Our avid readers are aware that from August 15, 2021, this column is concentrating on the works of the last one century, which played a role in defining Indianness and inspiring the youth. In this sequence, we are concentrating on the second book Ramayana written by the tenth Guru of Sikhs, revered Guru Gobind Singh Ji, which has been published by Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts this year.
He has composed ‘Ram Avatar Kathanam’ by Guru Gobind Singh under 60 titles, in the sixth stanza of which he calls it ‘Bean Katha’ – Tih Te Kahi Thorye Been Katha / Bali Tvai Ugi Budh Madhi Jatha. The implication is that in the flow of emotion, the Ramayana is consciously written according to its intelligence on selected episodes of the story of Rama, which is arranged in traditional verses. Simultaneous presentation in all three languages, the book is heavy-handed, with its opening around 68 pages decorated with beautiful miniature illustrations, artistic illustrations and photographs in a multi-coloured combination. The artistic aptitudes of the editors Dr. Vanitha and Dr. Rawail Singh can be seen maturely in its publication. Most importantly, such a historically standard treatise has been skilfully edited and virtually kept away from inaccuracies of proof.
In ‘Ram Avatar Kathanam’, in 864 verses, Guru Gobind Singh ji uses 71 types of verses. Baljit Kaur has poetically commented on this Ram Katha in Punjabi. Its editor Dr. Vanitha has also aimed that mixed Bhojpuri has been used in it at some places. This text, despite being related to the Ramayana, can be seen as an independent poem, one end of which also connects with the bani of the Guru Granth Sahib. The belief of Sanatan Dharma and the Sikh sect derived from it, in fact, come under the same sect. There is no contradiction in them, but a lot of melodious threads can be found in them for the reconstruction of society and human consciousness. This book too, on the pretext of the character of Rama, is an extension of the Ramayana itself from the point of view of the Sikh Guru. It can also be pointed out that he had started a long struggle against the authority of that period in his contemporary society, in which the character of Ram becomes a main object of that change.
In the folk songs of Punjab, this point appears in many ways, in which it may be relevant to give an example of a song – Ram Jetha Jati Na Koi / Laxman Jetha Na Bharata. Guru Gobind Singh ji not only transforms the myth of Ram, but also expresses his Leela-avatar in poetic form while writing verses. His intention behind this is to establish the heroism of Rama as a Yugpurush fighting continuously against the demons. Throughout this episode, he has tried to see this epic story on many levels with his linguistic consciousness, the determination of the Supreme Person and the mythological transformation. The most important fact is that in its creation, he has kept the public mind at the center, in which the public belief, interests and prestige of the people are paramount. He also says with the same meaning – I say Ram Avatara / Like the world, do it.
This Rama story is full of many specialties, in which its musical side has prevailed while incorporating many qualities of poetry. However, the musical element is wonderfully present in the bani of Sikh Gurus, which is a matter of tradition and history to be sung by ragis during Sabad-Kirtan. The ‘Rama Avatar Kathanam’ is also embellished with such tactics, in which the classical singularity of analogy, metaphor, abab, ornament, verse, rhythm and meanings are separately underlined. In the rasas too, it has been sung by most of the rasas. Karun and Veer Rasa emerge out loud here, while some phrases are also engrossed in Shringar Rasa. The Gurmukhi and English meaning done with the original text of this Ramayana makes this scripture even more authentic. Ramakatha always left its mark in every century and after Tulsidas’s ‘Ramcharitmanas’ in the sixteenth century, as this Charit-poetry became a representative book of each one’s struggle and moral voice, gaining a scripture-like reputation, the struggle for independence. Its publication in the year of Amrit-Mahotsav is meaningful and purposeful. Also because we can develop a holistic Indian vision of syncretism by reading the ancient texts of our old tradition and the Ram Katha composed by different sects and sects. Guru Gobind Singh ji embodies this Indianness in this way – Sita bach man main / ju man bach karman sath / ram without bacha nahi aur / tu e ram sath liye / kahyo siya tih thur.
In a single volume, this Ramayana is accompanied by its English and Hindi translations in addition to the Gurmukhi script, so that a reader can enjoy it while choosing his/her language.
Book : Ram Avtar Kathanam : The Ramayana of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Writer: Baljit Kaur Tulsi
Editor : Dr. Vanita, Dr. Rawail Singh
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, New Delhi
Price : Rs 1750