SURDAS, one of the medieval Indian bhakta poets whose verses have been incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib. Surdas, whose original name was Madan Mohan, is said to have been born in 1529, in a high-ranking Brahman family. As he grew up, he gained proficiency in the arts of music and poetry for which he had a natural talent. He soon became a celebrated poet, singing with deep passion lyrics of Divine love. He attracted the attention of Emperor Akbar who appointed him governor of the parganah of Sandila. But Surdas` heart lay elsewhere.

He renounced the world and took to the company of holy men dedicating himself solely to the Lord. He died at Banaras. A shrine in the vicinity of the city honours his memory. The Guru Granth Sahib contains one hymn by Bhakta Surdas, in the Sarang measure. In fact, it is not a complete hymn but a single line : “0 mind, abandon the company of those who turn away from God.” It is believed to be the refrain of a complete hymn composed by Surdas in which he described one who had turned away from God as an incorrigible sinner for whom there was no hope of redemption.

Guru Arjan omitted the rest of the hymn probably because it ran counter to the Sikh belief in God`s grace even for the worst of sinners. He therefore composed a hymn to explain and supplement the single line of Surdas. Its refrain is : “Men of God abide with the Lord.” Surdas whose verse figures in the Guru Granth Sahib is to be differentiated from the blind poet of the same name who wrote Sui Sagar.

References :

1. Sabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Amritsar, 1975
2. Gurdit Singh, Giani, Itihas Sn Guru Granth Sahib (Bhagat BanIBhag). Chandigarh, 1990
3. Sahib Singh, Bhagat Bani Satik. Amritsar, 1959-60
4. Chaturvedi, Parshu Ram, Uttari Bharat ki Sant Parampara. Allahabad, 1964
5. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Re Jig-ion ; Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors. Oxford, 1909