major balwant singh

The Portrait of a ‘Kirti Gursikh’


Our father, whom we called Pitaji, passed away in Command Hospital, Chandimandir on 07 May 2004 at the age of 93. Soon after that, we received a request from Mr Saran Singh, IAS who was the editor of “The Sikh Review” to write about the life and times of our father. I must add that Mr Saran Singh had been a student of Pitaji in Peshawar, and referred to him as a ‘legendary’ teacher.

With the help of my three brothers, I wrote a piece, which was given the title, “The Portrait of a Kirti Gursikh” by the editor and published in the August 2006 issue of the magazine published from Kolkata. On the 17th anniversary of Pitaji’s demise I thought I would post it on our website, so that we can share it on the electronic media.


The Portrait of a ‘Kirti Gursikh’


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Given below is a link to a post in which we posted a few pictures taken from the family albums

  1. Krishna Menon says:

    Krishna Menon
    Sun, May 23, 7:47 AM (3 days ago)
    to me

    Thank you Gen Surjit Singh for sharing this piece of history regarding your father and his times.

    God Bless you.

    Krishna Menon

  2. Pranjal Subhash says:

    pranjal subhash
    May 9, 2021, 8:20 PM (22 hours ago)
    to me

    Good evening sir
    Thank you so much for sharing this story.

    • Surjit Singh says:


      Nice to hear from you after a long long time.
      Where are you now?
      And how is you Papa’s school. Has Covid affected you a lot?
      Stay safe.
      Surjit Uncle

  3. Col Nirmal Majajan says:

    Nirmal Mahajan
    May 8, 2021, 7:29 PM (2 days ago)
    to me

    Colonel Nirmal MahajanEmoji


    Upper Crest Avenue 161/7 Rajpur Road, Dehradun.

    The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.

    • Surjit says:

      You are from an illustrious family…and you have kept conformed to the value system.
      And the son is carrying the torch with the same spirit.
      God bless.

  4. Col DS Madan says:

    D.S Madan
    May 8, 2021, 10:52 AM (2 days ago)
    to me

    Hi 2997,

    Read through the entire article of life story of your respected Pitaji. And seen the Pictures posted .

    No doubt you have taken tremendous pains to compile this . Admire your zeal and dedication .

    A great work done for next generation to keep adding to it.



    • Surjit says:

      You have known the family even before we joined the NDA. So, you can relate to the story better than the others!
      Stay safe!

  5. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    ABS Sidhu
    May 7, 2021, 3:19 PM (3 days ago)
    to me

    Dear Surjit ,

    Thanks for sharing life of your respected
    father Maj BALWANT SINGH and your grandfather
    They lived life on their term and earned great name
    for the family and set very high std for their children
    to live for . As per my knowledge you all have lived
    up to their expectations .
    With warm regards and best wishes .
    ABS Sidhu

  6. Rajesh Kochhar says:

    Dear Gen Surjit Sir,
    My kudos for a beautiful biography of your. Very touching and a candid reflection of your memories. An illustrious father and a great HUMAN BEING.
    Warm Regards
    Rajesh Kochhar

  7. Lt Gen RK Mehta says:

    Raj Mehta
    May 7, 2021, 10:46 AM (3 days ago)
    to me

    Thanks for sharing Sir. It was wonderful going down memory lane with you.

  8. Maj Gen Gurdayal Singh says:

    Gurdayal Singh
    May 7, 2021, 8:58 AM (3 days ago)
    to me

    Maj Gen Gurdayal Singh EME
    Thanks for your mail and shariing in detail the facets of his life .
    I have been his student at IMA in 1949-50. We always loved his Science class. He always treated us with respect and sympathy, unlike his many other colleagues.
    Now I remember having met him at Subarea HQ Meerut in 1948 also when was posted there as you have mentioned.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Thank you Sir.
      We always look up towards you for blessings and wise counsel.
      You are an inspiration for us.

  9. Surjit Singh says:

    Bhavneet Singh
    Fri, May 7, 6:58 AM (3 days ago)
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Prem Hejmadi says:

    Prem Hejmadi
    May 6, 2021, 9:59 PM (4 days ago)
    to me

    Dear Surjit,
    A very moving tribute to a genuine human being. Evidently he was posted in the IMA when I was a GC there too, but somehow I don’t recall. Perhaps due to the fact that I spent 6 months at Clement Town and 6 months in the FRI barracks.
    I was particularly touched by the fact that Lt Gen Tripat Singh was his student. The latter I served with when he was DQ and again with him when he was the MGO. I think the General imbibed very much of the character and good nature and humility of Pitaji, for a finer human being I have not met.

    Thank you for sharing him and his life with us.

    Love and Light

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Maj Gen Surjit Singh
      5:36 PM (0 minutes ago)
      to Prem

      In the latter part of his tenure in 1960-62, he was appointed ‘the head of the Science Team’ His job was to set up two laboratories. So he did not take any classes. That could be the reason why you do not recollect him.
      The students who remember him the most fondly are the GCs of the 4th to 10th course. Gen Harbhajan (former SO-in-C) is one of them.
      Gen Tripat was indeed, a chip off the old block. He passed away in 1911, and his wife has joined him in the Heavenly abode, last week.

