Late Sirdar Kapur Singh formerly I.C.S. was a prolific writer and had left behind him a vast literature touching all aspects of Sikh life, thought, history and culture in English and Punjabi, both. He is regarded as one of the most controversial figures and yet the greatest scholar of Sikhism. For his versatile personality and scholarship he has become a legend and an institution in Sikh Studies.
Born on March 2, 1909 in a middle class Sikh peasant family of Lyallpur district, Sirdar Kapur Singh was educated at government college, Lahore, and Cambridge University, London. He topped the list of successful candidates in the Master of Arts examination of the Punjab University in 1931. he received his Tripos in Moral Sciences in 1934 from the Cambridge University in England and also passed the Indian Civil Services Examination.
He was an administrator with a quick grasp and a tight grip. While serving with the Indian civil service, he had the courage to develop close relation with freedom fighters and wrote political treatise against the British. In 1941 all copies of his book The Hour of the Sword, based on Prachin Panth Prakash of Rattan Singh Bhangu, were confiscated under orders of the British government of India. After independence, his Sachi Sakhi earned for him wrath of the Indian Government.
Sirdar Kapur Singh was a member of parliament and also a member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly. As a parliamentarian and a legislator, he was known for his intelligent parry and sharp thrust on the current Indian history and Sikh demands. His parliamentary speeches are evidence of the fact that he was the staunchest protagonist of the Sikh's case for an honourable political status with in the Indian Union. Disappointed with the Baised attitude of the Indian Government towards the Sikhs, he later on propounded the idea of the demand of Sikh Homeland. It was he who drafted the controversial Anandpur Sahib resolution in 1973 and also enunciated the doctrines of the Double Sovereignty of the Sikhs and the Thro-political status of the Golden Temple.
In October 1973, he was conferred the status of national professor of Sikhism by the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the supreme political seat of the Sikh community. Sirdar Kapur Singh, no doubt, was an exciting and multi-dimensional personality. He was an individual both feared and respected by friends and foes alike.
Sirdar Kapur Singh writings in English, it so happens, exist in the form of articles on subjects that have been posing the Sikh community a challenge from the time to time regarding its issues, ethos and thrust on contemporary problems. They just take the form of stray articles, and not planned treatise. He had in fact at no stage proceeded to write a book in a compact form, Parasaraprasna and Sikhism for the Modern Man excepted. Even in this case the first i.e. Parasaraprasna was prompted by questions raised by one of his friends, Sardari Lal Parasara, in the course of their long walks at Simla and then what followed gave rise to the book in question, which soon came to be considered as the hallmark of Sikh scholarship. The second work is product of an actual assignment given to him by the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.
This much about his writings in English. His few books which are available in Punjabi were produced to cater to the needs of Punjabi students reading for their different courses. They too do not go beyond accumulation of stray articles considered useful for students.
Realizing the need to preserve Sirdar Kapur Singh's writings, the authorities of the Guru Nanak Dev University had ordained collection, scrutiny, compilation, editing and publishing of his works in a plausible form. The present work, Guru Nanak's Life and Thought, is the first in the series with a few more to follow suit.
This book as will be noted, relates exclusively to Guru Nanak. It contains sixteen articles, each put in a separate chapter. They flowed from the pen of the great scholar on different occasions. Sorted out of about two dozen articles, these collections represent Sirdar Kapur Singh's formulations on many basic issues and are replete with an astonishing wealth of ancillary information. To a serious student of Comparative Religion they provide not only a model to pursue but enough food for further investigations too.
It was a habit with Sirdar Kapur Singh to revise recast and supplement an article written and published earlier. Sometimes he would incorporate a whole article in a new one and float it under somewhat a different title. To avoid repetition we have discarded all such articles, but have not interfered in those we have selected. For that reason their introductory parts containing facts about the life of the Great Guru stand repeated at more than one place. Considering them to be necessary preambles to what follows, we have refrained from excising them from their texts. A discerning eye may thus feel inclined to dub them as necessary repetition in the book, yet he will not feel them jarring and, instead, may find them refreshing.
In our anxiety to encompass all that Sirdar Kapur Singh has written touching the life of the great Guru we have included in this book an article, "Guru Nanak and Martin Luther" in translation. This appeared long long ago in the Punjabi press and was at no stage done in English by the author himself. Considering that it cleared a very wrong notion about Guru Nanak prevalent amongst educated people fond of finding parallels in history, we have ourselves rendered it into English and included it in the book.
To satisfy the curiosity of the inquisitive reader we have at the end of each article given details of its earlier publications too.
Articles written at different times and great intervals and published very often by different agencies, are prone to differ considerably in their format. We have, therefore, taken care to recast them in a homogenous documented pattern. Accordingly authorities quoted by the author have all been put in footnotes, their quotes rechecked and authenticated with reference to their original sources. This appeared to be necessary for the author, very often, relied for his quotes on memory and did not take care to check them up. To make the quotes more intelligible we have equipped them with proper diacritical signs and added the texts in original too along with the transcripts.
The key to Transliteration appears elsewhere in these prelims. To facilitate reference a bibliography too has been added at the end of the book to the extent it could be prepared from S. Kapur Singh's notes and information that could be collected from local libraries.
Conscious of the fact that this work may be used as a hand book for knowing exact connotation of various concepts elucidated by S. Kapur Singh, we have alongwith a General and Bibliographical index added a Doctrinal Index which we hope will be of immense use to scholars and readers both.
Our acknowledgements are due to S. Gurtej Singh I.A.S of Chandigarh who prompted us to take up this project and provided us with copies in large cases of S. Kapur Singh's published works. We are also grateful to S. Kuljit Singh of New York, USA, Dr. Rajwant Singh of Washington, USA S. Baldev Singh of Goindwal and Prof. Prittam Singh of Patiala all of whom have placed their valuable collections of Sirdar Kapur Singh papers ungrudgingly for our use. Likewise we owe much to the editors of The Spokesman, The Sikh Review, and other journals, who were generous enough to answer our queries and help us with the material sought.
We owe sincere thanks to the very kind cooperation extended to us by Dr. K.L. Sharma of the Sanskrit Department in checking up for us Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali quotations with which this book abounds.
The help rendered by S. Jagjit Singh Walia and his staff, particularly by Shri S.S. Narula, Senior Proof Reader, in seeing this volume through the press, is praiseworthy and deserves our utmost thanks.
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