SUNDAR SIṄGH LYĀLLPURĪ, MASTER (1885-1969), teacher, journalist and politician, was born on 4 April 1885, the son of Lakhmīr Siṅgh Kamboj and Rām Kaur, of the village of Bahoṛū, 12 km south of Amritsar. The family later moved to the canal colony in Sheikhūpurā district where they founded a new village, Chakk No. 18 Bahoṛū. Having completed his early education in Bahoṛū and in Shāhkoṭ, district Sheikhūpurā, Sundar Siṅgh took his B.A. (Honours) degree at Khālsā College, Amritsar, and his B.T. at Government Training College, Lahore. In 1908, he joined Master Tārā Siṅgh, the future Akālī suprermo, to teach at Khālsā High School, Lyāllpur, on an honorarium of barely 15 rupees a month. Later he served successively at Khālsā High School at Chakk No. 41 and at Sāṅglā.

        What brought Master Sundar Siṅgh Lyāllpurī into politics was his contact with Sardār Harchand Siṅgh of Lyāllpur, active in the nationalist movement. In 1908, the Punjab Government changed the constitution of the governing body of the Khālsā College, Amritsar, in order to ensure firmer control over the affairs of the college. Master Sundar Siṅgh published, in July 1909, a strongly-worded pamphlet entitled Khālsā College Sikhāṅ Dā Hai? ("Does the Khālsā College belong to the Sikhs?"). He argued therein that the British intended to rob the Sikhs of their college as they had, by a grave breach of faith, previously swallowed up their kingdom. He also castigated Sundar Siṅgh Majīṭhīā, the secretary of the Khālsā College Council, for having brooked official interference. The same year, he started publication from Lyāllpur of a Punjabi newspaper, Sachchā Ḍhaṇḍorā ("The True Proclamation"). According to a report from the then Assistant Director of Criminal Intelligence, dated 11 August 1911, it printed "largely echoes of the violently nationalistic writings which were then appearing in the Punjab press and which culminated in a series of press prosecutions during 1909-10." Sachchā Ḍhaṇḍorā too fell a victim to prosecution and suppression. Sundar Siṅgh was also in the forefront of the agitation against the demolition of a wall of Gurdwārā Rikābgañj to suit the government's construction plans in New Delhi.

         To promote the cause of Gurdwārā reform, Master Sundar Siṅgh launched from Lahore on 21 May 1920 a daily newspaper, the Akālī. The main objectives announced by the Akālī were democratic control of Sikh shrines and of the Khālsā College, reconstruction of the demolished wall of Gurdwārā Rikābgañj, political and national awakening among the Sikh masses, and the establishment of a representative Sikh body based on democratic principles. Sohan Siṅgh Josh, Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās, describes Master Sundar Siṅgh as "the life and soul of the Akālī. "In July 1922, Akālī was amalgamated with Pradesī Khālsā and published as Akālī te Pradesī from Amritsar. Master Sundar Siṅgh was arrested on 26 November 1921 at Ajnālā during the agitation for the restoration to the Sikhs of the keys of the Golden Temple treasury and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment with a fine of 4,000 rupees. However, he did not support the agitation launched by the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in 1923 for the reinstatement of the deposed Mahārājā of Nābhā. He was of the view that it would not be correct for the Shiromaṇī Committee which was a religious body to involve itself in politics and that the Nābhā question had better be dealt with by the Central Sikh League. Master Sundar Siṅgh was among the Akālī detenues who refused to accept release from jail on the condition that they would implement the Sikh Gurdwārās Act of 1925.

        Besides his articles in his newspaper, Master Sundar Siṅgh published tracts on burning topics of the day in which he also made use of his poetic talent. The topics covered varied from the lives of the Gurūs to the evil of drinking and scenes from Gurū kā Bāgh agitation. In 1924, he restarted the Akālī, this time in Urdu, from Lahore, and launched the Hindustān Times from Delhi, but they did not long survive his arrest soon after they had made their appearance. The Gurū Khālsā, Daler Khālsā, Melū, Kundan and Navāṅ Yug were some of the other papers he started, but none of them lived long. Sundar Siṅgh tried his hand at business and set up a shop in Bombay, but it had to be closed down within two years. After Independence, he was awarded a pension and allotted some land in Hissār district. He died at his new home on 5 January 1969.


  1. Piār Siṅgh, Tejā Siṅgh Samundrī. Amritsar, 1975
  2. Pratāp Siṅgh, Giānī, Gurdwārā Sudhār arthāt Akālī Lahir, Amritsar,1975
  3. Josh, Sohan Siṅgh, Akālī Morchiāṅ dā Itihās. Delhi, 1972
  4. Ashok, Shamsher Siṅgh, Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Prabandhak Committee dā Pañjāh Sālā Itihās. Amritsar, 1982
  5. Ganda Singh, ed., Some Confidential Papers of the Akālī Movement. Amritsar, 1965

Mohinder Siṅgh