by Harnaak Singh 9-Jan-2017
Gur Sikh Jio. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
In this article we address a question, one who denigrates the Dasam Granth, poses to others who accept the teachings of Dasam Granth. The question is about some verses in the Bachitar Natak.
To address this question we first get an overview of the Bachitar Natak. It is broadly in two parts. The verses in question are related to the second part, which relates to the creation and the autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh. The first part narrates the immanent qualities of God.
The analysis shows that those who denigrate the Dasam Granth are ill-informed and also have an agenda to propagate; in this article their opposition to reincarnation is indicated.
They do not appreciate the wealth of knowledge in the Bachitar Natak.
We were given a question on some verses in the Bachitar Natak as follows:
START OF QUESTION – Can you please give me a transalation of this bani frm BN…..Bachittaer natak[DG] says
ek sarwan te mell nikara//tate mdho kitab tan dhara//
dutiya kaan te mel nikari/ta te bhyee sharest eh sari//
tin ko kaal bahoh badh kra//tin ke medh samund mah pra//
chikantaas jal par ter rahi//medha naam tabe te kahee//
It says kaldhuj dug out some wax from one ear, who he named ‘mdho’ and ‘kitab’, who took the shape of demons. When he dug his other ear, the creation emerged or was created. Kaal Dev killed Mdho & Kitab with great difficulty and threw their remain/skin into the sea, which dried up to become Land.
The translation above is given by a nindhak of Dasam Granth. END OF QUESTION.
Note that the “nindak” of Dasam Granth who gave the translation is actually “ridiculing” the composition in the Dasam Granth.
The approach to respond to the question is to get an overview of the Bachitar Natak and address these specific stanzas in the analysis.
BACHITAR NATAK BROADLY
The Bachitar Natak has broadly two major parts.
The first part contains the Invocation and the Sri Kaal Ji Ki Ustat (Kaal means death as well as time – see Gur Vichar LINK below for more information; we would say Sri Kaal means the controller of time – God).
The second part, which starts at Kav Bans Varnan, is the autobiography by Guru Gobind Singh Ji of his present and previous lives. In this part Guru Gobind Singh, without any doubt, CEMENTS the concept of REINCARNATION espoused in SGGS Ji.
Those who DENIGRATE THE DASAM GRANTH do not BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION, this being one of the CONTRIBUTING REASONS for CONDEMNING the Bachitar Natak as well as the Dasam Granth.
Of course they use the guise of saying it is sanatan mythology to perform their slandering of the Tenth Master’s composition. They are not explicitly going to tell us that they do not believe in reincarnation, as SGGS Ji accepts reincarnation, and they do not want to be seen going against SGGS Ji. So they use the guise of sanatan matt.
THE VERSES IN THE DASAM GRANTH
The verses, in the question, in the online Dasam Granth at “searchgurbani.org” are in the Dasam Granth on page 114.
The verses are in the stanzas 13 and 14 of the second part, the biography (Kav Bans Varnan) which narrates the previous and present life of Guru Gobind Singh. These verses are shown below.
ਏਕ ਸ੍ਰਵਣ ਤੇ ਮੈਲ ਨਿਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਮਧੁ ਕੀਟਭ ਤਨ ਧਾਰਾ ॥
Out of the secretion from one of his ears, Madhu and Kaitabh came into being.
ਦੁਤੀਯ ਕਾਨ ਤੇ ਮੈਲੁ ਨਿਕਾਰੀ ॥ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਭਈ ਸ੍ਰਿਸਟਿ ਇਹ ਸਾਰੀ ॥੧੩॥
And from the secretion of the other ear, the whole world materialized..
ਤਿਨ ਕੋ ਕਾਲ ਬਹੁਰ ਬਧ ਕਰਾ ॥ ਤਿਨ ਕੋ ਮੋਦ ਸਮੁੰਦ ਮੋ ਪਰਾ ॥
After some period, the Lord killed the demons (Madhu and Kaitabh). Their marrow flowed into the ocean.
ਚਿਕਨ ਤਾਸ ਜਲ ਪਰ ਤਿਰ ਰਹੀ ॥ ਮੇਧਾ ਨਾਮ ਤਬਹਿ ਤੇ ਕਹੀ ॥੧੪॥
The greasy substance floated thereon, because of that medital (marrow), the earth was called medha (or medani)..
DISCUSSION OF THE FIRST PART
This part starts with an invocation to the Sword which represents the divine principle of justice followed by asking God’s help to finish the Granth (Stanza 1). What the sword can do and how it helps the user of the sword is then described (Stanza 2).
