AMAR KATHĀ, of unknown authorship, comprises a mixture of diverse hagiographic traditions bearing on the life of Gurū Nānak. The work remains unpublished, but several manuscripts are known to exist : for instance, two of them, dated AD 1818 and 1872, respectively, are preserved in the Gurū Nānak Dev University Library at Amritsar, one, dated 1877, in the Punjabi University Museum, Paṭiālā, one, dated 1870, at the Pañjābī Sāhitya Academy, Ludhiāṇā and one, dated 1825, in the Sikh Reference Library until it perished in the Army attack in 1984. Compiled probably towards the end of the eighteenth century, Amar Kathā draws upon all the prevalent janam sākhī cycles such as Purātan, Miharbān and Bālā along with the interpolations introduced by the Handālīās (q. v. ). This miscellany narrates Gurū Nānak's life in terms of the usual legend, myth and miracle. It begins with the customary invocatory passages seeking immortality for the reader as well as for the listener. These are followed by the first cluster of about seven (in some manuscripts split into twelve) sākhīs. Opening with an account of the genesis of the Universe, this section tells us how Nirañjan Niraṅkār, the Immaculate Formless One, remained in a nebulous state for full 144 aeons; how He, then, created by His will māyā, followed by the creation of various gods and goddesses. It was through gods Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Śiva that human beings were created. Then Niraṅkār ordained Bābā Nānak (who is none other than Niraṅkār's manifest facet) to retrieve the four Vedas for the benefit of mankind. Here follows the account of the four aeons detailing their salient features and enlisting the incarnations of Niraṅkār each aeon had witnessed. This section ends with Gurū Nānak's advent in the dark age, to show mankind the way to liberation.

        The following section on Janampatrī is extension of the Bālā tradition. The date of the Gurū's birth given here is the full moon day of the month of kārtik in 1526 Bk/AD 1469 - an example of the compiler following the Bālā tradition which has been used as the broad framework into which anecdotes and accounts picked from other current sources have been fitted. Then there are sākhīs reiterating the significance of surrender to the Gurū's will and of the company of the holy in realizing the Supreme Being. A few of the sākhīs attempt to explain some of the sayings of Gurū Nānak. Some are purely folkloristic in character containing fragments from old ballads sung by minstrels to extol Gurū Nānak. Since most of the sākhīs comprising this work have been lifted from different traditions, the change in idiom and style becomes apparent with change in the source from where a particular sākhī is picked.

Piār Siṅgh