SĀHIB SIṄGH, PROFESSOR (1892-1977), grammarian and theologian, was born on 16 February 1892 in a Hindu family of the village of Phattevālī in Siālkoṭ district of undivided Punjab. He was originally named Natthū Rām by his father, Hīrānand, who kept a small shop in the village. Soon the family shifted to Tharpāl, another village in the same district. As a youth, Natthū Rām was apprenticed to the village Maulawī, Hayāt Shāh, son of the famous Punjabi poet, Hāsham, upon whom his royal patron, Raṇjīt Siṅgh, the Mahārājā of the Punjab, had settled a permanent jāgīr. Winning a scholarship at his middle standard examination, Natthū Rām joined the high school at Pasrūr where he received in 1906 the rites of the Khālsā and his new name Sāhib Siṅgh. The untimely death of his father made the situation hard for him, yet he managed to plough through first Dyāl Siṅgh College, Lahore, and then the Government College, Lahore. At the latter, he obtained his bachelor's degree. In 1917, he joined as a lecturer in Sanskrit at Gurū Nānak Khālsā College, Gujrāṅwālā.
Sāhib Siṅgh, now commonly known as Professor Sāhib Siṅgh, took part in the Gurdwārā Reform movement in the twenties of the century. He was appointed joint secretary of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in 1921. During this period he suffered jail twice---once during the Gurū kā Bāgh agitation (1922) and then in the Jaito morchā (1924). In 1927 he returned briefly to his college in Gujrāṅwālā which he soon quit to join the Khālsā College at Amritsar. From 1929 to 1952 he remained at Khālsā College producing a succession of learned works and commentaries on the Sikh sacred texts. Retiring from the Khālsā College, Amritsar, after, many a long year of unbroken and luminous scholarly work, he became principal of the Shahīd Sikh missionary College. He also worked as principal at the Gurmat College, Paṭiālā.
Professor Sāhib Siṅgh was known for his erudition and assiduous pursuit of scholarship. Nearly 50 of his works were published between 1927 and 1977. These included exposition of several of the Sikh sacred texts and his monumental 10-volume commentary on Sikh Scripture, Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib Darpan, published during 1962-64. A most original and earlier work was his Gurbāṇī Viākaran, a textual grammar of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. No exegetical work since the publication of this book in 1932 has been possible without resort to the fundamental principles enunciated in it, especially those concerning the interpretation of vowel endings in inflexions of nouns and verbs. Sāhib Siṅgh made a notable contribution to Punjabi prose through his essays on moral and spiritual themes, religious philosophy and issues in history and biography.
Sāhib Siṅgh's contribution to Sikh studies and Punjabi letters received wide recognition in his own lifetime. The Punjabi Sāhitya Akademī, Ludhiāṇā, honoured him in 1970 with a life fellowship, and Punjabi University, Paṭiālā, conferred upon him, in 1971, the degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa). Earlier, the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee had made award to him for his Gurbāṇī Viākaran, and the Government of Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union had honoured him in 1952 marking his services to Punjabi literature.
Professor Sāhib Siṅgh died of Parkinson's disease at Amritsar on 29 October 1977.