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JAVALA SINGH, BHAI SAHIB

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JAVALA SINGH, BHAI SAHIB (1872-1952), a renowned exponent of the Sikh devotional music, was born in 1872 at the village of  Saidpur in Kapurthala district of the Punjab. His father, Bhai Deva Singh and grandfather, Parijab Singh were in their day celebrated rdgis or musicians who recited Sikh kirtan to the accompaniment of sarandd, a stringed instrument.Javala Singh excelled at tdus, another stringed instrument, and at harmonium. He had at his command such an abundance of traditional and classical tunes, composition of some of which was traced back to the times of the Gurus themselves, that he did not have to repeat a tune even when singing for weeks on end.

He possessed a vast treasure of dhums or tunes, partdls, ntis or musical styles and traditional compositions.Bhai Javala Singh learnt to read Punjabi from Baba Pala Singh, a granthi, or scripturereader, in his own village. Then he was sent to the Nirmala derd or monastery at the village of Sekhvari, in Firozpur district, and put under the charge of Baba Sardha Singh, who taught him music. At the derd, he also studied the religious texts.

For further training in music, Baba Sardha Singh sent him to Amritsar to be under the tutelage of another maestro, Baba Vasava Singh, popularly known as Baba Rarigi Ram Singh.After completing his course at Amritsar, Javala Singh returned to his village, Saidpur. Gradually he made his mark as a leading Sikh musician who was much in demand for performing kirtan at congregations at farflung places. He subscribed to the Singh Sabha ideology which he zealously preached and, when the Akali movement for the reformation of Gurdwara management got underway, he jumped into it with equal enthusiasm.

He courted arrest in the agitation for recovering the keys of the Golden Temple treasury taken away by the British deputy commissioner of Amritsar and in the Jaito morchd as a member of the first jathd or band of protesting volunteers as well as of the last. He was present at the cremation of the Nankana Sahib martyrs (1921) and, with the holy precincts reeking of blood, he most movingly recited, sitting by the side of the heap of corpses, Guru Nanak`s hymn: "khun ke sohile gdviahi Ndnak ralu kd kungu pdi ve Idle Pacns to blood arc being sung, says Nanak (such are the times), and the saffron of blood is now the adornment, 0 Lalo!" Javala Singh presided over the first all India Rats Conference held at Amritsar in 1942. He died on 29 May 1952 at his village Saidpur.

 

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