4. Unpublished Granths

Some Granths have not yet been published. They are available in limited lithograph editions or in ismaili manuscripts.


By Dr. Gulshan Khaki

This paper is partly based on one of my previously published paper [1] and draws freely from it.

The concept of Das Avataar has been mentioned in numerous Ginans. In the Ginanic literature there are three works which are specifically identified by the name Das Avtaar. The smallest of these three is attributed to Pir Shams and has been published in his Ginan Collection [2]. This version, which is sometimes called "Pir Shams jo Das Avataar" and consists of twenty eight lines divided into ten verses of varying length. The second version was composed by Pir Sadardin and is counted as one of his major works or Granths. This Granth is generally known as "Nano Das Avataar" and consists of about ten pages of text, divided into ten sections of varying length. The third and the largest version was composed by Sayyed Imam Shah and is known as "Moto Das Avataar". This monumental work consists of a short prologue followed by ten sections of varying length, totalling sixteen hundred verses.

While examining several manuscripts of Das Avataar, I came across in one of the manuscripts (Kx Ms. - described in another paper in this proceedings), a hereto unknown version of Das Avataar. This version is in very archaic sounding Sindhi and is attributed to Pir Shams. It seems that there is no difference in the theme or main contents between this and the other version of Pir Shams Das Avataar. However, it is the linguistic value of this newly discovered version that is of interest to us here. As far as I know, there is only one copy of it in the manuscript now in possession of Ismaili Tariqa Board of Pakistan (Karachi).

Linguistically it is interesting, because it is composed entirely in archaic sounding Sindhi. (I have appended a text of it to this paper.) In the opinion of Prof. A. Schimmel, based on the fact that the earliest Sindhi uses the littlest possible Arabic and no Persian vocabulary at all, the Sindhi Das Avataar of Pir Shams must have been composed prior to the seventeenth century A.D. In this respect it can hold comparison with the works of Shah Lutf Allah Qadiri who died in the seventeenth century A.D. In our text the following Arabic or Persian words are to be found: Shah (nine times), Ali (once), Pir Shams (once), Alamut (once), `ilm (once), Bhajara (bazar ? once), ala ( ? once), bhecara (once). At the beginning of the Ginan the instruction is given that it should be sung in the raga Kedara, which interestingly is the raga Shah Abd al-Latif of Bhit (d. 1752) uses for his poetry concerning Muharram happenings.

Since this is the only copy known at this point in time, it makes it very difficult to decipher some of the illegible and /or in-comprehensible words. Should more copies of it be found it may be possible to prepare a standard version of this Ginan. Not only would it comprise an interesting specimen of Pir Shams work in Sindhi, but it would also be a rare example of a Ginan composed in different languages for geographically diverse converts.


1 Khaki G., "The Dasa Avatara of Pir Shams as linguistic and literary evidence of the early development of Ismailism in Sind"; SIND THROUGH THE CENTURIES, pp 143-155.

2 Shams Pir, Collection of Ginans; pp 35-37. Ismailia Association for India, 1952.

Challis wato - An Unpublished Granth

by Mukhi Abdulsultan Rahemtulla

The Granth Challis Waato is an unpublished work attributed to Sayyed Imam Shah. It seems that although Mukhi Lalji Devraj was aware of its existence, it did not get published during his lifetime. Since then it has gone into almost obscurity with its name not appearing in any of the published lists of Granths. The manuscript used for this presentation was found recently in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. The manuscript is less than a hundred years old and is in excellent condition. The writing is clear and legible. The granth is in prose form and occupies thirty seven pages of the manuscript.

The name Challis Waato literally means forty sayings or short discourses. Although supposedly written By Sayyed Imam Shah, most of the text is a narration of questions and answers between Prophet Mohammed (S.A.S.) and his companions (Ashabs). The dialogue is composed of short discourses or advices given by the Prophet.

The Granth begins with the statement that if a momin (or a group of four) reads or listens to these forty sayings and acts accordingly he will be rewarded on the Day of Judgement by being revived with an eternal spiritual body (noorani kaya). Furthermore, it is said (by the prophet) that whoever establishes a vigil for forty days (Challiso) of praying through the night in Jamat Khana and fasting (during the day) and at the end of period offers food to forty momins, he will have his pious desires and wishes fulfilled. Should one not have the means to feast forty momins, than twenty are accepted. If even feasting of twenty momins is beyond ones means than offering food to one poor person or beggar will be accepted as long as the beneficiary is a Nizari Ismaili.

Thereafter, most of the Granth deals with questions from the companions and answers from the Prophet on the nature of hell and how a momin can avoid it. The discourse contains advices from the Prophet on the actions of the momin which will lead to rewards in paradise. There are forty such questions, answers and discourses, hence the name.

