The Word ‘Nihang’ in ‘Sri Gur Sobha’

The Word ‘Nihang’ in ‘Sri Gur Sobha’

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

The ‘Sri Gur Sobha’ is an important book, which is written by a person, who was a poet in the holy court of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The poet, Sainapati (Saina Singh), completed this book in 1711 AD, just three years after Guru Ji left for his heavenly abode. There are only a few writers, who were contemporaries of Guru Ji and Sainapati (Saina Singh) is one of them. Being a court-poet, he must have talked to Guru Ji for many times. He is obviously an eyewitness to many events, which took place during his stay in Guru’s holy court.

It is vital to note that the poet Sainapati has not used the word ‘Nihang’ once in his book ‘Sri Gur Sobha’. He has not used the word ‘Akali’ either, which is considered today to be synonymous with ‘Nihang’.

Sainapati has used word ‘Khalsa’ many times and he has used the word ‘Singh’ synonymously with ‘Khalsa’. For example, in his account of the battle of ‘Sri Chamkaur Sahib’, he writes: –

Daur Daur Faujan Main Parheen.
Singh Sabai Aisee Bidh Karheen.

(They would run to {enemy’s} army {to attack}. All the ‘Singhs‘ would do like this).

In same chapter, Sainapati then uses the word ‘Khalsa’ for same meaning: –

Aaj Khaas Bhye Khalsa Satgur Ke Darbaar.

(Today the ‘Khalsa‘ became special in the court of the Guru).

He used the word ‘Sikh’ also for same meaning. Here is an example, where he used words ‘Singh’ and ‘Sikhan’ (plural form for ‘Sikh’): –

Saamaan Kooch Sahib Ne Keena.
Sikkhan Baant Khazaana Deena.
Saban Paanch Hathiyaar Bandhaaye.
Singh Soor Ban Ban Sabh Aaye.

(Guru Ji made preparations for departure. He distributed treasury to ‘Sikhs‘. All took five weapons. The ‘Singh‘ warriors came appearing beautifully).

When Sainapati uses the word ‘Sangat’ (congregation), he refers only to the ‘Khalsa’: –

Dilli Nikat Prabhoo Jab Aaye.
Sangat Khabar Sunee Sukh Paaye.
Anik Hulaas Jeev Mo Aayo.
Sarb Khalsa Lain Sidhaayo.

(When Guru Ji reached near Delhi, the ‘Sangat‘ felt happy hearing this news. They were very pleased. The ‘Khalsa‘ went forward to receive Guru Ji).

Here, Sainapati has used words ‘Sangat’ and ‘Khalsa’ for same meaning.

Thus, he used the words ‘Sangat’, ‘Sikh’, ‘Singh’ and ‘Khalsa’ for a same group of people and he used these words repeatedly.

This indicates that these words (‘Sangat’, ‘Sikh’, ‘Singh’ and ‘Khalsa’) were being used very frequently during his time. These words were being used for a particular group of people, who were disciples of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. There was no confusion over their meaning, so he used them frequently in his book.

However, surprisingly, Sainapati did not use the word ‘Nihang’ even once. This suggests that the word ‘Nihang’ was not used for Sikhs in his time, if it was, then surely Sainapati would have made use of it too. If he simply ignored this word, then one can conclude that it was not in frequent use as reference for a Sikh.