Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji
Index of Chapters
A ballad of 199 verses that expounds the nature of the Almighty and the facets of the Almighty's greatness. The term "Jaap" itself translates to 'contemplate', and 'Sahib' refers to the Master, ie. Contemplation of the Master (Almighty). The universal appeal of this ballad makes it supreme in its expounding of the qualities of the Almighty.
This is the second ballad of Dasam Guru Durbar is composed of 271 verses, and is largely devotional in nature. 'Akal' translates to 'Immortal' and 'Ustat' translates to 'praise of'. The text describes the many forms of the Almighty in nature, and how mankind perceives this great entity. The nature of the ballad is inherently paradoxical. Many paradoxical questions are asked (see here for more details) and some answered. The ballad itself has been left unfinished (as the praise of the Almighty can never end).
This is the autobiographical work of Guru Gobind Singh ji that is 'the great drama', is described in great depth over 471 verses. It describes 32 years of his life, and brief episodes of other great warriors and battles. The paradoxical nature of the Almighty, the emotions of a warrior, and the greatness of truth is praised. Guru Gobind Singh ji also describes his lineage and his past lives, and why he came into being
Chandi Charitra (3 parts)
The aim of these ballads (1st one has 233 verses, the 2nd has 266 verses, the 3rd has 55 verses) is to inspire warriors to stand up for truth and righteousness in the face of tyranny and oppression. On a deeper level they deal with the internal struggle to control basic animal instincts. All 3 ballads are extremely metaphorical and deeply narrative in nature, and describe the battles of Durga (also known as Chandi, Bhawani, Kalika) against many demon warlords (such as Sumbh, Nisumbh, Chandh, Mundh, Domar Lochan and Rakt Beej). Based on the tales of Durga in Markandey Puraan, these ballads also weave in the intricacies of the higher power (Akal) that controls creation, yet is also within it. The 3rd ballad, Chandi Di Vaar is also the source of the 'Ardas' (an invocation read daily by all Sikhs).
Another highly devotional ballad comprising 336 verses, Guru Gobind Singh ji praises the qualities of the Almighty. The text then deals with a dialogue the soul has with the King of Souls (the Almighty), where emotions, the play of various eras (Satyug, Treta, Dwapur and Kalyug) are discussed. The four facets of Dharm (righteousness) are deliberated (Bhog, Raaj, Dhaan, and Mokh). However, only Dhaan Dharam has been discussed, the other 3 facets have not, which leads many to believe this work was left unfinished.
The second largest work within Dasam Guru Durbar covering 5297 verses, it recounts the 24 incarnations of Vishnu: Machh, Kachh, Rudra, Jallandar, Bisan, Sheshmai, Arihant, Dev, Manu Raj, Dhanantar, Nar, Narayan, Mohini, Varaha, Narsingha, Baman, Parshuram, Brahma, Suraj, Chandra, Ram Krishan, Arjan, Buddha, and Nehklanki (Kalki).
The entire chapter is very narrative and speaks Dharam always being protected by the Almighty and how this has occured through the various eras. The section covering Krishan Maharaj, Raam, and Nehklanki are the longest. Each Avtar brings with him a special technique or method of warfare to defeat the enemy he is facing.
Much of this forms the basis for the higher martial art skills within Shastar Vidiya. The avtars can be categorised as being either:
i) Shastardhari (using weapons and battle techniques to uphold Dharam, eg, Narsingha)
ii) Shaastardhari (using wisdom to overcome unrighteousness, eg, Buddha)
iii) Kalyaandhari (who change their environment through great deeds, eg, Machh)
The ballad enforces the view that although each Avtar has great powers and carried out great deeds, they all succumbed to egotism. The 'Atma' (soul) of these great beings still derived its strength from 'Parmatma' (Highest of all Souls, ie. the Almighty). The chapter also reinforces the philosophy that none other than the Almighty Nirankar (formless) God is to be worshipped.
Following the Chaubees Avtar are 2 ballads: Brahm Avtar (343 verses) and Rudra Avtar (498 verses). The first of these described the egotism within Brahma and how excessive vanity lead to his 7 incarnations on Earth: Balmik, Kashyap, Shukra, Brahaaspati, Vyas, Sastrodhaarak, and Kalidas.
In the second section, the lives of 2 incarnations of Rudra (also known as Shiva) are described namely, Dattatreyaa and Parsnaath. Rudra, as his counterpart Brahma also was the victim of excessive uncontrolled ego and was banished to Earth (by taking the form of the 2 incarnations).
Within these 10 verses, Guru Gobind Singh ji describes his philosophy and inherent beliefs of Dharam and its perception. Speaking against mindless rituals, and beliefs in many Gods (as opposed to belief in the One), the ballads narrate the greatness of the Almighty. One ballad that is added to these, known as 'Khiyaal Patshahi Dasmi' (translates to 'thoughts of the tenth Master') is said to have been written in the deep jungles of Machhiwara.
Similar in compostition to the Akal Ustat, the Guru describes the Khalsa (army). The Almighty is once again praised to great extent, along with the hippocrisy and vanity of self-proclaimed heads of faiths who's actions are anything but honourable.
This ballad commonly known by mainstream Sikhs as the 'Sikh National Anthem' covers 4 verses. It is said that this was narrated to Brahmin priests who had come to perform their rituals in Guru Gobind Singh ji's presence. Within this section, the Guru acknowledges vestment of the Guru-ship to the Khalsa.
Shastar Naam Mala
Literally translating to 'string of weapons', this is a comprehensive list of weapons used in battle and covers 1318 verses. Many names of weapons are given in addition to references of great warriors (historical and mythological) who wealded them. Many weapons that were in their infancy at the time of the Guru, such as cannons and rifles, are also mentioned.
Chaupai (Hamrī karo hāth kai rachchha)
Written by Guru Gobind Singh at Kangad (a village in Malwa) to the Emperor Aurangzeb, the composition covers 111 verses. Bhai Mani Singh and Bhai Daya Singh together gave this letter to the Emperor by hand. As was the custom, the Guru praises the Almighty and then proceeds to question the morality of the Emperor who ordered the slaying of the Guru's army and children under false pretence. The composition is an example of a Shaastradhari (using wisdom to combat tyranny) method of combating Adharam (unrighteousness). As the Emperor read this he was overcome with guilt and sought to make ammends with the Sikh Guru, but before this could happen, he passed away.
Comprising some 757 verses, there are 11 pieces of advice given to the warriors of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh. Written as if to address a mass congregation, they invoke teachings from folk tales and infuse the soul with courage and conviction.
Charitropakhyaan ( Not available online)
This is the largest (7555 verses) of all sections within the Dasam Guru Durbar. It is also the most controversial of all sections as modern mainstream Sikhs do not accept this as being authentic and believe it to be the work of authors other than Guru Gobind Singh ji. Literally translated, Charitropakhyan means 'wiles of women'. Roles of women (both good and bad) are highlighted in 404 chapters within this section.
The Charitropakhyaan (also known as Treh Charittar) begin by praising Devi Bhagwati followed by tales of women taken from many texts, including, Mahabharat, Puraans, Brihaat Katha, Ayaareh Dayiash, Katha Sahityah Sagar, various Folk tales from around India and some that took place during Guru Gobind Singh ji's lifetime (eg, such as those describing the tales of Anoop Kaur).
The tales are very narrative, informative, and reveal the depth (both good and bad) of the female psyche. A lesson in morality and rules of conduct are also given to the Kyshatriya (warrior).