ZINDAGĪ NĀMAH, a book of pious poetry in Persian by Bhāī Nand Lāl Goyā, an honoured Sikh of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, whose name continues to be remembered with affection and esteem. A distinction which uniquely belongs to him is that his verse can be sung along with Scriptural hymns at Sikh religious dīvāns, an exception made only in one other case, viz. that of Bhāī Gurdās. The Zindagī Nāmah is believed to be Nand Lāi's first work of poetry which he wrote after he had shifted to Anandpur to join the Gurū. As the tradition goes, Bhāī Nand Lāl had originally titled the book Bandagī Nāmah (Book of Prayer) but at the suggestion of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh whom he presented the manuscript and who read it with admiration, it was renamed Zindagī Nāmah (Book of Life). The poet himself states in couplet 498 that the work derives its name from being full of the nectar of life. The poem which comprises 510 couplets was, according to the poet, written so as to familiarize man with the Divine mystery (497). It is a portrayal of the enlightened souls which will serve to edify those who go through it (501).

        At places the verses seem to echo those in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. God is described as the Creator of the universe and as one who has imparted life to all creatures (1). The human body is the temple of God lit with His light (55). Since God dwells in every heart, we should respect all human beings (81). He who wishes to gain proximity to the Supreme Being must seek the help of the true Gurū (440). The true Gurū treats (sick) hearts and leads men to have their desires fulfilled (454). Man is the owner of the invaluable treasure (of a Divine particle in the form of his soul) within him, but remains ignorant of it. If he takes to the right path which only the saints can show, he should be able to unlock the door and take possession of the treasure (164-70). Only a true and perfect Gurū can unravel to man all the mysteries of God and help him acquire everlasting felicity (394). There are several couplets in praise of satsaṅg, the assembly of the holy, and of the Gurū. The company of the holy creates in the human mind the love of God (129). Man is adjured to end all duality and constantly to remember His name (504). The concluding couplets (505-10) are an invocation to the Supreme Lord, the poet seeking His blessing for himself and for all mankind.


    Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, ed., Bhāī Nand Lāl Granthāvalī. Malacca (Malaya), 1968

Dharam Siṅgh