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Erotic Tales of the Dasam Granth

THIS PAPER CONTAINS SEXUALLY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE!

INTRODUCTION

[T]heir breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed. …
[M]en slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust upon her. …
[S]he lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys
and whose emission was like that of horses.
The Book of Ezekiel

As lewd and explicit as the above citation may read, these lines are in actual fact verses from none other than the Bible, specifically, the book of Ezekiel, chapter 23, verses 2, 8 and 20. Of course, when confronted for the first time by such a revelation (no pun intended), the obvious question that springs to mind is how such graphic content came to be in scripture ascribed to the Lord of all creation and, for that matter, His chosen emissaries? One would expect such language and descriptive vocabulary to be found in pornographic sources. And though it is debatable whether this can strictly be defined as pornography, the fact that it is problematic from a theological perspective ought to be obvious. In this regard, Revd Dr Sharon Moughtin-Mumby acknowledged:

Ezekiel is the most problematic of all prophetic books for its sexual and marital metaphorical language, notoriously the most extreme and offensive in the Hebrew Bible. [1] Galambush writes: ‘Ezekiel 16 is somehow more offensive than the same metaphor in Hosea and Jeremiah. The metaphor occurs in many forms in the Hebrew Bible, but only Ezekiel 16 was banned from public reading (Meg. 4: 10). [2] Darr insists: ‘Ralph W. Klein is simply incorrect when in his recent book he remarks that Ezekiel’s indictment “proves almost to be vulgar!” It is vulgar.’ [3] (bold, underline ours)

She went onto add:

Indeed, many are adamant that Ezekiel 16 and 23 should be exposed as ‘PORNOGRAPHY’. [4] Sexually explicit phrases proliferate through these narratives, perhaps most infamously in 23: 20: ‘[She] lusted after their “concubines” there, whose flesh was like the flesh of asses; and whose flood was like the flood of stallions.’ [5] (bold, capitalisation ours)

Popular Muslim da’ee (preacher), Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005), argued along similar lines. Despite failing to define the keyword ‘pornography’, he nonetheless argued that if “a heading has to be given” in categorising the aforecited texts of Ezekiel and other similar such verses: “It can only be recorded under – ‘PORNOGRAPHY!'”. [6]

However, the only difficulty with the definition of this term is that it is fairly broad. Although the various definitions delineated by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy all agree on the basic concept that “pornography is sexually explicit material (verbal or pictorial)”, they can be applied in “different ways in everyday discourse and debate, as well as in philosophical discussions: sometimes it is used to mean merely material which is sexually explicit; sometimes it is used to mean material which is sexually explicit and objectionable in some particular way; and so on. … It seems to me that we do not need to choose between these different definitions, for all of them capture something of the term’s everyday use”. [7]

While there is little question that the above verses are “sexually explicit material”, any definition chosen for the term pornography would have to, of course, include a religious element. The only other question remaining would be how to understand and apply it accordingly.

During a debate against former Christian Tele-Evangelist, Jimmy Swaggart, Deedat challenged the now disgraced American preacher to deliver said verses with the same level of passion and enthusiasm he would do when preaching to his television audience of millions across the United States. Deedat urged:

I dare any preacher to read it to his congregation. I dare any evangelist to read it to his mother, his sister, his daughter, or even his fiancé if she’s a good woman. … The language, the language [is] so lewd [8]

After much cajoling, a visibly embarrassed Swaggart reluctantly gave in and hastily read aloud Ezekiel 23, but unsurprisingly without the same renowned charisma.

In a similar vein, Moughtin-Mumby concluded:

In summary, Ezekiel 16 and 23 are for me the most difficult passages in this study to read cognitively. Like the other literary-historical approaches, the temptation is to retreat to a substitutionary reading, or even to avoid the book altogether. [9] (bold ours)

But this observation only raises the question that if Ezekiel was inspired by the wisdom of the Almighty to pen down these immodest descriptions, how then could a Christian, who considers the book of Ezekiel to be divine, find it “difficult” or seek to “avoid” that which God did not avoid nor find difficult in revealing?

Notwithstanding answers to these important questions, perhaps a more fundamental inquiry would be to ask what the wisdom was in being so gratuitously explicit in the first place. Does it require the use of such graphic detail to properly convey an overall point? To put it more lucidly, what more could this approach have achieved which could not have been accomplished using a more virtuous one that made use of pietistic language? More importantly, does this approach really befit the absolute majesty, goodness [10] and purity [11] of God? What could the wisdom have been on God’s part to illustrate the likeness of the genitalia between humans and animals while making mention of their sexual emissions? Assuming there is a moral to this story, would it have been lost without the use of such obscene language? The answers to these questions should be fairly obvious for anyone who truly believes in the absolute goodness and purity of God.

But how does all this relate to Sikhism? Well these damning questions are not just applicable to the Bible, but can also be asked of another historical document which, like the Bible, is claimed to have also been authored by a man said to be inspired of God. The man we speak of is none other than the tenth Guru of Sikhism, Gobind Singh, and the scripture in question is the Dasam Granth. This controversial book contains content of a sexually vulgar nature that easily rivals and on occasions arguably surpasses that of the Bible. Hence, what this paper intends to do is to firstly collate the most obscene examples before going onto apply the same questions asked of the Bible.

CHOICEST CUTS OF EROTICISM

The more preposterous the proposition, the more readily will the superstitious and the credulous believe it.
– Ahmed Deedat (1918-2005)

The Dasam Granth is an enigmatic text in more ways than one. As J.S. Grewal notes, not only is it “still vague, conjectural, and controversial”, but: “The authorship of the Dasam Granth has been the subject of controversy for over a century,” where Sikhism has, as Prof Rinehart puts it, “reached what is thus far an insurmountable impasse over the issue of authorship”. [12]

In general, Sikhism has come to adopt three basic positions: those who either accept or reject the Dasam Granth in toto as authored by Guru Gobind; and those who accept parts of it to be his work, but not the whole.

Hence, given the protracted nature of the debate, the divide among Sikh scholars (see Appendix A below) is so wide that according to Grewal: “[T]he subject has become extremely sensitive and the SGPC does not approve of its public discussion.” [13] The SGPC, or Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, is “the premier statutory Body of the Sikhs” who “have the general approval of the theologians, head-priests of Sikh Seats of Authority, called ‘the Thrones, takhats, and Sikh congregations in various parts of India, and other parts of the world, such as Malaya, Canada, Burma, U.S.A., and Africa”. [14] In this regard, Gurinder Singh Mann and Kamalroop Singh reveal: “In 2000 the Akal Takht Jathedar declared that Dasam Granth should not be debated. (Hukamnama dated 14th May 2000).” [15]

Notwithstanding the ubiquity of the debate, the aim of this paper is not to delve into the ins and outs of said controversy nor question the scripture’s authenticity. Instead, we wish to highlight portions of the Dasam Granth that we believe cannot and should not be attributed to pious people let alone those who are said to be God’s chosen messengers.

It is our view that just as there is to be found inappropriate verses of an explicitly sexual and sexually explicit nature in the Bible, similar content, if not worse, can also be found in the Dasam Granth.

What follows then is a collation of the worst that is to be found therein followed by a brief commentary of the reasons for citing each example respectively. [16]

SEXUAL EXPLICITNESS

Charitar 52 – Tale of a Daughter of Raja Vijay Singh

  • Pritpal Singh Bindra
  • Hardiljeet Singh Sidhu (Lalli), Anupriya Sidhu
She enjoyed sex with him and had various sex-plays. When the night had gone two watches, they ravelled again. (3) They would get up from the sleep and make love. When one-watch was left, the maid would wake them up and accompany him to his home. (4) This way the lady used to call him everyday and send him back at the day break. Whole night she used to indulge in sex and no body else could discern. (5) One day she called him and after sex-play bade him to go. [17]
She made love to him and embraced him. At midnight they woke up and made love again. (3) Whenever they woke up from the sleep and made love to each other. Before the day broke the maid used to wake them up. Then the queen used to send her lover with her maid to his home. (4) She used to call him everyday and sent him back before the dawn broke. She used to make love to him. No one knew about this secret. (5)

– The Narrative of Vijay Kaur

Charitar 66 – Tale of Roshan Raae

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
They revelled heart fully and rejoiced sex adopting various postures. (11) They both savoured by following the Koka-shastra, And adopting various positions, which could not be counted. (12) [18]
They spent a long time loving each other. They felt very happy in their hearts and they used many asanas [postures adopted in performing certain types of yoga] to make love. (11) They made love according to Kok Shastra and felt contented. Their asanas were countless. (12)

– The Narrative of Roshan Rai

Charitar 119 – Tale of Rani Ruder Kala

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
She sent her maid and called him to her place. She made love with him in full swing. She invariably adopted numerous postures, And enjoyed the sex according to Koka Shastra. (4) … ‘As you are very dear to me, you can come into my palanquin. (14) ‘We both will go talking, and eradicate our afflictions.’ ‘Then they climbed the same palanquin and came to the jungle. (15) When the palanquin was passing through the city, the people gave them the way. They were not visible and were involved in making love. (16) In spite of their indulgence in lovemaking, no body noticed them through the market. On the shoulders of eight bearers, the lover was holding beloved’s legs in his arms. (17) As the palanquin was moving, the lover was enjoying the swings. As the bearers swung the palanquin while walking, she clung to the lover’s shoulders. (18) [19]
She sent her friend to call the prince to her home. And she made love to him without any hesitation. They performed different postures in their lovemaking. (4) … After saying this she came to her palace and addressed her lover, “Oh my god sister, you are very dear to me. Come and join me in my palanquin.’ (14) ‘We will both talk to each other and ease the burden of our heart.’ Then she took him with her for a ride in the forest. (15) When the palanquin was going through the bazaar then the people gave way. No one could see both of them. And they continued loving each other. (16) They loved each other ardently. No one could see them in the crowded bazaar in the broad daylight. Eight servants were carrying the palanquin in which the lovers were making love. (17) When the palanquin also moved the lover loved his beloved. The lover’s swayed with the palanquin moves. (18)

– The Narrative of the Princess Rudrakala

Charitar 289 – Tale of Dakhshan Devi

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
The maid prevailed over his heart and orchestrated him to meet her. He satisfied her in various ways and made love during all the four watches of the night. (7) Whole night was spent revelling in sex-plays, they narrated many stories of lovemaking, And adopting all types of sex postures, they quenched their sensual urge. (8) The night passed away, the day broke and a variety of birds chirped. Making love, both were exhausted, feeling inebriated, they fell flat on the bed. (9) Relinquishing the sleep, they again commenced the sex plays. Adopting numerous poses they, even, surpassed the Koka Shastra. (10) [20]
The maid won him over and made him meet the queen. He also made the queen very happy and they made love for the whole night. (7) The whole night was spent in making love and they exchanged many tales of lovemaking. They also made love to each other in many postures. (8) When the night had passed and the morning came and many types of birds were chirping and they had become tired of making love then they both slept on the bridal bed exhausted. (9) When they woke up again they started making love again. They had beaten the postures of love making according to Kok Shastra. (10)

– The Narrative of Deccan Devi

Charitar 81 – Tale of Drig Daniya

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
Man enters the mother’s womb and faces agony. Then, when he gets access to a urinary place (vagina), he exclaims, ‘I had sex.’ He licks the spit from woman’s lips and thinks he is honoured with nectar. [21] But he does not reflect that he has lost the worth of his birth. (49) [22]
The child suffers a lot in the mother’s womb and when he makes love to his wife, he thinks that he is feeling contented. And when he licks the saliva of the woman then he claims to have drunk the nectar from her lips. He has wasted a whole life without the love of Supreme Being. (49)

– The Narrative of Drig Dhanya

Charitar 402 – Tale of Sadda Kumari

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
  • Sukhbir Singh Kapoor, Mohinder Kaur Kapoor
When the daughter of the Shah heard this, she nabbed him and revelled in love-making. (23) She blended opium, marijuana and wine, and, then, executed numerous postures. Embracing, they kissed each other and he pushed his genital in her vagina. (24) She relished when the Raja shoved his genitalia in hers. From underneath there, she grabbed him, and positioning variably, began to give him kisses. (25) Holding him tight, she hugged him and matched posture with posture. Both touched their lips with lips, and pressed the chest with the chest. (26) Thus she copulated with the Raja and her playful heart was elated. [23]
She went up to the king and started making love to him. (23) They had opium, marijuana amd poppy and made many positions in lovemaking. They kissed each other and embraced each other in love. (24) When the king came forward to love her then the woman felt happy. She embraced the king tightly and kissed him. (25) She held him next to her and embraced him. She made passionate love with the king. (26) The woman filled her heart’s desire and the king also did as he was told by her. He tried to please her in every way.

