An Exemplar of Faith

Although the Ten Gurus are regarded by Sikhs as the template for all things spiritual, some Sikhs have become internationally renowned for their work and spiritual advice. One such is Puran Singh (1904-1992). Puran Singh worked tirelessly for the poor since the Partition of India in 1947. He received the highest national civilian award in India and the institution he founded continues to collect funds from around the world. Through humble service for the poor and destitute, through the return of his civilian award following the attack on the Golden Temple, through raising awareness about soil erosion and encouraging the planting of trees, Puran Singh has shown the spiritual way for other Sikhs. However, Puran Singh also focused on helping the poor of all faiths during periods of communal violence for almost half a century. He demonstrated that service may be more powerful than politics. He showed that love for all people is greater than hate for some of them. His environmental focus was ahead of its time. The idea of service of the poor is for all times. He was inspired to become a Sikh as a result of receiving langar – free food in a free kitchen and he contrasted the simple act of receiving langar with his previous experience of feeding brahmins and receiving nothing.

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