SUNDAR SIṄGH, SANT GIĀNĪ (1883-1930), teacher of the sacred texts and exegete from whose seat in his native village the Bhiṇḍrāṅvālā school of Sikh learning derived its name, was born on 18 August 1883, the son of Khazān Siṅgh and Mahitāb Kaur alias Tāb Kaur, a devoted couple of Bhiṇḍar Kalāṅ, in Zīrā tahsīl of district Fīrozpur, in the Punjab. He received his early education at the village gurdwārā, and started reading the Gurū Granth Sāhib at the age of ten. As he grew up, he learnt Sanskrit from a Brāhmaṇ at Dharmkoṭ, 8 km northwest of his native village, and later successively from two Udāsī scholars, Paṇḍit Javālā Dās and Paṇḍit Bhagat Rām. He visited seats of learning in the Mālvā region and in the holy city of Amritsar in search of a teacher who could instruct him in Sikh philosophy, and ultimately became the pupil of Sant Bishan Siṅgh of village Murālā, in Gujrāt district (now in Pakistan). Sundar Siṅgh arrived at Murālā, on 8 March 1906 and carried on with his study of the Sikh texts till the death, on 28 January 1908, of his mentor. He now launched on his career of expounding the sacred word and holding special gatherings to administer to the seekers the initiatory rites of the Khālsā. To this end, he travelled extensively in the Punjab, especially in the Poṭhohār, Mālvā and Lower Chenāb Canal Colony (Lyāllpur and Sheikhūpurā districts) areas. Twice he went on pilgrimage of principal Sikh shrines outside the Punjab such as Nāndeḍ and Paṭnā Sāhib. During the summer of 1925, he preached in Kashmīr valley.
Sant Sundar Siṅgh also accepted pupils whom he trained in the interpretation of Scripture. At intervals he took out batches of his students with him on his preaching tours which were devoted primarily to delivering kathā, i.e. explanatory discourses on the entire Gurū Granth Sāhib from beginning to end. He conducted 19 such courses during his lifetime, besides two similar full-scale ones on the Dasam Granth. Instruction was similarly provided in the works of Bhāī Gurdās and Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh. Sant Sundar Siṅgh also established permanent teaching centres in gurdwārās at several places of which the most important were at his native Bhiṇḍar Kalāṅ, at Bopā Rāi in Ludhiāṇā district and at Takhtūpurā, in present-day Mogā district. For public instruction, he founded Gurū Tegh Bahādur school at the village of Roḍe, near Mogā, since upgraded into a college affiliated to Pañjāb University, Chaṇḍīgaṛh.
Besides his world of letters and theology, Sant Sundar Siṅgh involved himself in the wider issues of religious and social reform then engaging the attention of the Sikhs. He took part in the Akālī agitation and helped in having the historical shrines at Muktsar and Hehrāṅ brought under the control of the reformists. He visited Nankāṇā Sāhib soon after the massacre of the Akālīs on 20 February 1921 and participated in Gurū kā Bāgh morchā (1922) and the morchā at Jaito (1923-25).
Sant Giānī Sundar Siṅgh was taken ill with dropsy and died at Bopā Rāi on 15 February 1930. His work was carried on by his successor, Sant Gurbachan Siṅgh Khālsā.
Harbhajan Siṅgh Deol