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WAJAB UL-ARZ

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WAJAB UL-ARZ, lit. a properly petition, is a section of Sikhan di Bhagat Mala, also known as Gursikkhan di Bhagatmal, a manuscript in Punjabi, Gurmukhi script, attributed to Bhai Mani Singh (d. 1737) the martyr, who had received the rites of initiation at the hands of Guru Gobind Singh himself. Three copies of the manuscript were preserved in the Sikh Reference Library at Amritsar under No. 7398, No. 6140 and No. 751 until these perished during operation Blue Star in 1984. The printed version of Sikhan di Bhagat Mala however does not include this section. The Wajab ul-Arz also forms part of Bhagvan Singh's anthology of rahitnamas entitled Bibekbardhi, an unpublished manuscript of which is preserved in the Dr Balbir Singh Sahitya Kendra, Dehra Dun.

The text is meant to be a ten point petition addressed to Guru Gobind Singh by Sikhs who were not formally admitted into the Sikh fold but who otherwise believed in Sikh teachings and precepts. These ten questions relate to the difficulties in observing the new code of conduct prescribed by Guru Gobind Singh for the Khalsa inaugurated on the Baisakhi day of AD 1699. The petitioners requested that the reply should be under the Guru's own signatures so as to preclude any ambiguity later on. In the manuscript, the words "specially signed by the Guru" are added to six out of the ten answers.

Two of the questions, for instance, were : (a) Brahmans used to conduct our marriage ceremonies and the Vedic ritual was followed, but now the Sikhs who have undergone the rites of pahul and who keep their hair unshorn say that we should not call in Brahmans, but should read Anand, along with Lavari. We await your order, O'Guru : (b) 0'True Master ! We used to feed the Brahmans at marriages and on death anniversaries. Now we are required to feed Sikhs alone. Since the replies to the questions tend to allow some laxity to the believer, it has led many to doubt the genuineness of the work.

The name of Bhai Mani Singh seems to have been introduced merely to lend it authenticity. One of the manuscripts (No. 7398) contained additionally an enumeration of the taboos for Sikhs ; also, directions for them to read Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, with devotion and faith, follow truth and righteouSriess, to hold no one in fear and by the same token to fear none. Men of good deeds were to be reckoned of high birth and respected, and those of evil deeds of low caste.

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