CHANDI CHARITRA, title of two compositions by Guru Gobind Singh in his Dasam Granth, the Book of the Tenth Master, describing in Braj verse the exploits of goddess Chandi or Durga. One of these compositions is known as Chandi Charitra Ukti Bilas whereas the second has no qualifying extension to its title except in the manuscript of the Dasam Granth preserved in the toshakhana at Takht Sri Harimandar Sahib at Patna, which is designated Chandi Charitra Trambi Mahatam. The former work is divided into eight cantos, the last one being incomplete, and comprises 233 couplets and quatrains, employing seven different metres, with Savaiyya and Dohara predominating. The latter, also of eight cantos, contains 262 couplets and quatrains, mostly employing Bhujangprayat and Rasaval measures.

In the former, the source of the story mentioned is Satsaf or Durga Saptasati which is a portion of Markandeyapurana, from chapters 81 to 94. There is no internal evidence to confirm the source of the story in the latter work, and although some attribute it to Devi Bhagavat Purana (skandh 5, chapters 2 to 35), a closer study of the two texts points towards one source, i.e. Markandeyapurana. Both the works were composed at Anandpur Sahib, sometime before AD 1698, the year when the Bachitra Natak was completed.The concluding lines of the last canto of Chandi Charitra Ukti Bilas as included in the Dasam Granth manuscript preserved at Patna, however, mention 1752 Bk / AD 1695 as the year of the composition of this work.

In these compositions, Chandi, the goddess of Markandeyapurana, takes on a more dynamic character. Guru Gobind Singh reoriented the old story imparting to the exploits of Chandi a contemporary relevance. The Chandi Charitra Ukti Bilas describes, in a forceful style, the battles of goddess Chandi with a number of demon leaders, such as Kaitabha, Mahikhasur (Mahisasur), Dhumra and Lochana. The valiant Chandi slays all of them and emerges victorious.

The battle scenes are portrayed with a wealth of poetic imagery. The last incomplete canto contains an invocation to God addressed as Siva. The second Chandi Charitra treats of the same events and battles, though in minuter detail and in a somewhat different mode of expression. The main point of these works, along with their more popular Punjabi counterpart Var Sri Bhagauti Ji KJ, commonly known as Chandi di Var, lies in their virile temper evoked by a succession of powerful and eloquent similes and by a dignified echoic music of the richest timbre. These poems were designed by Guru Gobind Singh to create among the people a spirit of chivalry and»dignity.

References :

1. Ashta, Dharam Pal, The Poetry of the Dasam Granth. Delhi, 1959
2. Loehlin, C.H., The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa Brotherhood. Lucknow, 1971
3. Jaggi, Ratan Singh, Dasam Granth Parichaya. -Delhi, 1990