BĪR GURŪ, by Rabindranath Tagore, is a life-sketch in Bengali of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh (1666-1708), the last of the Ten Gurūs of the Sikh faith, emphasizing especially how he had prepared Sikhs to stand up to oppression and injustice. This is Tagore's first writing on Gurū Gobind Siṅgh published in 1885 in the Śrāban/July-August issue of the Bālak. The poet was then in his early twenties. Though no reference is made in the text to any earlier work on the Sikhs, Tagore (1861-1941) seems to have been familiar with the writings of Malcolm (Sketch of the Sikhs), McGregor (History of the Sikhs) and Cunningham (A History of the Sikhs). According to him, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh spent the time between the martyrdom of his father, Gurū Tegh Bahādur (1675) and the creation of the Khālsā (1699) in seclusion along the banks of the Yamunā mastering different languages and literatures. His encounter with the armies of the hill rajas and troops of the Mughal Emperor are described in some detail. Emperor Auraṅgzīb's invitation to the Gurū is said to have been the result of the alarm caused by the latter's victory in the battle of Muktsar (1705). The account of the Gurū's death at Nāndeḍ is based on McGregor's version which runs counter to historical facts.

Himādrī Banerjee