NIRAÑJAN SIṄGH, SANT (1922-1994). Fair complexioned, and blue-eyed, Giānī Sant Nirañjan Siṅgh was nurtured on several branches of learning, old and new. He was especially interested in vedānta and nyāya. He was also well-read in Pāṇinī. All his life he remained immersed in Sikh letters.

         He began with lessons in the holy Gurū Granth Sāhib which he read with extraordinary diligence with his teacher Bābā Gopāl Siṅgh who was the Head Granthī at Gurdwārā at Sūlīsar. Nirañjan Siṅgh was born the son of Īshar Siṅgh at Sūlīsar in Mānsā district of the Punjab on 25 December 1922.

         The family traced their origin to the Mānn Jaṭṭs of Kāhloṅ Koṭlī. Nirañjan Siṅgh was married to Tarlochan Kaur of Bhagtūāṇā village. She was related to the ruling house of Nābhā. Sporting a small white muslin turban upon a large head he proved an assiduous learner. He spent most of his man-hours daily studying the intricacies of the Punjabi lexicon and Hindu śāstras. He gained a fair mastery of several of the esoteric texts. He proved a quick learner. He was lucky in his choice of teachers. He was barely four when he was escorted by his mother to the presence of Sant Atar Siṅgh of Mastuāṇā. The meeting with Sant Atar Siṅgh left on him a permanent imprint. By the time he was seven years of age he was reciting the Gurū Granth Sāhib fluently. He studied the text with minute care for seven years at the Mastuāṇā Buṅgā. After serving a period of apprenticeship under Mahant Tapīā Siṅgh of Dhamtān Sāhib he moved to Paṭiālā where he finally made his home.

         In Paṭiālā, he took up residence at Gurdwārā Sāhib, now known as Samādhāṅ Sardār Sir Devā Siṅgh. The shrine honours the memory of a former prime minister of Paṭiālā state.

         He came to Paṭiālā full of zeal for learning and teaching.Gurdwārā Sāhib Dūkhnivāran, in Paṭiālā, became his point of permanent halt. He stayed put in Paṭiālā for the rest of his life and had ample opportunities of realizing his life's dreams. Here he received an open-hearted welcome from all quarters. His reputation for piety had already preceded him. Expositions of the holy writ he presented at the morning assembly at the Gurdwārā won him an ever-expanding circle of admirers and devotees. In acknowledgement of his lasting contribution to Sikh learning through the medium of kathā, exposition of the holy writ, the Shiromanī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee conferred on him the honorific ‘Shiromaṇī Kathākār'. This title he carried with him to many a Sikh conference and gathering.

         With the opening of the Punjabi University at Paṭiālā, his lectures acquired a decisive scholarly edge. He presented learned lectures before University audiences.

         At Gurdwārā Dūkhnivāran Sāhib his series had gained further popularity. These evening engagements brought him much fame. Vast numbers of devotees came to listen to his discourses. He gave successively expositions of texts of the Holy Gurū Granth Sāhib and the Dasam Granth and of the inimitable Srī Sūraj Prakāsh. This was his most solid contribution to Sikh learning. Unending streams of visitors, men and women, filled the holy corridors day after day. Sant Nirañjan Siṅgh's kathā, i.e. his expositions of the holy writ, became extremely popular. The extensive galleries of Gurdwārā Dūkhnivāran Sāhib were overflowing with devotees. The audiences daily grew in numbers till they reached an almost uncontrollable figure.

         Gurū Nānak Āshram, in Paṭiālā, spread over a vast acreage, where he eventually settled down, was his permanent gift to the city. He passed on his mantle to his grandson, Mohinder Partāp Siṅgh. His daughter, Harindar Kaur, preserves the family's musical talent.

         Sant Nirañjan Siṅgh proved a tireless traveller. He undertook several trips around the globe spreading his message of global harmony and love. More memorable among them were his trips to Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Canada and America. Sant Nirañjan Siṅgh had a prolonged bout of illness following a traffic accident. He died at Rājindra Hospital, Paṭiālā, on the Buddha Purṇimā, 25 May 1994.

Raṇbīr Siṅgh