GAṆḌĀ SIṄGH MASHARIQĪ (1857-1909), Urdu poet, scholar and religious guide in the line of family preceptors to the chiefs of Ropaṛ in the Punjab. His grandfather, Bhāī Bāgh Siṅgh (1757-1822), and his father, Bhāī Bishan Siṅgh (1809-90), had served the Ropaṛ family as priests and counsellors. When the British East India Company confiscated the princely state in 1846 for its sympathy with the Sikhs during the Anglo-Sikh war (1845-46), and placed Rājā Bhūp Siṅgh, of Ropaṛ, under detention in Sahāranpur, Bhāī Bishan Siṅgh accompanied his master to Sahāranpur. He returned to Ropaṛ after the death of Rājā Bhūp Siṅgh (1851) and settled down to a life of worship and strict religious discipline in his former residence, then famous as Granthī Bāgh. Here Gaṇḍā Siṅgh Mashariqī was born on 2 August 1857. He passed his middle standard examination from Bhāī Bishan Siṅgh Rāj Granthī Middle School, Ropaṛ. As he grew up he taught in the same school for some time and then joined service in the accounts branch of the Military Works Department of Government of India, where he rose to be an accounts officer. Gaṇḍā Siṅgh gave evidence of his poetic genius when he was still very young. As was customary in those days, he adopted a pen-name for himself---which in his case was Mashariqī---lit. eastern. The young poet was deeply influenced by the uprise of the Nāmdhārī movement, the tremors of which were then being felt in the Punjab and beyond. From the merely romantic, his poetry took a distinctly patriotic tone. He apprenticed himself to the famous Urdu poet Dāgh Dehlavī. He also wrote verse in Persian which generally had a Sūfī touch. His poems usually appeared in Paisā Akhbār and Akhbār-i-'Ām, both published from Lahore. His fame as a poet travelled to Delhi, Uttar Pradesh (then United Province) and beyond. Mashariqī also wrote Gurū Nānak Dev's biography (Janamsākhī ) in Urdu which he called Vigyān Kosh and which was published by Āftāb Press, Lahore, in 1883. He also wrote an annotated translation of Japujī in Urdu. Published in 1892, it is the oldest work in this genre in Urdu.

         Gaṇḍā Siṅgh Mashariqī died at Ropaṛ on 2 April 1909. His Urdu and Persian poems were collected and arranged by his son, Sūbedār Naraiṇ Siṅgh (1885-1968). These have been published by his grandson, Kulwant Siṅgh, in the form of a book entitled Dīwān-i-Mashariqī. The first 28 pages of the Dīwān contain eulogies of the Lord, Manifest and Unmanifest. Then follows praise of Gurū Nānak and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Thereafter begins the text comprising 264 ghazals of all shades, amorous, gnostic, didactic and patriotic. The third part of the Dīwān comprises miscellaneous verse, epigrams and mathnavīs.


    Kulwant Singh, Late Sardar Ganda Singh Mashariqi. Chandigarh, n.d.

Piār Siṅgh