100-year-old bir goes missing

Mr Harpreet Singh Giani, great grandson of Giani Partap Singh, too, urged the SGPC to either re-install the old bir at the same place or return it to his family so that it could be installed at an ‘appropriate place’.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, manager, Golden Temple, told The Tribune that the bir had been replaced since it was difficult to recite Gurbani from the brittle pages of the old bir.

However, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, said that efforts were being made for restoration of the old bir. He said all efforts would be made to preserve it at all costs.

The Sikh historians had described Giani Partap Singh as ‘a fine calligraphist, who transcribed volumes of the Guru Granth Sahib, the t famous of them was installed in the Golden Temple. This copy, completed in 1908, was written in bold Gurmukhi characters on large-sized 25” by 28” sheets of Kashmiri paper. The name of the scribe was mentioned at the end of the text, on a separate sheet. Volumes of other holy books transcribed by Giani Partap Singh were also preserved at Baba Atal and Takht Sri Hazur Sahib, Nanded.

In 1902, Partap Singh joined Aitchison College, also known as Chiefs College, Lahore, as granthi and instructor.

Giani Partap Singh was born in 1855. In 1884 he accompanied Thakur Singh Sandhanvalia to England to read the Guru Granth Sahib to the deposed Sikh ruler of the Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh, and to re-convert him to Sikhism.

On return to India, he worked as a granthi (scripture-reader) at Gurdwara Kaulsar in Amritsar. When Maharaja Duleep Singh was due to come back to India, Partap Singh accompanied Thakur Singh and his sons to Delhi with the intention of going to Bombay to receive the Maharajah. On hearing the news of Duleep Singh’s detention at Aden, Partap Singh returned to Amritsar while Thakur Singh proceeded to Pondicherry.

At Amritsar, Partap Singh worked secretly for Thakur Singh distributing his pro-Duleep Singh letters among his confidants and friends. Towards the end of 1887, he was arrested at Amritsar and sent to Lahore jail. He escaped from prison and became a sadhu. He then travelled to different parts of the country in the company of holy men.

During one such journey he happened to meet Max Arthur Macauliffe, then engaged in translating the Sikh scripture into English.

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