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Manuscripts, History and the Guru Granth Sahib.

Lecture by Sikh Historian, Gurinder Singh Mann


New Walk Museum, Leicester
November 2008.

The New Walk Museum, Leicester as part of the three hundred year celebrations is facilitating a
number of lectures focusing on the Guru Granth Sahib. The Museum is the only one in the
country (UK) which has dedicated a Sikh exhibition to commemorate this auspicious occasion.
The second in the series of these lectures was undertaken on Tuesday 4 November 2008.

In the second part of the lecture series at Leicester Museum, Gurinder Singh Mann, Sikh
historian from Leicester, UK presented a historical account of how the Granth Sahib was given
the Guruship or Gurta-gadi.

The Sikh historian from the UK had already displayed his intellectual and literary credentials
at the International Seminar Series on the Sri Dasam Granth in Sacramento, CA, earlier this
year.

The lecture focused on how the manuscript tradition was important in understanding how the
Guru Granth Sahib become the scripture it is now and how the Taksals (lit: mints) at Damdama
and Amritsar were responsible for the propagation of the scripture.

The lecture started with an overview on the religion of Sikhism and this followed by the
introduction of the Ten Gurus, this was important as the lecture was aimed at non Sikhs and
Sikhs alike. This was followed by the historian giving an overview on how the early Gurmukhi
script was developed by showcasing some of the earliest Sikh manuscripts including the Guru
Harshai Pothi and Govindwal pothis. The historian elaborated on the how the Gurmukhi script
had developed in that time period.

Kartapuri Bir

The Kartarpuri bir was elaborated on and the


reasons as to why the Guru Arjun Ji had to
prepare an authorized version of the Sikh
scripture. The manuscript was described in
terms of the pictorial style employed in the
development of the manuscript. The Nishans
of the Guru within it
was a powerful reminder that we are lucky to
have these imprints from the days of the
Gurus.

However the historian was not finished with


respect of the Gurus when he then showed a
collection of manuscripts showcasing other
Nishans of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh. This was continued by showing the
stamp of Takht Damdama Sahib on various manuscripts which shows how the “Guru ki Kashi”
has not been given its literary importance.

The historian has been researching the Sri Dasam Granth for many years and as a result he was
able to give plausible explanations as to what was having in the Durbar of the Tenth Guru. The
work of the poets was also discussed and the promotion of Gurmukhi within the Durbar was
shown by the different types of writing still available today.
The importance of Baba Deep Singh and Bhai Mani Singh in
developing manuscripts of the Guru Granth Sahib gave the Sikhs
the impetus to create more Granths based on the formulae
developed by the Tenth Guru.

Gurinder also elaborated on what sources had explained how


Guruship was given to the Guru Granth Sahib. This included
several 18th century texts including Gurbilas Patshah Dasvin by
Koer Singh and the Rehatnamas.

The range of Guru Granth Sahib manuscripts discussed included


the Kashmiri style manuscripts, miniature sized Guru Granth Sahibs and the handwritten
manuscripts of Baba Deep Singh.

As the key focus was on manuscripts and the fact that Gurinder was able to covey the idea of the
Sikh religion, manuscripts and Gurta gadi to Sikhs and non Sikhs in a simple fashion is a credit to
him.

Gurinder Singh Mann has been working on Sikh manuscripts since 1997 and this detailed and
elaborate lecture shows his determination that Sikh history is maintained and showcased via
lectures, websites and books. He is presently working on several projects within the UK and with
various research teams in the Punjab.

The lecture ended with pictures of the Gurta Gadi celebrations in Nanded.