SRĪ GUR PRATĀP SŪRAJ GRANTH, Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh's monumental work in Braj verse portraying in comprehensive detail the lives of the Ten Gurūs of the Sikh faith and the career of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur. Besides being an historical narrative of great significance, it is an outstanding creation in the style epic, and is the most voluminous of all poetic compositions in Hindi/Punjabi literature. Its language is Braj Bhāṣā which was the literary Hindi of that time though its script is Gurmukhī. Notwithstanding certain drawbacks which scholars with training in modern historiography may point out, it remains the most valuable source book on Sikh history of the period of the Gurūs and, indeed, on the very roots of the entire Sikh tradition. For the massive flow of its poetry, the vast range of its figures and images and for the abundance of detail, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth, Sūraj Prakāsh in shorter, popular form, is worthy to rank with the classics in this genre.
The title of the main work carries a symbolic meaning summed up in the cosmic metaphor of sūraj, i.e. the sun. The poet himself explains, "As the sun rises, the darkness of the night vanishes, thieves and ṭhugs hide themselves, owls and bats go to slumber and the stars disappear, so with the advent of the Gurūs, the rays of their spiritual light spread all around dispelling the darkness of ignorance."
The work is divided into two parts. The first, Srī Gur Nānak Prakāsh in two sections, is the story of the life of Gurū Nānak. The second, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj proper, is divided into portions, rut (season), according to the twelve signs of the zodiac, sub-divided into chapters called aṅśu (rays). In the Srī Gur Nānak Parkāsh portion, the style of the narrative tends to be more elaborate, with many a stanza given to homage to the Gurūs, the Gurū Granth Sāhib and to the patron deities of learning. The latter part, which deals with the lives of succeeding nine Gurūs and Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, contains 51,829 verse pieces in 22 cantos. The expression here is less rhetoric. Both the parts are further sub-divided into numerous sections according to the episodes narrated, each named after the sun's course, viz. the twelve zodaical signs, the six seasons and the two solstices (winter and summer solstices) which in turn comprise 1151 sunbeams, each one comprising a chapter. The phrase and imagery in both the parts of the book generally require expert explanation. This has been provided, painstakingly and exhaustively, by Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh in a 14 volume annotated edition brought out in 1927-35. Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh has also added notes where necessary.
It is usual for giānīs (learned scholars) to hold serial discourses on the text of Sūraj Prakāsh in gurdwārās, normally in the afternoons or evenings.
Jai Bhagwān Goel