Giani Amolak singh was born in the village of Dhaat, Ludhiana, Punjab. His father's name was Sardar Bogha Singh, and his mother's name was Mata Dhan kaur. After studying his Metric, Amolak singh went on to Punjab University, where he did the Giani course. Hence, he became affectionately known as Giani Amolak Singh ji.
Giani ji's interest in Sikhism began from his parents. His father was a devout soul. Everyday at Amritvela, he would take milk to the Gurdwara sahib, and sweep the floor. However the biggest influence in these early years was his Mama Ji. This was Master Joginder Singh, a well known Gursikh and close associate of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh ji. Master is mentioned in many of Bhai sahib books.
From the age of 5 years, Giani was in the sangat of such blessed souls such as Master ji, Bhai Sahib and the Akhand Kirtan Jatha. In 1936, Master Joginder Singh ji did seva at Tarn Tarn Sahib. Giani ji regularly stayed there and was inspired to learn keertan. Such was the blessed soul of Giani ji, that by the age of 8 years, he realised his path in life, and partook Amrit.
In 1944, Giani ji started attending the Gurmat Sahib Sudar College, Ludhiana. The group that ran this project were vibrant companions of Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh. They created a school which taught Pure Gurmat and was strict in discipline. The students of this school all became prominent Sikh activists and did a lot for the Panth. It was here that Giani ji started teaching tabla and harmonium.
Later on Giani ji found a job as a Punjabi teacher in a government school. Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh told Master Joginder Singh to write a letter to the Government, and tell them Giani Ji is resigning from that position. Giani ji accepted the will and pyaar of the Gursikhs and returned to the Gurmat Sahib Sudar College.
Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh ji was very prominent in the Panthik arena. There was wide recognition of his high Jeevan and Panthik Kurbani. Bhai Sahib and Baba Attar Singh with many other Gursikhs had brought a lot of change in the Panth via the Gurdwara Sudar Movement. They worked under the banner of the Panch Khalsa Divan. There was a huge conference at Patiala. This was organised by the Maharaja of Patiala. Bhai Sahib was given the Presidency of the conference. However Bhai Sahib gave a powerful address in this conference condemning the corrupt forces in the Panth. Bhai sahib openly stated to the Maharaja, that his throne has been blessed to him by Satguru. He told him to give his Raj to the Panth, or he will lose it. Such has happened today. A lot of intimidation was put to Bhai sahib at that conference to not say what he believed. But Bhai Sahib was full of Tat Gurmat passion. It was Giani Amolak singh and other Gursikhs who stood side by side with Bhai sahib to make sure Tat Gurmat is stated.
Letter from Bhai Sahib
Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh ji was very fond of Giani ji. It has been mentioned to me before that Bhai Sahib had so much love for so many Gursikhs, but was fond of two youths in particular. One was Bhai Sahib Jeevan singh ji and the other Giani Amolak Singh ji. Both spent a lot of time with Bhai sahib, and even travelled to Kumaar Hatti with him.
Giani ji's family has a letter written by Bhai Sahib. One day these will be put on the internet. In one letter Bhai Sahib recalls the Gurbani shabad, "Tum Vekh Vekh Hum Jeevann". Bhai sahib states, "I have searched but I cannot find anyone who sings this shabad with the same satisfaction as you."
In Bhai Sahib's village of Narangwal, living next to Bhai sahib's house was another Gurmat family. The two houses had a lot of love between them. Bhai sahib selected Giani ji's life companion from this house. Bhai Sahib simply told Giani ji that his match had been found and he should marry. Giani humbly accepted his wishes. In 1949, Giani ji married Bibi Surjit Kaur ji.
A delegation which came from Dar El Salam in Africa went to meet Bhai sahib. Many Sikhs had now moved to Africa and set up a Gurdwara. The delegation asked Bhai Sahib to recommend a good Granthi singh for seva. Bhai Sahib sent Giani ji who left in 1956.
Giani did a lot of seva in Africa during his time of 1956 to 1967. At that time the Namdhari Gurudom of Jagjit Singh was very prominent in Africa. Giani ji was invited to a conference organised by the East Africa Council. Jagjit singh also spoke at this conference. It was here that Giani ji spoke vigorously on the subject of "Shabad Guru" and countering a lot of Namdhari propaganda. From that day Giani ji gained widespread prominence in Africa.
Everyday Giani ji would take personal charge of doing seva of Maharaj. He would ensure perfect rumallas, and encourage the sangat to learn how to do seva properly. The Sangat had great sharda in doing this seva.
Giani ji got a salary for the Singh sabha. But unlike modern Gurdwara Gianis, he never took one penny from the sangat. To compensate for him doing the Giani duty, he spent hours doing Niskam Seva. He would spend his day time doing free seva at the Khalsa School, from 4pm to 6pm teaching keertan. His passion was for Niskam seva.
