The Truth of Hemkund -ਹੇਮਕੁੰਡ ਦੀ ਅਸਲੀਅਤ

The Truth of Hemkund

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston)


Sikhs have been provided a narrative of Guru Gobind Singh’s purported past life with the ostensible claim that the tenth Guru provided this narrative in his own writing. This narrative is epitomized physically in what is known in the Sikh world as Hemkund – a shrine located in Uttrakhand’s Chamoli district at 15,000 feet above sea level within the Himalayan mountain range. Some 150,000 Sikhs from all over the world undertake a torturous trekking pilgrimage to Hemkund each year during the three months that the shrine is open. This article examines the veracity of this narrative.

The narrative that is provided is that Hemkund is the place where one of Guru Gobind Singh’s ostensive past lives was lived. Guru Gobind Singh – in one such past life and named Dushat Daman – sat at the spot where Hemkund is located, in deep penance and meditation and in union with his god. While all this was going on, his parents were on a yogic sadhna penance and pilgrimage of their own. It is at Hemkund that the tenth Guru was called upon by this god to go to earth in his service. Guru Gobind Singh is said to have indicated his unwillingness to do so. His god then provided him a whole host of reasons why he had to go down to earth. In the end, he had to bow to the command of that god.

The origin of this narrative is Guru Gobind Singh’s own composition in chapter six of the Bachittar Natak Granth (BNG) also known as the Dasam Granth (DG). This narrative is as follows:

ਅਬ ਮੈ ਅਪਨੀ ਕਥਾ ਬਖਾਨੋ॥ ਤਪ ਸਾਧਤ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਮੁਹਿ ਆਨੋ॥

Ab Mein Apnee Katha Bikhano. Tup Sadhat Jeh Bidh Mohe Ano

And now I shall narrate my biography. And the penance method by which I came to being.

ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਪਰਬਤ ਹੈ ਜਹਾਂ॥ ਸਪਤ ਸ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਸੋਭਿਤ ਹੈ ਤਹਾਂ ॥ ੧ ॥

Hemkunt Parbat Hai Jahan. Sapat Sring Sobhat Hai Tahan.

Hemkunt is that mountain. Where seven peaks adorn.

ਸਪਤ ਸ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਤਿਹ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਹਾਵਾ ॥ ਪੰਡ ਰਾਜ ਜਹ ਜੋਗ ਕਮਾਵਾ ॥

Sapat Sring the Nam Kahava. Pund Raah Jeh Yog Kamava.

The place is named Seven Peaks. Where the Pandav Kings too had attained their union.

ਤਹ ਹਮ ਅਧਿਕ ਤਪਸਿਆ ਸਾਧੀ॥ ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਕਾਲਕਾ ਅਰਾਧੀ॥ 2॥

Teh Hum Adhak Tapasiya Sadhee. Mahakaal Kalika Aradhee.

There I conducted massive penance. I meditated on Kalka (Durga) the Mahakaal.

ਇਹ ਬਿਧਿ ਕਰਤ ਤਪਸਿਆ ਭਯੌ॥ ਦਵੈ ਤੇ ਏਕ ਰੂਪ ਹਵੈ ਗਯੋ॥

Eh Bidh Karat Tapaseya Bhayo. Dvey Tay Ek Roop Havai Gayo. DG Page 54-55.

While doing penance in such a manner. I became one with Kalka.

ਤਾਤ ਮਾਤ ਮੁਰ ਅਲਖ ਅਰਾਧਾ ॥ ਬਹੁ ਬਿਧਿ ਜੋਗ ਸਾਧਨਾ ਸਾਧਾ ॥ 3॥

Taat Maat Mur Alakh Aradhha. Bahu Bidhh Jog Sadhhana Sadhha. 3

My parents meditated upon the great one. They practiced a variety of yoga sadhanas.

ਤਿਨ ਜੋ ਕਰੀ ਅਲਖ ਕੀ ਸੇਵਾ ॥ ਤਾ ਤੇ ਭਏ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਨਿ ਗੁਰਦੇਵਾ ॥

Thin Jo Karee Alakh Kee Seva. Ta(n) Thay Bheae Prasann Gurdeva.

The service of the great one they had thus done. Upon which the great one was pleased.

ਤਿਨ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਜਬ ਆਇਸ ਮੁਹਿ ਦੀਯਾ ॥ ਤਬ ਹਮ ਜਨਮ ਕਲੂ ਮਹਿ ਲੀਯਾ ॥ 4 ॥

Tin Prabh Jab Aeis Muhi Deeya. Tab Ham Janam Kaloo Meh Leeya. 4.

Whence the master gave me the command. I thus took birth in Kalyug.

ਚਿਤ ਨਾ ਭਯੋ ਹਮਰੋ ਆਵਨ ਕਹ ॥ ਚੁਭੀ ਰਹੀ ਸ੍ਰੁਤਿ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਚਰਨਨ ਮਹਿ ॥

Chith Na Bhayo Hamaro Avan Keh. Chubhee Rehee Srut Prabh Charanan Meh.

I did not wish to come. My mind was fixated on the feet of the master.

ਜਿਉ ਤਿਉ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਹਮ ਕੋ ਸਮਝਾਯੋ ॥ ਇਮ ਕਹਿਕੈ ਇਹ ਲੋਕ ਪਠਾਯੋ ॥ 5 ॥

Jio Thio Prabh Ham Ko Samajhayo. Eim Kehikai Eih Lok Pathayo 5.

