MOHAN SIṄGH, SARDĀR BAHĀDUR (1897-1961), aesthete, philanthropist and privy counsellor, was born on 6 June 1897 at Rāwalpiṇḍī in a family of note founded by Sādhū Siṅgh (d. 1798), who under Sardār Milkhā Siṅgh Thehpurīā, founder of present town of Rāwalpiṇḍī (now in Pakistan), was entrusted with the duty of providing rations for the Sikh troops. Sādhū Siṅgh's son, Buḍḍhā Siṅgh (d. 1841), was a revenue official during the Sikh rule and was awarded a share in the octroi collections, later computed into the grant of village Misrīoṭ in Rāwalpiṇḍī tahsil. Buḍḍhā Siṅgh's son and great-grandfather of Sardār Bahādur Mohan Siṅgh, Nand Siṅgh (d. 1871), increased his estate to several villages held in jāgīr, besides cash assignments, but at annexation of the Punjab to the British empire in 1849 he was deprived of all except Misrioṭ for his anti-British role during the second Anglo-Sikh war. Subsequently, for his co-operation with the new regime, especially during the 1857 mutiny, he was granted another village, Mauzā Khatrīāṅ. Nand Siṅgh was also made a provincial darbārī or courtier. His son, Sujān Siṅgh (d. 1901) was awarded the title of Sardār in 1888 and of Rāi Bahādur in the following year.

         Mohan Siṅgh was the younger of the two sons of Sardār Hardit Siṅgh (d. 1904), the elder being Sohan Siṅgh. He had lost his mother when he was only a few months old and his father died when he was seven years. The estate was placed under a court of wards. Mohan Siṅgh received his schooling at the Khālsā Collegiate School, Amritsar (1905-07), before he joined the Aitchison College, Lahore, from where he passed out in 1917 as the year's best all-round student. He completed his university education at Government College, Lahore, in 1919. He had been married on 3 May 1916, to Lājvantī, daughter of Dīwān Bahādur Piṇḍi Dās Sabharvāl, a noted lawyer of his time. He had been admitted to the rites of the Khālsā, on 26 November 1916, at the hands of the renowned Sant Atar Siṅgh of Mastuāṇā. He became a member of the Chief Khālsā Dīwān in October 1914, and was its honorary joint secretary, 1922 to 1925.

         Sardār Mohan Siṅgh stepped into politics in September 1930 when he was elected unopposed to the Punjab Legislative Council. He was member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India, London, in 1935-40; member of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province Public Service Commission in 1943-47 and chairman of the Public Service Commission of the Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union in 1948-56. In recognition of his public service, he was awarded the title of Sardār Bahādur in 1931 and was appointed Companion of the Indian Empire (C.I.E.) in 1941.

         Sardār Bahādur Mohan Siṅgh was associated in various capacities with several social and welfare organizations such as Red Cross Society, the Boy Scouts and Temperance League. He was on the boards of directors of numerous joint stock companies and was chairman of some of them. In 1941, he established a plywood factory at Lahore, the first of its kind in Northern India. His deeper interest, however, lay in Sikh religion. He had translated the Japu and Āsā-kī Vār into English while still a student. He was a staunch advocate of women's education and encouraged the establishment of girls schools. He was president of the managing committees of Khālsā High Schools at Rāwalpindī, Murree and Kallar. He was chairman of the reception committee for the 18th Sikh Educational Conference held at Rāwalpiṇḍī in 1927 and presided over the 19th Conference held at Montgomery in April 1928. He became a member of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in 1930. He was widely admired and revered among Sikh savants of the day such as Bhāī Vīr Siṅgh, Sant Saṅgat Siṅgh of Kamālia, Paṇḍit Gurdit Siṅgh, Sant Nischal Siṅgh and Bhāī Kāhn Siṅgh of Nābhā.

         The partition of the country in 1947 forced Sardār Bahādur Mohan Siṅgh to migrate to Delhi leaving behind all of his urban property. This included his precious Library and collection of antiques gathered over the years from all over the globe. He died suddenly but peacefully at Rishīkesh on 27 December 1961.

Gurbachan Siṅgh