NISHCHAL SINGH, PANDIT SANT (1882-1978), widely respected holy man, preacher of Sikhism and head of the Sevapanthi sect of the Sikhs (1950-78), was born on 18 April 1882, the son of Bhai Amir Singh and Mat Piar Kaur, a pious couple of Mittha Tiwana in Shahpur (Sargodha) district of Pakistan Punjab. Nishchal Singh lost his father at the age of five and was brought up under the care of his eldest brother, Mahitab Singh. Mahitab Singh, himself a devoted Sevapanthi saint, led Nishchal Singh to take to the same path. He sent him to Varanasi for higher learning.

Nishchal Singh, having attained proficiency in Sanskrit studies at Varanasi, spent another seven years at Haridvar studying traditional Indian philosophy. He was particularly attracted to Vedant which he found somewhat akin to Sikh thought. His wide knowledge of Sanskrit literature and philosophy earned him the sobriquet of pandit. He returned to Mittha Tiwana after completing his education in 1914, and vowed to dedicate his life to the propagation of gurmat (Sikhism), spread of education and to humanitarian service.

Mittha Tiwana was the centre of his activities in the beginning. Here with the help and guidance of his brother, Mahitab Singh, was founded the Guru Nanak High School, in 1914. In 1925, he shifted to Mandi Bahauddin, a subdivisional town in Jehlum district, and started teaching and preaching in Santpura Dera, a Sevapanthi seminary, 3 km outside the town.From here he also went out on long preaching tours to places as far apart as Mirpur in Jammu and Kashmir and Dera Isma`il Khan in North-West Frontier Province.

In 1930-31, he undertook a six month long journey travelling leisurely and visiting Sikh shrines on the way to preach the word of Guru Nanak at important towns in the Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The tour terminated at Nanded in what was then the princely state of Hyderabad. He undertook similar tours, by train, in 1940, 1965 and 1973. The buildings of Sri Takht Harimandar at Patna Sahib had suffered serious damage during an earthquake in 1934, necessitating reconstruction and renovation.

The supervision of this work was entrusted to Sant Nishchal Singh. He was at Patna Sahib in 1947 when the partition of the country and the unprecedented carnage and mass migration of population took place. Dera Santpura at Mandi Bahauddin had its share of the consequent disruption and disaster. Sant Nishchal Singh`s brother Sant Mahitab Singh, a dedicated, luminous soul and lifelong bachelor like himself, died along with about 700 others who had sought refuge in the premises, fighting against a horde of Muslim fanatics who had attacked them.

Sant Nishchal Singh reestablished Dera Santpura in 1952 at Yamunanagar, now a well known industrial town in Haryana.The kdrsevd at Patna Sahib completed by 1957, he made Yamunanagar his permanent residence although his preaching tours continued almost till the end which came on 23 August 1978. Besides administering the Khalsa pdhul to thousands of seekers. Pandit Sant Nishchal Singh`s most memorable contribution was in the field of education.

He established several schools and colleges, outside the Punjab, which besides general education provided for the teaching of the Punjabi language and Sikh religion. In addition to separate secondary schools and colleges for boys and girls, other educational institutions founded by him included Guru Gobind Singh College, Patna Sahib, Khalsa School, Gauhati (Assam), Khalsa School, Ranch! (Bihar), and Khalsa School Gurdwara Bari Sarigat, Calcutta (West Bengal).

References :

1. Jagjit Kaur, Jivan Britant Pandat Sant Nishchal Singh Ji. Jalandhar, 1988