My master explained to me thus. He said the following and sent me to this world.

The narrative then proceeds to provide a list of explanations and reasons that the master supposedly provided to Guru Gobind Singh to help him overcome his apprehensions about going into the world. But before that section is explored, a number of questions can be raised about the narrative thus far.


One, is the Dushat Daman narrative and the concept of a purported past life of any Guru in line with the philosophy of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS)? Shouldn’t Sikhs be deeply apprehensive about activities supposedly undertaken by Gurus in unverified narratives of their supposed past lives?

Such a question can be posed even when the notion of a “past life” refers to a portion of life that was lived within the present life. Bhai Lehna for instance came to Guru Nanak at the age of 62. For the 62 years of his life prior to meeting Guru Nanak, he had visited 68 teeraths, was a devi devotee and the leader of teerath yatra (pilgrimage) groups. Are Sikhs supposed to follow what Guru Angad ji did in his “past life” of 62 years or are we to follow what he did AFTER becoming a Sikh and then becoming a Guru at 74?

Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib - WikipediaHemkund

Two, why is Guru Gobind Singh – as the purported writer of these verses – being portrayed as a devotee of Kalka the Mahakal in the verses? ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਕਾਲਕਾ ਅਰਾਧੀ॥ Mahakaal Kalika Aradhee. Meaning: I meditated on Kalka (Durga) the Mahakaal. Is the objective to subjugate Guru Gobind Singh by making him a devotee of these entities?

Three, why is Guru Gobind Singh being portrayed as the spiritual equal of the Pandavas? ਪੰਡ ਰਾਜ ਜਹ ਜੋਗ ਕਮਾਵਾ ॥ Pund Raah Jeh Yog Kamava. Meaning: The Pandav kings too had achieved their union at the same spot.

Four, why is Guru Gobind Singh being portrayed as undertaking acts that are discarded in Sikhi such as a penance. ਤਹ ਹਮ ਅਧਿਕ ਤਪਸਿਆ ਸਾਧੀ॥ Teh Hum Adhak Tapasiya Sadhee. Meaning: There I conducted massive penance. Is the objective to make Guru Gobind Singh a practitioner of discarded Sikhi practices?

Five, if indeed Guru Gobind Singh had attained his union with Kalika the Mahakaal in his past life and through penance and meditation, then why aren’t such spiritual goals mentioned in the SGGS?

Six, if indeed Guru Gobind Singh had become one with Kalika the Mahakal ਦਵੈ ਤੇ ਏਕ ਰੂਪ ਹਵੈ ਗਯੋ॥ Dvey Tay Ek Roop Havai Gayo Meaning: I became one with Kalika the Mahakaal, then how could he have been re-born as a separate entity?

Seven, when Guru Gobind Singh is portrayed as saying “And the master convinced me and sent me to THIS world, is he being made to say that Hemkund is in another word? If so, then does God stay in another world? ਇਮ ਕਹਿਕੈ ਇਹ ਲੋਕ ਪਠਾਯੋ ॥ Eim Kehikai Eih Lok Pathayo. Meaning: The Master said the following and sent me to this world (Eh Lok). Why then is the Hemkund that 150,000 Sikhs visit per year located in this world and not another world? And what does Gurbani say about the “location” of God – that he resides in “another world” somewhere up in the mountains?


The narrative within BNG then proceeds to provide a list of reasons that the master purportedly provided to Guru Gobind Singh to help him overcome his apprehensions about going into the world. The verses are as follows:

ਜਬ ਪਹਲੇ ਹਮ ਸ਼੍ਰਿਸਿਟ ਬਣਾਈ॥ ਦਯਤ ਰਚੇ ਦੁਸਟ ਦੁਖਦਾਈ ॥

Jab Pehley Hum Srist Banayee. Daent Rachey Dushat Dukhdayee.

When I made the world. I first created the evil and hostile demons.

ਤੇ ਭੁਜ ਬਲ ਬਵਰੇ ਹਵੈ ਗਏ ॥ ਪੂਜਤ ਪਰਮ ਪੁਰਖ ਰਹਿ ਗਏ ॥

Tay Bhuj Bal Bavray Hvaiy Gyey. Pujat Parm Purakh Reh Gyey.

They became mad in their powers. And stopped worshipping the complete being.

ਤੇ ਹਮ ਤਮਕ ਤਨਕ ਮੋ ਖਾਪੇ॥ ਤਿਨਕੀ ਠਉਰ ਦੇਵਤਾ ਥਾਪੇ॥

Tay Hum Tamak Tanak Mo Khapey. Tinkee Thaur Devta Thape.

I destroyed them in my anger. In their place I then created the devtas.

ਤੇ ਭੀ ਬਲ ਪੂਜਾ ਉਰਝਾਏ ॥ ਆਪਨ ਹੀ ਪਰਮੇਸਰ ਕਹਾਏ॥ ੭ ॥

Tey Bhee Bal Pooja Urjhaye. Aapan Hee Parmesar Kahaye.

They too got engrossed in their powers and worship. They declared themselves as the complete being.

ਮਹਾਦੇਵ ਅਚੁਤ ਕਹਵਾਯੋ ॥ ਬਿਸਨ ਆਪ ਹੀ ਕੋ ਠਹਰਾਯੋ॥

Mhadev Achut Kehvayo. Bisen Aap Hee Ko Tehrayo.

