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Pandit Tara Singh Narottam (Hemkunt Discoverer)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
[Pandit Tara Singh Narottam (Hemkunt discoverer)

TARA SINGH NAROTAM, PANDIT (1822 - 1891), a renowned scholar of the Nirmala school, was born in the village of Kalma, near Qadian, in Gurdaspur district of the Punjab. Very little is known about his early life except that, under the influence of his father, who was a devout Sikh, he started attending religious divans while still very young. When he was about twenty years old, he left his village and came to the dera or hermitage of a Nirmala saint, Gulab Singh, at Kurala, Hoshiarpur district. Sant Gulab Singh initiated him into the Nirmala order and taught him the Sikh texts. For further learning Tara Singh went to Amritsar and thence to Kashi (Varanasi) where he studied Sanskrit and Vedic literature. He spent some time at the village of Nadia in the Santipur area of Bengal. The Arddha Kumbha fair in the year 1861 took him to Haridvar. By then his fame as a scholar had spread far and wide, and Maharaja Narinder Singh (18241862), the ruler of Patiala, extended his patronage to him. Accepting the Maharaja's invitation, Tara Singh came to Patiala and made the Nirmala dera, Dharam Dhuja, his permanent seat. Here he immersed himself in his scholarly work. He wrote copiously and taught several groups of scholars. His most distinguished pupil was historiographer Giani Gian Singh. After the death of Mahant Ram Singh Kuberia in 1875, Tara Singh was appointed Sri Mahant or the chief of the Nirmal Pahchayati Akhara at Kankhal (Haridvar), the central organization of the Nirmala sect.
Among Pandit Tara Singh's works may be mentioned Vahiguru Sabdarth (1862), Tika BhagatBanIKa (1872), Tika Guru BhavDipika (1879), Sri Guru Tirath Sangrahi (1883), Granth Sri Gurumat Nirnaya Sugar (1877), Sabda Sur Kos (1866), Akal Murati Pradarsan (1878), Guru Vans Taru Darpan (1878), GrantA Guru Girarth Kos (1889), Prikhia Prakaran (1890), and Tika Sri Raga (1885). It is also said that he wrote a commentary on the entire Guru Granth Sahib which seems to have been lost.

Tara Singh's work can be divided into four categories exegetical, lexicographical, theological and doctrinal. In his exegetical and doctrinal writings, he conforms to the Nirmala school of interpretation, presenting Sikh thought from within his Vedantic orientation. He believed that the gurmat, doctrinally, is an amalgam of the doctrines of Sankara and Ramanuja, with the exception that in gurmat, bhakti preponderates overjnana and action. He added that bhakti too is based onJ'nana only. He asserted that Guru Nanak was an incarnation of ViSriu and that Guru Nanak conformed to the path of the Vedas and did not deviate from that path anywhere except in idolworship which he rejected firmly. He held that the Vahiguru is another name of ViSriu only and it could not refer to the nirguna concept of God. Mukti'm his view was a bodiless state. According to him, bani included in the Guru Granth Sahib was a revelation like the Veda. His expression was highly Sanskritized in the manner of the Nirmala school. He was deeply learned in the Vedic, Sastric and Puranic lore and quoted from it profusely.

Tara Singh Narotam died at Patiala in 1891. He was given a state funeral under the orders of the ruler, Maharaja Rajinder Singh.

http://www.sikhiwik i.org/index. php/Modan_ Singh

Baba Modan Singh

Hav Modan Singh, member of a survey team was conversant with the description of ‘Taposthan’ of the Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji, as given in the scriptures. The exact location of this spot had eluded all efforts, till he located the site that fitted the exact description. With the help of another devotee, Sant Sohan Singh, he laid the foundation of the present day ‘Tirthasthan’ in 1937 and opened the access through Govind Ghat. Dedicating his life to this religious place he took to living in hollow of tree trunks and surviving on meagre food, till his demise in 1960.
The Discovery of Hemkunt sahib.

The Dasam Granth containing the composition ‘Bachitra Natak’ was compiled by his disciple Bhai Mani singh, in 1734 - twenty-six years after the death of the Guru. A tumultuous century passed before the attention of the Sikh community was drawn to the passage in Bachitar Natak that described Hemkunt Parbat and Sapatsring.

