ANANDGHANA, SVAMI, an Udasi sadhii known for the commentaries he wrote on some of the Sikh scriptural texts. Not much biographical detail is available about him, but references in his own works indicate that he was a disciple of Baba Ram Dayal, an Udasi ascetic; also, that he was born into the family of Guru Nanak, tenth in descent from him. Since his first tika, a commentary on the Japu, was completed in 1852 Bk/AD 1795, it may be presumed that he was born around the middle of the eighteenth century. He spent the early years of his life at Dera Baba Nanak where he was born.

A wall painting in a shrine there shows him sitting on a carpet, rosary in hand, facing his spiritual mentor, Ram Dayal. At some stage he was sent for higher learning to Kashi (Varanasi) where he stayed for about ten years. At Kashi, he frequently engaged in learned debate with the pandits, trying to establish the supremacy of the Gurus` word over other philosophical systems. He seems to have spent the last years of his life at Dera Baba Nanak. Of his works, a manuscript containing commentaries on Japu, Arati, Siddha Gosti and Anand is preserved in the Punjab State Archives, Patiala, under No. M/691.

The manuscript is divided into two parts the first comprising 228 folios contains commentaries on Japu and Arati and the second comprising 112 folios contains commentaries on Siddha Gosti and Anand. Another manuscript copy of these four tfkas is also available in the Languages Department, Punjab, Patiala. These four commentaries were, according to internal evidence, written at Kashi between AD 1795 and 1802. Anandghana`s tika or commentary on Asa di Var, references to which occur in his commentaries on Siddha Gosti (1857 Bk/AD 1800) and Anand (1859 Bk/AD 1802), was held at the Dr Balbir Singh Sahitya Kendra at Dehra Dun, and has recently been published (1990) by Punjabi University, Patiala.

The only known manuscript copy of his sixth commentary Oankar was available at the Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar, until the collection perished in the Army attack on the Golden Temple premises in 1984. Anandghana`s technique of writing commentary is that of a symposium. Wherever an important point is to be explained, he follows the question-answer format. He is well conversant with the tools of exposition, and writes with conviction.

He is argumentative and at places prolix. The language used is old Hindi which is not exempt from the influence of his native Punjabi. Anandghana`s commentary on Guru Nanak`s Japu which he completed in Bk/1852/AD 1795 is considered to be his masterpiece and a representative work of the Udasi school.It is available in two recensions one exhaustive and the other abridged.

Whereas the latter recension limits itself to an exposition of the text, the former contains considerable supplementary material on old Indian philosophical systems and religious practices in which context the commentator attempts to highlight the teaching of Guru Nanak. He is however not chary of casting aspersions upon other commentators whom he declares to be “dunces”. This led Bhai Santokh Singh, the Nirmala scholar to write his own commentary on the Japu challenging the interpretations advanced by Anandghana. He called his commentary Garabganjani Tika (q.v.), i.e. tika to humble the garab or pride (of Anandghana). Whereas the interpretations of Anandghana have a colouring peculiar to the Saguna school of Bhakti, Santokh Singh in keeping with the Nirmala tradition leans on the side of Vedanta.

References :

1. Nripinder Singh, The Sikh Moral Tradition. Delhi, 1990
2. Santokh Singh, Bhai, Garabganjani Tika [Reprint], Delhi, 1961
3. Jaggi, R.S., ed., Gurbani Tike; Anandghana. Patiala, 1970
4. — Asa di Var da Tika. Patiala, 1990