HARNĀM KAUR, BĪBĪ (1882-1906), a pioneer in the field of women's education, was born on 10 April 1882 in a Siddhū Jaṭṭ family of Chand Purāṇā, a village in Fīrozpur district of the Punjab. Her father's name was Bhagvān Dās and mother's Rām Deī. Her own original name was Jiūṇī. Bhagvān Dās, a religious-minded person, had become a disciple of an Udāsī sādhū, Rām Dās, of Fīrozpur, after whose death he became the head of his ḍerā or seminary. Here Jiūṇī and her mother joined him when the former was only an infant. She was a precocious child and had read Pañj Granthī, Das Granthī and Hanūmān Nāṭak before she was six years of age. She then joined the local Ārya Pāṭhshālā and learnt Hindi, but left off after six months because the Pāṭhshālā had no facilities to teach Gurmukhī. Later she was sent to the village of Daudhar, now in Farīdkoṭ district, where she studied for several years under Bhāī Dūlā Siṅgh. Meanwhile, Bhāī Takht Siṅgh, who had started a Gurmukhī school at Fīrozpur under the auspices of the local Siṅgh Sabhā, offered to open a school exclusively for girls. The Siṅgh Sabhā welcomed the proposal but was reluctant to let it be run by a bachelor. To overcome the difficulty, Jiūṇī's parents. promised Takht Siṅgh the hand of their daughter. The Kanyā Pāṭhshālā, lit. girls' school, was opened in Fīrozpur on 5 November 1892, and Jiūṇī joined it both to learn and to teach as an employee of the Siṅgh Sabhā. Her betrothal to Takht Siṅgh took place on 11 October 1893 and they were married on 8 May 1894. She received the new name of Harnām Kaur when she was administered on 15 July 1901 pāhul or the rites of the Khālsā.

         The couple threw themselves heart and soul into their work. Harnām Kaur's monthly salary was Rs 6 and her husband's Rs 8. On 1 September 1900, tired of internal dissensions in the management of the Siṅgh Sabhā, they quit service, but continued to teach privately. Early in 1903, Bībī Harnām Kaur persuaded her husband jointly to open a boarding school for girls at Fīrozpur. A number of parents offered to send their daughters to the boarding school which was named Sikh Kanyā Mahā Vidyālā and which started functioning from March 1905. Harnām Kaur worked hard to make the Vidyālā succeed. In addition to helping her husband at teaching, she looked after catering and lodging arrangements for their wards. She had also set up Istrī Satsaṅg, a women's religious society, which held meetings in the afternoon of every Wednesday, and a parchārak jathā or missionary group. But she did not live long to serve the cause to which she had dedicated herself, and died on 1 October 1906.


  1. Karam Siṅgh, Jīvan Bībī Harnām Kaur. Fīrozpur, 1907
  2. Sūraj Siṅgh, Bībī Harnām Kaur. Amritsar, 1908

Harnām Siṅgh