BIKRAMĀ SIṄGH, KAṄVAR (1835-1887), one of the pioneers of the Siṅgh Sabhā movement, was born in 1835. He was the son of Rājā Nihāl Siṅgh of Kapūrthalā. As he grew up, he developed interest in classical learning and music. He received several honours and distinctions from the British government. During the 1857 uprising, he commanded a Kapūrthalā contingent of 300 men, horse and foot, and 2 guns to defend Hoshiārpur. He also assisted in the subjugation of Oudh at the head of a Kapūrthalā contingent. He was awarded the title of Sardār Bahādur and a large jāgīr in land, with a khill'at. He was an honorary magistrate at Jalandhar and in 1879 was appointed an honorary assistant commissioner and was decorated with the title of Companion of the Star of India (C. S. I). He also served as president of the newly created Municipal Board of Jalandhar for a term.

        Well versed in English, Persian, Sanskrit, and Punjabi, Kaṅvar Bikramā Siṅgh was a strong advocate of Western learning. He equally supported the cause of women's education. In 1882, he initiated the proposal for the establishment of a Khālsā college. He also felt concerned about the state of Sikh faith in his day and was one of the three original founders of the Siṅgh Sabhā established at Amritsar on 1 October 1873, the other two being Sardār Ṭhākur Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā and Bābā Khem Siṅgh. His more important, though indirect, contribution to the Siṅgh Sabhā movement was his patronage of the renowned Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh. Gurmukh Siṅgh was the promising son of one of his family servants whom he had brought up and educated with loving care. He now helped Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh with funds for setting up Khālsā Press at Lahore. This led to the launching in 1886 of the Punjabi weekly, Khālsā Akhbār, which played a major role in spreading Siṅgh Sabhā ideology. Kaṅvar Bikramā Siṅgh stood by Giānī Ditt Siṅgh and helped him financially when he became involved in a defamation case for the publication of his Svapan Nāṭak (q. v.), a satirical work which gave offence to the patrons of the Khālsā Dīwān of Amritsar. Kaṅvar Bikramā Siṅgh, as president of the Jalandhar Siṅgh Sabhā, always took the part of the Lahore Khālsā Dīwān. Besides the patronage, encouragement and active assistance he gave to scholars like Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh and Bhāī Ditt Siṅgh, he himself wrote a book, Upmā Sār Granth. Kaṅvar Bikramā Siṅgh died, after a short illness, on 8 May 1887.


  1. Jagjīt Siṅgh, Siṅgh Sabhā Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974
  2. Ganda Singh, ed. , The Singh Sabha and other Socio-Religious Movements in the Punjab. Patiala, 1984
  3. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

Gurdarshan Siṅgh