Sant Gulab Singh Gholia

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Gulab Singh Gholia (1853-1936), Sikh saint and scholar, was born in 1853 to Bhai Dal Singh and Dharam Kaur of Bhattiwal Kalan, a village 6 km south of Bhawanigarh, in the present Sangrur district of the Punjab. He received his early education in the village dharamsala, and then spent five years at the dera of Bhai Ram Singh, at Manuka, in Faridkot district, learning kirtan and studying the Sikh texts. Realizing that, to properly comprehend and interpret certain theological terms used in the Scripture, knowledge of Sanskrit was essential, he shifted in 1873 to the village ofDhapali (now in Sangrur district), where he apprenticed himself to Giani Anokh Singh. He studied Sanskrit and Vedanta with him for ten long years. But his thirst for knowledge was still unquenched, and he went to Rishikesh to read further the classics under Pandit Nihal Singh and Pandit Advaitanand. He also acquired knowledge of Indian medicine. The Singh Sabha reform was already under way and there was great enthusiasm among the Sikhs to spread the correct Sikh doctrine and practise. Sant Gulab Singh decided to devote himself to preaching the Guru's word. He travelled extensively in pursuit of his mission. Once, in 1890, Maharaja Hira Singh, ruler of the princely state of Nabha, met him at Prayag (Allahabad) and invited him to settle down in his state, but he declined the offer. Likewise, he declined to take over the dera at Manuka, after the death of Bhai Ram Singh. He eventually moved to Gholia Khurd, 5 km north of Manuke, where in 1907 he established a gurudwara which henceforth became the centre of his activities. His active participation in the Gurdwara Reform movement commenced in 1914 with the Gurdwara Rikabganj agitation. Later, he was elected unopposed member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and was nominated to its religious subcommittee. He was one of the Panj Piare who inaugurated karseva at the Amritsar pool on 4 Har 1980 Bk/17June 1923. In his old age, Gulab Singh Gholia built a gurudwara, Anand Bhavan, at Moga where he died on 3 July 1936.