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Having criticized, condemned outright and completely rejected the janam Sakhis, McLeod then tried to build 276 negative and destructive analytical themes about his visit to Baghdad and Sri Lanka. We give here a resume of the eminent Persian scholar, historian and educationist, (for-merly D.P.I., Punjab Govt.) Professor R.S. Verma’s tren-chant criticism of Hew McLeod’s views on Guru Nanak’s visit to Baghdad.
GURU NANAK’S VISIT TO BAGHDAD: MCLEOD’S
BASELESS SCEPTICISMWe quote verbatim from Prof. Verma’s article which was read in Punjab History Conference Fifth Session and published in Proceedings of Punjab History Conference March 1970, Punjabi University. Prof. Verma first pinpoints Hew McLeod’s distorted statements and then comments on them. We will give
a resume of both in their own words:
1. Hew McLeod says that most of the events recorded by Bhai Gurdas about Nanak’s travels outside his province are products of his imagination. “He calls them an unsub-stantiated possibility, a remote possibility.” Prof. Verma says “Bhai Gurdas was born a few years after Guru Nanak’s death and his work is semi-contemporary if not contempo-rary and his works are considered key to Guru Granth. “McLeod seems to be conscious of the unique position of Bhai Gurdas and semi-apologetically qualifies his lack of belief by saying that “he does not suggest that Bhai Gurdas has related a deliberate falsehood.”
2. Professor Verma gives evidence of the Turkish in-fluence on the language of Baghdad Arabic. As the Turks held dominant sway even before their final occupation in 1534 A.D.
3. The quatrain has been rightly translated as given in plate No. 8 of the Sikh Review. Guru Nanak Birth
Quincentenary Vol. 3 reproduced below:
“Behold, a wish has been fulfilled by Holy and high Providence: that the building of Baba Nanak has been newly built up with the help of seven walis (saints). The blessed disciple (of Baba Nanak) has started a fountain of 277 grace issuing new water in the land. 917 Hijri (equivalent 1511 A.D).
The writing is the result of carving in stone. The fig-ures reading 917 are quite clear. There is a place for a fourth digit which is occupied by the dot of ‘Noon’, the letter forming part of the word san, standing for the year. In any case the figure of two could not be overcarved as the nine as suggested by McLeod. According to Abjad the various alphabets have the
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, and 900 and 1000 27, 59, 204, 216, 13, 254, 144 Totalling 917 This value viz. 917 clearly carved, embossed in the inscription is also clear pointer to the correctness of the letters constituting the chronogram-which, therefore, does not warrant any change in wording. To conclude, the language of the inscription is (Persianized) Ottoman Turkish, bearing public influences, the metre also is a standard Persian Turkish Form, allowing the word Baba Nanak with permissible poetic, because of shortening a long vao in a proper noun and the chronogram correctly conforms to the year inscribed. The proof provided by the inscription establishes the fact of Guru Nanak’s visit to Baghdad beyond any reasonable grounds of scepticism and incredibility.”l8 In my Biography of Guru Nanak, I have given the inscriptions and their translations all in Turkish Persian form.
Prof Verma agreed with me that the date could also be 927 Hijri that is December 1520-21, which is historically correct.
On the same pattern Hew McLeod tried to refute the evidence of Guru Nanak’s visit to Sri Lanka (Ceylon). He tried to prove by negative suggestions and discursive criticism that Guru Nanak never went to Sri Lanka and the historical events narrated in Janam Sakhis and other documents are pure myths. The author of this book in his 278 Biography of Guru Nanak published in 1970, has given irrefutable evidence of Guru Nanak’s visit to Sri Lanka, based on a stone Inscription, and references to the disciples of Guru Nanak and their children and grand children Mayadune and Krishna Raja who built their Capital Sitawaka and emerged as the most powerful rulers of Sri Lanka. A disciple of Guru Arjun who visited the city described the devotion of these rulers to Guru Nanak and the manner they developed the Sikh institution of Langar. Fearing that these powerful devotees of Baba Nanak may re-emerge as a power, the Portuguese razed the whole grand city of Sitawaka to the ground.