Kavi Santokh Singh, a mid-nineteenth century historiographer, was the first Sikh to pen his speculations about the Guru's tap asthan (place of meditation). In his fourteen volume Sri Gur Partap Suraj [Parkash] Granth first published in 1843, he elaborated on the story of Dusht Daman's creation and intense tapasaya at Hemkunt. Several decades more passed before the search for the actual location of the 'lake of ice' began. In the late nineteenth century, the Maharaja of Patiala gave a grant to Pandit Tara Har Narotam, a Nirmala scholar and Sikh historian to compile a comprehensive list of all the gurudwaras commemorating the life and work of the Gurus. In a work entitled Sri Gur Tirath Sangrah, published in 1884, he published descriptions of 508 of these sacred places and Hemkunt was among them.

In his account of Hemkunt, Pandit Narotam first connected the story about Dusht Daman from Suraj Parkash, with Hemkund but was doubtful because the version, as told there, did not fully conform with what the Guru himself wrote in his autobiography since Bachitar Natak reveals the only clues given about the Guru's tap asthan – that the place named Sapatsring (seven peaks), was on or near Hemkunt Parbat (lake of ice mountain) and was the same place at which King Pandu had practiced yoga. In order to corroborate these descriptions, he set out to explore the Garhwal Himalayas and his search took him to Badrinath and nearby Pandukeshwar, a village near the present-day Gobind Ghat. There, he came across local traditions referring to the same clues.

Beyond Badrinath, in a village named Mana near the Tibetan border, Narotam met with a group of Bhotia women. They were departing on a pilgrimage on the festival of Janam Ashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. He asked the women where they were going, and they said "We are going to Lokpal. There we will take ishnan." They described the lake as more sacred than even Badrinath, and Narotam asked if he could accompany them to have its darshan. Upon reaching the shore of the lake, he recalled the verses from Bachitar Natak as he gazed up at the seven peaks. He determined that the place where he was standing fit the description in the Guru's writings. Then, according the village elders, he wrote a powerful poem about the place. In Sri Gur Tirath Sangrah, he provided a description of the location of Hemkunt/ Sapatsring/Lokpal together with a hand-drawn map of the surrounding area. It seems, however, that Narotam's discovery was not heeded by the Sikh community until the twentieth century, when Hemkund (Hemkunt) Sahib was to be rediscovered singly and jointly, (paradoxical though it sounds) by two ex armymen – Sohan Singh, a retired granthi and Modan Singh, a havildar who retired from the Bengal Sappers.

In 1925, the renowned Punjabi historian, reformer, and poet Bhai Vir Singh published Sri Kalgidhar Chamatkar. The title refers to the ‘miracles of the plume-adorned one,' Guru Gobind Singh. The opening chapters of this "quasi-historical" biography describe the Guru's passage from Hemkunt to Sach Khand (the realm of Truth) where he was given his mission by God, and then from Sach Khand to Mat Lok (the terrestrial world). Although Bhai Vir Singh had never visited the area, he gave beautiful descriptions of the seven peaks of Sapatsring, of the Hemkunt lake, and of the stream which flows down from it to meet the Alaknanda river near the village of Pandukeshwar. He then described a cave in which a tall, slim ascetic sat in deep meditation. His meditation was so intense that he merged with God, and then God commanded that he go into the world to establish a brotherhood of ideal humans. Then Bhai Vir Singh also went on to relate the Guru's dialogues with other ascetics, yogis, penitents, and rishis from various religious traditions who were also doing austerities at Hemkunt.

Bhai Vir Singh's account was evidently inspired by the passage from Bachitar Natak, by Kavi Santokh Singh's description in Suraj Parkash, and by Pandit Tara Har Narotam's discovery in Sri Gur Tirath Sangrah. Notes appended to the first chapter of post 1930's editions of Sri Kalgidhar Chamatkar give brief descriptions of four possible locations for Hemkunt. They indicate that Bhai Vir Singh did considerable research before concluding that Narotam's findings were correct.

