GIANI PRITAM SINGH JI ‘LIKHARI’ JATHA BHINDRAN
Giani Pritam Singh Ji was born 5/6 days before Lohri (8/9 January) 1933, at his maternal village of Ratta (Gurdaspur) district Batala, at Amritvela 4 am. Giani Ji’s Nana Ji recited Jap Ji Sahib while stirring water and sugar crystals in an iron bowl with a Kirpan, which was given to Giani Ji as part of the ‘Janam Sanskar’. After a month, Giani Ji was taken to the village Gurdwara Sahib. Nana Ji took a basket of jaggery to the Gurdwara, and got ardas done from the Granthi Sahib.
From the first letter of the hukamnama, the newborn baby was named Pritam Singh. On the 20th March Mata Ji reached her husband’s (Sardar Meja Singh Ji) home village of Mohan Bhandaria. All the family was elated at the arrival of the newborn child. Giani Ji’s father’s name was Sardar Meja Singh Ji. He had complete faith on Guru Sahib, was amritdhari and earned an honest living. He saw it as his main objective to always give a tenth of his earning as daswandh. During Jaito da Morcha, Sardar Ji joined the Jatha of Jathedar Surjan Singh. Mata Balwant Kaur Ji would do nitnem each day, do darshan at the Gurdwara and then return home to do her household work. She was Amritdhari, had complete faith in Guru Sahib, and was steadfast in her duty to her husband and family. Due to her qualities she was well known in the village. According to Guru Sahib Ji’s will, she passed away in 1946. She had 4 sons and 3 daughters, Dalip Singh, Gurbachan Kaur, Ajit Singh, Giani Pritam Singh, Gurvinder Kaur, Raghbir Singh Subedar and Deep Kaur, who was only 2 years old when Mata Ji passed away.
Giani Ji’s Nana, Sham Singh was one of the main Akalis in the village, was amritdhari, nitnemi, Akhand Paathi, and a great knowledgeable person on Sikh history. He led the 11th Jatha during the Jaito Morcha, and also took jathas into Guru Ka Bagh Morcha. At the age of 6, Giani Ji started to go to a dharmik school started in the village by Master Sadha Singh of the SGPC. Giani Ji had only passed 3-4 grades when it became difficult for his father to farm on his own, and Giani Ji had to leave school to help his father in the fields. Seeing his son’s interest in education, Sardar Meja Singh sent him to his maternal village where Giani Ji learnt Panj Granthi and Das Granthi off the village Granthi. Giani Ji was only 13 years old when he heard the news that his mother had passed away. Afterwards Giani Ji went to village Kushaal where Bhai Attar Singh Ji Bedi, a great scholar lived. He would go there daily and then come back to his maternal village at night. In two three years he learnt Baee vaaran, Bhagat Bani, and studies of maths. At the age of 13 at village Abdal Giani Ji took Amrit, at the time Tara Singh Sanjoieh was part of the Panj Piare. 1947 was spent here, and then two years after were spent farming at home.
Giani Ji still had a great desire for vidhya, due to which he moved to Akali Phula Singh Ji Burj in around 1949/50. Giani Ji stayed there for two years and learnt Gatka and Paath from Baba Giani Singh Ji Gatkai who was a great master of Shastar Vidhya. Due to focusing on Shastar Vidhya, Giani Ji was not able to focus on Gurbani Path Santhia. Giani Ji returned to his village for two months, and then went to Dera Baba Kharak Singh Ji in Amritsar. Here Sant Ran Singh Ji sent a letter to Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji asking Bhujangi Pritam Singh be accepted into the Jatha, to which Sant Ji agreed. Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji told Giani Niranjan Singh Ji ‘Vaidh’ to teach Bhujangi Pritam Singh. Vaidh Ji would teach Giani Ji 5 Angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji each day, which he would have to practice 25 times. After becoming a good Akhand pathi, Giani Ji was taught the small katha granths up until Vichar Sagar. He learnt Likhaee, and then learnt Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Katha along with arths and santhia. Giani Ji also read Bhai Gurdas Ji’s Varan along with Kabit Swaiyeh. Giani Ji listened to 4 kathas of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji, which he also wrote down with much effort. He heard and wrote the katha of Sri Nanak Parkash 4 times, and the whole katha of Gurpartap Suraj Granth 2 times. Vaidh Ji put special effort into helping Giani Ji learn the difficult components of Gurbani Arth. Giani Ji stayed in the Jatha and learnt Braham Vidhya from 1951 to 5th May 1963. For 6 years Giani Ji was the ‘likhari’ (writer) of the Jatha, and gained many blessings from Sant Ji. Alongside Katha, Giani Ji would also spend much time doing seva of serving langar daily.
According to Mahapurkh’s Hukam, Giani Ji became the head granthi of Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib (Patiala) in 1963. In 1965 Sant Ji organized Giani Ji’s wedding in his materal village of Rajgarh, to Bibi Swaran Kaur, the daughter of Sardar Mahinder Singh Dhillon. The Jatha Singhs did Kirtan. During Giani Ji’s time at Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib he completed a full katha of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and 2 kathas of Sri Nanak Parkash and Gurpartap Suraj Granth. Giani Ji was loved dearly by all the sangat of Patiala. Giani Ji called Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji and the Jatha to Patiala two times and they stayed each time. In 1969, Giani Ji at Patiala completed the katha of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Sant Giani Mohan Singh Ji conducted the katha of Salok Mahalla 9 at this time. Many saints from around Panjab attended this Katha Bhog including Sant Giani Mohan Singh Ji and Sant Niranjan Singh Ji Patiala.
After this Giani Ji moved to Africa where they did katha parchar for many years. From here Giani Ji moved to England on request of the Sangat at did head Granthi seva at Forestgate Gurdwara and Southall Singh Sabha Gurdwara. Giani Ji completed his duty as Granthi Singh in February 1986 and then went on Parchar tours around the globe. These include 5 times to Canada, 4 times to America, 2 times to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore and Malaysia, 15 times to Germany, 7 times to Norway and 20 times to Italy. Giani Ji was the founder of the first Gurdwara in Rome, Italy. Giani Ji also visited Australia, Holland, Belgium, Paris, Greece and Spain for Katha Parchar. Mentions of Giani Ji’s Katha and Amrit Parchar have been accounted in many newspapers around the world. Giani Ji also established a Gatka Akhara in Southall named Sahibzada Baba Ajit Singh Ji Gatka Akhara. Alongside this they continue to teach students and do Katha around England. Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji in his poetic work ‘Sri Gurmukh Parkash’ has mention Giani Ji’s Name saying:
‘Preetam Singh Likhari Bhaara, Mohan Bhandaria Nagar Udaara.
Vidya Karat Abhyaas Saadaee, Guni Banai Gur Kirpa Paee’
(Chapter 52, Page 620)
‘Pritam Singh is a great writer (likhari) who hails from the village of Mohan Bhandaria. He spends his time immersed in the study of Vidhya (spiritual learning) and with the grace of the Guru will obtain many qualities’.