NAIṆĀ SIṄGH, AKĀLĪ, eighteenth-century Nihaṅg warrior esteemed as much for his piety as for his valour. His special title to fame rests on the fact that he was the guardian of the celebrated Akālī Phūlā Siṅgh (1761-1823) whom he trained in the martial arts. Little is known about his early life except that his original name was Naraiṇ Siṅgh and that he received khaṇḍe dī pāhul or the rites of the Khālsā at the hands of Jathedār Darbārā Siṅgh (d. 1734), leader of the Sikh fighting forces prior to Nawāb Kapūr Siṅgh. Naiṇā Siṅgh was a junior leader in the Shahīd misl, with headquarters at Damdāmā Sāhib, Talvaṇḍī Sābo, in present-day Baṭhiṇḍā district. He was a friend of Bhāī Īshar Siṅgh of Nishānāṅvālī misl, father of Akālī Phūlā Siṅgh. Īshar Siṅgh was mortally wounded in an action in which the Shāhīd sardārs had also participated. As he lay dying, he entrusted his two infant sons to the care of Naīṇā Siṅgh, who took the family to Damdamā Sāhib and gave great attention to bringing up the children. Phūlā Siṅgh, the elder of the two, grew up into a firebrand Nihaṅg who later distinguished himself as jathedār of the Akāl Takht at Amritsar and as commander of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh's crack Akālī brigade. Akālī Naīṇā Siṅgh is also credited with introducing the tall pyramidal turban common among the Nihaṅgs to this day, and is said to have been an adept in kīrtan, the Sikh devotional music. In a gurdwārā at Bharpurgaṛh, a village near Amloh in Paṭiālā district; are displayed a few garments and the wooden frame of a musical instrument believed to have once belonged to Akālī Naiṇā Siṅgh who had retired to this village in his later life.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok