Daya Singh Rahit-Nama



The eighteenth century rahit-namas draw to an end with the one attributed to Daya Singh. Amongst all the rahit-namas this is perhaps the most difficult one to analyse, partly because there appears to be a real possibility of corruption and partly because there is actually more than one version attached to Daya Sing h ‘ s name. In his Guru Khalse de Rahit-name, Shamsher Singh Ashok includes two works attributed to the same Daya Singh, one entitled Rahit-names (Ashok 59–62) and the other Tanakhah upadesh (Ashok 63–67). Neither is the same as the version published by Piara Singh Padam in Rahit-name (PSP 57–67). Their language retains the Khari Boli impress of the version contained in Padam ‘s collection, but neither is in prose. Both are cast in the simple verse of most other rahit-namas. Ashok gives no indication of the source of these two rahit-namas.

Although neither of Ashok’s rahit-namas reproduces the text of Padam ‘s version in verse form, it is evident that there has been access to it in the case of at least Tanakhah upadesh. The latter opens with the following couplet:

paiich singh mil ekathe karai bibek bichar

tanakhah rahit upadesh kar det dokh ko tar //1// (Ashok 63).

This should be compared with the following passage that occurs half way through the Padam version.

paiij singh mil kar ke ikattha bibek karan rahat bamujab tab tanakhah ko la kar dokh ho tar saket hain (PSP 74).

When five Singhs meet to determine [an issue] arising from the Rahit, they can remove the blame by imposing a penance (tanakhah) (DayaS 49) .

Either the couplet has been borrowed from the Padam version or it has provided the original source. The probability strongly favours the former. A verse version. is more likely to spring from a prose version than vice versa, and the language of both poems is more modern than that of the prose version. It is largely for these reasons that the version recorded by Padam has been translated and the two poems set aside.

A second borrowing poses greater difficulty in terms of deciding its source. Towards the conclusion of the prose version recorded by Padam the style suddenly switches to verse with the announcement Sri Satiguru vach (‘the word of Sri Satguru’). This verse version has also been attached to Tanakhah upadesh where it appears as two works, each separate from Tanakhah upadesh in that the numbering of couplets starts anew with each section. The first is entitled Akali Singh (Ashok 65–6), followed by Nihang Singh. 21 This, at least, is how the various works are recorded in Ashok ‘s version, though it should be remembered that the headings, at least, may have been inserted by Ashok. The two sections are followed by a third in the Ashok version only. This comprises 31 couplets headed Niramale Singh, also with a new set of verse numbers (Ashok 71–3).

There are four differences that distinguish Ashok’s version of this supplement from that of Padam. First, there is the division of Ashok ‘s version into three sections comprising defi­nitions of an Akali, a Nihang, and a Nirmala. Padam has only one unbroken definition, much shorter in length and implying that Akali and Nihang are names for the same kind of Khalsa Sikh. Second, Ashok’s version of his Akali definition is headed by a couplet in which Daya Singh asks the Guru to explain the nature of an Akali, and then ends with a summary couplet. Padam’s version lacks these. Third, Ashok’s version of the second definition is much longer. Whereas his version has 64 couplets, Padam ‘s has only eight. 22 Ashok’s third section is completely absent from Padam. Fourth, although the language and content of the two versions is very similar in the Akali section, in the Nihang section the content soon diverges com­pletely and only comes together in rare instances thereafter.”

This supplementary portion seems to be older in Ashok’s version, the poem having apparently been attached to Padam’s text at some later date. The greater length of the Nihang definition and the complete absence of the Nirmala definition suggest this. Presumably the prose section ab bihangam he lakhhan (‘Now a definition of a Bihangam ‘), which follows immediately after the poem and concludes the Padam text, will also have been affixed to an earlier manuscript. The material contained in the supplementary portion can be regarded as. appropriate for a rahit-nama, but it belongs to a different rahit-nama from the prose version attributed to Daya Singh. The Dap Singh Rahit-ndma concludes with item 92 of the translation. 24






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