PARCHI (plural parchtdn), Punjabized form of the Sanskrit noun parichaya which means introduction, evidence or an anecdote bearing witness to the miraculous powers of a prophet or seer. The term was applied to the form of Punjabi writing developed in the seventeenth century to present the life stories of the Gurus, saints and bhaktas. Even mythical characters such as Dhru and Prahlad were not beyond the purveiw of the genre. The word parchi is sometimes used synonymously with sdkht, but there is a shade of distinction between the two. Whereas sdkhi is a popular coinage denoting the account of an event from the life of a saint or prophet, parchi essentially refers to the form.
The first Parchi that has come down to us relates to Baba Handal (AD 15731648), founder of the Niranjani sect, written in verse by his son, Bidhi Chand. This is an idealized, much exaggerated account of the life of Handal. The next work in this genre is Parchidn Pdtshdhi Das written sometime in the first quarter of the eighteenth century by Seva Das, an Udasi sadhu. Although the main focus of the work, which is in prose, is on the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, it embraces the lives of the nine preceding Gurus as well.
From the same order came Parchi Bhdt Kanhaiyd Ji, Parcht Bhdt Sevd Ram, Parcht Mahd Sundar Sachidr Ki, Parcht Raibd Ji Ki, and Parchidn Bhdt Addan Shah. Each of these works contains episodes relating to the life of the saint it is dedicated to. Events chosen are calculated not so much to delineate the career of the saint as to bring out the spiritual and benevolent nature of the saint. From the Udasi school comes Parchldn Sevd Dds, an eighteenth century work which contains fifty sdkhis or stories from the lives of the Ten Gurus.
1. Kohli, S.S., ed., Puratan PanjdK Vartak. Chandigarh, 1973
2. Bedi, Tarlochan Singh, Panjabt Vartak da Alochanatmak Adhyyan. Delhi, 1972
3. Gurmukh Singh, Sevapanthian di Panjain Sahit nun Den. Patiala, 1986