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GIAN SINGH, GIANI

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GIAN SINGH, GIANI (1824-1884), scholar and theologian, was the elder son of Giani Bishan Singh, a collateral of the well known Giani house of Amritsar, headed by Giani Sant Singh and his son, Giani Gurmukh Singh. Gian Singh was born at Amritsar about 1824. He received his education from his father at his home, in Katra Ramgarhiari, near Chowk Baba Atal. As he grew up, he started giving discourses on Sikh Scripture and history at Gurdwara Thara Sahib, near the Akal Takht, and later at Buriga Mananvalian.

His easy manner and clarity of exposition won him a large circle of admirers which included Hindus as well as Sikhs. Giani Gian Singh was also a poet of considerable merit. His Gurpurb Prakdsh, a book of verse in Braj, contains anecdotes from the lives of the Ten Gurus. He also wrote in prose a commentary on the Japu(ji). Some of the works published by his son, Giani Sardul Singh, are also attributed to him. Giani Gian Singh was one of the founders of the Singh Sabha.

He participated in the meeting called in 1873 in Amritsar by some leading Sikhs following the announcement by four Sikh students of the Mission School to embrace Christianity. The meeting led to the establishment of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Amritsar. Giani Gian Singh was appointed secretary of the Sabha.Towards the end of March 1884, Giani Gian Singh was invited to Gudwara Kaulsar to give the inaugural recitation from a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib prepared by Bhai Pratap Singh, the well known calligraphist and g)`anthi of his day.

There, while reciting a hymn, he suddenly fainted. He remained in a coma for 50 hours and passed away on 30 March 1884. His death was widely mourned and he was cremated with due honours near Gurdwara Baba Alal Sahib. GIAN SINGH, GIANI (1822-1921), poet and historian, was born of a Dullat Jail family on 5 Baisakh 1879 Bk/15 April 1822, at Laungoval, a village in present day Sangrur district of the Punjab.

Gian Singh claimed descent from the brother of Bhai Man! Singh Shahid, Nagahia Singh.His father`s name was Bhag Singh and mother`s Desan. He learnt Gurmukhi in his village from Bhai Bhola Singh and Sanskrit from Pandit Atma Ram. He was gifted with a melodious voice and recitation of gurbdm earned him popularity in the village.

At the age of twelve, he was taken to Lahore by his maternal uncle, Karam Singh, who was a Subahdar in the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Dhanna Singh Malvai introduced him to the Maharaja who employed him to recite the Sukhmam to him every morning. At Lahore Gian Singh was able to continue his studies under the guidance of Giani Ram Singh. After the death of his patron, he returned to his village and received appointment in the revenue office in Patiala state in place of his uncle, Hari Singh, who had died childless in 1841 fighting in Maharaja Karam Singh`s army.

During the first Anglo Sikh war, when Patiala was an ally of the British, Gian Singh was sent to Mudki where he was assigned to distributing mail. In 1849, as Patiala troops were engaged in an antirebel operations in aid of Jind state, Giani Gian Singh who was among them was seriously wounded in the leg and had to quit service. His true calling in life began when he resigned his position as a granthi in Patiala and set out on an extensive peregrination across India visiting places of pilgrimage, especially those commemorating events in Sikh history. Returning to the Punjab owing to the upheaval of 1857, he came in touch with Pandit Tara Singh Narotam, a renowned scholar of the Nirmala school, whom he acknowledges in his writings as his literary mentor.

He helped Tara Singh in preparing his lexicon of the Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Granth Girdrath Kos, by sending to him in Patiala notes he took of the religious discourses of Giani Chanda Singh Surama, the blind, another celebrated scholar of the day, whose seat was in Amritsar. Giani Gian Singh was launched on his own distinguished career as a writer with the publication in 1880 of his Panth Prakdsh, a history of the Sikhs in Braj verse. He now planned another ambitious work, the Twdnkh Guru Khalsd, which was to be published in five parts. The first three parts were lithographed in 1892 by Baba Rajinder Singh, proprietor Guru Gobind Singh Press, Sialkot.

Urdu editions of these three volumes entitled Twdnkh Guru Khalsd, Shamsher Khalsd and Raj Khalsd, respectively, were also published. Suffering a prolonged illness in Amritsar, Giani Gian Singh transferred his unpublished manuscripts as well as his rights in published books to the Khalsa Tract Society for a subsistence allowance of Rs 12 per month. He survived his illness, and returned to Patiala where he received ready patronage of the ruling family. He solemnized the first wedding of the young Maharaja Bhupinder Singh on 9 March 1908. Giani Gian Singh remained celibate. 

He adopted Giani Hamir Singh, the son of his niece, Pradhan Kaur, as his heir.In 1916 he drew up a new will in which he nominated a committee to arrange the publication of his works. The members of the committee were Bhai Sahib Bhai Arjan Singh of Bagariari, Sardar Bahadar General Gurnam Singh, Bhai Kahn Singh and Sardar Gaj[jan Singh of Ludhiana. On 15 August 1916, the Maharaja of Patiala approved the constitution of a History Society, with Hamir Singh as its secretary, for the publication of historical works by Giani Gian Singh and others. He also sanctioned a grant of Rs 135,000 for the Society and authorized the publication through the state press.

But a dispute which arose between the states of Patiala and Nabha hampered the work of the committee. Gian Singh himself became a pawn in this feud. He was a native of Patiala state and had stayed for long periods at Patiala, but the ruler of Nabha, Maharaja Ripudaman Singh, considered him a relation, the Maharaja`s mother being a daughter of his village, Laurigoval. Both the states thus claimed him. One night he was whisked away in a car from Patiala to Nabha.

He died there on 9 Assu 1978 Bk/24 September 1921. The Panth Prakdsh and Twdnkh Guru Khalsd are the most important but not the only works of Giani Gian Singh.His other books are: Suraj Prakdsh Vdrtak, an abridged version in prose of Bhai Santokh Singh`s Sri Gur Pratdp Suraj Granth; Rdmdyan Bhdi Mam Singh JIDi; Twdnkh Amritsar (Urdu); Twdnkh I.ahore (Urdu); PatitPdvan; Gurdhdm Sangrah; Bhupendrdnand; Itihds Bdgandn and Ripudaman Prakdsh. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Bhagat Singh, Giant Gian Singh. Patiala, 1978 2. Singh Sabhn Patrikd (Sri Guru Panth Prakdsh Ank) Amritsar, 1979 3. Kirpal Singh, ed., Sri Guru Panth Prakdsh, vol. I. Amritsar, 1970

References :

1. Jagjil Singh, Singh Snbhd iMhir. Ludhiana, 1974
2. Harbans Singh, The Heritnge of the Sikhs. Ddhi, 1983 Jg.S.

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