ĀNANDGHANA, SVĀMĪ, an Udāsī sādhū 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 Bābā Rām Dayāl, an Udāsī ascetic; also, that he was born into the family of Gurū Nānak, tenth in descent from him. Since his first ṭīkā, 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 Ḍerā Bābā Nānak where he was born. A wall-painting in a shrine there shows him sitting on a carpet, rosary in hand, facing his spiritual mentor, Rām Dayāl. At some stage he was sent for higher learning to Kāshī (Vārāṇasī) where he stayed for about ten years. At Kāshī, he frequently engaged in learned debate with the Paṇḍits, trying to establish the supremacy of the Gurūs' word over other philosophical systems. He seems to have spent the last years of his life at Ḍerā Bābā Nānak. Of his works, a manuscript containing commentaries on Japu, Āratī, Siddha Goṣṭi and Anandu is preserved in the Punjab State Archives, Paṭiālā, under No. M/691. The manuscript is divided into two parts---the first comprising 228 folios contains commentaries on Japu and Āratī and the second comprising 112 folios contains commentaries on Siḍḍha Goṣtī and Anandu. Another manuscript copy of these four ṭikās is also available in the Languages Department, Punjab, Paṭiālā. These four commentaries were, according to internal evidence, written at Kāshī between AD 1795 and 1802. Ānandghana's ṭikā or commentary on Āsā dī Vār, references to which occur in his commentaries on Siḍḍha Goṣṭi (1857 Bk/AD 1800) and Anandu (1859 Bk/AD 1802), was held at the Dr Balbir Siṅgh Sāhitya Kendra at Dehrā Dūn, and has recently been published (1990) by Punjabi University, Paṭiālā. The only known manuscript copy of his sixth commentary Oaṅkār was available at the Sikh Reference Library, Amritsar, until the collection perished in the Army attack on the Golden Temple premises in 1984.
Ānandghana'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. Ānandghana's commentary on Gurū Nānak's Japuwhich he completed in Bk/1852/AD 1795 is considered to be his masterpiece and a representative work of the Udāsī 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 Gurū Nānak. He is however not chary of casting aspersions upon other commentators whom he declares to be "dunces". This led Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh, the Nirmalā scholar to write his own commentary on the Japu challenging the interpretations advanced by Ānandghana. He called his commentary Garabgañjanī Ṭīkā (q. v.), i. e. tikā to humble the garab or pride (of Ānandghana). Whereas the interpretations of Ānandghana have a colouring peculiar to the Saguna school of Bhaktī, Santokh Siṅgh in keeping with the Nirmalā tradition leans on the side of Vedānta.
Rattan Siṅgh Jaggī