Giani Ditt Singh
Giani Ditt Singh (1850–1901) was a scholar, poet, editor and an eminent Singh Sabha reformer. He was born on April 21, 1850 (some sources say 1853) in Kalaur, a village in the present Fatehgarh Sahib district of Punjab, India. Giani Ji wrote over 70 books on Sikhism, the most famous of which is Khalsa Akhbar. His Dayanand naal mera Samvaad and Durga Parbodh are considered major texts of Sikh philosophy.
Singh was born in Kalaur, the son of Divan Singh, Ramdasia Sikh by caste . He was educated in the village of Tior, near Kharar in Ropar district, where he studied Gurmukhi, prosody, Vedanta, and Urdu. At the age of 16-17, he shifted to the main Gulabdasi centre at Chhathianvala, near Kasur, in Lahore district. Formally initiated into the sect of Sant Desa Singh, he became a Gulabdasi preacher. Not long afterwards, he came under the influence of Bhai Jawahar Singh, formerly a follower of Gulabdasi sect, who had joined the Arya Samaj.
Early reform activities
Soon, Singh was drawn into the Sikh fold through Bhai Gurmukh Singh, then an active figure in the Singh Sabha movement. In 1886, he became a principal contributor to and subsequently the second editor of the weekly Khalsa Akhbar, a newspaper founded by Bhai Gurmukh Singh following the establishment of the Lahore Khalsa Diwan.
Singh He had passed the Gyani examination the same year and was appointed a teacher at the Oriental College. He used the Khalsa Akhbar as a vehicle for the spread of Singh Sabha ideology.
When the Amritsar Khalsa Diwan excommunicated Bhai Gurmukh Singh, Ditt Singh responded by publishing excerpts from his book Svapan Natak, a thinly veiled satire ridiculing the Amritsar leaders, in the Khalsa Akhbar. This resulted in a lawsuit filed by one of the targets of the satire, which, although eventually dismissed, cost the Khalsa Akhbar dearly in time and money to defend. The paper shut down in 1889. With support from the Maharaja of Nahba, the paper resumed publication in 1893, again under Ditt Singh as editor. This led to the eventual launch of an English-language weekly, titled simply Khalsa.
Through all of his Sikh Sabha activities, Singh had maintained his ties to the Arya Samaj, but in 1888, the increasing discord between the Arya Samaj and Sikh gurus led to Singh's ultimate departure from the movement. After this, he threw himself entirely into the work of the Singh Sabha movement.
Discussion with Swami Dayanand
Swami Dayanand was the founder of the Arya Samaj movement, but Singh found Dayanand's belief in the supremacy of the Vedas and the role of Hinduism as the sole true religion at odds with the multi-cultural and multi-religious world of the time. Singh planned to set things right. During a religious gathering in 1877 at Lahore, Singh visited Dayanand "to know his mind and to know his ideals"[this quote needs a citation]. Singh published these dialogues in his book Sadhu Daya Nand Naal Mera Sambad. During the course of the discussion, Singh takes issue with Dayanand's beliefs, and attempts to expose the fallacies therein.
Singh wrote prolifically, producing both prose and verse. He wrote books and pamphlets on Sikh theology and history and on current polemics.
Well-known among his works are:
- Guru Nanak Prabodh
- Guru Arjan Chariltar
- Dambh Bidaran
- Durga Prabodh
- Panth Prabodh
- Raj Prabodh
- Mera ate Sadhu Dayanand da Sambad
- Naqh Siah Prabodh
- Panth Sudhar Binai Pattar
- Abla Naari
He also published accounts of the martyrdoms of Tara Singh of Van, Subeg Singh, Matab Singh Mirankotia, Taru Singh and Bota Singh.
Singh's married Bishan Kaur in a Sikh rite in Lahore in 1880. They had two children: a son, Baldev Singh, born in 1886, and a daughter, Vidyavant Kaur, born in 1890.
The death of Singh's daughter on 17 June 1901 was a great blow to Singh, who was already suffering exhaustion from his workload as leader of the Singh Sabha movement. He continued to work, but his health deteriorated rapidly and he fell seriously ill. Singh died at Lahore on 6 September 1901.
After Singh's death, Bhai Vir Singh wrote a poem in his honor that was published in the Khalsa Samachar. In addition, the Giani Ditt Singh Memorial International Society regularly organizes functions to keep Singh's memory alive.
- Pritam Singh Collections of Giani Ditt Singh
- Singh, Sardar Harbans (ed.). The encyclopedia of Sikhism.
- Amar Singh, Giani, Singh Sabha Lahir de Ughe Sanchalak Giani
- Ditt Singh Ji. Amritsar, 1902
- Singh, Daljit. Singh Sabha de Modhi Giani Ditt Sirigh Ji. Amritsar, 1951
- Singh, Jagjit. Singh Sabha Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974
- Singh, Harbans. The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi,1983
- Jolly, Surjit Kaur. Sikh Revivalist Movements. Delhi,1988
- Chandar, Gurmukh Singh, My Attempted Excommunication from the Sikh Temples and the Khalsa Community at Fandkot in 1887. Lahore, 1898 Cds. S.