KAPŪR SIṄGH, SIRDĀR, BHĀĪ SĀHIB (1909-1986), civilian, parliamentarian and intellectual, was master of many-sided learning. Besides Sikh theology, he was vastly learned in philosophy, history and literature. He was born into a farming family, at the village Chakk in Ludhiāṇā district on 2 March 1909. His father's name was Dīdār Siṅgh. Sirdār Kapūr Siṅgh received his Master's degree, first class first, at the prestigious Government College, Lahore, after which he went to Cambridge to take his Tripos in Moral Sciences. He was a distinguished linguist and had mastered several of the languages of the east and the west. Besides English which he could spin around his fingers with extraordinary subtlety and finesse, he had facility in Persian and Arabic as well as in Sanskrit.
In addition to these, he claimed easy acquaintance with such discrete fields as astrology, architecture and space science. In spite of his knowledge covering many disparate areas, Sirdār Kapūr Siṅgh's principal focus was Sikh literature and theology. He was a stickler for accuracy of fact and presentation. He stood up foursquare to any misrepresentation or falsification of any shade of Sikh thought and belief. He was most vigilant and unbending in this respect.
He was selected into the Indian Civil Service and served in various administrative posts in the cadre. In 1947, he was appointed deputy commissioner of Kāṅgṛā. He was particularly irked by the growing narrow politics of the government biased against the Sikhs. What incensed him most was a circular letter dated 10 October 1947, issued by the state governor, Chandū Lāl Trivedī, warning district authorities in the Punjab against what was described as the criminal tendencies of the Sikh people. Kapūr Siṅgh filed a strong protest against this utterly wild accusation. He thereby invited the governor's wrath. Charges were brought against him which led to his dismissal from the service.
Sirdar Kapūr Siṅgh became an ardent supporter of the Akālī demand for a Punjabi-speaking state. After a brief stint as Professor of Sikhism under the authority of the Akāl Takht, he joined active politics. In 1962, he was elected to the lower house of Indian Parliament and a member of the Punjab Vidhān Sabhā (State Legislative Assembly) in 1969. He was forthright in speech and an unrelenting critic of government's policies where they crossed the path of the Sikhs. As a Sikh ideologue he was the moving spirit behind the Anandpur Sāhib resolution adopted by the Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal in 1973, which like several other of his pronouncements became a crucial enunciation of modern Sikh political formula and policy.
A very stirring Sikh document of the modern period was the Presidential address given at Harī Siṅgh Nalvā conference convened at Ludhiāṇā on 14 July, 1965. Although it was nowhere specified, all important Sikh political or intrinsically scholarly documents of this period bear the imprint of Kapūr Siṅgh's penmanship. In sonorous phrase, the conference resolution said :
1. This Conference in commemoration of General Hari Siṅgh Nalwa of historical fame reminds all concerned that the Sikh people are makers of history and are conscious of their political destiny in a free India.
2. This Conference recalls that the Sikh people agreed to merge in a common Indian nationality on the explicit understanding of being accorded a constitutional status of co-sharers in the community, which solemn understanding now stands cynically repudiated by the present rulers of India. Further, the Sikh people have been systematically reduced to a sub-political status in their homeland, the Punjab, and to an insignificant position in their motherland, India. The Sikhs are in a position to establish before an impartial international tribunal, uninfluenced by the present Indian rulers, that the law, the judicial process, and the executive action of the State of India is consistently and heavily weighted against the Sikhs and is administered with unbandaged eyes against Sikh citizens.
3. This Conference, therefore, resolves, after careful thought, that there is left no alternative for the Sikhs in the interest of self-preservation but to frame their political demand for securing a self-determined political status within the Republic of Union of India.
The author's name is not mentioned here, but it is clearly the handiwork of Sirdār Kapūr Siṅgh. The Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee's publication at the time of the Niraṅkārī attack on the Sikhs is described thus :
THEY MASSACRE SIKHS
A White Paper
Sikh Religious Parliament
(Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee)
Sirdār Kapūr Siṅgh, besides being an extraordinarily learned man, was a prolific writer. In addition to his Parāśarpraśna, in English, which ranks as a classic on Sikh philosophy, his other works include Hashīsh (Punjabi poems), Saptasriṅg (Punjabi biographies), Bahu Vistār (Punjabi essays), Puṇḍrīk (Punjabi essays on culture and religion), Mansūr al-Hallaj (monograph on a Sufī saint), Sāchī Sākhī (memoirs), Sacred Writings of the Sikhs (a UNESCO publication), Me Judice (English miscellany), Sikhism for Modern Man, Contributions of Guru Nanak, The Hour of Sword, and Guru Arjun and His Sukhmani.
Sirdār Kapūr Siṅgh died after a protracted illness at his village home in Jagrāoṅ in Ludhiāṇā district on 13 August 1986.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)