DAYA SINGH, ARIFAris Daya Singh (1894 – 1946) was popular writer of devotional and didactic verses. He belonged to a backard rural family of farm labourers called Mazhabi Sikhs. Having been thrased by his poor father, Santa Singh, because of his pursuit of learning, left home and started living as a recluse; learnt Punjabi, Hindi, anskrit, Urdu, Persian and Arabic: and studied scriptures of the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims from their traditional teachers at their respective places of worship and instruction. He began writing poetry while in teens and published his maiden book, Fanah da Makan (Abode of Mortality), in 1914: followed by his most popular work, Zindagi Bilas (Discourse on Life), in 1915.
These were produced in several editions and in various scripts, bringing him not only fame but also his life-companion in 1918 and invitation in 1928 from his admirers in Malaya. On return, he organised a \’dhadijatha\’ (choir) and began composing and singing historical ballads, called \’parsang\’, in praise of Sikh Gurus, warriors and martyrs, most of which are lying unpublished with his son. Another of his popular books, Saputtar Bilas, was published in 1921 and addressed to Sardar Kultar Singh. These preachings and publications also earned him some disciples, one of whom, Sardar Dhanna Singh Gulshan, flourished as Union Minister of State for Education and Social Welfare.
Punjab Government held a memorial function in his honour at his birth- place in 1967. Daya Singh followed verse-traditions of media eval Indian poetry and used traditional norms, popular forms and favourite metres for exhorting people to contemplation of God and self-purification; reminding them of the object of life and its ultimate end; and warning them against involvement in the world whose glory is evanescent and our stay in which is transitory. Being religious by nature, an underlying note of mysticism and the reflections is ever present in his devotional and admonitory verses.
1. Atam Hamrahi, Sadhu Daya Singh Arif, Patiala, 1970.
2. Ramdev, Jaginder Singh (ed.), Punjabi Likhari Kosh, Jullundur, 1964.
3. Sekhon, S.S. and K-.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.