Dasam Granth

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An early 19th-century Dasam Granth manuscript frontispiece (British Library MS Or.6298)

The Dasam Granth is a collection of various manuscripts in Sikhism containing compositions attributed to Guru Gobind Singh.[1][2][3][4] Guru Gobind Singh ordained the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, eternally ending the line of human Gurus. It is the primary holy scripture of the Sikhs and regarded by Sikhs as the living embodiment of Ten Gurus.[5][6] Bachittar Natak is a part of ("Dasam Granth") composition[7][8]

The standard edition of the text contains 1,428 pages with 17,293 verses in 18 sections.[3][1] These are set in the form of hymns and poems mostly in the Braj language (Old western Hindi),[3] with some parts in Avadhi, Punjabi, Hindi and Persian.[1] The script is written almost entirely in Gurmukhi, except for the Guru Gobind Singh's letters to AurangzebZafarnama and the Hikaaitaan—written in the Persian alphabet.[1]

The Dasam Granth contains hymns, from Hindu texts,[2] which are a retelling of the feminine in the form of goddess Durga,[9][2] an autobiography, letter to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, as well as reverential discussion of warriors and theology.[3] The scripture was recited in full within Nirmala Sikhs in the contemporary era.[4][10] Parts of it are popularly retold from Hindu Puranas, for the benefit of the common man, who had no access to Hindu texts of the time.[4] Compositions of the Dasam Granth include Jaap Sahib, Tav-Prasad Savaiye and Kabiyo Baach Benti Chaupai which are part of the Nitnem or daily prayers and also part of the Amrit Sanchar or initiation ceremony of Khalsa Sikhs.[11]

Zafarnama and Hikayats in a different style and format appended to it in the mid 18th century.[10] Other manuscripts are said to include the Patna bir and the Mani Singh Vali bir all originated in mid to late 18th century. These manuscripts include the writings that are questioned by most Sikhs in the contemporary era, such as the Ugradanti and Bhagauti Astotar.[10]


Although the compositions of the Dasam Granth are traditionally accepted to be written by Guru Gobind Singh, there have been questions of the authenticity of the entirety of Dasam Granth from time of compilation. There are three major views on the authorship of the Dasam Granth:[12]

  1. The traditional view is that the entire work was composed by Guru Gobind Singh himself.
  2. The entire collection was compiled by the poets in the Guru's entourage.
  3. Only a part of the work was composed by the Guru, while the rest was composed by the other poets.

In his religious court at Anandpur Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh had employed 52 poets, who translated several classical texts into Braj Bhasha. Most of the writing compiled at Anandpur Sahib was lost while the Guru's camp was crossing the Sirsa river before the Battle of Chamkaur in 1704. [13]There were copiers available at the Guru's place who made several copies of the writings, and other writings may have been included too which may have led to authenticity issues. Later, Bhai Mani Singh compiled all the available works under the title Dasam Granth.

The traditional scholars claim that all the works in Dasam Granth were composed by the Guru himself, on the basis of Bhai Mani Singh's letter. But the veracity of the letter has been examined by scholars and found to be unreliable. An example of varying style can be seen in the sections 'Chandi Charitar' and 'Bhagauti ki War'[citation needed]. Some others dispute the claim of the authorship, saying that some of the compositions included in Dasam Granth such as Charitropakhyan are "out of tune" with other Sikh scriptures, and must have been composed by other poets.[14] The names of poets Raam, Shyam and Kaal appear repeatedly in the granth. References to Kavi Shyam can be seen in Mahan Kosh of Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, under the entry 'Bawanja Kavi' and also in Kavi Santokh Singh's magnum opus Suraj Prakash Granth.

