The history and translation is provided by Dr. Trilochan Singh Ji, a prominent Sikh historian.
After the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh the Punjab was in a very unsettled condition. Around 1714 Mata Sundri asked Bhai Mani Singh to take the religious leadership of the Sikh Panth in his own hands with Amritsar as his headquarters. He was also instructed to compile the works of Guru Gobind Singh into a collected volume. The following letter from Bhai Mani Singh written in April 1714 shows the appalling conditions of the time and the missionary zeal of the great saint-scholar. In the light of this letter the statement of the eminent historian Gyani Gyan Singh that Bhai Mani Singh was living with barely five or six Sikhs at Amritsar is not unbelievable. Bhai Mani Singh managed to live during these aweful times because of his profound influence on both the Muslims and Hindus;
(Translation of the letter; the photostat of the original given opposite page 57.)
“The One prevaileth everywhere. May the Immortal be our saviour. Most revered divine mother, Mani Singh makes obeisance at thy feet. News further is that on coming here my body has been suffering from acute wind-ailment and my health has been deteriorating. I meditated on the songs of healing thrice. But there has been no slackness in the service of the Golden Temple. The Khalsa has lost its hold in the Punjab and the Sikhs are retreating to the forests and mountains. The whole of the Punjab is under the sway of the despots. Even in the villages the life of the young men and women is not safe. They are hunted and killed mercilessly. The enemies of the Guru have joined hands with them. The handaliyas (followers of an impostor guru) are spying on the Sikhs and are betraying them to the enemies.Almost everyone has left Amritsar. The clerks and accountants have fled. So far the Almighty has protected me. 1 cannot say what may happen tomorrow. The Master’s words will come to pass. Binod Singh’s grandson has passed away. Among the books I sent there is a volume of 303 Triya Charitar Upakhyan written by the master. Please give that volume to Sihan Singh who lives in the interior of the city. So far I have not been able to trace Shastra Nam Mala Puran. I have found the first part of Krishna Avtar but not the second part. If I get it I will send it. There is a rumour here that Banda has made good his escape. May the Lord protect him. Guru Angad’s family at Khadur has sent five tolas of old for your adopted son’s bride. Please recover seventeen rupees from Jhanda Singh. I gave him five rupees to meet the expenses of the journey. He has some bad habits and he will squander the money. The accountants have not as yet given me the accounts, otherwise I would have sent a hundi from the big city (Lahore). If my health improves I shall come some time in October or November.
Sd/ Mani Singh
Please reply in the bamboo stick.”
The letter reveals the following facts:
- Such secular works as Krishna Avtar, Triya Charitar and Shastar Nam Mala Puran were written by Guru Gobind Singh and not by any other poet.
- The Sikh historians are mistaken when they believe that Bhai Mani Singh took charge of the Golden Temple in 1722. This letter, written five months after Baba Banda’s arrest and two months before his execution, shows that Bhai Mani Singh was there much earlier, probably in 1713 or 1714.
- Finding the Akal Ustat incomplete, Mr. Macauliffe said that “there is an obvious defect in the arrangement of the composition.” There is, as a matter of fact, no defect. Mr. Macauliffe did not know the works were collected after strenuous efforts and more than what is there was not available until then.
- Bhai Mani Singh completed the compilation in 1734, four years before he himself became a victim of the Moghul tyranny and his body was cut joint by joint.