Paath Maryada

Dasehra Mahatam Paath Mukhband (Introduction)

After Akaal Purakh created the Earth, it was further divided into 9 continents (as mentioned in Hindu Granths) by its inhabitants. One of these continents came to be known as ‘Bharat Khand’, after the Raja Bharat. This land of Bharat is the birth land of many Saints, sages, and Avtaars (incarnations). For this reason it is also known as ‘Dev Bhoomi’ (the land of the Gods). In the memory of the good that Avtaars, Rishis and Munis had done, the people of Bharat remember their good deeds through different festivals such as Lohri, Holi, Vaisakhi, Divaali etc. One of these festivals with a great significance is ‘Dasehra’. This festival is linked to ‘Bachan de Bali’ (keeper of his word) and ‘Maryada Purshotam’ (the epitome of maryada/practicing what he preached), Sri Ram Chandar, who destroyed the egotistical demon Ravan. Dasehara is therefore the celebration of good triumphing over evil. In the Hindu faith this was celebrated by performing plays of the Ramayan for nine nights, however Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji changed this to 9 nights of reading Bir Ras, Judh Mai Bani (infused with warrior spirit). By changing this festival to one focusing on ‘Shastar’ (weapon) and ‘Shaastar’ (scripture), Guru Sahib instilled ‘Chardi Kala’ and ‘Bir Ras’ (warrior sprit) into his Sikhs. Turning his Sikhs away from watching plays depicting demons such as Ravan, Meghnaad, Kumbhkaran getting defeated, Guru Sahib instead uttered all these feats inspiring warrior spirit in his Bani ‘Raam Avtar’, and instructed Sikhs to read it during the period of Dasehra. After the completion of the Paath, Guru Sahib would take out a ‘Mahalla’ i.e. a procession, consisting of Nishan Sahibs, Battle drums, and Sikhs performing martial arts.

If we look into our ancient history, we see that from Treta Yug (the era in which Sri Ram Chandra lived), all warriors from different denominations of Bharat would celebrate Dasehra as a day of ‘Shastar Pooja’ i.e. a time to pay homage and to worship ones weapons. But as time went on this tradition started to fade. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj revived and cemented this Puratan tradition within the Khalsa Panth. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji made the shastar a paramount part of a Khalsa’s life, praising it in his baani, saying ‘‘ਸੈਫ ਸਰੋਹੀ ਸੈਹਥੀ ਯਹੈ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਪੀਰ||’

‘Shastar’ was made at the beginning of creation. Before creating the world, Nirankaar (the formless God) created the power of destruction (a Shastar weapon is the physical manifestation of this shakti/power of Vaheguru). This is mentioned in Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani and is why Guru Sahib bows down to the ‘Bhagauti’ (sword/form of Vaheguru) and says, ‘ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮ ਭਗਉਤੀ ਸਿਮਰ ਕੈ’ and ਖੰਡਾ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮੈ ਸਾਜ ਕੈ ਜਿਨ ਸਭ ਸੈਸਾਰੁ ਉਪਾਇਆ||’. In his Gurbani, Kalgidhar Patshah has continuously bowed down over and over to the shastar as the form of Vaheguru saying, ‘ਜਿਤੇ ਸਸਤ੍ਰ ਨਾਮੰ|| ਨਮਸਕਾਰ ਤਾਮੰ||’

The Dasehra festival that Guru Sahib reinstated, the Khalsa Panth continued. Since the time of Dasam Patshah, this purab has been being celebrated with great festivity at Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib, with Nagar Kirtans and Shastar Abhyaas. In our history it is recorded that when the 10-day Jaap of Beer Rassi (warrior spirit) Dasam Gurbani would commence, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji would take part in the Arambh Ardaas and listen to the Gurbani Jaap for many hours. On the 10th day (the day of completion), after the bhog of the Jaap had taken place, Sher-e-Panjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji would sit on an elephant and head a great procession in the celebration of Dasehra. On the right hand side of Maharaja Ji was Akali Phoola Singh Ji (the head of the Budha Dal) and on the left hand side the General of the Khalsa Army, Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa. Behind them was the 2200 mounted horsemen known as the Akaal Regiment (they were named in the memory of Sri Guru Har Rai Ji who kept many horsemen in his army tyar bar tyar). The procession would end in an open ground where the warriors of the Khalsa Panth would show their skills on horseback and with weapons. Shere-e-Panjab would give rewards to the most skilled and give openly to the poor.

The Maryada that was blessed to the Khalsa by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, is being followed till this day at asthaans such as Takhat Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib and in Puratan Sampardas. This maryada is not 50 or 100 years old, this is carrying on from the time of Dasam Patshah Ji. According to this very maryada, on the first day of Navraatreh in the month of Assu (September/October) the Khalsa Panth around the world, and in particular the Nihang Singhs and Singhs at Sri Hazur Sahib do arambh of the Dasehra Mahatam Paath in all the Bungas and Gurdwara Sahibs. The Paath is commenced after Sohila Sahib Baani at Takhat Sahib, from a handwritten Saroop of Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji. This Paath is completed on the tenth day, but on the tenth day it is completed at Amrit Vela rather then evening. For the ease of the Khalsa Panth, Budha Dal, and later Sri Hazur Sahib printed all the Baani read during Dasehra into one volume.

On The First 9 Days The Following Banis Are Read:

1. Jaap Sahib
2. Selections from Akaal Ustat
3. Selections from Bachittar Natak
4. Chandi Charitar Ukati Bilaas
5. Chandi Charitar Doosra
6. Chandi Di Vaar
7. Selections from Giaan Parbodh
8. Selections from Chaubis Avtar (selections from Ram Avtar, Krishna Avtar, Nihkalanki Avtar, Parasnath Rudra Avtar)
9. Shabad Hazare Patshahi 10
10. Batee Swayieh
11. Khalsa Mehima
12. Shastar Naam Mala (Adhyae 1)
13. Selections from Pakhyan Charitar

(Adhyae 1 and Chaupai Sahib)

On the 9th Day the following Banis are read at Amritvela:
1. Jaap Sahib
2. Raam Avtar (Complete)
3. Chaupai Sahib (starting from Mahakaal Ki Saran)