The Sangat's Dust Is Your Cure
Over time, Giani ji noticed that his kesh on one side of his moustache and beard where falling out. They had thinned significantly and it had become noticeable. Giani ji became quite concerned. He tried various medication, but to no avail. Giani ji decided to write a letter to Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh ji. Bhai Sahib wrote back telling Giani ji that the only cure is to everyday to "Joorian De Seva" (clean the dust of the shoes of the sangat), and wipe it on that area. Bhai sahib said that dust is your medication. Soon Giani ji's kesh returned as normal.
Meeting Baba Puran Singh
Giani ji went to Nairobi in Africa, while on holidays. He had heard of an abyassi Gursikh called Baba Puran Singh ji. They had reached late in the evening, and Giani asked about Baba Puran singh. In the morning at Amrit vela, Giani ji began doing Asa Di Var. Amongst the sangat in front the kirtanees was Baba Puran Singh ji. Giani ji had never met him, but instantly knew he was a blessed soul. While in kirtan Giani ji asked his companion, who is this Gursikh. His companion quietly answered, that this is Baba Puran Singh Ji. Thus began Giani ji's long association with the Nishkam Sevak Jatha.
Coming to the United Kingdom
Giani ji realised the volatile political situation in Africa, and also considering the education of his children, he moved to Southall in UK. The sangat was just forming in those days and Giani ji started doing keertan divans. The sangat was divided into 2 groups, one the Singh Sabha, and the other was the Sikh Cultural Society. Slowly Giani ji managed to get these two groups together. Then they purchased a site for the Gurdwara. In the years 1967-68, the first Amrit Sanchaar in UK took place in Southall. Giani ji did seva in the Panj Pyares. There is a picture of this event in Bhai Rama singh jis autobiography. It was in this Amrit Sanchaar that Bhai Rama Singh ji amongst 15-20 other Gursikhs were blessed with Amrit.
In 1968, Giani ji with other Gursikhs from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha arranged the first UK Rainsbhai at the old Green Gurdwara. This was a huge achievement and these Rainsbhai flourish today joining hundreds of souls to keertan and Gurbani abyaass.
Giani ji was also devoted to the affairs of the Panth. From his early days standing by Bhai Sahib Randhir singh till his last days. I have been fortunate to meet many Great Gursikhs. Too often today, they shy away, talking about protecting their Jeevans. But a true Sant-Siphai can never do this. He had too much Pride and Spirit to allow his Father's Great Guru Khalsa Panth to fall into the doldrums. Giani ji was one such person who was fully involved in local, national and Panthik affairs for over 30 years in the UK.
Giani ji always maintained his Gristi Jeevan working in a biscuit factory. He did his seva in a Niskam manner, never using the Sangats money. Giani ji along with Bhai Madan singh were highly involved in the helmet case, children turban case for schools, and kirpan case, to give our generation freedom to wear our Bana. Giani ji was pivotal in organising the biggest UK demonstrations by Sikhs. The first was the one in 1983, supporting the Dharam Yudh Morcha in Punjab. The second was in 1984 expressing the UK Sikhs' outrage over Operation Bluestar.
Giani ji first became President of Singh Sabha Southall in 1972-73. From then on he was involved directly or indirectly with the Gurdwara control until 1985. He was also involved heavily in the Akali Dal UK doing seva as President on numerous occasions over the 30-year period.
In the early 1980s, when Jathedar Gurdyal Singh Ajohna passed away. Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who was President of SGPC, and Sant Harcharan Singh Logowal, who was President of Akali Dal, offered Giani ji the seva of the Akal Takht Jathedari. Giani ji politely declined, due to wanting to maintain his Gristi Jeevan, family responsibilities, and his difficulties with the meat issue in the Akal Takhat Rehit Maryada. He also openly said to the leaders that their friendship would be affected by his inability to be a puppet for them. He had a strong self-dignity and would speak his mind. He continued to be offered the honorific post on numerous occasions in the late 1980s and 1990s. But again he declined.
However, he was a member of the Sikh intelligentsia, and numerous Panthik panels, such as the World Sikh Council and the Akal Thakht Advisory Board.
He also played a leading part in the Akhand Kirtani Jatha doing smagams worldwide.
He was also pivotal in establishing the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha on the Panthik stage and was the jathedar of this organisation until 2005. He played a major part in helping secure the karseva of Darbar sahib; extension of Keshgarh Sahib building; Hazoor Sahib and Fatehgarh Sahib on behalf of the UK sangat. He took part in most of the opening Ardas to begin these projects. He was a dedicated member of this Jatha and played a major part in the securing of these large Sewa projects.