I am firmly of the opnion that further / search for older manuscripts of janam Sakhis of sixteenth and seven-teenth century, particularly manuscripts which were written either during the life-time of Guru Arjun or earlier, will throw considerable light on the original janam Sakhi. If any such old manuscript has any resemblance to older janam Sakhi it will be closer to the oldest copy of Paida Mokha janam Sakhi and it will refute till the false and fabulous misconstructions of Meharban’s and Handalya’s janam Sakhis which Sikh scholars have been condemning and ignoring throughout the centuries. Bala will emerge as a remarkable historical figure like Mardana along with a few other companions of Guru Nanak, though he may not appear in so many Sakhis to which his name is added. In later, corrupted versions Bala is added even in Sakhis where he plays no role.
Sant Das Chibber in his Biography makes it clear that it was Paida Mokha who acted as a scribe because he was one of the very few Sikhs who not only knew Gurmukhi script introduced by Guru Nanak during the last two decades of his life, but he also was well-versed in Takari and Sharda in which Guru Nanak’s janam Patri and earlier documents were written. Bala was one of the few surviving companions of early life of Guru Nanak, particularly his Master’s life in Talwandi, Sultan pur and his first Udasi.
The two surviving Bani Pothis of Baba Mohan are 279 writtten in old Gurmukhi Script in a very fool-proof calligraphicstyle with 13 words in each line and 13 lines on each page. On one of the pages, Guru Ram Das has added two Shabads in his own hands and signed his name as “Ghulam Mastan jeth Chand”. One of the Pothis has 300 pages and the other has 224 pages. In every Pothi first Bani of the Gurus is recorded followed by Bhagat Bani.” Seeing that some short-sighted University historians, and misguided research scholars, working under them, have eliminated Bhai Bala, Hew McLeod has used all his ingenuity, in destroying the whole China-shop of janam Sakhis by a ruthless and savage use of his horns of arrogant ingrained prejudices, carrying to the extreme his moti-vated, demeaning attacks. The findings of the so-called B 40 (IOL) janam Sakhi, could be completely nullified by the publication of an equally important B 41 janam Sakhi and the janam Sakhis in Baba Prem Singh Hoti’s library. That day is not far when all the dark falsehood constructed by Hew McLeod will disappear like an autumn cloud in the light of truth, and correct and unprejudiced analysis of authentic janam Sakhis of the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth century.
Fritz Mauthner began his four-volume history of atheism in the West with the statement: “God has died. The time has come to write His history.” Hew McLeod begins his works by saying, “I have demolished the fragile structure of janam Sakhis, the source of historical Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak of history is dead. Guru Nanak of faith exists as a shadow in the name of some sentimental Sikhs. With these premises I have written Sikh history. All who dislike or demean Sikhism should read my books.” Perhaps the type of like-minded readers whom he is addressing enjoy his books. Just as every clown in a circus and every villain in a film story, has his fans who are thrilled at what they do, every book written to hurt, humiliate and run down the Sikhs, their history and religion has its admirers.
But Guru Nanak who lives in his works in Guru Granth is as immortal as eternal Light. Sikh ism and all its doctrines, 280 which scholars have studied and saints have practised, will remain unshakable like a rock and blaze the trail of a new era in world history when it shines in the hearts of those seekers of Truth who live and practice Sikhism.
Lack of honest and sincere leadership, lack of dedicated and selfless religious and cultural organization, and lack of social and political freedom after 1947 have pushed the Sikhs and Sikhism into the pit of persecution, political slavery and cultural tyranny. Out of this they will certainly come out and the sacrifices, the passion for freedom among the Sikhs will attract the attention of world leaders in every field, and by the grace of God, Sikhs will usher a new era not only in Punjab but on the world-stage.
REHIT : MORAL AND SPIRITUAL CODE OF CONDUCT AND
REHITNAMAS : MANUALS OF CODE OF CONDUCTWe have already explained that Guru Nanak introduced the charan-pahul amrit ceremony, and even Guru Gobind Singh initiated disciples according to this ceremony for the first twenty-four years of his Guruship. As we have already stated the “Gurmukh Holy Order of Guru Nanak” was replaced by Guru Gobind Singh by the Khalsa Holy Order only eight years before his departure from the world. The Khalsa Holy Order had to shoulder in future, as Panth (and not as any selfstyled Panthic Committee imposed from outside) all religious, cultural and political authority, as is being done today.
