HIRA SINGH DARD, GIANI (1889-1965), journalist and author, who in his early youth began writing religious and patriotic poetry in Punjabi under the pseudonym of “Dard”, later absorbed into his name, was born on 30 September 1889 in the village of Ghaghrot, in Rawalpindi district, now in Pakistan. His father Hari Singh, who belonged to a Brahman family of Punchh, had come to settle in Rawalpindi and embraced the Sikh faith. Hira Singh attended the Christian Mission School at Rawalpindi and was in 1907 appointed an octroi clerk in the local Municipal Committee which employment he resigned to become a teacher at the Singh Sabha school at Chakk No 73J.B., in Lyallpur district.

While working at the school, he passed the Vidvan (Proficiency), and Giani (Honours) examinations in Punjabi from the Panjab University, Lahore. During this period, he wrote poems on Sikh historical personages and events of which two collections Upkdrdn di Vannagi (Samples of the Deeds of Charity) and Sikh BachchioJdgo (Wake up Sikh Youth), were published in 1912 and 1913, respectively. Hira Singh took part in the agitation for the restoration of the wall of Gurdwara Rikabganj demolished by the British. He brought out a pamphlet on this issue which excited the entire Sikh community.

He was among those who, in 1915, held a recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib in his school and offered prayers for the Komagata Maru passengers who had fallen martyrs to British bullets at Budge Budge Ghat of the Hugli in Calcutta. For this he had to undergo arrest. When in 1920, Master Sundar Singh Lyallpuri started the Punjabi daily, Akali, from Lahore with Mangal Singh as editor, Hira Singh was appointed an assistant editor. The newspaper was strongly anti government and Hira Singh had to undergo a series of imprisonments. Coming out of jail in 1924, he launched a literary monthly Phulvdn, which was to become a landmark in Punjabi letters.

The Phulvdn was published from Amritsar up to 1930 and thereafter, till its cessation in 1942, from Lahore, when Hira Singh was arrested in the Quit India movement. During those early years of the freedom movement in the country, Hira Singh served as secretary of the Sikh League and as a member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. He was also a member of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee as well as of the AllIndia Congress Committee. He was one of the founders, with Sir Shahab udDin and Shri S.P. Singha, of the Punjabi Sabha. After the partition of the Punjab in 1947, he settled in Jalandhar and revived the Phulvdri.

His views were now pronouncedly leftist. His publications of this later period include verse collections, Hor Agere (Yet Further), 1950, and Chonave Dard Sunehe (Selected Messages from Dard), 1954, Panth, Dharam te Rdjniti (Panth, Religion and Politics), 1950, Navm Bhdrat de RdjaslAgu (Political Leaders of New India), 1952. and Mendn Kujh Itihdsik Ydddn (Some of My Historical Reminiscences), 1955. He tried his hand at short story writing also and published, in 1953, a slender volume As di Tand te Hor Kahdmdn (The Thread of Hope and Other Stories). His Punjabi Sdhit da Itihas (History of Punjabi Literature), 1953. written from the Marxist point of view, was chiefly meant as a textbook for students. He visited Malaya in 1938 and combining his experiences in that country with those of nearer home, he published a travel diary, Brijbhumi te Malaya di Ydtrd, 1958. Hira Singh died after a long illness on 22 June 1965 at Jalandhar.

References :

1. Mohan Singh, History of Punjabi Literature (1100-1932). Amritsar, 1956
2. Piar Singh, Tejd Singh Samundri. Amritsar, 1975
3. Dard, Hira Singh, Merlon Kujh Itihasik Yadan. Jalandhar, 1955