Guru Nanak and the Monster Fish

The Heritage Lab

ObjWeek Guru Nanak & the Fish: left (Guler Pahari style); right (Murshidabad, West Bengali style)

WHat IS IT?

This illustration is a page fromthe manuscript of the Janam-Sakhi ( Life Stories). While both illustrations above depict the same story, they are believed to find their origins in different artistic schools – Pahari (Guler), and Murshidabad and dates back to 1755-1770. In view of the size of the following that Nanak attracted, numerous anecdotes concerning the deeds of the Guru began to circulate within the community soon after his death. Many of these were borrowed from the current Hindu and Muslim traditions, and others were suggested by Nanak’s own works. These anecdotes were calledsakhis, or “testimonies,” and the anthologies into which they were gathered in rough chronological order are known asJanam-Sakhis.The interest of the narrators and compilers of theJanam-sakhis has largely concentrated on the childhood of…

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