– The Narrative of Sada Kumari

[P]oppies, bhang and opium were consumed. They hugged, kissed and had intercourse. When the king put his penis in her vagina she got extremely excited and vehemently kissed the king …. [24]
Ancient Indian sex manual - The Koka Shastra!
Ancient Indian sex manual – The Koka Shastra!

COMMENTARY: Given the depth of sexual detail the author goes into in the above citations, it would not be a stretch to say that these would not be out of place in a sex manual or pornographic magazine especially with vulgar references to the male and female genitalia. What is worse is that three separate tales (66, 119 and 289) go so far as to make reference to a medieval Indian sex manual called the Koka Shashtra, or the Doctrines of Koka (Koka being the author). It is worth noting some important facts regarding this manual, which is also known as Ratirahasya, or the Secrets of Love, so as to better appreciate the implications and seriousness of referencing such a work.

The Koka Shashtra is part of what is called the erotologies of Hindu sexual imagery which has been “[i]n existence for over 1,000 years, [and] include Valsyayana’s great work, The Kama Sutra, written sometime before A.D. 400; the Ratirahasya of Kokkoka, popularly known as the Koka Shastra (Koka’s Book), written in the eleventh or twelfth centuries …. While the Kama Sutra belongs to ancient Hindu literature, the Koka Shastra relates to a different, medieval society, incorporating ideas not dealt with earlier”. [25] According to the Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature:

Chapter 2, “Chandrakala” (about the lunar calendar), identifies the specific body parts of the woman that are touched by the arrows of the love god (Manmadha) during the light and dark halves of the month and how the suitor must gradually proceed with the woman in the art of lovemaking. In chapter 3, Koka Pandit delineates the physical types of men and women determined by their anatomical characteristics, which in turn determine ways by which the women can be satisfied. … Chapter 5 deals with specific social customs and practices of women relating to love and sex based on their locales, and the appropriate ways to solicit their attention. Chapter 6 describes the various methods of foreplay, or the “outer” modes of love-making (beginning with embraces), and chapter 7 discusses the preparation, positions, conduct, and methods of sexual intercourse. Chapter 9 deals with coition and various coital postures…. [26] (bold ours)

It should also be noted that theseIndian classical books on erotology, such as the Koka Shastra and others, were all written by men, and the detailed studies of women … in these texts reflect the authors’ personal inclinations and interest”. [27]

SEMEN SPILLS

Chaubis Avtar – Description of Man-lion incarnation begins

  • Jodh Singh
  • Surinder Singh Kohli
The kingdom of Indra was usurped and all around this was promulgated with the drum beats that on waters and earth everywhere Hiranyakshipu is the emperor II 2 II Once, fully embellished this mighty one went to his wife and got so much absorbed in coition that his semen fell out II 3 II From it, devotee Prahalad took birth to liberate the saints and to do their work. [28]
The kingdom of Indra was seized and this proclamation was made on all sides with the accompaniment of many musical instruments. That Hiranayakashipu is the emperor at all the places.2. One day, this mighty ruler, bedecking himself, went to his wife. And absorbed himself with her so intensely that at the time of his intercourse, his semen was discharged.3. From that semen Prahlad was born in order to help and protect the saints. (4)

Charitar 98 – Tale of Heer Ranjha

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
Thus far we have talked about Ranjha, now we consider Heer. I will narrate you their story to delight your mind. (10) In the city of Inder Rai, a damsel lived, whose fame was spread all over the world. Any Raja who saw her would get pierced with the Cupid’s arrows and would fell [sic] flat on ground. (11) At that place, once the ascetic Kapil Munni had come and seen (the damsel) Maneka. On her sight, his semen dripped down and he pronounced a curse, (12) ‘You go to the domain of humanity and take birth into the family of Sial Jat.’ ‘You assume the name of Heer and devour the food at the household of Turks (Muslims).’ (13) Then the damsel, shaking, fell upon the feet of Munni and requested, ‘Tell me some resolve so that I can escape this agony.’ (14) (Reply) ‘When god Indra will go to the mundane world, he will call himself Ranjha. ‘He will intensively fall in love with you and will bring you back to Amrawati (domain of emancipation). (15) She took birth in the household of a Jat. She appeared in the house of Choochak and called herself as Heer. (16) [29]
I have told you so much about Ranjha. Now let me talk about Heer. It will please your heart. (10) In the court of Lord Indra there used to live famous courtesan named Main Kala. Any King who saw her beauty fell unconscious on the ground. (11) Once Kapil Muni visited that place and he saw Maneka. And his semen fell on seeing her and he cursed her. (12) Now you leave for the mortal world and take birth in the house of Syal Jat. Name yourself as Heer and enjoy the Turkish meal. (13) Then that woman fell at his feet trembling in her heart. And asked him oh Brahmin! Is there any way of my salvation? (14) When Lord Indra takes birth in the mortal world and names himself as ‘Ranjha’. He will fall in love with you and take you back to Amaravati. (15) Then Maneka was born in the house of a Jat. And she was named Heer and she was born in the family of Chuchak. (16)

– The Narrative of Heer Ranjha

Once, fully embellished this mighty one went to his wife and got so much absorbed in coition that his semen fell out!

COMMENTARY: Wouldn’t it be odd if conception occurred without the release of semen? As rhetorical as that sounds, it nevertheless begs the question of why Gobind found it necessary to state the obvious, i.e. a man became so “absorbed in coition that his semen fell out”, and which subsequently led to the birth of a child? The detail appears superfluous adding next to nothing to the overall context.

We then have another example of semen spillage connected to the famous subcontinent love story of Heer Ranjha. In this instance, however, the context is as bizarre as it gets since it involves a so-called ascetic who places a curse upon a woman (who will reincarnate as Heer in the next life), he just so happens to see, for causing him to ejaculate!

Again the question of why Guru Gobind could not have been more connotative requires answering. There simply does not seem to be anything critical vis-à-vis the overall context of the two tales that requires being so obvious.

BREAST FOREPLAY

Chaubis Avtar – Description of Lord Krishna’s Incarnation

  • Jodh
  • Surinder Singh Kohli
Krishna told them laughingly: “Will you accept what I say? All right, you all let me kiss you on the face. I shall kiss you and at the same time make a count of you. You all let me play with breasts or I shall beat you all. Only then shall I return your clothes: it is no falsehood, consider it truth II 266 II [30]

Gopis’ Address to Krishna: O friend! [T]ell us something about love as we all wish to know about it. ‘We want to have a look at you, and you seem more interested in our body. [31]

Krishna said, “See, whatever I shall say now, all of you will have to accept that; let me kiss the faces of all; I shall kiss and you count, all of you; “Let me touch the nipple of your breasts, otherwise I shall behave more badly with you; I am speaking truth that I shall give you the clothes only after doing all this.” (266

Speech of gopis addressed to Krishna: “O friend! We went [sic] to listen about the essence; make us understand the mode of realising the essence; we want to see you and you love the nipples of our teats” (298)

Krishna said: “…[L]et me kiss the faces of all; I shall kiss and you count, all of you; Let me touch the nipple of your breasts ….”

COMMENTARY: While it’s evident that Krishna seemed obsessed with a particular part of the female anatomy, what isn’t so evident is why Gobind Singh did not consider it essential to censor such vulgarity for his readers? What beneficial knowledge would anyone acquire from reading about Krishna’s enjoyment of fondling women’s breasts? Again, it simply beggars belief as to how a so-called pious man could unabashedly recount such tales. Even if one were to argue that these details are mere faithful reproductions of the original, it still does not explain how one could justify a man of God repeating the intimate details of foreplay to his flock as moral teachings.

BESTIALITY

Charitar 68 – Tale of Son of a Shah

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
When the Shah’s son brought hakim on a mare, He asked, ‘Oh, hakim, how can I remedy this adversity.’ (27) The Shah’s son suggested, ‘Dear Hakim, listen to me, my remedy, ‘Previously I suffered as well and through this it was remedied.’ (28) ‘I had thrust my tongue in the vagina of the mare for a hundred times, ‘Then, listen hakim, my curse was eliminated immediately.’ (29) The hakim wanted to try by himself, and thrust his tongue in the mare’s vagina. He (Shah’s son) announced, get stuck, it was caught there and a great funwas ensued. (30) He (Shah’s son) brought them to display in the village (where all people were already stuck). Every body requested hakim, ‘Please imply some antidote to release us.’ (31) Whole populace was in turmoil but they were helpless to do anything. Seeing them walking in, they fell on their feet (and begged), (32) ‘Please promote some resolve, and considering us all as your own subject, save us. ‘All our people have committed some mistakes, but now please save us from this heinous malady.’ (33) Then he narrated the entire story, which people listened attentively. They gave him another damsel and praised him in various ways. (34) Then the Shah’s son emancipated the whole village. He married second time and took the way to his village. (35) [32]
Then the trader’s son brought his horse near the physician and asked him how to get rid of his troubles? (27) Then the trader’s son answered that once he was also inflicted with the same malady, which got cured with it. (28) I had touched my tongue a hundred times on the private parts of the mare. Oh physician! That’s how I had got rid of my malady. (29) Then the physician started licking the mare’s private parts with his tongue. And while he was doing it the trader’s son asked him to stick to it and it got stuck. Then he laughed at such a physician. (30) Then be brought the physician to the village and showed him all around. You must do something to save this village. (31) The people of the village were feeling miserable. And all their efforts had failed. When they saw him walking, they touched his feet. (32) The villagers said to him, oh my Lord! Do something to save us. All these people must have sinned, please save them from this malady. (33) Then the trader’s son narrated the whole story and the village folks listened to it. They promised to give another girl to him and praised him also. (34) The trader’s son redeemed the whole village, but he killed the barber’s son by sticking him only. He got married for the second time and returned back to his village. (35)

– The Narrative of the Son of The Trader

The hakim wanted to try by himself, and thrust his tongue in the mare’s vagina.

COMMENTARY: In terms of both its subject and moral teaching, this story is by far the most disturbing and sickening of those recorded in the Dasam Granth. For one, it is absurd in its implication in that the act of bestiality was not just enacted by the physician, but also by all members of a village. Worse still, we are told that these gullible villagers could only be emancipated by giving the Shah’s son a damsel!

If all things were equal, one would presume that all reasonable people would readily acknowledge the utter stupidity of such a story. However, all things are not equal in this regard since we have an entire historical tradition comprising of learned Sikhs who insist that these, and similar such nonsensical stories, were authored by their Guru.

NONSENSICAL NARRATIVES

Charitar 46 – Tale of Noor Bibi

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
Once she was having sex with a Jat without any consideration of the Quazi. Right at the same time Quazi came; she hid the friend under the bed. (3) She started to read Quran and had made Jat to hide underneath the bed. She charmed the Quazi by showering the love-arrows through her eyes. (4) Quazi sat down on the bed and then made love with her. She felt no shame, and down there Jat started to count the strokes. (5) After making love she sent away the Quazi. Then she got the Jat out from under the bed and hugged him. Chaupaee She said, ‘My friend listen to me, I have beaten Quazi enough, ‘I hit him with a shoe, that is why there was excessive noise. (8) (He replied,) ‘It is true I heard the noises too.’ Scratching his head he left for his house and could not discern the mystery. (9) [33]
She did not care for the prestige of Qazi and decided to make love to a Jat. But Qazi arrived just at that time and she hid her friend under the bed. (3) She hid the Jat under the bed and started reciting Quran. And she seduced the Qazi with her eyes. (4) She made the Qazi sit on the bed and made love to him. She did not feel ashamed at all. The Jat was also counting his wounds. (5) After making love to the Qazi she made him get up from the bed and took out her friend Jat from under the bed and embraced him. (6) She told him-Oh deer [sic] friend! Listen to me. I have beaten Qazi brutally I have hit him with my shoes. That is why I was making so much noise. (7) You were listening to the sound of beaten shoes. In fact I have beaten him a lot. This is the only fact. (8) He admitted that he had heard the noise with his ears. He also left scratching his head and did not understand the mystery. (9)

– The Narrative of Nooram Bibi [34]

Quazi sat down on the bed and then made love with her. She felt no shame, and down there Jat started to count the strokes.

