Shastra-Nama Mala Purana (Old mala of weapon names) is a versified composition. Included in the Dasam Granth the list is acknowledged to be the work of Guru Gobind Singh. The poem lists weapons of war praising them as protectors and deliverers. It runs to 1318 verses and covers 98 pages in the 24point, 1934 edition in which Patshahi 10 is mentioned, although the usual inscription Sri Mukhvak, i.e. from the Guru`s own lips, is absent.
The Sastra Nam Mala, was completed in mid 1687, thus making it one of the Guru's earlier compositions, possibly a prelude to the clash of arms that took place at Bhangani the following year. The opening section of 27 verses is an invocation to Sri Bhagauti ji for assistance. Here the Sword (Bhagauti), is personified as God. God subdues enemies, so does the sword; therefore the sword is God, and God is the sword. In the list that follows, the weapons of the day are presented under fanciful names, such as 'Bow Roarer, Skin Piercer or Deer Slayer' for the arrow; Krsnafmisher or skullsmasher, for the mace; combatlasso for deathnoose; the gun is the enemy of the army; the tigerfoe, the enemy of treachery. Many of the weapons are listed in the form of riddles, so dear to the Punjabi heart.
These are often abstruse, and must be resolved in devious ways." For example : Think hard and take the word tarangam (stream) They sayJa char (grasseater), Then think of the word naik (lord), At the end say the word satru (enmy) Lo ! Good friend, you have thought of the word meaning tupak (gun), (verse 811) The reasoning seems to be that each thing mentioned is the enemy of its predecessor ; the grasseater is the deer (ja is what is produced by the moisture of the stream ; char is to graze) ; the lord and master (naik) of the deer is the tiger; the enemy (satru) of the tiger is the gun (tupak). About 25 verses deal with swords of various types, followed by verses concerning spears and quoit (chakra). There are 178 verses (75252) on the bow and arrow; on the noose, or combatlasso, 208 (253460) ; on the gun or musket, 858 (4611318), a more modern weapon. Time and again the weapons are referred to as the instruments of God`s deliverance, and they are addressed as personifications of God. This is sometimes shown in their very names, as when the dagger is called sristes, Lord of Creation. Adoration is reserved for the weapons only when they are used by the righteous. Thus, what might have been merely a gory account of destructive weapons becomes a sharpening of the moral purpose in waging war. The language of the Shastra Nam Mala is Braj, with far fewer Perso-Arabic words than in most of Guru Gobind Singh`s other compositions. Sanskrit vocabulary, in tatsama form, is in abundance. The style is fanciful, and readers are amazed by the opulence of linguistic innovation.
Cunningham says that this is not Guru Gobind Singh's composition, but does not give a reason for this statement. The composition is made up of 1318 verses of various weapons given fanciful names. Among the simpler of these names are names for arrows: Bow-roarer, Skin-piercer, Deer-slayer. The opening verse sets the mood:
"The three kinds of swords are sure and friendly deliverers,
Finishers of the enemy, armor-piercers,
They make sure our protection."
Many of these names of weapons are listed in the form of riddles. These seem to be resolved in somewhat devious ways,-for example:
"Think hard and take the word tarangani (stream),
Then say ja char (grass-eater), then think of the word naik (lord)
At the end say the word satru (enemy)-
Lo! Good friend, you have thought of the word meaning tupak (gun)."
The reasoning seems to be that each thing mentioned is the enemy of the next: the grass eater is the deer (ja is what is produced by the moisture of the stream, char is to graze); the lord and master of the deer is the tiger; the enemy of the tiger is the gun. There is quite a store of similar riddles in this arsenal. On the bow and arrow there are 177 of these riddles; on the combatlasso, 207 riddles; on the gun, 857 riddles, indicating possibly an interest in the more modern weapons of destruction.
The summary of this Bani as narrated by Gobin Sadan:
"More in the form of a dictionary in verse, this composition includes the description of the various weapons used in warfare. There is no similar writing in existence and it stands out unique for its presentation and theme. While on the one hand the various well-known ancient personalities who used these weapons have been referred to, on the other the way in which these weapons are used in the contemporary period is also highlighted."
|Shastar Nam Mala|
- Loehlin, C.H., The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh and the KHALSA Brotherhood. Lucknow, 1971
- Ashta, Dharam Pal, The Poetry of the Dasam Granth. Delhi, 1959
- Padam, Piara Singh, Dasam Granth Darshan. PATIALA, 1968
- Jaggi, Rattan Singh, Dasam Granth Panchaya. Delhi, 1990
- Randhir Singh, Bliai, Sabadarth Dasam Grantli Sahib. Patiala, 1973
- Loehlin, C.H (1971). The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh and The Khalsa Brotherhood. Lucknow Publishing House. ISBN.
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