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Nanak Singh (born Hans Raj, July 4, 1897 — 1971) was a poet, songwriter and novelist in the Punjabi language. His writing in support of India's independence movement forced the British to arrest him. He published several novels which won him literary acclaim.

Contents

Early life

He was born as Hans Raj to a poor Punjabi Hindu family in the Jhelum district (now in Pakistan) and changed his name to Nanak Singh after adopting Sikhism. Due to poverty, he did not receive a formal education. He started his writing career at an early age, writing verses on historical events. Later, Nanak Singh started to write devotional songs, encouraging Sikhs to join the Gurdwara Reform Movement. In 1918, he published his first book Satguru Mehma [1] containing hymns in praise of the Sikh Gurus, which is considered his first commercial success.

Role in Freedom Struggle

On April 13, 1919, British troops shot and killed 379 peaceful rally participants in what became known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on Baisakhi (Punjabi New Year) day in Amritsar. Nanak Singh was present at the rally in which two of his friends were killed. This incident impelled Nanak Singh to write Khooni Visakhi - Bloody Baisakhi (Punjabi New Year), an epic poem that mocked and targeted colonial rule. The British Government became extremely concerned about his provocative writing and banned the book.

Nanak Singh also participated in India’s independence struggle by joining the Akali movement. He began editing Akali papers. This also was noticed by the British Government. Singh was charged with participation in unlawful political activities and was sent to Borstal Jail, Lahore. He described the savagery and oppression of the British on peaceful Sikhs during the Guru ka Bagh Morcha demonstration in his second book of poetry, ‘Zakhmi Dil’. It was published in January 1923 and was banned within two weeks.

Nanak Singh wrote novels while in jail. He wrote over 40,000 pages in long hand Gurmukhi (Punjabi) script. He was recognized with many awards, including Punjab's highest literary award in 1960. His great historical novel, Ik Mian Do Talwaran (One Sheath and Two Swords, 1959) won him India’s highest literary honour, the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1962.

Prolific Writer

He wrote the novel Pavitar Paapi in 1942. The novel became immensely popular and won him literary acclaim. It was translated into Hindi and several other Indian languages and was adapted into a successful motion picture Pavitra Paapi in 1968 by his ardent admirer, Balraj Sahani. Currently, the novel is in its 28th reprint in Punjabi. His grandson, Navdeep Singh Suri, translated the book into English Saintly Sinner [2].

Quoting the Tribune, “Nanak Singh was the best selling novelist in India for thirty to forty years. He wrote over 50 books including novels and collection of short stories. He made significant contributions to various literary genres. For him character was the determination of incident and incident the illustration of character. His greatest contribution to Punjabi fiction is its secularisation. He depicted excerpts from contemporary life, cloaked with a veil of romantic idealism.”

In his novel Chitta Lahu (White Blood), Nanak Singh writes, "It seems to imply that in the lifeblood of our society, red corpuscles have disappeared." Natasha Tolstoy, granddaughter of novelist Leo Tolstoy, translated Nanak Singh's novel Chitta Lahu into Russian. She visited Nanak Singh in Amritsar to present the first copy of the translated novel to him[3].

Bibliography

  1. Gagan Damama Bajia
  2. Sarapia Roohan
  3. Koi Hariya Boota Rahio Ree
  4. Ek Myaan Wich Do Talwaran
  5. Chalawa
  6. Pujari
  7. Banjar
  8. Sangam
  9. Aastak Naastak
  10. Nasoor
  11. Adamkhor
  12. Majhdhar
  13. Dhundale Parchawe
  14. Garib Di Duniya
  15. Pyaar Di Duniya
  16. Meri Duniya
  17. Chitrakaar
  18. Suman Kanta
  19. Kati Hoyi Patang
  20. Aug Di Khed
  21. Tuti Veena
  22. Gangajali Vich Sharaab
  23. Khoon De Sohile
  24. Pavitar Papi
  25. Chitta Lahoo
  26. Phauladi Phul
  27. Love Marriage
  28. Jeevan Sangram
  29. Door Kinara
  30. Adh Khirya Phul
  31. Pathar Kamba
  32. Kagatan Di Berhi
  33. Prashchit
  34. Kaal Chakar
  35. Matreyi Maan
  36. Paap Di Khatti
  37. Soolan Di Sejh
  38. Patjhar De Panchi
  39. Sadhraan Di Haar
  40. Hanjhooyan De Haar
  41. Supneyan Di Kabar
  42. Var Nahin Saraap
  43. Anseetey Jakham
  44. Pathar De Khumb
  45. Mitha Mahura
  46. Prem Sangeet
  47. France Da Daakoo
  48. Rajni
  49. Sunheri Jild
  50. Thandian Chawan
  51. Midhe Hoye Phul
  52. Tasveer De Doven Paase
  53. B.A. Paas
  54. Meriya Kahaniyaan
  55. Mere Naatak
  56. Taash Di Aadat
  57. Lamba Penda
  58. Vishwaas Ghaat
  59. Rab Apne Asli Roop Wich

Trivia

Indian President Giani Zail Singh brought a copy of Khooni Visakhi to India from a museum in England.

His centenary was celebrated in 1997. In Singh's honour, India’s Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral released a postal stamp in 1998[4].

References

External links

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