Shivji declared himself indestructible. Vishnu established only himself.

ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਆਪ ਪਾਰਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਬਖਾਨਾ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨਾ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਜਾਨਾ॥ ੮॥

Bhrma Aap Parbhram Bkhana. Prabh Ko Prabhu Na Kinhu Jana.

Bhrama declared himself the complete being. No one considered the complete being as lord.

ਪੁਨ ਹਰਿ ਗੋਰਖ ਕੋ ਉਪਰਾਜਾ ॥ ਸਿਖ ਕਰੇ ਤਿਨ ਹੂ ਬਢ ਰਾਜਾ॥

Pun Har Gorakh Ko Upraja. Sikh Kray Tin Hu Bad Raja.

Then the omnipresent being created Gorakh. He made followers of great kings.

ਸ੍ਰਵਨ ਫਾਰਿ ਮੁਦ੍ਰਾ ਦੁਐ ਡਾਰੀ॥ ਹਰ ਕੀ ਪ੍ਰਤਿ ਰੀਤ ਨਾ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ੨੪ ॥

Sarvan Faar Mudra Duaiy Dari. Har Kee Prat Reet Na Bichari.

He pierced his ears and wore two ear-rings. He did not discourse the way of the omnipresent being.

ਪੁਨ ਹਰ ਰਾਮਾਨੰਦ ਕੋ ਕਰਾ ॥ ਭੇਸ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਕੋ ਜਿਨ ਧਰਾ॥

Pun Har Ramanand Ko Kra. Bhes Bairagi Ko Jin Dhraa.

Then the omnipresent being created Ramanand. He adopted the ascetic way.

ਕੰਠੀ ਕੰਠਿ ਕਾਠ ਕੀ ਡਾਰੀ॥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਆ ਨਾ ਕਛੂ ਬੀਚਾਰੀ ॥ ੨੫ ॥

Kanthi Kanth Kaath Kee Dari. Prabh Ki Kriya Na Kchu Bichari.

He adorned a wooden necklace around his neck. He discoursed nothing of the ways of the lord.

ਮਹਾਂਦੀਨ ਤਬ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਉਪਰਜਾ॥ ਅਰਬ ਦੇਸ ਕੋ ਕੀਨੋ ਰਾਜਾ ॥ ੨੬ ॥

Mahadeen Tub Prabh Uparja. Aarb Des Ko Keeno Raja.

Then the master created Mhadeen. He established himself the king of Arabia.

ਤਿਨ ਭੀ ਏਕ ਪੰਥ ਉਪਰਾਜਾ॥ ਲਿੰਗ ਬਿਨਾ ਕੀਨੇ ਸਭ ਰਾਜਾ ॥

Tin Bhi Eyk Panth Upraja. Leng Bena Kenay Sabh Raja.

He too started his own religion. He got all the kings to be devoid of their organ (circumcised).

ਸਭ ਨੇ ਅਪਨਾ ਨਾਮ ਜਪਾਇਉ ॥ ਸਤਿਨਾਮ ਕਾਹੂ ਨ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਉ ॥ ੨੭ ॥

Sabh Ney Apna Naam Japayeo. Satnam Kahoon Na Dirrayeo.

They all caused their own names to be chanted and meditated upon. No one propagated satnam.

ਸਭ ਅਪਨੀ ਅਪਨੀ ਉਰਝਾਨਾ ॥ ਪਾਰਭ੍ਰਹਮ ਕਾਹੂ ਨਾ ਪਛਾਨਾ ॥

Sabh Apni Apni Urjhana. Parbhram Kahu Na Pchana.

All of them got entangled in establishing themselves. None were able to recognize the complete being.

ਤਪ ਸਾਧਤ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮੋਹਿ ਬੁਲਾਇਉ ॥ ਇਮ ਕਹਿ ਕੇ ਇਹ ਲੋਕ ਪਠਾਇਉ ॥ ੨੮ ॥

Tup Sadhat Prabh Mohe Bulayeo. Em Keh Kay Eh Lok Pathayeo.

As a result of my penance and meditation, the lord called me. With the following reasons, He sent me into this world.


One, is this account of creation – as contained within this purported autobiography – in line with the account that is within the SGGS as contained on page 1035? ਮਾਰੂ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥ ਅਰਬਦ ਨਰਬਦ ਧੁੰਧੂਕਾਰਾ ॥ ਧਰਣਿ ਨ ਗਗਨਾ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਅਪਾਰਾ ॥ Arbad Narbad Dhundukara. Dharann Na Gagana Hukm Apara.

Two, why is the master, complete being, and omnipresent being shown as complaining and regretting about His own creations? To the extent of having to destroy his own creations in anger? ਤੇ ਹਮ ਤਮਕ ਤਨਕ ਮੋ ਖਾਪੇ॥ Tay Hum Tamak Tanak Mo Khapey. Meaning: I destroyed them in my anger.

