Seeing that not much has been written about cultural icon Baba Deep Singh, Harisimran Singh, a retired colonel from the Indian Army, set out to make amends. An idea that he conceived about 20 years back has finally come to fruition. The book, Deep Singh Shaheed: The Man in the Legend, was launched recently.
During the event, author and former associate editor of The Tribune, Roopinder Singh talked about Sikh history with the author along with Brigadier Sukhjit Singh, MVC (Retd), Dr Harjeet Singh Gill (Professor Emeritus, JNU, New Delhi), Dr Iqbal Judge, Professor of English (Retd), Chandigarh.
Several other experts joined the session online, including Gordon Corrigan (MBE, military historian and author, UK), Tony McClenaghan (military historian and author, UK), Peter Stanley (military historian and author, Australia), Sqn Ldr RTS Chhina, MBE (Retd), secretary and editor, USI Centre for Military History and Conflict Studies.
Harisimran Singh’s first brush with Baba Deep Singh was at Shaheed Bunga Baba Deep Singh at the Golden Temple, when he was about four years old. “Seeing that picture with a head in one hand and a sword in another had left an indelible mark on me,” says Harisimran.
Harisimran grew up on Baba Deep Singh’s stories of courage and resolve. “While Baba Deep Singh is celebrated in Punjabi culture, in most history books he is mentioned just in the footnote.”
The desire to write about his life was strong; but Harisimran, busy with work, could not make time. During his 31-year stint in the Army, he did masters from King’s College, London in war studies. In the master’s programme, his dissertation focused on Frederic Manning and Henri Barbusse, two soldier writers of the Great War. A seminar on 250th martyrdom anniversary of Baba Deep Singh put Harisimran in touch with scholars of Sikh historians. One of them was Prof Rai Jasbir Singh who published an anthology of all the writings about Deep Singh.
Buoyed by this, the author made trips to every place connected with Baba Deep Singh. An alumnus of The Lawrence School, Sanawar, Harisimran spent years in research examining a wide range of sources alongside genealogical records, oral traditions and a thorough battlefield study.
The author successfully brings alive the life and times of Deep Singh as the quintessential sant-sipahi, the unofficial patron-saint of courage and resolve, and a rare embodiment of the Khalsa ideology. It is published by Speaking Tiger.
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