SARABLOH GRANTH, a poem narrating the mythological story of the gods and the demons, in ascribed to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, and is therefore treated as a sacred scripture among certain sections of the Sikhs, particularly the Nihaṅg Sikhs. The authorship is however questioned by researchers and scholars of Sikhism on several counts. First, the work is marked by extraordinary effusiveness and discursiveness of style over against the compactness characteristic of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's compositions collected in the Dasam Granth. Qualitatively, too, the poetry of Sarabloh Granth does not match that of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's Chaṇḍī Charitras and Vār Durgā Kī dealing with the same topic of wars between the gods and the demons. Profusion of metaphor and superb imagery of the latter compositions are missing here. Second, the author of Sarabloh Granth often uses his name, 'Dās Gobind' or the phrase 'Dās Gobind fatah satigur kī', which is generally contrary to the style of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Third, the Sarabloh Granth contains, quite out of context, an account of the Sikh religion, which also includes a reference to the devolution of gurūship on Gurū Granth and Gurū Panth (stanzas 3159-66). This would be out of place in a work of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's own composition. Lastly, there is also a reference in it to Rūp Dīp Bhāshā Piṅgal (stanza 2938/8), a work on prosody written by one Jaya Krishna in 1719, i.e. eleven years after the death of the Gurū.

        According to Paṇḍit Tārā Siṅgh Narotam, a nineteenth century Sikh scholar and researcher, Sarabloh Granth is the work of Bhāī Sukhā Siṅgh, a granthī or priest at Takht Harimandar Sāhib at Paṭnā Sāhib, who however claimed that he had acquired its manuscript from an Udāsī recluse living in a forest near Jagannāth (Oṛīssā).

        Whatever its origin, the Granth became quite well-known and many hand-written copies of it exist. It is now available in printed form published in two parts by Bābā Santā Siṅgh, head of the Buḍḍhā Dal of Nihaṅg Sikhs. It is a lengthy composition in a variety of metres, comprising totally 4361 stanzas (862 pages in print). The original source of the narrative is, according to the author (stanzas 2093,3312,3409), Śukra Bhāshya, an old classic of Hindu mythology. It is divided into five parts, part-I starting with a lengthy panegyric and invocation to goddess Srī Māyā Lachhamī, who is identified with Ādi Bhavānī (lit. Primordial Goddess), Durgā, Jvālā, Kālī or Kālikā, Chaṇḍī, as also with masculine Harī and Gopāl. Among her myriad attributive names is also Sarabloh (lit. all-steel) which had been used by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh for Akāl-Purakh, the Supreme God, in Akāl Ustati. In part-II, Lord Viṣṇu is entreated to become incarnate as Sarabloh (stanza 1167). But it is early in part V that it becomes clear that Sarabloh is an incarnation of Mahākāl or Gopal, the Supreme Deity (stanza 2386).

        The plot of Sarabloh Granth is almost identical with that of Chaṇḍī Charitras. The gods defeated by the demons approach the Goddess Bhavānī who kills several demons including their chief Bhīmanād during the 7-year long war. Later, Bhīmanād's son, Vīryanād, rises in power and wages war against the gods. This time Lord Viṣṇu comes to their succour. Brahmā and Śiva also help ; but Vīryanād not only remains unbeaten in the 12 year long war, but also captures the king of the gods, Indra, along with his sons. Viṣṇu secures their release and leads them to Mahākāl, who at their supplications appears as Sarabloh and after further battles, fiercely fought, puts an end to Vīryanād and his host. At this stage, the poet also describes the epic as a contest between reason and irrationality in which the former ultimately triumphs.

Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)