Friday, August 20, 2010

More vindication for Bhai Bala

Since the flow (of the narrative) is going in favour of Bhai Bala* so far as this blog is concerned, I thought it would be in the fitness of things if I clarify a few more points regarding Bhai Bala before I proceed further.

But before that I wish to clarify that I am just writing what spontaneously comes to my mind and have no academic or otherwise credentials to take up a stand, no desire that my arguments be accepted by anybody and certainly don't want to raise any controversy on this count. If some people accept these well and good and thanks, if not still well and good and sorry for the inconvenience caused. In any case Baba Nanak's status should not be considered so shaky that a few writings from this individual or that in praise or in apparent disagreement regarding some points would be able to raise or lower it in people's asteem. Nanak of faith as a learned scholar wrote it is good but nothing like that if Nanak of history too is elevated to the same level by some good arguments coming to ones mind by the grace of the same One Nanak was a symbol of now.

Having said the above I will now take up each point written against Bhai Bala at regarding his actual authorship of the Janamsakhi bearing his name, his accompanying Baba Nanak on his journeys, his close companionship with him since childhood and his actually existance as a person.

A. According to the author (Bhai Bala), he was a close companion of Guru Nanak and accompanied him on many of his travels. There are good reasons to doubt this contention:

1. Guru Angad, who is said to have commissioned the work and was also a close companion of the Guru in his later years, was, according to Bala's own admission, ignorant of the existence of Bala.

As statuses change and times change not many and least the successor of a now famous man will have the time and the inclination to know who was the childhood companion of the famous man and who worked with or travelled with him for so and so many years. Of course if it is not for a specific purpose like getting the life story of the famous man written for which Guru Angad duly acknowledged Bhai Bala. Just imagine if successor of our present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would know who was his childhood companion and who worked with him in this or that college for so and so many years. Moreover, let us not forget that there was a great difference between those times and the present regarding communications. After about 25 years of travel Bhai Bala may just have gone into hibernation in his village as in fact did Baba Nanak himself to some extent. So how would anybody now know of him?

2. Bhai Gurdas, who has listed all Guru Nanak's prominent disciples whose names were handed down, does not mention the name of Bhai Bala Sandhu. (This may be an oversight, for he does not mention Rai Bular either.)

Prominent disciples for Bhai Gurdas may have been those who were more in the public eye following the settlement of Baba Nanak at Kartarpur after the journeys while Bhai Bala may just have gone into retirement at his own village after those long journeys and may even have never been known if Guru Angad had not shown the foresight to get the life story (Janamsakhi) of Baba Nanak written through him. The reason of not being in the public eye at the time may also have applied more or less to the noninclusion of Rai Bular who too was very close to Nanak in childhood. Please remember that there was a gap of about 50 years between Nanak's childhood (1469 onwards) to the end of Nanak's Travels (around 1524).

* The reader might remember from my last couple of posts that Bhai Bala is the person who accompanied Baba Nanak on various journeys and later wrote the most detailed biography called Janam sakhi (life story) in Punjabi but whose existence and authorship of the said Janamsakhi is still controversial in Sikh circles. Many scholars deny that he accompanied Baba Nanak on journeys or wrote the said Janamsakhi. In fact this and next two or three posts present this blog writer's point of view on this controversy which rather happens to be in Bhai Bala's favour.

To be continued...

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