Historical writings[edit]

The following are historical books after the demise of Guru Gobind Singh which mention that the compositions in the present Dasam Granth was written by Guru Gobind Singh:

  • Rehitnama Bhai Nand Lal mentioned Jaap Sahib is an important Bani for a Sikh.[15]
  • Rehitnama Chaupa Singh Chibber quotes various lines from Bachitar Natak, 33 Swiayey, Chopai Sahib, Jaap Sahib.[16]
  • In 1711, Sri Gur Sobha was written by the poet Senapat and mentioned a conversation of Guru Gobind Singh and Akal Purakh, and written three of its Adhyay on base of Bachitar Natak.[17]
  • In 1741, Parchian Srvadas Kian quoted lines from Rama Avtar, 33 Swaiyey and mentioned Zafarnama with Hikayats.[18]
  • in 1751, Gurbilas Patshahi 10 – Koyar Singh Kalal, mentioned Guru Gobind Singh composed Bachitar Natak, Krisna Avtar, Bisan Avtar, Akal Ustat, Jaap Sahib, Zafarnama, Hikayats etc. This is first Granth mentioned Guruship of Guru Granth Shahib.[19]
  • In 1766, Kesar Singh Chibber mentioned history of compilation of Dasam Granth by Bhai Mani Singh Khalsa on directions of Mata Sundri, as he was first who wrote history after death of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • In 1766, Sri Guru Mahima Parkash – Sarup Chand Bhalla, mentioned about various Banis of Guru Gobind Singh and compilation of Dasam Granth
  • In 1790, Guru Kian Sakhian – Svarup Singh Kashish, mentioned Guru Gobind Singh composed, bachitar Natak, Krishna Avtar, Shastarnaam Mala, 33 Swaiyey etc.
  • In 1797, Gurbilas Patshahi 10 – Sukkha Singh, mentioned compositions of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • In 1812, J. B. Malcolm, in SKetch of Sikhs mentioned about Dasam Granth as Bani of Guru Gobind Singh.


The standard print edition of the Dasam Granth, since 1902, has 1,428 pages.[3][1] However, many printed versions of the text in the contemporary era skip a major section (40%) because it is controversial.[20]

The standard official edition contains 17,293 verses in 18 sections.[3][1] These are set in the form of hymns and poems mostly in the Braj Bhasha (Old western Hindi),[3] with some parts in Avadhi, Punjabi, Hindi and Persian language.[1] The script is almost entirely the Gurmukhi script except for the letter of the Sikh Guru to AurangzebZafarnama, and the Hikayat in the Persian script.[1]


The Dasam Granth has many sections covering a wide range of topics:

