The Var of Bhai Gurdas cannot be called a Janam- Sakhi in the true sense of the term. It differs from the traditional Janam Sakhis in two ways. Unlike the Janam Sakhis which use a narrative form the Var of Bhai Gurdas uses a poetic form. In the second place rather than talking about the early life and the life stories of Nanak, the Var tries to highlight the status of Nanak. It focuses on the enormous spiritual power which Nanak possessed. The intention of Bhai Gurudas was to glorify the image of the great guru through his writing and he has been a great success in his mission.
The Puratan Janam Sakhis say that Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in the month of Vaisakh. It talks about the early life of Nanak and gives details about his family. The Puratan Janam Sakhis talk about the nature of Nanak as a child. At the same time this Janam Sakhi unfolds the story which says that once when Nanak had gone to take a bath in the river he was transported to the divine court and was made to drink the holy nectar. As he was made to drink the nectar he was given the duty to preach the name of God among mankind.
The Miharban Janam Sakhis has derived its name from Sodhi Miharban, a member of the Mina sect. The Mina sect was very much hostile to the gurus and was their strong rivals. This Janam Sakhi mentions the magnanimity of Raja Janak and also consists of a conversation between Raja Janak and God whereby God instructs the Raja to propagate His name among the people. It also gives account of Nanak's birth and along with that says how the great Guru Nanak had learnt to read from a pundit. It also bears the travel account of Nanak to Mount Sumeru.
The Bala Janam Sakhis have been named after Bhai Bala, a Sadhu belonging to Talvandi, the village of Guru Nanak. The Bala Janam Sakhi is considered the most popular Janam Sakhi among the Sikhs. History says that Bala had been a contemporary of Nanak and had accompanied him on his trip to Sultanpur. In that case it can be said that the Bala Janam Sakhi gives the best account regarding the early life of Nanak. Bhai Bala in his Janam Sakhi has a given a detailed account of all the places which had been visited by Nanak throughout his life.
The Gyan Ratnabali Janam Sakhis have been compiled by Bhai Mani Singh in the early part of the eighteenth century. This Janam Sakhi is the latest version of the Sikh Janam Sakhis. It was compiled by Bhai Mani Singh because he wanted to put forth a correct account about the life of Guru Nanak. Bhai Mani Singh believed that a more detailed account of the life of Guru Nank is required and hence he tried to write the accounts of Nanak's life in the fourth Janam Sakhi or the Gyan Ratnabali Janam Sakhi.
Janam Sakhis are important to Sikhism in the sense that it gives people insight about the life of the Guru. People learn with the help of number of legends how Guru started the philosophy of Sikhism and how he propagated it in the Indian land.
(Last Updated on : 24-03-2015)
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