For its style and tone of sobriety in dealing with historical events, the Khuldsal ulTrvdnkh became a model for future writers. Sohan Lal Sun, the celebrated author of the `Umddt utTindnkh, openly acknowledges his debt to this work. The Khuldsat utTwarikh covers the period from the early Hindu kings of Delhi to the war of succession among the sons of Emperor ShahJahari, cursorily dealing with the reign of Aurarig/Jb also. Broadly, the work is divided into three parts: tlie geographical description of Hindustan, flu Hindu kings of Delhi, and the Muslim kings of Delhi.
In the part dealing with the divisions of the Mughal empire, Sujan Rai gives a detailed account of the province of Lahore within which fell his own native town of Batala. He describes the annual fair at the nearby Achal, and as he refers to Guru Nanak`s place (makan) on tlie bank of the River Ravl, lie inserts a whole section embracing the lives of the founder of the Sikh faith and his successors. At a few oilier places in the text is also given some incidental information about the Gurus and their followers. According to the author, Guru Nanak was a great mystic who depicted the reality and the truth of the Supreme Being in his compositions and emphasied tlie unicity of the Godhead.
He was born at Talvandi Rai Bhoe in tlic reign of Balilol Lodhi and, through God`s grace, he was endowed with the power of working miracles at an early age. He travelled in many parts of tlie world, got married in Batala and eventually settled down in a village on the bank of the Ravt, in tlie parganah of Batala. People from all directions used to come in large numbers to become his disciples. Between tlie age of 70 and 80, in the reign of SalTm Shah, Guru Nanak departed this life. At tlie time of his death he chose Lahina, atrchan Kliatri, as Ills succesor and installed him on his seat as Guru Arigad. About Guru Nanak`s successors, Sujan Rai provides scanty detail.
Guru Arigad remained on the spiritual gaddi for thirteen years and nominated before his end Amar Das, a Bhalla Khatri, as his successor. Sujan Rai errs when he says thai Guru Arigad liad no sons and that Amar Das was his son in law. Guru Amar Das guided his people for twenty-two years and, though he had sons, chose his son in law. Ram Das, a Sodlii Khatri, as his successor, who adorned the seal for seven years. After him, came his son Guru Arjan. Akbar, who had once visited him, was greatly pleased to listen to the compositions of Guru Nanak.
On Guru Arjan`s suggestion, the Emperor had reduced the rate of land revenue chargeable from farmers. Guru Arjan`s son and successor, Guru Hargobind spent some of the thirty seven years of his life at Kiratpur. His son, Gurditta, having died in his lifetime, he nominated his grandson, Har Rai, as his successor. Guru Har Rai lived at Kiratpur. When Dara Shukoh, pursued by Aurarigzib, came towards the Punjab, Guru Har Rai went to him with a large contingent. Guru Har Rai nominated his young son, Har Krishan, who was succeeded by Tcgh Bahadur, a younger son of Guru Hargobind.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was imprisoned by some amirs (nobles) and executed in Shahjahanabad in the seventeenth regnal year of Aurarigzib under royal orders. At the time of completing the Khuldsal ulTwdnkh, the son of Guru Tegh Bahadur, named Gobind Rai, had held the spiritual office at Makhoval for twentytwo years. Sujan Rai`s account is not free from errors, but its overall accuracy is really striking. He gives the impression of care and diligence in the collection of his information.
Of special significance is his impression of the Sikhs of his day. "Most of the followers of Guru Nanak," observes Sujan Rai, "have an exalted state, with the spiritual status of those whose prayers arc accepted. Polite in conversation, they lead austere lives. In the recitation of their Gurus` verses and reflection upon them lies the essence of their worship. Playing on musical instruments, they sing these verses in fascinating melodies. They have purified their hearts of worldly affections and attachments, and have thus cast away the dark veil of temptations.
A kinsman and a stranger, a friend and a foe are alike in their eyes. In harmony with their friends, they have no quarrel with their enemies. Thekind of faith which they repose in their Guru is not witnessed among any other group of people. For them, one of the best forms of worship is the service of a wayfarer in the Guru`s name which is constantly on their lips. If a person arrives at midnight and mentions tlie name of Baba Nanak, they feed him and lodge him as a brother and friend to the best of their means, though he may be a total stranger or even a thicf, a liigliway man or a profligate." A Punjabi translation of the work was published by Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1972.