Chapter

Early Narratives of the Last Guru and the Creation of the Khalsa

Purnima Dhavan

in When Sparrows Became Hawks

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756551
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918881 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756551.003.0002
Early Narratives of the Last Guru and the Creation of the Khalsa

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The two earliest surviving narratives of the life of Guru Gobind Singh—Bachitra Natak and the poet Sainapati's Gursobha—have conflicting ideas of Sikh dharam (righteous conduct). Bachitra Natak both embraces and subverts existing political and caste hierarchies. Gursobha, on the other hand, strongly condemns such beliefs and places its account of the last Guru's life within a more orthodox Sikh perspective. Soon after the last Guru's death, the Bachitra Natak, would be compiled into the volume called the Dasam Granth, and its attribution to Guru Gobind Singh would ensure its wide circulation in Panjab. The continued circulation of these ideas about caste after the creation of the Khalsa in 1699 suggest that the social conflict reflected in these texts continued to be an important one in later Khalsa communities and explains the periodic opposition and ambivalence to caste status and practices.

Keywords: dharam; Sainapati; Guru Gobind Singh; Bachitra Natak; Gursobha; Dasam Granth; caste

Chapter.  10128 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sikhism

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