HĪRĀ SIṄGH DARD, GIĀNĪ (1889-1965), journalist and author, who in his early youth began writing religious and patriotic poetry in Punjabi under the pseudonym of "Dard", later absorbed into his name, was born on 30 September 1889 in the village of Ghaghroṭ, in Rāwalpiṇḍī district, now in Pakistan. His father Harī Siṅgh, who belonged to a Brāhmaṇ family of Puñchh, had come to settle in Rāwalpiṇḍī and embraced the Sikh faith. Hīrā Siṅgh attended the Christian Mission School at Rāwalpiṇḍī and was in 1907 appointed an octroi clerk in the local Municipal Committee which employment he resigned to become a teacher at the Siṅgh Sabhā school at Chakk No 73 J.B., in Lyallpur district. While working at the school, he passed the Vidvān (Proficiency), and Giānī (Honours) examinations in Punjabi from the Pañjāb University, Lahore. During this period, he wrote poems on Sikh historical personages and events of which two collections Upkarāṅ dī Vaṅnagī (Samples of the Deeds of Charity) and Sikh Bachchio Jāgo (Wake up Sikh Youth), were published in 1912 and 1913, respectively.
Hīrā Siṅgh took part in the agitation for the restoration of the wall of Gurdwārā Rikābgañj demolished by the British. He brought out a pamphlet on this issue which excited the entire Sikh community. He was among those who, in 1915, held a recitation of the Gurū Granth Sāhib in his school and offered prayers for the Komagata Maru passengers who had fallen martyrs to British bullets at Budge Budge Ghāṭ of the Huglī in Calcutta. For this he had to undergo arrest.
When in 1920, Master Sundar Siṅgh Lyallpurī started the Punjabi daily, Akālī, from Lahore with Maṅgal Siṅgh as editor, Hīrā Siṅgh was appointed an assistant editor. The newspaper was strongly anti government and Hīrā Siṅgh had to undergo a series of imprisonments. Coming out of jail in 1924, he launched a literary monthly Phulvāṛī, which was to become a landmark in Punjabi letters. The Phulvāṛī was published from Amritsar up to 1930 and thereafter, till its cessation in 1942, from Lahore, when Hīrā Siṅgh was arrested in the Quit India movement.
During those early years of the freedom movement in the country, Hīrā Siṅgh served as secretary of the Sikh League and as a member of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. He was also, a member of the Punjab Provincial Congress Committee as well as of the All-India Congress Committee. He was one of the founders, with Sir Shahāb ud-Dīn and Shrī S.P. Siṅghā, of the Punjabi Sabhā.
After the partition of the Punjab in 1947, he settled in Jalandhar and revived the Phulvāṛī. His views were now pronouncedly leftist. His publications of this later period include verse collections, Hor Agere (Yet Further), 1950, and Choṇave Dard Sunehe (Selected Messages from Dard), 1954, Panth, Dharam te Rājnītī (Panth, Religion and Politics), 1950, Navīn Bhārat de Rājasī Āgū (Political Leaders of New India), 1952, and Merīāṅ Kujh Itihāsik Yādāṅ (Some of My Historical Reminiscences), 1955. He tried his hand at short story writing also and published, in 1953, a slender volume Ās dī Tand te Hor Kahāṇīāṅ (The Thread of Hope and Other Stories). His Punjabi Sāhit dā Itihās (History of Punjabi Literature), 1953, written from the Marxist point of view, was chiefly meant as a textbook for students. He visited Malaya in 1938 and combining his experiences in that country with those of nearer home, he published a travel diary, Brijbhūmī te Malāyā dī Yātrā, 1958.
Hīrā Siṅgh died after a long illness on 22 June 1965 at Jalandhar.
Sant Siṅgh Sekhoṅ