RĀMDĀS, BĀVĀ, a nineteenth-century Punjabi poet, was born at the village of Harganāṅ, in Fatehgaṛh Sāhib district of the Punjab. He belonged to the Divānā sect, a mendicant order established during the seventeenth century by Harīā and Bālā, two Jaṭṭ disciples of Soḍhī Miharbān, the son of Gurū Arjan's elder brother, Prithī Chand. The Divānās later became a sub-sect of the Udāsīs. They have their main centre at Pīrkoṭ, in Baṭhiṇḍā district and another at Paṭiālā which was founded by Bāvā Rām Dās and is now known as Bāvā Rām Dās Jī Kā ḍerā. Rām Dās was patronized by Mahārājā Narinder Siṅgh of Paṭiālā (1846-62). As a poet he wrote on a wide range of subjects-social, political, ethical and spiritual. His language is a mixture of Braj, Hindi and Punjabi, commonly known as Sādh Bhākhā and his script is Gurmukhī. Of his eleven poetic works only two were published in lithographed editions from Lahore during the early 1890's and another one in Devanagrī transliteration from Lucknow in 1875. The rest in manuscript form are preserved indifferent libraries Central Public Library, Motībāgh Palace Library, Bhāsā Vibhāg Library and the Punjab State Archives, all at Paṭiālā, and in the Khālsā College Library at Amritsar. Birad Pratāp, written in 1803, deals with mythological and ethical themes. Sār Rāmāyaṇ (1808) is the poet's version of the epic in an abridged form. Gāṇ Prastār Prakāsh (1818) is a treatise on Indian prosody. Rājnītī Bāvā Rām Dās Jī Dī, is a statement of the ethico-political views of the author in dohā and Kuṇḍalīā metres. It was written in 1825. Bāṇī Bāwā Rām Dās Jī Dī (1826) mainly focuses on the theme of Gurū's grace and the disciple's selfless service. Dropatī Charitra (1842) is a brief narration in verse of the Mahābhārata story of Draupadī's disgrace and her rescue through the intervention of Kṛṣṇa. Kedār Panth Prakāsh (1853) is a versified travelogue describing Mahārājā Narinder Siṅgh's pilgrimage to Kedārnāth and Badrīnāth, in the Himalayan tract of Uttar Pradesh. Ath Sār Vashist Savaiyyā (1855) is a series of 108 stanzas in savaiyyā metre glorifying God and His saints, and proclaiming the virtues of a temperate moral living. Bārāṇmāhā Bāvā Rām Dās Jī Kā (1859) is a poem in the popular mode of bārāmāhā (lit. twelve months), in which poets deal with a usually romantic theme in a kind of acrostic, the stanzas beginning successively with the names of the months of the year. Rām Dās' poem depicts a, devotee's craving for the Lord. The dates of the remaining two works, Yātrā Rikhīkesh Dī and Ath Chhatīs Vārṇī Tathā Chhandāvalī are not known. The former in Kuṇḍalīā metre discusses various practices which enable a devotee to reach his goal and the latter is a type of acrostic, each stanza commencing with the successive letters of the alphabet. The theme is the spiritual way leading to true knowledge. The poet begins his works with the Mūl Mantra recorded in its abbreviated form.


  1. Rose, H.A., ed., A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Lahore, 1911-19
  2. Randhīr Siṅgh, Udasī Sikhāṅ dī Vithiā. Amritsar, 1959

Gurdev Siṅgh