Three, why is God shown as being overly concerned about His own position and regard in the world? The entire portion is about God regretting that he created all these beings – the regret being that none of them gave Him the regard as God. ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੋ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨਾ ਕਿਨਹੂੰ ਜਾਨਾ॥ Prabh Ko Prabhu Na Kinhu Jana. Meaning: No one considered the Lord as Lord. The entire portion is a condemnation of all of his prophets – Bhrama, Shivji, Vishnu, Gorakh Nath, Ramanand and Prophet Mohammad. Why are all of them being described in derogatory terms, for example ਤੇ ਭੁਜ ਬਲ ਬਵਰੇ ਹਵੈ ਗਏ ॥ Tay Bhaj Bal Bavray Hvaiy Gyey. Meaning: They became mad in their powers. Or ਲਿੰਗ ਬਿਨਾ ਕੀਨੇ ਸਭ ਰਾਜਾ ॥ Leng Bena Kenay Sabh Raja. Meaning: He got all the kings circumcised. Islam is a whole gamut of teachings: philosophy, a system of laws, governance etc. Is being circumcised all there is to the teachings of the Prophet? Is circumcision the only thing the writer of this ostensive autobiography could think of about Islam?

Four, how did Guru Gobind Singh ostensibly get his facts wrong? Ramanand came 800 years after Prophet Mohamed. But in this autobiography within the DG, Ramanand comes first. Or is Guru Gobind Singh saying the lord master got it “wrong” while giving him the list of reasons?

Five, why would Guru Gobind Singh falsely accuse the prophets of Ramanand and Prophet Mohamad of ਸਭ ਨੇ ਅਪਨਾ ਨਾਮ ਜਪਾਇਉ ॥ Sabh Ney Apna Naam Japayeo. Meaning: They all caused their own names to be chanted or meditated upon. No devotee of Ramanand wihin the Ramanandi Sampradaya chants the founder’s name, and none in the Islamic world chant the name of their prophet.

Six, the bani of Ramanand is contained within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS). His shabd is on page 1195 of the SGGS. When God was allegedly expressing His displeasure with the prophets to Guru Gobind Singh as Dushat Daman, the Pothi Sahib was already complete and the shabd of Ramanand was already included therein. So when God was chastisising Ramanand in ਪੁਨ ਹਰ ਰਾਮਾਨੰਦ ਕੋ ਕਰਾ ॥ ਭੇਸ ਬੈਰਾਗੀ ਕੋ ਜਿਨ ਧਰਾ॥ Pun Har Ramanand Ko Kra. Bhes Bairagi Ko Jin Dhraa, wasn’t God aware of Ramanand’s divine shabd in the Pothi Sahib? Or was God saying that Guru Arjun had made a “mistake” in including the composition of the “defective” Ramanand? In any case, why did Guru Gobind Singh not take out Ramanand’s shabd from the Pothi Sahib when he re-edited it into the SGGS – given what God had “told him about Ramanand up in the mountains of another world at Hemkund”? If the accusation against Ramanand in this autobiography is that “Ramanand caused his own name to be meditated upon” – his shabd within the SGGS disputes this allegation in clear terms.

Seven, why is Buddha left out of the entire discourse? Did the God of these verses “not know” of him or he “simply forgot?” Since Buddhist teaching do not mention a God per se, Buddha ought to have been a primary target of God’s “wrath” for such an omission. There should have been a specific para on “prophets who denied the master’s existance even.” But there is none.

Eight, when God purportedly tells Guru Gobind Singh ਸਭ ਨੇ ਅਪਨਾ ਨਾਮ ਜਪਾਇਉ ॥ ਸਤਿਨਾਮ ਕਾਹੂ ਨ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਉ॥ Sabh Ney Apna Naam Japayeo. Satnam Kahoon Na Dirrayeo. Meaning: They all caused their own names to be meditated upon and chanted. No one propagated satnam. Did God forget about Gurus Nanak, Angad, Amardas, Ramdas, Arjun, Hargobind, Har Rai, Har Krishen and Teg Bhadur ji? All nine of them had propagated nothing other than Satnam. Is this omission of 9 Gurus an “error” on the part of God, or is God putting all nine of these Gurus in the category of ਸਭ ਨੇ ਅਪਨਾ ਨਾਮ ਜਪਾਇਉ ॥ Sabh Ney Apna Naam Japayeo as well?

Nine, why is this autobiography in the second person when it comes to the part about justifications that the complete master is supposedly providing Guru Gobind Singh? The first few paragraphs begin in the first person: “When I made the world… I first created the evil and hostile demons… I destroyed them in my anger…In their place I then created the devtas”. But it appears that the real and actual author forgot that he was writing the composition to pin it surreptitiously as an autobiography written by Guru Gobind Singh. In what is clearly a lapse of the real writer’s fakery, he assumed his real position as a ghost writer. This is clear when the “I” in the first person suddenly shifts to the second person. For example, “Then the omnipresent being created Gorakh.” And “No one considered the complete being as lord.” And “None were able to recognize the complete being.” If indeed God was talking to the author directly – as is the purported claim of this ostensive autobiography, the above verses should have been: “Then I created Gorakh.” And “No one considered ME as lord.” And “None were able to recognize ME as the complete being.”


The verses pertaining to Guru Teg Bahadur and Mata Gujri ji – within the purported autobiography – are as follows:

ਅਬ ਕਬਿ ਜਨਮ ਕਥਨੰ ॥ Ab Kab Janam Kathhanang.

And now the story of my birth.

ਮੁਰ ਪਿਤ ਪੂਰਬ ਕੀਯਸਿ ਪਯਾਨਾ ॥ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਭਾਂਤਿ ਕੇ ਤੀਰਥਿ ਨਾਨਾ ॥

Mur Pith Poorab Keeyas Payana. Bhanth Bhanth Kae Theerathh Nhana.

