Giani ji’s birth anniversary

February 24 is the birth anniversary of Giani Gurdit Singh ji, my father. His books assured him literary immortality, his conduct and deeds have left such a deep impact on many lives that his memory is still very much with us.

We received many phone calls from friends, some people visited us and recalled the greatness of Giani Gurdit Singh the person—his lively sense of humour, his ability to put everyone at ease and a healthy dose of common sense with which he navigated life.

When we released the book Giani Gurdit Singh: 1923-2007 at Punjab Kala Bhavan in Chandigarh last year, the famous art historian Prof B. N. Goswamy said: “I am sure that many of you have heard the name of the great European abstract painter, Piet Mondrian, who is considered to be among the finest painters that the 20th century has produced. Someone who went to meet him, a man who had a great reputation and a great aura, said: ‘I felt that I had gone to visit a hermit in his cave, so simple was he, so extraordinarily grand was his personality, and so extraordinary was the impression that he left on my mind that I felt that I was in the presence of greatness.’ That was the impression that I got when I met Giani Gurdit Singh for the first time at his home in Sector 4, Chandigarh. He wore his intellect with dignity and not with conceit.”

The Governor of Tamil Nadu, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, said: “I found that every time when I met Giani ji, he had something new to tell me about Gurbani or for the development of Punjabi language and I used to benefit from the suggestions he made. Giani Gurdit Singh was a treasure house of knowledge on Gurbani and whenever I had some difficulty in understanding the meaning of complex Shabads in Gurbani, I used to consult him even on telephone and his explanations were always precise and satisfying.”

Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab wrote: “While Mera Pind is justifiably the one book because of which Giani Gurdit Singh will be known forever, it is far from being his only contribution. As a journalist, Giani Gurdit Singh’s Parkash newspaper was the only daily newspaper of PEPSU and it had a major impact on the region. His Rajneetak Kundliye or poetic satires were biting and incisive in dissecting politics of the day. As a member of the Punjab Legislative Council (1956 to 1962), he contributed to the debates at that time and in the creation of Punjabi University, Patiala and in the recognition of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, as the 5th Takht of the Sikhs.”

Sardar Tarlochan Singh, Member, Rajya Sabha, and former Chairman of the Minorities Commission, had released the book. He dwelled on the importance of the Parkash newspaper (1947-1978) and Singh Sabha Patrika 1973-1988), which Giani ji edited. He said while Mera Pind was a classic, Giani ji’s work in researching on religious issues and his books on Bhagat Bani and Mundavani are milestones. “He worked like an institution and spent over 50 years researching on Guru Granth Sahib. We know the cost of research, but there was no institution that supported him. He did it on his own, and the community did not recognise his contribution as much as it deserves,” he added.

In the past year, we, his family, have been working on preserving Giani ji’s legacy. The demand for Giani Gurdit Singh’s books continues to be high and the Mera Pind is being reprinted…it is has been in print continuously since it first came out in 1961. More work is being done on the book, which will be presented once it is completed, Giani ji gave us so much in his lifetime… he continues enrich lives our with his memories and writing even now.

Roopinder Singh

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