THAKAR SINGH, GIANI (1838-1943). learned in Sikh sacred texts which he expounded with exceptional virtuosity, was born on 10 November 1838 at the village of`Jandiala in Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab, the son of Bhai Mahan Singh, a soldier in Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s army. Mahan Singh was a follower of Bhai Maharaj Singh of Naurangabad under whose care Thakar Singh had his early lessons in the Sikh Scriptures and at whose hands he received the Sikh initiatory rites. After the arrest by the British of Bhai Maharaj Singh in December 1849, Thakar Singh and his father fled roaming from place to place.

During these forced travels, they visited most of the Sikh shrines of historical importance. Young Thakar Singh kept elaborate notes on the basis of which he later wrote a book on the sacred sites titled Sri Gurduare Darshan. As order was restored in the Punjab, father and son returned home. Thakar Singh joined the seminary at Damdama Sahib, Talvandi Sabo, where he received further education in Sikh lore and religion.

He also acquired proficiency in Braj, Urdu and Persian. For his learned exposition of the Gurus` word, he came to be called a giam, lit. possessor of religious and spiritual knowledge.Thereafter he set out on his long career of preaching and initiating neophytes into the Khalsa fold. He actively participated in the activites of the Khalsa Diwan, Lahore, and enjoyed the respect of Sikh aristocracy as well as of the Sikh masses.

In 1888, he started the annual jormela or religious fair at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, near Sirhind, to observe the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh`s mother, Mata Gujari, and his sons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh. Giani Thakar Singh was a founder member of the Chief Khalsa Diwan established in 1902. He was also a member of the committee which drafted the Diwan`s constitution. Fora time he lectured on Sikhism at khalsa College, Amritsar.

He was an officiant at the marriage of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala which was performed in 1908 according to anand rites. He was supporter of the Gurdwara Reform movement launched in 1920. Giani Thakar Singh opened in Amritsar an institution for the training of preachers and scripture readers which he named Bhai Mani Singh Giani Granthi Ate Shahid Ashram. Giani Thakar Singh was a poet of some merit.

Apart from his Gurduare Darshan (1923) which is in prose, all his smaller works are in verse. They include Sidq Sikkhi Prasahg BhaiJodha Dhesi (n.d.); Shahid Bilas: Sri Gum Gobind Singh Sahibji de Sri Mata GujariJI ate Chare Sahibzadiah di Shahidi Katha (n.d.); Baramaha : Ustat Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1901) ; Pothi Gurmat Itihas (1903); Shahid Bilas Baba Dip Singh Ji Shahid (1904) ; Sidq JivanMani Singh Shahid da Jivan Britant (1907) ; Vadda Shahid Bilas (1913) ; Kuhjiah di Dard Bhari Katha (1922). Giani Thakar Singh died at Amritsar on 5 January 1943 at the age of 104 years.

References :

1. Barrier, N. Gerald, The Sikhs and Their Literature. Delhi, 1970
2. Panjabi Prakashanan di Suchi. Patiala, 1971