Sant Niranjan Singh

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Sant Niranjan Singh (1922-1994). Faircomplexioned, and blueeyed, Giani Sant Niranjan Singh was nurtured on several branches of learning, old and new. He was especially interested in veddnta and nydya. He was also wellread in Panini. All his life he remained immersed in Sikh letters. He began with lessons in the holy Guru Granth Sahib which he read with extraordinary diligence with his teacher Baba Gopal Singh who was the Head Granlhi at Gurdwara at Sulisar. Niranjan Singh was born the son oflshar Singh at Sulisar in Mansa district of the Punjab on 25 December 1922.

The family traced their origin to the Mann Jatts of Kahlori Kotli. Niranjan Singh was married to Tarlochan Kaur ofBhagtuana village. She was related to the ruling house ofNabha. Sporting a small white muslin turban upon a large head he proved an assiduous learner. He spent most of his manhours daily studying the intricacies of the Punjabi lexicon and Hindu sdstras. He gained a fair mastery of several of the esoteric texts. He proved a quick learner. He was lucky in his choice of teachers. He was barely four when he was escorted by his mother to the presence of Sant Atar Singh of Mastuana. The meeting with Sant Atar Singh left on him a permanent imprint. By the time he was seven years of age he was reciting the Guru Granth Sahib fluently. He studied the text with minute care for seven years at the Mastuana Bunga. After serving a period of apprenticeship under Mahant Tapia Singh ofDhamtan Sahib he moved to Patiala where he finally made his home. In Patiala, he took up residence at GurdwarS Sahib, now known as Samadhan Sardar Sir Deva Singh. The shrine honours the memory of a former prime minister of Patiala state.

He came to Patiala full of zeal for learning and teaching. Gurdwara Sahib Dukhnivaran, in Patiala, became his point of permanent halt. He stayed put in Patiala for the rest of his life and had ample opportunities of realizing his life's dreams. Here he received an openhearted welcome from all quarters. His reputation for piety had already preceded him. Expositions of the holy writ he presented at the morning assembly at the Gurdwara won him an everexpanding circle of admirers and devotees. In acknowledgement of his lasting contribution to Sikh learning through the medium of kathd, exposition of the holy writ, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee conferred on him the honorific 'Shiromani Kathakar'. This title he carried with him to many a Sikh conference and gathering. With the opening of the Punjabi University at Patiala, his lectures acquired a decisive scholarly edge. He presented learned lectures before University audiences.

At Gurdwara Dukhnivaran Sahib his series had gained further popularity. These evening engagements brought him much fame. Vast numbers of devotees came to listen to his discourses. He gave successively expositions of texts of the Holy Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth and of the inimitable Sri Suraj Prakdsh. This was his most solid contribution to Sikh learning. Unending streams of visitors, men and women, filled the holy corridors day after day. Sant Niranjan Singh's kathd, i.e. his expositions of the holy writ, became extremely popular. The extensive galleries of Gurdwara Dukhnivaran Sahib were overflowing with devotees. The audiences daily grew in numbers till they reached an almost uncontrollable figure.

Guru Nanak Ashram, in Patiala, spread over a vast acreage, where he eventually set tied down, was his permanent gift to the city. He passed on his mantle to his grandson, Mohinder Partap Sihgh. His daughter, Harindar Kaur, preserves the family's musical talent. Sant Niranjan Singh proved a tireless traveller. He undertook several trips around the globe spreading his message of global harmony and love. More memorable among them were his trips to Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Canada and America. Sant Niranjan Singh had a prolonged bout of illness following a traffic accident. He died at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, on the Buddha Purnima, 25 May 1994.