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RISALA-I-NANAK SHAH

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RISALAINANAK SHAH, a Persian manuscript by Buddh Singh Arora of Lahore, who was employed in the court of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1759-1806) at Delhi, written in 1783 in collaboration with Lala Ajaib Singh Suri of Malerkotla. The work deals with the history of the Sikhs from the time of Guru Nanak up to the establishment of Sikh rule in Punjab under the Sardars, and was written, as the author himself tells us, at the request of James Browne, British agent in Delhi who translated it into English and published it under the title History of the Origin and Progress of the Sicks (sic).

It was also published in his India Tracts (1788). James Browne writes that he met two Hindus of considerable knowledge who were natives of Lahore and had in their possession accounts of the rise and progress of the Sikhs written in Nagari characters, one of which they translated into Persian at his request; but Browne does not mention their names. Manuscript copies of Risaldi-N-dnak Shah are available in the British Library, London; Muslim University Library, Aligarh; Khalsa College Library, Amritsar; and the Punjab Historical Studies Department at Punjabi University, Patiala.

The earlier part of the manuscript dealing with the lives of the Gurus, evidently based on verbal information collected from inadequately informed sources is not very useful, for it contains several inexcusable errors of fact. For example, according to the author. Guru Nanak lived at Sodhara, a town near the River Chenab; Guru Arjan was succedeed by Guru Har Rai; Guru Hargobind`s name is omitted from the series, although towards the end of the manuscript he is mentioned as having armed himself and fought a few battles against the Mughals; Mardana was the companion of Guru Tegh Bahadur; Guru Gobind Singh was born after the execution of his father.

All these are historically horrendous misstatements, and far wide of the mark. But the author appears better informed as he approaches near his`own time. His account of the events at Chamkaur and Sirhind; Guru Gobind Singh`s travels to the South; the exploits and end of Banda (Singh); Nadir Shah`s invasion; Zakariya Khan`s rule in the Punjab; the invasions of Ahmad Shah Durrani; Sikhs` alliance with Adina Beg and the Marathas and its later dissolution; and the eventual consolidation of the Sikh power in cis Sutlej and trans Sutlej Punjab is fairly reliable.

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