When Sant Sohan Singh read Sri Kalgidhar Chamatkar in 1932, he found the description of Hemkunt so compelling that he resolved to find the place at which the Guru had meditated. Sohan Singh was a retired granthi from the Indian army was working in a gurdwara in Tehri Garhwal - the same region in which Hemkunt is located. He set out in search of the lake in 1933. Like Narotam before him, he worked from clues in Bachitar Natak and the Mahabharata, and perhaps from Narotam's own Sri Gur Tirath Sangrah. Sohan Singh was not successful that year, but he was so inspired by the idea that the tap asthan might exist in reality that he committed himself to carry on the search and thus returned to the area to try again in 1934. That year he went to Joshimath and Pandukeshwar where he made inquiries of the local people about holy places in the vicinity. It was they who said that the lake known as Lokpal, accessible from the valley on the other side of the Alaknanda river, might fit the description of Hemkunt Parbat Sapatsring. He crossed the river with the assistance of the villagers and started towards the sarovar they had spoken of.

Route to Hemkunt Sahib
On the final day of his journey, he climbed the steep slope towards Lokpal alone. When he saw a beautiful lake, he started to count the peaks which surrounded it, wondering if this could be the place described in Bachitar Natak. As he was counting, he heard a voice behind him say, "O Khalsa, kidhar aye ho (from where did you come)? Kya dhundhte ho (for what do you search)?" Sohan Singh turned and saw a tall rishi (hermit) clad all in white. He had a long beard, heavy eyelids, and a face so radiant that Sohan Singh was unable to look at him eye to eye. So he bowed his head before the rishi and said, "Baba Ji, Mai Guru Gobind Singh ka tap asthan dhundhne aya hoon (I came to search for the meditation place of Guru Gobind Singh)". The rishi gestured to a flat stone beside the water and said that this was the place at which the Guru had sat for so long in deep meditation. "Go and bow your head." Sohan Singh hastened to go, with his eyes filled with tears of joy. The ecstasy of fulfillment after a two year search left him somewhat dazed. Nevertheless, when he recovered a bit, resolved to ask the rishi more questions the holy man had disappeared. As per the testimony of a local man later employed by the Sikhs as a guide, guard, contractor, and caretaker in the years that followed the discovery of Hemkunt, Modan Singh, came to the valley in March of 1935 but was forced to turn back because of snow. In July the same year ie 1935, he met Sohan Singh and together they set out for the lake. Perhaps searching singly, in order to survey more area, Modan Singh reached the lake first. When he crested the slope, the weather was very cloudy. Slowly it cleared and he saw before him a clear, blue lake surrounded by a mountain with seven peaks. He wondered if he had at last found the place he had been seeking. As he stood beside the water he had a vision of Guru Gobind Singh addressing him and saying, "This is the place you are looking for. Come tomorrow and you will discover the exact spot on which I meditated." The next day, Modan Singh came to the lake again, accompanied by Sohan Singh, and they found an old manuscript handwritten on birch bark lying on a large flat stone beside the wate. The page, was deciphered by Sohan Singh and it was revealed that the stone slab was the spot where the guru had meditated for 1,200 years in a previous incarnation and thus Modan Singh erected a nishan sahib on that spot. The discovery of the place, and miraculous events that happened to him thereafter, led him to spend the remainder of his life in the service of the Guru and the shrine. The mysterious page has been untraceable since his death.

Later in 1936, Sohan Singh disclosed that he had met yet another aged yogi who stayed in the area. He described the yogi as covered with white hair and having long eyelashes which hooded his eyes. The yogi appearing before Sohan Singh, raised his hand in blessing, and said "Shabash! Tum acha kar rahe ho. Yahi hai, yahi hai Guru ka asthan, thik yahi hai (Well done! You are doing well. Here, here is the Guru's place, certainly here)"
In his excitement to spread news that the Guru's tap asthan had been located, Sant Sohan Singh first went to Mussoorie, a hill station in Uttarkhand. He approached the president of the gurdwara there and explained what he had found in the hope that a memorial could be set up beside the lake. The gurdwara president, disbelieved Sohan Singh. Therefore Sohan Singh went to Amritsar and announced his discovery before S.G.P.C. He was disappointed once again since his story was met with skepticism or ambivalence once again. Sant Sohan Singh then approached Bhai Vir Singh in Amritsar. The scholar questioned Sohan Singh thoroughly about the place he had discovered. For two days, Sohan Singh stayed with him in his home while further research was done . When at last Bhai Vir Singh felt satisfied that the place fit Guru Gobind Singh's description in Bachitar Natak, he committed himself to the cause of developing it. He gave Sohan Singh Rs. 2,100 with which to buy supplies to start construction of a small gurdwara on the shore of the lake and went on to publicize the discovery of Hemkunt in order to collect and manage further funds for its development. From 1936 onward, Bhai Vir Singh became instrumental in developing Hemkunt.
Before the first Sikhs came to the valley, there was a small stone walled mandir on the lakeshore. The four stones that comprised its roof and walls housed a statue of the Buddha alloyed from eight different metals. There was dissent among the local people when, in the early thirties, the Sikhs explained to them that they hoped to construct a gurduara nearby. Some villagers "did not want a Sikh shrine to supersede their ancient belief of the association of this place with Lakshman". They feared outsiders would compromise its sanctity. Other villagers did not understand the concept of a gurduara, so told the Sikhs to build a larger Lakshman mandir instead.

