BHAGWĀN SIṄGH GYĀNEE (d. 1962), prominent Ghadr leader, was born the son of Sarmukh Siṅgh of the village of Vaṛiṅg, 15 km east of Tarn Tāran in Amritsar district of the Punjab. Their ancestors, Kashmīri Brāhmaṇs, had migrated to the Punjab during the seventeenth century. Bhagwān Siṅgh learnt Urdu at the village school and then joined Gurmat Vidyālā, a missionary school at Gharjākh, in Gujrāṅwālā district, from where he passed the gyānī examination. He was employed as a teacher in the Gurmat Vidyālā, shifting after a short while to Khālsā School, Ḍaskā, in Siālkoṭ district, where he studied Vedānta under Sādhū Har Bilās. He delivered anti - government speeches during the agrarian unrest of 1907-08, and to escape prosecution left India sailing to Penang where he became a granthī or Scripture-reader in the gurdwārā, but his services were soon terminated owing to his radical views. Bhagwān Siṅgh next worked as a granthī at the Central Gurdwārā in Hong Kong. Here he was twice prosecuted in 1911-12 and, though he was acquitted on both occasions, he had to leave the colony. He reached Canada in April 1913 under the assumed name of Natthā Siṅgh, but was deported by the immigration authorities on the charge of having entered the country under a false name. He was put on a Japanese ship going to Hong Kong, but he managed to escape en route and entered Japan where a unit of the Ghadr Party had been established by Maulawī Barkatullah. Bhagwān Siṅgh and Barkatullah met the S. S. Komagata Maru on its outward journey at the end of April 1914 and addressed its inmates, setting sail soon thereafter for the United States and reaching Yugāntar Āshram, the Ghadr Party headquarters at San Francisco, on 23 May 1914. With the arrival of Bhagwān Siṅgh the control of the gurdwārā at Stockton passed from the hands of a moderate management to those of the revolutionaries. He addressed meetings and contributed patriotic and anti-British poems to the Ghadr. After the departure of Bābā Sohan Siṅgh Bhaknā for India on 21 July 1914, Bhagwān Siṅgh was elected president of the Ghadr Party. Besides guiding the work at party headquarters, he toured the Philippines, Japan, Shanghai (China) and Panama to enlist volunteers, establish branches and collect funds. In Manila (Philippines) in May 1915, his address was "B. S. Jakh, Post Box 1070. "
British government had been bringing diplomatic pressure on the United States to check the Ghadr activity. The U. S. government acted swiftly after it had entered the war (World War I) and on 7 April 1917 took into custody Bhagwān Siṅgh and 18 others who were brought to trial at San Francisco. The charge against them was the violation of American Neutrality Law by conspiring to organize the movement in Thailand and Burma in order to weaken one of the allied governments and to send arms and ammunition to them. Bhagwān Siṅgh was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment which he spent in the United States penitentiary at MacNeil Island. After his release, he and his comrades, who were in danger of being deported to India, applied for and were granted political asylum in the United States with the support of an organization known as Friends of Freedom for India. He edited the Punjabi monthly Navāṅ Jug (New Age) which was in a way a continuation of the Ghadr. Bhagwān Siṅgh Gyānee repatriated to India in 1958 on the invitation of Partāp Siṅgh Kāiroṅ, then Chief Minister of the Punjab. He founded the Self-Culture Association of India, with headquarters at Saproon in the Himalayas. He travelled extensively addressing especially students at colleges and universities, his chosen themes being patriotism and national unity.
Sohan Siṅgh Josh