This article connects the Sikh tradition to wider cultural and literary worlds by examining how gurbilās literature—written from the end of the seventeenth century into the nineteenth—is tied to the wider Braj literary world and more specifically to Braj martial poetry. Gurbilās literature—or “the play or pastimes of the Guru”—refers to a collection of biographies of the Sikh Gurus emphasizing the narration of life stories of Guru Gobind Singh and his heroic deeds. This essay focuses on the portrayal of an important battle widely narrated in Sikh history, the battle of Bhangani (dated to 1688), in three gurbilās texts. Its goal is to examine two main issues: first, how these three narratives, and gurbilās literature more broadly, interact along multiple poles with the wider world of Braj literary traditions, specifically with Braj martial poetry; and second, how these texts provide us with material to think about the context of performance of these texts. It concludes with a broad reflection on how these three narratives represent a textual microcosm that reveals the many connections gurbilās literature—and more broadly the Sikh cultural world—has with other genres and traditions.

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