JOTI BIGĀS is the joint title of two poetic compositions, one in Persian and the other in Punjabi, by Bhāī Nand Lāl Goyā, a devoted Sikh of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, much revered in Sikh piety and in letters. Bhāī Nand Lāl's verse is classed as approved Sikh canon and can be recited at religious assemblies along with the hymns of the Gurūs. Both the works included in Joti Bigās are in the nature of a fervent homage to the Gurūs, all ten of whom are acclaimed as sharing the same light, the same voice speaking through ten bodies. The work in Punjabi comprises forty-three couplets whereas the one in Persian has 175 couplets. In the former, the first twenty-six couplets are in praise of the Gurū who saves the good and punishes the evil, who is everlasting and who removes all fear, who fulfils all desires and grants liberation, who is perfect and the very image of God himself and turns men's hearts to remembering Him. The next five couplets (27-31) allude to Gurū Nānak and his nine successors, proclaiming them all to be one in genius. The concluding stanzas refer to the 330 million Hindu gods and goddesses, and innumerable bhaktas, siddhas, yogīs and prophets all of whom seek shelter under the Gurū. It is to the feet of such a Gurū that the poet has attached himself.

         The Persian part of Joti Bigās is a masnavī, beginning with an account of Gurū Nānak (1-22) who is the highest of the high (3), the emperor of both the worlds (5), and the embodiment of all virtues (6). Innumerable gods and goddesses bow before him (11-14) and innumerable planets (15-16) and sovereigns (22) are slaves to his will. Gurū Nānak was followed by a line of nine spiritual successors who, though different in body, shared the same light (23-27). The subsequent couplets (28-175) are in praise of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh who fulfils the desires of all and who keeps both the worlds in order (100). He is blessed by God with the key to all problems (101). He is superior to all not only spiritually but also in the field of battle where he roars like a lion (120). He is the jewel in the ring of justice and the fruit of the tree of God's grace (117). He is the glow of the gems serene (104). The style of poetry is high-flown in the tradition of a qasīdā, i.e. encomium, in Persian. That the poet is attempting to match the Muslim na'at or laudatory verses addressed to the Prophet, is also obvious. The heroic qualities of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh are described in terms of those of the heroes from Indian mythology and the Iranian tradition (160).


    Gaṇdā Siṅgh, ed., Bhāī Nand Lāl Granthāvalī. Malacca (Malaya) 1968

Dharam Siṅgh