The Sikhs agreed, and the elders gave them permission to do repairs on the mandir and also build another one for their Guru. In 1936, repair work began on the mandir. The Sikhs had their contractor build a new four by four foot building to demonstrate that they respected the place's meaning for the locals. The same year, the first gurdwara was completed on the shore of the lake. Early in 1935, Sant Sohan Singh was purchasing building materials in Mussoorie when Modan Singh, again met him and asked what he was preparing to build. Sohan Singh explained, and Modan Singh asked if he might accompany him to the site. They went together to Hemkunt that same year. In Pandukeshwar they hired a contractor to oversee the construction, then the two Sikhs went to the lake accompanied by local men. Work was begun on a ten by ten foot stone gurdwara with a three foot verandah facing the lake. In November of the following year, the structure was completed over the same spot on the shore of the lake that had been indicated as the Guru's place of meditation. A copy of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, which had been presented by Bhai Vir Singh was formally installed inside during the first week of September, 1937 making Hemkunt Sahib the highest gurdwara in the world.

(In 1945, the Buddha figure was lost from the mandir, and it was replaced by a stone image crafted in Joshimath. When the original deity was recovered years later, it was installed in another Lakshman mandir in the nearby village of Bhyundar. The temple at Lokpal was enlarged still further in June of 1988 with the help of the military. )

Soon after, Sohan Singh contracted tuberculosis and Bhai Vir Singh arranged for his treatment in Amritsar. In February of 1939, Sohan Singh passed away, but not before entrusting Modan Singh with his mission to continue the development of Hemkunt Sahib. From 1938 onwards, he came with a small group every year to have darshan of the Guru's tap asthan. The first structure built at Gobind Dham (vill Ghangharia) was a small tin shed. Prior to its construction, Modan Singh had found shelter from rain, cold, and wild animals in the hollowed out trunk of a tree. The tree still stands in the courtyard of Gurdwara Gobind Dham, and pilgrims gather around the plaque mounted before it to read its story. A series of appeals for construction funds was made by Bhai Vir Singh in the pages of the Khalsa Samachar and other Punjabi publications.

Monies were raised by Sikh sangats from India and abroad. Over time, dharamsalas and gurduaras were constructed along the path in Gobind Dham and Gobind Ghat, and along the road in Joshimath, Srinagar, Rishikesh, and Hardwar. During these formative years of development, all construction materials were carried along the route without the benefit of a motorable road to Gobind Ghat. At that time, the bus terminus was at Chamoli, some seventy kilometres away. In 1951, the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Amritsar was given responsibility for the upkeep and further development of the route. Arrangements to have a path constructed were made with the locals. Then, with the inspiration of Bhai Vir Singh, the first organized jatha was formed in 1952. The small group of pilgrims were led up the beginnings of a path which was not completed until two years later. The going was difficult, but not as difficult as it had been in previous years when local men had held the Sikh pilgrims, unaccustomed to mountain terrain, by the hand and helped them up the slope to the lake.

In March of 1960, shortly before his death in December, Modan Singh established a seven member trust to take over the management responsibilities. Today the trust oversees the operation of seven gurduaras along the route from Hardwar to Hemkunt. Inspiration for building a larger gurdwara at Hemkunt Sahib came from a woman who was given the mission to lay its foundation stone in a vision of Guru Gobind Singh. When Mata Ram Kaur, a housewife from Pathankot in Punjab, presented herself in Gobind Ghat in 1960 and revealed her purpose, the management thought her a hoax. However, she was able to convince them of the sincerity of her mission by describing details of Hemkunt that never having been there before, she could not have known. That year a decision was taken at Gobind Ghat to draw up plans for a new gurdwara.

