Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.


Nikky-Guninder K. Singh


Bhai Vir Singh, famous 19th and 20th century Sikh poet, writer, and scholar is remembered for his great literary achievements and proliferation of the Pubjabi language. Raised in the Punjab, India after the fall of the Sikh kingdom to the British, Vir Singh grew up in a time of religious turmoil due to Western influence. Joining the Singh Sabha reformation movement, he dedicated his life wholeheartedly to return contemporary Sikh identity to its foundational roots as present in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth.

Despite his desire to return to a fundamental Sikh identity, Bhai Vir Singh has been criticized by modern scholars such as Arvind-Pal S. Mandair, head of the Sikh Studies department of the University of Michigan, for the appearance of Western influence in his theology and in an attempt to create Sikh identity as uniquely separate from Hinduism.

In my paper, I argue that these criticisms of Bhai Vir Singh are not valid. In his poetry, there is no mention of the Hindu other or a Sikh identity that is specifically separate from Hinduism. Vir Singh’s poetry also closely emulates the Guru Granth and shows no signs of Western theological influence, confirming Vir Singh’s desire to return to an original Sikh identity.

I chose to examine two collections of Bhai Vir Singh’s poetry: his first, Dew Drops (1921) and his last, My Beloved (1953). I focus on the aesthetic element in his poetry and evaluate how it relates to the aesthetic element of the Guru Granth.


poetry, Sikh, Pubjabi, Vir Singh, Guru Granth

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