SAṄKĀRNĀTH, PAṆḌIT (1789-1858), astrologer and diplomat, belonging to the village of Karivallūr, in north Kerala, was a celebrated scholar of ancient lore. His reputation especially as an astrologer spread far beyond the confines of his native Kerala and he was in 1816 invited by Rājā Saṅsār Chand of Kāṅgṛā to become his spiritual adviser. From Kāṅgrā, he came to Lahore as Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh's counsellor and astrologer. It is said that besides the Mahārājā and his courtiers, even the English consulted him on matters of diplomacy. He was held in high esteem by Lord William Bentinck, the governor-general, and Sir Claude Wade and other English officials. In recognition of his services, the Mahārājā granted him a jāgīr worth 3,000 rupees per annum. At the time of the intrusion of Muhammad Akbar Khān into the frontier area, Saṅkarnāth accompanied the Mahārājā's armies despatched to punish him. He was wounded in one of the encounters with the Afghāns.

        Saṅkarnāth had a large number of disciples at Lahore where he performed numerous penances and yajnas. He stayed in the Punjab for nine years and left in 1827 to join the Mahārājā of Travancore who gave him appointment as chief justice of the Sadar Court. In 1834, he returned to Lahore where he resumed his old position at the court. He continued to serve until 1844 when he rejoined Travancore service. He died in 1858 after having served as Faujdārī Commissioner for several years.


    The Tribune. Chandigarh, 9 August 1981

Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā