Giani Patwant Singh
Granthi, Central Sikh Temple, Singapore
Gurmat Gian Missionary College in Ludhiana (GGMC)
Postgraduate studies (specialising in Punjabi) at Kurukeshetra University, Kurukeshetra.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in the village of Nagla, Haryana, India, did my initial schooling there, and actually wanted to join the army after finishing school.
What inspired you to take this spiritual path?
Giani Sahib Singh Ji “Markanda” once came to my village and delivered a talk on Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the sacrifice of the Sahibzade. I was so touched by his talk that I went up to him afterwards and spoke to him. It was he who inspired and helped me. I enrolled at the Gurmat Gian Missionary College in Ludhiana (GGMC) without even knowing even the names of our 10 Gurus! Students had to know the whole of the Japji Sahib in 20 days. I could not do it and was very disheartened. I prayed to Guruji for the strength to continue and persevere and I eventually completed the 3 year course in 1.5 years. I also completed postgraduate studies (specialising in Punjabi) at Kurukeshetra University, Kurukeshetra.
What happened next?
On completing my religious studies at GGMC, I spent 2 months doing practium preaching in a Gurdwara in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Over the next 5 years I worked at Circle in Ajnala, Amritsar, an organisation not too different from the Sikh Centre here. Here I did katha in the Central Gurdwara as well as at people’s homes and also taught Dharam Vidya in schools and colleges. Then I moved to Khanna, Ludhiana where I was the Head Granthi of the Gurdwara there for 3 years. I also trained as a teacher and had just completed my Dip.Ed at Jammu University when the opportunity came up to work in Singapore.
How did your life change with your decision to pursue the spiritual path?
Before I enrolled in GGMC, I used to trim my beard and drink. I was also mixing with bad company. I realised the importance of life, not to waste it and to make the best of this opportunity given to me.
My life changed completely when I met Giani Sahib Singh Ji. I realised that life is too important to waste and the company you keep is very important. I have learnt to live with no tension, try to follow the Gurbani, and believe anyone can be successful in changing their life just as I made an about turn in my life’s path.
Is there any incident which has left a great impression on you?
When I was in Khanna, Ludhiana, the sangat had been told that doing 250 Japji Sahibs was equivalent to reading the whole of the Guru Granth Sahib. They were doing it mechanically without understanding. But when I was a granthi there, I persuaded them to read the Guru Granth Sahib and find out the message the Gurus were delivering. I was encouraged that by the time I left, the sangat was doing Sehaj Paath themselves, and with understanding on top of it! They had become knowledgeable and were not going to be hoodwinked by anyone anymore.
Now that you are in Singapore?
Imparting the Gurus’ teachings and making the sangat here aware of what the Guru Granth Sahib has to say, telling them the truth as it is written in the Guru Granth Sahib, and not being afraid to tell the truth. Living my life the way Guru Nanak lived it.
Catch Giani Ji’s katha every Sunday, from 8.15 to 8.45am at Central Sikh Temple. It is delivered in simple Punjabi with some English explanations. Not a typical Giani, he has invited the sangat to catch him after the darbar session to clarify any doubts they may have.