MEHARBAN, SODHI (1558 – 1618)
Meharban, Sodhi, original name Manohardas, son of Prithichand, the elder brother of Guru Arjan Dev (the fifth Guru of the Sikhs), wrote poetry as well as prose, but his prominent work is Janam sakhi Guru Nanak Dev (Story of the nativity of Guru Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs). It is said in Bansabalinama by Kesar Singh Chibbar, (published by the Sikh History Department, Khalsa College, Amritsar, 1962), that under the very pseudonym of \’Nanak\’, he composed and made available his poetry as Mahalla-1 (the seventh hierarchical position of the Guru). Sodhi Hariji, his son, also employed prose and poetry as a vehicle of his thought, under the pen-name of Mahalla-8. Both of them borrowed their diction and imagery from the great \’Gurbani\’ (verses of the great Sikh Masters).
They were the forerunners of the sect \’Meharbania\’ (followers of Meharban). Apart from Janam sakhi, Meharban has authored Var piran ki (Epic of the apostles), Sukhmani sansharnama (Ways of the ecstatic pleasures) and Ramkali Onkar vada (The big Ramkali Onkar). A manuscript of the Janam sakhi of a very big size is extant in the Sikh History Research Department, Khalsa College, Amritsar (MS. No. 427). The work has been recently published by it.
The reading of the Janam sakhi text makes it very clear that the original text was an anthology of six books and it contained 575 \’Goshtian\’ (The arguementative dialogues), but now only 288 have come down to us. In the hand-written manuscript No. 3510, Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar, entitled Goshtian Shri Meharbanji kian (The arguementative dialogues of Shri Meharbanji), Hariji, the author tries to raise Sodhi Meharban to the heights of an apostle. In all, this Janam sakhi is a valuable specimen of the seventeenth century prose.
1. Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab, Punjabi sahit da itihas, Vol. I, Patiala, 1963.
2. Ramdev, Jaginder Singh (ed.), Punjabi Likhari Kosh, Jullundur, 1964.
3. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.