Lakshman Singh, Bhagat
Educationist and Writer (1863-1944)
Was born of Hindu parents, Bhagat Kahan Chand and Bhagatani Gurditti (the prefix "Bhagat" came down to the family from an ancestor who was a reputed Vaishnava Bhagat or devotee), on 8 June 1863 at Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan, receiving the Sikh rites in 1895 at the hands of Baba Khem Sindh Bedi in direct line of descent from Guru Nanak. After his early schooling at Rawalpindi Presbyterian Mission High School, Lakshman Singh went to Lahore where he joined in 1881 the Municipal Board High School.
Not a very brilliant student, he took five years to clear the Matriculation examination and three to obtain his (one-year) Teachership certificate. He went through a variety of employments thereafter, serving in the district court as clerk, postal department as cashier and Municipal Board Middle School at Haripur in Hazard district as headmaster. From May 1894 to October 1898, he taught at the Gordon Mission School, Rawalpindi. During this period he was, as he records in his autobiography, offered by Dyal Singh Majithia, at the instance of Ula Harkishan 1,5.1, editorship of The Tribune, which hedeclined.
On 5 January 1899 he however launched his own weekly paper The Khalsa – the first-ever English-language Sikh journal to make its appearance. Through its columns, he vigorously espoused the cause of the Singh Sabha, but the paper had to be closed down in April 1901 owing to financial difficulties. Lakshman Singh entered government service as Assistant Inspector of Schools, Firozpur, in 1903, becoming District Inspector of Schools, Jehlum, in 1906. He served as second master at Government High School, Rawalpindi, from June 1910 to March 1914, and as headmaster of Government High School, Firozpur, from 1916 to 1918. Retiring from government service in 1922, he took over as manager of Bhupindra Khalsa High School, Moga, which position he quit in February 1927. In 1929, he restarted The Khalsa, and continued with his characteristic verve the campaign in behalf of Singh Sabha reform.
Besides editing his own paper, Lakshman Singh contributed articles to The Tribune and other journals. He also published two books, A Short Sketch of the Life and Work of Guru Gobind Singh (Lahore, 1909) and the Sikh Martyrs (Madras, 1929), both written in energetic English style. A book of memoirs, Bhagat Lakshman Singh : Autobiography, was published (Calcutta, 1965) posthumously by his lifelong friend and admirer Dr Ganda Singh.
Bhagat Lakshman Singh died on 27 December 1944 at his residence on the Asghar Mall in Rawalpindi.