Authorities at Punjabi University, Patiala, have called an urgent meeting of scholars on September 15 to decide whether to scrap over 6,000 republished copies of ‘Mahan Kosh’, encyclopaedia of Sikh literature, due to certain omissions and errors pointed out by experts.
Considered one of the greatest works in Punjabi language, ‘Mahan Kosh’ was written by Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha and first published in 1927.
More than 6,000 copies —5,000 in Punjabi and the rest translated in Hindi and English (each having a set of four volumes) — were reprinted at a cost of Rs 2.75 crore and currently lie dumped in the university store. All of these, however, may have to be disposed of as scholars have pointed out “certain distortions and glaring mistakes”.
Conceived during Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh previous regime (2002-07), the project was executed jointly by the university’s Publication Bureau and the Department of Development of Punjabi Language through a special grant by the state government.
After going through the reprinted copies in 2016, some Punjabi language enthusiasts had brought the distortions to the notice of the SGPC, which formed a committee of four scholars to prepare a report.
Prof Om Parkash Vasishta, former head of the Department of Punjabi Lexicography, Panjab University, Chandigarh, who was part of the committee, said: “I examined entries made under the first letter ‘ura’, and found around 200 mistakes. There were certain additions as well as deletions, as also some jumbled entries. Besides, there were numerous grammar and spelling mistakes, none of which were there in the original copy.”
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. The mistakes in the Punjabi set 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 stopped the sale of the copies last year. No corrective measures have been initiated since as a committee formed by the university on the matter has only met twice over the past one year.
Dr Yograj, Head of the Punjabi Language Development Department, said: “We are concerned about the matter and a solution will be found in the next meeting.”
Prof Sarbjinder Singh, Head of the Publication Bureau, said: “If we pulp all copies and sell it as scrap, we won’t even get Rs 1 lakh. It will be a huge financial blow to us.” Experts, however, say the university seems to be having no other option as the “mistakes are too big to be ignored”.
An epic Creation on literature
On May 12, 1912, Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha resigned as Nabha King’s personal secretary to start work on ‘Mahan Kosh’
His original patron Maharaja Brijindra Singh of Faridkot state died in 1918
Other patron Maharaja Ripudaman Singh was forced to give up his throne in 1923
Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala then offered to bear the expense of printing
The work was finished on February 6, 1926, and printed in October 1927 at an Amritsar press owned by poet Dhani Ram Chatrik
Called 1st Punjabi encyclopaedia, it has 64,263 entries in Gurmukhi
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