GURBILĀS PĀTSHĀHĪ DASVĪṄ, a poeticized account of the life of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh by Bhāī Sukkhā Siṅgh. The poet, a convert to Sikhism from the barber caste, was born at Anandpur in 1768 and completed the work in 1797 when he was barely twenty-nine. The poetry is more Braj than Punjabi, but the script used is Gurmukhī. Recently, the Languages Department, Punjab, has brought out an edition in Devanāgarī characters also. The oldest printed edition of the work available is the one published in 1912 by Lālā Rām Chand Mānakṭāhlā from Lahore. Comprising thirty-one cantos, the work gives a detailed account of the events of the life of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and of the causes which led to the battles he had to fight. Beginning with an invocation to the Timeless One in the classical style, the poet goes on to narrate the dream in which he was instructed in the "Shastranām Mālā", a chapter in the Dasam Granth, and was inspired to delineate in verse the life of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Bhāī Sukkhā Siṅgh claims to have had that dream while at Paṭnā where he used to deliver sermons to Sikh congregations at Takht Srī Harimandar Sāhib. He soon left Paṭnā for Anandpur where he remained until his death in 1838 and where he, completed the Gurbilās.

         Besides the information received by word of mouth from old people, Sukkhā Siṅgh seems to have relied on works such as Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's autobiographical Bachitra Nāṭak, Kuir Siṅgh's life of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, Saināpati's Srī Gur Sobhā , Aṇī Rāi's Jaṅgnāmā Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and Sarūp Dās Bhallā's Mahimā Prakāsh. With its wealth of detail, Sukkhā Siṅgh's Gurbilās combines a rare insight into the prevailing political conditions and into the moral issues involved in the resistance Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had launched. Elaborate detail marks the description of the Baisākhī day of 1699 when Gurū Gobind Siṅgh introduced khaṇḍe dī pāhul and the pledges of the Khālsā fraternity; of the regal splendour at the Gurū's court at Anandpur; Rājā Bhīm Chand's visit to the Gurū and his envy of his style; his machinations at Srīnagar (Gaṛhvāl) which converted a disciple like Fateh Chand into the enemy of the Gurū and their attack on the Gurū at Pāoṇṭā and the evacuation of Anandpur by the Gurū under a prolonged siege by the hill chiefs and Mughal troops and the subsequent course of events. The last days of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh at Nāndeḍ are described in this work in minuter detail than anywhere else. Gurbilās, however, is not a straight chronicle of events. Poetic imagination and pious adornment predominate over factual narration.

K. S. Thāpar