publishing historical religious books, magazines and journals;
propagating knowledge using Punjabi;
returning Sikh apostates to their original faith; and
involving high placed Englishmen in the educational programme of the
It was joined by members of the landed gentry, the aristocracy, and by
various types of temple servants—pujaris (who conducted rituals), granthis
(who recited the Sikh scriptures), mahants (who administered the
gurudwaras), gianis and descendants of the gurus. One of the main activities
of the Sabha was the preparation of a definitive text of the Dassam Granth.
When this task proved very demanding, a separate organisation, the Gurmal
Granth Pracharak Sabha, was founded to finish it. The Sabha published
numerous tracts and books and in 1894 organised the Khalsa Tract Society to
popularise Punjabi, the Gurmukhi script, and to issue monthly tracts on the
Lahore Singh Sabha Soon the Amritsar Sabha was emulated and rivalled
by a new organisation, viz. the Lahore Singh Sabha, which held its first
meeting on 2 November 1879. The latter was led by Professor Gurmukh
Singh and Bhai Ditt Singh. It announced goals similar to those of the former.
The first president of the Lahore Sabha was Diwan Buta Singh, and Bhai
Gurmukh Singh served as its secretary.
Differences between the two societies soon came to the forefront. The
Lahore Sabha was more democratic and accepted members from all castes
including untouchables. Their programme of purifying Sikhism directly
opposed the vested interests of the Amritsar Sabha. The career of Bhai Ditt
Singh illustrates the type of friction that erupted between the two societies.
Ditt Singh, coming from a low-caste, wanted to remove the evils of caste
system and the institution of guru from the Sikh community. His tract, Sudan
Natak, ridiculed the religious establishment and resulted in a court case.
The Lahore Sabha expanded with local branches in many of the Punjab
towns. The Arnritsar Sabha developed its own societies, but its growth was
far slower than the Lahore society.
Other Sabhas In 1880 a General Sabha was founded at Amritsar to provide
a central organisation for all Singh Sabhas. On II April 1883 this was