PĀL SIṄGH 'ĀRIF, SANT (1873-1958), mystic and poet, was born on Maghar sudī 15, 1930 Bk/4 December 1873, the son of Gurdit Siṅgh Sandhū and Sāhib Kaur of the village of Paddharī, now in Amritsar district of the Punjab. He learnt to read and write Punjabi from the village granthī and Urdu from a Muslim. He developed a taste for folk poetry and started composing verse of his own quite early in his youth. Pāl Siṅgh was also fond of the company of holy men, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim. At the age of 20, he was married to Nihāl Kaur, daughter of Chandā Siṅgh, of the village of Sāṅghnā, in his own district. A year later, he enlisted in British-Burmese army, and migrated to Burma. There he trained as a regimental signaller in the 3rd Burmese Battalion and lived for the most part at Mandally. In due time, he was promoted a corporal. During his stay in Burma he turned to mysticism under the influence of one Havildār Hākim Siṅgh who for his piety was known among his comrades as a giānī or 'ārif, i.e. one possessing spiritual in sight. Because of his close association with Hākim Siṅgh, he too came to be called a sant or 'ārif. When he came back to India after retirement and settled down at his native Paddharī, he attracted many disciples from different places in North India and founded almost a separate sect of 'Ārifs. He and his followers were Sikhs by faith but their style and expression had Sūfī overtones. A prolific writer, Sant Pāl Siṅgh 'Ārif was the author of over three dozen works, mostly in verse, on themes varying from esoteric folklore to didactic and religious. They were published from time to time right from the year 1896 in the form of separate books as well as in Punjabi newspapers and magazines. In 1949 he published a collection of all his poems in a 1250 page volume entitled 'Ārif Prakāsh.
Sant Pāl Siṅgh 'Ārif passed away at Pāddharī on 5 Hāṛ 2015 Bk/19 June 1958. His followers gather at the memorial shrine outside the village on 5 Haṛ every year to observe his death anniversary.
Shamsher Siṅgh Ashok