Category: Eighteenth century Literature
MAHIMA PRAKASH, known as Mahima Prakash Vartak (prose) to distinguish it from another work, in verse, bearing the same title, Sarup Das Bhalla's Mahima Prakash, is an unpublished manuscript containing anecdotes from the lives of the Gurus. The manuscript, copies of which are now available in the Khalsa College at Amritsar, Languages Department of Punjab at Patiala and Bhai Vir Singh's collection at Dehra Dun, was first discovered by Akali Kaur Singh (1886-1953). None of the manuscripts bears the name of its author, nor the date of its compilation, though it is commonly believed to be the work of Bava Kripal Das (or Singh) Bhalla written in 1798 Bk/AD 1741.
Mahima Prakash Vartak contains in all 164 sakhis or anecdotes dealing with the Gurus as follows: Guru Nanak, 20; Guru Arigad, 10; Guru Amar Das, 27; Guru Ram Das, 7; Guru Arjan, 15; Guru Hargobind, 20; Guru Har Rai, 17; Guru Har Krishan, 1; Guru Tegh Bahadur, 4; and Guru Gobind Singh, 43. With respect to Guru Nanak the work follows in the main the older janam sakhis such as the Puratan. For example, like the Puratan Janam Sakhi, it places the birth of Guru Nanak in the month of Baisakh and like the Puratan, it does not mention the name of Bhai Bala.The structure of the work is episodic. Each sakhi is independent in itself and has its own motif.
Some of the stories are didactical, some interpret gurbani in the style of Miharban Janam Sakhi, while some others deal with historical events. Mahima Prakash Vartak, is the earliest known work dealing with the lives of all the ten Gurus. Its influence is traceable in at least two other accounts, both written in the 18th century Seva Das Udasi's Parchian (1741) and Sarup Das Bhalla's Mahima Prakash (1776). Some of their stories are apparently drawn from this source.
1. Trumpp, Ernest, The Adi Granth. London, 1877
2. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs. Calcutta, 1950
3. Seva Das, Parchian. Patiala, 1963
4. Guru Amar Das Srut Pustak. Amritsar, 1986