POTHĪĀṄ, BĀBĀ MOHAN VĀLĪĀṄ, manuscript copies (pothīāṅ, lit. books), in Gurmukhī script, containing some of the compositions of the fast three Gurūs and eight medieval saints, which, according to Sikh tradition, Gurū Arjan (1563-1606) obtained from Bābā Mohan, the elder son of the Third Gurū, Āmar Dās, and which he utilized in the compilation of the Ādi Granth.

         They are also known as Goindvāl vālīāṅ pothīāṅ for the reason that they were transcribed in Goindvāl, the seat of the Third Gurū, and remained there until the earlier half of the 20th century, except for a brief priod of time when they were in the custody of Gurū Arjan in Amritsar. Still another title is Sahaṅsar Rām vālīāṅ Pothīāṅ, recalling the name of the writer, Sahaṅsar Rām, son of Mohan and grandson of Gurū Amar Dās.

         Two of the pothīs are still extant, both in the possession of the descendants of Gurū Amar Dās. One of them is preserved at Paṭiālā and is the property of Bāvā Bhagat Siṅgh Bhallā (since shifted to Piñjaur, near Chaṇḍigaṛh),who first took it from Goindvāl to Mardān in 1940 and brought it to Paṭiālā to which town he migrated after the Partition of the Punjab (1947). This pothī is on view for darshan in his house on the morning of the full moon day each month. People gather to offer obeisance and after hymn-singing, hukam, i.e. a śabda, is read out from the pothī by one of the family members as the Gurū's command (hukam) or lesson for the day. Use of the pothī for scrutiny or scholarly study is not permissible. Of the other Goindvāl pothī, now at the village of Dārāpur near Uṛmuṛ in Hoshiārpur district of the Punjab, a photo-copy was obtained by the Punjabi University and is preserved in its Library. This pothī in the order of writing in fact precedes the Paṭiālā manuscript. Preceding both in point of time is the pothī mentioned in the Purātan Janam Sākhī as having been bequeathed by Gurū Nānak to his successor, Gurū Aṅgad, which is sometimes, though with insufficient authority, identified as Gurū Harsahāi vālī Pothī, now believed to be lost for good.

         The Bābā Mohan pothīs were in preparation for two years. The work, commenced in September 1570, was completed on 10 Bhādoṅ 1629 Bk/9 August 1572, but additions perhaps continued to be made even later. The size of both the pothīs is the same, i.e. 13" x 9.5". This is inclusive of the 2-inch margin which runs all around the page and is marked by five lines, two very thin on either side and one somewhat thicker in the middle. Each page, with but rare exceptions, has 13 lines. The first page of the first pothī and the first two pages of the second have illuminations in highly decorative designs. The two manuscript make up 300 + 224 folios, or 1,048 pages. At various places in both, pages are left blank, presumably to provide room for any hymn or hymns that might subsequently be located. The script used is Gurmukhī of an initial stage. The formation of some of its letters show their kinship with Śārdā and Ṭākarī. For instance, letters /h/, /1/, /a/, /th/, /n/ have close resemblance with their counterparts in those scripts. Folios 167 and 227 of the first Pothī are written in a different hand in an unfamiliar laṇḍā script which has no vowel signs nor any diacritical sign for the nasal sound /ṅ/.

         A note recorded in the margin of folio 216 of the second pothī alludes to the origin of Gurmukhī Characters in these words : Gurū Aṅgad gurmukhī akhar banāi bābe de age sabad bheṭ kītā (Gurū Aṅgad coined Gurmukhī letters and presented to the Bābā). The text facing this note is Gurū Nānak's hymn beginning with pūran param joti paramesar prītam prān hamāre, in Rāg Sāraṅg.

         The śabdas included in these manuscripts fall within fourteen different rāgas. Compositions in the first pothī (Dārāpurvālī also called Ahiyāpurvālī, correctly spelt Yāhyāpurvālī) occur under rāgas Sūhī, Prabhāti, Dhanāsarī, Basant, Tilaṅg, Gūjarī, Bhairo, Mārū, Kedārā, Vaḍhaṅs, Bilāval, Malār and Āsā, and those in the second under Rāmkalī, Soraṭhi, Sāraṅg and Malār.The order of rāgas and of the śabdas and padās, however, does not correspond with that adopted in the Ādi Granth. There are variations in the text also; sometimes whole lines and pad as differ. Gurū Nānak's hymn, kauṇ tarājī kāvaṇu tulā, which occurs in measure Sūhī in the Gurū Granth Sāhib appears in the Dārāpur pothī in Parbhāti Lalat. In the text, kauṇ is written as kavan, tulā as tolā and mere lāl jīo terā ant na jāṇā as terā bābā antu na jāṇā. At places, in the pothīs, two different versions of the same hymn appear side by side. Certain hymns are jointly credited to Kabīr and Nāmdev. For exmple, basant bāṇī Kabīr Nāme kī and bhairau Kabīr Nāmdev bhagat. Two hymns show both Kabīr and Nāmdev to be the disciples of Gurū Nānak. Their headings run : bhairau Kabīr Nāmā bhagat bābe jīke, and Kedārā Kabīr Nāmā bābe pātsāh de bhagat (folios 263 and 292, respectively, of vol. I). The pothīs begin with the invocaton : lk oaṅkār satigurū parsād sachu nām kartāru nirbhau niriṅkāru akāl mūrti ajūnī saṅbho. This is different from the form in which Gurū Arjan recorded the prelude to the Japu in the Gurū Granth Sāhib : lk oṅkār satināmu karātā purakhu nirbhau nirvairu akāl mūrāti ajūnī saibhaṅ gurparsādi.


  1. Bhallā, Sarūp Dās, Mahimā Prakāsh. Patiala, 1971
  2. Santokh Siṅgh, Bhāī, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth. Amritsar, 1927-35
  3. Chhibbar, Kesar Siṅgh, Baṅsāvalīnāmā Dasāṅ Pātshāhīāṅ Kā. (ed.Rattan Siṅgh Jaggī). Chandigarh, 1972
  4. Pañjābi Duniya. Patiala, June 1958

Piār Siṅgh