PARCHĪ (plural parchīāṅ), Punjabized form of the Sanskrit noun parichaya which means introduction, evidence or an anecdote bearing witness to the miraculous powers of a prophet or seer. The term was applied to the form of Punjabi writing developed in the seventeenth century to present the life stories of the Gurūs, saints and bhaktas. Even mythical characters such as Dhrū and Prahlād were not beyond the purview of the genre. The word parchī is sometimes used synonymously with sākhī, but there is a shade of distinction between the two. Whereas sākhī is a popular coinage denoting the account of an event from the life of a saint or prophet, parchī essentially refers to the form. The first Parchī that has come down to us relates to Bābā Handāl (AD 1573-1648), founder of the Nirañjanī sect, written in verse by his son, Bidhī Chand. This is an idealized, much exaggerated account of the life of Handāl. The next work in this genre is Parchīāṅ Pātshāhī Das written sometime in the first quarter of the eighteenth century by Sevā Dās, an Udāsī sādhū. Although the main focus of the work, which is in prose, is on the Tenth Master, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, it embraces the lives of the nine preceding Gurūs as well. From the same order came Parchī Bhāī Kanhaiya Jī, Parchī Bhāī Sevā Rām, Parchī Mahā Sundar Sachiār Kī, Parchī Raibā Jī Kī, and Parchīāṅ Bhāī Aḍḍan Shāh. Each of these works contains episodes relating to the life of the saint it is dedicated to. Events chosen are calculated not so much to delineate the career of the saint as to bring out the spiritual and benevolent nature of the saint. From the Udāsī school comes Parchīāṅ Sevā Dās, an eighteenth-century work which contains fifty sākhīs or stories from the lives of the Ten Gurūs.


  1. Kohlī, S.S., ed., Purātan Pañjābī Vārtak. Chandigarh, 1973
  2. Bedī, Tarlochan Siṅgh, Pañjābī Vārtak dā Alochanātmk Adhyyan. Delhi, 1972
  3. Gurmukh Siṅgh, Sevāpanthīāṅ dī Pañjābī Sāhit nūṅ Deṇ. Patiala, 1986

Tāran Siṅgh