Bhai Addan Shah

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Bhai Addan Shah (1688-1757), third in succession to Bhai Kanhaiya, founder of the Sevapanthi sect, was born in 1688 in the village of Lau in Jhang district, now part of Pakistan. His parents were of a devout temperament and he inherited from them a deeply religious bent of mind. He leared Gurmukhi and was trained in the exegesis of Sikh scriptural texts from Bhai Gurdas Dakkhani, a leading Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur's time. He also remained in the company of Bhai Seva Ram, a disciple of and successor to Bhai Kanhaiya, for a long time and ultimately succeeded him as chief of the Sevapanthi sect.

It was Addan Shah who laid down the sect's code of conduct and prescribed the sect's distinctive apparel. He also pioneered the study of comparative religious thought at his dera (monastery) where nearly 250 saints were always in residence. Besides Sikh scriptures, other important books studied at the dera included Kimiya-i-Sa'adat, Masnavi, and Yoga Vasista. These classics were translated into Punjabi. Paras Bhag, a translation of Kimiya-i-Sa'adat still ranks as a classic of Punjabi prose. The parchi literature issuing from this school bears testimony to the literary taste and moral precept of Bhai Addan Shah.

Bhai Addan Shah was an eloquent speaker. His speeches were recorded by Bhai Sahaj Ram, another disciple of Bhai Seva Ram. His discourses are now available under the titles Sakhian Bhai Addan Shah, Sukhan Fakiran De and Bachan Gobind Lokan De.

Bhai Addan Shah spent his last years in the Jammu area where he died on 17 Baisakh sudi 8, 1814 Bk/26 April 1757.