Giani Dit Singh
|Giani Dit Singh
|Full Name :
|Giani Ditt Singh
|21 April 1850, Kalaur, Distt Fatehgarh Sahib
|Son: Baldev Singh, Daughter: Vidyavant Kaur,
|6 September, 1901, Lahore, Pakistan
|Singh Sabha Activist, Poet, Scholar, Editor, Professor, Authored 71 Books
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, at village Kalaur, presently in Distt Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab, India. Giani Ji was a famous writer, he wrote nearly 71 books on Sikh theory. Khalsa Akhbar is the famous book for his writing. His writing Dayanand naal mera Samvaad and Durga Parbodh marks great importance for uniqueness of Sikh philosphy.
There is little information regarding the early life of Singh, despite a resurgence of interest in him caused by the desire of some people to recast his life as that of a dalit hero. Anshu Malhotra has argued that such a recasting says more about the motives of the present-day researchers than it does about the effects of social status on Singh himself.
While Singh's date of birth is generally recognised as being 21 April, the year is variously stated as 1850, 1852 and 1853. He father, Diwan Singh whose knowledge of the Nyaya and Vedanta religious philosophies was passed on to his son. The family origins lay in the Sikh Ravidasia caste of Chamar, from which they had moved to self-identify as members of the relatively ritually clean Sikh Ravidasia weaving community, described by Malhotra as an "upwardly mobile section of the Chamar community".
After initial schooling given by his father, Singh was sent at the age of 8 or 9 to be taught by Gurbakhsh Singh and Lala Dayanand in the village of Tiur, Ambala district. There he studied Gurmukhi, Urdu and Persian, as well as prosody, Niti Shastra and Vedanta, until aged around 16. Gurbakhsh Singh was an adherent of the Gulabdasi sect and his pupil's next move was to the Gulabdasi centre at Chathian Wala, near Lahore.
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.
Arya Samajist to Singh Sabha Reformer
Soon, however, he and his friend, Jawahir Singh, were drawn into the Sikh fold through Bhai Gurmukh Singh, then an active figure in the Singh Sabha movement. In 1886, Bhai Gurmukh Singh, following the establishment of the Lahore Khalsa Diwan parallel to the one at Amritsar, floated a weekly newspaper, the Khalsa Akhbar. Though its first editor was Giam Jhanda Singh Faridkoti, the principal contributor was Giani Ditt Singh, who soon took over editorship from him.
He had passed the Gyani examination the same year and had been appointed a teacher at the Oriental College. In his hands the Khalsa Akhbar became an efficient and powerful vehicle for the spread of Singh Sabha ideology.
The Khalsa Diwan Amritsar led by Baba Khem Singh Bedi and the ruler of Faridkot, Raja Bikram Singh, had Bhai Gurmukh Singh excommunicated, under the seal of the Golden Temple, in March 1887. On 16 April 1887, Giani Ditt Singh issued a special supplement of his Khalsa Akhbar in which appeared a part of his Svapan Natak (q.v.), or Dream Play, a thinly-veiled satire, ridiculing the Amritsar leaders and their supporters. One of the victims of the burlesque, Bava Ude Singh, filed a defamation suit against Giani Ditt Singh in a Lahore court. The latter was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs 5 but was on appeal acquitted by the sessions court on 30 April 1888. The case had dragged on for over a year, imposing severe financial hardship on the Khalsa AKhbar. It had already suffered a setback by the death in May 1887 of its chief patron, Kanvar Bikrama Singh of Kapurthala. In 1889, it had to be closed down, along with the Khalsa Press. Bhai Gurmukh Singh, however, secured, through Bhal Kahn Singh, help from the Maharaja of Nabha and the Khalsa Akhbar recommenced publication on 1 May 1893. Editorship was again entrusted to Ditt Singh. Ditt Singh also helped Bhagat Lakshman Singh to launch from Lahore on 5January 1899 the Khalsa, a weekly in English. Giani Ditt Singh and his friend,Jawahir Singh, had not severed their connection with the Arya Samaj even after their initiation into the Sikh faith. The final breach came on 25 November 1888 when, in a public meeting held on the eleventh anniversary of the Lahore Arya Samaj, Pandit Guru Dutt of Government College, Lahore, and Lala Murh Dhar spoke disparagingly about the Sikh Gurus. This hurt the feelings of Giani Ditt Singh and Jawahir Singh and they left the Arya Samaj for good. They joined hands with Bhai Gurmukh Singh and threw themselves whole-heartedly into the Singh Sabha work.
