Emperor Prophet

Punjab Digital Library was selected to develop an exhibition for the 350-year celebration of Guru Gobind Singh by the Government of Bihar. The exhibition entitled ‘Emperor-Prophet’: Guru Gobind Singh Sahib was unveiled on December 30 at Bihar Museum, Patna for a month.

The exhibition panels consist of portraits, maps, photographs, manuscripts, and paintings. Its description texts are in English, Panjabi and Hindi.

“For the last two months, we have carefully worked on curating a theme that will enable the masses in Patna and other cities via official celebrations to get a glimpse into the legacy of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. It has been a remarkable collaboration between institutions and artists,” remarked Davinder Pal Singh, PDL’s Executive Director.

PDL collaborated with amazing individuals and organizations from Panjab and Bihar such as NPS Randhawa (PCS) and Takht Patna Sahib as well as Art of Punjab and Sikh Research Institute from Canada and the United States of America.

“Our focus was to present the 'Tenth Sovereign’ in accordance with Guru Granth Sahib’s vision, highlight the historical narratives based on contemporary and near contemporary sources, and make the saga relevant to today’s generations via twentieth century authors and poets,” added Harinder Singh, educator and thinker.

A catalogue of the exhibition will be available as a memorabilia for sale. Additionally, a commemorative book on Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and Sikhs in Bihar is also published to mark the occasion in conjunction with Department of Art, Culture, and Youth, Government of Bihar.

Inni Kaur, poet and story-teller, added: “As curators our foremost concern was to tell the story of the Beloved in such a way that, audiences connect with the Guru regardless of their nationality or background.”

PDL is humble and excited to be part of the celebrations on behalf of its board, staff, and community of global supporters.


INDIA. Bihar state. 1967. Bihar famine and smallpox epidemic in Northern India.

(1) A man lies dying next to a holy cow at the cremation ghat in Patna. 

(2) A villager expresses his despair.

(3) Small girl with school slate and dish for food distribution. 

(4) Family with daily food ration.

(5) Funeral of a famine victim.

(6) A rat goddess and rats are being venerated in a temple where good wheat is fed to the animals. For millennia, bamboo flowering has been associated with famine and spikes in rat population. Bamboo experiences a cyclical phenomenon of flowering followed by death, which can happen anywhere in a range of 7 to 120 years. The flowering is followed by a large quantity of bamboo seeds on the forest floor which causes a spike in the rat population who feed of these seeds. With the changing weather and onset of rains, the seeds germinate and force the mice to migrate to land farms in search of food. The mice then feed on crops and grains stored in granaries which causes a decline in food availability and thus famine.

(7) A mother holds her smallpox-afflicted child. Of all those infected, 20–60 percent—and over 80 percent of infected children—die from the disease. In 1967, the World Health Organization estimated that 15 million people contracted the disease and that two million died in that year. Smallpox is one of two infectious diseases to have been eradicated. Long-term complications included characteristic scars (commonly on the face, 65–85 percent of survivors), blindness and limb deformities.

(8) A victim of the famine. 

(9) Distribution of food aid coming from the US. 

(10) Villagers come out of their huts to beg for food. 

Photographs: Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos

The Bihar famine of 1966–7 was a minor famine with relatively very few deaths from starvation as compared to earlier famines. The official death toll from starvation in the Bihar famine was 2353, roughly half of which occurred in the state of Bihar.

A combination of a severe drought in 1966–7 and reduction in the annual production of food grains precipitated the famine. Rise in prices of food grains caused migration and starvation, but the public distribution system, relief measures by the government, and voluntary organisations limited the impact. A large scale famine was averted due to imports, although livestock and crops were destroyed. Other reasons for successfully averting a large scale famine were the employing of various famine prevention measures such as improving communication abilities, issuing famine bulletins over the radio and offering employment to those affected by famine in government public works projects.

The Bihar famine gave impetus to further changes in agricultural policy and this resulted in the Green Revolution.