Sirdar Kapur Singh (1909 – 1986)
Sirdar Kapur Singh was a multifaceted personality. The only person to have been honored with the title of “National Professor of Sikhism,” by the Akal Takhat. He was a Sikh theologian, political thinker, parliamentarian and a prolific writer adept at very fine articulation of Sikh thought in the contemporary times. Besides proficiency in English, which he played with elegantly, he had great command over Farsi, Arabic and Sanskrit in addition to Gurmukhi. As a gifted intellectual he was well informed in philosophy, history and literature in general. He presented Sikh thought and interest at many forums throughout his life. He was amongst the best Sikh writers that twentieth century produced.
Sirdar Kapur Singh was born in Jagaraon, Ludhiana. He did his post-graduate from Government College, Lahore and later took a Tripos in Moral Science from Cambridge University.
On his return from England after studies, Kapur Singh joined the Indian Civil Services (ICS).
As a votary of Sikh interests he was very vocal against any anti-Sikh stance. Immediately after Indian Independence, the government apparatus started exhibiting its bias against all minorities, including Sikhs. In October 1947, during his posting at Kangra, Sirdar Kapur Singh was particularly angered by a government circular issued by the Governor of Panjab Chandu Lal Trivedi to all district authorities that described Sikh community as having criminal tendencies. He lodged a strong objection to the circular, inviting displeasure of the Governor. He was later dismissed from the services on fictitious grounds of corruption and insubordination.
He served at the Akal Takhat as a Professor of Sikhism for a short period thereafter. Later, as the struggle for Panjabi Suba intensified, he became a part of the Akali movement for a Panjabi speaking state. In 1962, he stood for the third Indian parliamentary elections to the Lower House (lok sabha) from Ludhiana constituency. During his tenure as a Member of Parliament he remained very vocal on Sikhs interests and aspirations. His speech in the Parliament on 6 September 1966, documenting betrayal of Sikhs by the Indian state is of particular note. In 1969, he was also elected to Panjab Legislative Assembly (panjab vidhan sabha).
With the creation of Panjabi Suba, central government’s policies became increasingly anti-Panjab. The repression increased many folds, as did the Akali agitation for religious, political, and economic rights of the Sikhs and Panjab that were ultimately formulated in the famous Anandpur Sahib resolution, of which Sirdar Kapur Singh is considered to be the chief architect. It was a comprehensive document delineating the Sikh demands presented by the Akalis of the time. The resolution later became a very crucial document in the state politics in the ensuing decades as the demand for Sikhs’ rights intensified.
As a Sikh scholar his knowledge and understanding of Sikhi vis-a-vis other faiths was phenomenal that often reflected in his speeches and presentation, some of which were impromptu. One such example is of a speech given on 3 November 1974, when he was in Toronto. He came to know of an event to be held two days later the city. Learning that no Sikh was invited to the event on the presumption that Sikhi was not an autonomous world religion, he requested for a formal invite, which he was courteously extended. His speech at the event is a testimony of his grasp of interfaith matters. After duly considering his speech, there was a consensus at the event that Sikhi was a distinct world religion of the most recent origin.
As a fashioned writer and thinker Sirdar Kapur Singh wrote a huge body of Sikh literature, among which are a large number of articles, speeches and books. Some of his published works are:
- The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs
- Me Judice
- Sikhism for Modern Man
- Contributions of Guru Nanak
- The hour of Sword
- Guru Arjun and His Sukhmani
- Sachi Sakhi
- Bahu Vistar
- Bikh Meh Amrit
The 1984 attack by the Indian army on Darbar Sahib had a devastating effect on him. After a prolonged illness he passed at his home town in 1986.