From an early age Giani ji never missed any smagams. He would immerse himself in seva and abyass with his fellow Gursikhs. He would do kirtan far and wide. He often went on Parchaar tours with the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Niskam Sevak Jatha. He travelled as far as Canada, America, Africa and Australia.
Many youth from Canada and America have also written memories of Giani ji as tributes, which shows the love he spread. He ensured no matter what he was occupied with, he always made time, for Sahib Guru Gobind singh ji Gurpurb smagam in Ludhiana, Delhi smagam, and Sahib Guru Nanak dev jis Jallundar smagam.
His kirtan is loved by youth in particular. On websites, his UK kirtan and North America are regularly downloaded. But much more than just a Guru ke Kirtannee, Giani ji was a great orator and kathakar. In his keertan he would regularly explain to the sangat, the amazing deep meanings of shabads, and spread the message of Sahib Siri Guru Nanak dev Ji.
Love Between Gursikhs
We have already mentioned Giani jis love for Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh ji and Baba Puran Singh Ji. Giani ji also had a deep love with Bhai Rama Singh ji, Bhai Jeevan Singh Ji, and many others whose names could be mentioned, especially from Akhand Kirtani Jatha and Niskam Sevak Jatha. But Giani Ji in particularly appreciated the Sikh intelligentsia of which Giani ji was one. In this group, Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara was one soul who Giani ji had utmost respect for. This whole week leading up to his funeral, Gurbani Keertan has been sang by those close to him. Sangat has come from as far as Toronto, California and Australia, which shows the pull of his love.
Aswell as many Premi Gursikhs, Giani ji has also left a Gurmat legacy on his children, who are also blessed by Guru jis Amrit. Upon leaving to the Sachaa Dargah, Giani ji leaves his two daughters, two sons, many grandchildren, and also three great grandchildren. Giani ji singhni passed away 15 years ago.
Looking at his jeevan, his legacy must be how he wanted everyone under one Banner – The Khalsa Panth. My personal view is that we have to look at Giani ji life and see how many different arenas and jathas he did seva in. Examining this, we can see he always made "the Seva is Pardaan". He gave this most importance rather than groups, politics and associates.
Giani ji was also concerned how much the Akali Dal has become commercialised. I remember a conversation with him, where he showed his unhappiness at the Akali dal making a fundamentalist Hindu the head of Akali Dal in Ludhiana district. He said these modern day Akalis have no vision. He told me that, "once fundamentalist Hindus in Punjab said they will never let Sikhs build the Khalsa Colleges, but all of us Singhs did our kamar kasse and said we will build it. Stop us if you can!"
He also warned that our Dharam Parchaar groups were also going the same way. He wanted every Gursikh to be a missionary and spread the message of Sikhism. Very important to this is that they have high Jeevans. This does not mean hiding in our homes, or just attending keertan darbaars, but like Giani ji being active in Dharam Parchaar in a pioneering manner, and standing steadfast in our Gurdwaras upholding Gurmat. He was a real Sant-Siphai – that is his legacy – A True Son of Sahib Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
|Traditional:||Bhai Harjinder Singh · Bhai Maninder Singh · Giani Amolak Singh · Professor Darshan Singh · Bhai Balwinder Singh Rangila · Bhai Harbans Singh · Sant Anoop Singh · Bhai Niranjan Singh · Bhai Joginder Singh Riaar · Giani Sant Singh Maskeen · Bhai Mohinder Singh (Delhi wale) · Bibi Kamaljit Kaur · Bibi Snatam Kaur · Bibi Dileep Kaur;|
|Classical:||Bhai Avtar Singh · Bhai Baldeep Singh|
|Kirtan:||Raga · Taal · Ragmala · Classical Music · Sangeet · Dhuni · Asa di Var · Simran · Shabad · Rababi · Dhadhi|
|Ragas:||Asa · Bairari · Basant · Bhairon · Bihagara · Bilaval · Devagandhari · Dhanasari · Gauri · Gond · Gujari · Jaijavanti · Jaitsri · Kalian · Kanara · Kedara · Maajh · Malaar · Maru · Nat Narain · Prabhati · Ramkali · Sorath · Suhi · Tilang · Todi · Tukhari · Vadahans|
|Ragis:||Harjinder Singh · Maninder Singh · Amolak Singh · Balwinder Singh · Harbans Singh · Anoop Singh · Niranjan Singh · Amrik Singh · Snatam Kaur ·Kamaljit Kaur · Dileep Kaur · Joginder Singh · SS Maskeen|
|Saaj:||Harmonium · Tabla · · Tanpura · Taus · Rabab · Sarangi · Dilruba · · Saranda · Sarode · Sitar · Santoor · Pakhawaj · Dhadh · Dholak ·|