ARŪṚ SIṄGH, SARDĀR BAHĀDUR SIR (1865-1926), sarbarāh (manager) of the principal Sikh shrines at Amritsar and Tarn Tāran from 1907 to 1920, much maligned for his role during the popular movement for reform in the management of Sikh shrines, came of a well-known Shergil family of Naushahrā in Amritsar district, also called Naushahrā Naṅglī, to distinguish it from another village sharing the same name, Naushahrā Pannūāṅ, in the same district. His grandfather, Jassā Siṅgh, had been for two years in charge of the Golden Temple under Lahiṇā Siṅgh Majīṭhīā. Arūṛ Siṅgh was hardly four years old when his father, Harnām Siṅgh, a deputy superintendent of police, died in 1868. Brought up under a court of wards and educated at Government High School, Amritsar, Arūṛ Siṅgh came into full possession of his family estate in 1885. In 1888, he was made an honorary magistrate class II, with powers over 133 villages of Kathū Naṅgal police circle. In 1907 he was made magistrate class I and a provincial darbārī (courtier), and was also appointed by government sarbarāh in spite of the reformers' demand that the right to appoint the sarbarāh should vest in the Sikh community itself. It was bruited about that Arūṛ Siṅgh had set apart for certain British officers valuable presents from the toshākhānā (treasury) of the Darbār Sāhib. An agitation was set afoot against him on this account. However, it came to nothing; likewise, later complaints laid against him of mismanagement and corruption in the gurdwārās under his charge were rejected.

        Things came to a head when Arūṛ Siṅgh and the priests of Srī Darbār Sāhib publicly honoured General Dyer, responsible for Jalliāṅvālā Bāgh massacre in 1919. Demand for his removal as sarbarāh gathered momentum day by day. Ultimately, Arūṛ Siṅgh bowed to the popular will. He not only resigned the office of sarbarāh but also tendered at a meeting at Jalliāṅvālā Bāgh sometime during August 1920 a public apology for his acts of omission and commission relating to the management of the shrines under his charge. The government, however, in view of his loyal services, conferred on him a knighthood on the New Year Day of 1921. He had already been awarded a C. I. E. (Companion of the Indian Empire) in 1913; he now became Sardār Sir Arūṛ Siṅgh, K. C. I. E. (Knight Companion of the Indian Empire).

        Arūṛ Siṅgh died in 1926.


  1. Griffin, Lepel, and C. F. Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore, 1940
  2. Mohinder Singh, The Akali Movement. Delhi, 1978
  3. Dyer, R. E. H. , Disturbances in the Punjab. London, 1920
  4. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir. Amritsar, 1975
  5. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ da Itihās. Delhi, 1972

Ian J. Kerr