ITIHĀS GURŪ KHĀLSĀ, by Sādhū Gobind Siṅgh, whose earlier name was Paṇḍit Gaṇḍā Siṅgh, is a historical account, in Hindi, of the Sikhs, beginning with Gurū Nānak (1469-1539) and terminating with the post-Bandā Siṅgh period of much turbulence and trial. Sādhū Gobind Siṅgh, a Nirmalā scholar, was born in Amritsar district sometime in the third or fourth decade of the nineteenth century. Quite early in life, he became the disciple of Paṇḍit Nihāl Siṅgh. He was at Kāshī for many years studying Sanskrit language and literature, philosophy, history and the Purāṇas being his favourite subjects. It was there that he did all his creative writing. He passed away in AD 1899. He was not only learned in Sikh letters but was also a devout Sikh. He has written five books in all -- Nyāya Muktāvalī, Udiyog Kathā Prārbodh, Vedant Paribhāshā, Vairag Shatak and the Itihas Gurū Khālsā. All these books are in Hindi.

         Itihās Gurū Khālsā is the last work of the author. The book was published posthumously in 1902. The book which depends mainly on Giānī Giān Siṅgh's Panth Prakāsh for its source material, comprises 584 pages (pp 585-603 of the published version contain Gurū Tegh Bahādur's hymns in the Devnāgrī script). The book is divided into 72 chapters. The first five chapters refer to the origins of the world, the Āryan peoples' settlement in India, the division of Indian society into four-fold caste system and the contemporary Indian milieu. Chapters 6 to 10 deal with the Muslim invasions of India and the consequent hardships undergone by the local population. Chapters 11-37 narrate the life stories of the ten Gurūs of the Sikhs : some of these are rather brief whereas others are fairly detailed accounts. Then follow the exploits of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur (Ch. 38-53), the turbulent period after the death of Bandā Siṅgh, and sacrifices made by the Sikhs prior to the establishment of the Sikh rule by Maharājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh.

         Besides providing a historical account of the Sikh people, the book is a very useful source on Indian philosophy, Sikh ideology, Sikh way of life and Sikh ethics. The language is simple, the style of writing precise and terse, and the narrative quite smooth. There are in the narrative several obvious historical inaccuracies.

Rattan Siṅgh Jaggī