DHANNA SINGH, BHAI
DHANNA SINGH, BHAI (d. 1935), an indefatigable Sikh pilgrim, was born about 1893, the son of Sundar Singh, a ChahalJatt of the village Ghanauri in Sarigrur district of the Punjab. His original name was Lal Singh. His father died when he was barely tan years old, and he and his younger brother were brought up in the RajendraDeva Yatimkhana, an orphange in the princely city of Patiala. As he grew up, he trained as a driver and was employed in the state garage of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh (1891-1938).
Religious instruction had formed part of Lal Singh`s education at the orphanage; the influence now of a senior colleague, Jiva Singh, a pious Sikh and a driver in the same garage, proved decisive. Lal Singh proceeded on a pilgrimage to Sri Abichalnagar Hazur Sahib at Nanded, sacred to Guru Gobind Singh. There he received the rites of Khalsa initiation, and was renamed Dhanna Singh. During his stay at Sri Hazur Sahib, he was deeply impressed by the piety ofSant Nidhan Singh (1882-1947). Dhanna Singh obtained his release from state service and set out on a pilgrimage of Sikh shrines on a bicycle.
He visited historical gurdwaras in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Assam, returning to Patiala after three years. Some of the information about the gurdwaras he. had visited was published in the Sikh newspapers. Dhanna Singh, thereafter, purchased a camera, learnt photography, and resumed his travels with a view to visiting Sikh shrines in other parts of India and taking photographs and preparing notes. The project as well as his life was, however, cut short by an accident.
During his travels in the North-West Frontier Province in 1935. he stayed one night in a village, Hasokhel, near Mir `All, in Bannu district. It was a common practice for the people in that disturbed area to keep their weapons loaded at night. Next morning, on 2 March 1923, as the host was unloading his gun, it went off, killing Dhanna Singh on the spot. Dhanna Singh`s travel notes are said to be intact in the custody of one Seva Singh, son of the late Mistri Gurbakhsh Singh, of Patiala.