Gyani Harbhajan Singh Mistri of Dandian, Hoshiarpur (1920-1995)

A very humble WWII veteran who won a major skirmish against the Japanese virtually single handed and a master craftsman.

He was a student of the legendary Ustad Bhai Batan Singh of Mehli, Phagwara and a witness to the countless duals that the great Ustad won against – well….

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Bhai Batan Singh defeated Ustad Bhai Malang and won the 100 Rs bet placed by Ustad Bhai Malang’s mother, the multiple dual in the AIR studio, Lahore (before 1947), victory over the Daudhar Taksal exponents and Bhai Darshan Singh Komal who orchestrated that particular dual, etc. Gyani Ji was a witness to all these and more as he played the harmonium for the Ustad in addition to handcrafting string instruments taus, saranda and dilruba for the maestro.

He last made these instruments until 1949. He was the last instrument maker who survived the waves of time and taught me how to hand carve these long forgotten instruments in the early 90’s.

He was the last witness to the whole tradition of luthiery and very lovingly passed on his knowledge to me – I am ever so grateful.

He brought and offered his grandson as nazar, Parminder Singh Bhamra, to me in 2003 who is now a very fine pakhawaj player and instrument maker – and my third son.

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