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UK Maharaja Ranjit Singh Listening To The Holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Jee

Hardip Singh

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Jan 14, 2009
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Today on my Khalsabook account, I received this attached picture of Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to the holy scripture.

One thing I could not understand was, that how a Gursikh of Ranjit Singh's calibre could himself sit under a canopy (Chandoa) and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji jee does not have one. Ranjit Singh , as much I have studied, was a very humble Sikh and whenever in Darbar Sahib he visited, he was like a devout Sikh and not like a Maharaja as shown.

Is this possible or its just an artistical view. Request to all, pl if you can clarify it. Thanks.
 

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Gyani Jarnail Singh

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Re: Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to the holy SGGS jee

imho its a FAKE..designed to promote the DG as a parallel granth ( see 2 grantsh parkashed exactly same way)...the Maharaja would NOT accept any valuable gifts even..he would send them all to Harmandar sahib...so he cant be treating the GURU this way...and WHY would the GURU be OUTSIDE the Harmandar sahib ?? This also undermines the position of the Harmandara s well as the Akal takhat.
 

Hardip Singh

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Jan 14, 2009
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imho its a FAKE..designed to promote the DG as a parallel granth ( see 2 grantsh parkashed exactly same way)...the Maharaja would NOT accept any valuable gifts even..he would send them all to Harmandar sahib...so he cant be treating the GURU this way...and WHY would the GURU be OUTSIDE the Harmandar sahib ?? This also undermines the position of the Harmandara s well as the Akal takhat.
That exactly was my thought too, but was not sure. Thanks, Sir.
 

Sherdil

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Jan 20, 2014
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Re: Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to the holy SGGS jee

I've also seen this pic being used to argue that Dasam Granth is on the same level as GGS.

Rather, I think these are two copies of GGS being recited at the same time.

You cannot recite DG and GGS together. It would be like singing 2 different songs at once. It would sound like a mess.
 

spnadmin

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Re: Maharaja Ranjit Singh listening to the holy SGGS jee

When this picture was painted there was no such granth as the Dasam Granth. There were approximately 52 separate collections of hymns of unknown origin bound together. The actual contents of these individual collections did not match. Some hymns in one; others in another bound collection. The Dasam Granth emerges as a separate tome around 1901
 
Sep 19, 2013
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Nottingham
1. I'm not going to weigh in on any theological controversy here. I don't know enough about that.

2. These sorts of paintings often depict fanciful scenes, not real events. It is definitely a western-style painting, so either it comes from after the Anglo-Sikh Wars and was painted by a Sikh wanting to show a romantic image of the old days of Ranjit Singh, or it was painted by a westerner at some other time just as an Orientalist 'exotic' scene. The fact that there's no canopy over the SGGS is just one of several odd features. There are also misplaced 'Akalis' in pointy turbans flanking him for some reason, other people's turban styles look rather different to those in contemporary Persian paintings, and there seem to be all sorts of exotic servants around, like what seems to be a big fat shirtless man doing chaur-sahib seva at the back, a midget child running about in the middle and maybe even a harem girl near the rail.
 

spnadmin

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The painter was Auguste Schoeff. He was a contemporary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the scene would have been drawn from life drawings. We have to remember that the court of Ranjit Singh was full of riches and sensual delights - the maharaja himself had concubines. August Schoeff was there in person to capture the details of court life.

August Schoeff was not standing at his easel painting the scene before him as we see it in the image.

On your point of it being "fanciful." This painting was not composed from a real-time scene. So it is fanciful. Artists of the 19th Century brought renderings together to create the "big picture.' It is the result of many sketches or details of court life combined to create the panoramic view. As such it does represent the artist's personal reconstruction of a court scene built from many facets of court life.

There is actually a story about the Nihang presence in the court and I will try to find out more. The "pointy" turban is historically correct for the British period.
 

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Sep 19, 2013
132
286
28
Nottingham
The painter was Auguste Schoeff. He was a contemporary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and the scene would have been drawn from life drawings. We have to remember that the court of Ranjit Singh was full of riches and sensual delights - the maharaja himself had concubines. August Schoeff was there in person to capture the details of court life.

August Schoeff was not standing at his easel painting the scene before him as we see it in the image.

On your point of it being "fanciful." This painting was not composed from a real-time scene. So it is fanciful. Artists of the 19th Century brought renderings together to create the "big picture.' It is the result of many sketches or details of court life combined to create the panoramic view. As such it does represent the artist's personal reconstruction of a court scene built from many facets of court life.

There is actually a story about the Nihang presence in the court and I will try to find out more. The "pointy" turban is historically correct for the British period.
Good info Singh ji, thanks.
Makes sense, it would explain the general jumble of different things. Servants, akalis, canopy-bearers, priests and the emperor himself all together at once. It would also explain the ignorance of some specific details of the Sikh religion, like the lack of a canopy over the SGGS.

Some questions:
Is the red, toga-like dress worn by some of the men in that picture historical? Or is it artistic license? I've not seen such a thing worn as part of Panjabi dress today.

Did Maharaja Ranjit Singh frequently have Granthis reading in court in reality?

Was that pointy turban actually part of the Nihang uniform during the imperial era? I had thought it was earlier.
 

spnadmin

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AngloSikhPeace ji

Good info Singh ji, thanks.
Makes sense, it would explain the general jumble of different things. Servants, akalis, canopy-bearers, priests and the emperor himself all together at once.

A jumble of things is a good way to describe it. Schoeff collected many images of court life that must have excited him. He then grouped it all together in a striking panoramic composition. The background of the parkama and sarovar are architecturally interesting and hold the "jumble" together.

Most of what is there is historically accurate. What is inaccurate and misleading is the notion that all these details would happen at the same time in the same place. To our eyes it not only misunderstands Sikhism, but to my eyes it is even comical.

But the artist was working within the European protocol of what we now call the style of the "academy." A completely western notion of painting scenes of public importance with the grandeur that "should" be there, whether it was there or not. That is why your idea of "fanciful" makes so much sense.


It would also explain the ignorance of some specific details of the Sikh religion, like the lack of a canopy over the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

I honestly think that Maharaja did not decide one afternoon to take a leisurely stroll so to hear Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji being recited in the open air, as if it were a picnic of some kind. There are other contemporary pictures of Sikh sangat at worship and the view is totally different, and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in on a palki, inside Darbar Sahib, and under a canopy.


Some questions:
Is the red, toga-like dress worn by some of the men in that picture historical? Or is it artistic license? I've not seen such a thing worn as part of Panjabi dress today.

I honestly don't know about the toga, and suspect it is artistic license. One tendency of the style of the academy was to introject Roman and Greek imagery because it made things seem very grand -- in the eye and mind of the European of the day.


Did Maharaja Ranjit Singh frequently have Granthis reading in court in reality?

This I would have to research. I don't know. In court -- perhaps. Outside on a veranda - a long shot.

Was that pointy turban actually part of the Nihang uniform during the imperial era? I had thought it was earlier.

Yes the pointy turbans continued throughout the 19th Century. It would make a wonderful thread to survey those turbans.
So I still need to look up the Nihang story. And will churn up some information about the Akali Nihang dastar. You will notice they are decked with symbols of Shiva. To this day Shiva is an important theme within their maryada.
 

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