Recognizing the importance of the occasion and to demonstrate our work, skill and expertise the Panjab Digital Library, at the call of the Bihar government hosted the Emperor-Prophet Exhibition commemorating the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.
Weaving all the writings with manuscripts, paintings, artifacts, pictures of belongings, historical places, and other paraphernalia such as coins, with multi-lingual texts in English, Panjabi and Hindi, Emperor Prophet Guru Gobind Singh Sahib exhibition was inaugurated on 30th December by Bihar Minister of Art and culture Shri Shiv Chander Ram. With unlimited faith and a limited team of Inni Kaur for poetry and aesthetics, Harinder Singh for research and linguistics, Dalveer Singh and Taranpal Singh for design and layout, in the abounding faith of the Omnipresence of Guru Sahib, the exhibition was presented before a diverse audience of Sikhs and non-Sikhs, Panjabis and non-Panjabis.Not being bound by chronological historical events, popular philosophical insights, standards of art or aesthetics, or contemporary psychology, the exhibition looked beyond intellectual and mystical explanation of the Guru’s life.
The team worked on three sources: Guru Granth Sahib, contemporary writings, and people who actually understood the Guru. The quotations ranged from those of Bhai Nand Lal Goya’s divine vibrations in Zindginama, Joti Bigas, and Ganjnama – originally all written in Persian as well as Rahitnama and Tankhahnama – both written in Panjabi.Writings of Bhai Vir Singh, Babu Firozdin Sharaf, Puran Singh, Chander Sain Senapati, Bhai Jivan Singh Jaita and Allah Yaar Khan Jogi and many more were selected to provide context and continuity.
Close to 100,000 people, mostly non-Sikhs, visited in the first five days, watching the exhibits with awe, eagerness and unbiased devotion. When I told one of the curators of the Bihar Museum that the people of Bihar do not know much about Guru Gobind Singh, she quipped, “so is the case with the Sikhs too!” During the course of the exhibition, I realized, she was right!
By the time we completed, it was over 60 minutes. But he was not in any hurry; he spent another 20 minutes outside the exhibition hall where we had displayed pictures of about 60 Gurdwaras from across the world.
He was looking for picture of Dera Sahib, Lahore where he had visited once. Later he released a book Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and Sikhism in Bihar. He graciously signed and presented the first copy to me.
Panjab Digital Library has been doing exhibitions across the world but the Biharis surprised us! All the people we met, be at the exhibition, on the road or anywhere else, we felt we met those people whose forefathers and foremothers had seen the Emperor-Prophet and served the Guru Sahib. We met people who were thanked by Guru Teghbahadar Sahib for taking care of Gobind Rai!
Thank you, Bihar!
Davinder Pal Singh,
The author is co-founder and Executive Director of Panjab Digital Library