SARNA, MOHINDER SINGH (1923 -)
Sarna, Mohinder Singh born in 1923 at Rawalpindi, he joined the Indian Audits and Accounts Service after his B.A. (Hons.) and retired as Accountant General (Central Revenues) in 1981. He started writing at the age of twenty, and his first collection of short stories Father de Admi (Men of Stone) was published in 1949. He has so far written 235 short stories collected in his eleven books of short stories and a selection of his best stories. He has also written four novels, the latest being Neela Gulab and Suha Rang Majeeth Da. Sri Sama has also authored four epics in verse dealing with the lives of Sikh Gurus and heroes like Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Teg Bahadur, besides a literary autobiography.
Several of his books have been selected as the best Punjabi books of the year and made text books. The innumerable awards and honours he has received include Giani Gurmukh Singh Mussafir Kavita Puraskar and Bhai Santokh Singh Kavita Puraskar from the Punjab and Haryana governments respectively, Nanak Singh fiction Award, Delhi Sahitya Kala Parishad Award, Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar Award, Waris Shah Samman, \’Zenne Jadid\’ Award and Bawa Balwant Trust award. Navain Yug de Waris, the Sahitya Akademi Award-winning book published in 1990 is a collection of short stories that belongs in style and craftsmanship to the great Punjabi tradition in fiction. The stories cover a whole historical epoch right from the days of partition in 1947 upto 1990.
Navain Yug de Waris with its variety of themes and characters, nostalgia for his native land now ln Pakistan, its romance, pathos and fantasy is held in esteem as a magnum opus of Indian short fiction in Punjabi. He impresses a discriminating reader all the more because for his treatment he has chosen subjects from Sikh history, more especially the period when the Sikh people were engaged in a headlong clash with Mughal tyranny. It is the same steady and subdued note in Sama\’s account whether it is the supreme sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur or his son Guru Gobind Singh\’s clash with the Mughals at Chamkaur where two of his sons laid down their lives fighting against odds or his exploits while stationed at Paonta Saheb where Guru Gobind Singh made cooks and recluses fight against veteran warriors: When it came to fighting Sweetmeat vendors and sadhus acquitted themselves gloriously. Sarna owes it to his discipline of a historian and his background of a civilian who is trained to hold the scales even.
It is remarkable the way he weaves excerpts from Gurbani into his narration giving due regard to metre and diction in the original: “Nede aiya ant hai chhaddi nahin umeed Aje vi tarla ghatka akhan wang Farid Kaga Karang dhandholia sagia khaya mas Eh do nainan mat chhohiho pir dekhan di ass.” Similarly, where he finds an opportunity to describe nature, the artiste in Sarna displays the creative skill of his pen unmistakably: It was a peaceful night with a clear sky. The subtle charm of moonlight was spread all around the weather was kind and the breeze gentle, It moved with glamour and sang sweet songs. It is not easy to curb the fictionist in a writer while writing on a historical subject. Sama, a short story writer of no mean merit, does so creditably.
1. Amarjit Singh, Punjabi sahit da itihas ”Qissa kal, Amritsar, 1981.
2. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, 6 Vols., Delhi, 1995.
3. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.
4. Singh, N.K., Encyclopaedia of Indian Biography, Delhi, 2000