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Kachi bani

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APOCRYPHAL COMPOSITIONS, known in Sikh vocabulary as kachchi bani (unripe, rejected texts) or vadhu bani (superfluous texts) are those writings, mostly in verse but prose not excluded,which have been attributed to the Gurus, but which were not incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib at the time of its compilation in 1603-04. Since the Sikh Scripture was compiled by one of the Gurus and the text as approved by him has come down to us intact, compositions not included therein must be reckoned as extratextual and spurious. Moreover, the contents of the Guru Granth Sahib have been so arranged and numbered as to leave absolutely no scope for any extraction or interpolation. Still there are compositions which some attribute to the Gurus. Most of them are attributed to Guru Nanak, at least one shabad to Guru Tegh Bahadur, and some to Guru Gobind Singh. "Nanak" was the "nom de plume" the Gurus used for their compositions, and the custom was appropriated by some of the contemporary saints or religious poets. Some schismatists or those who had otherwise set themselves up as rivals to the growing faith adopted this pseudonym to benefit from its popularly accepted authority. Apocryphal writings attributed to Guru Nanak fall into three categories, viz.

  • (i) hymns addressed to the yogis on the subject of true yoga;
  • (ii) hymns addressed to the various Hindu sects on the ideal form of religion; and
  • (iii) compositions generally called namahs (epistles or addresses) addressed to Muslims, expounding the true meaning of shara' (Islamic laws) and the spirit of Islam.

Writings falling in categories (i) and (ii) seem to have been collected in course of time, in one volume popularly called Pran Sangli, the best known among Sikh apocrypha on account of its spiritual insight, and closeness to Guru Nanak's own diction and style. Besides Pran Sangli, Kakar Vichar and Bihangam Ban! (guidance from birds about auspicious and inauspicious omens) are other apocryphal compositions attributed to Guru Nanak, but which go against his teachings and have thus never been owned by the Sikhs.

Verses by Baba Miharban (q.v.) and his successors which they composed using the nom de plume 'Nanak' under the title of Mahalla VI, VII and VIII are also apocryphal. Another category of the apocryphal literature comprises hymns written in "Persianized" Punjabi and addressed to the Muslim divines and kings. These compositions are available in Chapters LXXVII to LXXVIII of the Pran Sangli also. Other compositions in this category are Nasihat Namah or Epistle of Admonitions; Hazar Namah or a discourse on the importance of being alert; Pak Namah or an address on pure living; and Kami Namah or an address on the importance of good conduct.

The shabad attributed to Guru Tegh Bahadur reads: "chit charan kamal ka asra chit charan kamal sangjoriai/mana lochai buriaian guru sabadiih mana horiai/banhjinah dipakariai sir dijai ban A na chhoriai/guru Tegh Bahadur bolia dhar paiai dharam na chhoriai." Among the apocryphal writings attributed to Guru Gobind Singh are Sarbloh Granth and Prem Sumarag.

Since Sikh Scripture was compiled by Guru Arjan himself and its first copy was inscribed under his personal supervision and care and its contents were meticulously authenticated, arranged and numbered, the genuineness of the text is beyond question. As such, the apocryphal texts pose no serious problem. Compositions which do not form part of the acknowledged recension are therefore not genuine. It is only some portions of the Dasam Granth, the Book of the Tenth Master, which have been engaging the attention of scholars with regard to their authorship, but this work does not have scriptural status. As for Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, the original volume prepared by Guru Arjan, is still extant, preserved in a descendant family at Kartarpur, in Jalandhar district of the Punjab.

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