GIĀN SIṄGH, GIĀNĪ (1822-1921), poet and historian, was born of a Dullaṭ Jaṭṭ family on 5 Baisākh 1879 Bk/15 April 1822, at Lauṅgovāl, a village in present-day Saṅgrūr district of the Punjab. Giān Siṅgh claimed descent from the brother of Bhāī Manī Siṅgh Shahīd, Nagāhīā Siṅgh. His father's name was Bhāg Siṅgh and mother's Desāṅ. He learnt Gurmukhī in his village from Bhāī Bholā Siṅgh and Sanskrit from Paṇḍit Ātmā Rām. He was gifted with a melodious voice and recitation of gurbāṇī earned him popularity in the village. At the age of twelve, he was taken to Lahore by his maternal uncle, Karam Siṅgh, who was a Sūbahdār in the army of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh. Dhannā Siṅgh Malvaī introduced him to the Mahārājā who employed him to recite the Sukhmanī to him every morning. At Lahore Giān Siṅgh was able to continue his studies under the guidance of Giānī Rām Siṅgh. After the death of his patron, he returned to his village and received appointment in the revenue office in Paṭiālā state in place of his uncle, Harī Siṅgh, who had died childless in 1841 fighting in Mahārājā Karam Siṅgh's army. During the first Anglo-Sikh war, when Paṭiālā was an ally of the British, Giān Siṅgh was sent to Mudkī where he was assigned to distributing mail. In 1849, as Paṭiālā troops were engaged in an anti-rebel operations in aid of Jīnd state, Giānī Giān Siṅgh 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 granthī in Paṭiālā 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 Paṇḍit Tārā Siṅgh Narotam, a renowned scholar of the Nirmalā school, whom he acknowledges in his writings as his literary mentor. He helped Tārā Siṅgh in preparing his lexicon of the Gurū Granth Sāhib, Gurū Granth Girārath Koś, by sending to him in Paṭiālā notes he took of the religious discourses of Giānī Chandā Siṅgh Sūramā, the blind, another celebrated scholar of the day, whose seat was in Amritsar. Giānī Giān Siṅgh was launched on his own distinguished career as a writer with the publication in 1880 of his Panth Prakāsh, a history of the Sikhs in Braj verse. He now planned another ambitious work, the Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā, which was to be published in five parts. The first three parts were lithographed in 1892 by Bābā Rājinder Siṅgh, proprietor Gurū Gobind Siṅgh Press, Siālkoṭ. Urdu editions of these three volumes entitled Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā, Shamsher Khālsā and Rāj Khālsā, respectively, were also published. Suffering a prolonged illness in Amritsar, Giānī Giān Siṅgh transferred his unpublished manuscripts as well as his rights in published books to the Khālsā Tract Society for a subsistence allowance of Rs 12 per month. He survived his illness, and returned to Paṭiālā where he received ready patronage of the ruling family. He solemnized the first wedding of the young Mahārājā Bhūpinder Siṅgh on 9 March 1908.
Giānī Giān Siṅgh remained celibate. He adopted Giānī Hamīr Siṅgh, the son of his niece, Pradhān 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 Bhāī Sāhib Bhāī Arjan Siṅgh of Bāgaṛīāṅ, Sardār Bahādar General Gurnām Siṅgh, Bhāī Kāhn Siṅgh and Sardār Gajjan Siṅgh of Ludhiāṇā. On 15 August 1916, the Mahārājā of Paṭiālā approved the constitution of a History Society, with Hamīr Siṅgh as its secretary, for the publication of historical works by Giānī Giān Siṅgh 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 Paṭiālā and Nābhā hampered the work of the committee. Giān Siṅgh himself became a pawn in this feud. He was a native of Paṭiālā state and had stayed for long periods at Paṭiālā, but the ruler of Nābhā, Mahārājā Ripudaman Siṅgh, considered him a relation, the Mahārājā's mother being a daughter of his village, Lauṅgovāl. Both the states thus claimed him. One night he was whisked away in a car from Paṭiālā to Nābhā. He died there on 9 Assū 1978 Bk/24 September 1921.
The Panth Prakāsh and Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā are the most important but not the only works of Giānī Giān Siṅgh. His other books are: Sūraj Prakāsh Vārtak, an abridged version in prose of Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh's Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth; Rāmāyaṇ Bhāī Manī Siṅgh jī Dī Twārīkh Amritsar (Urdu); Twārīkh Lahore (Urdu); Patit Pāvan; Gurdhām Saṅgrah; Bhūpendrānand; Itihās Bāgaṛīāṅ and Ripudaman Prakāsh.
Sant Siṅgh Sekhoṅ