  11. Sabrimal Dutt says:

    Subimal Dutt
    May 6, 2021, 9:12 PM (4 days ago)
    to me

    What a lovely post Sir, we cherish,


    Subimal Dutt

  12. Prakash Pati says:

    Prakash Patil
    May 6, 2021, 8:04 PM (4 days ago)
    to me

    General Sahab,
    I was deeply touched by the love and respect between a teacher and student, and keeping it alive until both attain old age. Your father must be really a ‘charismatic teacher.’ I always feel that, a good soldier is always a good teacher and a wise friend.
    I salute the memory of your father on his 17th death anniversary and also pray the God to bestow long life and good health to Saran Singh ji.

    With regards

    Major Prakash Patil (Veteran)

  13. Satish Kumar Bhandari says:

    satish bhandari
    May 6, 2021, 6:47 PM (4 days ago)
    to me

    May God bless his soul.

  14. Ashali Varma says:

    Ashali Varma
    May 6, 2021, 6:30 PM (4 days ago)
    Please send this beautifully written history of an amazing man with photos to the Partition Museum in Amritsar as they would make it immortal.

    • Surjit says:

      Dear Ms Ashali
      A very good suggestion.
      I have with me the original diaries of our father. He had some very good muslim friends. Their leader, Mirza Allah Yaar Kalyar made a generous contribution for the ‘Khalsa School’ established by our siantly grand father, Bhai Hira Singh ji in 1906. The school is still running, and he is still remembered with great reverence. When our father went to Sargodha to pick up our relatives in Oct 1947, he was given all possible help. There was no bloodshed in our village.
      How do I go about sending all this to the museum. Do you know the person managing it?
      I also invite you to write something for our blog. A great deal is known about your legendary father. If you can tell us something about his days in the IMA, it will be very well appreciated by my friends.
      With best regards, and stay safe. These are not the best of times!

  15. Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi says:

    May 6, 2021, 5:52 PM (4 days ago)
    to me

    Dear Surjit,

    Thank you for sharing this excellent piece. I had read some parts earlier, possibly in your Blog only.
    I too had studied at Khalsa College Amritsar for two years doing my FSc as I was too young to sit for the NDA exam after doing my Matric in 1955.

    Take Care. These are not the best of times!

    Vijay Oberoi

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General
      Thanks for your kind words.
      Khalsa College is one of the oldest institutions in Punjab. It has produced some eminent students. I am glad to learn that you are one of them. If you have any anecdote of your college days, do share it with us. And if you can embellish it with old black-and-white pictures, it will become an invaluable piece.
      Praying for your good health. And very special regards for your literary daughter, Rashmi. Her book is overdue!
      Best wishes for Daulat ji from both of us.

  16. Cdre C Uday Bhaskar says:

    C Uday Bhaskar
    May 6, 2021, 5:34 PM (4 days ago)
    to me

    Tks for your mail sir….a truly noble man….your esteemed father….rgds

  17. Maj Gen Pushpendra Singh says:

    Thank you.

    Maj Gen Pushpendra Singh
    596 Sector 6
    Panchkula HYA; India
    Tele: 0172-2561619
    Cell: +919041750156

  18. Anita Chawlatewari says:

    Thu, May 6, 11:42 PM (3 days ago)
    to me

    Sat Sri Akal !
    Our homage to a great soul.
    May you find comfort in remembering the lovely eternal memories of him ,which are a huge treasure.
    He has left behind a great legacy ..and you are a part of that !
    Take care Uncleji.
    Stay safe .
    Love and warm regards
    Anita (Anu)

  19. Col Ranjit Maini says:

    Ranjit Maini
    Thu, May 6, 6:51 PM (3 days ago)
    to me

    Excellent reading sir.
    May his noble soul rest in eternal peace.

  20. Brig PT Gangadharan says:

    Forwarded to his list

  21. VRK PRASAD says:

    highly inspiring life story Sir… thanks a lot for sharing.





  23. Amar and Kanwal Bhalla says:

    Dear Surjeet
    The article is superbly written and chronicled. You are surely gifted with the power of words to highlight and share your innermost thoughts.
    With folded hands, we join you as you pay tribute to Pitaji.
    God bless
    Amar and Kanwal

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Amar and Kanwal,
      Please…please do not give me so much ‘phook’ that I get bloated up.
      I know you are saying all this because of your affection for me. But politeness has a ‘Lakshman Rekha’ and you have crossed that!
      You have to write some words for dear Neela. I have requested Bobby to send you some pictures, including the sketch which her student has made.
      Regards, and stay safe.
      Surjit & Surinder

  24. Dave sood says:

    Superb read. Having lived through the partition in Delhi, I could relate to his journey back to Farruka to transport the families back to India.
    You all have followed in his footsteps and kept the traditon of serving the nation alive in the family.
    A good family hidtory to read of a family started in Punjab, through the War and in the new country called India.
    Well recorded.
    I do wish that Mr. Saran Singh completes his century

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Pitaji did all the research. I have been merely digging out of that ‘treasure trove’
      Would you like to record the story of your family.
      The tale of your re-settlement after a very early retirement might also be an interesting story. You left the Army, when you were riding the crest of the professional wave!
      Stay safe. Better safe than sorry!

  25. J Thomas says:

    Thanks Surjit for an interesting article. Your Pitaji lived through tumultuous times. And you are a chip off the old block.

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