GURBAKHSH SIṄGH, SANT (1871-1939), better known as Sant Gurbakhsh Siṅgh of Paṭiālā, scholar and preacher, was born in 1871 at Chūnīāṅ in Paṭiālā district. His father, Bhāī Shām Siṅgh, and his family shifted to Hāṅsroṅ, near Navāshahar in Jalandhar district, as the repression was let loose by government on the Nāmdhārīs. He served as granthī in the village gurdwārā. Gurbakhsh Siṅgh received his early education in a ḍerā at Fatehābād, near Khaḍūr Sāhib. He had a religious inclination from the very beginning and was drawn into the company of Nirmālā saints while still very young. With a group of them he travelled first to Jhāṅsī and then to Vārāṇasī -- two centres of Nirmalā learning. At these places he acquired proficiency in Sanskrit grammar, Vedānta, Nyāya and Mimāṅsā. He came to be reckoned as a powerful logician and was sent to Prayāg, Haridvār, Paṭiālā, Amritsar, and other Nirmalā centres to participate in learned debate. His skill as a logician was put to test especially in the religious polemics which raged in the Punjab towards the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth. Gurbakhsh Siṅgh had by now been converted to Siṅgh Sabhā ideology which he preached with zest and vigour. He revelled in discourse with the Āryā Samājists and won for his powers in argument the title of Sabhā Jitt Paṇḍīt, i.e. Paṇḍit or scholar victor in debating forums. He was named adviser for religious affairs to the Chief Khālsā Dīwān, Amritsar. In 1908 he took over as editor of the Paṭiālā State Gazette which had then started appearing in Punjabi under the orders of Mahārājā Bhūpinder Siṅgh (1891-1938) . This appointment and his close association with the Siṅgh Sabhā of Paṭiālā linked his name with Paṭiālā for ever. He was nominated along with Bābū Tejā Siṅgh of Bhasauṛ, Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh and Dr Bhāī Jodh Siṅgh, a member of the committee, constituted by the Chief Khālsā Dīwān on 20 October 1910, to work out the draft of a Sikh code which was published under the title Gurmat Prakāsh: Bhāg Saṅskār. Unmatched in platform oratory, Sant Gurbakhsh Siṅgh spent his last years in comparative oblivion.
He died in 1939.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok