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PanthPrast Giani Sher Singh

A Review by Raghbir Singh

Author : Hardev Singh Dhaliwal PPS
Publisher : DSGMC, New Delhi
Pages : 205+; Price : Rs 50/-

The author of the book, S. Hardev Singh, has been a police officer by profession, but a study of the book reveals his love for Sikh history. This is, perhaps, due to the fact that being a nephew of Giani Sher Singh, the same blood which flowed in the veins of Giani ji, throbs in his heart also. Giani ji, a village boy born of illiterate parents, lost his eyesight at the age of 2 years. His maternal grandmother, although illiterate too, was a lady devoted to virtues of Sikhism. She resolved to see her grandson become a scholar among Sikhs revered by all high and low, by dint of his erudition about Sikh Thought. She put him in the charge of Sikh Saints in her village. He assimilated the message of Gurbani and became its great exponent in their company. In due course, he learnt a good deal of Hindi and Sanskrit also. He had working knowledge of Urdu, Persian and English, too. The author has provided the readers with a very useful insight of the thinking of Giani ji who was more enlightened about the Sikh sidhant than the present leaders and more farsighted in safeguarding the religious and political interests of Sikhs from the inimical forces. Giani ji’s power of argument was so great that a Christian missionary who taught him English with a view to converting him to Christianity, left teaching him fearing lest he may himself become a Sikh. Giani ji’s arguments in favour of Sikh demands were so vociferous and weighty that even seasoned leaders like Madan Mohan Malavia, Moti Lal Nehru, MK Gandhi and Pandit Nehru could not stand before him. It is another thing, that being in majority they flouted every claim of the Sikhs. Pandit Malavia was so impressed by his arguments that he offered to bear his expenses if he went to England for studies in law. His love for Sikh Gurus was so intense that when Gandhi ji described Guru Gobind Singh as a mis-guided desh bhagat, he immediately resigned from the Congress.

To let the readers share Giani ji’s talent, the author has extensively quoted from his writings about various issues confronting the Sikhs. Here are a few examples of his views, understanding and approach to the problems:-

1. Panth can be Guru Panth only when it follows teachings of Guru Granth Sahib.

2. Panthic power is the life of Shiromani Committee. And so long as Sikhs control their Gurdwaras, there is no reason why they should dance to the tunes of the Government as an intelligent Sikh would never like to buy his shroud in lieu of his life;

3. Independence is another name of fearlessness.

4. When the formation of Shiromani Committee was under discussion, he advised the moderates to stop playing upon Nero’s flute, and instead share the burning cauldron of life and death with their companions.

5. About Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar of 1921 he says, ‘The government, instead of inflicting physical torture on us, is now bent upon destroying our religion.”

6. Rejecting Nehru’s Report about the complicated issue of communal representation in the Punjab Council, he says, "Hindus are satisfied that they have Indian Parliament and also the rest of India with them. Our fear is that Sikhs may not get sufficient seats and Punjab would be converted into an Islamic State. He was of the view that in Punjab no community should have absolute majority to rule over others. Sikhs can agree to 40, 30 and 30 formula to Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. When Sikhs are already entitled to 19% seats why should they agree to Nehru Report under which they may get hardly 12-13% seats?"

7. If any Sikh joins Congress, he should not honour tri-colour flag, as it does not contain Kesari colour which had been agreed to be part of Indian flag, but Nehru was vehemently against its inclusion. Giani ji advised the Sikhs to better fly their own Khalsai Kesri flag.

8. Expenditure on Gurdwara buildings, karah parshad, etc., and establishing Gurdwaras thoughtlessly at the cost of expenditure for Dharam Parchar are weakening the Sikhs both in religious and political spheres.

9. Rulers of Sikh States and their children are causing irreparable loss to the Sikh Panth by matrimonial relations with Rajput families according to Hindu rites.

10. In view of the professional skill of Sikh soldiers, he was opposed to the Congress boycott of Second World War efforts, in favour of Sikhs joining the Indian Army in large numbers so that when British leave India, the Indian Army should be strong enough to successfully face any attack on India by any outside force.

11. He advocated a strong and united India in which Punjab should enjoy complete autonomy.

The book provides an opportunity to its readers to compare the farsightedness and commitment to Sikh cause of our past leaders with that of the present leaders. It could give more useful reading, had its author edited it properly to describe the events in a more systematic way to avoid confusing of views of various leaders with each other. Division into Chapters such as ‘Giani ji’s early days’, ‘Giani ji as a Dharam Parcharak’, ‘Giani ji’s Political Acumen’ would have made the reading more easy and comprehensive.

In the absence of mention of years of some events, dates become confusing while the years mentioned on page 77 are misprints. Still the book is of much help to the Research Scholars of Sikh History relating to Giani ji’s period.

Giani ji, though blind since the age of 2 years and without any formal education, brought credit to the Sikh Community by virtue of his erudition and dedication to the Sikh Panth. On his death, SGPC received condolence messages from many high dignitaries like S. Aurangzeb Khan, Prime Minister NWFP and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. Late S. Dhanna Singh Gulshan, MP and Minister of State in Govt of India, paid him glowing tributes on the eve of his first death anniversary as under:-

is`K pµQ dy cmkdy kohy nUrw, lY geI svrgI hUr curw qYƒ [
kOmI cwnxw, AxK qy qyjBwnw, ikQo' FuµfIey hIirAw jw qYƒ [
qyrI QW qy lVUgw kOx nlUAw, irhw ‘pwiksqwn’.bulw qYƒ
JwVU hµJUAW dw qyrI mVHI auqy, idµdy rhWgy hr smy' dwd qyrI [
“Avl pµQ” dw nwArw lgwaux vwly, sdw tuµbdI rhygI Xwd qyrI [

The author and the DSGMC have rendered a real service to the Sikh Community by bringing out this informative book about the Lion Singh of the Sikh Community for the guidance of our leaders and the young generation in whose hands lies our future. It is reasonably priced too. Every Sikh young man should read it.

 

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