.
As for the Ranjhunjhanra hymn, the heading was inscribed by Bhai Gurdas in the Kartarpur volume but the rest of the text was omitted and the space left vacant as it was rejected by Guru Arjan. This is exactly what happened in the case of the composition called Pran Sangli. The heading was again written in Ramkali Ranjhunjhanra and there is strong possibility that the Shabad was rejected as spurious, with only two lines remaining there. The question of deletion does not arise, because there is no deletion or obliteration in tbe Kartarpur manuscript. Sant Inder Singh Chakravarti, of the Namdhari Sect, which does not believe in the Guruship of Sri Guru Granth .S'ahib and is still carrying on with the tradition of personal Gurus, bas been quoted by the author. But Sant Inder Singh had no first band knowledge of the Kartarpuri Bir and has nowhere stated that he saw or studied that manuscript.
The hymn of Mira Bai was inscribed in the Kartarpuri volume but it was crossed out. As for Surdas, only one line is there. There is neither any crossing out nor deletion. These two Bhagats remained, up to the last, devotees of the incarnation of Vishnu. They were not Bhagats of the Nirgun tradition for which reason Guru Arjan rejected their compositions.
The tradition of Akhand Path is universally accepted by the Panth and is not as recent as the author seems to suggest.
It is also wrong to say.that the Sikh cremation ceremony is performed in tbe presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
The printed version is the autborized version accepted by all Sikhs. There may be some printing errors, but it is wrong to say that "the quest for a definitive authorized version is still not quite over."
When I studied the Kartarpuri manuscript, there was no litigation of any kind about it.
Mira Bai's hymn, as already stated, was written but crossed which fact has not been mentioned by the author. I have stated the reason why; because she never became a Bhagat of the Nirgun tridition.
The assumption that Guru Arjan composed the Ramkali Shabad and subsequently deleted it is altogether incorrect.
I wish to mention one more point. When I had the chance of studying the Kartarpur manuscript, I compared it with the current printed version. I found absolutely no difference between the two texts, except that the Kartarpuri Bir, having been compiled by the Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan, did not contain the hymns of the Ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur.
(BHAI JODH SINGH)
In Gurdwara Bhai Banno, Jawahar Nagar, Kanpur, there was a most significant copy of Guru Granth Sahib popularly known as "Bhai Banno Wali Bir." Besides the Bir, there were four Hukumnamas and the Nishans of Guru Hargobind and Guru Har Rai. There was a painting said to be of Bhai Banno and Guru Arjan Dev. We were fortunate enough in having the opportunity to see the Bir and also other significant things. Though we were not allowed to take any photograph of the Bir, but were allowed to take notes of it for a short time. We were also accorded permission to take photographs of the Hukumnamas, Nishans and paintings.
The Bir of Bhai Banno has some significant points which are given below:
(a) The writing of the Bir revealed that it was written by one hand except that of Bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur and not by different hands as it was believed. It was quite visible by the style of "Ekonkar" written at the start of every rag.
(b) On folio 368, at bottom of the left page where the Bani of Bhagat Ravidass in Rag Maru ended, there was a shabad by Mira 'mn hmwro bWiDE'. It was believed that the same was available in the Kartarpuri Bir. Similarly on folio 465 there was slok of Mahlla I, that started as "ijq dr lK muhMmdw lK bRhmy ibSn mhyS" and on folio 466 slok of Mahlla I was given that started as "bwie AwqS Awb Kwkiedw jqI buxsI auniq pY dY pMij tofw drb pwku Kudwie [" This bani of Guru Nanak was new one and was not available anywhere.
(c) The total folios of the bir were 468. In the end, the sequence of the bani was as under:
isAwhI dI ivDI
(d) The Bir of Banno had bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur also, but a careful observation revealed that it was not only written by different hand but was also of much later period. In this connection following points were remarkable:
- The bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur in rag Gauri was written at the bottom of folio 141 and on the top of folio 142. It seemed that someone has inserted the bani in the space, later on.
