GURBACHAN SIṄGH KHĀLSĀ BHIṆḌRĀṄVALE, SANT GIĀNĪ (1903-1969), holy man, preacher and exponent of the Sikh sacred texts, was born on 12 February 1903, the son of Rūṛ Siṅgh of the village of Akhāṛā, 6 km south of Jagrāon, in Ludhiāṇā district of the Punjab. He learnt to read and write Gurmukhī at the village gurdwārā and helped his father in farming. He was married at the age of 18 and had two sons born to him, but his dedication to Sikh lerarning led him to join Gurdwārā Srī Akhaṇḍ Prakāsh, a seminary established by Sant Sundar Siṅgh at the village of Bhiṇḍar Kalāṅ, 15 km north of Mogā. In due time he came to be known as the best among Sant Sundar Siṅgh's pupils. Well versed in Sikh lore and proficient in discoursing upon the holy writ, he was chosen by the saṅgat, after the death of Sant Sundar Siṅgh on 15 February 1930, to head the seminary at Bhiṇḍar Kalāṅ. That is how he came to be known popularly as Bhiṇḍrāṅvale Sant, though personally he preferred to be called Bhāī (lit. brother), Khālsā or at the most Giānī rather than Sant (lit. saint). He continued his predecessor's mode of combining regular teaching with itinerant preaching. Besides constructing or renovating gurdwārās and sarovars at the town of Nābhā, in Paṭiālā district, Manāvāṅ in Fīrozpur district and Pañjokhrā in Ambālā district, he conducted 1313 akhaṇḍ pāṭhs or non-stop recitals of Gurū Granth Sāhib, delivered serialized discourses on the entire Scripture 26 times over, and administered amrit or Sikh initiation rites to several thousands of persons all over the country. The twenty-seventh series of discourses was in progress when Sant Gurbachan Siṅgh breathed his last at the village of Mahitā, in Amritsar district, on 28 June 1969. His body was cremated outside Gurdwārā Patālpurī at Kīratpur Sāhib on the following day. His successor, Bhāī Kartār Siṅgh Khālsā, constructed in his memory Gurdwārā Gurdarshan Prakāsh at Mahitā which became the headquarters of the Bhiṇḍrāṅvālā Jathā. A religious fair is held there to mark the death anniversary of Sant Gurbachan Siṅgh on the 28th of June every year.
Sant Gurbachan Siṅgh Khālsā wrote two books. Srī Gurmukh Prakāsh Granth in verse is a biography of Sant Sundar Siṅgh Bhiṇḍrāṅvāle along with a detailed rahit maryādā or Sikh code of conduct, while Gurbāṇī Pāṭh Darshan combines biographical sketches of the Gurūs and some Sikh heroes with elucidation of some of the hymns from the Gurū Granth Sāhib.
Harjinder Siṅgh Dilgeer