Compositions in Dasam Granth
No. Bani Title Alternate Name Description
1 Jaap Sahib Gobind Jaapji a prayer of 199 verses dedicated to formless, timeless, all-pervading god.[21]
2 Akal Ustat A praise of the timeless primal being Akal Purakh (god), explaining that this primal being takes numerous forms of gods and goddesses, listing most frequently Hindu names of these, but also includes a few Muslim epithets.[21] Criticizes overemphasis on rituals related to the devotional worship of god.[21]
3 Bachittar Natak Bachitra Natak Partly an autobiography that states he was born in Sodhi lineage, tracing it to the lineage of Rama and Sita of Ramayana;[22] mentions Guru Nanak was born in the Bedi clan and how the next eight Gurus came to lead the Sikhs; describes the persecution and execution of Guru Tegh Bahadar calling him the defender of dharma who protected the sacred threads and the tilaks (forehead mark of devout Hindus);[22] he mentions his own rebirth in Patna after God explained to him that he had sent religious leaders to earth, in forms such as Muhammad but these clung to their own self-interest rather than promote devotion to the true God;[22] He took birth to defend and spread the dharma, and was blessed by god to remember his past births;[22] the Bachitra Natak criticizes those who take pride in their religious rituals, mentions his own hunting expeditions, battles and journeys in Punjab and the Himalayan foothills.[22]
4 Chandi Charitar Ukti Bilas Chandi Charitar a discussion of the Hindu goddess, Durga in the form of Chandi; this section of the Dasam Granth declares that it is based on the Sanskrit text Markandeya Purana; it glorifies the feminine with her fighting the mythical war between good and evil, after the gods have admitted their confusion and weakness, she anticipating and thus defeating evil that misleads and morphs into different shapes.[22]
5 Chandi Charitar II Chandi Charitar 2 a retelling of the story of the Hindu goddess, Durga again in the form of Chandi; it again glorifies the feminine with her fighting the war between good and evil, and in this section she slays the buffalo-demon Mahisha, all his associates and supporters thus bringing an end to the demonic violence and war.[22]
6 Chandi di Var Var Durga Ki the ballad of Hindu goddess, Durga, in Punjabi; this section of the Dasam Granth states that it is based on the Sanskrit text Durga Saptasati;[23] The opening verses from this composition, states Robin Rinehart, have been a frequently recited ardas petition or prayer in Sikh history;[23]
7 Gyan Prabodh Gyan Prabodh, Prabodh Chandra Natak The section title means "the Awakening of Knowledge", and it begins with praise of God; it includes a conversation between soul and God, weaves in many references to Hindu and texts such as the Mahabharata;[24] the section summarizes those parva of the Hindu epic which discuss kingship and dharma; the role of Brahmins and Kshatriya varnas.[24]
8 Chaubis Avtar Vishnu Avtar The Chaubis Avatar (24 avatars) section is about Vishnu's 24 avtar which include Rama, Krishna,and Buddha. It is divided into 24 sections for each of the 24 avtars.
9 Brahma Avtar Avatars of Brahma Narrative on the seven incarnations of Brahma, who is already mentioned in the Chaubis Avatar section[24]
10 Rudra Avtar Avatars of Rudra(Shiva) a poem that narrates [[Rudra](Shiva)] and his avatars, also already mentioned in the Chaubis Avatar section[24]
11 Shabad Hazare Thousand hymns actually contains nine hymns, each set to a raga (melody), with content similar to Chaubis Avatar section; the sixth is filled with grief and generally understood to have been composed by Guru Gobind Singh after the loss of all four sons in the wars with the Mughal Empire;[24] this section is missing in some early manuscripts of Dasam Granth.[24]
12 33 Savaiye 33 Savaiye thirty-three verses that praise a god; asserts the mystery of god who is beyond what is in the Vedas and Puranas (Hindu), beyond the one in Quran (Muslim) and famously the Bible (Christian).[25]
13 Khalsa Mahima Praise of Khalsa a short passage that explains why offerings to goddess Naina Devi by the general public are distributed to the Khalsa soldiers rather than Brahmin priests.[25]
14 Shastar Naam Mala Shastar nam mala The section title means a "garland of weapon names", and it has 1,300 verses;[25] it lists and exalts various weapons of violence, declaring them to be symbols of God's power, states Rinehart;[25] it includes the names of Hindu deities and the weapon they carry in one or more of their hands, and praises their use and virtues; the list includes weapons introduced in the 17th-century such as a rifle.[25]
15 Sri Charitropakhyan Charitropakhyan, Pakhyan Charitra, Tria Charitra The largest part of the Dasam Granth[26] it includes 404 character features and behavioral sketches;[26] these are largely characters of lustful women seeking extramarital sex and seducing men for love affairs without their husbands knowing; the characters delight in gambling, opium and liquor;[26] these stories either end in illustrating human weaknesses with graphic description of sexual behavior, or illustrate a noble behavior where the seduction target refuses and asserts that "he cannot be a dharmaraja if he is unfaithful to his wife";[26] the final charitra (number 404) describes the Mughals and Pathans as offsprings of demons, details many battles between gods and demons, ending with the victory of gods; the Benti Chaupai found in this last charitra is sometimes separated from its context by Sikhs and used or interpreted in other ways;[26] A few Sikh commentators have questioned the authorship of Dasam Granth in significant part because of this section, while others state that the text must be viewed in the perspective of the traumatic period of Sikh history when Guru Gobind Singh and his soldier disciples were fighting the Mughal Empire and this section could have been useful for the moral edification of soldiers at the war front against the vice.[26][28]
16 Chaupai Sahib Kabiyo Baach Benti A part of the last charitra of the Charitropakhyan section.[26]
17 Zafarnama Epistle of victory A letter written in 1706 by Guru Gobind Singh to Emperor Aurangzeb in Persian language;[29] it chastises the Mughal emperor for promising a safe passage to his family but then reneging on that promise, attacking and killing his family members;[30] In this Guru Gobind Singh talks about how if the Holy Prophet were at Chamkaur in person then Aurangzeb wouldn't have lied.
18 Hikayat Hikaitan Usually grouped with the Zafarnama section, these are twelve tales unrelated to Zafarnama but probably linked because some versions have these in Persian language; the content of this section is closer in form and focus to the Charitropakhyan section above;[30]

Role in Sikh liturgy, access[edit]

The compositions within Dasam Granth play a huge role in Sikh liturgy, which is prescribed by Sikh Rehat Maryada:

