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Dr Kharak Singh – A Gurmukh

Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur*

Dr Kharak Singh who breathed his last about a fortnight ago, was one of those few who dedicated every moment of their retired life to the service of the Panth in the real sense. He had a strong feeling that Sikh history and religion had been coloured by a few historians so as to befog the shine of it’s narrative. This emanated from such western scholars who refused to appreciate the dynamics of the Sikh doctrine. Without wasting time, he joined hands with S. Daljit Singh, IAS (retd) to establish an Institute of Sikh Studies at Chandigarh and chartered a programme to counter misrepresentations and misinterpretations, which were being treated by the Sikh scholars as academic studies by applying ‘modern methodology’. In fact, a band of friends flocked around Dr Kharak Singh for active discussions that resulted in the launch of a quarterly journal Abstract of Sikh Studies. The very first objective of this journal as delineated by Dr Kharak Singh read: “To bring the latest advances in Sikh studies to the notice of scholars and general readers”. Once engaged in this onerous task, Dr Kharak Singh never looked back. He sat long hours to study Sikh history and doctrine in depth and tried to understand it in the light of Singh Sabha tradition. This provided him with necessary equipment to take the mission ahead. He assiduously worked on Janam Sakhi tradition to comprehend what Mcleod had to say. His was a devotee’s crusade that created a storm. He never cared what professional historians thought of him. After the demise of S Daljit Singh, he carried forward the task almost single handed. His commrades had full faith in him. His dedication and sincerity attracted the eye of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then President of the SGPC. He took Dr Kharak Singh on the Dharam Panchan Committee of the SGPC. Soon he was to realize that an intellectual of high caliber in Dr Kharak Singh carried within himself an unflinching faith of a Gurmukh who came up to the definition laid down by none other than Bhai Gurdas.

Dr Kharak Singh remained at the centre of all activity that aimed at advancing the Panthic interests for over a decade. He never hesitated to spend out of his own pocket wherever necessary to make himself available for deliberations anywhere. In fact, during this period, he thought, and lived to serve his community. He conceived a host of projects on Sikh history and persuaded the SGPC to provide necessary finance and infrastructure for the same. To see these projects through, he kept in constant touch with scholars based in the universities to seek their help. Himself a tireless worker, he had the perseverance to motivate many to join his bandwagon. Dr Kharak Singh kept busy in this arduous task till death knocked at his door. Before departing, he still looked ahead to complete the work in hand.

His book Guru Nanak : A Prophet with a Difference (published by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar) speaks enough of the intensive study that he undertook to present the founder of Sikhism as the one who claimed high place among the galaxy of religious divines that stalked the earth planet.

Dr Kharak Singh’s contribution shall be thankfully remembered by the coming generations.


    ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2009, All rights reserved.