This was supported by the fact that Modan Singh had also foretold that in a vision, Guru Gobind Singh himself revealed to him that the shape of the Gurudwara to come would be in the form of a lotus. Accordingly, the architect commissioned to draw up plans for the new gurdwara designed it with the image of a lotus in mind. Since no specifications or guidance were available, several designs were considered and experiments were made. The plans were drafted in 1964, but work could not begin until 1968 when the motor road was extended to Gobind Ghat and beyond, along the Alaknanda valley towards Badrinath. Alongside early sketches of the new structure published in ‘Sri Hem Kunt Sahib: History and Guide’, a caption reads, "Look at the design and you will feel that the Creator of Universe has gently placed a Brahm Lotus at the exact spot where Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji had realized Oneness with Him. From heavens He holds the stem of the Brahm Lotus in His Hand, that is why, petals touch the ground while stem is skywards,.”
The roof of the gurdwara has been designed to withstand the weight of heavy winter snowfall. At its base, five half-ton foundation plates were laid over the course of three years required to haul them up. On these plates, pillars were erected, and the final hexagonal perimeter of the gurduara began to take shape. At its base the gurudwara measures 110 by 110 feet, and doors on each of the five sides symbolically welcomed pilgrims from every faith and direction. The lower storey was completed first, and in a room in its centre the Guru Granth Sahib was installed beneath a brass canopy. At the end of the 1993 season, the upper storey was completed and the Guru Granth Sahib was installed at the start of the 1994 season. Work still continues at the site to improve paths and facilities…………….

The originality of this post by Rattanbir is limited to identifying the spot on Google Earth; restructuring and clarifying the information contained in the thesis by Heather Michaud (1998) titled*: WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE GURU: SIKHS AND SEEKERS IN THE INDIAN HIMALAYAS and adding some tales he heard on his own journey to the shrine in 1989. In case any reader has additional information on Sohan Singh Modan Singh or the identity of the architect who designed the gurudwara, or any other anecdote related to the spot or the gurudwara, but duly supported by a credible document.
Sant Sohan Singh

Sant Sohan Singh was a retired army general. He read Bhai Vir Singhs description of Hemkunt Sahib and was so moved by the account that he vowed to make it his lifes mission to find the place where Guru Sahib Ji had meditated. He set out in the spring of 1933 following the clues in Bachittar Natak, Suraj Parkash, Guru Tirath Sangrah and the ancient texts of the Mahabharata.

He travelled past Rishikesh towards Pandukshwar always enquiring from local people about their folk laws. Then one day he heard some stories about a lake known locally as Lokpal, he decided to investigate. He accompanied some local women who were on their way to Lokpal to do puja (prayers) to Lakshman.

He crossed the river with the assistance of the villagers and started towards the sarovar they had spoken of. On the final day of his journey, he climbed the steep slope towards Lokpal alone. When he saw the beautiful lake he started to count the peaks which surrounded it, wondering if this could be the place described in Bachitar Natak.

Discovery of Hemkunt sahib

Sant Sohan singh wanted to spread the news of his discovery but none wanted to heard it, it fell on deaf ears. The Gurdwara committee of Musourie the closest town to Uttarkhand were very skeptical, as were the Sharomani Gurdwara Parbandakh Committee, nobody would listen. He then decided to contact Bhai Vir Singh. In 1934 Sohan Singh met Bhai Vir Singh and convinced him that he had found Hemkunt Sahib.

Bhai Vir Singh offered his help to develop the site of Hemkunt Sahib. He gave Sohan Singh funds to buy material and construct a Gurdwara on the shores of the lake. Sohan Singh was accompanied by a Havaldar (army sergeant) called Modan Singh who had offered his services. A year later both of them set off again. They got a local building contractor to start construction of the gurdwara after obtaining local permission. Out of respect for the Hindu mandir that stood on the shores of the lake, it was also enlarged and improved. Such was the devotion of Modan Singh that after retiring from the army he dedicated his life to the service of Hemkunt Sahib.
In the early days there was no shelter on route to Hemkunt Sahib and Moden Singh would shelter from the fierce wind and cold weather in a hollowed out tree trunk. This tree trunk still stands in the grounds of the gurdwara of Gobind Dham. Today there is a string of gurdwaras from Hardwar to Rishkesh, Srinagar, Joshimat, Gobind Ghat and Gobind Dham where devotees can rest for food and shelter.