The language of the Granth is relatively simple Gujarati. The Granth is unusual in the sense that not only it offers teachings in the Quranic/Hadith style but it also narrates as said by the Prophet ( "wari Hazrat Rasul (S.A.S) farmaayiu ke...."). Beside the present copy, there are at least two other manuscripts available of the same Granth: one at Harvard University and the other at the ITREB for Pakistan. In conclusion, I hope that with the availability of this Granth in Gujarati, it will be more widely read and hopefully will expose the reader to an additional dimension of the voluminous works of Sayyed Imam Shah.

Chhatris Kror - An Unpublished Granth

By Dr. Shiraz Ismail

The name Chhatris Kror literally means three hundred and sixty million. It refers to the number of Pir Sadardin's followers out of whom Baar Kror or one hundred and twenty million attained salvation. This granth was composed by Pir Sadardin. It has never been published. From a brief note in one of his books, we learn that Mukhi Lalji Devraj was aware of its existence and intended to publish it. However, for reasons that we do not know it never got published. With Mukhi Devraj's death most of the Ginan publishing activities came to a standstill.

The manuscript used for this presentation was given to me by Mukhi Abdulsultan Rahemtulla. The manuscript is about one hundred years old. The text of this granth is in Khojki and consists of 178 verses. Nagib Tajdin has another manuscript in his possession which has 180 verses. However at the time of writing this paper, I did not have access to it.

It is important not to confuse these 36 Kror with the 33 kror mentioned elsewhere in various Ginans. The 33 Kror are the ones who did attain salvation (5 Kror through Raja Pahelaj, 7 Kror through Raja Harishchandra, 9 Kror through Raja Jujesthan and 12 Kror through Pir Sadardin). Whereas the 36 Kror here represent the total mass of Pir Sadardins' followers out of whom 12 Kror attained salvation through him and thus got included in the 33 Kror.

The main part of the granth contains the story of the 24 Kror who did not attain salvation and were thus condemned to "Ghor andhar" or total darkness. It is important to bear in mind that the whole Granth including all the names and incidents are full of symbolism and should not be taken literally. The narration begins with the Pir announcing to the jamat that he was going to Alamut (the residence of the Imam of the time) and would the jamat like to accompany him, to which the Jamat agrees and assembles under the three Mukhis, each with a group of 12 Kror. The names of the three Mukhis are also given, they are; Mukhi Trikum (who from other Ginans is known to be from the city of Kotda), Mukhi Shamdas from Lahor (east) and Mukhi Tulsidas from Kashmir (west).

The group starts the journey and comes to Gujarat in the kingdom of King Bhikham. On the outskirts of the town there lived a courtesan by the name of Subhagi. The Pir visits her house and spends a night there. All the three mukhis witness this incident and are perplexed by the behaviour of their master. When the morning comes the Pir orders his Mukhis pay the courtesan her fees. Mukhi Shamsdas was the first to ask her about her fees and she demands one hundred and twenty five thousand (sava lakh). The next day when Mukhi Tulsidas inquires about her fees she demands two hundred thousand in exchange for the Pirs freedom. The two mukhis begin to have serious doubts about the Pirs virtues and openly accuse him of engaging in immoral activities. On the third day Mukhi Trikum goes to release his master. Subhagi now demands three hundred and seventy five thousand. Mukhi Trikum not only agrees to arrange for the sum but tells her that since his master was living with her she was like a mother to him (note the difference in approach between the three mukhis).

Mukhi Trikum now ponders on how to raise the money. A thought crosses his mind to use the Dasond money, however, he quickly dismisses it as not right. Finally he comes to the decision to take his wife's and daughter's jewellery to the king. Once again we are given in the granth, not only the names of his three daughters, but also the name of his wife. The names of his three daughters are; Shamsundri, Devdand and Dayal while his wifes name is given as Maanand. I have no doubt that all these names have deep symbolic meaning. Coming back to the story, the king refuses to buy the jewels unless Mukhi Trikum also includes his three daughters in the bargain. Finally out of desperation, Mukhi Trikum agrees to the deal, takes the money and releases the Pir.

Thereafter, Mukhi Trikum invites Pir Sadardin to his place for dinner. However, when the Pir sits down to eat he inquires about the Mukhis' daughters. The Mukhi had no alternative but to tell the truth. When the Pir heard about the fate of the daughters, he refuses to partake any food until the Mukhi secures the release of his daughters. Mukhi Trikum then goes to the King to plead for his daughters release, Subhagi enters the scene, it turns out that she was a true momin all along. She returns the money to the King, who in turn releases the Mukhis daughters assuring Trikum that he in no way took advantage of them, that they are pure and he treated them well. They all return to Trikum's place where they are joined by the Pir. It turns out that it was all a test of their faith (Iman) and Mukhi Trikum and his lot held on to it while the others lost theirs. The other two groups now repent for their error, the Pir forgives them and they proceed with the journey.

