BAṄSĀVALĪNĀMĀ DASĀṄ PĀTSHĀHĪĀṄ KĀ is a poeticized account of the lives of the Gurūs by Kesar Siṅgh Chhibbar. The term baṅsāvalīnāmā means a genealogy. Another term used in the text is "kursīnāmā" which is Persian for "genealogy" But, strictly speaking, this work is not a genealogical table. It is a rapid account, in rather incipient Punjabi verse, of the ten Gurūs and of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur and some other Sikhs. Description of historical events and mythological elements occasionally overlap in this work. Its peculiar feature is the wealth of chronological detail it contains about the lives of the Gurūs and the members of their families. But the reliability of the dates recorded by the author is not established.
The author, Kesar Siṅgh Chhibbar, came of a family who had served the Gurūs as dīwāns or ministers. His grandfather, Dharam Chand, was in charge of the treasury of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Dharam Chand's father, Dargāh Mall, had been dīwān to Gurū Tegh Bahādur, the Ninth Gurū, and his two predecessors. Dharam Chand's son, Gurbakhsh Siṅgh, served Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Kesar Siṅgh was Gurbakhsh Siṅgh's son. Too young at the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's passing away, he did have the privilege of the company of some eminent Sikhs of his day, notably scholar and martyr Bhāī Manī Siṅgh. For many years he lived at Amritsar and also attended upon Mātā Sundarī, widow of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, in Delhi. As he records himself, he wrote the Baṅsāvalīnāmā in a dharamsālā in Jammū and completed it in 1826 Bk/AD 1769.
The book, comprising 2, 564 stanzas, is divided into fourteen chapters. The first ten deal with the Ten Gurūs. There is a chapter each on Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, Jīt (Ajīt) Siṅgh, adopted son of Mātā Sundarī, and Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ. The last chapter of the book alludes to the state of the Sikhs in the early decades of the eighteenth century, persecution they suffered at the hands of the ruling authority and their will to survival. A point especially stressed is about the bestowal of Gurūship on the Holy Book by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh before he passed away. Kesar Siṅgh says, "At this time the Gurū Granth Sāhib is our Gurū (i. e. prophet-teacher). . . Recognize him alone as the Gurū's true Sikh who accepts as eternally true the word enshrined in the Granth. He who abides by the word in the Granth, he alone will be the follower approved. " He also mentions some other prescriptions for the Sikhs in the manner of Rahitnāmās or manuals of Sikh code. But some of his assertions are not in conformity with Sikh belief and teachings. For example, he accepts the Gurūs as incarnations of Viṣṇu. The Gurūs acknowledged no deity besides God, nor did they support the theory of incarnation. Again, the author has tried to prove the superiority of the Brāhmaṇs even among the Sikhs which may be due to his own Brāhmaṇ ancestry. In any case, this is contrary to the principles of Sikhism which rejects caste.
Till recently this Sikh chronicle was available only in manuscript. It was edited by Dr Rattan Siṅgh Jaggī and published in 1972, in the Parakh, a research journal of the Pañjāb University, Chaṇḍīgaṛh. The text used was a manuscript in a private collection at Baṭālā. No date is mentioned on the manuscript, but it could be about 150 years old. A manuscript is also preserved in the Khālsā College Library at Amritsar; there was as well one in the Sikh Reference Library at Amritsar until it perished in the Army attack on the Golden Temple complex in 1984.
Rattan Siṅgh Jaggī