Ditt Singh also became an Arya Samajist. He was introduced to "Swami" Daya Nand, the founder of the Arya Samaj, during the latter's visit to Lahore in 1877. Soon, however, he and his friend, Jawahir Singh, were drawn into the Sikh fold through Bhai Gurmukh Singh, then an active figure in the Singh Sabha movement. In 1886, Bhai Gurmukh Singh, following the establishment of the Lahore Khalsa Diwan parallel to the one at Amritsar, floated a weekly newspaper, the Khalsa Akhbar. Though its first editor was Giam Jhanda Singh Faridkoti, the principal contributor was Giani Ditt Singh, who soon took over editorship from him.
Being one of the founding members of the Singh Sabha of Lahore, he made the Singh Sabha a great movement through his speeches and writings. As an educator, he not only helped in the setting up of Khalsa College, Amritsar, but also wrote textbooks for the students of the college. Author of 71 books, a major forum for his writing was the Khalsa Akhbar, in which he wrote on current issues. Giani Dit Singh was an editor of this prominent Punjabi newspaper of the time.
Discussion with Dayanand
Having moved from one centre of learning to another, Ditt Singh became knowledgeable enough to hold in-depth discussions with eminent religious scholars like Sadhu Dayanand and others.
"Arya Samaj" was, initially, an institution which was working towards the removal of casteism and ritualism. Giani ji along with Bhai Jawahar Singh joined this movement. Swami Dayanand was the torch-bearer of this movement. However, Giani ji soon found that the Arya Samaj Chief, Swami Dayanand’s belief in the supremacy of Vedas was overwhelming as was the similar assertion made by the Muslims regarding the holy Koran. The Swami did not believe in the existence of any other religion apart from Hinduism. This was, again, a narrow parochial approach to the multi-cultural and multi-religious societies of the world. Both Bhai Jawahar Singh and Giani Ditt Singh planned to set things right. During a religious gathering in 1877 at Lahore, Giani ji visited Swami Dayanand along with Bhai Jawahar Singh "to know his mind and to know his ideals". During the discussions, a questions and answers situation arose with Swami Dayanand. This dialogue is quoted below as per the words of Giani Ditt Singh. Following is one of his discussion with Dayanand:
Q: Who is the Creator of this universe?
A: The Lord (Ishwar)
Q: Does the Lord create the universe from Himself or from something else?
A: How can the Lord create the universe from Himself? He is without form (Nirakaar). He creates the world from four atoms.
Q: Where from does the Lord bring these atoms?
A: The Lord joins the atoms floating in the sky and creates the universe.
Q: How many atoms help making this universe and how does the Lord create the universe around them? Can you explain - sequentially and systematically?
A: The atoms of earth, water and air roam around freely in air that the Lord mixes them as per the requirement and creates the universe, e.g., he creates earth from earth atoms, water from water atoms, fire from fire atoms and air from air atoms.
Q: Were these four elements existing earlier than the Lord of were created by the Lord?
A: The Lord is non-existent that he could create the solid elements from His soul. The elements of these four atoms existed already which the Lord united to create the universe.
Q : From your statement the Lord appears to be like a mason who collects and joins bricks, sand, lime, and wood, etc., to make a house. He is not a creator of atoms but creator of a structure from these items? ….. He is like a women who cooks food from various items?"
Hearing these comments Swami Dayanand became angry. The dialogue continued but, at the end, he said angrily, "Go and say that I (Gyani Ditt Singh have won and Swamiji has lost."20
These discussion showed the shallowness of Swami Dayanand’s knowledge. Gyani Ditt Singh held three such discussions with Swami Daya Nand with the same results. The details of these discussions are available in his book Sadhu Daya Nand Naal Mera Sambad. Swami Dayanand stood exposed in all these discussions. This made a great impression of Gyani ji on the listeners and he became very popular and acceptable among Sikhs.
Reply to Chandi Bhagats
During that time it was in preach that Guru Gobind Singh was a worshipper of Idol/lady Chandi. Giani Ditt Singh, who had studied Dasam Guru's bani by heart and made a discourse in poetry form a Talk between Tatt khalsa and Worshipper of idol Durga and proved that Durga whom guru Gobind Singh admired is a formless entity and it is power of God. The Book is known as Durga Parbodh.
