Kaur Singh Nihang, Akali
Scholar and Religious Preacher (1886-1953)
Was the eldest son of Bhai Mahan Singh and Mai Karam Kaur of Paddhar, a small village near Chakar in that part of Jamma and Kashmir which is now under Pakistan’s occupation. The family traced its descent from one Triloki Nath, who was among the group of Kashmiri Brahmans who had travelled to Chakk Nanaki (Anandpur) in 1675 to tell Guru Tegh Bahadur how they suffered persecution at the hands of the Mughal satrap. Triloki Nath’s son, Amolak Nath, who was Akali Kaur Singh’s great-grandfather, received the rites of Khalsa baptism and became Amolak Singh.
Kaur Singh, whose original name was Paran Singh, was born on 28 June 1886. He studied Sikh scriptural texts, Sanskrit, Braj and Indian system of medicine under Bava Mahan Singh Bedi of Dupatta village in his native state. In 1904, he came in contact with Giani Bagh Singh, a well-known scholar of Peshawar, whom he accepted as his teacher. Paran Singh became a skilled speaker and took part in debates espousing the Sikh faith in the odium theologium launched by Arya Samaj spokesmen.
In 1906 he went on a pilgrimage to Takht Sri Hazur Sahib Abchalnagar, Nanded, where he took the rites of the double-edged sword and became a Nihang renamed Kaur Singh. He started signing himself as Akali Kaur Singh Nihang. Then followed a long period of travels throughout the length and breadth of India and Afghanistan preaching the message of the Gurus.
In 1907, He started work on a line-wise alphabetical index of the entire text of the Guru Granth Sahib. Completed in 1920, it was published in March 1923 under the title Guru Shabad Ratan Prakash popularly known as Tuk-tatkara.
Some time after 1920, Akali Kaur Singh returned to his native Kashmir where he became very popular as a deeply religious man and social reformer. In June 1928, he established at Chakar an institution named Guru Nanak Ashram, with a residential school for imparting general as well as religious education. He also set up a library and published a school bulletin called Ashram Samachar, later redesignated Kashmir Sikh Samachar. He also opened a chain of schools in small villages around Chakar. After the attack of tribal invaders from Pakistan in 1947, Akali Kaur Singh devoted himself to the task of resettling the Kashmiri refugees.
Besides the Guru Shabad Ratan Prakash (1923), Akali Kaur Singh published in 1929 an index of Bhai Gurdas’s works. Among his
other publications were Kavi Sainapati’s Sri Gur Sobha (1925) and a standard breviary or missal of daily Sikh prayers, Gutka Pramanik Nitnem (1927). His Buddhibaridh Hitopadesh Ratnakar was a Gurmukhi transcript of Panchtantra, a Sanskrit classic. His original works include Sukh Sagar arthat Ghar da Vaid, a treatise on Ayurvedic system of medicine and Istri Sankat Mochan, a forceful plea for the social uplift of women (1925).
At Patiala in 1952 (28 November), Akali Kaur Singh suffered a stroke as he was travelling from Delhi to Sangrur, the site of a Kashmiri refugee camp, and was admitted to the Rajindra Hospital. He died there on the evening of 23 January 1953.