SUMER SIṄGH, BĀVĀ (1847-1903), cleric and schoolman, was born on 17 August 1847 at Nizāmābād, a small town in Āzamgaṛh district of Uttar Pradesh. His family, originally from Goindvāl in the Punjab, traced its ancestry to Gurū Amar Dās, third in spiritual descent from Gurū Nānak. Sumer Siṅgh's grandfather, Bāvā Kripā Dayāl Siṅgh, was the first in the family to migrate from Goindvāl and settle at Nizāmābād, where he established a gurdwārā on the site of an old Udāsī shrine commemorating the visits of Gurū Nānak and Gurū Tegh Bahādur. After him his son, Bāvā Sādhū Siṅgh, continued to manage the shrine. Sumer Siṅgh showed early promise in the scholarly study of Sikh texts as well as in composing verse in Braj. He subsequently won renown in both fields ---Sikh learning and Hindi poetry. Among his poetical works, Gurūpād Prem Prakās, a history of the Gurūs in over 16,000 stanzas, is especially notable. Only its tenth maṇḍal or section dealing with the life of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh was published at Lahore in 1882 under the title Gurbilās Dāsviṅ Pātshāhī Gurū Gobind Siṅgh Charitra. A couplet in the exordium shows that the work was taken up at Najībābād in 1923 Bk/AD 1866 (when the poet was still in his teens), and the mention further of nine other works by the author and of his visit to Amritsar and Lahore in 1937 Bk/AD 1880 shows that the composition of Gurūpād Prem Prakāś was spread over 14 years. A much shorter account of the ten Gurūs, the 88-page Gur Kavitāvālī was published at Amritsar in 1886. Another published work of Bāvā Sumer Siṅgh is Khālsā Pañchāsikā (Hindi), Light Press, Banaras, 1877. It is in the style of Sikh rahitnāmās or manuals of conduct. His other works remained unpublished although handwritten copies of some of the manuscripts are extant. Among these Khālsā Shatak is also a rahitnāmā Srī Gurū Charitra Darpan, Bedī Vaṅsottam Sahasranām and Bedīvar Dohāvālī are on the genealogy and life of Gurū Nānak; Dardaṇḍan Dohāvalī contains the life of Gurū Aṅgad. and Darid Dukh Daṇḍan Dohāvalī the life of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh; Sikh Sampradāya kī Mukhya Mukhya Ghaṭnāoṅ kā Samvatbadh Vārṇan gives the chronology of the history of the Sikhs ; Srī Chakradhar Charitra Chārū Chandrikā and Jagat Jaikāri are annotations on the Japu, morning prayer of the Sikhs ; Avichalnagar Mahātam is a translation in verse of Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇā containing legends concerning places of pilgrimage ; and Vijaya Patra is a translation in Hindi verse of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's Zafarnāmā, a long letter in Persian verse addressed to Emperor Auraṅgzīb. Sumer Bhūṣan is a book on rhetorics ; Nitya Kīrtan Granth is an anthology of hymns from the Gurū Granth Sāhib and Sundarī Tilak a collection of some of the author's own poetical compositions. The Bihārī Satsayī ke kuchchh Dohoṅ par Kuṇḍalīyāṅ comprises stanzas in kuṇḍalīyā metre based on some of the 700 couplets of Bihārī, a seventeenth-century Hindi poet.

        The language of Bāvā Sumer Siṅgh's writings was Braj, but he invariably used the Gurmukhī script. Sumer Harī and Sumeresh were his pseudonyms. He was well known among the Hindi scholars and poets of his day. His home was in fact a salon for the celebrities of Hindi letters and he counted among his friends poets like Bhāratendu Harīsh Chandra and Ayodhyā Siṅgh Upādyāya Hariaudh. He was a member of the Kāshī Kavi Samāj and Kāshī Kavi Maṇḍal, two leading literary associations of Hindi poets, and the founder-president of a Kavi Samāj at Paṭnā established in 1895-96. A monthly literary magazine, Samasyāpūrati, was published by this.

        Besides inheriting the charge of Gurdwārā Charan Pādukā Pātshāhī I and IX at Nizāmābād, Sumer Siṅgh was from 1882 to 1902 the mahant or chief priest of Takht Srī Harimandar Sāhib at Paṭnā, one of the five principal seats of religious sanctity for the Sikhs. He was one of the Sikh scholars to whom M.A. Macauliffe (1841-1913) referred for advice the draft of his English translation of the Scriptural texts. Bāvā Sumer Siṅgh also headed the committee of giānīs or Sikh exegetes appointed by Rājā Bikram Siṅgh of Farīdkoṭ (1842-98) during the 1880's to revise the draft of the first-ever full-scale ṭīkā or translation-cum-exegesis in Punjabi of the Gurū Granth Sāhib prepared by Bhāī Badan Siṅgh of Sekhvāṅ. The first three of the four volumes of this work were published by 1898. Bāvā Sumer Siṅgh did not live to see the publication of the fourth volume; he died of jaundice at Amritsar on 5 March 1903.



  1. Ashok, Shamsher Singh, "Sāhitya Ratan Bābā Sumer Singh, Paṭnā," in Khālsā Samāchār. Amritsar, August 1938
  2. Sukla, Rāmchandra, Hindī Sāhitya kā Itihās. Kashi, Saṅvat,1997
  3. Gurdwārā Gazette . Amritsar, September 1952
  4. Khālsā Samāchār. Amritsar, 30 November 1961
  5. Diwakar, R.R., Bihar through the Ages. Calcutta, 1959

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