COMMENTARY: In his debate against the Christian Arab, Anis Shorrosh, Deedat, while citing equally absurd tracts from the Old Testament, rightly remarked: “The more preposterous the proposition, the more readily will the superstitious and the credulous believe it.” [35] In other words, the blind-followers of the Guru will readily accept whatever he conveys as the Gospel truth no matter how ridiculous and preposterous. And the above is another preposterous narration that incredulously proposes that a man, while hiding under the bed on which two persons were having sex, is said to have counted each “stroke”, i.e. intercoursal thrust, which was so loud that it sounded as though someone was being beaten with a shoe!

Charitar 69 – Tale of Raj Kala

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
Then the thief spoke, ‘I have a desire in my heart, ‘That I may kiss you and then go up for hanging.’ (7) When Rani kissed him, a stream of blood gushed out of the nose. The thief’s mouth shut (with force) and the Rani’s nose was cut. (8) Immediately after taking the kiss, his soul departed for heavens. The cut (piece) of the (Rani’s) nose remained in his mouth, and the Rani became desperate. (9) With the nose cut, the woman came home. She told the Raja that, ‘I cut my nose to present to (Lord) Shiva, because it pleased (Lord) Shiva immensely.’ ‘But Shiva Jee spoke thus, “Your nose has been put in the mouth of a thief.” “Go, take out immediately and put it on the face of the woman.” (11) Then the Raja, acquiescing to the exposition of Shiva, acted the same way. He took nose out of his mouth and fixed it back on her face. (12) (1) [36]
Then the thief said that he had a burning desire in his heart to kiss her face before dying. (7) When the queen was kissing him the blood rushed to his head and his mouth got closed and the queen’s nose got broken and it remained in his mouth. (8) After the last kiss the thief died. The queen was in great agony due to her broken nose. (9) The Queen returned home with her broken nose. And she lied to the king that how she had given it away at Shiva’s temple. Lord Shiva seemed to feel very pleased with it. (10) Then Lord Shiva ordered them that her nose was lying in the mouth of the thief. And they should take it out immediately and stick it on the face of the queen. (11) Then the king followed Lord Shiva’s dictates and took out the nose from the thief’s mouth and stuck it on the queen’s face. (12)

– The Narrative of Rajkala

COMMENTARY: What is one to make of this gobbledygook? Perhaps the less said the better!

WOMEN’S WILES

Charitar 24 – Tale of Sumer Kaur

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
No one can understand the cryptic character of women. Not even Sun, Moon, gods, demons, Brahma, Vishnu and Indra. (48) [37]
No one has been able to understand the wiles of a woman. Even the moon, the sun, the gods, the demons, Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Indra has failed to fathom them. (48)

– The Narrative of Sumer Kaur

Charitar 48 – Tale of Noor Jehan

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
‘Plenty of Chritars are there in females; no one can perceive them. ‘They do whatever they like; all transpires the way they wish. (25) ‘She saved her favourite by killing the lion with one stroke. ‘The ladies attain variable characteristic within a few moments.’ (26) Emperor Jehangir became gloomy in his mind. And, then on, always remained cautious of women. (27) [38]
The temper of a woman is very difficult to know. They do what they like. No one can understand the secret of her heart. (25) She saved her lover and killed the lion with a single bullet. All the women became strangers with her after this incident. (26) The king Jahangir felt scared in his heart and was certainly scared of that woman. (27)

– The Narrative of Noor Jahan

Charitar 57 – Tale of lnder Mati

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
And the Female Shastras’ Chritar, even the gods and the demons could not comprehend. (10) [39]
It is very difficult to know the heart of a woman. Even the gods, the demons and the Vedas have failed to gauge it. (10)

– The Narrative of Indramati

Charitar 60 – Tale of Rang Raae

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
In broad day light the women deceive and we had to keep shut. (11) Because the Chritars are unique, and no one can perceive. Her mysteries no one can grasp, not even the gods and the demons. (12) [40]
Look at the boldness of the woman. One should remain silent. (11) No one can understand their way of life. Even the gods and the demons have failed to fathom it. Whatever they wish only that happens. (12)

– The Narrative of Rang Rai

Charitar 66 – Tale of Roshan Raae

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
The accomplishments of the women are such that no one can acquiesce. In spite of numerous endeavours, one cannot understand their enigma. (28) [41]
The ways of the woman are unpredictable. No one can understand them. No one can understand the real truth behind it. (28)

– The Narrative of Roshan Rai

Charitar 67 – Tale of Roop Kala

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
Kinnar, Jachh, Bhujang, Gann, Humans and Ascetics, all types of gods, Could not understand the Chritars of the female. (15) [42]
The kinnars, the Yaksh the serpents, the gans, the men, the saints and the demons are unable to fathom the secret of a woman’s heart. (15)

– The Narrative of Roop Kala

Charitar 77 – Tale of Bhagwati

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
No one can understand the Chritars of the woman. (12) [43]
No one can surpass the cunning ways of the woman. (12)

– The Narrative of Bhagwati

Charitar 84 – Tale of lndra Mati

  • Bindra
  • Sidhus
No body, not even the gods and the demons, can grasp the Chritars. What should we designate and Chritar? It is rather prudent to keep quiet. (21) (1) [44]
No one can understand the wiles of a woman. One should remain silent when you see a woman. (21)

– The Narrative of Indramati

No one can understand the wiles of a woman. One should remain silent when you see a woman.

COMMENTARY: A lot has been said of these and similar such verses and rightly so.

What makes them so problematic is that they are degrading of women in general and cast the nature of the fairer sex in an entirely negative light.

EVALUATING THE VULGAR VERSES

He should not listen to vulgar, profane or sexy songs.
 Gobind Singh’s instructions to Bhai Nand Lal

Our evaluation of the Dasam Granth led to the collation of morally questionable texts specifically recorded from two sections of the scripture: the Chaubis Avtar, which comprises 24 incarnation stories of Vishnu totalling 5571 verses; and the Charitropakhian or Pakhyan Charitar, a collection of 404 tales comprising 7569 verses. [45] And though the selection of texts under scrutiny may seem relatively limited given the size of the Granth, it is our view that the profundity of the controversy is such that its full weight of implications is made to bear on Sikhism’s claim to divine truth.

The Charitropakhian itself is unique in that not only is it “the largest single composition in the Granth”, [46] but is also the most controversial portion of the scripture. Mann provides a simple breakdown below: [47]

Scripture Page Verses Language Pen name Style Place written
15. Charitrapakhyan 809-1388 7569
7555 (41%)
Braj Patshahi 10
Ram, Shyam, Kal
Didactic/
Folkloric/ Myth
Anandpur

Before beginning our analysis, it is worth noting the origin of the stories. Trilochan is of the opinion that the tales are “a mixture of history and fiction. Fiction gives to mankind what history denies and in some measure satisfies the mind with the shadows when it cannot enjoy the substance. While real history does not give success according to the deserts of vice and virtue, fiction corrects and presents us with fates and fortunes of persons rewarded and punished according to character trends”. [48] Jodh concurs stating that the “stories are picked up ranging from folklore, mythology to history and the contemporary situation of the poet”. [49] While Mann and Kamalroop assert that the “Charitrapakhyan means stories heard from others or stories from an oral tradition” adding:

The Charitras are based on characteristics of human beings like intelligence, strategy, warfare, rule, politics, as well as base instincts like lust, greed, drug addiction, trickeries, and deceitfulness. The moral stories are collated from various religious and secular texts like the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Christian traditions. [50]

And though it is difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, Prof Piara Singh Padam insists: “These are not merely ‘stories or tails’; these are banis which entail Gurmat principals but don’t need to be dissertated.” [51]

The revelatory nature of the Dasam Granth is also alluded to by Kohli – a man responsible for the translation of the majority of said scripture, excluding the Charitropakhian, which was subsequently published online. Regarding the book of Jaap Sahib, he states that it “has evolved as the product of extensive reflection, cogitation and deliberation through moments of awe and reverence experienced by Guru Gobind Singh Ji”. (bold ours) [52] And unless there are those who would seriously argue otherwise, it would equally be plausible to infer, by extension, that the Guru must also have exerted the same level of “extensive reflection, cogitation and deliberation through moments of awe and reverence” in composing the rest of the Granth.

Whatever the case, some apologists have argued that these tales were intended as teaching narratives to help Sikhs better understand and, thus, protect themselves from the apparent evils of the world including the “wiles of women”.

Again Kohli opines:

Guru Ji has formulated a very strong value system for the reader, laying down rules to be upheld and followed by both men and women so that a society free from all mortal sins may be formed. [53]

In Padam’s opinion:

The four hundred and five chapters long Charitro Pakhyaan states prevalent tails of misconduct of men and women. These were penned for the purpose of ensuring that the newly initiated ‘Sant Sipahis’ (Saintly Warriors) do not become victim of such wrongdoing. In those days, brothels were rather popular and existed freely without interference of law or common norms. The soul [sic] purpose of writing such stories was to keep the Sikhs on the right path. For Example: …

By mating with a woman and licking her saliva, he claims to receive pleasures.

It is true that some graphical words exist in these stories but they have only been used to save the Sikhs from such misconduct. [54]

Similarly, Sadhu Singh Deol echoes:

The moral of all the tales is to warn the readers and to raise their ethical and moral standard. It is an encyclopaedia of tales known to mediaeval India. Popular tales and immortal romances of Punjab are also there. … The chief merit of these tales is suggestiveness. They warn the unwary against the enticements of the women. This was the main purpose of providing such literature, the study of which would make the newly created Sikh society aware of the social, religious and ideal love which are beneficial to life. …

The aim of Guru Sahib was to develop a good moral character which would pave the way for spiritual progress. [55]

Moving past the perplexing question of how Deol can call such graphic tales “suggestive” when they are anything but, Mann too argues along similar lines by asserting that such interpretations can only be reached if “context has been neglected”. He says that “these cautionary tales would have been recited in the Guru’s durbar to show the effects of bad human behaviour”, [56] thereby implying the acceptability of said stories.

In fact, he and Kamalroop reveal how far Sikhism has gone in using this composition as a tool for educational purposes:

With the increase in sexual diseases like AIDS, the moralistic prescriptions are more necessary than ever. It was noted that many truck drivers were prone to catching and spreading AIDS. As a result the SGPC and the Takht Jathedars decided to place stickers of Gurbani on trucks. Verses from Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth (Charitrapakhyan) were printed on the trucks to spread the awareness of loyalty to one’s spouse and thus prevent sexually transmitted diseases. [57]

Before we come to question the efficacy of such an approach, what needs to be addressed first are some of the apologetic responses in defence of the Charitropakhian, and thus by extension the Dasam Granth, which range from the confusing to the downright desperate.

One attempt at deflecting criticism has been to draw attention to the ratio of problematic verses to total verses in the Granth. To this end, Trilochan writes: “Those who go through all the Charitars will find that the ratio of the so-called immodest matter is a very small proportion of the mass of the work.” But such an argument does nothing to address the implications especially if it is found that, in spite of the quantity, the consequences are dire. In this case, the problem is not the volume of written material that matters, but whether it is morally acceptable to attribute such content to the Almighty. Trilochan’s argument is only applicable if he rejects the charges of immodesty or presupposes that it is morally acceptable for an emissary of God to produce such vulgarity in His name.

