UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The connectedness of Bhai Gurdas : intertextuality in the exegeses of Bhai Gurdas' Vārāṅ Gill, Sukhwinder Singh


This thesis sheds light on the Vārāṅ, a collection of works written by the scribe of the first version of the Sikh canon, the Kartarpuri Bīr (scripture; 1604 CE), Bhai Gurdas. Even though the Varan hold the title of being the “key” (kuṅjī) to the Sikh scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Varan are not now commonly studied both in western scholarship and within Sikh spaces, in particular, Gurdwaras. Overall, however, the Varan have through the years greatly shaped the formation of a Sikh. The goal of the thesis is to move beyond Bhai Gurdas’ text to try and understand how it has been interpreted and understood within the Sikh intellectual community. The thesis looks at the reception history of the Varan with Bhai Vir Singh (1882-1957), who wrote an exegesis on the Varan in the early twentieth century, and Sant Gurbachan Singh (1902-1961), whose kathā (sermon) audio was recorded in the 1950s. Both are well-respected scholars and practitioners of the Sikh faith. These two thinkers, Bhai Vir Singh and Sant Gurbachan Singh, provide insight into how Bhai Gurdas’ works were understood, received, and promulgated. As seen through their respective exegeses, the Varan must be understood through intertextual linkages, both to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh canon, and a wide range of other traditional Sikh texts.

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