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‘Dasam Granth treasure of myth, epitome of poetry’

punjab Updated: May 19, 2016 17:57 IST
Nirupma Dutt
Nirupma Dutt
Hindustan Times
Dasam Granth

Manmohan Singh. (Karun Sharma/HT Photo)

The ‘Dasam Granth’, a religious text containing many writings traditionally attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, has often had its authenticity and historicity questioned by a section of religious scholars but it continues to be included as a significant Sikh religious text as some of the compositions are chanted in daily prayers and baptism ceremony.

“Rejecting the Dasam Granth would be rejecting knowledge, language and poetics,” said author Manmohan, releasing a book on the transformation of mythology in the Granth at an intimate gathering of writers in the city on Wednesday.

He adds, “I am saddened by disclaimers for how can a work comprising immortal compositions of the Guru like ‘De Shiva var mohe’, ‘Mittar pyare nu’ or ‘Chandi di vaar’ ever be questioned”.

Manmohan, a well-known author writing both poetry and prose and a national Sahitya Akademi Award winner for his novel ‘Nirvaan’ (2011), said he took up the study of the ‘Dasam Granth’ for his doctoral thesis when he was a student at the Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar.

“The book is based on the research of the ‘Dasam Granth’, on the edited version by Bhai Randhir Singh, but it is a fresh attempt to highlight the linguistics, poetics and knowledge of this remarkable ‘Granth’. I wanted to bring to the readers the importance of this classical religious text,” he says.

A senior police officer by profession, his passion, however, is linguistics, poetry, culture and research. Referring to the ‘Granth’, he says that ‘myth’ is an essential part of human existence and is present even in tribal primordial cultures and man is in fact a reflection of the mythological mind. Quoting French anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, who said ‘myth is language’, Manmohan says: “The ‘Dasam Granth’ is a much revered book of the Sikhs and in a myth-heavy culture like ours, the Guru was reaching out to his followers or audience by transforming the myths.” The classic example that the author cites of using the mythological elements to study the creative process of poetry is that of the myth of ‘Durga’ is transformed by the Guru as ‘Chandi’.

When asked how he is able to balance his very responsible job in the home ministry as deputy director of the Intelligence Bureau with writing and research, Manmohan laughs and says: “Profession and passion have to go side by side. I socialise very little in my spare time and use it for scholastic purpose.”