by: Shafqat Tanwir Mirza

The News 18-03-05

JAP JI (Guru Granth Sahib) lK JHAT, Urdu and Punjabi translations by Sharif Kunjahi; pp148; price not listed; publishers: Al-Meer Trust Library, Bhimber Road, Gujrat.

AFTER his retirement, octogenarian poet, teacher and researcher Sharif Kunjahi has done much more research work on Punjabi themes than during his time spent in the education field. He is lucky that he was extended full cooperation for publishing his books by the Al-Meer Trust, established by a Gujrat lawyer Mir Arif in memory of his father who was also a lawyer.

The trust does not sell books as do other commercial publishing houses. Instead, it expects readers to pray for the souls of Mir Arif's parents. The book under review has also been published with a similar thought behind it. Earlier, the trust also published Kunjahi's research on the vocabulary of the Rig Veda, which was written in Punjabi. Kunjahi has established linguistic commonalities between the Vedic language and Punjabi as it is spoken today in Punjab and its surrounding areas where different dialects of the language are spoken.

According to Sikh scholars, "Jap Ji is generally regarded as the epitome of Guru Nanak's teachings. It was given the first place in the Adi Granth when the fifth guru, Guru Arjun, had compiled it. Some disciples were said to have remarked at the time that Jap Ji was too intricate and needed elucidation and elaboration. Guru Arjun had responded by asserting that the entire Adi Granth was an elucidation of Jap Ji.

Most serious scholars believe that Jap Ji display a maturity of style and a richness of content which places the composition some time in the latter part of the gurus life when he had finished his travels and had settled down at Karatarpura (then on the right bank of Ravi in presentday Pakistan where a symbolic grave of the guru still exists). This gives the probable date of the composition as 1532, just seven years before the gurus death. He had died on Sept 7, 1539.

Jap Ji was translated into Urdu verse by mathematician Khwaja Dil Mohammad. After many years, now appears the Urdu translation in free verse by Kunjahi whose first preference has been Punjabi all these years. The book includes the original version of the poem in Gurmukhi script, followed by Punjabi and Urdu translations by Kunjahi, and the English version by an unknown translator.

Sharif's Punjabi translation: Hukmon hi aakar hondey nein/Gal hila na toon hukmey di/Hukmon hi har koi hovey/Hukmon mildi aey wadiai/Neachi uchaee/Dukh sukh sarey karman saiti/Bandey di jholi nein paindey/Hukmon ik nirvani hovey/Chakar ik lagaey/Hukm dey andar aey sabb koi/Hukmon bahar hey kad koi/Mein apni noon marey Nanak!/Hukm noon sanjhey hey tad koi.

The English translation by Prof J.R. Puri runs thus: "Great is His will! All manifest things are forms of His will/His will is indefinable!/Of His will is made all sentient life;/It is His will that some are great/Some are small.1All existence is bound by His supreme will./Nothing is outside the sphere of His will/Such is truth/Seek His will-this is to live/If one sees the universal will at work,/Then one can never say, 'Tis P." The Guru Granth or the Adi Granth was published in Persian script before partition and many Janamsakhis (biographies) also in the same script but hardly anything is available in this part of Punjab now. Some years ago an attempt was made by Sufi Mushtaq with the cooperation of the Association of Punjab in North America and all poetry of Baba Nanak was published in Persian script spread over more than one thousand large-size pages. It was a well-annotated edition.

For us in West Punjab Janamsakhis are more important because they have been written in prose in the 16th century. No other piece of prose in any of the dialects of Punjabi has since been discovered in any part of the world. The prose of the Janamsakhis tilts toward the Lehnda dialect, which is the base of all Punjabi poetry. But it is unfortunate that even at the Punjabi department of the Punjab University this prose is not taught.