PARTĀP SIṄGH, GIĀNĪ (1855-1920), Sikh schoolman and calligraphist, was born in 1855, the son of Bhāī Bhāg Siṅgh Giānī of Lahore. As a young boy, Partāp Siṅgh learnt Punjabi, Urdu and Sanskrit and studied Sikh Scriptures. In 1884, he accompanied Ṭhākur Siṅgh Sandhāṅvālīā to England to read the Gurū Granth Sāhib to the deposed Sikh ruler of the Punjab, Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh. Partāp Siṅgh remained in England for six months. On return to India, he worked as a granthī, scripture-reader, at Gurdwārā Kaulsar in Amritsar. When Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh was due to come back to India, Partāp Siṅgh accompanied Ṭhākur Siṅgh and his sons to Delhi with the intention of going to Bombay to receive the Mahārājā. On hearing the news of Duleep Siṅgh's detention at Aden, Partāp Siṅgh returned to Amritsar while Ṭhākur Siṅgh proceeded to Pondicherry. At Amritsar, Partāp Siṅgh worked secretly for Ṭhākur Siṅgh distributing his pro-Duleep Singh letters among his confidants and friends. Towards the close of 1887, he was arrested at Amritsar and sent to Lahore jail. He escaped from prison and, turning a sādhu, travelled to different parts of the country in the company of holy men. During one such journey he happened to meet Max Arthur Macauliffe, then engaged in translating the Sikh Scripture into English. Macauliffe was impressed by his learning and wished that he would assist him in his work. Partāp Siṅgh, who had introduced himself under the assumed name of Bāvā Īshar Dās, revealed thereupon his identity to him. Macauliffe interceded with the government on his behalf and had the warrants of his arrest withdrawn in January 1889.

         Partāp Siṅgh settled down in a house near Bābā Aṭāl, in Amritsar, and for several years performed kathā expounding the Holy Writ in front of the Akāl Buṅgā. A fine calligraphist, Partāp Siṅgh transcribed volumes of the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the most famous of them being the one still preserved in the Golden Temple. This copy, completed in 1908, is written in very bold Gurmukhī characters on large sized 25" X 23" sheets of Kashmīri paper and is installed on the first floor of the Golden Temple where it is used for the recital of akhaṇḍ pāṭhs or unbroken readings of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. The entire volume, 1527 leaves, i.e. 3054 pages, with double borders in red, blue and yellow, is written in Giānī Partāp Siṅgh's hand and is known as Vaḍḍe Bābā Jī (large-sized Holy Volume). The name of the scribe is mentioned at the end of the text, on a separate sheet. Volumes of the Holy Books transcribed by Giānī Partāp Siṅgh are also preserved at Bābā Aṭal and Takht Srī Hazūr Sāhib, Nāndeḍ.

         About 1901, Partāp Siṅgh joined the Aitchison (Chiefs) College, Lahore, as granthī and instructor. According to Pañjabī Bhaiṇ, August 1916 issue, he was the first secretary of the Amritsar Siṅgh Sabhā. He was also editor of the earliest published Sikh newspaper Akāl Prakāsh, which made its first appearance on 21 Hāṛ, 407 Nānakshāhī AD 1876. He is also said to have translated into Punjabi Major Evans Bell's book, The Annexation of the Punjab and Mahārājā Duleep Siṅgh.

         Partāp Siṅgh died at Lahore on 20 July 1920.


  1. Pañjābī Bhaiṇ. August 1916
  2. Griffin, Lepel, and C.F. Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore, 1909

Sarmukh Siṅgh Amole