Trilochan then adds:

In an age saturated with cant and hypocrisy here and there a venal pen may mourn the frankness of expression in the Charitars but it is certainly not more than we find in the Old Testament and the works of Aristophanes Plato, Horace, Virgil, Petronious, Boccacio, Chaucer, Rabelais, Sterne or Swift. And yet our generation reads these works without a word of protest. “Even in the Old Testament we find allusions to human ordure and pudenda, to carnal copulation and impudent whoredom, to adultery and fornication, to onanism, sodomy and bestiality. No Christian has ever thought of purging it.” (Richard F. Burton)

Now before we close it is essential to study the position of womanhood in the Charitars which is so curiously at variance with the stock idea prevalent about it.

While there are a good many remarks about the strength and weaknesses of the character of women there is nothing so harsh as we sometime find in the best thinkers of the world to this day. [58]

Charitropakhyan is a writing which no Sikh, granthi, or scholar has been willing to read or send to his mother, sister or daughter. No one has so far read it out in the open sangat. It is, indeed, unlikely that a gurmukh like Bhai Sahib would send its manuscript to venerated Mata ji. It is, thus, historically baseless to connect Bhai Sahib or Mata ji in any manner with the collection or compilation of Dasam Granth or any part of it.

Here he attempts to justify the “frankness of expression in the Charitars” by comparing it to similar practices found in other more popular sources. Trilochan’s basic contention rests on a type of appeal to common practice where he fallaciously argues that because others have preceded the Guru, it must make that act correct, moral, justified or reasonable. In other words, just because something is said to be a common practice or has an historical precedence does not make it right or true. Such an argument would entail that a Sikh must believe it correct to attribute such content to God if such an attribution has already been preceded by the Jews and Christians or by “the best thinkers of the world”. This is made worse with Trilochan’s quote of Burton which seems to imply that because Christianity refused to expunge similar such verses attributed to the Creator, ergo it is morally acceptable to make allusions to “carnal copulation and impudent whoredom, to adultery and fornication, to onanism, sodomy and bestiality”.

In contrast, Mann and Kamalroop attempt to shift the goalposts by appealing to all the good found therein:

The equality of women is also promoted in the Charitrapakhyan, as various stories narrate the bravery of women is shown including skill in battle. Dr Gupta in his History of the Sikhs, states, ’78 stories are devoted to the intelligence, bravery and devotion of women.’ [59]

Such an appeal would be entirely reasonable if it were in response to an argument questioning the number of positive stories applicable to women. We, on the other hand, have not pursued this line of inquiry. Instead, what we have questioned is how Guru Gobind, in spite of all the good he may have promoted, could ever be considered a true emissary of God for having promoted such filthy material.

There are then those who dismiss such arguments by either appealing to authority and/ or making reference to historical evidence allegedly proving the tenth Guru’s authorship. Thus, while Jodh points out that this composition is “found in all the extant manuscripts of the work, apart from also being independently available”, [60] Mann elaborates:

The Chaupai part of the Nitnem Banis is taken from the last Charitra. This on its own does not prove that it is work of the Guru. However early manuscript copies of the Sri Dasam Granth contain this work as well as it being available independently in Gutka and Pothi form. The only debate that has occurred in the past was whether the Charitropakhyan should be bound with the rest of the Granth. This authenticity question has only sprung up recently.

What is the debate?

There is no debate moreover the role of the Sri Dasam Granth has been marginalised over the years. [61]

Elsewhere, Mann and Kamalroop clarify further:

Charitrapakhyan appears in every manuscript of the Dasam Granth, so it is the creation of Guru Gobind Singh. This is clear from the concluding Charitra, the famous prayer known as Kabioyo Benati Chaupai, which is recited as part of the Nitnem, Rahtras and Khande di Pahul.

The Guru writes in this work that when he was coming of age his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, told him, ‘Son, do not have sexual relations with another man’s women even in a dream.’ So, in this epic work the Guru metaphorically and clearly states that Sikh should be faithful in to their spouse, avoid drugs, gambling, prostitutes, adultery, and other social evils. [62] (bold ours)

Here, two lines of argument are pursued. The first concludes that this composition must be the work of the tenth Guru because it is found “in every manuscript of the Dasam Granth”. The second argues that said work must be authentic, and therefore inspired of God, because a small part of it has been used for liturgical purposes.

In addition, the same pair also make an appeal to authority:

The Sikh Rahit Marayada sanctioned the reading of the last Charitra known as Benti Chaupai from the Charitrapakhyan composition of Dasam Granth. Some of the verses were omitted namely the arils and the date of completion of Charitrapakhyan. [63]

It should be noted that since we are not entertaining the question of the authenticity of the Dasam Granth, we have no reason to address the validity of these three arguments. Our concern is with the assumption that if historical evidence can prove Guru Gobind’s authorship, then this is sufficient in refuting any and all allegations of moral corruption made against him. The same is true of the appeal to authority. Both arguments, however, fail to address our underlying charge of how a man inspired of God could teach and promote immoral content. What is more, this very same charge has also been levelled against the Charitropakhian by opponents of the Dasam Granth, and one such person was Prof Daljeet Singh who declared:

Charitropakhyan is a writing which no Sikh, granthi, or scholar has been willing to read or send to his mother, sister or daughter. No one has so far read it out in the open sangat. It is, indeed, unlikely that a gurmukh like Bhai Sahib would send its manuscript to venerated Mata ji. It is, thus, historically baseless to connect Bhai Sahib or Mata ji in any manner with the collection or compilation of Dasam Granth or any part of it. [64] (bold, underline ours)

Charitrapakhyan appears in every manuscript of the Dasam Granth, so it is the creation of Guru Gobind Singh.

In fact, even those who consider the Granth to be the work of Guru Gobind in toto are forced to recognise and acknowledge the reasons underlined by Daljeet as the main fuel for feeding this internecine conflict. Trilochan readily identifies that “[m]any readers will regret the absence of modesty in some stories in which sex relations are described rather too openly” (bold ours). [65] Similarly, Jodh notes that “some scholars feel that the stories touching the prostitution and other allied activities could not be the work of the Guru” (bold ours). [66] And though it is difficult, as we noted before, to see how such explicitly graphic stories contain an “element of moral suggestiveness”, the Kapoors nonetheless recognise:

Scholars who believe that this composition is of Guru Gobind Singh, they suggest that the stories collected under this heading contain practical wisdom and have the element of moral suggestiveness. Whereas those who argue that these stories were not penned by the Guru, they call some of them vulgar and pervert.

There is frequent use of sexual terms, like hugging, kissing and intercourse. Many stories also use the names of the private parts of both men and women. There is [sic] also references of the use of alcohol and drugs to excite sentiments of the sexual partners. (bold ours)

After providing ten examples of such “excerpts of sleeted [sic] stories to judge its authorship”, the authors continue by impulsively suggesting the following course of action:

It is left to the reader to judge the authorship of these tales. [67]

While the prominent scholar Kahn Singh Nabha reveals that once when solutions for the controversy of the “[v]olume of this Dasam Granth was discussed in detail in the Khalsa Divan [Khalsa Parliament]”, the following resolutions were suggested:

Fifth: many were of the view that the rest of the Granth be kept as such but the Chritras and eleven Hikayats, which could not be recited in the open divan and is more difficult for ladies, should be kept in another volume. Many more suggestions came but the gathering could not reach to any conclusion [sic]. Then Bhai Mehtab Singh Mirankotia came to the venue and said “I am going to punish Massa Ranghar for desecration of Sri Harimandir Sahib. If I come back alive after killing Massa Ranghar then this Granth should be preserved as such, and if I attain martyrdom then this should be split into different books”. Bhai Mahtab Singh returned safe after accomplishing the feat and the ‘ beer’ of Dasam Granth remained intact. [68] (bold, underline ours)

The conclusion drawn from this episode is that through means of violence, the Khalsa Divan managed to retain the original Dasam Granth which, of course, included the controversial Charitras.

And finally Mann concedes:

Another approach by Scholars has been to dissect the Granth by quoting only from the Charitropakhyan and hence proving that the Sri Dasam Granth is a PORNOGRAPHIC manual. [69] (bold, capitalisation ours)

Even Rinehart, who as a non-Sikh academic could be considered a disinterested source, accepts that “[s]ome of the stories are quite explicit in their descriptions of sexual behavior”. [70]

There is frequent use of sexual terms, like hugging, kissing and intercourse. Many stories also use the names of the private parts of both men and women.

After all this, the inevitable question that must be asked is whether such an explicit approach adds to or detracts from the purpose of explicating a moral lesson (assuming, of course, there is any real moral lesson to be had)? Most importantly, however, how could a God-fearing man, much less a designated emissary of God and Satguru (true teacher), think such lewdly evocative thoughts let alone morally justify expressing them as divinely-inspired moral teachings?

The above also raises a number of damning questions that must be addressed by those many Sikhs who accept all the citations we have collated in this paper as genuine works of Gobind. For instance, what overall purpose did it serve him in making mention of the aforecited Indian sex manual, Koka Shastra, not once, but thrice and all in three separate tales? Rinehart, in fact, highlights an important correlation that is worth mentioning:

The stories of Charitropakhian frequently employ the conventions of Sanskrit poetry [kavya] in their descriptions of characters (women’s beauty in particular) and scenes as well as in use of metaphor and simile. But some of the conventions of – what for lack of a better term we might call a “high” culture of Sanskrit learning are not in play. This seems particularly true for the many references to the Kokashastra, which on first reading might seem to refer to the twelfth-century Sanskrit text by Kokkoka more properly entitled Ratirahasya, but in fact seems more likely to be a series of manuals containing artistic representations of sexual positions known as Kokashastra. (bold, underline ours)

This raises two questions: whether Gobind made direct recourse to either the original sex manual or its more explicitly artistic renditions? If so, then whether it befits the status of an emissary of God to personally access such lewd sources? Rinehart continues:

Such manuals were commonly produced and circulated at royal courts in northern India. The references to Kokashastra in the charitras refer almost EXCLUSIVELY to SEXUAL ACTIVITY. [71] While the women of Charitropakhian are themselves almost always the seductresses, the Sanskrit Kokashastra is a more elaborate text that provides guidelines to men for wooing a woman who at first glance seems unattainable, part of which involves determining to which of four classes she belongs (padmini, citrini, sankhini, hastini). Neither the women nor the men in Charitropakhian seem the least bit concerned with such finer details of seduction and romance. While the distillation of the finer points of Kokashastra into sexual positions alone may indicate a certain impoverishment with respect to classical Sanskrit tradition treating the issue of kama, the vast range of stories in Charitropakhian also demonstrates the enrichment of classical story literature by the specific cultural context of the Punjab and its folk traditions. [72] (bold, underline, capitalisation ours)

In other words, this “Satguru” specifically chose to distil the original and collect the raw and explicit references of sexual activity before disseminating them to his community. How could a man of God, presumably tasked with establishing and developing the best moral values, consider such a methodology as morally justified? Did this “perfect teacher” not bother weighing up the preponderant risks? Why didn’t prudence and a sense of responsibility, given such a broad target audience, compel Gobind to utilise a cautious approach by being, say, more suggestive and terse? What is more, what kind of perverted precedence would this set for his followers?

Contrast this with the last and final messenger sent to humankind, Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Is there any example of him having been so vulgar during the course of his mission of rectitude and enlightenment? Since Islam came to establish the very highest standards of morality of which the Prophet was a paragon of moral perfection, the answer to this question is a definite no. This lofty status is encapsulated by the following verse in the Qur’an:

And you (stand) upon an exalted standard of character. (Qur’an 68:4)

While the Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) eloquently summed up the essence of his message by declaring:

I have not been sent (to humankind) except to perfect the nobility of character. (Muwatta, Ahmad, at-Tabaraani).

