Hari Ram Gupta
Teacher and Historian (1902-1992)
With Sikhs in the eighteenth century Punjab as his major theme in the exploration of which he spent a lifetime filled with unsparing labour. He was born in 1902 in a family of modest means living at the village of Bhureval in Naraingarh tahsil of Ambala district. He received his early education in rural schools. For higher education, he was able to transfer himself to metropolitan Lahore where after receiving his Master’s degree, he took appointment as a lecturer in history at Forman Christian College. Leaving Lahore in 1947 in the wake of partition of the Punjab, he joined the University College at Hoshiarpur where he was professor and head of the department of history and Dean, University Instruction, from 1960 onwards. After his retirement in 1963, he served the Dev Samaj College for Women, Firozpur, as head of the postgraduate department of history for 14 years before he finally retired and shifted to Delhi.
Meanwhile, he had been awarded a Ph.D. degree in 1937 for his thesis on the Evolution of Sikh Confederacies, the first doctoral degree in history awarded by the Panjab University, Lahore. In 1944, he was awarded a D. Litt. Research in Punjab history remained a lifelong passion with Dr Gupta. He was working on his monumental six volume history of the Sikhs of which he was able to complete four. The fifth was in print when the end came in Delhi on 28 March 1992.
As a man Dr Hari Ram Gupta was a model of simplicity. He was unbelievably unassuming, totally absorbed in his academic and scholarly pursuit. The Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, had conferred on him the Sir Jadunath Sarkar Gold Medal in 1949. Kendari Sri Guru Singh Sabha honoured him at a massive congregation which took place at Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur, on the occasion of Baisakhi (13 April) in 1981. The Punjab History Conference honoured him at its 23rd session at the Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1989. Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, New Delhi, presented to him Bhai Vir Singh International Award at a function held on 15 December 1989.
Dr Gupta’s works, besides the five volumes of his History of the Sikhs (between 1944 and 1982) and scores of research papers, are Life and Letters of Sir Jadunath Sarkar in two volumes; Life and Work of Mohan Lal Kashmiri (1943); Studies in the Later Mughal History of the Panjab (1954); Panjab on the Eve of the First Sikh War (1956); Marathas and Panipat (1961) ; and India Pakistan War 1965, in three volumes.