My parents went on pilgrimage to the East where they bathed in a variety of teeraths.

ਜਬ ਹੀ ਜਾਤ ਤ੍ਰਿਬੇਣੀ ਭਏ ॥ ਪੁੰਨ ਦਾਨ ਦਿਨ ਕਰਤ ਬਿਤਏ ॥ 1 ॥

Jab Hee Jaat Thribaenee Bhaey. Punn Daan Din Karat Bitaey.

When they reached Tribeni at Priyaag; they spent their days undertaking religious offerings.

ਤਹੀ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ ਹਮਾਰਾ ਭਯੋ ॥ ਪਟਨਾ ਸਹਰ ਬਿਖੈ ਭਵ ਲਯੋ ॥

Thehee Prakas Hamara Bhayo. Pattana Sehar Bikhai Bhav Layo.

There I descended (into my mother’s womb). I took birth in the town of Patna.


The following questions need answers when reading the above verses pertaiing to Guru Teg Bahadur and Mata Gujri ji.

One, is there any independent historical record, outside of the DG, of Guru Teg Bahadur going to Tribeni and doing the things that were suppposedly done (teerath baths, punn, daan, offerings etc)?

Two, how do we reconcile the bani of Guru Tegh Bahadur that rejects fully and completely teerath baths, cleansings, punn, daan etc; as follows:

ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਅਰੁ ਦਾਨ ਕਰਿ ਮਨ ਮੈ ਧਰੈ ਗੁਮਾਨੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਿਹਫਲੁ ਜਾਤ ਤਿਹ ਜਿਉ ਕੁੰਚਰ ਇਸਨਾਨੁ ॥ ੪੬ ॥

Teerath Brut Aar Daan Kar Mun Meh Dharey Gumaan. Nanak Nehfil Jaat Teh Jion Kunchar Isnaan. GGS 1428

Undertaking pilgrimages to teeraths, keeping fasts, and making offerings, Nanak, are as useless as an elephant cleansing itself (and dirtying itself yet again) due to the egoistic mind.

Why is Guru Teg Bahadur shown (in the autobiography) as performing acts that are described as useless in his own bani in the SGGS? How do we reconcile the ninth Guru’s “Tribeni acts, punn, daan” with the more than 141 verses that reject teeraths alone in the SGGS? And the 44 verses that reject daan (offerings). And the 54 verses that reject “punn”? Why is Guru Gobind Singh then purportedly saying his parents performed acts that are discarded in Sikhi – namely teerath, and pun daan? Is the objective to co-opt Guru Teg Bahadur into these rejected rituals through the so called autobiography?

Three, if indeed the parents of Guru Gobind Singh got what they wanted (Guru Gobind Singh as their child) through going to teeraths, daan and pun, then why did not the ninth and tenth Gurus tell us Sikhs to use the same methods to get our temporal wants?

Four, the existance of Tribeni as a physical location is decisively mythological. There is no such place. Sanskrit poets such as Valmiki and Kalidasa – both of whom predated our Gurus – have written of a confluence of two rivers Ganga and Yamuna at Prayag (Allahabad). How would Guru Gobind Singh ever end up referring to a non-existant, mythological and fictional place as the place where his parents performed religious rites?


Nirmla Pandit Tara Singh Narotam and Sohan Singh of the Indian Army are said to have discovered the location of Hemkund in 1934. Nirmla Bhai Veer Singh had discovered a different location, but subsequently went along with the location of Tara Singh.

The primary question here is – how were these people able to discover this location that is under hundreds of feet of snow for 9 months of the year from a single verse of the BNG autobiography as contained within the DG. The only verse that makes reference to a physical location is:

ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਪਰਬਤ ਹੈ ਜਹਾਂ॥ ਸਪਤ ਸ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਸੋਭਿਤ ਹੈ ਤਹਾਂ ॥ ੧ ॥

Hemkunt Parbat Hai Jahan. Sapat Sring Sobhat Hai Tahan.

Hemkunt is that mountain. Where seven peaks adorn.

The question is how one could plot the GPS coordinates from this one couplet. Three related questions come to mind. One, seven peaks would be visible from an area spanning hundreds or even thousands of square miles. To conclude that the phrase “where seven peaks adorn” refers to a particular and specific location is a stretch as wide as the seven peaks themselves. Second, why then are the seven peaks nowhere to be seen when one stands on the location of Hemkund as it stands today? Third, the verse says “Hemkund is that mountain.” How did Tara Singh, Sohan Singh and Veer Singh find the exact spot on a “mountain” – find the needle in the haystack?


The design and construction of Hemkund was conducted in the mid-1960s, by Major General Harkirat Singh, Engineer-in-Chief, of the Indian Army. The structure was designed by architect Siali Luddu of the Indian Army as well. With the active involvement of the Indian government, Sikhs have come to accept Hemkund as a place of pilgrimage beginning 1960: forever subjugating the psyche of the Sikhs to a phenomenon that has a mountain load of unanswered questions, but is completely contradictory to the counsel and messages within the SGGS.


