GURŪ NĀNAK BAṄS PRAKĀSH, by Sukhbāsī Rām Bedī (c.1758-c.1848), an Udāsī saint and a descendant of Gurū Nānak, is a versified biography of Gurū Nānak with considerable detail about his descendants as well. Two manuscript copies of the work are extant -- one at the Gurū Nānak Dev University, Amritsar, and the second in the Central Public Library, Paṭiālā. Of these, the former which is dated 1886 Bk/AD 1829 was copied by one Achhar Siṅgh. The work has since been published (1986) by Punjabi University, Paṭiālā. The author, according to his own statement (pp. 506-13), was the son of Kābalī Mall, seventh in the line of descendants of Lachhmī Chand (Lakhmī Dās), the younger son of Gurū Nānak (1469-1539). He was the disciple of Ānandghana about whom he writes with deep reverence and whom he had first met at Ṭāhlī, near Ḍerā Bābā Nānak, and got initiated into the Udāsī sect. Sukhbāsī Rām journeyed through the Indian countryside preaching Sikh tenets, but he spent a major part of his life at Ḍerā Bābā Nānak where he was born and at Kāshī where he studied Indian philosophy and poetics. It was on his return to the Punjab that he wrote this book. It is said that Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh rewarded him with a gift of five villages in Siālkoṭ district and Rājā Raṇjīt Dev of Jammū with fifty acres of land in the Kaṭhūā area. This latter jāgīr was confiscated by the British.

         This 4,500-stanza-long work which was written with the aim of eulogizing Gurū Nānak and his family and preaching the Sikh way of life, opens with the Mūl Mantra, followed by an invocation to various gods and goddesses. In presenting the life of Gurū Nānak which covers more than half of the book, the author has depended upon the family tradition as well as upon works such as Bālā Janam Sākhī and Purātan Janam Sākhī. He emphatically departs from the Bālā tradition in that he places the birth of Gurū Nānak in the month of Baisākh instead of Kārtik. The text contains references to certain events about which history has remained silent. The author, for instance, refers to Gurū Arjan's arrest under the orders of Jahāṅgīr and his release at the intervention of Bābā Srī Chand. This arrest may have preceded the one which ended in the Gurū's martyrdom. Dohirā and Chaupaī are the metres commonly employed by the poet though use has also been occasionally made of Soraṭhā, Savaiyyā and Aṛil. The language is Sādh Bhākhā, with a predominant admixture of Punjabi.


    Gurmukh Siṅgh, ed., Gurū Nānak Baṅs Prakāsh. Patiala, 1986

Gurmukh Siṅgh