  • Jaap Sahib is part of Nitnem, which Sikh recites daily in morning.[31][32]
  • Tav-Prasad Savaiye, again a bani of Nitnem, is part of Akal Ustat composition, which is recited daily in morning along with above.[31]
  • Benti Chaupai, is part of Sri Charitropakhyan, which is recited in morning as well as evening prayers.[32]
  • Jaap, Tav Prasad Savaiye and Chaupai are read while preparing Khande Batey Ki Pahul for Khalsa initiation.[11]
  • The first stanza of the Sikh ardās is from Chandi di Var.[11]
  • As per Sikh Rehat Maryada, a stanza of Chaubis Avtar, "pae gahe jab te tumre", should be comprised in So Dar Rehras.[33]

In the Nihang tradition – considered heretical by the Khalsa Sikhs,[34] the Dasam Granth is given equal scriptural status as the Adi Granth (first volume).[35] Chandi di Var is also an important prayer among Nihang and Namdhari Sikhs.[citation needed]

Except for the liturgical portions and some cherrypicked verses of the Dasam Granth that are widely shared and used, few Sikhs have read the complete Dasam Granth or know its contents.[36] Most do not have access to it in its entirety, as the generic printed or translated versions do not include all its sections and verses.[26] In its history, the entire text was in the active possession of the Khalsa soldiers.[note 1]


Letter of Bhai Mani Singh discussing the compilation of various banis of Dasam Granth

The oldest known manuscript of Dasam Granth is likely the Anandpuri bir. It is dated to the 1690s, but a few folio pages on Zafarnama and Hikayats were definitely added later, because they are composed after 1700, are in a different style and format, lacking the folio numbers present on all pages elsewhere. These letters of Guru Gobind Singh were likely appended to it in the early 18th century.[10] According to another view, the earliest surviving manuscript of the complete text is dated to 1713, and the early manuscript versions have minor variations.[36]

Guru Gobind Singh with Goddess Bhagwati

Other important manuscripts include the Patna bir (1698 CE) found in Bihar, and the Mani Singh Vali bir (1713) found in Punjab. The Mani Singh bir includes hymns of the Banno version of the Adi Granth. It is also unique in that it presents the Zafarnama and Hikayats in both Perso-Arabic Nastaliq script and the Gurmukhi script.[10] The Bhai Mani Singh manuscript of Dasam Granth has been dated to 1721, was produced with the support of Mata Sundari, states Gobind Mansukhani.[38]

The early Anandpuri, Patna and Mani Singh manuscripts include writing that are disputed in the contemporary era, as well as sections such as the Ugradanti and Sri Bhagauti Astotra that were, for some reason, removed from these manuscripts in the official versions of Dasam Granth in the 20th century by Singh Sabha Movement activists.[10]

According to the Indologist Wendy Doniger, many orthodox Sikhs credit the authorship and compilation of the earliest Dasam Granth manuscript to Guru Gobind Singh directly, while other Sikhs and some scholars consider the text to have been authored and compiled partly by him and partly by many poets in his court at Anandpur.[36]