In stanza 3 up to stanza 101 the mostly immanent (ਸਰਗੁਣ) qualities (e.g. not old, not young, neither poor nor rich, colourless, no father, no mother, etc ….) of God are described. From stanza 17 onwards the qualities become more martial and death related, here God is referred to as Mahaa Kaal, depicting martial qualities and impact of execution of these qualities (e.g. embodiment of death, terrible sword, sounds, blood, destroy, etc …) [see Gur Vichar https://gurvichar.com/2016/12/11/the-god-of-sri-guru-granth-sahib-is-the-god-of-dasam-granth/ for meaning of Mahaa Kaal].
Note that Guru Gobind Singh Ji sees God in all the Maya around, and describes (the good, the bad, the big, the small, the rich, the poor etc ….) accordingly in these stanzas. For example Guru Ji describing God having “FOUR BEAUTIFUL ARMS”, most likely in reference to the Hindu mythological character with multiple arms (see Stanza 44). Note that God even pervades and interacts with this character too.
These stanzas depict that Guru Ji is seeing God pervading as well as God’s interaction with the creation mainly in relation to us humans.
DISCUSSION OF THE SECOND PART
In this part Guru Gobind Singh Ji outlines the biography of his present and previous lives.
In the first stanza Guru Gobind Singh Ji gives salutation to God. This is followed by a narrative of his relationship and love with, and awe of, God up to stanza 8.
From stanza 9 Guru Gobind Singh Ji starts to relate his biography commencing from past lives. The narrative starts at the beginning of time whence Oangkar (ਓਅੰਕਾਰ) created the creation (first part of stanza 10). Then the different kings were created (first Kal Sain followed by Kalket, Kurabaras and fourth was Kaldhuj from whom this whole world originated (stanza 10 and 11).
Let us stop here and think for a bit. The period is around 1700. How do you think Guru Ji is going to explain what is happening at the beginning of creation? Note that we are in the galaxy Milky Way. Do you think people will understand if he used the words universe, galaxy, milky way etc. It would be easier for people to understand if they are taught with ideas or knowledge they are familiar with. The FOUR KINGS could be maybe four stages until our galaxy came about. Our minds are still too small to understand these things. We are not too smart to question what Guru Ji related. We accept what GuruJi said and use it to learn and improve ourself both spiritually and as a member of the creation (MAYA). WE BELIVE THE REFERENCE IN THE COMPOSITION ARE METAPHORICAL, BASED ON THE MYTHOLOGY KNOWN THEN, AND USED TO DESCRIBE THAT WHICH, STILL TODAY, WE AND SCIENCE, STILL HAVE NOT UNDERSTOOD.
According to Sikh Research and Education Center the meanings are (http://srec.gurmat.info/srecarticles/sridasamgranthsahib/creation.html)
These kings are Vishnu (Kal Sain), Brahma (Kalket), Shiva (Kurabaras) and Mahavishnu (Kaldhuj). This is the then mythology and we accept this explanation.
Then Kaldhuj is described. He had a thousand eyes and thousand feet. He slept on Sheshanaga … (stanza 12).
Explanation by Sikh Research and Education Center is “God has thousands of beautiful eyes and thousands of lovely feet. He has enthroned Himself on the bed cushion of multi-headed Hydra Serpent and He is remembered by the people, the One seated on the coiled body of Hydra Serpent.”
If we are talking about a Galaxy (which has millions? of stars and millions? of planets.. it is anybody’s guess), how would you expect GuruJi to explain this to people then? We are in territory which tody still we do not know! Why question what GuruJi has stated. Maybe in a thousand years when Science has grown to really understand how the Universe, Galaxies, etc were formed, in substantial detail. Then maybe we can understand why GuruJi used these metaphors, the then mythology, to explain the creation. All Science theorises, is that there was a Big Bang, and the universe was formed. There is not much detail about the creation. Even some scientists dispute this big bang theory! Where do we stand? Accept what Guru Ji narrated.
Now to stanzas 13 and 14 that are the subject of the question. These are listed above. Again these are related to the formation, possibly of the planets because ocean is implied. GuruJi has used metaphors (the then existing mythology) to explain what happened.
Explanation by Sikh Research and Education Center is as follows.
“God extracted wax from one of His ears, from which Madh and Kitab were produced. He then extracted wax from the other ear, from which this Universe was created. He then caused Madh and Kitab to be killed. Their body fluids were thrown into the ocean. The gluey and oily matter of their body fluids began to float on the surface of water and from thence onward the Creation was named after Madh.”
Please take note of the words “greasy substance floated” in stanza 14. This could be something that we know today. The upper layer of the earth is floating on the inner layers which are molten.
Stanza 15 is VERY VERY important. Here GuruJi gives us a VERY IMPORTANT CLUE as to his thinking.