This journey towards the perfection of noble character can only be attained by developing a strong ethos, which in turn requires discipline and self-control to fulfil all that Allah has commanded while abstaining from all He has forbidden to the best of one’s ability. All this is juxtaposed with the overarching recognition that every action will either be rewarded or penalised by God and the results handed to every examinee on the Day of Judgment. In this regard, Allah warned that:

Truly the hearing, the eyesight, and the heart will be inquired into (by Allah on the Day of Judgment). (Qur’an 17:36)

As such, Allah and His Messenger did not condone the use of lewd language as noble character traits, far from it in fact. The importance placed on what one utters as a Muslim is perhaps no better demonstrated than in the following prophetic traditions:

  • Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or else keep silent. (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
  • A person says something without thinking about it and as a result of it is cast into the Fire deeper than the distance between the East and the West. (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
  • A servant will speak a word without attaching any importance to it except that it pleases Allah and as a result of which Allah raises him many levels. And a servant will speak a word without attaching any importance to it except that Allah hates it and by which he tumbles down into hell-fire. (Al-Bukhari)

Since lewd speech is the very antithesis of nobility, it is forbidden in Islam and, thus, inconceivable that a true emissary of God would invent or convey such tales. Quite the contrary for Allah has established robust principles which, if properly adhered to and applied, serve as guidelines to help one choose the most prudent and safest course of action so as to maximise the prospects of remaining upon goodness while minimising the chances of falling into sins.

The first of the principles relevant to this discussion declares: The repelling of evil takes priority over the attainment of good (darr al-mafsadah ‘alaa jalbin maslahah). This means that if the warding off of evil is equal to or greater than the interests concerned, then it takes precedence over any benefits procured.

The second principle is Sadd al-Dharaa’i, or ‘blocking off the means (to evil)’:

The Linguistic and Technical Definition of Sadd al-Dharaa’i

The term al-sadd in language parlance means ighlaaq al-khalal (sealing off an opening).

The term ad-dharee’ah means ‘a means to something’. It is said that ‘so-and-so sought to obtain access via it’.

Technically, the term refers to things that are perceptibly permissible, but can lead to forbidden things. So the term sadd al-dharaa’i translates as cutting off the means to corruption so as to repel it whenever a relatively safe action leads to corruption. [73]

The references to Kokashastra in the charitras refer almost EXCLUSIVELY to SEXUAL ACTIVITY. … [T]he Sanskrit Kokashastra is a more elaborate text that provides guidelines to men for wooing a woman who at first glance seems unattainable ….

Hence, the means towards an unlawful result is not prohibited on the basis of actual realisation, but rather the preponderant risk factor, i.e. if it is likely to lead to a prohibited result, then it is rendered unlawful. [74]

If we assume, arguendo, the permissibility of Guru Gobind’s approach, then there are two reasons why a Muslim could not implement it based on the aforesaid principles. Firstly, not only could a person be introduced to the intimate ideas of love, lust and sexuality prematurely and unnecessarily, but could also be exposed to the debauched subjects of bestiality, as well as pornography found in those seedy Indian sex manuals. Secondly, such explicit details could quite easily have an adverse effect on those with a weak temperament who might glorify and sensationalise the notion of fornication. As a matter of fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that exposure to such evocative thoughts and ideas could quite easily plant the seeds of evil conduct through illicit fantasies, which if dwelt upon, might be transformed into action. Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 505AH/ 1111CE) rightly said in this respect:

The way to ward off distracting thoughts is to cut off their source, i.e. avoid the means that could create these thoughts; if the source of such thoughts is not stopped, it will keep generating them. [75]

Often, the origin for the conduct of illegal sexual activity lies in those early thoughts introduced to a person through forbidden means, such as, permissive satellite channels and immodest movies, books, etc.

In light of the first principle then, since the harm from such stories would evidently outweigh any benefits, such a methodology would be forbidden. But even if it were maintained that said approach is permissible, the second principle would render it forbidden on the basis that it could lead to what’s forbidden. Hence, these principles reinforce and uphold the concept of “prevention is better than cure”.

But all this is hypothetical. As stated above, Guru Gobind’s approach is strictly forbidden (haram) in Islam not least for its sexually graphic nature, but also because it deals with subject matters that are also haram, i.e. fornication, adultery, and bestiality. In this respect, the reading of such material would certainly fall into at least one of the below categories articulated by the Prophet:

Fornication of the eyes is looking; fornication of the ears is listening; fornication of the tongue is speaking; fornication of the hands is touching; fornication of the foot is walking. The heart longs and wishes, and the private parts confirm or deny that. (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)

In all then, what the above demonstrates is the incredible wisdom, foresightedness, and extraordinary level of detail established by the Law-giver and implemented by the Muslims to maintain one of the fundamental objectives in Islam: Enjoining all that God has designated as good and forbidding all that He has declared evil.

We are now in a better position to tackle four issues. The first are two questions which require credible answers if one is to seriously consider the tenth Guru’s claim to Guruship (prophethood):

  • What was the wisdom and foresightedness displayed by Gobind Singh in transmitting these tales?
  • What guarantees could he give and/ or what principles did he apply to ensure that his chosen approach would not incur greater harm than any good procured?

If it is found that any principles applied are weak and ineffective, and any presented evidence fails to support said methodology’s alleged moral efficacy, i.e. no guarantees can be given, then this only serves to prove a certain lack of wisdom, foresightedness and attention to detail on the part of Gobind Singh. And since God is anything but wise and provident, this should, in turn, raise questions against the Guru’s claim to Guruship (prophethood).

The second issue follows on from the first in that if Gobind’s entire approach is immoral, harmful and evil, then how is this reconciled against the issue of morality and sin in Sikhism.

At the start of this chapter, we cited a quote referenced to Gobind Singh Mansukhani who states that Guru Gobind “gave some instructions to Bhai Nand Lal, the poet-laureate of his court, which is called Tankhah-Nama”, and which specifically warned:

viii) He should not listen to vulgar, profane or sexy songs. [76]

There are then certain verses from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) that warn against what are known as the Five Thieves (Panj Dosh or Panj Vikar) – five fundamental intrinsic weaknesses that act as barriers to spiritual enlightenment that all humans are expected to combat, control and overcome. One of these is what is known as kaam, which can loosely be defined as lust or excessive desire for sensual and material pleasures. The Sikh Encyclopedia elucidates:

KAM [] meaning desire, longing, concupiscence, sensuality or lasciviousness, is counted among the five cardinal sins or sinful propensities. In common usage, the term stands for passion for sexual pleasure and it is in this sense that it is considered an evil in Sikhism. …

[I]n Sikhism kam is not unrestricted gratification of carnal desires, but an impulse which needs to be kept under check like other impulses and passions. Unrestrained propensity towards kam, especially sexual relationship outside the marital bond, is condemned in the strongest terms in Sikh codes of conduct as well as in the Scripture. It is a destructive evil and a deadly sin. …

Guru Gobind Singh also said: “Love your own wedded wife ever so more, but do not go to another woman’s bed even in a DREAM.” Sikh codes of conduct strictly prohibit extramarital relations. While prescribing self control and restraint and not total annihilation of kam, the Gurus suggested two ways of channelizing and sublimating it.

On the one hand, they pronounced grihastha or married life to be the ideal one, and, on the other laid down love of God and absorption in His Name as the essential principle of spiritual discipline. [77] (bold, capitalisation ours)

It is important to understand what is being said in the above. Not only is kaam an impulse that needs to be controlled, but Gobind himself cautioned against illicitly bedding a woman in one’s dreams. Presumably acting out such behaviour in the dream world is a consequence of the impulses of kaam and, thus, considered sinful.

This idea of sinful thoughts is also captured in the following revealing verses of the SGGS:

At the very last moment, one who thinks of wealth, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again, in the form of serpents. ||1||

O sister, do not forget the Name of the Lord of the Universe.

At the VERY LAST MOMENT, he who THINKS OF LUST AND SEX, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a prostitute. ||2||

At the very last moment, one who thinks of his children, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a pig. ||3||

At the very last moment, one who thinks of mansions, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a goblin. ||4||

At the very last moment, one who thinks of the Lord, and dies in such thoughts, says Trilochan, that person shall be liberated; the Lord shall abide in her/his heart. ||5||2||

(SGGS 526)

Putting aside the questions of moral accountability of mere thoughts alone, what concerns us more is the notion that dying with thoughts of lust and sex are punishable offences where the guilty will be reincarnated as a prostitute.

In light of these warnings, why then did Gobind write such counteractive tales that not only bellied his instructions to Bhai Nand Lal, but also endanger his followers into falling victim to their kaamic impulses and thereby risk jeopardising their chances of salvation?

The third issue involves excerpts recorded under the category of “Women’s Wiles” which, if taken collectively, strongly portray women in general in an extraordinarily negative and degrading light. Often the storyteller concludes the story in question by making a disparaging remark about the nature of womanhood without any qualification or redeeming quality.

As an example, charitar 24 makes mention of how no one – not the sun, moon, gods, demons, Brahma, Vishnu or Indra – “can understand the cryptic character of women”, and that’s it. The same is true of charitars 57, 60, 77 and 84, respectively, which all end in the same fashion: the gods and demons have failed to comprehend the hearts and ways of a woman and should, thus, remain silent about them. Similarly, charitar 67 concludes: “The kinnars, the Yaksh the serpents, the gans, the men, the saints and the demons are unable to fathom the secret of a woman’s heart.”

Unsurprisingly, opponents of the Dasam Granth have also honed in on this disparaging practice in their attacks against its authenticity. As an example, Prof Harinder Singh Mehboob declares:

The reader finds no visionary quest of Guru Granth Sahib in the pages of Charitropakhyan which present an obscene drama of monstrous libidinous containing more than four hundred pageants of degenerate humanity.  There are, undoubtedly, the lyrical illustrations of the role of unchaste woman in Guru Granth Sahib, but these literary genres never break the sanctity of its supreme woman-image. The uncontrollable and intriguing sexual impulses of women in Charitropakhyan shatter the scriptural balance, harmony and natural poise of sublime aspects of woman-image of Guru Granth Sahib which give her a permanent place or existential naturalness in the spiritual fabrics of society.  So I conclude that the contents of Charitropakhyan are anti-Guru Granth Sahib. [78] (bold ours)

And while supporters of the Granth grudgingly accept, as Trilochan does below, that such tales do not paint a pretty picture of the fairer sex, their response is typically the same that there exists a method behind the madness:

The severest remark in Charitar is that women are beings of impulses blown about by every gust of passion, stable only in instability, constant only in inconstancy. …

Woman is shown in the Dasm [sic] Granth as superior in modesty, cleverer in making and breaking love. Her jealousy is instinctive and her wit for subtle revenge is as natural as her ability to make and break love. [79]

The more neutral Rinehart, who has attempted to understand the Granth in a more positive way via an “analysis of the text and its relationship to wider Indie literary traditions”, [80] opines that “the portrayal of women in India’s story literature generally is very much akin to that in Charitropakhian”. In this respect, she quotes:

J. A. B. van Buitenen’s characterization of women as they are depicted in the stories that are part of the Brhat Katha tradition preserved in texts such as the Sanskrit Kathasaritsagara [“Ocean of Story”] is equally applicable to Charitropakhian:

While the more official literature likes to show the Indian woman in the light of dharma-the many saintly wives who retrieved their husbands from death, who followed them through the most outrageous perils-as striking examples of how a woman should behave, the story literature displays its women in the light of artha, of practical profit and wit. The result is a far more human picture. The woman of the story literature appears as a spirited, quick-witted, lusty creature who often can think rings around her men. The modesty so interminably enjoined upon her by the sacred writings is about as common as the frequency of the admonitions might lead us to suspect. If she is a wife, there is a constant suspicion that she might be unfaithful (van Buitenen 1974, 210-211). [81]

She thus accepts the Charitropakhian’s characterisation of women as a “general message” and cites two examples to support her position:

Occasionally, in the midst of these rather grim portrayals of human nature, the storytelling minister throws in a few words of advice for the king on the futility of understanding women:

Steal a woman’s heart, but don’t let her steal yours.
Keep her captivated by giving her untold riches day after day.
Neither the Gandharvas, Yakshas, serpents, Shiva’s attendants, gods, nor demons could fathom the mystery of women; what hope is there for men? (CP 10:12-13)

However wise and clever a man may be, none can fathom the clever characters of women.
A man who tells a woman what is in his heart will find that old age devours his youth, and that the god of death will steal his very life.
The smritis, Vedas, and Kokashastra all state that secrets should not be revealed to women, but that one should always try to discover theirs. (CP 13:8-10)

The general message seems to be that men must recognize that women are mysterious and clever, and that relationships with them require careful management. [82] (bold, underline ours)

The fourth issue involves responding to some arguments by proponents who are guilty of employing faulty reasoning. One such individual is Giani Sant Singh Maskeen who bullishly asserts:

Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj Ji clearly wrote about these characteristics and traits, now people have been objecting and saying it (Charitropakhyaan) cannot be Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani. …

Actually the thing is, ignorant people go in the state of denial if a certain concept or thought does not align with their own thinking. Who to tell them they do not possess the levels of understanding and thinking required to able to understand such concepts. The reason such people feel hatred is because of the hatred present within them, that weakness still exists within them.

