SANT SIṄGH GIĀNĪ, BHĀĪ (1768-1832), renowned man of letters and custodian of Srī Darbār Sāhib at Amritsar in Sikh times, came of a devout family of Chinioṭ, in present-day Jhaṅg district of Pakistan. His grandfather, Bhāī Rām Siṅgh had spent his life preaching Sikhism in those parts. His father, Bhāī Sūrat Siṅgh, made home in Amritsar to which place he had migrated in 1750. Sūrat Siṅgh was a scholar of Persian and Punjabi and enjoyed high reputation as an exponent of the Gurūs' teaching. For his lucid discourses on the Sikh sacred texts, he was popularly known as giānī, i.e. a man of spiritual insight and knowledge. After the occupation of the Punjab by Sikh misls, Bhāī Sūrat Siṅgh was appointed manager of the Darbār Sāhib at Amritsar and of the jāgīrs earmarked for its maintenance. For himself, he was granted a landed estate near Jalandhar where he built a small fortress. Sant Siṅgh was born in this house in 1768. He trained in Sikh religious lore at Amritsar under the care of his father. Soon he and his younger brother, Gurdās Siṅgh, were assigned to reciting the Gurū Granth Sāhib in the Harimandar. Later, Sant Siṅgh studied Braj and Sanskrit under Paṇḍit Nihāl Siṅgh of Thohā, now in Rāwalpiṇḍī district of Pakistan. When Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh occupied the Jalandhar Doāb in 1806-07, he allowed Bhāī Sant Siṅgh to retain the family estate and appointed him to succeed his father in the superintendence of repair and decoration work at Srī Darbār Sāhib at Amritsar. Sant Siṅgh also began to attend the court at Lahore. In 1821, he accompanied Raṇjīt Siṅgh on an expedition to Mankerā in the Sind Sāgar Doāb in Western Punjab. Saddened by the untimely death of his younger brother, Bhāī Gurdās Siṅgh, Sant Siṅgh forsook court life and retired to Amritsar to devote himself to reading and expoundīng the Scripture at Srī Darbār Sāhib, his son, Gurmukh Siṅgh, replacing him at the court. In Amritsar, Sant Siṅgh was also entrusted by Raṇjīt Siṅgh with the task of having art and filigree work carried out in the interior of the Harimandar and having the upper portion of the exterior covered with gold-leaf. An inscription at the main entrance of the inner sanctuary commemorates the services of the Mahārājā "whom the Gurū by his own favour had assigned to the sevā" and of Giānī Sant Siṅgh who supervised execution. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Sant Siṅgh continued his scholarly study of and discourse on Scripture. A very fortunate circumstance was his acceptance of Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh as a pupil who was given lodging in his own house, Burj Giānīāṅ. Bhāī Santokh Siṅgh produced in Braj verse that inimitable and immortal work on the lives of the Gurūs and Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth. Among Bhāī Sant Siṅgh's own extant works is the famous Suras Pradīpakā, a translation in prose of Tulsīdāsa's Rāmāyaṇa, which was published in the Devanāgarī script in 1897. Srī Gurū Charitra Prabhākar, published at Chashmā-i-Nūr Press, Amritsar; in 1877, contains short biographical accounts of the Gurūs. Another work by him was on pāhul or the rites of initiation among the Sikhs.

        Bhāī Sant Siṅgh died at Amritsar in 1832. His work at Srī Darbār Sāhib was taken over by his son, Bhāī Gurmukh Siṅgh.


  1. Sūrī, Sohan Lāl, 'Umdāt ut-Twārīkh. Lahore, 1885-89
  2. Griffin, Lepel and C.F Massy, Chiefs and Families of Note in the Punjab. Lahore, 1909
  3. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Twārīkh Srī Amritsar [Reprint]. Amritsar, 1877

Sarmukh Siṅgh Amole