Garland Around My Neck: The Story of Puran Singh of Pingalwara

By Jashandeep Singh

The biography "Garland Around My Neck: The Story of Puran Singh ji of Pingalwara" by Patwant Singh recounts the life of Puran Singh ji, who founded the Pingalwara in Amritsar, India in order to aid the destitute, the disabled, and the abandoned.

Born in 1878, the morally exemplary Puran Singh ji was a deeply religious man. He became a teacher, then a farmer, and finally the headmaster of a school for the visually handicapped to achieve this goal. His Pingalwara, which began as a modest institution for the disabled, grew into a large complex that provided a lifeline for thousands of people.

Puran Singh ji persisted in his efforts to expand the Pingalwara and improve the lives of its members despite opposition from the local populace and a lack of finances. The principles of the Sikh religion motivated him to strive for the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or physical restrictions.

Puran Singh ji passed away in 1947, but the Pingalwara dynasty of his family survives to this day. It has become one of the largest facilities of its kind in India, and its aim to help the disadvantaged continues to this day.

In his book "Garland Around My Neck," Patwant Singh analyzes the influence of the Pingalwara on the evolution of Indian civilization, as well as the distinguished life of Puran Singh ji, a member of this organization. The author uncovers the biography of a great man who devoted his entire life to helping others and whose legacy lives on via the accounts of those who knew him best.

In the first chapter of "Garland Around My Neck: The Story of Puran Singh ji of Pingalwara," Puran Singh ji, the Pingalwara's founder, and the Pingalwara's role in the creation of India's social and humanitarian infrastructure are introduced.

The author provides a succinct biography of Puran Singh ji and an explanation of how and why he formed the Pingalwara, focusing on the organization's purpose to assist the destitute, the disabled, and the abandoned. Puran Singh ji, who took strength from the Sikh faith's teachings and advocated for the dignity and worth of all human life, persevered in his attempts to build Pingalwara and improve the lives of its residents despite opposition from the local population and limited resources.

The author emphasizes the significance of Puran Singh ji's life and work by noting that the Pingalwara remains one of the largest institutions of its type in India. At the end of the chapter, the author expresses his intention to detail Puran Singh's life and career in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 1 introduces and contextualizes the significance of Puran Singh's life and legacy, as well as that of the Pingalwara, in India's social and humanitarian history.

Chapter 2 provides a detailed history of Puran Singh's youth and formal education, establishing the framework for his subsequent work at the Pingalwara. The author emphasizes how Puran Singh's early experiences impacted his personality and dedication to helping others.

In the first section of the chapter, Puran Singh's lowly beginnings in a rural Punjabi household are described. He was born in 1878 and nurtured in a rural location, where he was exposed to the Sikh religion and its emphasis on generosity and love. The author says that Puran Singh's upbringing had a significant impact on his lifelong dedication to assisting others.

Chapter 3 of "Garland About My Neck: The Story of Puran Singh ji of Pingalwara" is where Puran Singh ji discusses the origins of the Pingalwara. The author describes the establishment of the institution, from its beginnings to Puran Singh's struggles and final assistance.

The first section of the chapter describes how Puran Singh's encounter with a single leprosy patient led to the formation of the Pingalwara. Puran Singh ji was determined to assisting those in need despite opposition from the community and a lack of available resources. He founded the organization in his house and expanded it by adding features and luxuries over time.

The author then describes the outside assistance Puran Singh ji received, including monetary donations from communities and organizations and the daily labour of volunteers who ran the Pingalwara. The author underlines the importance of this funding to the institution's development.

Chapter 4 details the expansion and development of Pingalwara over the years, as well as the organization's growing influence and stature in the region. This section highlights Puran Singh's unwavering dedication to the organization and his desire to aid the least fortunate.

The fifth chapter of Garland Around My Neck describes Puran Singh's time in the Pingalwara and the impact he made on its inhabitants. When the author discusses Puran Singh's routine at the facility and the impact he had on the people under his care, his altruism, loyalty, and unwavering commitment to his patients are all brought to light.

The chapter begins with a description of Puran Singh's normal day, detailing his interactions with patients, his efforts to improve their quality of life, and his commitment to provide them with the best possible treatment and rehabilitation. The author explains that due to Puran Singh's persistent work, the group grew and attracted more members.

The author also emphasizes the impact of Puran Singh's work on the inhabitants of Pingalwara, highlighting how his kindness and dedication improved their lives and gave them a sense of purpose. According to the author, Puran Singh's efforts to develop a community based on kindness and charity continue to be an inspiration.

In Chapter 5, we get an intimate look at Puran Singh's stay in Pingalwara and the impact he had on the villagers. This chapter discusses Puran Singh's work in establishing a culture of compassion and service and underlines his compassion, dedication, and unwavering determination to serving people.

In the first section of this chapter, we learn about Puran Singh's final years at the Pingalwara and how he tried to improve the facility and inhabitants' lives. As the author relates, even as his age and health declined, Puran Singh ji never ceased caring for those in need and helping them recover.

The author also considers Puran Singh's legacy, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of his life's work. The author notes that Puran Singh's unselfish contribution inspired many others to do the same, and that his legacy continues to be recognized and appreciated to this day.


“Garland Around My Neck”: The Story of Bhagat Puran Singh. (2009, January 30). SikhNet.

‌Garland around my neck - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2023, from


Jashandeep Singh is a student of Niagara College and a recipient of the scholarship.When asked about his interest in Sikhi reading and writing, he wrote "I am fascinated by the spiritual and philosophical teachings of Sikhi. I find comfort in the idea of trusting a true Guru and working towards understanding my purpose in life. Learning and writing about Sikhi helps me explore these important ideas and how they relate to my own life."