24,000 reprinted copies of encyclopaedia of Sikh literature ‘Mahan Kosh’ likely to be scrapped in Punjab

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PATIALA: At least 24,000 copies of ‘Mahan Kosh’, an encyclopaedia of the Sikh literature, are likely to be scrapped by the Punjabi University here in the wake of “mistakes and distortions” pointed out by scholars, authorities said Tuesday.
‘Mahan Kosh’, written by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha and first published in 1927, is considered one of the greatest works in the Punjabi language.
“A final call regarding the status of 24,000 copies of Mahan Kosh published in Punjabi, Hindi and English languages is likely to be taken by an expert committee in a meeting slated this weekend,” said Prof Sarbjinder Singh, Head of the Publication Bureau, Punjabi University.
‘Mahan Kosh’ was republished during the then Congress government led-by Amarinder Singh in 2002-2007.
Called the first Punjabi encyclopaedia, ‘Maha Kosh’ has 64,263 entries in Gurmukhi. The name Gurmukhi means ‘from the Guru’s mouth’ and is used by the Punjabi people in India as one of two scripts to write the Punjabi language.
On May 12, 1912, Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha resigned as Nabha King’s personal secretary to start work on ‘Mahan Kosh’. His first patron Maharaja Brijindra Singh of Faridkot died in 1918. Another patron Maharaja Ripudaman Singh was forced to give up his throne in 1923. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala had then offered to bear the expense of printing.
The work was finished on February 6, 1926, and printed in October 1927 at the Amritsar press owned by poet Dhani Ram Chatrik.
Sarbjinder Singh said the university had spent a huge amount of money for the republication of ‘Mahan Kosh’.
“The chapters or pages can be replaced with corrected versions of Kosh,” he said.
Dr Harpal Singh Pannu, the expert committee member, said the republication of ‘Mahan Kosh’ was a “scrap”.
“This is a scrap as far as an expert view is concerned and it should be reprinted after the requisite corrections,” he said.
After going through the reprinted copies in 2016, some Punjabi language enthusiasts had brought the “distortions” to the notice of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, the organisation responsible for the management of sikh places of worship, which formed a committee of four scholars to prepare a report.
“We have asked to put a blanket ban for Mahan Kosh’s sale,” Pannu said.
He said the committee recommended to “fix the responsibility and recover the loss from those who committed the blunder”.
Besides the “distortions”, 132 pages that were added to the work by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha during his lifetime have not been included in the translated English copies, Pannu said.
He said the “mistakes” in the Punjabi have also found their way to the English and Hindi versions.
Acting on the report forwarded by the SGPC to the chief minister, the university had stopped the sale of the copies last year, he said.
“No corrective measures have been initiated since and the committee formed by the university on the matter has only met twice over the last one year,” Pannu said.

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