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SARDUL SINGH GIANI, BHAI

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SARDUL SINGH GIANI, BHAI (d. 1913), the eldest son of Giani Gian Singh of Amritsar and a grandson ofGiani Bishan Singh, was a noted Sikh scholar of his time. The family lived near Chowk Baba Atal in a street still known as Gall Gianian, the street of the Giants. Bishan Singh`s samadh used to be behind Gurdwara Baba Atal of which shrine he is believed to have been officially a priest. The adjunct Giani, meaning a priest as well as an expounder of sacred texts, thus passed on to the names of the male members of the family.

Giani Gian Singh became the first secretary of the Singh Sabha established in Amritsar in 1873.Sardul Singh inherited the family`s interest in Sikh learning. One of the aims of the Singh Sabha was to research and rewrite Sikh history. Under the aegis of the Singh Sabha, scholars from Amritsar and other places used to assemble for discussions at Manji Sahib within the precincts of the Darbar Sahib.

The very first question at the very first such meeting was raised by Bhai Sardul singh, who held forth that the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak fell on the third day of the light half of the month of Baisakh and not on full moon day of the month of Kartik as commonly believed. It was as a result of such scholarly discussions spreading over three years that a Gur Pranall, or calendar of the dates of the Gurus, was compiled.A poetic version of it prepared by Bhai Sardul Singh Giani, was first published in a magazine, Mastana, in 1936. Bhai Sardul Singh was an active member of the Gurmat Granth Pracharak Sabha set up on 8 April 1885 to study the Sikh texts, historical as well as religious.

A theme which was entrusted to the Pracharak Sabha by the Khalsa Diwan, Amritsar, and in which he became deeply involved, was an exploration of the bani`or poetic works of Guru Gobind Singh, and to prepare an authorized version of the Dasam Granth. Summing up a protracted debate, Bhai Sardul Singh prepared two reports, namely, Report Sodhak (Revision) Committee, Dasam Patshahl, Sri Guru Gurmat Granth Pracharak Sabha, and Report Dasam Granth di Sudhai Di, or report on revision of the Dasam Granth.The complete report was published in February 1898. Bhai Sardul Singh was one of those learned Sikhs who assisted Max Arthur Macauliffe in his work on Sikh religion.

He had some knowledge of English, too, and he taught Punjabi to several of the British officers posted at Amritsar. His own writings, comprising 22 titles, are all in Punjabi. They broadly fall into two categories ; biographies of the Gurus and expository essays on Sikhism. Not all of these works were published during the author`s lifetime.

Among those which were may be counted Gursikkhan de Nitya Karam (1885), or the daily duties of the Sikhs and Yatra Abchalnagar (1897), a travelogue of the author`s pilgrimage to Nanded, both published by the Gurmat Granth Pracharak Sabha.A collection of his essays entitled 52 Lekchars, discourses delivered at Gurdwara Baba Atal Sahib, ran into several editions ; its first edition under the title Gurmat Sambandhi Viakhian was published by Wazir Hind Press in 1904 and its tenth edition is dated 1938. Guru Pnkhya, or the Guru`s Test, a 40page pamphlet again published by the Pracharak Sabha, refutes the charge that Guru Gobind Singh ever worshipped any goddess, and asserts the sovereignty of the Khalsa. Twenty-three eminent persons and priests of the Harimandar, the Akal Takht and the Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran, are signatories to the document attesting the correctness and authenticity of the meaning of Guru Gobind Singh`s stanza on which the author has based his thesis.

In 1897, Bhai Sardul Singh Giani was given charge of the Saragarhi shrine at Amritsar where he passed the rest of his days. In December 1908, he was involved in a serious accident in which his tonga overturned as a result of which he sustained serious injuries and remained in a coma for a whole week. He survived the mishap only to suffer another tragedy, the sudden death of his only son, Barbara Singh, on Magh sudi 4,1965 Bk/ 25 January 1909. The bereaved father himself expired exactly four years later to the day, Magh sudi4, 1969 answering to 10 Feburary 1913.

References :

1. Jagjit Singh, Singh Sabha Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974

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