MAHITĀB SIṄGH, MAHANT (1811-1871), founder Srī Mahant (head) of Srī Nirmal Pañchāitī Akhāṛā, at Paṭiālā, was born in 1811 in a Jaṭṭ Sikh family of the village of Lehal Kalāṅ, now in Saṅgrūr district in the Punjab. He learnt to read Punjabi in his village and gained fluency in reciting the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Losing both his parents within an year when he was scarcely sixteen, Mahitāb Siṅgh left home to visit places of pilgrimage. As he reached Vārāṇasī, he was taken up with the idea of learning Sanskrit. He remained there for nearly 14 years studying philosophy, logic and grammar. He then resumed his travels and, visiting Paṭnā and Nāndeḍ, came to Haridvār where he became a disciple of Sant Dharam Siṅgh, of Riskhīkesh, engaging himself in the study of gurbāṇī or the Sikh sacred writ. He served the saṅgat with humility and sat in solitary meditation. His learning and dedication were commonly acknowledged and when Nirmalā Sikhs decided to establish their own central school, Srī Nirmal Pañchāitī Akhāṛā, separate from the Udāsīs, he was, at an open convention of the sect at Haridvār in 1855, by one voice elected Srī Mahant, i.e. principal abbot or head, in the presence of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. In 1856, the Nirmalā gathering at Gayā, in Bihār, was attended by several of the Sikh chiefs, including Mahārājā Narindar Siṅgh of Paṭiālā, Rājā Sarūp Siṅgh of Jīnd and Sardār Lahiṇā Siṅgh of Kalsīā. At the invitation of Mahārājā Narindar Siṅgh, Mahant Mahitāb Siṅgh visited Paṭiālā where he was received ceremonially by the ruler himself. Similar welcome awaited him at Nābhā and Saṅgrūr. He went around preaching the word of Gurū Nānak and administering the rites of Khālsā amrit to large numbers. As the ruling chiefs of Paṭiālā, Nābhā and Jīnd jointly offered to provide a permanent seat for the Pañchāitī Akhāṛā at Paṭiālā, Mahant Mahitāb Siṅgh was again invited to visit the city. Chanārthalīāṅ dī Havelī, a large walled house, was placed at the disposal of the Nirmal Akhāṛā. Formal inauguration took place as the akhaṇḍ pāṭh, continuous unbroken reading the Gurū Granth Sāhib, begun as part of the ceremony, concluded on 7 August 1862. The Sikh rulers of Paṭiālā, Nābhā and Jīnd made endowments in cash and land for the maintenance of the Akhāṛā, also called Dharam Dhujā (lit. standard or flag of dharma). Mahitāb Siṅgh became its first Srī Mahant. He also held control of the ḍerā at Kankhal, Haridvār, which remained the principal centre of the Nirmalā sect.
Mahāṅt Mahitāb Siṅgh died at Kankhal on 12 April 1871.
Giānī Balwant Siṅgh