The journey to Hemkund involves two other locations. 19 kilometers prior to reaching Hemkund, one arrives at Gobind Ghaat. This is primarily a ‘vehicle station’ where one parks one’s vehicle for a fee to continue the remaining journey on foot. 13 kilometers on, there is a second location called Gobind Dhaam. This is a place for an overnight stay to prepare for the final 6 kilometer trek to Hemkund. The journey up and down from Gobind Dhaam must be concluded on the same day. Overnight accommodation at Hemkund Sahib is not possible, and given the lack of oxygen at Hemkund pilgrims only stay for approximately 2-4 hours before returning to Gobind Dhaam.

Given that Gobind Ghaat and Gobind Dhaam are critical components of Hemkund, the first question is why is there no narrative of Gobind Ghaat and Gobind Dhaam in the BNG? Both are named after Guru Gobind Singh. Surely, these places must have a historical connection with the tenth Guru for them to be named such. And since there is not a single mention of these places in any Sikh or even nirmla, udasi or non-Sikh accounts pertaining to Guru Gobind Singh in this present life, one must assume there must be a connection with his purported past life as Dushat Daman. But even that is missing. The logical conclusion is that these names were concocted to give credence to the myth of Hemkund.

Two, why was the first location as found by Bhai Veer Singh discarded? Because the path didn’t pass through all the Hindu shrines linked to the Pandavas at the Naina Devi (Durga) Reserve?

Three, why is the Indian Government – through its Army – showing such benevolence in wanting to find the location, design a structure, and build it for the Sikhs? Why does the corps of engineers from the Indian Army clear the path to Hemkund every tracking season? Why did the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi allocate huge sums of money to construct a rope way to Hemkund? Does this have anything to do with the desire to instill the notion that Guru Gobind Singh indeed worshipped Kalika the Mahakaal at Hemkund? To ensure that this fiction became a fact for Sikhs?

Hemkund Sahib reopens today for devotees after winter breakIndian Army clearing the snow path to Hemkund

Four, if indeed Hemkund is accepted by the Sikh Panth, why is this place not under the control of SGPC but put under a private trust by the government? Because such a situation makes it easier for the Trust to play into the hands of anti-Sikh forces, who want to mire Sikhs in frivolous worship of mythological places?

Five, why is it that in the 294 years since Guru Gobind Singh ji was born – until 1960 – no Sikh had ever gone to this place? Why didn’t Guru Ji himself go there in his lifetime? Why didn’t the Punj Pyare go there? Why didn’t any other prominent or important Sikhs such as Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Nand Lal, Baba Deep Singh etc go looking for this place? Why didn’t Guru Gobind Singh take any of these Sikhs there? Why is there no mention of Hemkund in any literature other than the BNG and DG?

Because it didn’t exist until the writers of Bachittar Natak created it?


The DG is ascribed to the tenth master with the addition of the words “Patshahi 10” (The 10th Majesty) to the beginning of each and every rachna (composition) that was selected for inclusion in the DG by the Repair Committee of 1790. It did not matter if the compositions went totally against the tenets of the SGGS, or that one third of it talks about devi devtas that have nothing to do with Sikhi, or that some 600 pages of it contain sexually explicit narratives, or that it did not exist prior to 1790. It does not matter that the real names of the author poets Raam, Syam and Nul appear 181 times in the DG, sometimes right under the Patshahi 10 stamp as shown below on page 155 of DG.

ਪਾਤਸ਼ਾਹੀ ੧੦॥ ਅਥ ਚੌਬੀਸ ਅਵਤਾਰ ॥ ਚਉਪਈ ॥ ਅਬ ਚਉਬੀਸ ਉਚਰੋਂ ਅਵਤਾਰਾ ॥ ਜਿਹ ਬਿਧ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਲਖਾ

ਅਖਾਰਾ ॥ ਸੁਨੀਅਹੁ ਸੰਤ ਸਭੈ ਚਿਤ ਲਾਈ ॥ ਬਰਨਤ ‘ਸਯਾਮ’ ਜਥਾ ਮਤ ਭਾਈ ॥੧॥

Patshahi 10-. Aath Cahubees Avtar. Chaupayee. Ab Chaubees Uchron Avtara. Jeh Bidh Tin Ka Lakha Akhara. Suneuyo Sant Sbhai Chit Layee. Barnat “Syam” Jtha Mut Bhaee.

Pathshai 10. Twenty-Four avtars. Chaupayee. Now I speak of the 24 avtars. For whom this writing is composed. Listen with attention all sants. Syam speaks to the extent of his intellect.

The stamp of Patshahi 10 is dubbed so carelessly that the real author’s name appears within the first five lines of the stamping. The ending verses of DG as follows:

ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਕਰੀ ਹਮ ਪਰ ‘ਜਗਮਾਤਾ’ ॥ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਕਰਾ ਪੂਰਨ ਸੁਭਰਾਤਾ॥ …॥ 402॥

ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਸਿਧੁਜ ਜਬ ਭਏ ਦਇਆਲਾ॥ ਪੂਰਨ ਕਰਾ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਤਤਕਾਲਾ॥. .॥ 403॥

Kirpa Karee Hum Pur Jug Maata. Granth Kra Puran Subhrata.

Sri Astujh Jub Bhae Dyala. Puran Kra Granth Tatkala.

I have completed this wondrous granth with the blessings of Durga maata. I have also received the blessings of Sri Astujh (another of Mahakaal’s names) to complete this granth.


