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Introduction To 'Kabit Sawaiye Bhai Gurdas Ji' By Shamsher Singh Puri
It is an accepted fact that Bhai Gurdas was not only the first Sikh scholar but has also been the greatest scholar of Sikhism till date. Despite that there isn't much literature on him (his life-sketch and works) available in English, though some that is obtainable in Punjabi is not very descriptive and beyond the understanding of a common man.
To produce life-sketch of great personalities like Bhai Gurdas is futile without delving in his thought frame and vision as reflected in his works.
Bhai Gurdas lived about three hundred seventy years ago. It will not be wrong to say that he was the first example of a person who lived his life in accordance with Sikh scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which he had scribed under the guidance of Guru Arjan Dev Ji (Fifth Guru of Sikhs)
He (Bhai Gurdas) had read and grasped the import of Vedas, Shastras etc. very thoroughly. But he did not anchor his thoughts on them for exposition of Gurbani, though his comments on Vedas and six schools of Indian philosophy are ample proof of the detailed knowledge that he had. He did use classical religious terminology prevalent at that time because it was necessary for him to preach to the people in the idioms they understood. Althouth Prof. Puran Singh's comments that humanly speaking, he (Bhai Gurdas) could not break clear of brahminical idioms and language, and like Gurus, used some of the phraseology for illustration and elucidation, yet he says definitely enough that the true meaning of Guru's precept of human liberation lies more in the future progress of mankind and less in the past, more in the ideal man created by Supreme Lord, and even in its approximate than in old scriptures; more in the conduct of life itself than in speculation thereon.
The name 'Gurdas' in Punjabi means "The slave of the Guru". There have been more than one person of this name in the Sikh history. Bhai Gurdas whose work is under study was a great scholar and the amanuensis of Sikh scripture Sri Adi Granth, when it was being dictated by Guru Arjun Dev Ji the fifth Guru (Master) of Sikhs during the period 1601 - 1604 A.D.
Although very little is known about Bhai Ji's early life, there is difference of opinion among the scholars about his date of birth, place of birth and the name of his parents. It is generally accepted that he was related to Guru Amar Das Ji as a son of his brother. Thus, he was a cousin of Bibi Bhani, daughter of Guru Amar Das Ji and wife of Guru Ram Das Ji. Consquently he becomes maternal uncle of Guru Arjun Dev.
According to Bhai Kesar Singh Chhibbar, Bansawalinama Dasan Patshahian Ka, Bhai Gurdas was born in the family of Isar Das who was son of an uncle of Guru Amar Das Ji. Therefore Bhai Gurdas was a nephew of Guru Amar Das Ji. Bhai Gurdas was the only son of his father. His father died when he was barely three years old and his mother also left for heavenly abode when he was twelve. (Dr. Jodh Singh, Varan Bhai Gurdas). On page 10 of his book Bhai Gurdas : the First Sikh Scholar, Mr. S.J.S. Pall writes that Bhai Gurdas lost his mother and father when he was three and tweleve years respectively. Dr. Kishen Singh Gupta in his book Life and Thoughts of Bhai Gurdas concurs with the statement of Dr. Jodh Singh.
Some of the scholars hold the view that he (Bhai Gurdas) was born in 1551 A.D. whereas S. Sardyul Singh and others hold his year of birth as 1558 A.D. Bhai Vir Singh, S. Harinder Singh Roop and S. Kartar Singh also subscribe to this view, as according to them Bhai Gurdas was born sometime between 1600 and 1610 Bk. On page 310 of his book, History of the Sikhs Vol. I, Khushwant Singh has also mentioned that Bhai Sahib was born sometime between 1540 and 1560 A.D.
About The Author Of 'Kabit Sawaiye Bhai Gurdas Ji'
Shamsher Singh Puri is a civil engineer by profession. After having worked in his chosen profession he migrated to U.S.A. in 1974. After working as a well reputed construction engineer for 14 years in his adopted country he voluntarily retired and absorbed himself in the study of Sikh scriptures.
Love of Gurbani being strong in his inheritance he had opportunity, means and mind to pursue the study of Gurbani and write about the message of Guru Nanak. Hence many of his articles were published in reputed journals of U.K., U.S.A. and India. These articles were widely applauded by the readers.
Encouraged by the publication of his articles, he wrote his first book Prayer which was published in 1995. After that he authored Handbook of Sikh Theology) Bhagats and Saints of Guru Granth Sahib) Happy Marriage-the Sikh Perspective) Spiritual Sayings, Sikh Philosophy and Spiritual Life, Ab to jaag Masafir Pyare (Punjabi), The joy of Surrendering to His Will) The Essence of japji) Let us Learn Gurmukhi ( 4 parts). All of his works have been well received by scholars and general readers alike.
|Author||Shamsher Singh Puri|