Janamsakhis

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The Janamsakhis (, ), literally birth stories, are writings which profess to be biographies of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak. These compositions have been written at various stages after the death of the first guru.

Overview

All the Janamsakhis record miraculous acts and supernatural conversations. Many of them contradict each other on material points and some have obviously been touched up to advance the claims of one or the other branches of the Guru's family, or to exaggerate the roles of certain disciples. Macauliffe compares the manipulation of janamsakhs to the way gospels were also in early Christian Church:

"Vast numbers of spurious writings bearing the names of apostles and their followers, and claiming more or less direct apostolic authority, were in circulation in the early Church - Gospels according to Peter, to Thomas, to James, to Judas, according to the Apostles, or according to the Twelve, to Barnabas, to Matthias, to Nicodemus, & co.; and ecclesiastical writers bear abundant testimony to the early and rapid growth of apocryphal literature. - Supernatural Religion, vol.i, p.292.

The falsification of old or the composition of new Janamsakhis were the result of three great schisms of the Sikh religion: The Udasis, the Minas and the Handalis.

Though from the point of view of a historian the janamsakhis may be inadequate, they cannot be wholly discarded because they were based on legend and tradition which had grown up around the Guru in the years...
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