It is indeed a novel way of subjugating Guru Gobind Singh through the creation of a fictitious “past life” for the tenth master and to subjugate him in that past life to Durga, Chandee and Mahakaal. The tenth Guru is given a fictitious name “Dushat Daman” and is shown as meditating for hundreds of years upon and Kalika Devi (Durga) the Mahakaal while sitting in the snowy mountains of locations unknown. The narrative that is contained within the Suraj Parkash Granth of Nirmla Santokh Singh is as follows.

Exhausted from fighting the demons in support of the devtas, Durga Bhavani took shelter in the mountain named Hemkund. Here she met a brahmin who had been meditating there for centuries. Upon seeing Durga, he got up to dust the tiger skin rug that had been sitting on for all the years. “Dushat Daman” was created from whatever it was that came out of this dusting. This Dushat Daman then joined Durga Bhavani in fighting the demons for millions of years and restored the kingdom to Durga. Durga then told Dushat Daman that since he helped her in Dev Lok (Heaven) – she will return the favor in Maat Lok (Earth). She told Dushat Daman “just like how you were produced from the tiger skin rug, I will help you produce the Khalsa.” Dushat Daman is then said to have gone back into meditating on Durga.

ਹੇਮਕੁੰਟ ਪਰਬਤ ਹੈ ਜਹਾਂ॥ ਸਪਤ ਸ੍ਰਿੰਗ ਸੋਭਿਤ ਹੈ ਤਹਾਂ ॥ ੧ ॥

Hemkunt Parbat Hai Jahan. Sapat Sring Sobhat Hai Tahan.

Hemkunt is that mountain. Where seven peaks adorn.

ਤਹ ਹਮ ਅਧਿਕ ਤਪਸਿਆ ਸਾਧੀ॥ ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਕਾਲਕਾ ਅਰਾਧੀ॥ 2॥

Teh Hum Adhak Tapasiya Sadhee. Mahakaal Kalika Aradhee.

There I conducted massive penance. I meditated on Kalka (Durga) the Mahakaal.

The entire notion of Dushat Daman as the incarnation of Guru Gobind Singh is blasphemous to the core. It is sacrilegious, offensive and profane. The notion that Dushat Daman was created from the stuff that had gathered under the rug sat on by a brahmin for centuries is obnoxious to the core. It is loathsome, detestable, and abhorrent. But all of this blasphemy and loathsomeness is epitomized by the shrine that Sikhs have built for themselves at Hemkund. Instead of getting rid of such blasphemy, gullible Sikhs have carved it into stone.

Other parts of the DG portray the tenth master as “praying intensely” to “make Durga appear” for the purposes of creating the Khalsa. For Sikhs who may wonder why Guru Gobind Singh did such – the answer lay in the promise Durga made to Guru Gobind Singh ji in his “past life” of Dushat Daman. Once a devotee, always a devotee.


It is clear that Guru Gobind Singh did not write this defective composition called his autobiography of his past life as contained within the BNG. He could not have. It is too full of too many holes as illustrated in the many question posed above pertaining to every section of the composition.

It is a composition of people who wanted to subjugate Guru Gobind Singh as a devotee of Kalika, sully Guruji’s spirituality, put Guruji at odds with the other 9 Gurus, mislead Sikhs of their unique identity and to corrupt Sikhi.

Hemkund is thus a fabrication as tall as the Himalaya mountains where it is located.


  1. Dr Ratan Singh Jegi and Dr Gursharan Kaur Jegi, Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, Part 1, New Delhi: Gobind Sadan, 2007.
  2. Gurbaksh Singh, Bipran Kee Reet To(n) Sach Da Marag, Part 10, Chandigarh: Akaal Shaye Trust, 2004.
  3. Bhag Singh Ambala, Gyani, Dasam Granth Darpann, Haryana: Gurmat Parkashan, 2001.

The Hijacking of Sikhi – Dr Karminder Singh Dhillon



Book Review

E:\User\Pictures\Book Covers\Revised Hijacking\Revised Ed Front 2.jpg

By Professor Sarjit Singh (University Putra Malaysia)

The Hijacking of Sikhi (Revised Edition) 2022

Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston)

450 pages. Hard Cover. Full color.

It is not often that one comes across a book that is so deeply thought provoking, powerful and riveting as is The Hijacking of Sikhi. The author presents a narrative of a spirituality that is systematically distorted and corrupted over a period of two centuries by weaving together compelling facts, persuasive argument and gripping observations of his own.

The primary thesis of the book is as shocking as it is distressing: Sikhi as it is practiced today, is no longer the Sikhi that was taught to us by our Gurus. It is a spirituality that stands distorted, corrupted and tainted. The messages of its scripture – Gurbani – have been distorted through vedic, yogic and puranic slants in interpretations and translations; its history muddled in unbelievable tales of miracles called sakhis, it’s general conduct dictated by an institutionalized clergy – a group that was soundly critiqued by our Gurus, and its religious practices have come to consist of those smuggled in from rejected and discarded rituals of pre-1469 faiths. The thesis is shocking because it evokes the most powerful reaction in the reader as to “how did we allow such to happen.” It is distressing because the supporting evidence of the thesis is overwhelming.

