Bhai Vir Singh (1872-1957), most prominent among the modern Punjabi litterateurs, was the main source of inspiration and the brain behind the Singh Sabha Movement. Some of the leading institutions that brought about this renaissance included the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sikh Educational Society, Khalsa College, Amritsar and the Punjab & Sind Bank. They all owe their origin to Bhai Vir Singh.
With a distinguished ancestry of scholarship and public service, the young poet realised a vision of the 'location and symbol' at an early age. Historically speaking, it was a period of twilight for the Sikh sensibility, and the dominant mood of despair and nostalgia had almost undermined its pristine energy and earned strength. 'The man, the moment, the milieu' converged, as of necessity, to produce the poet.
Bhai Vir Singh established the Khalsa Tract Society and the Wazir-e-Hind Press and founded a Punjabi weekly, the Khalsa Samachar, which completed its centenary in 1999. In spite of his first rate writings and a spate of humanitarian work that he undertook, he always chose to remain in the background. That is why it was not until in the late years of his life that his services to literature, arts, philosophy, religion and humanity were formally recognised. The Sahitya Akademi and several other literary institutions honoured him and the Government of India bestowed on him the Padma Bhushan. In a survey conducted by the leading daily, Hindustan Times, to find out who is most influential Sikh of the twentieth century, Bhai Vir Singh emerged as the clear favourite. As part of the tercentenary celebration of the Khalsa, the Government of Punjab honoured Bhai Vir Singh with the Nishan-i-Khalsa.
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