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Kartar Singh Kalasvalia, Giani

Theologian, Poet and Historian (1882-1952)


Who started a new line in modern Punjabi verse making a departure from the traditional love romance or lays of heroic poetry in Braj or Hindi-ized Punjabi, was born in 1882 in Kalasvala, a village in Pasrur tahsil of Sialkot district, now in Pakistan. Hence the epithet Kalasvalia.

Kartar Singh mastered scripture-reading in the village gurdwara and joined the 47th Sikh Battalion, later 4th Battalion of the 11th Sikh Regiment, as a granthi or Sikh religious teacher. After leaving the army, he became a granthi at the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar, rising subsequently to the position of head granthi. An avid reader of Sikh historical texts and blessed with a natural flare for poetry, He assigned himself to the task of composing a comprehensive history of the Sikhs in verse. This had been done earlier by Bhai Santokh Singh, Ratan Singh Bhangu and Giani Gian Singh but their language was dominated by extensive admixture of Braj idiom; hence not easily intelligible to Punjabi readers.

Kartar Singh used current Punjabi in his poetry. His favourite prosodic metre was bait, popularized by Punjabi romances such as Hir by Waris Shah. Not that he did not try his hand at other metres. His voluminous biography of Guru Gobind Singh, Sri Kalgidhar Darshan, is in the doha-chaupai style of Tulasi's Ramayana, and he successfully uses the indigenous Punjabi var or pauri style, in two of his minor works, Sardarni jhala Kaur and Bhai Kalyana. Pauris and Kabitts are used in Varan Dharam Shahidan. His total work spread over more than 40 books covers the entire gamut of Sikh history, but the various volumes were not written in chronological order. The exact sequence of his compositions is not easy to determine. A complete list of his works is given below:

(A) In verse
1. Nirankari Jot (Biography of Guru Nanak)
2. Hitkari Jot (Sri Guru Angad Prakash)
3. Datari Jot (Sri Guru Amar Prakash)
4. Ujiari Jot (Sri Ram Das Prakash)
5. Jagadi jot (Sri Guru Arjan Prakash)
6. Dalbhanjani jot (Sri Kharagesh Prakash) (on Guru Hargobind)
7. Upkari Jot (Sri Guru Hari Rai Prakash)
8. Didari Jot (Sri Guru Hari Krishan Prakash)
9. Naranjani Jot (Prasang Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur)
10. Akali Jot (Sri Guru Dasmesh Prakash later revised as Sri Dusht Daman Prakash)
11. Nirbhai Yodha (Exploits of Banda Singh Bahadur)
12. Ajit Khalsa (Covering the period after Banda SinghBahadur)
13. Jauhar Khalsa (Sikhs and Mir Mannu)
14. Prakash Khalsa (The Sikh Misls)
15. Sarkar Khalsa (Maharaja Ranjit Singh)
16. Darbar Khalsa (Decline and end of Sikh rule)
17. Betaj Khalsa (Exile and end of Maharaja Duleep Singh and Maharani jindan)
18. Daler Khalsa (Sardar Hari Singh Nalva)
19. Sudhar Khalsa (Gurdwara Reform movement)
20. Bir Khalsa (Guru ka Bagh morcha)
21. Sri Kalgidhar Darshan (Life of Guru Gobind Singh in epic style (doharachaupai)
22. Pratap Khalsa (Nawab Kapur Singh)
23. Dasames Duldre (Martyrdom of the tour sons of Guru Gobind Singh)
24. Varan Dharam Shahidah
25. Singhanian da Sidak (Torture and martyrdom of Sikh women under Mir Mannu)
26. Khun-i-Shahidan (The Nankana Sahib tragedy)
27. Babe di Ber (The Gurdwara Reform movement at Sialkot)
28. Khuni Sal dian Khuni Holian (The 1947 holocaust)
29. Gyan Prakash arthat Zindagi Sudhar (On spiritual knowledge, moral teachings and political policy)
30. Rup Basant (A popular folk-tale)
31. Prahlad Bhagat (A traditional story)
32. Sardarni Jhala Kaur (Stories from Sikh tradition composed in verse for singing by dhadhis)
33. Bhai Kalyana
34. Naddhe di Nar (Didactic fiction in verse against unmatched child-marriage) (B) In prose
35. Maharani Shakuntala
36. Jamraud
37. Gagan Damama
38. Yarare da Satthar
39. Baba Buddha Ji
40. Dukh Bhanjani
41. Sahib Kaur
42. Maharani Jindan
43. Baba Phula Singh Akali
44. Kale Pani
45. Goli Chaldi Gai

Giani Kartar Singh Kalasvalia died at his residence in Kucha Baghvala, Amritsar, on 22 February 1952.

Source: TheSikhEncyclopedia.Com

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