Guru Har Krishan ji and The Fake Sakhies- Myths in Sikhism



There are large number of fake or mythical sakhies (stories) that have been labeled with Sikh Gurus. All these stories were written by non Sikhs or anti Sikh groups whose main objectives were to lower Sikh Guru’s image. They made the stories in such a way that Sikh Guru’s applied miracles, which were against the Guru’s philosophy. There are two well known sakhies that have been written under Guru Har Krishan’s biography. These sakhies are narrated by so called preachers, dhadies and kathakars in our Gurdwaras during eight’s Guru’s birthday celebrations. The purpose of this article is to see if these sakhies are consistent with Guru Granth Sahib’s philosophy.

These sakhies are as follow :

  1. Explained the meaning of Bhagavad Gita (Hindu religious scripture).
  2. Cured Smallpox victims in Delhi.

I will only describe these sakhies very briefly as most Sikhs have heard these many times.

Pundit Lal Chand’s meeting with Guru ji:
At Aurangzeb’s request, Guru Har Krishan traveled to Delhi. On his way to Delhi, Guru ji stayed at a place called Panjokhara. There lived a pundit Lal Chand, who was very proud of his caste and knowledge. He came to see the young Guru and asked sarcastically “It’s said that you sit on the Gur gaddi of Guru Nanak, but what do you know about Bhagavad Gita”? Guru ji smiled at Lal Chand’s request and asked for Chhajju Ram. Chhajju was an illiterate, mute and deaf, village water-carrier who was helping in the kitchen at that moment. Guru ji asked Chhajju to sit in front and explain to the pundit the gist of Bhagavad Gita. Guru ji touched Chhajju’s head with a stick (wand). Chhajju Ram recited Gita in front of all there. Lal Chand was ashamed and fell at the Guru’s feet.

Discussion:We have to discuss the main points in this story before saying if it is true or a fake (myth) story.
Main Points:

  • High Caste (Lal Chand) vs Lower Caste (Chhajju Ram)
  • Touched Chhajju’s head with a stick
  • Guru Granth Sahib’s philosophy

The society was divided into 4 main castes with many sub-castes. In Sikhism, Guru Nanak eliminated the caste system and treated every one equal. The Brahmins were considered high caste, only ones to read and write, provide and perform religious functions. Lal Chand was a Brahmin, belonged to high caste.Those days it was common in India that the lower caste people were not allowed to read or write, listen, go near religious buildings and can not enter Brahmin’s house. If some one from lower caste got caught reading or listening to religious books, there were hefty penalties such as cutting of the tongue, put lead in the ears and some time death. These poor lower caste people were considered “deaf and mute”as they were forbidden to ask for any rights ( human rights) or listen to someone knowledgeable . Chhajju Ram belonged to a lower caste therefore was considered deaf and mute by high caste Brahmins.
Guru Nanak treated every one equal regardless of the caste they were born into. They were all allowed to read, write, listen, practice and perform religious functions. Doing so they became knowledgeable while practicing Sikhism. Those lower caste people who followed Guru Nanak’s teachings were no longer deaf and mute.
The story writer twisted the story by mentioning that Guru ji touched Chhajju’s head with a stick or what is commonly known as “magic wand”. This made the story based on a miracle. All Sikh Gurus followed Guru Nanak’s philosophy which rejected any type of miracle practice. I have strong or unshakable faith in our Guru Har Krishan ji that he did not apply a miracle which was against Guru Nanak’s philosophy, therefore it is a fake story.
Our present Guru, Guru Granth Sahib rejects the idea of miracles as described below:

Kaha bugharat bujhai dora. AGGS, M5, Pg 267
How can a riddle be understood by the deaf?

Kaha bisanpad gavai gung,
Jatan karai tao bhi sur bhang. AGGS, M5, Pg 267
How can the mute sing the Songs of the Lord?
He may try, but his voice will fail him.

Bola je samjaiai pariah simrit path. AGGS, M1, Pg 143
You may try teach a deaf person by reading simritees to him, but how will he learn?

The above Gurbani verses clearly indicate that it is impossible for a deaf and mute person to understand by listening or sing songs. Please be aware, in that period there was no sign language available to help deaf and mute. Therefore Chhajju Ram who was deaf and mute could not recite Bhagavad Gita, which confirmed it to be a fake story.