This 'lake of ice' is also sacred to the hill people who live in the valley below. They tell of the gods Lakshman, Hanuman, Shiva, and Vishnu, the tales of their deeds woven together with images from local landscapes. Long before the Sikhs knew the lake as the Guru's tap asthan, these people knew it as Lokpal, and made annual pilgrimages to its shore. For them, as for Sikhs, the journey continues to be an act of devotion, and the holy lake itself is a place for prayer and worship - a place where wishes can be fulfilled.

http://www.sikhiwik i.org/index. php/Giani_ Hazara_Singh

Giani Hazara Singh

Giani Hazara Singh (1828-1908), scholar and educator, was born in Amritsar in 1828. He also used to inscribe his name as Bhai Hazara Singh Giani as well as Hazur Hari. His father, Bhai Savan Singh, was employed in the Golden Temple as a store keeper. The family had migrated from Harappa, now in Pakistan, to settle in Amritsar. Early in his career, Hazara Singh was apprenticed to Sant Chanda Singh, famous in his day in classical Sikh learning. Besides the Sikh texts, he studied Persian and Sanskrit and acquired facility in both. He had strong literary inclinations nurtured by his association with the education department set up by the British after the occupation of the Punjab in 1849 and by the Singh Sabha renaissance which provided new creative incentives. He was an active member of the Amritsar Singh Sabha and acted for a while as one of its secretaries. In the education department, Hazara Singh worked as an inspector for vernacular schools. He prepared textbooks in Punjabi such as Bhugol Manjari, Bhugol Darpan, Pntam Ganit, Hind da Sugam Itihds, liihds Prashnotn, Gurmukhi Parkdsh and Dulhan Patrikd. He rendered Shaikh Sa'adi's Persian classics, Gulistdn and Boston into Braj verse and adapted Nazir Ahmad's famous Urdu novel Mirdt ulArus into Punjabi which was published under the title of Dulhan Darpan. In Punjabi, he wrote Suraj Prakdsh Chavamikd, which is an abridged version of Sn GurPraia? Suraj Granth, and the biographies of Guru Har Rai and Guru Har Krishan. His more enduring works were Guru Granth Kosh, a dictionary of the Guru Granth Sahib initiated by him but which received its current form from his daughter's son, Bhai Vir Singh, celebrated Sikh savant and poet, and Varan Bhai Gurdas (4 vols) which is a commentary on the vdrs of Bhai Gurdas. Giani Hazara Singh died on 27 September 1908 at the ripe age of eighty.

http://www.sikhiwik i.org/index. php/Dr_Charan_ Singh

Dr Charan Singh

Dr. Charan Singh (1853-13 November 1908), poet and musicologist, was born at Amritsar in 1853. His father was Baba Kahn Singh and mother was Mata Rup Kaur. Dr Singh was the seventh descent from Diwan Kaura Mal, an influential eighteenth century Sahajdhari Sikh.

Kahn Singh (1788-1878) who was of a retiring disposition had spent some years in the company of wandering ascetics before he was persuaded to give up the life of a recluse and become a householder. In addition to his practice of indigenous medicine, he collected and transcribed Sanskrit manuscripts and wrote verse in Braj thereby laying the foundations of the family's literary tradition. His son, Charan Singh, studied Sanskrit, Braj, Persian and prosody, besides Ayurveda and Western medicine.

A boyhood experience which must have left a deep impression on his mind was the preparation for his benefit of a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib in the hand of Suhel Singh, his maternal uncle. Young Charan Singh watched from day to day the large pages being inscribed in handsome Gurmukhi calligraphy. The completion of the work on 25 February 1862 (Phagun Vadi 5,1918 Bk) was marked by rejoicing and feasting and distribution of charity.
He first practised Ayurvedic as well as Western medicine serving from 1 August 1872 to 12 November 1881 in government dispensaries. He resigned the appointment to set up as a private practitioner and to pursue his literary tastes. He was married in 1869 to Uttam Kaur, daughter of Giani Hazara Singh (q.v.), a reputed man of letters. He had four sons of whom Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957), the celebrated Punjabi poet and savant, was the eldest and Dr Balbir Singh, scientist and scholar, the youngest.