E:\User\Desktop\SIKH BULLETIN\Photos of Writers\Prof Sarjit Singh.jpgProf. Sarjit Singh

The author begins with the notion that the uniqueness of Sikhi was total and complete in that every aspect of Sikh spirituality was uniquely different from the then existing ones. The summary list of the distinctiveness of Sikhi provided by the author in his preface alone is enough to make his point. He writes:

“The concept of a One Omnipresent God that is manifest in His creation and realized within us; the Shabd as Guru; the spirituality’s focus on the HERE and NOW; a philosophy that rejected ritual and advocated obtaining salvation while still alive; a scripture that gave space to adherents of different faiths; and Gurbani’s emphasis on humanity, gender equality and the need to elevate one’s mind to Godly levels are but just some of the defining features of Sikhi in its original and authentic sense.”

All of these truths have, however, become stranger than fiction within the Sikh world, according to the author. The primary thesis of the author relating to how it happened is captured in this paragraph from the preface:

“To the greatest detriment of Sikhi’s uniqueness, three powerful groups – all of which were fake, deviant and or anti Sikhi – would control our literature, historical narratives, and institutions, including gurdwaras (and by extension the psyche and fate of Sikhi) for a long period of 207 years (1718 till 1925) following the Guru period of 239 years (1469 – 1708). “

The outcome of such long control and subjugation, as argued by the author is the hijacking of Sikhi. He provides a poignant snapshot of the hijacking in the following words:

“The Sikh of today looks up to the heavens for a praise-thirsty clergy-concocted god sitting up there; prays to that god for miracles to resolve his worldly affairs; makes offerings to please that god; remains obsessed with the notion of rewards after death; considers the 1429 page Gurbani as a mantra to be chanted by the self or by hired hands to obtain material wealth, cures for disease as well as other askings. He makes deals with his god to undertake Akhand Paths, Sehej Paths and Sukhmani if god would solve his problems. The SGGS is to him an object of worship – fit only for offering items and money. Understanding the SGGS is of no concern to him, consequently, Gurbani ideals such as a spirituality of virtues, humanity and equality holds no importance to him. He considers spirituality as being located within external symbols and outer garb. He believes his vices can be cleansed by a variety of rituals, offerings and deals such as pilgrimages, fixed number of paths, or dipping in pools of historic gurdwaras in India. It’s a faith that has been hijacked from its unique path and equally distinct goals. It is a Godly spirituality that has been corrupted into a clergy- concocted and clergy dominated religious dogma.”

This book tells the story of how, when and why this happened. To provide thematic continuity, it is divided into four parts. PART ONE – The Introduction – deals with the what, when, who and why of the notion of Sikhi being hijacked. Chapters One to Five are devoted to this part.

PART TWO deals with pertinent Gurbani issues that are related to the hijacking. This part discusses three main ways in which the hijackers of Sikhi tried to rob Sikhs of the authentic spirituality of Gurbani. Method one relates to distorted translations. Three chapters titled “Lost in Translation,” “Taking Sikhi Back to 1468,”and “Getting to the Messages of Gurbani” respectively are devoted towards shed light on this first method. Method two relates to creating fake “life narratives” of the 15 Bhagats whose writings are contained in the SGGS. These narratives compete with the messages of the Bhagats as contained within the SGGS. Two chapters titled “The Bhagat Maal Debacle” and “The Hijacking of Bhagat Dhanna” respectively exemplify this second method. Method three relates to willful distorting of particular banis to serve clergy interests and them popularizing them with fake claims. Sukhmani has suffered this fate at the hand of the self-proclaimed sants and babas of deras and taksals. This is explained in Chapter Ten of this book titled “Hijacking of Sukhmani.”

PART THREE evaluates the dysfunctionality of our Gurdwaras as centers of clergy practices; and appraises a number of Sikhi practices, beliefs and celebrations against the benchmark of Gurbani with the aim of empowering practicing Sikhs to decide if they wish to discard these practices – imposed upon us or distorted by the hijackers, bring them in line with Gurmat, and adopt only those sanctioned by Gurbani.

PART FOUR narrates the efforts undertaken by awakened and enlightened Sikhs to free our spirituality from the shackles of the hijackers and to revert Sikhi to its original authentic mode. Such efforts began in the late 1800s, by which time Sikhi had endured almost two centuries of adulteration, corruption and deviation. This 120-year battle is still ongoing, and is expected to dominate the Sikhi discourse throughout the 21st Century.

The book ends with the question: “Are we going to adopt the Sikhi of our Gurus or continue practicing the “Sikhi” of the hijackers? The choice, according to the author, is stark but ours to make.

This compelling, riveting, powerful and thought provoking book is a must have for every Sikh home and a must read for every Sikh. It is not, however, for the faint hearted and those who are comfortable with the hijacked status quo of Sikhi.

The author is eminently qualified in writing on the issue. He has been speaking and writing on Gurbani and Sikhi matters as well as conducting Gurbani classes for the past 30 years. He has authored 10 books on Gurbani and Sikhi matters, produced more than 100 videos on the same matters, sits as the Editor in Chief of The Sikh Bulletin, USA and heads the Committee for Religious Affairs of the Global Sikh Council.

The book was first published in 2020. It is printed as a revised edition in 2022. The revised edition contains updated material in parts one and four relating to efforts in freeing Sikhi from the hijackers. Sources and references have also been updated. The revised edition also comes with a complete index that facilitates easy search for issues.

The Hijacking of Sikhi (Revised Edition) is published and distributed jointly by Sikhi Vichar Forum and The Sikh Bulletin. It is available for purchase at https://sikhivicharforum.org/store/. The author has said that the book is made available at cost price with zero profit and zero royalty. Selling price: USD 5 (plus courier costs to your location).

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