ਸਾਧ ਕਰਮ ਜੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਕਮਾਵੈ॥ ਨਾਮ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਜਗਤ ਕਹਾਵੈ॥
Because of virtuous actions, a purusha (person) is known as devta (god)
ਕੁਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਕਰਮ ਜੇ ਜਗ ਮੈ ਕਰਹੀ॥ ਨਾਮ ਅਸੁਰ ਤਿਨ ਕੋ ਸਭ ਧਰਹੀਂ ॥੧੫॥
And because of evil actions, he is known as asura (demon)
Here GuruJi is defining what DEVTA and ASURA means as used in our spiritual writings. These are qualities, the former being VIRTUOUS and the latter being EVIL. So, generally, whenever devtas and asuras are used GuruJi could mean the virtuous and evil qualities. However, in our studies, we must consider the context in which the word is used.
Then GuruJi goes on with his past life autobiography, tracing his lineage, the Sodhis and the links to Lava and Kusa. He also mentions Guru Nanak, a Bedi having shown the way. He mentions Guru Nanak transforms into Guru Angad and then to Guru Amar Das like a lamp (Jot) lit from another. This was followed by Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Hargobind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Krishan, the light (Jot) moving from one to the next until Guru Teg Bahadur. The sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur, his father, is also mentioned.
Then Guru Gobind Singh Ji moves on to relate how he was sent to the earth by God. Then he goes on to narrate his discussion with God and how he came to this earth. He was in Hemkunt and there related the inspiration with which he came to earth. One very important point is Guru Ji’s statement that “Those who call me God shall be cast into the pit of hell” in the sense that he should not be revered as God but as a slave of God. He narrates his early life lived happily at Paonta to where he moved due to unprovoked attacks by the neighbouring hill rajas at Patna. Then the martial episodes commenced, when the Raja of Srinagar, Fateh Shah, made an unprovoked attack. The rest of works is the narration of armed conflicts between Guru Ji and the adversaries. He relates the battles with the adversaries in vivid poetic detail and description. GuruJi ends the story, as Dr Jodh Singh (reference “Bachitra Natak” by Jodh Singh at http://www.patshahi10.org) states, “reaffirming his faith in God’s cosmic play” and further that God saves God’s saints and punishes those who fail their obligation to God. Guru Gobind Singh Ji says that God protected him during difficult times.
Dr Jodh Singh states that
Bachitra Natak is a clear and strong statement of God’s, and Guru Gobind Singh’s role in history. That is what gives it central importance in the formation of Sikhism. Guru Gobind Singh confirmed the preceding Guru’s teaching centring on the oneness and perfection of the Absolute. Such oneness also implied the essential perfection of creation as part of the Absolute. But creation is perfect only in relation to the Creator not in itself.
One very important thing to remember is that the people who pose such questions, with ill-intentions, do not have, and do not want to acquire, an understanding of the concepts presented by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. He presented his composition in poetic and metaphorical style as well as the use of mythology to make the people of that time understand the concepts.
Let us consider an example. Many people have ridden a bicycle and/or a motorbike.
They are very conversant riding the bike. Anyone can sit behind them and they can “wiz” along making circles and eights without any problem. They have the depth of knowledge and skill of handling the bike.
Now consider someone new who has just started to ride a bike. This person is able to handle the bike alone. When someone sits behind the bike, off centre from the middle of the seat (a little to the left or right), the rider will have problem handling the bike. This is because, being new at riding, the rider does not realise the need to counterbalance the weight of the passenger with the rider’s own weight in the opposite direction. The rider loses control and falls down. What does the rider say? The rider says the bike is not designed for carrying a passenger and then starts to denigrate the bike. This person does not know how to ride the bike, is not prepared to learn and persevere and then WANTS TO STOP others from the experience and pleasure of riding a bike.
(Note: If you have never ridden a bike please discuss this with someone who has, to get a grasp of what the above paragraph is relaying).
This is exactly the story with those who question the teachings in Dasam Granth. They have not learnt what is in the scriptures, saying that the scriptures are teaching the wrong thing and WANT TO STOP others from experiencing the INFINITE, through the teachings in the Dasam Granth.
The analysis shows that, the verses in the question were related to the creation of the universe. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, metaphorically, used the then known mythology to disseminate his thoughts about God’s creation.
An overview of the Bachitar Natak shows, broadly, that it is in two parts, one part outlining God’s immanent qualities and the other part the autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s past and present lives.
Guru Ji narrated, God pervading, as well as interacting, with the creation mainly in relation to us humans, in the first part.
In the second part GuruJi narrates his biography starting from the beginning of creation, then his past lives followed by the present life.
Essentially, Bachitar Natak clearly pens the role of God in the creation as well as Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s role in history, poetically using metaphors as illustration.
It is the people who have not learnt what is in the scriptures, stating that the scriptures are teaching the wrong thing and WANT TO STOP others from experiencing the INFINITE through the teachings in the Dasam Granth.
Thank You for reading/listening. ਗਲਤੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਖਿਮਾ.
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
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