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The British had a role in shortening Kabiyo Bach Benti Choupai (Chaupai Sahib) during their rule over India known as the "British Raj." They dispatched a scout to Punjab to assess the number of troops required to conquer the region. The scout returned with the information that it would take all British forces in India to defeat Punjab due to the exceptional bravery of the Sikhs. Despite being Christians, the British entertained the idea that the Sikhs drew power from their Banis, considering the inexplicable defeats they had suffered in the past. It was believed that reciting Choupai Sahib made one invincible, as it was a Bani used to conquer enemies, whetherphysical enemies  as in the Guru's era or internal struggles against personal vices.

The British employed cunning tactics to indirectly subdue the Sikhs instead of direct conquest. They infiltrated Sikh leadership and compromised the daily recitation of the 5 Banis. They specifically targeted Choupai Sahib and removed the last 2 pauris, asserting that they were optional. Modern Sikh leaders and intellectuals justify this alteration by claiming that Sikhs no longer have the time to recite as many Banis as they once did. Another argument is that since Chaupai Sahib is repeated in the Sri Dasam Granth, they had to stop somewhere. However, these arguments are misleading because they involve cutting out a continuous portion of the Bani.

Both arguments lack validity, considering that the last 2 pauris comprise only 4 lines and can be recited in about 15 seconds by a familiar practitioner. In fact, the exclusion of the last 2 pauris is a recent development and was never practised historically.

British infiltrating the Sikh leadership 
Nowadays, it is challenging to find a Gutka (a compilation of Sikh scriptures) containing the entire Chaupai Sahib, and many Sikhs are unaware that there are 27 pauris in it. The only Gutkas that include the complete Chaupai Sahib are printed by independent groups like Nihangs and Taksals. Under the leadership of the late Baba Santa Singh, printing presses were established to produce "Nihang Gutkas," which consist of the same Banis (prayers) traditionally practised by the Nihangs. The Taksals' responsibility is to preserve the correct pronunciation and practice of the Banis, and they print Nitnems (daily prayers) containing the entire Chaupai Sahib. Despite facing extinction, the Nihangs never compromised with the British, and the Taksals have maintained the authentic way of reciting the Banis since the time of the Gurus.

The British employed a strategy of "Divide and Rule," which went beyond shortening the Chaupai Sahib. Between 1922 and 1926, the British established a puppet management committee with the intention of eradicating Sikh traditions. During this time:

(1) Mul Mantar was shortened to exclude 'Ad Sach, Jugad Sach...'. The Mul Mantar until "Gur Prasad' is known as the Maha Mantar .The Mul Mantar always concludes with 'Nanak Hosi Bhi Sach,' representing what God said to Guru Nanak,and the following salok after Jap represents Guru Nanak's response.

(2) The inclusion of Raag Mala in Gutkas was debated and made optional.

(3) Chaupai Sahib was shortened.

(4) The "choti Anand Sahib" was altered. The first 5 pauris of Anand Sahib were included in Bhai Daya Singh's rehit nama (code of conduct) for making Karah Prasad, but not the 6th. There is no reference indicating that the last pauri should be recited immediately after the first couple, as if assuming the entire Bani was completed. However, this has become a common practice. In the rehet (code of conduct), it is an abbreviation rather than a rearrangement.

Nowadays, we can find "Nitnems" that do not contain the complete Anand Sahib at all. Instead, they only include the first 5 and the 40th pauris of Anand Sahib. The intention is to read only the first 5 and the 40th verses of Anand Sahib, considering it as complete, leading to the entire Bani being disregarded and taken out of practice entirely.

Eliminating Sri Dasam Granth 

The British took deliberate actions to eliminate the Sri Dasam Granth and its associated prayers, such as Jaap Sahib, Tav Prasad Savaiye, Choupai Sahib (three of the five prayers recited during the Amrit ceremony), and Ardas. They also prohibited the wearing of the Kirpan, prompting Sikhs to hide a symbolic Kirpan within their split Kangas. Additionally, the British sought to diminish the prominence of Bana, as they did not want Sikhs to maintain a strong identity.

The Nihang Singhs, identifiable by their distinctive Bana and round turbans (gol dastara), were particularly targeted by the British as they were seen as a potential threat due to their inclination to resist. British officers would apprehend anyone wearing Bana or a round turban and take them into custody. The British systematically persecuted the Nihang Singhs, resulting in the decimation of their numbers to only 500. This severe oppression nearly eradicated this sect of Sikhism, known for embodying the warrior spirit.

Prior to British rule, the Sri Dasam Granth used to be alongside the Siri Guru Granth Sahib in many Gurdwaras. However, its presence is now predominantly observed in Nihang villages and online, often sparking debates about its authenticity. It is surprising that certain British restrictions continue to persist today, such as the prohibition of the "jakara" (warrior yell) after the Ardas in the Sri Harimandir Sahib. While volunteers in other areas of the complex are not prohibited from performing the jakara, its omission in the main temple management highlights the enduring impact of British influence.

Over time, the martial aspects of Sikhism have become primarily symbolic, as the overall objective of the British was to transform Sikhism into a strictly devotional (Bakti) religion, suppressing the power/devotion (Shakti/Bakti) balance it historically embodied. By compromising the Bir Ras (warrior spirit) prayers, eroding the Sikh identity, and reducing martial elements to symbolism, the British effectively exerted control over Sikhism. Subsequently, they employed bribery, intimidation, and manipulation of Sikh leaders to establish a new, "modern Sikhism."

