I am fascinated by the Ardas approved by the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) not only for its language, which flows in poetic rhythm, but for the way it encapsulates Sikh history and philosophy in such a pithy composition with a beautiful ending reflecting the universality of Nanakian philosophy (Gurmat). However, I am do not find the second and third lines and Pritham Bhgauti consistent with Gurmat.
Ikonkar Sri Wahiguru ji ki Fateh
Sri BhgautiiJi shae
Var Sri Bhgauti ji ki Patshahi 10
Pritham Bhgauti simarkai…
Thus I decided to find how and when these words were included in the Ardas. It is clear from Macaullife’s translation that second and third line were not part of the Ardas when he wrote his monumental work on Sikhism one century ago . This is how his translation starts and ends.
“Sri Wahegur ji ki Fatah! Having remembered the Sword meditate on Guru Nanak. Through Nanak may Thy Name, O God, be exalted, and all prosper by Thy Grace! Sri Waheguru ji ka Khalsa! Sri Waheguru ji ki Fatah!”
He translates Bhgauti as sword. Up to “May the tenth King, the holy Guru Gobind Singh, everywhere assist us” is the same as the SGPC approved Ardas. However, it is different in several aspects. For example, there is no mention of “five beloved ones”, ‘four sons of the tenth Guru,” “forty immortals” and the gift of long hair. Also, it is much smaller in size than the SGPC Ardas.
Dr. Gopal Singh translated the Ardas into English in 1966 about two decades after the approval of SGPC Ardas. It is remarkable in the sense that in his translation , he completely ignores the first three lines and this is how he stars and ends it:
“Having first remembered Lord the God, call on Guru Nanak. Blest by Nanak, the Guru, may our spirits be ever in the ascendancy. O God, may the whole world be blest in thy Will and Mercy.”
Gopal Singh’s translation is shorter in content than the SGPC Ardas but larger than Macaullife’s translation. His interpretation of the last line is different from that of Macauliffe. The footnote says that Guru Gobind Singh composed the first six lines. I think his start of the Ardas is proper and consistent with Nanakian philosophy, and in my opinion the Panth (Sikh community) should replace Bhgauti by an attribute of the One and Only.
Why didn’t Gopal Singh include the first three lines in his translation? Since he is no more with us to answer this question we are left only to speculate. Dr. Gopal Singh was the first Sikh to translate the entire Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) into English. I think it was his understanding of Gurbani (sacred hymns of AGGS), which persuaded him to drop the second and third lines and Pritham Bhgauti, as they are inconsistent with Gurmat.
Kapur Singh avoids the second line but otherwise his is a faithful translation of SGPC Ardas . This is how it starts and ends.
“Formless–form, to God, the abiding Victory. Var Sri Bhagauti composition of the 10th King. To begin with we invoke the Divine spirit of God and we remember Guru Nanak. May Thy Name, the Religion preached by Nanak, prevail and prosper forever and forever. May Thy Will be done wherein lies the good of all.”
His interpretation of the last line is similar to that of Macauliffe. He translates Bhgauti as “Divine spirit of God” without giving any reference or reason. Moreover, it is surprising and confusing why he didn’t use the same meaning of Bhgauti for the second line he dropped and the third line in the translation? Nonetheless, he says, “The opening part of this prayer, relating to the invocation of the nine predecessor Gurus, is an excerpt from a Punjabi composition of Guru Gobind Singh. It is called Var Sri Bhagauti JI Ki, which is abbreviated metrical version of a chapter of Markandeya purana called Durgasaptasati, seven hundred verses of which have been condensed into 55 stanzas” .
If Var Sri Bhagauti JI Ki is a Pujabi version of Durgasaptasati then who added the first stanza relating to the invocation of the first nine Gurus, as Markandeya purana was written long before the time of Sikh Gurus? Is Kapur Singh saying that Guru Gobind Singh did the interpolation? Does he understand the implications of his statement? Most likely he does not because the interpolation or composition of kachi bani (apocryphal composition) are unethical and are condemned in the AGGS. So Guru Gobind Singh can not be the author of Var Sri Bhagauti JI Ki. Then who is the author of Var Sri Bhagauti JI Ki?
Dr. Tharam Singh, a brilliant man, with an analytical mind, who was a frequent contributor to the Abstracts of Sikh Studies, provides the answer to this question:
“The words, Padshahi 10 have been used to deceive the Sikhs into believing that these are the words used in supplication (Ardas) to the Almighty. Since the whole Var is dedicated to the goddess Chandi, there is no reason to believe that the first Pauri is not so intended. If Guru Gobind Singh is not the author of 54 of the Pauris, he can’t be the author of the first Pauri either, the one that begins with pritham bhgauti simarkai. This is confirmed by Bhai Kahan Singh’s explanation of the term Bhgauti in Mahan Kosh. So this form of Ardas from the first Pauri (stanza) of the Ballad has been foisted on the Sikhs just by adding the words ‘Padshahi 10’ to the title. We don’t know just when this form was introduced. It must have come up after the death of Bhai Mani Singh, at the time these so-called Bachittar Natak Granths first surfaced” .
According to Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, Bhgauti means – devotee, goddesses (Bhagwati, Durgadevi, Chandi), sword, Mahakal and a certain meter in poetry (meter, stanza) . Mahakal is the name of Shiv Ji in Hindu scriptures.
1 Macaulife, M. A., The Sikh Religion, V. 5, 1990, p 331-332.
2 Singh, G. Guru Gobind Singh, 3rd edition, 1968, p 126-128.
3 Singh, K. Prasarprasna, 1st edition, Eds. Piar Singh and Madanjit Kaur, 1989, p 287-288.
4 Ibid, p 286.
5 Singh, T. The Chandi Chrittar, Spokesman, October 1999, p 39-42.
6 Nabha, K. S. Mahankosh (Punjabi), 1996, p 910.