What do you know of Bhai Vir Singh?

Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957) was the most important writer and theologian in Punjabi who expounded Sikh history and philosophy for more than fifty years. He is regarded as the Bhai Gurdas of the twentienth century. His most important works are Guru Nanak Chamatkar, Kalgidhar Chamatkar, Baba Nodh Singh and Meray Saeeyan jeeo.

Bhai Vir Singh’s creative talent was recognized by the government and the Punjab university. He was given the title of Padam Shri by the Gov. of India and a Honorary Doctorate by the Punjab University. H. Chattopadhaya called him the “sixth river in the land of the five rivers.” His poetry possesses the sublimity of Milton, the spontaneity of Wordsworth, the music of Tagore and the mysticism of Yeats. He was the ‘finest flower’ in the renaissance of modern Panjab.

Bhai Vir Singh was very versatile. He was poet, novelist and critic. He found spiritual lessons in the objects of Nature. The Kikar Tree is a symbol of the spiritual seeker who must face the slings and arrows of worldly people. His poetry throbs with the longing of the individual soul to rejoin the Universal Soul. The hurdle between man and God is the Ego. Once that is subdued, man may meet God, face to face. He would find beauty and God’s presence in the ordinary things of life. He believed man could find peace and bliss through self control and spiritual effort.

Dr. Vir Singh was also a historical novelist. His important works in this genre are Sundri, Bijay Singh and Satwant Kaur. Their popularity, is such that they have been reprinted many times.

Dr. Vir Singh sang of the struggles of the village folk. He wrote poems on freedom and patriotism. Bhai Vir Singh was not only a philosopher but also a stylist. Even his prose captures the dignity and harmony of poetry. Kalgidhar Chamatkar is full of purple passages. A registered society, Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, is now busy publishing his works and popularising them among the masses. His centenary was celebrated in India and abroad in 1972.

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