This is as condescending as it is ludicrous. How can people who recognise vulgar speech and the subject of bestiality as immoral and sinful be said to be ignorant? It does not take a certain level of understanding to recognise this intuitively obvious fact; and once acknowledged, the only natural moral reaction would then be to detest such evil in all its forms.

Maskeen continues:

These ignorant fools should be told to first remove kaam from their lives and then dare question Guru Sahib ji Maharaj. It is kaam with which we are born, then how can we not listen to things related to it? Guru Nanak Dev ji Maharaj discusses it, Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj discusses it, Bhagat Kabir Ji discusses it and elaborates on it in the most beautiful ways [sic]. [83]

At the VERY LAST MOMENT, he who THINKS OF LUST AND SEX, and dies in such thoughts, shall be reincarnated over and over again as a prostitute. – SGGS

The only one who comes across as foolish with such a pitiful apology is this so-called Giani Sant. Is Maskeen seriously suggesting that the only way in which one can truly come to understand Gobind’s warped methodology is by firstly purging oneself of kaam? If we are born with kaam, then why draw the line at the pornographic works of the Guru? What is stopping anyone from moving on to reading more hardcore material (assuming it can get any worse than this)? There is nothing “beautiful” in what Gobind wrote nor is it necessary to be as graphic to sufficiently convey a moral teaching.

There is then a long article by a one Sanjam Kaur, evidently approved in full by those behind the patshahi.org website. This apologia truly epitomises the meaning of the phrase, blind-follower, for it can only take a fanatically partisan devotee, who switches off the faculties of critical thinking, to make such an inane defence of the Charitropakhian. Sanjam attempts to reason:

The claims by some that these are useless sensual tales arise from incomplete reading of Chritropankhyan with a fickle mind already polluted by the kaamic mud which is all around us. … If one finds them to be sensual tales, it is because all around us there is nothing but ‘kaamic‘ play of the dark-age, kalyug, which has increased millions times more since the time of rachna of Sri Dasam Granth. … Charitropankhyan read with a discerning mind will give us gyan [knowledge, especially spiritual or religious knowledge] so that we can build a strong fort of viveka [wise and moral evaluation] to overcome one of the five vikaras called kam or lust.

This suggestion seems at best risky, and at worst completely counterproductive. Why would one wish to expose such fickle minded people, who live in the age of kalyug and are, therefore, susceptible to the increasing dangers of kaam, to further danger in the form of Gobind’s erotically kaamic tales? Moreover, can any persuasive assurances be made that such a treatment will cure the problem of kaam? It seems preposterous to propose lust (in the form of lustful stories) as a solution to the problem of lust!

She then adds:

All the young women must be able to fully understand how much influence they can have over a man.

Why can’t Guruji describe to his Sikhs, whom he considers his sons, different ways a woman can deceivingly lead a man down into the dark and twisted path of kaamic sins? If Guru Gobind Singh Ji said “Khalsa meero roop hai khaas” then how can he not try to protect his Khalsa from all kinds of deceit and sensual treachery of women? … But the subject of a woman’s deceit is still avoided due to various reasons including the fear that such an education can be considered as anti-feminine, or being unfair to the fair sex, or fear of being disrespectful to woman.

Educating women is one thing, but delving into the doldrums of obscenity through X-rated stories for the purposes of education is quite another. Unfortunately for Sanjam, her blind fanaticism has forced her to create an either-or situation where, as a result of her presuppositions and an unwillingness to reject said composition, she is compelled to argue a case – no matter the implications or degree of absurdity – for Gobind’s use of erotic language.

She continues:

Haven’t women all over the world, in different time periods, in different continents, in different yugas, in different lokas have done that [sic]? Is the woman of today not doing that? Do not Bollywood, Hollywood, Hindi songs and all kinds of this world’s so called entertainment industry depict that?

Women are capable of and have committed all kinds of depraved acts that no crazed person could imagine let alone inquire into; does this now require that it be written about and presented to the young and old, good and bad, for the purposes of education? In effect, what she is calling for is an approach that seeks to educate those who are naïve to the wiles of sexually exploitative women by helping them become familiarised with the lewd, explicit and intimate sexual behaviour of such women. In other words, her solution to protect people from an evil is to expose them to that evil.

And what of those who implement this educational practice? How far would they be allowed to go in exercising their creative licence for such ends? Would Sanjam, for example, approve of her son or daughter writing stories that were equally graphic as those authored by their Guru for the purposes of teaching youngsters? What if they intended to supplement such writings with equally explicit pictures, or perhaps even a movie; would she agree?

Can any woman, Sikh or non-Sikh, honestly deny that even one of the scenarios told in Charitropakhyan can never really happen? Can any woman, Sikh or non-Sikh, say without doubt that women are not capable of behaving in such shameful ways?

If she can acknowledge that such behaviour is shameful, then why does she condemn those who see said tales as “sensual” and, hence, shameful? At the very least she should concede that if the actions are shameful, then there should be no blame on those who see descriptions of these actions as equally shameful.

But let us not lose sight of the underlying issue here. It is not about denial of or the potential to carry out such acts; rather it is whether God’s prophets would stoop so low as to write such lewd teachings for their followers.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji is the Great King who wanted to keep his Khalsa pure, and his composition Charitropakhyan plays that role of warning the Khalsa of the challenges it might face. The supreme Badshah has tried to show to his Sikhs that the fair sex is not so fair after all and has its own share of blame to take for the ills of the society. What is wrong in such a teaching? Is it not true that Guru Gobind Singh Ji is trying to protect his Khalsa?

We repeat our previous question: what guarantees are there that the implementation of such an impure and impious method will maintain the desired purity? If no assurances can be given and if such a method was, therefore, counteractive, then everything is wrong with such a teaching.

If anyone finds these Charitars sexual it is because of two reasons, one he is not reading the whole chapter and just stopping because some of his hidden kaamic fantasies are popping up in his mind, or second he totally refused to see the tamasha of kaamic maya around him and failed to realize that our Great Guru did a great favor to his Sikhs by trying to protect them from all the deceitful sexual treacheries of women. There is no reason for any good man or woman to feel offended by it or feel sexually aroused by it. It is a dirty pile of all of our own fantasies gathered from the kaamic mud around us which is the cause of that. Our Guru is trying to give us his hand to pull us out of this kaamic quagmire.

Notice that so far, her entire evaluation is premised on the fault lying with the recipient as opposed to the donor. But in this instance, Sanjam is again forced to acknowledge that there could not be smoke without fire, that is to say, some people will find these charitars sexual. Her remedy, however, seems ill conceived and naïve. She believes that the only way someone would find such verses sexual is if they encounter them without having read the whole chapter, or by refusing to see the nature of lust at play. But is it even possible for anyone not to conceptually visualise what one reads? If not, then how easy would it be for a man to create a mental image of a story that describes in detail a king who “hugged, kissed and had intercourse” where he “put his penis in her vagina [and where] she got extremely excited and vehemently kissed the king” (Charitar 402 – Tale of Sadda Kumari), or reads the speech of the gopis who addressed Krishna as follows: “O friend! We went [sic] to listen about the essence; make us understand the mode of realising the essence; we want to see you and you love the nipples of our teats” (Chaubis Avtar – Description of Lord Krishna’s Incarnation), or descriptions involving “the lover [who] was holding beloved’s legs in his arms. (17) As the palanquin was moving, the lover was enjoying the swings. As the bearers swung the palanquin while walking, she clung to the lover’s shoulders” (Charitar 119 – Tale of Rani Ruder Kala)? Only someone who is naïve of the reality of both the world and the nature of people would blame someone for finding things of a sexual nature to be exactly that – sexual? In addition, there is no strict rule that can be cited to guarantee that a good man or woman will never be aroused when reading such graphic details of sex. In fact, one would expect a good, chaste, and God-conscious man or woman to protect themselves from any and all avenues that might threaten their chastity or pollute their mind with impure thoughts of sexuality or, let’s not forget, bestiality.

If one reads Charitropakhyan and feels sexually aroused it is not the writings, but their fantasies which are responsible. Where do these fantasies come from? They come from Bollywood, Hollywood, billboards, and the list goes on. Everyday we all are bombarded by ashleel messages, overt or covert, from songs, movies, magazines which denigrate woman’s physical integrity. Yes it is true that one cannot control and stop all that nonsense, but as a Sikh you should rise above this and should be able to see the futility of all this – the evil effect this all can have on us. How can we not understand that these sound waves emitting from all the ashleel songs around us do affect us. These are the cause of all your sexual fantasies. Getting rid of them is not easy, but if you read and understand Charitropakhyan it is bound to  stop you from following that track and you will ask yourself, “Wait a minute, there is so much trash around me. This is not how my Guru wants me to be”. …

Is she claiming that sexual fantasies would not have arisen prior to the age of modern entertainment? Were people so unimaginative that before this time they would have been incapable of fantasising such thoughts after reading the lewd texts of the Charitropakhian? Such a suggestion should be an affront to common sense.

The fact is that the best way of rising above this level is to do everything possible to minimise exposure. Further, if sound can affect us adversely, then what we visually see and mentally process can easily have the same effect. And if these have the potential to create sexual fantasies, then the same is true of what we read. The solution cannot be, therefore, to expose oneself to stories that might create or reinforce sexual fantasies, but abstain from them.

The details about a woman’s beauty and form wherever described in Charitropakhyan are there to explain about the twisted deceitful plan of action indented by her in all the tales.

But then there is detail and there is graphic detail. One would expect detail expressed by an emissary of God vis-à-vis women and sexual conduct to be measured, cultured and befitting the majesty, perfection, purity and goodness of God.

I think every woman should read Charitropakhyan and I assure all the Sikh women that you will not at all feel offended because Guru Gobind Singh Ji is not criticizing women.

And after all is said and done, this woman shamelessly encourages her sisters to read such filth. Why doesn’t she also encourage fathers to read this out to their female family members for the purposes of education? Can she, or anyone else for that matter, honestly claim with any confidence that a true Sikh could never be embarrassed if his daughter asked him to explain what it meant to spill one’s semen or to plunge one’s tongue into the vagina of a mare?!

We seek refuge in Allah from such foolishness.

Charitropakhyan opens his eyes and shows him that it is a dark hole of sin and nothing else.

It will certainly open his eyes in more ways than one!

Don’t you believe that there are real life female villains too who are amongst us all? I am sure you can come up with many examples where a female character is evil beyond description.

And would she also encourage them to then imagine, let alone pen down, the reality of such women as lewdly as her Guru managed to convey? If it was good enough for her Guru, then why wouldn’t it be good enough for his followers?

For those who think that Charitropakhyan cannot be read in front of their daughters and wives, probably do not understand that the intention of Guru Gobind Singh Ji in writing Charitropakhyan is not to insult women but to make men and women both understand how deceitful and devious a woman’s character can be. I would request these people to sit with their wives or daughters or any other women dear and near to them and ‘finish’ reading Chritropankhyan. I am pretty sure no one will feel offended. There is one condition though – that you have to finish reading the whole tales. Why? Because, its only at the end of the tale that you will realize the warning which is given to a person to protect his honor.

