CHARAN SIṄGH, DR (1853-1908), poet and musicologist, was born at Amritsar in 1853 (father : Kāhn Siṅgh; mother Rūp Kaur) and was seventh in descent from Dīwān Kauṛā Mall, an influential eighteenth-century Sahajdhārī Sikh. Kāhn Siṅgh (1788-1878) who was of a retiring disposition had spent some years in the company of wandering ascetics before he was persuaded to give up the life of a recluse and become a householder. In addition to his practice of indigenous medicine, he collected and transcribed Sanskrit manuscripts and wrote verse in Braj thereby laying the foundations of the family's literary tardaition. His son, Charan Siṅgh, studied Sanskrit, Braj, Persian and prosody, besides Ayurveda and Westren medicine. A boyhood experience which must have left a deep impression on his mind was the preparation for his benefit of a copy of the Gurū Granth Sāhib in the hand of Suhel Siṅgh watched from day to day the large pages being inscribed in handsome Gurmukhī calligraphy. The completion of the work on Phāgun Vadī 5, 1918 BK/25 February 1862 was marked by rejoicing and feasting and distribution of charity. He first practised Ayurvedic as well as Western medicine seving from 1 August 1872 to 12 November 1881 in government dispensaries. He resigned the appointment to set up as a private pracitioner and to pursue his literary tastes. He was married in 1869 to Uttam Kaur, daughter of Giānī Hazāzā Siṅgh(q. v. ), a reputed man of letters, He had four sons of whom Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh (1872-1957), the celebrated Punjabi poet and savant, was the eldest and Dr Balbīr Siṅgh, scientist and scholar, the youngest.
Among his several works, Charan Siṅgh's Aṭal Prakāsh is a versified account of Bābā Aṭal Rāi's life, and the Dasam Gur Charitra, a vignette of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. He translated Kālidāsa's Abhijñāna Śakūntalam into Punjabi and started working on two novels (Jaṅg Maṛaulī and Shām Sundar) which he left incomplete and which were published posthumously by the Khālsā Tract Society. His Gurmat Saṅgīt Nirṇaya is a work on the rāgas or musical measures employed in the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Srī Gurū Granth Bāṇī Beorā explains the titles of compositions comprising the Gurū Granth Sāhib, and furnishes information about the verse-forms and the rāgas or musical measures employed, with details of compositions in each rāga as well as of the individual contribution of each of the Gurūs and bhaktas. His Gaṛgajj Bole is a book on the Sikh martial patois, and Srī Mahārāṇī Sharāb Kaur, a book of didactic Punjabi prose. All his works have been published in one volume in the second part of Shrī Charanhari Visthār. Besides composing verse himself, Charan Siṅgh presided over a salon of local devotees of the Muse, and took active interest in the rising Siṅgh Sabhā movement.
He died at Amritsar on 13 November 1908.
S. P. Siṅgh