H C Singh

NANAK SINGH NOVELIST

Nanak Singh, father of Punjabi novel, was a born genius. So long as the planet is there, Punjab is there; Punjabi speaking people are there, he will be remembered with reverence. Nanak Singh was a rare literary star that appears once in hundreds of years. He was one amongst galaxy of literary giants like Kalidas, Shakespear, Tolstoy, Dickens, Tagore and Bernard Shaw.

Nanak Singh was born Hans Raj in a petty grocer’s family in Peshawar Cantonment (now in Pakistan) but lost both his parents in childhood. He had only primary education that too in Urdu. But he never gave up his devotional and literary pursuits. He joined Blind Devotional Musicians Group who used to recite Gurbani and Keertan daily in Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Peshwar Cantt. Under their solemn influence Hans Raj, who had already became a devotee of Guru Nanak by heart and soul became a Sikh and was baptized as Nanak Singh.

Hereafter the genius in him started unfolding. He self-learnt Punjabi in Gurmukhi Script so as to read Sikh Scriptures direct from the Holy Guru Granth Sahib and started composing short religious hymns in praise of Sikh Gurus, knows as “SATGURU MEHMA”, which made him famous as Nanak Singh Kaveeshar throughout Punjab and NWFP.

Blessed with fame and inspired by Universal brotherhood teachings of Guru Nanak, this young Sikh in early 20’s got the enlightenment, the like of which Siddhartha got and transformed into Buddha. In his zeal to preach what he had learnt and dreamt, he shifted to Amritsar, the Mecca or more appropriately, Vatican of Sikhs. Here Nanak Singh taught himself besides Punjabi and Urdu, Hindi, Bengali and some English. From here his novel writing imbibed divinity and seems to have been blessed by God Almighty Himself. The pace of his work was truly incredible, almost machine like. In the remaining 50years of his active life Nanak Singh gifted to the World and Punjabi language in particular as many as 40 novels and innumerable short stories and poems. His epic novel “PAVITAR PAPI” was made into a successful motion picture by his ardent admirer, Balraj Sahani while another epic “EK MIAN DO TALWARAN” was awarded the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award in 1962. Besides novels, he tried his hand in short stories, essays and poems including a heart rending composition on Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

William Shakespeare wrote 37 comedies, tragedies and histories during his literary career. A dozen of which like Julius Ceaser, Merchant of Venice and as you like it became famous and made him famous during his life time. The abiding and universal themes of love, friendship, sacrifice as in Romeo Juliet and greed for a pound of flesh as in Merchant of Venice found ample expression in Nanak Singh’s novels. While PAVITAR PAPI & “IK MIAM DO TALWARAN” are distinguished by tragic themes of unrequited love and supreme sacrifice, unmitigated greed and poverty was the theme of Paap di Khatti which was also a reflection on rapidly altering values of contemporary society.

Like Charles Dickens Nanak Singh had great understanding of human nature especially of young and poor who were helpless and were exploited by selfish and greedy. His novels like CHITTA LAHU are in the same league as Dicken’s A tale of two cities and David Copperfield.

Nanak Singh’s IK Mian Do Talwaran for which he got Sahitya Academy Award in 1962 compares well with Tolstoys monumental work War and Peace. Like Tolstoy, who became fed up with rituals of orthodox church and fundamentalism in practice Nanak Singh too, pointed out with zeal the evils of fundamentalism an selfishness in our society including those prevailing in Gurudwaras and Temples where many priests were dishonest and greedy and some indulged in immoral practice like consuming intoxicants and even keeping mistresses. Like Tolstoy Nanak Singh revolted against these evils in his novels and shorts stories like Bhangian De Mehfil.

In 1962, I vivdly remember when Nanak Singh came to New Delhi to receive Sahitya Academy Award and stayed for a couple of days with us in Government Quarter in Kidwai Nagar, New delhi. Even in those days we felt that it was not Nanak Singh novelist but some one like Guru Nanak himself who had graced our humble abode to share with us food and thoughts. So we sat at his feet and gathered all the blessings showered on us through his lips, his eyes and gestures, as invaluable treasure to last us our life time.

Nanak Singh was a rare personality, not only selfless but self-effacing. Throughout his life he shunned publicity and politicians. Even though he went to jail during Gurudwara movement, he never sought to make political capital out of it or even refer to it in passing as a sacrifice. Nanak Singh was simplicity, honesty and decency personified. May we follow some of the foot-prints which he, like other great men, have left on the sands of time.

Unfortunately, though Punjabi is spoken by 120 million people living in India, Pakistan and abroad, it is not written and read by more than 30 million. Had it been learnt spoken and honoured by all Punjabis all over the world, a literary genius and a prolific writer like Nanak Singh would have got Nobel Price like Rabindranath Tagore and George Bernard Shaw and international recognition.

Eminent and literacy personalities tributes and comments on Nanak Singh novelist

Following comments of eminest Punjabi writers and personalites for Nanak Singh will testify to his pioneering, lasting and monumental contribution to Punjabi literature ( translated from Punjabi by this writer);-

In the field of Punjabi novel, Nanak Singh’s contribution is more than any other Punjabi writer. He has not bought cheap publicity depicting in his novels sexy life. The romance depicted is social and sacred.

Bhai Jodh Singh

It is said that dicken’s novels have alone for social reforms in England which the british parliament could not do hope Nanak singh’s novel chitta lahu would do the same to transform our society.

-Principal Teja Singh

I started going through ( Nanak Singh) novels and went on reading up to 20 novels which opened my eyes. I felt that I was sitting at the feet of a great teacher. Your language is sweet like honey and well polished.

Kartar Singh Duggal,MP

In novel writing in Punjabi there is no match to Nanak Singh. No other Punjabi writer has reached the height in Literature as Nanak Singh.

Sant Singh Sekhon

October 5, 2009 - Posted by | Achievers, Biography, Punjabi | , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. i read lot of punjabi novels in my life, but when i read Garib di Duniya i was impreesed so i thought to write a noval, but i have not any topic in past .now i am in Austriala so i was experenced the student life iwant to write something about it,could u help me about it

    Comment by Parminder Singh Brar | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. I m like to much nanak singh noval

    Comment by Ramansharma1986@rediffmail.com | November 12, 2011 | Reply

  3. i hav read many novels of nanak singh…….its just wow….nobody else is better than him…this is the truth
    i hav realized abt him.

    Comment by amanjot kaur | September 27, 2012 | Reply

  4. THE EXPLANATIONS ABOUT LOVE LIKE NANAK SINGH CAN’T BE GIVEN Y ANY OTHER NOVELIST.

    Comment by AMANPREET KAUR | October 23, 2012 | Reply


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