In our view, only those with an indecent, impure and impious disposition would feel comfortable in reading porn to their loved ones. The rest, we hope and pray, will feel a certain level of revulsion, offence and embarrassment in expressing such material, let alone using it for teaching others.

She comically concludes:

Only after reading the whole of Charitropakhyan you will be saying “Oh my Great Guru Gobind Singh, you are amazing!”

CONCLUSION

Lust and anger wound the soul
SGGS, Guru Nanak, 153

Where then do we stand at the end of this evaluation?

The purpose of this paper was to collate and evaluate the worst of the sexually explicit tales recorded in the Dasam Granth. What was found were graphic descriptions of sex including the mention of the male and female genitalia, female mammary glands, as well as three references in three separate stories of the infamous Indian sex manual, the Koka Shastra. But arguably the most surprising and certainly the most disturbing of the 18 was one that described a nonsensical tale detailing an act of bestiality.

Our main aim was to evaluate the possible reasons for Guru Gobind Singh’s approach while questioning its wisdom and efficacy. Answers to these questions would then allow us to more accurately answer the key question of whether it would be morally justifiable to attribute this to God.

We argued that it was not befitting the perfection and majesty of God to inspire His chosen emissaries to implement a practice that was diametrically opposed to their objective of establishing and developing morality. Any suggestions that some good might transpire was rejected via the principle that the harm incurred far outweighed any perceived benefit. Moreover, such a method would not be risked even if its permissibility was intransigently maintained on the simple basis that it could plausibly lead to forbidden acts, e.g. fornication, adultery, etc. Hence, such an immoral methodology, which would encourage towards impure thoughts and evil actions, could not be attributed to the One who is all-Good (at-Tayyib) and all-pure (al-Qudoos). Since it is said that the tenth Guru used this approach, he cannot, therefore, be a true emissary of God.

There is then the conflicting position held by Guru Gobind himself. On the one hand, he called for his adherents to control the impulse of kaam by “not listen[ing] to vulgar, profane or sexy songs”, protecting themselves from lustful and sexual thoughts, and not sleeping with any woman illicitly even in their dreams. Yet on the other hand, not only did he end up exposing at best an overly active imagination and at worst a depraved psyche via the dissemination of such gratuitous filth, but also exposed his adherents to kaamic temptation. The two positions are undoubtedly polar opposites.

Hence, it is entirely understandable why there exists such a large contingent of anti-Dasam Granth Sikhs. Despite living in the age of Kalyug where the ignorance of the truth of God has become so widespread, there still exists a minimal level of morality and goodness in most people to help them recognise immoral language à la pornography when they read it. This was the reason why people like Moughtin-Mumby called a spade a spade in calling the sexual content recorded in Ezekiel as “extreme and offensive” while considering it to be “the most difficult passages … to read”. It is also the reason why people like Swaggart showed visible discomfort and embarrassment in reading aloud such tracts in public, and why Daljeet Singh candidly admitted that the “Charitropakhyan is a writing which no Sikh, granthi, or scholar has been willing to read or send to his mother, sister or daughter. No one has so far read it out in the open sangat”. It is for this reason that proponents of the Granth are forced to acknowledge the complaints of their opponents given how rife the problem is.

In conclusion, it is our contention that the use of such language for the purposes of moral education, development and rectitude is not only imprudent and unwise, but wholly immoral and sinful, and, thus, unacceptable to the source of all goodness, purity and truth – God.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks (jazakAllaahu khairan) to Abdullah Ahmed (Islam-Sikhism Researcher) for his invaluable research of the Dasam Granth and for his sagacious comments, suggestions and guidance.

APPENDIX A

A strong example of the bitter and acrimonious nature of the Dasam Granth debate can be witnessed on the internet.

The Global Sikh Studies website, for example, has an entire section dedicated to the subject with articles from a number of prominent Sikh academics that are critical of the scripture’s origin and authenticity and which include among others:

  • Prof Balwant Singh Dhillon cautions: “The history of Dasam Granth in its present form is still not clear. The critical text of it has not yet been fixed. These are some of the issues which are wide open for debate within the Panth. However before entering into any debate all these issues demand academic attention. Instead of taking the whole corpus, each composition or even its parts should be taken for critical analysis. The history and critical text of each of the compositions that are available in the various recessions demand textual analysis which in return may be beneficial to resolve the contentious issues concerning Dasam Granth. Comprehensive and exhaustive academic input coupled with discussions with an open mind is the only way to resolve the issue. Any individual howsoever wise should desist from enforcing his/her personal views on the whole Sikh Panth. Sri Akal Takht Sahib and S.G.P.C. are the competent authorities to take the decision in the larger interest of the Panth in this regard. [84]
  • Prof Daljeet Singh believes that “the negative evidence of all contemporary chroniclers, coupled with the evidence of Chhibber’s story, shows that till the end of the 18th century, there was nothing known about any granth of the Tenth Guru, or any writings now regarded as its chapters or contents”. He also holds that there is “little doubt that the story of Dasam Granth’s compilation by Bhai Sahib has no historical basis” and is instead “a motivated fabrication to give credence to the story of Dasam Granth compilation”. In his view, therefore, “the Dasam Granth, which contains Charitropakhyan, could never be a compilation of Sikh quarters, much less could it be by the Tenth Guru”. [85]
  • And Dr Jagjit Singh, whose book is based on the “pioneering scientific research” of Dr Rattan Singh Jaggi, and concludes that “there is no historical basis for linking ‘Dasam Granth’ with the name of Guru Gobind Singh”. [86]

Though not as dismissive, Prof J.S. Grewal is another who does not accept the totality of the text. In his view, the “Akal Ustat is a jumble of subjects. Apart from the negative description of the immortal, there is a pantheistic section which could not be written by the Guru himelf”. Similarly: “The Gian Prabodh contains much that ‘seems contrary to the Guru’s authentic teaching’. It is hard to think of Guru Gobind Singh as the translator of the Chaubis Avtar either.” And: “The Shastar Nam Mala contains fanciful names for weapons and riddles. One cannot imagine the Guru himself taking the time for so much laborious and often trivial compilation.” [87]

On the other side of the fence, however, there are the comprehensive websites www.patshahi10.org and www.sridasamgranth.com. Patshahi10.org boasts of its advisory board “consist[ing] of some of the finest and most renowned contemporary scholars of Sikhism: Jodh Singh, Harpal Singh Pannu, Himadri Banerjee, and Harbhajan Singh”, [88] but also says that it is “the most intensive and influential website on the sacred bani of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib”, which is “committed towards disseminating constructive understanding of this sacred book of the Sikhs”, and has published “[a]rticles and writings of some of the most prominent contemporary Sikh scholars, thinkers, academicians, and leaders” [89] on the Dasam Granth. The site has published articles in English from Sikh scholars as prominent as the following:

  • Dr Trilochan Singh, who has written a four part series on The History and Compilation of the Dasam Granth.
  • Prof Piara Singh Padam accepts the entire contents of the Dasam Granth and states that the “Dasam Granth Sahib is a collection of various writings of the Dasam Guru which was compiled after his ‘jyoti-jot’ with the motivation and instructions of Mata Sundar Kaur Ji”. [90]
  • An entry from Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha who affirms: “Bhai Mani Singh ji discharged his duty very efficiently and during his tenure compiled different books including volumes of Sri Guru Granth Sahiband a volume containing writings of Guru Gobind Singh ji. He took a lot pain to collect writing from poets and devout Sikhs and prepared A Granth of the Tenth Master, known as Dasvin Patshahi ka Granth.” [91]
  • Giani Sant Singh Maskeen, who again accepts the entirety of the Granth, criticises the “nindaks [slanderers] of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji” that go so far as to reject The Significance of Charitaropakhyan. [92]

[1] Fn.15: Shields (2001: 137).
[2] Fn. 16: Galambush (1992: 102). Cf. Gowan (1985: 66), Exum (1996: 108), Block (1997: 466), J. B. Taylor (1969: 133), Halperin (1993: 146).
[3] Fn. 17: Darr (1992b: 105). Cf. Klein (1988: 82). Blenkinsopp (1990: 78) speaks of the ‘painful and embarrassing… often disgusting detail’.
[4] Fn. 18: Van Dijk-Hemmes (1993) focuses on Ezekiel 23, drawing on Setel (1985) to argue that the ‘preservation of male domination through a denial, or misnaming, of female experience’ evident throughout Ezekiel 23 is pornographic (pp. 170-1). Cf. Brenner (1996), Galambush (1992:104-5 nn. 39, 40, 42, 44, 45), Exum (1996), Baumann (2001: 91), Tarlin (1997: 175), Tornkvist (1998: 18), L. Day (2000: 205), Satlow (2000: 15), Yee (2003: 111).
[5] S. M-M (2008), Sexual and Marital Metaphors in Hosea, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel, (Oxford University Press), p. 161.
[6] A. Deedat (1999), The Choice – Islam and Christianity, Vol. Two, (IPCI Islamic Vision, UK), p. 129.
[7] Pornography and Censorship, (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; accessed: Feb 24, 2014).
[8] A. Deedat (1986), Is the Bible God’s Word – A. Deedat vs. J. Swaggart, (Audio debate at Louisiana State University).
[9] S. M-M, op. cit., p. 165.
[10] In Islam, one of the divine names of Allah is at-Tayyib. In an authentic tradition related by Muslim, Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Indeed, Allah is Good (Tayyib) and He only accepts that which is good. (Sahih Muslim, 2343)

Thus at-Tayyib means: the One who is far removed from every kind of imperfection and deficiency. Hence, given that He has forbidden lewd and inappropriate speech for His servants, it stands to reason that Allah, the one who is most good – glorified is He above all forms of imperfection, would not utilise the debased methodology attributed to Him in the Bible by the Jews and Christians.
[11] Another divine name of Allah is al-Quddoos. In this respect, ‘A’ishah narrated that while bowing and prostrating, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would pronounce:

Subboohun (perfect, free of any imperfection) (You are); Quddoosun (pure, Perfect, Holy) (You are); Rabbul-malaa’ikati war-rooh (Lord of the angels and the spirit). (Sahih Muslim, 487)

Hence, Allah is the Pure and Perfect; the Pure and Exalted One who is high above every impurity; and the One declared free of all deficiencies and imperfections.
[12] R. Rinehart (2011), Debating the Dasam Granth, (Oxford University Press), p. 5.
[13] J.S. Grewal (2011), Recent Debates in Sikh Studies – An Assessment, (Manhor Publishers & Distributors), pp. 243, 251.
[14] S.K. Singh (1993), Sikhism: An Oecumenical Religion, (Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh), p.194.
[15] G.S. Mann, K. Singh (2011), Sri Dasam Granth Sahib – Questions & Answers, (Archimedes Press, London), p. 66.
[16] As far as the translations are concerned, then we have made recourse to a variety of renditions in the hope of presenting an overall understanding of the text that is as close to the original meaning as possible. To this end, we have used the following sources:

  • Jodh Singh’s Sri Dasam Granth Sahib – Text and Translation.
  • The website Search Gurbani, which has a partial translation by Surinder Singh Kohli.
  • Pritpal Singh Bindra’s Chritro Pakhyaan – Tales of Male-Female Tricky Deceptions from Sri Dasam Granth.
  • Hardiljeet Singh Sidhu’s (Lalli) and Anupriya Sidhu’s www.sridasamgranthsahibji.com online translation.
    N.B. – This website was down at the time of publication. We, therefore, made use of Google Cache and referenced this as an alternate link to the original.
  • Sukhbir Singh Kapoor and Mohinder Kaur Kapoor’s Dasam Granth – An Introductory Study.

