DEVĀ SIṄGH NAROTAM, PAṆḌIT (d. 1924), Nirmālā scholar, was the son of Mahitāb Siṅgh of the village of Janetpurā, 13 km north of Jagrāoṅ (30º-47'N, 75º-28'E), in Ludhiāṇā district of the Punjab. He received his early lessons in the Sikh texts at the hands of Bhāī Gurdit Siṅgh and then left home to continue his studies under Sant Natthā Siṅgh of Gurdwārā Tapiāṇā Sāhib at Khaḍūr Sāhib, in Amritsar district, and later under Sant Māhṇā Siṅgh (d. 1890) at the Nirmalā ḍerā or monastery at Khaṇḍūr, near Mullaṅpur, in Ludhiāṇā district. He accompanied Sant Māhṇā Siṅgh to Bhāī Rūpā, a village 18 km north of Rāmpurā Phūl in Baṭhiṇḍā district, to join the Nirmalā monastery called Ḍerā Khūhāṅvālā. Here, Devā Singh, already reputed enough as a scholar to be known as paṇḍit (lit. learned scholar), was put by his mentor through a course of comparative study of gurbāṇī in the light of his knowledge of Sanskrit and Vedānta. Mahant Māhṇā Siṅgh, 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 ḍerā. Paṇḍit Devā Siṅgh completed, in 1896, an exegesis of Gurū Granth Sāhib which was, however, never published and is preserved (in incomplete form) in a private collection in Ludhiāṇā. The work is in two parts - Prayāy Bhagat Bāṇī Ke and Srī Gurū Granth Gūṛhārth Pradīp. Prayāy means a convertible term or synonym. Bhagat Bāṇī refers to hymns of saints other than the Gurūs included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Only 78 sheets of the manuscript of Prayāy Bhagat Bāṇī, covering compositions in Sirī Rāga, Rāga Gauṛī and a part of Rāga Āsā survive. Srī Gūrū Granth Gūrhārth Pradip (gūṛhārth = deeper meaning or signification; pradīp = a light or lamp), a more voluminous manuscript comprising 400 sheets, contains selected verses from the Gurū Granth Sāhib, with annotation and comment. The language of the two manuscripts is sādh-bhāshā, admixture of Hindi and Punjabi, popular among the writers of the time and the script used is Gurmukhī. Another work of Paṇḍit Devā Siṅgh, Sidh Gosṭ Saṭīk, a commentary on the long scriptual hymn, Sidh Gosṭi, was however published by Lālā Achhrū Mall of Fīrozpur in 1898.

         Paṇḍit Devā Siṅgh Narotam died at Bhāī Rūpā in 1924.


    Gaṇeshā Siṅgh, Mahant, Nirmal Bhūshaṇ arthāt Itihās Nirmal Bhekh . Amritsar, n. d.

Gurdev Siṅgh