ĀDI SĀKHĪĀṄ (ādi = first; sākhīāṅ, plural of sākhī = anecdotes, stories, discourses, parables) is one of the early compilations but not the first of the extant janam sākhī traditions to evolve. The manuscript, dated 1758 Bk/ AD 1701, and copied by Shambhū Nāth Brāhmaṇ was first located by Dr Mohan Siṅgh Dīwānā. While teaching at Pañjāb University, Lahore, prior to the partition of India in 1947, Mohan Siṅgh Dīwānā discovered in the University's Library a janam sākhī manuscript which differed from other extant janam sākhīs and bore an earlier date. Dr Dīwānā believed it to be a version of the earliest of all janam sākhī traditions and bestowed on it the name Ādi Sākhīāṅ. Since then four more copies of the manuscript have been located on the Indian side of the border by Professor Piār Siṅgh who published in 1969 a text based on the manuscript held in the Library of Motibāgh Palace, Paṭiālā, and supplemented by the manuscript in the Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar. This text was issued under the title Shambhū Nāth Vālī Janam Patrī Bābe Nānak Jī Kī Prasidh Nāṅ Ādi Sākhīān.
The fact that the two earliest of the dated manuscripts were both completed in AD 1701 obviously implies that it is a work of the seventeenth century. It is, however, most unlikely that the tradition in its extant form would have evolved earlier than the mid-seventeenth century. This conclusion is indicated by such marks of maturity as a multiplicity of sources and a coherent ordering of its various anecdotes. Two principal sources were evidently used by the first compiler of the Ādī Sākhīāṅ. One of these provides a link with the Purātan tradition, particularly with the manuscript available in the Languages Department, Pāṭiālā. The other appears to have been a manuscript, no longer extant, which was later to be used by the compiler of the B40 Janam-sākhī. Four anecdotes have also been taken from the Miharbān source (sākhīs 26, 27, 28a and 28b), thus introducing the goṣṭī form into the janam sākhī. Essentially, however, the Ādī Sākhīāṅ is a collection of narrative sākhīs and it seems clear that its first recension was exclusively narrative in content. The goṣṭs (discourses) borrowed from the Miharbān tradition appear to be a later supplement to an original compilation. Although the Ādī Sākhīaṅ shares an important source with the Purātan tradition, it lacks the characteristic Purātan division of Gurū Nanak's travels into four separate journeys known as four udāsīs. Almost all the travel anecdotes utilized by the Ādi Sākhīāṅ compiler are drawn from his second major source, i. e. the manuscript shared with the B40 compiler, and most of them are presented as a single journey (sākhīs 8-16). The only exception to this pattern is the story of Gurū Nanak's visit to Rājā Śivanābh (sākhī 21B). This also derives from his second source, but appears in the Ādi Sākhīāṅ chronology as an isolated journey, solely concerned with Rājā Śivanābh. In addition to these two journeys beyond the Punjab, the manuscript also incorporates sākhīs describing Gurū Nanāk's visit to Pāk Paṭṭan, Saidpur, and Achal (sākhīs 17, 18, 19 and 23). Towards its conclusion (sākhīs 29-30) an element of confusion becomes evident and the identity of the sources used for this portion is unclear. The compiler's usual care is relaxed, possibly because of a hasty concern to terminate the work or perhaps because the concluding portion is the work of a later, less competent contributor. The result is a somewhat garbled account of the death of Gurū Nānak. It is, however, an interesting account in that it draws heavily on the Miharbān tradition which was also used in the later stages of the Bālā Janam Sākhī development.
W. H. McLeod