LAKHBĪR SIṄGH, SANT (1860-1935), a convert to Sikhism, was born Karīm Bakhsh to Muslim parents, Natthū and Basrī, at Bakāpur, a small village about 3 km from Phillaur, in the Punjab, which became the site of a big Sikh convention at the advent of the twentieth century. Karīm Bakhsh had a religious bent of mind from the very beginning. This disturbed his family, who, to detract him from his lonely ways, married him to a girl, named Jīndo, when he was barely twelve. At the age of 15, Karīm Bakhsh's quest for spiritual company took him to a Sikh saint, Bhāī Kāhlā Siṅgh of Baṅgā, in Jalandhar district. He spent two years at his feet. After Bhāī Kāhlā Siṅgh's death, Karīm Bakhsh sought solace in the service of his disciple, Bhāī Dūlā Siṅgh of Ṭhākurvāl, in Hoshiārpur district. For twelve years he presented himself once every week in the holy saṅgat at Ṭhākurvāl, about 30 km away from his village.

         Karīm Bakhsh took up appointment as a Persian teacher in a school at Phillaur. He spent most of his time reciting gurbāṇī from memory. He used to welcome the Sikhs with the Khālsā salutation, Vāhigurū jī kī Fateh, and made regular visits to Amritsar to bathe in the sacred pool. Gradually, his wife was also converted to his way of life and it is said that he established conjugal relations with her only after he was convinced of her faith in Sikhism.

         The story of Karīm Bakhsh's interest in Sikhism reached the Siṅgh Sabhā, Bhasauṛ, in Paṭiālā state, through Bhāī Takht Siṅgh of Fīrozpur. The Siṅgh Sabhā decided to fulfil his wish and convert to Sikhism the Bakāpur family at its annual dīvān of 1901, but it had to give up the plan owing to the outbreak of the plague epidemic. Karīm Bakhsh attended the annual dīvān of the Sikhs at Bhasauṛ in 1902, but had to return empty-handed owing to a controversy that had arisen.

         The Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā sent its emissaries --- Bhāī Tejā Siṅgh of Maiṅgaṇ, Sardār Bishan Siṅgh and Bhāī Takht Siṅgh --- to visit Bakāpur by turn and assure Karīm Bakhsh that his heart's wish must be fulfilled. Finally, Bābū Tejā Siṅgh, the secretary of the Sabhā, went himself. At Bakāpur, he learnt that Maulawī Karīm Bakhsh's wife had passed away less than a week earlier and that the last rites had been performed strictly in accordance with the Sikh custom. The Gurū Granth Sāhib was kept with reverence in a room in the house and the Sikh kīrtan was performed daily.

         On return, Bābū Tejā Siṅgh issued a public notice signifying that a dīvān would be convened in the village of Bakāpur on 13-14 June 1903. The letter was sent on behalf of the Bhasauṛ Siṅgh Sabhā to important Sikh societies and individuals inviting them to participate in the proceedings. The letter included a note on the Bakāpur family and its zeal for the Sikh faith. The invitation, widely circulated, evoked a warm response. On the appointed day, batches of Sikhs converged on Bakāpur from places such as Lahore, Amritsar, Gujrāṅwālā, Kaṭānī, Nāraṅgvāl and Ludhiāṇā.

         To conduct the initiation ceremonies, the five Piārās (or the Gurū's Beloved) designated were Bhāī Tejā Siṅgh, Bhāī Takht Siṅgh, Bhāī Basant Siṅgh of Bappīāṇā (Paṭiālā state), Bhāī Sohan Siṅgh of Gujjarkhān and Bhāī Amar Siṅgh of Rājā Ghuman. Bhāī Jodh Siṅgh, then a student at the Khālsā College at Amritsar, was named granthī for the ceremonies.

         Maulawī Karīm Bakhsh, then 43, was named Lakhbīr Siṅgh after initiation. His four sons Rukan Dīn, 15, Fateh Dīn, 12, Ghulām Muhammad, 6 and Khair Dīn, 4, became Matāb Siṅgh, Kirpāl Siṅgh, Harnām Siṅgh and Gurbakhsh Siṅgh, respectively. His daughter Bībī Nūrāṅ, 9, was given the Sikh name of Varyām Kaur. Lakhbīr Siṅgh won wide esteem in the Sikh community as Sant Lakhbīr Siṅgh. His son, Matāb Siṅgh, founded a society called the Khālsā Barādarī and played a pioneer role in the Akālī campaign for the reformation of the Sikh sacred places.


  1. Jagjīt Siṅgh, Siṅgh Sabhā Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974
  2. Vīr Sudhār Pattar: arthāt Srī Gurū Siṅgh Sabhā Bhasauṛ de aṭhme te naume sālāne dīvān dā siṭṭā. Bhasaur, 1903
  3. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

Sardār Siṅgh Bhāṭīā