NIHĀL SIṄGH, SANT, a Nirmalā scholar, was a pupil of the renowned Sikh saint, Bābā Khudā Siṅgh. His seat was at Gobind Mandir or Gobind Kuṭīā, in Chūnā Maṇḍī, in Lahore. His expertness in expounding the Sikh sacred texts brought to his ḍerā (cloister) large audiences as well as flocks of pupils whom he trained in the art of exegetics. He wrote poetry in Braj Bhāshā, and is known to have left three works, namely Akāl Nāṭak, Nirmal Prabhākar and Sikkhī Prabhākar. Of these the last two were got published in a single volume, in 1902, by Sant Gandhārā Siṅgh, under the title Nirmal Prabhākar ate Sikkhī Prabhākar. In the short preface he added to it, the publisher stated that Sant Nihāl Siṅgh had written some more books, the manuscripts of which had till then remained untraceable. In the second chapter, described as introductory, Gandhārā Siṅgh recorded that Nihāl Siṅgh had composed poetry of various types and that he passed away in 1957 Bk (AD 1900). Then follow verses in praise not clear where the composition of Gandhārā Siṅgh ends and where that of Sant Nihāl Siṅgh begins. In later verses, however, the name of Nihāl Siṅgh or Kesrī Nihāl occurs fairly frequently. The poet describes the earlier period as an age full of wickedness. Then he sings the glory of the age of the Gurūs. He pays homage to their exalted spiritual status, and reprimands those who do not believe in their teachings.

         Nirmal Prabhākar, which is the pūrabārdha or the first half, is meant for those who want to acquaint themselves with the Sikh way of life. The author pays rich tributes to the Siṅghs, i.e. Sikhs who have received the rites of the Khālsā. The Nirmalā Siṅghs are presented as those blessed with knowledge and understanding. The entire section is in verse, employing a variety of metres such as dohrā, kabitt, chaupaī, chhapai, and bhujaṅg-prayāt.

         Sikkhī Prabhākar (Pp. 175 to 338) is the uttarāradh or the second half of the book. It exalts the Bedī dynasty, and pays homage to Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, the Tenth Master. Then follow verses in glorification of the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the Gurū Panth. The poet enumerates the qualities of an ideal Sikh. A true Sikh, according to him, leads a life of piety, does wrong to no one, remains ever in harmony with the Will of God, is upright in thought, speech and action, is tender-hearted but is ready to always resist injustice and oppression confronting them like a steel pillar, is a believer in the universal brotherhood of man, and shuns all ill will. He is the beloved of Akāl, the Timeless One, and, being ever attached to Akāl, remains detached from earthly pursuits and is humility incarnate. He has quoted from history examples of Sikhs who had preferred to be cut to pieces rather than resile from their faith. There is also a reference to ardās, the Sikh supplication, which brings to the devotees peace and strength. The daily routine of a Sikh, a brief outline of the lives of all the ten Sikh Gurūs, Sikh rites and rituals, the Sikh dress, etc., are some of the other topics touched upon in the work. The volume ends with a chaupaī in which the poet states that there are many sects (bhekh) of the Panth Khālsā, but he names only two, viz. the Nirmalās and the Nihaṅgs. The final lines constitute an invocation to the Timeless One.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Kāhn Siṅgh, Bhāī, Gurushabad Ratnākar Mahan Kosh. Patiala, 1981
  2. Nihāl Siṅgh, Sant, Nirmal Prabhakar ate Sikhī Prabhākar. Lahore, 1902

Gurdev Siṅgh