Mere initiation did not make a person a Sikh. It was his life led according to Sikh ideals which makes him a Sikh. From Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh the Guru mantra and the fundamental Rehit, of “What a Sikh should do and what he should not do”, besides following Gurbani in letter and spirit, was given orally and everyone was told that he would find confirmation of all the moral and spiritual ideals in the Guru Granth.
Oral instructions of the Gurus regarding Rehit were recorded earlier in Sakhis (Sermons). In some of the recensions of Adi Granth, written during the time of Guru Hargobind, we have the oldest 281 Rehitnama, recorded on the blank pages, attached to Adi Granth, entitled five things a Sikh should do and Five things he should not do.
The word Rehit occurs in more than thirty-five hymns revealing its importance in Guru Granth. Bhatt (Bard) Bhikha,
the leader of the Bhatts contributors to Adi Granth writes:
“I was in search of an Enlightened Saint and Apostle of God and in this search I saw and met many holymen and saints.
Amongst these were sannyasins (Hindu monks), Tapasvi yogis’ who per-formed penance, and intellectually sharp Pundits. They were all sweet in speech and manners. For one year I wandered from one holy man to another. Not one of them could enlighten me with spiritual experience. They talked and I listened to their sermons of high moral and spiritual ideals, but I could not meet one among them who lived the Rehit (moral and spiritual injunctions) they preached to others. Turning their back on remembrance of God, they are attached to unspiritual aims and objectives.
The Merciful Lord guided my steps to the true Guru (Amardas) who has enlightened me. Lord I abide by Thy Will.”19 So the word Rehit simply means to practice with mind, speech and deed the moral and spiritual ideals which are imparted by the Spiritual Guide. We have already discussed the basic principles of the Gurmukh Panth and Khalsa Panth in Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8 of this book and have shown that the fundamental moral and spiritual ideals of Sikhism are the same.
The Guru Granth, which was given a secondary position to the historical Guru has been raised to the sta-tus of Eternal Guru. The Guru Granth has to be revered and worshipped not by merely showing external hypocritical reverence, but has to be followed in letter and spirit. The Word of the Canonized Scriptures of Guru Gobind Singh and Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lall have to be treated at par with it.
Such Vars of Bhai Gurdas as No : 6,9, 18, 19, 20, 22, 28, 29, each having 20 to 22 stanzas (pauris) are nothing but authentic Rehitnamas, which Gurmukh Sikhs or Gur-Sikhs of yester years and Khalsa of the Khalsa Holy Order have followed and must follow for all times to come. Bhai 282 Nand Lall wrote two Rehitnamas, both published in the complete works of Bhai Nand Lall (preserved in Bhai Kahan Singh’s library) entitled Bhai Nand Lall Granthavali. The first was written in 1695 A.D. as the Colophon indicates; it starts with the lines gur-sikh rehit sunho mere mit: Listen my friend to the Rehit of a gursikh. It is Guru Gobind Singh addressing Bhai Nand Lall and answering some questions about Rehit. The dialogue is between Sri Gurdev vach and Nand Lall vach Utterance of the Guru and that of Nand Lall. The second Rehitnama is about the Khalsa Holy Order Rehit entitled Tankhahnama. The Khalsa who does not obey the injunction of the gursikh Rehitnama can be given cor-rective punishment for laxity in his prayers, meditations, and moral errors. Disciplinary punishment generally includes prayers and service of sangat and repentence. This Rehitnama ends with Guru Gobind Singh’s vision of the future Khalsa Panth.
Listen, Nand Lall, we declare the Truth, We shall in time establish our sovereignty;
We shall blend four castes into one, We shall inspire people to utter the Name of God;
We shall ride the Steeds of Freedom.
We shall fly the falcon of royal sovereignty, Seeing which oppressor shall fade away.
We shall make one Sikh strong enough, To fight a hundred thousand men, who oppose the Panth We shall exalt the Khalsa spiritually, When they fight relentlessly for righteousness.
The spears of glorious victory will arise aloft;
The royal elephants shall carry fluttering flags, Then thousands of cannons will be fired for freedom, The Khalsa shall be victorious from East to West.
The Khalsa shall be free and sovereign and will rule, No one will dare to resist its mighty power.
After suffering from internal conflicts all shall unite, He alone shall be saved who takes refuge in His Presence.