He was a devout Sikh and ardent adorer of the Guru. He was agreat scholar of Arabic and Persian, and a distinguished Persianpoet. He was with the Guru when the goddess is said to have beenworshipped. He wrote several works on Sikh religion. Nowhere inthem has he given the slightest hint about the worship of the goddess.
Such a unique event in the Guru’s life, as the hom is alleged tohave been, could not and should not have been omitted. Bhai NandLai used to read his poems before Guru Gobind Singh. In one ofthese he says, ‘Thousands like Dhru, thousands like Vishnu, manylike Rama the king, many goddesses, and many Gorakhs, offer theirlives at his (Guru Gobind Singh’s) feet.’
If the Guru had been a devotee and adorer of the goddess, couldBhai Nand Lai have composed such a poem and read it before him ?And could the Guru have allowed the object of his devotion to be thusslighted and made to look as his servant ?
There were fifty two poets at the Guru’s darbar. Their names are preserved.
Among them was Sainapati, who, in Samvat year 1758, i.e. three yearsafter the alleged worship of the goddess, began writing his Gur Sobha:the ‘Guru’s Glories’. He has given detailed descriptions of the Amritceremony and other events. But there is not a word about Durga worship.
On the contrary, he writes that ‘all gods and goddess took refuge at Guru’sfeet’. If the Guru had worshipped the goddess, Sainapati, as one of thepoets at the Guru’s darbar, should have been an eye-witness of the worship.
How could he have, then, described the goddess to be a suppliant at theGuru’s door ?
Testimony of Aurangzab’s Newswriter
Emperor Aurangzeb’s official newswriter sent to him a report on theday when the Guru created the Khalsa and performed the new baptismalceremony. In the report he gave a gist of the Guru’s address to hisdisciples on the occasion of administering baptism. In this the Guru isreported to have exhorted his followers to pay no heed, to the Gangesand other places of pilgrimage which are spoken of with reverence inthe ‘Shastras’, nor ‘to adore incarnations such as Ram, Krishan, Brahma,and Durga, but to believe in Guru Nanak and the other Sikh Gurus’.
Could this have been the public utterance of a man who had justthen completed a costly and lengthy ritual in honour of Durga, and hadderived all his power from her ? Would he not have, rather, sung thepraises of the deity who had blessed him, and have exhorted his Sikhsto reverence her ? Could the people have paid to him the homage thatthey did, if his words had thus violently conflicted with his deeds ? If,on the contrary, he had just undergone a huge expense and great troublein order to expose Durga, he would have certainly mentioned that eventin plain words, and held up to ridicule and satire the impotance ofDurga and the hollowness of any belief in her powers.
Munshi Sujan Rai’s Testimony
He began his Khulasatut-Twarikh in 1695-96 A.D. (Samvat 1752-53)and finished it in 1697-98 (Samvat 1754-55). This means that he wasengaged in writing his book during the time when the alleged horn wasin progress. He has given a brief account of the ten Gurus and has, intwo places, described the manner of worship prevalent among the Sikhs.
He writes, “Guru Gobind Rai, the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, has beenoccupying the Guru’s Gaddi for the last twenty- two years 1 ‘. …In short,most of the disciples and followers of Baba Nanak are well-to-dopersons, whose words are readily believed in by all, who are greatdevotees, and whose prayers to God are believed to be always accepted.
With this class, worship consists in repeating their Guru’s Word whichthey sing in exquisite tunes and with charming music….’
We have thus seen that neither in the Guru’s own writings, norin those of his contemporaries, Sikhs and non-Sikhs, most of whom1. As Guru Gobind Singh became Guru in 1675 A.D. after the death of his father,it means that Munshi Sujan Rai wrote his account of the Sikhs in or about 1695A.D. Note also that as the new Amrit ceremony had not yet been introduced, thetenth Guru’s name given by Sujan Rai is Gobind Rai and not Gobind Singh.
wrote from personal observation, do we find even the least evidenceto show that either a horn was performed or worship of Durga wasundertaken by the Guru. On the contrary, we find much in them whichproves that the Guru positively forbade his Sikhs to worship any godor goddess whatsoever.
If we turn to the accounts of the Guru’s life written after his death in1708 A.D., we find that the first of them is Mehma Prakash (in prose).
