Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism


15th November

1900 Dr. Ganda Singh was born in Hoshiarpur, Haryana.

==> GANDA SINGH (Dr.) was born on November 15, 1900, at Hariana, an ancient town in Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab. He started his schooling in the village mosque and then joined the local Government Middle School. After some time he transferred himself to the D.A.V. Middle School, eventually taking his matriculation from Government High School, Hoshiarpur. The inter-religious polemic which raged in the Punjab in the early part of this century, stirred young Ganda Singh's curiosity. He turned to reading Sikh literature. The stories of Sikh heroes of the eighteenth century and their brave deeds and sacrifices made a deep impression on his imagination. This was the origin of his interest in Sikh lore. The liberating impulse generated by the Singh Sabha, the Sikh renaissance movement, gave a critical bias to his study of Sikh history. A deeply embedded streak of adventure, tough physique and strong, indomitable character were the other constituents of the equipment of the future historian of the Punjab.

Dr. Ganda Singh interrupted his studies at Forman Christian College, Lahore, to join the Indian army in the Third Afghan War. He served in the Supply and Transport Corps Base Depot at Rawalpindi in 1919, and then in the Divisional Supplies at Peshawar. In 1920-21, he was with the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force, first in the Indian Base Depot at Makina (Basra) and later at the Base Supply Depot, Margil (Basra). In 1921, he joined the Royal Army Pay Corps, British Army, Basra.

In Mesopotamia he had his thigh torn with a bullet shot. Through an erroneous marking, the letter which arrived back in his village home, Pur Hiran, in Hoshiarpur district, showed him as "dead." Recovering from his wounds, he came to his village a few months later. The hour was late and his knocking at the door of his house did not sound to the inmates as an earthly phenomenon. He was not let in. Spreading out his rug on the bullock-cart in the haven, he slept out the night as soundly as he would have done in the most comfortable of beds.

He went back to Mesopotamia and, then, to Iran. In the latter country, where he spent nine years (1921-30) with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, he came in touch with Sir Arnold T. Wilson, then engaged on his Bibliography of Persia. Sir Arnold encouraged his literary interests and introduced him to English journals and societies devoted to oriental studies. Dr. Ganda Singh reviewed for some of these books on Indian themes.

In Iran, he started building up his private library, which, today, is perhaps the largest collection under a single roof of material on the history of the Sikhs. He purchased books from all parts of the world and undertook tours of England and other European countries where he visited museums and bookstores.

He published his first book, My First Thirty Days in Mesopotamia, which was in English, while he was in Iran. His next two books, Inkishaf-i-Haqzqat and Sikkhi Parchdr were in Urdu and Punjabi, respectively. The urge to take up historical research in a more systematic manner brought him back to India in 1930. His object was to collaborate with Karam Singh who had done valuable original work in the line and who, by his impassioned writings, had aroused considerable interest in the study and investigation of Sikh history. But before Dr. Ganda Singh could meet him, the latter had died. Dr. Ganda Singh settled down in Lahore and joined the Phulwarls a journal devoted to Punjabi letters and history.

But he soon moved to Amritsar where he was offered a teaching and research appointment by the Khalsa College. The college had just opened a department of research in Sikh history which was placed in his charge. This was the beginning of a most prolific period of his career. Starting from nothing, he built the research department of the Khalsa College into a leading institution of its kind in the country. He equipped it with the rarest books and manuscripts. His summer holidays every year he spent travelling in the country collecting for his college material bearing on the history of the Punjab. Copies of many rare and valuable Persian manuscripts from different collections in India transcribed in elegant calligraphy by his faithful amanuensis, Maulavi Faiz-ul- Haq, kept pouring into the Research Library of the Khalsa College.

His first major work was a biography, in English, of Baba Gurbakhash Singh (Banda Bahadur). It was an example of meticulous historical composition marked by accuracy of detail and authenticity of evidence based on original and contemporary sources of information. The book proved a signal success and instantly introduced the author to scholarly notice. A few more biographies, equally well documented, followed. Two of these, Maharaja Kalra Mall and Sham Singh Attarlwala, were in Punjabi; Ahmad Shdh Dtlrram, a doctoral thesis, was in English. While at the Khalsa College, he took his Master's degree in History, topping the year in the first grade, from Muslim University, Aligarh (1944). In 1954, he received his Ph.D. at Punjab University, Chandigarh.

After eighteen long years at the Khalsa College full of hard, unflagging labor and dramatic achievement, he came to Patiala and joined appointment in Patiala and East Punjab States Union as Director of Archives. He stayed in this post until his retirement in 1956. During this time, he did not allow his official responsibilities to impinge on his scholarly pursuit. He edited volumes of government records and published numerous learned papers and books. A notable work was Private Correspondence Relating to the Anglo-Sikh Wars (1955). In this book was collected a voluminous mass of letters written by English army and political officers dealing with events preparatory to the annexation of Sikh dominions. In light of the evidence thus assembled, the story of the occupation of the Punjab stood stripped of the muddle which had till then surrounded it and of the glib simplifications of the writers of history textbooks. To this correspondence Dr. Ganda Singh added a long introduction which revealed the range of his historical erudition and his power of cogent reasoning. As Director of Archives at Patiala, he helped salvage from the Punjab princely states, then under abrogation, a vast amount of historical material and organized it into a large collection of records, manuscripts and books.