Among his several works, Charan Singh's Atal Prakash is a versified account of Baba Atal Rai's life, and the Dasam Gur Charitra, a vignette of Guru Gobind Singh.

He translated Kalidasa's Abhijnana Sakuntalam into Punjabi and started working on two novels (fang Marauli and Sham Sundar) which he left incomplete and which were published posthumously by the Khalsa Tract Society.
His Gurmat Sangit Nirnaya is a work on the ragas or musical measures employed in the Guru Granth Sahib. Sri Guru Granth Bani Beora explains the titles of compositions comprising the Guru Granth Sahib, and furnishes information about the verse-forms and the ragas or musical measures employed, with details of compositions in each raga as well as of the individual contribution of each of the Gurus and bhaktas.

His Gargajj Bole is a book on the Sikh martial patois, and Sn Maharani Sharab Kaur, a book of didactic Punjabi prose. All his works have been published in one volume in the second part of Shn Charanhari Visthar. Besides composing verse himself, Charan Singh presided over a salon of local devotees of the Muse, and took active interest in the rising Singh Sabha movement.

He died at Amritsar on 13 November 1908.

http://www.sikhphil osophy.net/ interfaith- dialogues/ 5225-bhai- veer-singh. html

Hemkunt Sahib connection 

Bhai Vir Singh was instrumental in locating the site of Gurdwara Hemkunt Sahib. In the late nineteenth century, Sikhs began to search for Hemkunt — a place high in the Himalayan mountains and mentioned in the autobiographical Bachitra Natak of Guru Gobind Singh. The title of this work roughly translates as the “wonderful drama”.

Pandit Tara Singh Narotam, a nineteenth century Nirmala scholar, was the first Sikh to trace the geographical location of Hemkunt. He wrote of Hemkunt as one among the 508 Sikh shrines he described in Sri Gur Tirath Sangrah (first published in 1884). 

Later, Bhai Vir Singh was instrumental in developing Hemkunt after it had been, in a sense, re-discovered by another Sikh in search of the Guru’s tap asthan. Sohan Singh was a retired granthi from the Indian army who was working in a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Tehri Garhwal. In 1932, he read the description of Hemkunt in Bhai Vir Singh’s Sri Kalgidhar Chamatkar (1929). Bhai Vir Singh’s description was so compelling that on reading it Sant Sohan Singh resolved to search for the place where Guru Gobind Singh had meditated. 

With the inspiration of Bhai Vir Singh, the first jatha (group of pilgrims) was formed and sponsored by the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Amritsar, in 1952. In 1958, the responsibility for Hemkunt Sahib shifted to the Chief Khalsa Diwan branch in Kanpur.

http://www.sikhiwik i.org/index. php/Bhai_ Vir_Singh

Bhai Vir Singh

Bhai Vir Singh (December 5, 1872 - June 10, 1957) was a poet, scholar and theologian who was a major figure in the movement for the revival and renewal of Punjabi literary tradition. His identification with all the important concerns of modern Sikhism was so complete that he came to be canonized as Bhai, the Brother of the Sikh Order, very early in his career. For his pioneering work in its several different genres, he is acknowledged as the creator of modern Punjabi literature.

Born on 5 December 1872, in Amritsar, Bhai Vir Singh was the eldest of Dr Charan Singh's three sons. The family traces its ancestry back to Diwan Kaura Mall Arora (d. 1752), who rose to the position of vice-governor of Multan, under Nawab Mir Mu'ln ul-Mulk, With the title of Maharaja Bahadur.
Baba Kahn Singh (1788-1878) was, perhaps, the first in the family to become a Sikh. He became a recluse when he was still in his early teens and spent his entire youth in monasteries at Haridvar and then at Amritsar acquiring training in traditional Sikh learning. His mother's affection ultimately reclaimed him to the life of a householder at the age of 40, when he got married. Adept in versification in Sanskrit and Braj as well as in the oriental system of medicine, Baba Kahn Singh passed on his interests to his only son, Dr Charan Singh.