It was written in 1741 A.D. It does not contain even a mention of anysuch event as worship of Durga by the Guru. This shows that up tothirty-three years after the death of Guru Gobind Singh, his name hadnot yet been associated with worship of Durga. At the same time it isput down in this book that ‘all gods and goddesses, all Siddhs andMunis, came to see and pay homage to the Guru.’
This book, however, contains two sentences which might havelater served as the proverbial molehill for the making of a mountainthereon. They may be translated as follows, ‘Once the Guru sent forPandits from Benaras. He had a horn performed by them and thenfounded the Khalsa Panth.’
Most probably it is these two sentences on which the later writersbased their fancied and fanciful accounts of Durga worship. 1The first account which gives the story of Durga-worship waswritten either in Samvat 1808 (1751 A.D) or5amva/ 1819. Accordingto it the worship of Durga began in Samvat 1742 (1685 A.D.) andlasted for four years, i.e. till 1746 Bk. But we know it as a historical1 Another explanation can be given of the rise of this story of horn and Durgaworship. As we shall see in the next chapter, the Guru called a historic gatheringof all his disciples on the eve of his founding the Khalsa Panth. Many Pandits alsoattended it as we know from the Guru’s own testmony. It is possible that thesePandits might have sought permission and facilities to offer prayers to God in theirown way and to invoke his blessing on the momentous step which the Guru wasabout to take. An advocate of complete freedom of conscience and worship that theGuru was.might have readily acceded to their request and even supplied the material.
The Pandits might have performed a horn or havan on the eve of the birth of theKhalsa Panth.
It is possible to that some writer, like that of the above said boolccoming toknow of the havan might have thought that the Pandits had been specially invitedby the Guru for thai set purpose. We know that Durga been very mueh in the hillyregion round about Anandpur. The popular mind there, working on this little incidentof a ftavan on the eve of the birth of the Khalsa, might have developed it intostories of Durga worship as undertaken by the Guru to invoke her help and blessingsbefore launching such a momentous movement to uproot tyranny.
fact that during those years the Guru was at Paunta Sahib, near whichthe battle of Bhangani was fought in Samvat 1746 (1689 A.D.). Hencethis account deserves no credence. Moreover, the writer also says thatthe goddess paid homage to the Guru.
The next book which narrates the story of Durga-worship is TheMehma Prakash (in verse) by Bawa Sarup Das Bhalla. It was writtenin Samvat 1833 (1776 A.D), i.e. seventy eight years after the terminationof the alleged worship. No authority is quoted. Moreover, the writerhimself concedes that the Guru was not a worshipper of gods orgoddesses. Nay, he says that ‘the whole humanity, all gods and goddesses,own the Guru as their lord and pay homage to him’. One wonders howthe said writer could say such contradictory things. He seems to havestumbled upon a tradition to that effect and to have set it down withoutweighing it in the least.
The story set afloat in this way was taken up by subsequentwriters, who embellished it with all sorts of such details as their brainscould invent. Naturally, therefore, the accounts given by all of themdiffer in material details. As stated already, all the different writers giveconflicting accounts of important points in their story of the havan — theduration of the ceremony, the mantras read, the offering demanded byher and given to her, her gift to the Guru, the Guru’s behaviour on herappearance, the names of the Brahmins who performed the ceremony,etc. The mutual contradiction of these writers on such points as to ahistorian will appear fundamental for deriving any conclusions, throwstoo dark a doubt on the veracity of all of them. From all that has beensaid above — and more can be said to the same affect — it will be clearas day that the alleged worship of Durga by the Guru, and all thestories based thereon, are mere fictions, inventions of clever, yetun-Sikhlike people, who desired either to justify their own degradationfrom the lofty principles proclaimed by the Gurus, in order to pleasetheir idolatrous neighbours, or, perhaps, to lend to the Guru’s name alustre which was in reality false, by showing to the Hindus that hecould make the goddess show herself and grant his wishes. In reality,they have only helped to detract from his fair name, and no words ofcondemnation can be too strong for them and their action.
The other group of writers, who could not believe it possible forthe Guru to have worshiped Durga, tried to explain away the allegedfact by saying that the Guru did all that has been attributed to him inorder to expose the hollowness of the people’s faith in gods andgoddesses. Evidently, these writers did not question the alleged fact,but only put a different intepretation thereon. The violent contradictionsin the accounts of the other set did not set them thinking whether anysuch thing did ever happen. They did not exert themselves in thatdirection, and patronized a mere fiction as a historical fact.