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GOSTI BABA NANAK

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GOSTI BABA NANAK, lit. the discourses of Baba [Guru] Nanak dictated by Hariji, son of Sodhi Miharban, is an unpublished and incomplete work (MS. No. 2306) preserved in the Sikh History Research Department at the Khalsa College at Amritsar, comprising 235 folios and 23 complete and two, one in the beginning and the other at the end, incomplete gostis.

The gostis contained in this manuscript appear to be remnants of a large volume consisting of 287 gostis presumed to have been lost for ever: the colophon appended to another manuscript (No. 427) available in the same department and since published under the title Janamsdkhi Sri Guru Ndnak Dev Jl states that the six folios (Sach Khand Pothi, Hariji Pothi, Chaturbhuj Pothi, Kesho Rdi Pothi, Abhaipad Potht and Prempad Potht} constituting the work contained 575 gostis whereas only 228 of them, which comprised the first three of these six pothls, have come down to us.None of the gostis included in this manuscript is found among the 228 we are already familiar with.

The colophon places the manuscript in 1707 Bk/AD 1650. Although the name is not mentioned, a likely conjecture is that the scribe was Kesho Das who wrote Hariji Pothi, both of them having been written in the same year and in the same hand. In point of paleography, the formation of its characters resembles Baba Mohan`s pothis. The twoline margin on each side of the page stands drawn without the aid of a ruler; the size of the letters is not uniform nor is there any consistency in the number of lines per page. The ink used is also of inferior quality and lacks brilliance.

The paper is thick, greyish in colour and at places wormeaten. The first nine folios, which contained a good part of the first gosti, are missing, as also folios 145, 146 and all after folio No. 235. The gostis included in this manuscript are exegetical in character and follow the Miharban style: Guru Nanak is shown sitting at his place in Kanarpur, a number of seekers come to him, the usual salutations follow and then questions on matters spiritual are asked which the Guru answers readily, of course, with reference to hymns of his own. The hymns dealt with in the present collection, come from Raga Gauri, Prabhati, Suhl, Maru, Vadharis, Ramkali, Malhar.

Asa. Gujari, Bilaval and Dhanasari, and have been chosen mainly to explain the nature of God, soul and the world, man`s aim in this life, the true path leading to its fulfilment, and the role of a true preceptor. Of unusual interest arc, gostis 12 and 18. The former takes the form of a dialogue between Jaidev and Guru Nanak in which both explain their viewpoints about the Supreme Reality and the way in which union with Him can be achieved. Both rely on their own compositions.

The latter gives the exegesis of one of his own compositions called Aldhnidn (doleful songs, the elegies). Also of special interest are a number of hymns and slokas from the pen of Sodhi Miharban and his son, Hariji. They figure between gostis numbered 17 and 18. One of the hymns by Miharban is in imitation of Bhakta Dhanna`s Arati. Each of the gostis ends with a sloka by Miharban, providing thereby a sort of epilogue to the discourse concerned.

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