Naina Singh, Alkali
Eighteenth-Century Nihang warrior (1753)
His special title to fame rests on the fact that he was the guardian of the celebrated Akali Phula Singh (1761-1823) whom he trained in the martial arts. Little is known about his early life except that his original name was Narain Singh and that he received khande di pahul or the rites of the Khalsa at the hands of Jathedar Darbara Singh (D. 1734), leader of the Sikh fighting forces prior to Nawab Kapur Singh. Naina Singh was a junior leader in the Shahid misl, with headquarters at Damdama Sahib, Talvandi Sabo, in present-day Bathinda district. He was a friend of Bhai Ishar Singh of Nishananvali misl, father of Akali Phula Singh. Ishar Singh was mortally wounded in an action in which the Shahid sardars had also participated. As he lay dying, he entrusted his two infant sons to the care of Naina Singh, who took the family to Damdama Sahib and gave great attention to bringing up the children. Phula Singh, the elder of the two, grew up into a firebrand Nihang who later distinguished himself as jathedar of the Akal Takht at Amritsar and as commander of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s crack Akali brigade. Akali Naina Singh is also credited with introducing the tall pyramidal turban common among the Nihangs to this day, and is said to have been an adept in kirtan, the Sikh devotional music. In a gurdwara at Bharpurgarh, a village near Amloh in Patiala district, are displayed a few garments and the wooden frame of a musical instrument believed to have once belonged to Akali Naina Singh who had retired to this village in his later life.