He acted as Director of Archives and Curator of Museum at Patiala, from February 14, 1950, to March 2, 1956. From 1950 to 1953, he simultaneously held charge, as Director, of the Punjab; Department of Patiala and East Punjab States Union. A permanent monument of his association with PEPSU Government was the Central Public Library at Patiala which is of his creation. Another important monument is the Khalsa College of which he became the founder-Principal after his retirement. Dr. Ganda Singh remained in Khalsa College, Patiala, from June 1, 1960, to September 15, 1963. The connection broke only when the newly established Punjabi University invited him to organize for it a department of Punjab historical studies. This meant the beginning of another spell of sustained, creative work. He charted a set-up which became a dynamic centre for research in Punjab history. De novo started the quest for bibliographical and manuscript materials. Publication of primary sources on the history of the Punjab was sponsored. Work was started on a comprehensive eight-volume history of the Punjab modelled on the Cambridge History. Another project undertaken was a four volume series of documents on Punjab's part in the national struggle for freedom. In 1965, Dr. Ganda Singh founded the Punjab History Conference, and published in the following year his by now prestigious A Bibliography of t/le Panjab. He headed the department from September 16, 1963, to September 15, 1966. Upon his retirement, the Punjabi University conferred upon him a fellowship for life.

Among learned bodies, he has been a life-member of the Indian History Congress since 1938, and a life-member of the Asiatic Society, formerly Asiatic Society of Bengal. He has also been a life-member of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland since 1949, and a life-member of Bharat Itihas Samshodhan Mandal, Poona, since 1964. He was a corresponding member of the Indian Historical Records Commission, Government of India from 1938-49, and a member of the Commission from 1950-56. He was secretary of the Sikh Historical Society, Lahore, in 1931 as well as secretary of the Sikh Tract Society, Lahore. He was president of the medieval India session of the Indian History Congress at Ranchi in 1964. He was president of the medieval session of the Punjab History Conference at Punjabi University, Patiala, in 1968, and president of the Institute of the Historical Studies, Calcutta, for its 12th annual session in Shillong in 1974. He presided the Indian History Congress for its 35th session at Jadavpur, Calcutta, in 1974. In 1975, he presided the 13th annual session of the Institute of Historical Studies at Panaji, Goa.

Marks of honor have been numerous. In 1963, the Punjab Government invested him with the State Award for Literature for his services to the cause of Punjabi letters. In 1964, Aligarh Muslim University awarded him the degree of D. Litt. (Honoris Causa). On March 28, 1964, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee honored him for his monumental work on Sikh history. He was similarly acclaimed by the Sikh Educational Conference at its 52nd annual session at Kanpur, October 25-27, 1974.

- taken from: "Punjab Past and Present: Essays in Honor of Dr. Ganda Singh," Eds. Harbans Singh and N. Gerald Barrier Punjabi University , 1976. pp. 511.

1920 The gathering at Akal Takhat constituted a committee of 175 members, to manage the Golden Temple and all Gurudwaras in Punjab and other parts of India. The representation was according to districts in Punjab and according to provinces outside. Members were also elected to represent Sikh states and Sikh bodies in Burma, Malaya, China, and America. This committee was proclaimed as the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC). The leadership consisted of S. Sunder Singh Majithia, S. Harbans Singh Atari and S. Sunder Singh Ramgarhia.
1921 Master Mota Singh appears and delivers a fiery speech at Nankana Sahib, on the occasion of the Prakash Utsav of Guru Nanak Dev Patshah.
1921 Baba Gurdit Singh of Koma Gata Maru fame offers himself for arrest at Nanakana Sahib.
1948 Master Tara Singh warned that the Hindus wanted to absorb the Sikhs into their fold.

==> MASTER TARA SINGH: Master Tara Singh was born on 24 June, 1885, in Haryal in Rawalpindi district of North Western Province of undivided India. His mother, Moolan Devi, was a pious lady and his father, Bakshi Gopi Chand, was a patwari of the village and was a well known and respected person. Tara Singh's original name was Nanak Chand. In 1902 Nanak Chand embraced Sikhism and came to be called Tara Singh.

Tara Singh had a bright educational career and was a scholarship holder almost at all stages of his education. In 1907 he passed his B. A. examination from Khalsa College, Amritsar. Later Tara Singh joined as headmaster of Khalsa High School, Lyallpur, at an honorarium of Rs. 15 per month. Since then he came to be known as Master Tara Singh. His career as a teacher ended in 1921, following the Nankana tragedy.

He also edited two Akali newspapers, Akali (Udru) and Akali te Pardesi (Grumukhi) in which he forcefully put forward the aims and objectives of the Akali Dal.

He took an active part in national politics till his death on 22 November 1967.

-Ref. "Master Tara Singh, by Verinder Grover, Deep & Deep Publications Delhi, 1995.

1948 32 of the 33 Sikh legislatures submitted a charter of 13 Sikh demands to the Constituent Assembly. The only non-signatory was Partap Singh Kairon.



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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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