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DEVA SINGH NAROTAM, PANDIT

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DEVA SINGH NAROTAM, PANDIT (d. 1924), Nirmala scholar, was the son of Mahitab Singh of the village of Janetpura, 13 km north of Jagraori (30° 47`N, 75° 28`E), in Ludhiana district of the Punjab. He received his early lessons in the Sikh texts at the hands of Bhai Gurdit Singh and then left home to continue his studies under Sant Nattha Singh of Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib at Khadur Sahib, in Amritsar district, and later under Sant Mahna Singh (d. 1890) at the Nirmala dera or monastery at Khandur, near Mullaripur, in Ludhiana district. He accompanied Sant Mahna Singh to Bhai Rupa, a village 18 km north of Rampura Phul in Bathinda district, to join the Nirmala monastery called Dera Khuharivala. Here, Deva Singh, already reputed enough as a scholar to be known as pandit (lit. learned scholar), was put by his mentor through a course of comparative study of gurbani in the light of his knowledge of Sanskrit and Vedanta.

Mahant Mahna Singh, pleased with his progress, not only conferred on him the title of Narotam (lit. man par excellence) but also nominated him to succeed him as mahant or chief priest of the dera. Pandit Deva Singh completed, in 1896, an exegesis of Guru Granth Sahib which was, however, never published and is preserved (in incomplete form) in a private collection in Ludhiana. The work is in two parts Prayay Bhagat Ban! Ke and Sri Guru Granth Gurharth Pradip.Prayay means a convertible term or synonym.

Bhagat Ban! refers to hymns of saints other than the Gurus included in the Guru Granth Sahib. Only 78 sheets of the manuscript of Prayay Bhagat Ban!, covering compositions in Sin Raga, Raga Gauri and a part of Raga Asa survive. Sn Guru Granth Gurharth Pradip (gurharth = deeper meaning or signification; pradip = a light or lamp), a more voluminous manuscript comprising 400 sheets, contains selected verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, with annotation and comment. The language of the two manuscripts is sadhbhasha, admixture of Hindi and Punjabi, popular among the writers of the time and the script used is Gurmukhi.

Another work of Pandit Deva Singh, Sidh Gost Satik, a commentary on the long scriptual hymn, Sidh Gosti, was however published by Lala Achhru Mall of Firozpur in 1898. Pandit Deva Singh Narotam died at Bhai Rupa in 1924.

References :

1. Ganesha Sirigh, Mahant, Nirmal Bhushan arthatltihas Nirmal Bhekh. Amritsar, n.d.

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