CHAṆḌĪ CHARITRA, title of two compositions by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh in his Dasam Granth, the Book of the Tenth Master, describing in Braj verse the exploits of goddess Chaṇḍī or Durgā. One of these compositions is known as Chaṇḍī Charitra Ukti Bilās whereas the second has no qualifying extension to its title except in the manuscript of the Dasam Granth preserved in the toshākhānā at Takht Srī Harimandar Sāhib at Paṭnā, which is designated Chaṇḍī Charitra Trambī Mahātam. The former work is divided into eight cantos, the last one being incomplete, and comprises 233 couplets and ' quatrains, employing seven different metres, with Savaiyyā and Doharā predominating. The latter, also of eight cantos, contains 262 couplets and quatrains, mostly employing Bhujaṅg-prayāt and Rasāval measures. In the former, the source of the story mentioned is Satsaī or Durgā Saptasatī which is a portion of Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa, from chapters 81 to 94. There is no internal evidence to confirm the source of the story in the latter work, and although some attribute it to Devī Bhāgavat Pūraṇa (skandh 5, chapters 2 to 35), a closer study of the two texts points towards one source, i. e. Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa. Both the works were composed at Anandpur Sāhib, sometime before AD 1698, the year when the Bachitra Nāṭak was completed. The concluding lines of the last canto of Chaṇḍī Charitra Ukti Bilās as included in the Dasam Granth manuscript preserved at Paṭnā, however, mention 1752 Bk / AD 1695 as the year of the composition of this work.
In these compositions, Chaṇḍī, the goddess of Markāṇḍeya-purāṇa, takes on a more dynamic character. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh reoriented the old story imparting to the exploits of Chaṇḍī a contemporary relevance. The Chaṇḍī Charitra Ukti Bilās describes, in a forceful style, the battles of goddess Chaṇḍī with a number of demon leaders, such as Kāiṭabha, Mahikhāsur (Mahiṣāsur), Dhūmra and Lochana. The valiant Chaṇḍī slays all of them and emerges victorious. The battle-scenes are portrayed with a wealth of poetic imagery. The last - incomplete - canto contains an invocation to God addressed as Śivā. The second Chaṇḍī Charitra treats of the same events and battles, though in minuter detail and in a somewhat different mode of expression. The main point of these works, along with their more popular Punjabi counterpart Vār Srī Bhāgautī Jī Kī commonly known as Chaṇḍī dī Vār, lies in their virile temper evoked by a succession of powerful and eloquent similes and by a dignified echoic music of the richest timbre. These poems were designed by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh to create among the people a spirit of chivalry and dignity.
Rattan Siṅgh Jaggī