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GULAB SINGH, PANDIT

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GULAB SINGH, PANDIT, was a Nirmala scholar, the prefix pandit denoting his preeminence in Sanskrit letters rather than his caste. He was born in a peasant family in 1789 Bk/AD 1732 in the village of Sekham, in Lahore district, now in Pakistan. He was initialed into Sanskrit studies by Pandit Man Singh Nirmala to whom he has expressed his indebtedness at many places in his writings. As a small boy, he learnt Gurmukhi from a sdclhu in his own village and read with him the Guru Granth Sahib. 

But this was not the end of his ambition. Receiving from his teacher the robes of an ascetic, he secretly left home and reached Varanasi to study Sanskrit.When his teacher there discovered that he was not a Brahman, but a Jatt, he turned him out of his seminar)7 with the rebuke that, being a sudra, he had no right to Sanskrit and Vedic education. But his family, for whom Gulab Singh had been like a domestic servant, persuaded him to search for him and bring him back.

Gulab Sihgh was found sitting on the bank of the Gariga in a desolate state. Back in the pdlhshdid Gulab Singh worked diligently and patiently, memorizing lengthy Sanskrit works to circumvent the injunction about caste restrictions. Thus he acquired an amazingly high degree of proficiency in Sanskrit and Braj Bhasa and became a reputed scholar and writer.All of Gulab Singh`s works are in Braj Bhasa, written in the Gurmukhi script.

His Adhydtam Rdmdin and Prabodh chandra Ndtak are in fact translations of old Sanskrit texts. Bhdvarasdnmrit and Mokh panth are original compositions. Besides these, there are some minor works such as Svapan Adhydi, Karam Vipdka, and Ram Ridd. The last one is a part of the Adhydtam Rdmdin, but is available in manuscript form separately written by various scribes.

Pandits felt jealous of his success and, obtaining from Man Singh his manuscripts, sunk them into a river. The four major works that now survive were not then in his teacher`s custody.Gulab Singh kept his composure when he learnt what had happened, though he wrote nothing more thereafter. Pandit Gulab Singh`s works remained in manuscript form for more than a century before they were published.

From among them the Bhdvarasdnmrit contains preachings about rationalism and detachment. The text begins with the praise of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, followed by verses in honour of the author`s teacher, Man Singh. Prayer, ndm, love of the Divine, good deeds, detached living, karma, good company, service, heroism and dharma are among the subjects dilated upon. Although the author is deeply rooted in Vedantic lore, the final touchstone for him is the teaching of the Guru Granth Sahib.

This work, in Braj verse, with abundant use of Sanskrit vocabulary in tatsama form, was completed in 1834 Bk/AD 1777 and published in 1959 Bk/AD 1902. The author records in the epilogue: "The book is completed on this day which is a Sunday. It is the night of full moon. The sky is overcast with clouds. A cool breeze is blowing. It is drizzling." The Mokh panth also called Mokh panth Prakdsh is another of Pandit Gulab Singh`s important works.

`Mokhpanth` literally means `the way to release`, `the way to the ultimate goal of life`. This is a philosophical work dealing with the principles of the major schools of Indian philosophy, including Yoga, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vedanta.There are some autobiographical references towards the end of the book in which the poet tells us about his parents and his birthplace. Concerning his own faith, he says: "I am a follower of Guru Gobind Singh.

" The book, divided into five parts, contains 1984 stanzas. It was completed at Amritsar in 1835 Bk/AD 1778, and was published in AD 1912. The Adhydtam Rdmdin, a free translation in Braj Bhasa of a Sanskrit work, was completed in 1839 Bk/AD 1782. The original work, in Sanskrit, bears the same title and is a part of the Brahmanda Purdna. It describes the story of Rama in a philosophical setting.

The book was published in AD 1880. Pandit Gulab Singh adds an epilogue paying homage to the Ten Gurus.The Prabodha chandrodai or Prabodha chandra Ndtak was again a translation in Braj verse of a Sanskrit text. The original was the work of one Pandit Krishna Misra who completed it in the sixties of the eleventh century. It is believed that he wrote the Ndtak for the instruction of his son.

In this book, the vices and virtues have been personified. Kdm (lust), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (attachment), ahankdr (ego) are shown at war with vivek (wisdom), sat (truth), santokh (contentment), tarak (reason), sardhd (faith) and bhakti (devotion). The latter eventually come out victorious.Among other works attributed to Pandit Gulab Singh are Svapan Adhydi or Svapan Birtdnt and Karam Vipdk.

The first is a brief text dealing with the interpretation of dreams. Only two copies in manuscript form have so far come to light. It consists of ten handwritten sheets, with nine lines to a page. The writing is clear and correct but, the last pages of the manuscript being missing, the date of its composition is not ascertainable.

The Karam Vipdk is a mythological narration in verse in which surya (the sun) preaches the philosophy of karma (action) to Arun, his coachman. The Rama Gltd, Ram Ridd or Ram Ridai Stotaror Ram Hridd is still another composition which contains Rama`s exhortation to Hanuman. It is, in fact, a chapter of the Adhydtam Rdmdin.

References :

1. Dayal Singh, Mahani, Nirmal Plinth Dais/ian. Delhi, n.d.
2. Dharamanant Sirigli, Vedic Curniat. Jalandhar, 1965
3. Balbir Singh, Foundations of Indian Philosophy. Delhi, 1971
4. Mohan Singh, A History of Punjabi Literature. Amritsar, 1956

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