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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chandi Di Var Song of War By Guru Gobind Singh -1

Chandee Dee Vaar :Introduction
Guru Gobind Singh was a great warrior, saint and poet. He
was in all senses, the ideal man. Guru Ji wrote on a number
of secular and non-secular issues, all which were collected
upon the instance of Mata Sundaree Ji by Bhai Manee Singh
Ji. The collection of the various hymns took place
approximately two decades after Guru Gobind Singh’s
passing. Guru Ji, in his writings, wrote about his beloved
Lord’s glory and also completed many academic works.
Compositions such as Krishan Avtaar and Chaubis Avtaar
were more academic. These translations were performed so
that lay people could have access to these previously
exclusive Hindu texts: not because Guru Ji wished them to be
a spiritual guide for his Sikhs. Gyanee Sher Singh explains
the exposition of Hindu mythology in the Dasam Granth as
such, “The Adi Granth contains many allusions and
references which, before Guru Gobind Singh’s work, could
only be learnt from Sanskrit books....The inclusion of such
discussions in the Dasam Granth should not make us think
that the author accepted and thus relapsed into Hinduism...It
is purely an academic interest to have some comparative
insight into the teachings of other faiths” (Sher Singh, 59).
In the beginning of Krishan Avtaar, Guru Ji writes that he had
composed over a thousand verses at Anandpur, before
leaving for Paonta. According to Trilochan Singh, Guru Ji
completed Jaap Sahib between the ages of 16 and 18.
Trilochan Singh is correct in saying that, “[t]he Dasam Granth
is not one book, and the whole of it is not a religious scripture
and should not be treated as such. It is a compilation of
philosophical, historical and other secular writings of Guru
Gobind Singh compiled in one volume by farsighted
contemporary apostles of the Master...”
C^DI dI vAr (Chandee Dee Vaar) is a composition of Guru
Gobind Singh which describes the war between the goddess
Durga and the demons. Chandee Dee Vaar is based upon the
Markanday Ka Puraan (a Hindu text). Guru Gobind Singh
wrote three separate compositions based upon this story, each
in a different language. Chandee Chritra 1, Chandee Chritra
2 and Chandee Dee Vaar. Chandee Dee Vaar is the shortest
of the three and the only one in Punjabi.
Guru Gobind Singh sets the scene in Chandee Dee Vaar by
describing how Akaal Purakh (God) first created nature and
the gods and then to crush to pride of the gods, how the
demons were created. The demons are able to conquer
Indarpuree or heaven which is the domain of the gods. The
gods then approach Durga, the wife of Shiva the destroyer to
help them win back their kingdom. Durga takes on two
forms, the kind and beautiful Parvatee who is beneficent and
the goddess of blessings and that of Durga. Durga or
Bhavanee, Chandee etc., takes on a horrifying appearance,
and has a different weapon in her eight hands. Durga agrees
to aid the gods in their struggle.
The effect of Chandee Dee Vaar on the Sikhs’ beliefs is
disputed. While some may argue that it was a great
composition of Guru Gobind Singh, but one amongst many
others, and had no real effect, others suggest it reshaped the
Sikhs’ views on God. Harjot Oberoi, a controversial scholar
of Sikhism, believes the implications of Chandee Dee Vaar
are immense. He posits: “In early Sikh tradition God was
almost exclusively conceived in masculine terms (Akal
Purakh, Karta Purakh) and metaphors (the devotee as a bride
yearning for God the bridegroom). The goddess myths in the
Dasam Granth transpose the early tradition and add a new
maternal dimension to the Sikh understanding of Ultimate
Reality.” (Oberoi, 97).
The use of the term Bhagautee leads to discussions on this
choice as a name for the All Mighty and what is implied by it.
Bhai Gurdas first used the word “Bhagautee” in reference to
the sword: “Naau bhagautee lohu gharayaa.” This is
translated: iron (a lowly metal) when properly wrought
becomes a (powerful) sword (Neki, Singh, 319). In Sri Guru
Granth Sahib, the word Bhagautee is also used as the name
of a devotee of God. If it were to be argued that Bhagautee
was used as a reference and in devotion of Durga, the second
Pourhee of Chandee Dee Vaar provides ample rebuttal.
Guru Gobind Singh writes “Taihee Durgaa saajkai daitaa(n)
daa naas karaayaa.” This is translated, You (God), created
Durga and through her you destroyed the demons. This
obviously shows that Guru Gobind Singh did not hold Durga
as the creator or as the Supreme Being. So the next question
is why Guru Ji used the sword to symbolise God. The sword
is the “symbol of Transcendental Knowledge, the
brahamajnana, which destroys the illusion of temporalia...”
(Kapur Singh, 107). The sword is also the symbol of justice,
truth and all prevailing power; all divine powers and virtues.
Therefore, the use of the sword (Bhagautee) is a suitable
name for God.
Chandee Dee Vaar has slowly become less and less read
over the years. It is said that the Khalsa Dal and Singhs of
yore were great devotees of this composition due to its “beer
ras” or power to incite the warrior spirit in the individual. For
this same reason, Sikh soldiers in the British army recited this
composition as a daily exercise. Unfortunately, Chandee Dee
Vaar has become somewhat obscured and forgotten. Today,
rarely is it recited outside of select circles i.e. Nihangs, etc.
Many may clam that Chandee Dee Vaar is a Hindu myth and
to this statement I will say yes, it is based upon Hindu
characters and Hindu mythology. However, Guru Gobind
4
Singh did not intend for this to be read as support of these
Hindu myths. It was written to highlight acts of extreme
daring and bravery on the battlefield and to show a battle
between the forces of good and evil. Let us read this
composition as a part of Sikh history and also remember it as
an example of the great poetic prowess of Guru Gobind
Singh.