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BHAGAT MAL

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BHAGAT MAL, subtitled SakhiBhai Gurdas Ji ki Var Varvfri Sikhan di Bhagatmala, is an anonymous manuscript (Kirpal Singh, A Catalogue of Punjabi and Urdu Manuscripts, attributes it to one Kirpa Ram, though in the work itself no reference to this name exists) held in the Khalsa College, Amritsar, under MS. No. 2300, bound with several other works all of which are written in the same hand. The manuscript comprises 83 folios and is undated. The opening page of the full volume, however, carries the date 1896 Bk/AD 1839 which may be the year of its transcription. Bhagat Mal is a parallel work to the more famous Bhagatmala by Bhai Mani Singh and is, like the latter, meant to be an elaboration of Bhai Gurdas`s eleventh Var, listing the more prominent of the Sikhs of Guru Nanak`s time.

All the 30 stanzas of the Var are reproduced each with explanation under the heading tisda vfchar (explanation of that). First 12 stanzas contain no names: they are devoted to elaborating the theory of Sikhism and the characteristics of an ideal Sikh and his mode of living. From the 13th stanza onward (f. 260), the names of various Sikhs are given. Under "explanation," a question is put forward by a Sikh pertaining to the principles and practices of the Sikh faith such as seva, selfless, voluntary service, charity, control of mind, remembrance of God, home life, lust, and anger.

Occasionally, some questions relate to philosophical issues as well, for instance, whether God is transcendent or immanent. At places incidents from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as well as hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib are quoted to illustrate a point. Some contemporary events from Sikh history such as the construction of the temple and the tank at Amritsar and the compilation of the Adi Granth are also referred to. At folio 325, Bhai Nand Lal is quoted as saying that the Guru bestowed all honour on the Khalsa adding that Sahajdharis were also accepted along with Kesadharis.

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