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Jaswant Singh Kanwal drafted his first book ‘Jeevan Kaniyan’ in 1940

Vigiyaanik siddhant kare bina tey tayyar-bar-tayyar Khalsa sajey bina, inquilab jittiya nahi jaa sakda. Yaad rakho, jitna tuhanu hi paina hai. Tussi thillon, jhanaavan aashqan hi tariyaan han’

( Without having a scientific introduction and without being all set to battle Khalsa, no revolution can be won. Remember, you only need to win it. You cruise, provide yourself to the rivers, it is only real enthusiasts who reach the other side of Chenab)

Jaswant Singh Kanwal, an excerpt from his essay ‘ Naujawana Nu Vangaar‘ (A message to the youths)

An author loved by the typical readers and a literary treasure trove of Punjab and Punjabiyat, Sahitya Akademi awardee Jaswant Singh Kanwal, passed away at his native village Dhudike of Moga Saturday. He was 100.

Firing up a flame of equality and justice for all through his literary works, Kanwal extensively wrote against discrimination and highlighted concerns of agrarian crisis, caste barriers, ladies rights, and youth concerns in 102 novels and other works that he penned.

He won the Sahitya Akademi Award, country’s greatest literary honor, for his novel ‘Taushali Di Hanso’ in 1997, which was an insight into the function that typical people played in the Fight of Kalinga (now in Odisha).

Jaswant Singh Kanwal, obituary, Indian Express news On Saturday, as he was cremated and given a final goodbye at his town, an orange fabric with ‘Shah Ranjha’ composed on it in Hindi, Punjabi, English and Urdu, was wrapped around him.

In the words of Dr Surjit Singh Patar, Padma Shri and chairman, Punjab Arts Council, Kanwal was the most ‘lokpriya sahityakaar’ that Punjabi literary world even witnessed.

Kanwal’s son Sarabjit Singh said that for some years now, Kanwal mostly used to remain quiet. In June 2019, when he had actually finished 100 years, events were marked with a literary fest ‘Puranmashi’.

” He died peacefully,” he said.

Kanwal enjoyed an excellent relationship with actor Balraj Sahni and distinguished poet Baba Balwant. After both of them passed away, he started institutional awards for prose and poetry in their names.

One his most questionable, popular and acclaimed literary works was ‘Lahu Di Lo’ (Dawn of Blood), reflecting on the Naxalite movement, composed in 1975 during Emergency situation period. Publishers in Punjab had actually refused to publish it. It was printed in Malaysia and its copies “smuggled in” by youths in Punjab to read.

Sumail Singh Sidhu, Bathinda based historian and Kanwal’s maternal grand son, stated that unique ‘Taushali Di Hanso’ for which he won Sahitya Akademi Award reflected function played by individuals in Battle of Kalinga and an evidence of Kanwal’s deep understanding of Indian history, not just Punjab. “Kanwal had actually gone to Kalinga and looked into on the subject. Everyone knows that Ashoka won the fight however no one ever highlighted the function that individuals of Kalinga played in the fight. Though they lost the battle to Ashoka, their devotion and decision for love of their land was remarkable,” he stated.


All of his works had a strong female character, such as ‘Hanso’ in ‘Taushali Di Hanso’. “Hanso was a courtesan dancer and through her, Kanwal weaved the story of Fight of Kalinga,” says Sidhu.

Kanwal could unclear admission (class X) and had transferred to Malaysia (then Malaya) in 1935 looking for livelihood. There he was considerably influenced by Buddhism. “He was fluent in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and constantly had that appetite to learn about teachings in faiths other than Sikhism,” stated Sidhu.

After working for two years as a guard in Malaya, he returned in 1937 and began traveling to Lahore typically to get books for routine reading. He had taken formal lessons in ‘Vedant Shastra’. “It was then that he developed an interest in composing. He prepared his very first book ‘Jeevan Kaniyan’ in 1940 but it might be published in 1944 only,” his child Sarabjit Singh says, including soon the word ‘Gyani’ got connected with his name.

” In one of his works ‘Puranmashi’, the character of Gyani was based on him and the village setting was influenced from his own town,” includes Sidhu.

His valuable contribution to Punjabi literature was recognised academically too, when he was granted honorary Doctorate of Literature (D.Litt) by Master Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in 2008.

Kanwal was also jailed throughout the Partition and flexibility struggle and had likewise played a critical role in securing Muslim population in his village. Some of his other well-known works consist of Mukti Maarg (Course to Flexibility), Raat Baaki Hai (The Night is Still There), Chikkar De Kanwal (Lotuses of Mud), Gwachi Pag (Lost Honor), Ainion Chon Utho Surma (From the Masses Will Increase the Valorous) among others.

On Saturday, as he was cremated and given a last so long at his town, an orange fabric with ‘Shah Ranjha’ composed on it in Hindi, Punjabi, English and Urdu, was covered around him.

Condoling his diing, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh admired the immense contribution of Kanwal towards promotion of Punjabi language, art and literature through his literary works. He said the writer will be remembered ever, specifically by his millions of readers, for his respected writings, which lent a voice to the predicament of commoner coming to grips with a number of socio-economic difficulties.

” A void has been created with the death of Kanwal in the literary circles, which is challenging to be filled,” he added.

Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal likewise condoled the passing away of Kanwal.

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