Let us look at a different angle:
Chhajju Ram belonged to a mythical lower caste, members of this caste were forbidden to read or learn. They were considered deaf and mute by the mythical high caste Brahmins. Guru Nanak’s open door policy to everyone helped these mythical lower caste groups to get knowledgeable by following Guru’s teachings. They were no longer assumed deaf and mute in the society. If we take the magic wand out of this story and say Chhajju was not really a handicap person (just considered) then it will be a wonderful true story otherwise it is a Myth.

2. Cured Smallpox Victims: 

During Guru Har Krishan’s stay in Delhi, a severe epidemic of Cholera and Smallpox broke out. Guru ji tended to and served the sick patients with full devotion. The story goes like that Guru ji dipped his feet in a big tub of water ( chobacha). The patients who drank this water got cured or saved from smallpox. In the process of tending the sick, Guru ji himself contracted smallpox infection and died on 30 March,1664.  Later on to promote this sakhi, the Sikh religious leaders added this in Sikh Ardas as Sri Har Krishan dhiayae jis dithae sub dukh jae”. One does not see any logic or scientific explanation in this story as smallpox is only treated or prevented by vaccination, which makes this story a myth.

The above story indicated that Guru Har Krishan ji applied magical power to treat sick patients. Guru ji prepared healing water by dipping his feet in tub of water (charan pahol) for sick patients to drink. In fact it became soiled(dirty) water, not suitable to drink. It is a common knowledge that drinking soiled water is not healthy. Drinking “charan pahol” is a ritualistic tradition often practiced by ignorant people. The Sikh Gurus rejected traditions based on rituals. There fore this sakhi is a myth.
I would like to add here, that Guru Arjan helped people of Lahore by setting up a hospital to provide First Aid and medicines to sick patients during Plague epidemic. The 7th Guru Har Rai ji ( Guru Har Krishan’s father) used to have a pharmacy with many rare remedies(drugs). Prince Dara Shikoh was cured with medicine issued from Guru’s pharmacy.The above examples show that both Gurus provided medicines to treat sick patients, not, charan.
The above examples show that both Gurus provided medicines to treat sick patients, not, charan pahol as often described in the sakhi of Guru Har Krishan. Guru Har Rai advised his elder son Baba Ram Rai(elder brother of Guru Har Krishan) not to perform any miracles when sent to Delhi. It is absolutely wrong to assume that Guru Har Krishan did miracle healing during smallpox epidemic in Delhi.

The critical analysis of the both stories proved that they are mythical stories and are not consistent with Guru Nanak or Guru Granth Sahib’s philosophy. Sikh Gurus provided leadership to the down-trodden Indian society. Gurus infused spirit in the weak and helpless society to face physical resistance to injustice, tyranny and oppression. Guru Nanak and nine other Gurus tried to create national unity by rejecting caste system. In spite of all this we Sikhs add mythical stories under our great Gurus accomplishments. We do not have to compare our Gurus to the mythical Gods or Devtas of other religions. The Sikhs should be very proud to say what ever Gurus did for humanity without exaggeration or adding any miracles. In matter of facts labeling Gurus with miracles diminishes Guru’s personality.

My humble request to Sikh public, whenever some one hears such mythical stories in Gurdwaras, should raise questions and ask for logical explanation. Doing so, will help to prevent narration of these mythical sakhies in near future.

Ramjit Singh Mann

Acknowledgments:My special thanks to Dr. Gautam Srivastava for his expert help in editing this article.

  • ajmersinghrandhawa

    The writer seems ignorant that life of Sikh gurus is always full of miracles. if doubts, he must see the harvest grazed by buffalows and when complained to Rai Bular, the harvests were more green and grown, the shadow by a cobra to Guru Nanak, the turning of kaaba, his visit to Tibet and Himalaya is full of miracles, not only during his life time but after his death, his dead body was disappeared, ultimately his coffin was divided into two halves, one part buried-the other one cremated. A lot can be written on miracles performed by Sikh gurus but restriction imposed to his devotees was to save them from mystician (tantrik) who mismerize peole to declare them Guru.

    • Ramjit Mann

      Thanks for the comment, see my response in the new article “Does Sikhism Believe in Miracles”? It would be posted very soon.

  • Bhupinder Singh Solicitor


    • Ramjit Mann

      Thanks Bhai sahib, greatly appreciated.