Giani Ditt Singh wielded a powerful pen and was equally at home in prose as well as in verse. He wrote more books and pamphlets on Sikh theology and history and on current polemics. Ditt Singh was very fond of his daughter who was a highly precocious child. Her death on 17 June 1901 was a great blow to Ditt Singh, who had already been under a strain owing to persistently heavy work since the death in 1898 of Bhai Gurmukh Singh. He still continued to work with patience and fortitude, but his health deteriorated rapidly and he fell seriously ill. A Muslim doctor, Rahlm Khan, treated him but it was of no avail. Giani Ditt Singh died at Lahore on 6 September 1901. The loss was mourned widely by the Sikhs.
Well-known among his works are:
- Guru Nanak Prabodh,
- Guru Arjan Chariltar,
- Dambh Bidaran,
- Durga Prabodh, Read Online 
- Panth Prabodh,
- Mera ate Sadhu Dayanand da Sambad, Read Online 
- Naqh SiAh Prabodh
- Panth Sudhar Binai Pattar.
- Abla Naari
He had total of 71 Books. He also published accounts of the martyrdoms of Tara Singh of Van, Subeg Singh, Matab Singh Mirankotia , Taru Singh and Bota Singh.
Ditt Singh's marriage took place in Lahore in 1880 according to Sikh rites. His wife, Bishan Kaur, shared his religious zeal and the couple had a happy married life. They had two children, a son, Baldev Singh, born in 1886, and a daughter, Vidyavant Kaur, born in 1890.
Bhai Vir Singh on Giani Ditt Singh
After Giani Ditt Singh's demise, a poem was published in the Khalsa Samachar about Giani Ditt Singh by Bhai Vir Singh.
ਜਾਗੋ ਜਾਗੋ ਜੀ ਦਿੱਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਿਆਰੇ, ਕੌਮ ਬੈਠੀ ਸਿਰਹਾਣੇ ਜਗਾਵੇ|
Jago jago ji Ditt Singh piare, Qaum baithee sirane jagawe.
Wake up, wake up, O Ditt Singh ji dear, The nation (Sikh qaum) is sitting near you pillow.
ਕਿਓਂ ਕੀਤੀ ਨੀਂਦ ਪਿਆਰੀ, ਕਿਓਂ ਜਾਗ ਤਹਾਨੂੰ ਨਾ ਆਵੇ |
Kion kiti neend piaree, kion jaag tuhanun na aave.
Why don’t you wake up?
ਕਦੀ ਕੌਮ ਜਗਾਈ ਸੀ ਤੈਨੇ, ਲਮੇ ਕਢ ਕਢ ਵੈਣ ਤੇ ਹਾਵੇ| ਹਾਂ!
Kadi qaum jagaayee si taine, lame kaddh kaddh vain te haave. Han!
Once you awakened the entire nation.
By praying, crying, howling and growling,
ਜਾਗ ਕੇ ਕੌਮ ਭਲੱਕੜ, ਆਪ ਸੋਂ ਗਝ ਹੋ ਬੇਦਾਵੇ |
Jagaike qaum bhulakad, aap saun gaye hoi bedawe.26
Now after awakening the forgetful nation.
Yourself have gone to sleep unattached.
Institutions In Name of Giani Ditt Singh
- A 15 member memorial committee was formed with Arjan Singh Bagarian as chairman. Notable memorials honoring his name were Giani Ditt Singh Khalsa Boarding House in Lahore and Bhal Ditt Singh Library opened at Sikh Kanya Mahavidyala Ferozepur by Bhal Takhat Singh, one of his former students and close friend. Giani Ditt Singh Memorial International Society, Chandigarh is regularly organizing functions in his memory. The society released a book, Bhai Ditt Singh Giani: Jeevan, Rachna Te Shaksiat authored by Dr Karnail Singh Somal, who also born in village Kaluar. Karnail Singh had through his work, more than a 100 years after the death of Giani Dit Singh , attempted to take the reader back into the latter half of 19th century to elucidate events and personalities that helped shape Giani Dit Singh.
- Pritam Singh Collections of Giani Ditt Singh
- The encyclopedia of Sikhism, Editor- Sardar Harbans Singh.
- Amar Singh, Giani, Singh Sabha Lahir de Ughe Sanchalak Giani
- Ditt Singh Ji. Amritsar, 1902
- Daljit Singh, Singh Sabha de Modhi Giani Ditt Sirigh Ji. Amritsar, 1951
- Jagjit Singh, Singh Sabha Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974
- Harbans Singh, 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.