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SINGH, MOHAN (1905 - 1978)

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Singh, Mohan was born in Mardan (Pakistan). He, however, belonged to the village Dhamial, near Rawalpindi (Pakistan). His father was a doctor in the Civil Hospital. Mohan Singh passed his matriculation examination in 1923. In the same year, he was married to a beautiful girl, Basant. But after four years Basant died and Mohan Singh was involved in an emotional crisis because of this personal tragedy. He had already started participating in the poetic symposia and the tone of his verses was religious and social.

But after the death of his wife, he cried out the anguish in his poetry. He became a romantic poet. In 1929, he married another girl, Surjit Kaur. At that time, after passing the examination of Munshi-Fazal, he was a teacher of Urdu-Persian, in a high school. In 1930, Mohan Singh left the job and joined Oriental College, Lahore, to do M.A. in Persian. From 1933 to 1939, he taught Persian language and literature in Khalsa College, Amritsar. There, Teja Singh, Sant Singh Sekhon, Gurbachan Singh 'Talib' became his friends and Mohan Singh studied Blake, Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth, Browning and other English romantic poets.

He was influenced by Oxford Book of English Ballads, and later he wrote ballads in Punjabi. In 1940, he turned to be a lecturer in the Sikh National College, Lahore, but after some time he left the job and started a firm, Hind Publishers, and decided to promote the literary standards of Punjabi publications. In 1939, he had already started his famous literary Punjabi monthly, Panj darya. In 1947, the Partition again disturbed his plans, and he shifted his business to Amritsar. For survival, he faced many odds.

For some reason again he shifted his business to Jullundur, but he could not get success in the competitive market. He closed down the firm and sold out the magazine Panj darya. For some time again he became the teacher in Khalsa College, Patiala, but, later, he was appointed Professor Emeritus in Punjabi Agricultural University, Ludhiana, where he died. Mohan Singh was a major poet of the romantic-progressive movement in the Punjabi language, and his poetic works include Saave pater (1936), Kasumbhra (1939), Adhvate (1944), Kach sach (1950), Aawazan (1954), Vadha vela (1958), Jandre (1964), Jai Mir (1968), Nanakayan (1971), Buhe (1977).

Mohan Singh also translated into Punjabi language Edwin Arnold's epic Light of Asia, Greek classic King Oedipus and Novels like Godan, Nirmala, Peengh and some other writings in prose. He wrote another book Gad-pad rachna, which deals with grammar of the language and grammar of the poetry. Mohan Singh was a major force in Punjabi poetry after 1935, and in the next 25 years he influenced the generations of Punjabi poets. He created new norms in Punjabi poetry and created the language of new metaphors.

He is, therefore, considered as the most important Punjabi poet after Waris Shah. Though a romanticist in his earlier poems, he became a moving force under the impact of the Progressive Movement. He was a great lyricist who sang of love and beauty. Under the influence of the National Movement his poetry came to reflect social consciousness and he sang of liberty, equality and fraternity.

References :

1. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, 6 Vols., Delhi, 1995.
2. Harbans Singh, Aspect of Punjabi Literature, Ferozepur, 1961.
3. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Tradition and Experiment in Modem Punjabi Poetry, Ferozepur, 1960.
4. —, Punjabi Literature in Perspective, Ludhiana, 1970.
5. Sutinder Singh Noor, Mohan Singh da kav-jagat, Delhi, 1982.

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