Cutting off portions in Guru Granth Sahib
Teja Singh Bhasauria was an employee of the British Government who received a school and funding from the British. The main objective was to support both the school and a printing press. However, he had intentions to modify the Gurbani as instructed by his British employers and to incorporate his own ideas that were against Hinduism or any association with Hindu practices in Gurbani. This historical fact has been documented by Prof Sahib Singh, as well as by the issuance of a Hukamnama that excommunicated him from the Akal Takht.

One of Teja Singh's associates, Giani Kartar Singh Kalaswalia, served as the head Granthi of Sri Harimandir Sahib. During his tenure, the Chaupai and Dohira were removed. Ran Singh, the son of Teja Singh wrote the Dasam Granth Nirney in 1919. Therein, he claimed that another Bani (prayer) began after the 25th pauri (verse) - Dustt dokh tay layho bachaaee. However, this claim is false. This is the earliest reference to the short version of Chaupai Sahib, as prior to this, no evidence of anything other than the full Chaupai Sahib has been found.

[Editor's note: Yes. You read that correctly. The same person who introduced the cut Chaupai Sahib... was excommunicated by the Akal Takht... and yet the majority of us use his cut version today!]

One significant aspect of this historical account is that, for the first time in Sikh history, the integrity of the Banis (prayers) was compromised. Until the British Raj, Sikhs had sacrificed their lives to preserve every word of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and the Siri Dasam Granth. Presently, there are various issues within the Sikh community, including a lack of leadership, terrorism backlash, and challenges related to women's seva (service). Despite these issues, Sikhs have always been able to rely on the Shabad Guru (divine word) knowing that it remained unchanged from how the Gurus themselves had written it with their own hands. However, the alteration of Chaupai Sahib stands out as an exception. Every Sikh acknowledges the importance of preserving the Shabad Guru. 

Guru Har Rai, known for his gentleness, disowned his own son for changing even a single word of the Adi Granth. Now, two complete pauris (verses) have been excluded from Sikh daily practice. Many Sikhs express concerns that the overall Panth (community) is not united, Sikh leaders are corrupt, Sikh youth are disconnecting from their roots, and so on. This could be attributed to the compromise of fundamental practices. Bana (external appearance), Bani (sacred writings), Simran (meditation), Seva (selfless service), and Shastar (weapons) were bestowed by Guru Gobind Singh to empower Sikhs and uphold their spirit against all odds. However, Bana is largely neglected today, and Bani has been shortened.

Rearranging Rehiras Sahib 

It is important to clarify that we are discussing the removal of specific sections from a continuous Bani, rather than the rearrangement of different sections within Banis. Let's compare this to Rehiras Sahib. Rehiras Sahib has been rearranged over time, depending on which group is promoting which version. Some Nihang versions are longer than others, but no version ends before the final pauri of So Purakh. Tav Prasad Savaiye has 10 pauris and Anand Sahib has 40 pauris. Removing the last 2 pauris of Chaupai Sahib can be likened to removing the last 2 pauris of Japji Sahib, stopping at the 36th pauri instead of reading the full 38 and then reciting the Slok.  It is difficult to justify such amendments to Guru Gobind Singh's 5 Banis even in the modern times. 

The common practice is to jump from the 25th pauri to the Savaiye. Based on historical observations, we know to read up to the 27th pauri. What comes after that? Different groups have different practices regarding Chaupai Sahib. Some versions include a substantial portion of Sri Dasam Granth that follows Chaupai as it is written. For the average practitioner, several Babas have made it clear that the Arril must be read. Additionally, it is customary to recite the Savaiye and Dohra to complete the Bani. Savaiye and Dohra are complete titles compiled into Chaupai from another part of Sri Dasam Granth. This is similar to Rehiras, where Shabads from different parts of the Siri Guru Granth are brought together to form the Rehiras. It's important to note that we are not selectively choosing parts of a complete section. The complete sections of Chaupai Sahib are as follows:

1) Kabiyo Bach Benti Chaupai

2) Arril and Chaupai (which follows Benti Chaupai as written in the Sri Dasam Granth. These short stanzas act as a conclusion to this Bani before the Zafarnama)

3) Savaiye and Dohra (compiled from an earlier section of Sri Dasam Granth)

[Editor's Note: What you've just read is what is called "short Chaupai Sahib" even though it is 15 seconds longer than the commonly practiced modern invention of the "cut Chaupai Sahib". Whereas some groups have additional sections after the short version which would be called the "long version" and especially Nihangs have yet more verses added making an "extra long version".]

Some modern-day Sikhs question the Sri Dasam Granth due to its numerous references to Hindu mythology. This is surprising because the Siri Guru Granth Sahib also contains similar references. However, they wonder why the Dasam Granth was discontinued after the 25th "pauri" (verse) and not any other point. One possible reason is that the 26th pauri mentions 'Jag Mata' (Mother of the World), which could be misunderstood as the worship of a Hindu goddess. In reality, Guru Ji uses the analogy of a mother as one of the many aspects of God. At the end of Japji Sahib, Guruji refers to 'Mata Dharat' - the Mother of the World. In this instance, the Guru chose to represent God through the feminine creative aspect.

It is believed that the beginning and end of any composition hold the most power. The last two pauris of Chaupai Sahib are particularly potent. The first 25 pauris seek God's blessings, while the final two affirm the ownership of those blessings. In the last line, Guru Gobind Singh guarantees the reader:

"Man ba(n)chhat phal pavai soee. Dukh na tisai biaapat koee." (27)

(He who reads or listens to this book) will obtain the desired fruit of the mind, and no suffering shall befall him. (27)

Let us accept the Guru's blessings by embracing the significance of the last two pauris and experiencing the power they bestow.


*Based on an article published in chaupaisahib.com on 5th November 2008 


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