Apart from his sustained involvement in literary and scholarly pursuits, mainly as a Braj poet, Punjabi prose-writer, musicologist, prosodist and lexicographer, Dr Charan Singh took active interest in the affairs of the Sikh community, then experiencing a new urge for restoration as well as for change.

A literary heritage from both sides of the family

To this patrimony of Bhai Vir Singh was added from his mother's side a living kinship with another rich tradition of scholarship in exegesis of the Ckiani school, going back to the times of Guru Gobind Singh. His maternal grandfather Giani Hazara Singh compiled a lexicon of Guru Granth Sahib, and wrote a commentary on Bhai Gurdas Varan. As a schoolboy, Bhai Vir Singh used to spend a great deal of his time in the company of Giani Hazara Singh under whose guidance he not only learned the classical and neo-classical languages; Sanskrit, Persian and Braj, but also received grounding, both theoretical and practical, in the science of Sikh exegesis.
Bhai Vir Singh was the child of an age in ferment. The extinction of Sikh sovereignty in the Punjab, the decline in the fortunes of Sikh aristocracy, the gradual emergence of an urban middle class, the dissipation of the "national intellectual life" of the Punjab owing to the neglect and decay of any indigenous education of the local people aroused among the Sikhs a concern for the survival of Sikhi, any political destiny and a concern for redefining the boundaries of their faith. Further challenges arose in the concern over modernization, of proselytization from Christian, Muslim and Hindu movements and even from agnostic cults such as Brahmo Samaj. Parallel to the developments foreboding gradual appropriation of Sikhism by the Hindu social order emerged a powerful end towards Braj classicism in the Sikh literary and schlolarly tradition.

Born in 1872, in Amritsar, Vir Singh was the eldest of Dr. Charan Singh's three sons. The family traced its ancestry to Diwan Kaura Mal, who rose to the position of vice-governor of Multan, under Nawab Mir Mu'ln ul-Mulk, with the title of Maharaja Bahadur. His grandfather, Kahn Singh (1788-1878), spent his entire youth in monasteries at Haridwar and Amritsar, acquiring training in traditional Sikh learning. At the age of forty, he got married. Adept in Sanskrit and Braj as well as in the oriental systems of medicine (such as Ayurveda, Siddha and Yunani), Kahn Singh passed on his interests to his only son, Dr. Charan Singh. Apart from being a Braj poet, Punjabi prose-writer, musicologist and lexicographer, Dr. Charan Singh took an active interest in the affairs of the Sikh community, then experiencing a new urge for restoration as well as for change.

http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Bhai_Vir_ Singh

This article was forwarded by forum member Tejwant Singh Malik via email.


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Feb 19, 2007
Delhi India
Guru Kalgidhar Chamatkar and its inspiration Bachittar Natak may not be bang on historical documents but they do form a part of beautiful heritage.
In my very humble opinion belittling Bachittar Natak is not going to help the Sikh cause.

Gurfateh and Chardiankalan


Jun 1, 2004
Harbans ji, there is not even a single quote in above article which has even tried to belittle any thing, i wonder, how did you get that impression... further, on many a occasion, you have talked about the historical significance of Bachittar Natak and other scriptures in DG. It would be really helpful, if you would explain something by referencing from Bachittar Natak...
Feb 19, 2007
Delhi India
Aman Singh ji,


I do not think that I have ever talked about the historical significance of Bachittar Natak or DG. But I have been consistently saying that though Bachittar Natak and Hemkunt Sahib DO NOT have any historical significance, they are a part of our glorious heritage and should be treated as such. Bachittar Natak is an outstanding work of poetry whoever might have been its author.
I have also said that great epics worldwide which have had nothing to do with history or reality, but yet they have helped shape the art and culture of several civilizations and have inspired several outstanding paintings, sculptures and monumets. So where is the harm if Bachittar Natak and some other constituents of DG are treated likewise?

I do not think that I have to specifically point out to several articles which say that since Bachittar Natak deals with Guru Gobind Singh previous life, which cannot be true, and hence it is neither written nor authorised by Dasam Pita and therefore should be dumped.

BTW, I was not referring to the main article (which chronicles the history of Hemkunt Sahib extremely well) when I mentioned belittling of Bachittar Natak.
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