[17] P.S. Bindra (2002), Chritro Pakhyaan – Tales of Male-Female Tricky Deceptions from Sri Dasam Granth, Vol 1, (B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh, Amritsar), p. 115.
[18] Ibid., p. 132.
[19] Ibid., pp. 252-3.
[20] Ibid., Vol 2, pp. 587-8.
[21] N.B. – Prof Piara Singh Padam translates this highlighted portion as:

By mating with a woman and licking her saliva, he claims to receive pleasures.
– P.S. Padam, Authenticity of Dasam Granth Sahib, (Patshahi.org, accessed: Jan 16, 2014).

[22] P.S. Bindra, op. cit., Vol 1, p. 157.
[23] Ibid., Vol 2, pp. 754-5.
[24] S.S. Kapoor, M.K. Kapoor (2009), Dasam Granth – An Introductory Study, (Hemkunt Publishers Ltd., New Delhi), p. 67.
[25] S.G. Frayser, T.J. Whitby (1995), Studies in Human Sexuality: A Selected Guide, (Libraries Unlimited, Inc.), p. 144.
[26] (Ed) G. Brulotte, J. Phillips (2006), Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature, (Routledge), p. 732.
[27] S.R. Charran (2007), Vedic Sexual Code: Enjoy a Complete and Fulfilling Relationship with Your Lover, (AuthorHouse), p. 265.
[28] J. Singh (2006), Sri Dasam Granth Sahib – Text and Translation, Vol. 2, (Sikh Heritage Publications, Patiala), p. 27.
[29] P.S. Bindra, op. cit., Vol 1, pp. 199-200.
[30] J. Singh (2006), op. cit., p. 359.
[31] Ibid., p. 369.
[32] P.S. Bindra, op. cit., p. 138.
[33] P.S. Bindra, op. cit., p. 102.
[34] The text here is: moorakh chot chatakan gane, which should be understood as the Jat counting the rhythmic “strokes” that resulted from the act of copulation between Noor Bibi and her husband!
[35] A. Deedat (1988), The Qur’an or the Bible: Which is God’s Word?, (Audio debate in Birmingham, UK).
[36] P.S. Bindra, op. cit., pp. 139-40.
[37] Ibid., pp. 69-70.
[38] Ibid., pp. 105-6.
[39] Ibid., p. 123.
[40] Ibid., p. 125.
[41] Ibid., p. 133.
[42] Ibid., p. 135.
[43] Ibid., p. 150.
[44] Ibid., p. 172.
[45] S.S. Kapoor, M.K. Kapoor, op. cit., pp. 16, 19.
[46] Ibid., p. 19.
[47] G.S. Mann, K. Singh, op. cit., p. 79:

Taken from Kamalroop Singh’s Dasam Granth re-examined, PhD thesis, University of Birmingham, 2011.

[48] T. Singh (1955), The History and Compilation of the Dasm Granth (Part 4), (The Sikh Review; accessed: Jan 14, 2014, Patshahi10.org).
[49] J. Singh, The Book of the Tenth Guru, (dasamgranth.com; accessed: Feb 14, 2014).
[50] G.S. Mann, K. Singh, op. cit., p. 7.
[51] P.S. Padam, op. cit.
[52] S.S. Kohli, Glory of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, (Search Gurbani; accessed: Feb 26, 2014).
[53] Ibid.
[54] P.S. Padam, op. cit.
[55] S.S. Deol, The Classical Importance of Dasam Granth – Sadhu Singh Deol, (Patshahi.org, accessed: Jan 16, 2014).
[56] G.S. Mann, Dasam Granth – There is no debate, (Patshahi10.org, accessed: Jan 17, 2014).
[57] G.S. Mann, K. Singh, op. cit., p. 69.
[58] T. Singh, op. cit.
[59] G.S. Mann, K. Singh, op. cit., p. 8.
[60] J. Singh, op. cit.
[61] G.S. Mann, op. cit.
[62] G.S. Mann, K. Singh, op. cit.
[63] Ibid., p. 59.
[64] (Eds.) D. Singh, K Singh (1997), Sikhism: Its Philosophy and History, (Institute of Sikh Studies, New Delhi), p. 713.
[65] T. Singh, op. cit.
[66] J. Singh, op. cit.
[67] S.S. Kapoor, M.K. Kapoor, op. cit., pp. 61, 65.
[68] K.S. Nabha, A Brief History of Sri Dasam Granth, (Patshahi10.org, accessed: Feb 14, 2014).
[69] G.S. Mann, op. cit.
[70] R. Rinehart, op. cit., p. 34.
[71] Fn.26: Comfort noted that Kokashastra was used to refer to the Sanskrit text of that name, as a generic term for erotic literature, and for illustrated manuals depicting sexual positions. It seems likely that the many charitras which refer to lovemaking “according to the Kokashastra” are referring to the illustrated manuals rather than the Sanskrit text.
[72] R. Rinehart, op. cit., pp. 147-8.
[73] Majmoo’ al-Fataawaa wa ar-Rasaa’il, 3390.
[74] This principle is implicitly derived from the aforecited tradition:

Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him speak good or else keep silent. (al-Bukhari, Muslim)

Regarding this, Imam an-Nawawi (d. 676/1277) elucidated:

If he wants to speak, then if what he wants to say is good and he is confident that he will be rewarded for it, whether it is obligatory or praiseworthy, then let him speak. But if it does not seem to him that a good thing will result in reward for him, then let him refrain from speaking, whether he thinks it is haram (impermissible), makrooh (disliked), or permissible. Based on this, it is recommended to refrain from saying permissible words and we are enjoined to avoid this lest it lead us towards something that is haram or makrooh, which is what happens in many cases or in most cases. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

‘Not a word does he (or she) utter but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it).’ [50:18]

Al-Imam al-Shafi’i understood the hadeeth (narration) to mean that if a person wants to say something, he should think about it: if it seems to him that it will not do any harm, then he should speak, but if he thinks that it will do some harm or he thinks that this is most likely, then he should refrain from speaking.
– Types of Speech to Refrain from, (IslamQA; accessed: Feb 17, 2014) – with slight modifications.

[75] Ihyaa ‘Uloom al-Deen, 1/162.
[76] G.S. Mansukhani (1993), Introduction to Sikhism, (Hemkunt Press), pp. 75-6.
[77] KAM, (The Sikh Encyclopedia; accessed: Feb 25, 2014).
[78] H.S. Mehboob, Dasam Granth: The Question of Authenticity, (Global Sikh Studies; accessed: Feb 26, 2014), p. 7.
[79] T. Singh, op. cit.
[80] R. Rinehart, op. cit., p. 7.
[81] R. Rinehart, op. cit., p. 146.
[82] Ibid., pp. 120-1.
[83] G.S.S. Maskeen, (trans) P. Singh, The Significance Of Charitaropakhyan – Giani Sant Singh Maskeen, (Patshahi10.org, accessed: Jan 14, 2014).
[84] B.S. Dhillon, A Search into the History of the Text of Dasam Granth Some Excluded Writings, (Global Sikh Studies; accessed: Feb 13, 2014), pp. 20-1.
[85] D. Singh, Dasam Granth – Its History, (Global Sikh Studies; accessed: Feb 13, 2014) p. 2, 4, 7.
[86] J. Singh, Dasam Granth: The Real Issues, (Global Sikh Studies; accessed: Feb 13, 2014) p. 20.
[87] J.S. Grewal, op. cit., pp. 252-3.
[88] Advisory Board, (Patshahi10.org, accessed: Jan 16, 2014).
[89] About, (Patshahi10.org, accessed: Feb 14, 2014).
[90] P.S. Padam, op. cit.
[91] K.S. Nabha, op. cit.
[92] G.S.S. Maskeen, op. cit.

12 comments

  1. Remember Aisha, Mohd. Sahabs youngest wife. What was her age?
    Remember what your religion says about the way you should deal with the enemies wife.. Seriously.. Do some soul searching and as they say apne gireban mein jhanko..before you comment on other peoples Prophets.

    • Similar to the age of Nanak’s wife Sulakhani? Our Prophet (saw) however stayed with ‘A’siha and didn’t leave her or his children for decades to meander across the wilderness.
      As to the enemies wife, then perhaps you’ve forgotten about Guru Gobind Singh’s own wife, the kunwara doli (virgin bride) Sahib Devi who was forced to remain a virgin her whole life!
      Have a read through this article for more details: http://www.islam-sikhism.info/guru-polygamy/

      • Abu Adeeba, the age of Guru Nank ji’s wife was 14 years old and she had her first child at the age of 21. Mohammad married Aisha when she was just 6 and consummated the marriage when she was 9. Don’t even begin to compare Guru Nank ji with Mohammad.
        Mata Shaiba had a spiritual connection with Guru Gobind Singh. Since she had declared to all that she would only marry Guru Gobind Singh, he could not turn her away as nobody else would marry her. He gave her a home and looked after her till the day he left this earth. He also announced her the Mother of all the Khalsa, thus giving her great respect and status amongst the Sikhs. Again no comparison to Mohammad who took to bed every woman he lusted after. NO COMPARISON!

        • What has this got to do with the Dasam Granth?!

          To answer your spurious accusation, we’ll ask you if Sulakhni had reached the age of womanhood when Nanak consummated the marriage? If she had, then the same was also true of ‘A’isha. The difference between the age gap is, therefore, incidental and irrelevant when argued from the point of view of consummation, which is all that matters in this case.

          As for Kunwari Doli (call a spade a spade), then you’re missing the point. How does her vow of only wanting to marry Gobind Singh absolve Gobind Singh’s decision of marrying her and, thus, not fulfilling her marital and physical rights? Who was the Guru here, Gobind Singh or this woman? If it was the former, then how can he allow her to dictate terms that would not only deprive her, but, far more importantly, implicate him while also leaving an evil precedence for all others to potentially follow in the future.

          If he didn’t want to marry her, he should have told her to grow up and find another suitor rather than resort to emotional blackmail and unjust demands.

          At least you’re not disputing the fact that your Guru was polygamous!

  2. What wrong with eroticism? Its a natural and important part of life.

    Your own faith of Islam is not better. Instead of eroticism, the Koran is filled with violence and death. Remind me, what happened to the Banu Qurayza tribe?

    • Is fornication and adultery a natural part of your life?

      How about beastiality; nothing wrong there? Is that also an important part of your life?

      How about Guru Gobind’s who wrote these disgusting stories?

      As for the Qur’an, then it’s filled with justice, and it was justice that was meted out against Banu Quraidha for their act of treachery that led to the death of so many innocent Muslims. You might want to better familiarise yourself with the historical context before drawing premature conclusions.

      • Don’t make me laugh! Have you actually read the Quran? Don’t just spew out what your imams tell you. With the invention of the internet the Quran is not a secret book which only the Muslims are allowed to recite without understanding a word of what they are reading. Read the various translations online. NOT A BOOK OF PEACE AND PURITY

  3. Firstly there is NO hard proof that the Guru actually wrote these aspects at all. Carbon dating is probably the best way. His teaching and followers did not suggest any thing of this nature. Time will tell.

    • TBH, can’t see how carbon dating, a method which itself is controversial in terms of accuracy, is going to change the minds of the majority of traditionalists who believe this to be authored by Gobind Singh on the basis of centuries old tradition.

      • If you can claim and swear to the fact that the Quran, written about 1400 years ago, is the actual word of God, I asure you there is enough evidence to prove that these writings are not Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s which are presumed to have been written a mere 300 years ago. They first appeared about 80 years after his death and they are not in the style of Guruji’s writings. They go against the grain of all the authenticated writings of Guruji. And foremost, one of the greatest spiritual personality, such as Guru Gobind Singh Ji, could never write such filth. If you are really interested, which I assume you are since you have bothered to write on this debate, you should do more research and you will find that these are plagiarised verses are from the Kama Sutra and the Kokkasutras and presented here in order to cause mischief.

        • We’ve done quite a bit of research on this, thank you.
          It’s your job to prove your claims, not state them and expect us to roll over and play dead.
          There are many Sikh scholars, both classical and contemporary, who disagree with your claims.
          Besides, who are you anyway that we ought to take assurances from you? If you have a case, present it, and let’s see if it stands up to scrutiny.

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