Prior to 1902, there were numerous incomplete portions of manuscripts of Dasam Granth in circulation within the Sikh community along with the complete, but somewhat variant, major versions such as the Anandpuri and Patna birs.[39] In 1885, during the Singh Sabha Movement, an organization called the Gurmat Granth Pracharak Sabha was founded by Sikhs to study the Sikh literature. This organization, with a request from Amritsar Singh Sabha, established the Sodhak Committee in 1897.[39] The members of this committee studied 32 manuscripts of Dasam Granth from different parts of the Indian subcontinent. The committee deleted some hymns found in the different old manuscripts of the text, merged the others and thus created a 1,428-page version thereafter called the standard edition of the Dasam Granth. The standard edition was first published in 1902.[39] It is this version that has predominantly been distributed to scholars and studied in and outside India. However, the prestige of the Dasam Granth was well established in the Sikh community during the Sikh Empire, as noted in 1812 by colonial-era scholar Malcolm.[39] According to Robin Rinehart – a scholar of Sikhism and Sikh literature, modern copies of the Dasam Granth in Punjabi, and its English translations, often do not include the entire standard edition text and do not follow the same ordering either.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Giani Gian Singh, the full copy of the Dasam Granth was in possession of the Dal Khalsa (Sikh Army), an 18th-century Sikh army, at the Battle of Kup and was lost during the Vadda Ghallughara.[37]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Singha, H. S. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Sikhism (over 1000 Entries). Hemkunt Press. ISBN 978-81-7010-301-1., pp. 53–54
  2. ^ a b c Dasam Granth, Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 136–138. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  4. ^ a b c McLeod, W. H. (1990). Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-56085-4., pages 2, 67
  5. ^ Singh, Kashmir (2004). "Sri Guru Granth Sahib - A Juristic Person".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Samachar, Asia (21 August 2020). "Reignition of Dasam Granth controversy". Asia Samachar.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Kaur, Jugraj (6 January 2013). "Bibi Jugraj Kaur - Dasam Granth Interview". YouTube. Archived from the original on 19 January 2021.
  8. ^ Singh Aulakh, Dr Ajith (1980). Bachitar Natak. India: B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh Amritsar.
  9. ^ Eleanor Nesbitt (2016). Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. pp. 107–109. ISBN 978-0-19-106277-3.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Louis E. Fenech; W. H. McLeod (2014). Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 92–94. ISBN 978-1-4422-3601-1.
  11. ^ a b c Knut A. Jacobsen; Kristina Myrvold (2012). Sikhs Across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs. A&C Black. pp. 233–234. ISBN 978-1-4411-1387-0.
  12. ^ McLeod, W. H. (2005). Historical dictionary of Sikhism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-8108-5088-0.
  13. ^ Singh, Harbans (19 December 2000). "Bavanja Kavi". Sikh Encyclopedia.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Amaresh Datta, ed. (2006). The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume One (A To Devo), Volume 1. Sahitya Akademi. p. 888. ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1.
  15. ^ Rehitnama Bhai Nand Lal
  16. ^ Rehitnama Chaupa Singh Chibber
  17. ^ Sri Gur Sbha Granth, Poet Senapat, Piara Singh Padam
  18. ^ Parchi Sevadas Ki, Poet Sevada, Piara Singh Padam
  19. ^ Gurbilas, Patshahi 10, Koer Singh, Bhasha Vibagh, Punjabi University
  20. ^ Knut A. Jacobsen; Kristina Myrvold (2012). Sikhs Across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs. A&C Black. pp. 232–235. ISBN 978-1-4411-1387-0.
  21. ^ a b c Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 137–138. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 138–139. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  23. ^ a b Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  24. ^ a b c d e f Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  25. ^ a b c d e Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  27. ^ Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  28. ^ (entertainment).[27]
  29. ^ Britannica, Inc Encyclopaedia (2009). Encyclopedia of World Religions. Encyclopædia Britannica. p. 279. ISBN 978-1-59339-491-2.
  30. ^ a b Robin Rinehart (2014). Pashaura Singh and Louis E Fenech (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. Oxford University Press. pp. 142–143. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  31. ^ a b Page 133, Sikhs in the Diaspora, Surinder Singh bakhshi, Dr Surinder Bakhshi, 2009
  32. ^ a b The Japu, the Jaapu and the Ten Sawayyas (Quartets) – beginning "Sarwag sudh"-- in the morning.: Chapter III, Article IV, Sikh Rehat Maryada
  33. ^ iii) the Sawayya beginning with the words "pae gahe jab te tumre": Article IV, Chapter III, Sikh Rehat Maryada
  34. ^ Gerald Parsons (2012). The Growth of Religious Diversity - Vol 1: Britain from 1945 Volume 1: Traditions. Routledge. pp. 221–222. ISBN 978-1-135-08895-8.
  35. ^ Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2019). "Namdhari (Sikh sect)". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  36. ^ a b c Wendy Doniger; Encyclopaedia Britannica staff (1999). Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-87779-044-0.
  37. ^ Giani Kirpal Singh (samp.), Sri Gur Panth Parkash, Vol. 3 (Amritsar: Manmohan Singh Brar, 1973), pp. 1678–80, verses 61-62
  38. ^ Mansukhani, Gobind Singh (1993). Hymns from the Dasam Granth. Hemkunt Press. p. 10. ISBN 978-81-7010-180-2.
  39. ^ a b c d Robin Rinehart (2011). Debating the Dasam Granth. Oxford University Press. pp. 43–46. ISBN 978-0-19-984247-6.

External links[edit]