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Prachin Panth Parkash By Rattan singh bhangu

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:25 am
by Nihang
Rattan Singh Bhangu, the author of Panth Parkash, was the grandson of famous Sikh warrior, Sardar Mehtab Singh Mirankotia, who killed Massa Ranghar in the holy precincts of Golden Temple, to liberate it from the sacrilege created by the marauder. This is considered to be an authentic source of Sikh history after the Guru period pertaining to the most crucial phase of the Sikh struggle during the eighteenth century. The author was persuaded by Captain Murray of the British army to compile the history of Sikh struggle leading to establishment of Khalsa Raj. The author started the work on this project in 1809 and completed it in 1841. It is based on interviews, family history and the information collected by the British and French officers about Punjab. Panth Parkash is basically an oral history text of the Sikh struggle during the 18th Century.

Rattan Singh Bhangu had no training in historiography, and there were no written accounts available regarding Sikh History. So he faced a formidable task to complete his project. The text was written in old Punjabi verse. Bhai Veer Singh, the great Sikh savant, got it printed in Vazier Hind Press, Amritsar in 1914. Balwant Singh Dhillon, the Editor of the present volume has done an excellent job by comparing the old hand-written manuscript of Panth Parkash with printed edition of Bhai Veer Singh. The edited version contains footnotes to explain the discrepancies of the old printed editions and the textual material. Singh Brothers have taken pains to publish and print it in the book form.

Panth Parkash is an epic tale of Sikh struggle. It starts abruptly with the exit of French presence in and around Delhi, the fall of Marhatta empire and the onslaught of the British empire in northern India. British officers were baffled to know the rise of Sikh empire in Punjab, and hence they were keen to explore the Sikh religion and culture. Thus, a dialogue starts between Captain Murray and the author, who was persuaded to write an account of the Sikh struggle.

The author traces the history of Sikh Gurus briefly and explains the need for creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh.He narrates the story of Chandi puja by Guru Gobind Singh to create the Khalsa. On the Baisakhi day of 1699, 5000 Sikhs were baptised into the Khalsa fold. Bhangu gives a vivid picture of the baptised Sikhs, called Nihangs, who were soldiers of the Akal Purakh. They were moving armies of the Khalsa, took ration from the Sikh women and, if need be, looted the village folk and collected the tax.

Panth Parkash is the only source of historical account of Banda and the establishment of Sikh rule in the Punjab. The revolution started with the victories of Banda Singh Bahadur was short-lived, as he lost support of Mata Sundri and a faction of the Sikhs, known as Tat Khalsa. In fact, Sikh historians have not done justice to the role played by Banda in liberating Punjab and creating an egalitarian society based on Sikh principles. It was a nascent Khalsa democracy which could not survive even for a decade. The crucial phase of Sikh struggle leading to the consolidation of power in the form of Sikh confederacies (Misals) in Punjab forms the core of Panth Parkash. The Sikh were fighting against the Mughals, Abdalis and Durranis to liberate Punjab. They left their homes and hearths, and were hiding in the jungles. It was a fight for survival. Golden Temple (Harimandir) was blown up to destroy the Sikh center of inspiration and spiritual power.

It is fascinating to read the sterling role played by Nawab Kapoor Singh Virk and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia in guiding the Sikh affairs. The Sikh holocausts known as Chhota and Vadda Ghalugharas are described by Rattan Singh Bhangu. The internecine quarrels among Sikh confederacies also find some mention. Baghel Singh conquered Delhi and established Sikh gurdwaras. It was a high tide of Sikh power. The author gives a fair account of Marhattas, Rohillas and their association with Sikh Sardars. Most of these conflicts ended in loot, plunder or conspiracies. It was a period when Mughal empire lost its vitality and the British East Indian Company advanced as a sovereign power to establish its rule over India. The role of cis-Satluj Sikh states to checkmate the progress of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and siding with the British does not find a mention. The author has failed to mentioned the current affairs of Khalsa Raj established by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The formation of Phulkia states and the role played by Ala Singh in Sikh affairs, however, do find a mention in Panth Parkash. It will be appropriate if this original source of Sikh history is translated into English.