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Bhai Kapur Singh Sirdar (2 March 1909 - 13 August 1986), civilian, parliamentarian and intellectual, was a master of manysided learning. Besides Sikh theology, he was vastly learned in philosophy, history and literature. He was born into a farming family, at the village Chakk in Ludhiana district on 2 March 1909.
His father's name was Didar Singh. Sirdar Kapur Singh received his Master's degree, first class first, at the prestigious Government College, Lahore, after which he went to Cambridge to take his Tripos in Moral Sciences.
A distinguished linguist he had mastered several of the languages of the east and the west. Besides English, which he could spin around his fingers with extraordinary subtlety and finesse, he had facility in Persian and Arabic as well as in Sanskrit.
In addition to these, he claimed easy acquaintance with such discrete fields as astrology, architecture and space science. In spite of his knowledge covering many disparate areas, Sirdar Kapur Singh's principal focus was Sikh literature and theology. A stickler for accuracy of fact and presentation he stood up foursquare to any misrepresentation or falsification of any shade of Sikh thought and belief. He was most vigilant and unbending in this respect.
Rose against discrimination against Sikhs
Selected into the Indian Civil Service he served in various administrative posts in the cadre. In 1947, he was appointed deputy commissioner of Kangra. He was particularly irked by the growing narrow politics of the government biased against the Sikhs.
What incensed him most was a circular letter, dated 10 October 1947, issued by the state governor, Chandu Lal Trivedi, warning district authorities in the Punjab against what was described as the criminal tendencies of the Sikh people.
Kapur Singh filed a strong protest against Trivedi's utterly wild accusation. This seemingly invited the governor's wrath, as charges were brought against him, which led to his dismissal from the service.
Sirdar Kapur Singh became an ardent supporter of the Akali demand for a Punjabi speaking state. After a brief stint as Professor of Sikhism under the authority of the Akal Takht, he joined active politics.
In 1962, he was elected to the lower house of the Indian Parliament and as a member of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha (State Legislative Assembly) in 1969. He was forthright in speech and an unrelenting critic of the government's policies which discriminated against the Sikhs.
Major influence behind Anandpur Resolution
As a Sikh ideologue he was the moving spirit behind the Anandpur Sahib resolution adopted by the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1973, which like several other of his pronouncements became a crucial enunciation of modern Sikh political formula and policy.
A very stirring Sikh document of the modern period was the Presidential address given at the Hari Singh Nalva conference convened at Ludhiana on 14 July, 1965, Although it was nowhere specified, all important Sikh political or intrinsically scholarly documents of this period bear the imprint of Kapur Singh's thinking if not his pen.
In sonorous phrase, the conference resolution said:
- 1. This Conference in commemoration of General Hari Singh Nalwa of historical fame reminds all concerned that the Sikh people are makers of history and are conscious of their political destiny in a free India.
- 2. This Conference recalls that the Sikh people agreed to merge in a common Indian nationality on the explicit understanding of being accorded a constitutional status of cosharers in the community, which solemn understanding now stands cynically repudiated by the present rulers of India. Further, the Sikh people have been systematically reduced to a subpolitical status in their homeland, the Punjab, and to an insignificant position in their motherland, India. The Sikhs are in a position to establish before an impartial international tribunal, uninfluenced by the present Indian rulers, that the law, the judicial process, and the executive action of the state of India is consistently and heavily weighted against the Sikhs and is administered with unbandaged eyes against its Sikh citizens.
- 3. This Conference, therefore, resolves, after careful thought, that there is left no alternative for the Sikhs in the interest of self-preservation, but to frame their political demand for securing a self determined political status within the Republic of Union of India.
The author's name is not mentioned here, but it is clearly the handiwork of Sirdar Kapur Singh. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee's publication at the time of the Nirarikari attack on the Sikhs is described thus:
- THEY MASSACRE SIKHS
- A While Paper
- by the Sikh Religious Parliament (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee)
Sirdar Kapur Singh, besides being an extraordinarily learned man, was a prolific writer.
In addition to his Parasarprasna, in English, which ranks as a classic on Sikh philosophy, his other works include Hashish (Punjabi poems), Saptasring (Punjabi biographies), Baku Vislar (Punjabi essays), Punank (Punjabi essays on culture and religion), Mansur alHallaj (monograph on a Sufi saint), Sachi Sakhi (memoirs), Sacred Writings of the Sikhs (a UNESCO publication), Me Judice (English miscellany), Sikhism for Modern Man, Contributions of Guru Nanak, The Hour of Sword, and Guru Arjun and His Sukhmani.
Sirdar Kapur Singh died after a protracted illness at his village home in Jagraori in Ludhiana district on 13 August '1986.