Chandigarh: The brutal killing of 35-year-old Lakhbir Singh at the Singhu border last week by a group of Nihangs as “punishment ” for allegedly trying to desecrate their holy book —the Sarbloh Granth — has triggered a fresh debate around Sikh scriptures and literature.
The Sarbloh Granth is distinct from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is considered to be a living guru of the Sikhs.
However, the Nihangs, apart from venerating the Guru Granth Sahib, also hold in reverence the Sarbloh Granth and Dasam Granth.
ThePrint explains the distinction between the three granths and the controversy surrounding the Dasam Granth and Sarbloh Granth.
The three granths
While it is said that the Dasam Granth, another holy text of the Sikhs, is a compilation of various writings attributed to the tenth Guru —Guru Gobind Singh — the claims have been disputed. However, some of its contents like the Jaap Sahib are part of the daily prayers of the Sikhs — the Nitnem.
In 2010, two groups of Sikhs clashed over the authenticity of the Dasam Granth at a gurdwara in Canada.
Last year, a protest was staged at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi over a discourse from the Dasam Granth.
The Sarbloh Granth, meanwhile, contains the famous Khalsa Mahima or the praise of the Khalsa, a composition attributed to the tenth Guru.
The Sarbloh Granth was first published in the mid-19th century by Baba Santa Singh — jathedar of the Budha Dal Nihang order — and has been their revered text ever since.
While in traditional Sikh gurdwaras only the Guru Granth Sahib is placed, the Nihang Sikhs place all the three granths in their gurdwaras.
Explaining the significance of the Sarbloh Granth, Dr Jaswant Singh, assistant professor at University College, Dhilwan, said the Sarbloh Granth was discovered in a period later than the Gurus but it is composed in almost the same style as the Dasam Granth. “It’s a narration, a story of a battle between the good and evil forces which ends with the manifestation of the Sarbloh avatar.”
“Though its contents reflect the puranic tradition, yet it is a transformed version. Its most significant content is the Khalsa Mahima or the praise of the Khalsa attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. The oft-heard and quoted ‘Khalsa mero roop hai khaas…khalsa mein hi ho karo nivaas,’ is from the Sarbloh Granth,” added Dr Jaswant.
Dr Jaswant also said that apart from the Nihang gurdwaras where the Dasam Granth and Sarbloh Granth are placed along with the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sarbloh Granth is also placed in the Mai Bhago Gurdwara at Nanded Sahib (in Maharashtra).
Talking toThe Print, Sikh scholar Dr Dharam Singh, who was also the editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Sikhism, said the Guru Granth Sahib is the compilation of the ‘word’ of the Sikh Gurus. “Guru Gobind Singh ordained that the Guru Granth Sahib be considered a living guru by the Sikhs. In all Sikh gurdwaras the Guru Granth Sahib is placed with great respect, bowed and prayed to,” he said.
“The Guru Granth Sahib is a revelatory scripture while the Dasam Granth and the Sarbloh Granth are part of Sikh literature. As the name suggests, the Dasam Granth is attributed to the tenth Guru but there is a huge debate over it. Some scholars agree that some portions might have been authored by the tenth Guru but others reject the claim completely. Some parts of the Dasam Granth are included in the Nitnem (Sikh daily prayers) like the Jaap Sahib and Sewaiye,” added Dr Dharam Singh.
“The Dasam Granth also includes the Bachhiter Natak, Chandi di Vaar which have resonance with Puranic literature. The only gurdwara where the Dasam Granth is placed like the Guru Granth Sahib is at Nanded Sahib,” said Dr Dharam Singh.
‘Sarbloh pothi is not sacred text’
Even as the debate over the Sikh holy scriptures continues, in a sermon delivered Monday, Sikh preacher Ranjeet Singh Dhadrianwale said Lakhbir was killed for no reason at all. “What is the proof that he committed a desecration? They killed him saying that he intended to desecrate their Sarbloh Granth. The Sarbloh Granth pothi is not a sacred granth,” said Dhadhriwale.
Dhadrianwale, who was at the forefront of 2015 protests against the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Bargaari, further said: “When we utter the words Guru Granth Sahib our heartbeats increase. We have so much respect. He is our real Guru whom we adore and worship. But in this case the desecration which was attempted was of a pothi (book) of the Sarbloh Granth which half the Sikhs don’t even consider (as sacred). Before getting agitated over someone harming your father, you should know clearly that your father is the Guru Granth Sahib and not the Sarbloh Granth.”
His remarks came after the Nihangs justified the killing, saying that just as the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sarbloh Granth was like their “father” and if anyone tries to harm their father “it is their duty to defend him”.
What Nihangs claimed
Nihang leaders, meanwhile, claimed that Lakhbir had come to their “dera” some days ago and allegedly entered the bus where the granths were placed and removed the cloth in which the Sarbloh Granth was wrapped.
The Nihangs camping at the Singhu border had housed the three granths in a bus near their living area.
“He ran away with the Sarbloh Granth and we caught him with it. There were boxes of matchsticks lying there and we suspect that he had come to do something big,” said Nihang leader Baba Raja Raj Singh during a press conference at the Singhu border Sunday.