The 24 Kror, now having got their second chance, the caravan proceeds until they come to the banks of river Atak (atki jai ???) where they pitch their camp. This part of the country was ruled by King Devchand and his queen Chandade rani. Now it so happens that while the queen was taking her bath, Satan (Shaitan, it is not clear in the ginan who he is) goes to her in the disguise of Mukhi Trikum and not only steals her necklace of nine strings (Nav lakho haar) but also behaves in a very disrespectful manner. The queen reports the incident to the king who immediately orders a search of the caravan for the culprit. During the search the Pir is found to have the necklace. Once again the faith of the 24 Krors is shaken. When the King is notified of the discovery, he orders the Pirs execution. However when the soldiers come to execute the Pir, Mukhi Trikum intervenes and declares that he is the real culprit and it is he who should be punished and not the Pir, and so he is slain instead. When the Mukhiani saw what happened to her husband she declares that she and not her husband was the real culprit and so she is killed also. Seeing this the three daughters repeat the same plea and are executed followed by the three sons (whose names are also given) who go on to meet the same fate. Now one by one the 12 Kror followers enter the same plea and gladly accept the punishment. Their bodies are thrown in the river. The massacre continues for four days.

Meanwhile, princess Ramkali who had her palace on the yonder banks of the river was witnessing the incident. She saw that those slain were not really dying but were ascending to heaven in shinning attire (noorani vastra). Realizing that this might be a unique opportunity to salvation, she decides to join in. However, by the time she gets to the site, the slaying is over. While the killing was in progress, it so happened that some sixteen hundred souls from the 24 Kror had realized their error for the second time and were repentant. These were told by the Pir that if they desired salvation, then they will have to undergo a trial. They were ordered to collect wood, sell it and offer the money as Dasond.

So it happens that these sixteen hundred set out to sell the wood. However, after trying for a long time they could not find a buyer. Eventually they come across a medicant (Faqueer) who offers to buy the entire stock in exchange for a precious stone. The aspirants then take the stone to the local jeweller in the hope of selling it to him for cash. After examining it the jeweller declared that the stone was too precious for him to buy, but he suggested that the king might be able to afford it. The aspirants then took the diamond to the king who upon seeing it recognised it as belonging to the queens jewels and ordered that these sixteen hundred should be slain also by the river banks. The princess seeing that the opportunity was once again there to sacrifice herself and attain salvation disguised herself as a male and joined the sixteen hundred in laying down their lives.

After it was all over a holy man (sadhu) visits the queen and tells her about her daughter's death and explains to her that this whole incident was staged so as to enable the believers to attain salvation. Both, the king and the queen, upon hearing it were very repentant and so were the 24 Kror who had missed the opportunity for the second time. However the moment had passed (vera hati te to vahi gai) and they were condemned to total darkness (ghor andhar). Thus ends the story of Chhatris Kror.

A couple of points need mentioning; a date appears in the granth regarding the time of this incident. It is 17 th. of Ass (month) Savant 1452 (1396 AD). This date is the same as that given by Pir Hassan Kabirdin in one of his Ginans. Also at a couple of places mention is made of a wall of iron (vajar bhit), where believers have to wait six months (not six months and six days as in other Ginans). Again this could have some spiritual significance.

Thus in a few paragraphs I have tried to present the gist of this very interesting and as yet unpublished Granth. The language of the Granth although relatively simple is highly symbolic and full of mystical interpretations. I hope that with the availability of Gujarati transliteration this important Granth will be more widely read.

Pandavo no Parab - An Unpublished Granth

By Nazim Daredia


This Granth, also known as Pandave jo Parab, was composed by Sayyed Imam Shah and contains 578 verses. It has virtually the same theme as Buddh Avatar of Pir Sadardin. The Granth continues the story of the Pandavas after the win the war against their cousins turned enemies the Kurus. Concurrently it narrates the coming of the ninth Avatar in the form which came to be known as Buddh who saves the Pandavas from deviating from their true faith.


Up to the time of this conference it was generally believed that this Granth had only been published in Khojki of which a few copies were still available. Also this work is not well known within the community. Thus, the task of transliterating it into gujarati script was undertaken. However, it was learnt at the conference that a gujarati edition had indeed been published in the 1900's. This fact was brought to my attention by Mr Nurdin Rajan. The main reason why the Gujarati edition is virtually unknown is that only 500 copies were printed in the first edition. There is no evidence that this work was ever reprinted. The title page of the Gujarati edition is attached here as an addendum to this brief note.


Pandavo no Parab can be considered as one of the major pieces of works in our Ginanic literature. It deserves careful study, especially to delineate the differences and similarities between it and Buddh Avatar. Furthermore the Granth also gives in its end the date of its composition by Sayyed Imam Shah in 1437 Samvat (1381 A.D.). There are at least 3 manuscripts of this work available at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. One such manuscript dated Samvat 1925 (1869 A.D.) contains 580 verses. Let me mention also that Mrs Zawahir Noorally mentions in her Catalogue of Khojki Manuscripts in the Collection of the Ismailia Association for Pakistan (Karachi 1971), the existence of a "Vel" of 80 verses completing the Pandve jo Parab. The Vel is part of a manuscript numbered K.M.S. 112 written in Samvat 1935 (1879 A.D.).