Question. Is it true that since the time of the writing of Dasam Granth, there has been a controversy about its authorship?
Answer. No it is not true.
There had never been any controversy regarding the authorship of Sri Dasam Granth till the beginning of the last century. The first known case of casting aspersions on the authorship of some of the banees was in the form of Babu Teja Singh Bhasaur. He however didn’t only cast aspersions on the banee of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, but also on the Bhagat banee and the Bhatt banee present in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. For this he was excommunicated from the Sikh panth.
If, at all, there had been any issue before that, it was limited to whether Sri Dasam Granth be kept in one volume or split into different volumes. The simple reason for this was that Sri Dasam Granth Sahib is not one book. It is a collected works containing books on different subjects bound in one volume.
Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, an encyclopedic authority on Sikh religion gives a detailed account about Sri Dasam Granth Sahib in Gurmat Martand, Vol. 2. Page 568. published by SGPC. The account is as follows:
In the year Samvat 1778 (1721 A.D.) i.e. thirteen years after Guru Gobind Singh ji’s demise Mata Sundri ji appointed Bhai Mani Singh ji as Granthi of Darbar Sahib, Sri Amritsar. Bhai Mani Singh ji discharged his duty very efficiently and during his tenure compiled different books including volumes of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and a volume containing writings of Guru Gobind Singh ji. He took a lot pain to collect writing from poets and devout Sikhs and prepared A Granth of the Tenth Master, known as Dasvin Patshahi ka Granth.
Bhai Mani Singh ji attained martyrdom in Samvat 1795 (1738 A.D.) i.e. thirty years after the Guru Gobind Singh ji left this world. Thereafter the Sikhs chose to send the volume of Dasam Granth to Damdama Sahib for perusal which was the seat of learning at that time and was known as Guru ki Kanshi.
Volume of this Dasam Granth was discussed in detail in the Khalsa Divan. There three views emerged. First: the entire volume be kept as such and be not split into different parts. Second: we should have one Granth only which has been conferred guru ship by Guru Gobind Singh ji himself and this Granth be split into different books so that the learned, scholars, Gianis and students are able to study it according to their competency. Third: many said that it should be split into two parts, one containing sri mukhvak banee which enunciates the principles of the of Khalsa and the second volume should contain the history etc. Fourth: many said that the volume prepared by Bhai Mani Singh ji should remain intact but certain deficiencies be removed, like searching missing portions etc .Fifth: many were of the view that the rest of the Granth be kept as such but the Chritras and eleven Hikayats, which could not be recited in the open divan and is more difficult for ladies, should be kept in another volume. Many more suggestions came but the gathering could not reach to any conclusion. Then Bhai Mehtab Singh Mirankotia came to the venue and said “I am going to punish Massa Ranghar for desecration of Sri Harimandir Sahib. If I come back alive after killing Massa Ranghar then this Granth should be preserved as such, and if I attain martyrdom then this should be split into different books”. Bhai Mahtab Singh returned safe after accomplishing the feat and the ‘ beer’ of Dasam Granth remained intact.
From this brief account given by Bhai Kahn Singh it is very clear that there was no dispute at all about the authorship of Sri Dasam Granth. After the conclusion Bhai Kahn Singh names the ‘Granth’ as ‘beer’ a word normally not used for any ordinary book or volume.
Ironically the notion that Sri Dasam Granth has always been shrouded in controversy came from the pen of a bureaucrat turned scholar in his article in 1990s. Hence this misstatement can be attributed only to ignorance or some ulterior motive.
If still someone wants to challenge Bhai Kahn Singh, he is welcome to do so but it should not be based on heresy or figment of imagination, but should have sound and substantiated background.
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