- 2. Similarly on folio 192 (on right page) three Shabads of Guru Tegh Bahadur in rag Gauri were latter entered " ibrQw khY kaun isau mn kI ]"
- On folio 210 (left side) after Dev Gandhari rag of Mahlla 5, some shabads of Guru Tegh Bahadur in the same rag were written.
- On folio 227 (a) (b) the four shabads of Guru Tegh Bahadur in rag sorath were inserted before the starting of sorath rag. That clearly ended that it was done only for the utilization of space at a later period.
- The sloks and other bani of Mahlla 9 were written at the end of the bir (in 6 folios) and were without folio number and in different hand. All the bani of Guru Tegh BahaduT in one hand.
- There is no mention of the bani of Guru Tegh Bhadur in 'Tatkara'.
(e) There were some significant points to note in the Tatkara of the bir.
- "joqI joq smwny kw cirqr" folio 33, seemed to be later imertion as the same was in different hand.
- The Bir was originally written in 1st of Asa, Sambati 1699 B.K. as was clearly written in tatkara; sMbq 1699 AsU vdI eykm poQI ilKI phucy [
The hand was the same in which the total granth except that of Guru Tegh Bahadur was written.
- In the tatkara it was stated that on folio 34 there was a Nishan of Mahlla 6, i.e. of Guru Hargobind. But the hand of the Nishan seemed to be those given on the book;, "Hukumnama" under the Nishan of Guru Arjan Dev. There was one more Nishan at folio 369 seemed to be of Guru Har Rai. The author decorated border of both the Nishans were similar.
- After Jap (u) in tatkara, it was written that gurU rwmdws jIau ky nkl nkl ["
(f) The beginning ten folios were blank, then was written "vwr kw jumlw" and there under:
1 vwr Awsw kI mlhw 1
1 vwr mlhwr kI mhlw 1
1 vwr mwJ kI mhlw 1
1 vwr sUhI kI mhlw 3
1 vwr gUjrI kI mhlw 3
1 vwr rwmklI kI mhlw 4
1 vwr swrMg kI mhlw 4
1 vwr sRI rwg kI mhlw 4
1 vwr kwnVy kI mhlw 4
1 vwr gauVI kI mhlw 4
1 vwr vfhMs kI vwr mhlw 4
1 vfhMs kI vwr mhlw 4
1 sorT kI vwr mhlw 4
1 iblwvl kI vwr mhlw 4
Then there were three blank folios before the tatkara.
(g) The bani of Bhagats were from folio 442 to 468 folio.
(h) One folio was blank after tatkara and then started the date of demise of nine Gurus. On the next folio is the Nishan of Guru Hargobind.
Besides the Bir, there were four hukumnamas preserved in the Gurdwara. Two out of them were written by Guru Tegh Bahadur and were published in "Hukumnama". These two were addressed to Bhai Ugarsain and Bhai Lal Chand, rest of Hukumnamas were also addressed to Bhai Ugarsain and Bhai Lal Chand, but there was no name probably of Bhai Banno. The writings of the hukumnamas were not deciphered then because a whitish transparent paper were pasted on it. However, the photographs of these hukumnamas and the Nishans as well as painting were taken.
Shri Kalyan Singh Bhatia, General Secretary, Gurdwara Bhai Banno, Jawahar Nagar., Kanpur was in possession of a manuscript entitled "Bhai Banno Prakash". Though, at that time the original manuscript was at Amritsar, but some copied portions of it was with him. This was not only a source on the life of Bhai Banno but other significant topic like the foundation of Amritsar and compilation of Guru Granth Sahib were also discussed. It was written by some Jawahar Singh in the second half of nineteenth century. The work was in the tradition of Bhai Mani Singh and bore some similarity with Gurbilas Parkash Chhevin, though the poetry of it was comparatively of inferior type.
S. Harmander Singh residing at D.3 Tibbia college, New Delhi-5 is one of the descendents of Bhai Banno and he has worked in detail on the Bir of Bhai Banno. He had taken detailed notes about the Bir. If deemed proper, he may be addressed on the subject. It is felt that a book of Bhai Banno's Bir can be prepared on the anology of “Kartarpuri Bir De Darshan.”