- Category: Bhai Gurdas and the early Sikh literature
ADI SAKHIAN (adi = first; sakhian, plural of sakhi = anecdotes, stories, discourses, parables) is one of the early compilations but not the first of the extant janam sakhi traditions to evolve. The manuscript, dated 1758 Bk/ AD 1701, and copied by Shambhu Nath Brahman was first located by Dr Mohan Singh Diwana. While teaching at Panjab University, Lahore, prior to the partition of India in 1947, Mohan Singh Diwana discovered in the University`s library a janam sakhi manuscript which differed from other extant Janam sakhis and bore an earlier date. Dr Diwana believed it to be a version of the earliest of all janam sakhi traditions and bestowed on it the name Adi Sakhian.
Since then four more copies of the manuscript have been located on the Indian side of the border by Professor Piar Singh who published in 1969 a text based on the manuscript held in the library of Motibagh Palace, Patiala, and supplemented by the manuscript in the Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar. This text was issued under the title Shambhu Nath Vali Janam Patri Babe Nanak Ji Ki Prasidh Nan Adi Sakhian. The fact that the two earliest of the dated manuscripts were both completed in AD 1701 obviously implies that it is a work of the seventeenth century. It is, however, most unlikely that the tradition in its extant form would have evolved earlier than the mid seventeenth century.
This conclusion is indicated by such marks of maturity as a multiplicity of sources and a coherent ordering of its various anecdotes. Two principal sources were evidently used by the first compiler of the Adi Sakhian. One of these provides a link with the Puratan tradition, particularly with the manuscript available in the Languages Department, Patiala. The other appears to have been a manuscript, no longer extant, which was later to be used by the compiler of the B40 Janamsakhi. Four anecdotes have also been taken from the Miharban source (sakhis 26, 27, 28a and 28b), thus introducing the gosti form into the janam sakhi.
Essentially, however, the Adi Sakhian is a collection of narrative sakhis and it seems clear that its first recension was exclusively narrative in content. The gosts (discourses) borrowed from the Miharban tradition appear to be a later supplement to an original compilation. Although the Adi Sakhian shares an important source with the Puratan tradition it lacks the characteristic Puratan division of Guru Nanak`s travels into four separate journeys known as four Udasis.
Almost all the travel anecdotes utilized by the Adi Sakhian compiler are drawn from his second major source, i.e. the manuscript shared with the B40 compiler, and most of them are presented as a single journey (sakhis 816). The only exception to this pattern is the story of Guru Nanak`s visit to Raja Sivanabh (sakhi 21B). This also derives from his second source, but appears in the Adi Sakhian chronology as an isolated journey, solely concerned with Raja Sivanabh. In addition to these two journeys beyond the Punjab, the manuscript also incorporates sakhis describing Guru Nanak`s visit to Pak Pattan, Saidpur, and Achal (sakhis 17, 18,19 and 23).
Towards its conclusion (sakhis 2930) an element of confusion becomes evident and the identity of the sources used for this portion is unclear. The compiler`s usual care is relaxed, possibly because of a hasty concern to terminate the work or perhaps because the concluding portion is the work of a later, less competent contributor. The result is a somewhat garbled account of the death of Guru Nanak. It is, however, an interesting account in that it draws heavily on the Miharban tradition which was also used in the later stages of the BalaJanam Sakhi development.
1. Kirpal Singh, Janam Sakhi Prampara. Patiala, 1969
2. Piar Singh, ed., Shambhu Nath ValiJanam Pat" Babe Nanak Ji Ki Prasidh Nan Adi Sakhian. Patiala, 1969
3. McLeod,W.H.,Early SikhTradition. Oxford, 1980