The search for original Baba Farid ends after 60 years


Pritam SinghPritam Singh (90), a recipient of President and Bharatiya Sahit Academy awards, after 60 years of research has established that Punjabi language is more than seven centuries old.

The research, “Search of the original Baba Farid of Guru Granth Sahib”, has also challenged the research done by European and Indian scholars who believed that the hymns of Baba Farid were actually authored by Sheikh Brahm (Ibrahim). It was Farid, the second, whom Guru Nanak Dev met on two occasions.

The noted scholar has concluded that the hymns of Baba Farid were included in Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Arjan Dev, 333 years after the former’s death. He says the rare verses in Persian script supplied by US-based scholar helped in “clearing up one of the t troublesome problems in Indian literary history, the problem of the authorship of the Baba Farid verses in Guru Granth Sahib”.

Earlier, Max Arthur Macualiffe and some other scholars had stated that the hymns ascribed to Baba Farid were compositions by the latter, whereas others ascribe them to Farid Shakarganj. There are others who believe that the hymns were composed by different Sufis of the Pak Pattan Centre, all using the poetic name Farid.

The recent research, which runs into 368 pages and brought out by Singh Brothers, Amritsar, has pronounced that Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj is actually the founder of Punjabi literature and pioneer of modern Punjabi culture and concept of Punjabiat.

This research also makes Punjabi culture older than other languages of current times. Pritam, who has quoted rare Persian and Indian language primary sources in his voluminous research, said the search for the actual Baba Farid stood completed with the new findings. He has also reproduced some transcriptions to corroborate his painstaking research.

In the foreword of his research, Pritam claimed that the finding of the frescos on the tomb of Baba Farid at his birthplace – Multan (Pakistan) and hymns/couplets of Baba Farid in Persian scriptures had set at rest all speculations about the authenticity of his hymns incorporated in Guru Granth Sahib. It is for the first time that Pritam published some parts of the rare manuscripts, which were in the personal library of the author.

Pritam, who retired as head of the Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, in 1981 had started his research on Baba Farid in 1950 when he was teaching postgraduate classes at Mohindera College, Patiala. He said the book of Mohan Singh Diwana, “A History of Punjabi Literature (1933)”, became a source of inspiration for him. In his DLit thesis Diwana had claimed that Patpatan-born Baba Farid was the actual founder of Punjabi language whose hymns were incorporated in Guru Granth Sahib.

However, Macauliffe was the first foreign scholar, who in his research book “The Sikh Religion” had concluded that it was Sheikh Brahm who had composed the hymns bearing the name of Baba Farid in Guru Granth Sahib, though he used the name of the founder of the spiritual line. Another foreign scholar from Paris Denis Matringe also endorsed the view of Macauliffe. However, Pritam established contact with US-based Carl W. Ernst, who gave him some invaluable references of some rare manuscripts in Persian kept in Maharashtra purportedly belonging to Baba Farid.

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