JAWĀHIR SIṄGH, BHĀĪ (1859-1910), a leading figure in the Siṅgh Sabhā movement, was the son of Bhāī Ātmā Siṅgh Kapūr of Gujrāṅwālā, now in Pakistan. He was born at Amritsar in 1859. After finishing school, he entered service in the accounts department of the North Western Railway in 1876, and making steady progress rose to be the superintendent in the Manager's office in 1903. In 1882, he attended law classes of the University of the Pañjāb, but did not continue to complete the course. In 1886, he applied for the position of a granthī at the Harimandar at Amritsar, but his candidature was rejected owing to his earlier religious affiliations. In his younger days, Jawāhir Siṅgh had been, under the influence of Sant Bahādur Siṅgh, a follower of the Gulābdāsī sect, and had later joined the Ārya Samāj. He had been the secretary of the Lahore Ārya Samāj and vice-president of the Ārya Paropkāriṇī Sabhā from 1878 to 1883. He was also appointed a member of the Ārya Patrīkā committee in 1885. Meanwhile, however, he, along with his friend and associate, Bhāī Ditt Siṅgh, had been reclaimed to his ancestral faith through the influence of Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh, Kaṅvar Bikramā Siṅgh and Sardār Atar Siṅgh of Bhadauṛ, although he did not formally break away from the Ārya Samāj until 25 November 1888, when, at its eleventh annual meeting at Lahore, Paṇḍit Gurū Dutt, of Government College, spoke in highly provocative terms attacking the Sikh Gurūs. Thereafter, Bhāī Jawāhir Siṅgh devoted himself whole heartedly to the cause of the Siṅgh Sabhā movement. He became vice-president of the Lahore Siṅgh Sabhā, and went out lecturing on its behalf when free from official duties during Christmas and other Holidays. Promotion of education among Sikhs was one of his persistent concerns. Unlike some other leaders of the Siṅgh Sabhā, he kept clear of the wranglings of the factional Lahore and Amritsar groups.

         Jawāhir Siṅgh's interest in education dated back to his Ārya Samāj days. He had been one of the original promoters of the D.A.V. College at Lahore in 1885, and had worked as secretary of its fund-raising committee. He had also been a fellow of the Añjuman-i-Punjab. Earlier, in 1882, he had pressed the claims of the Punjabi language before the Hunter Commission on Education. He himself passed the proficiency examination (Buddhīmān) in Gurmukhī Punjabi from the University of the Pañjāb in 1886. In 1899, he was appointed a member of the Punjab Text Book Committee. He was made a fellow of the Pañjāb University in November 1904. Already, in 1897, he had been elected a member of the Calcutta Literary Society. But his singular contribution to the cause of Sikh education was his steadfast work for the establishment of the Khālsā College at Amritsar. He was one of the members of the Khālsā College Establishment Committee set-up in 1890, and when, in March 1892, the College was opened, he was made honorary secretary of the College Council. He worked in this capcity for 14 years. He resigned the office twice, in 1897 and in 1902, but the Council considered him indispensable and persuaded him to stay on. When in 1906, he finally resigned the secretaryship as well as his membership of the managing committee, he still continued as a member of the College Council.

         In July 1897 he was appointed a member of the management committee for Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh's samādh at Shāh Bilāval, Lahore. His name was also enrolled in the list of assessors to help sessions courts in the trial of criminal cases. On several occasions, he approached the government, on behalf of the Sikh community, and presented addresses to British viceroys and lieutenant-governors. The refrain of these addresses was a request for the extension of educational facilities in villages and for making Punjabi the basis of education, with due provision for subsequent acquisition of English and high scholarship.

         Bhāī Jawāhir Siṅgh wrote a number of books, mostly in Urdu. He was once officially commended for preparing the best chronogram in Persian for the inauguration of the Lansdowne Bridge over the Indus at Sakkhar in 1889. The congratulatory note from the director of the North Western Railway said : "Bhai Jawahir Singh -- allow me to congratulate you as the best poet of all that we tried." His works include Khālsā Dharam, Iflās-i-Hind, Dayānand Itihās, Dharam Vichār, Guide to Punjabi, Aimāl-i-Ārya and Radd-i-Bātlāṅ or Taryāq-i-Sarasvatī Phobia. The last two contain his polemic against the Ārya Samāj, following his disavowal of it. Iflās-i-Hind or The Poverty of India and Dharam Vichār or Thoughts on Duty were favourably reviewed even by English newspapers like the Homeland Mail.

         Bhāī Jawāhir Siṅgh commanded the respect of his British officers as well as of the Sikh aristocracy. He had the rare privilege of having bartvārā (mutual friendly relations) with the rulers of Paṭiālā, Nābhā, Jīnd and Kapūrthalā on occasions of joy and sorrow. He died, after a brief illness, on 14 May 1910.


  1. Jagjīt Siṅgh, Siṅgh Sabhā Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974
  2. Ashok, Shamsher Siṅgh, Puñjāb dīāṅ Lahirāṅ. Patiala, 1954
  3. Jubilee Book. Amritsar, 1936

Gurdarshan Siṅgh