Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki
(27 August 1925 – 11 September 2015)
This conference is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki. He was slated to be a keynote speaker at this conference, but unfortunately he was taken ill and had to return to India, where he passed away on September 11th. He has been an inspiration and a supporter of these conferences and he participated as a speaker at the first conferences in 2012.
I had the privilege of knowing Dr. Neki for many years through his daughter Rahat and son-in-law Amarpal. A very devout Sikh who was extremely knowledgeable and deeply interested in the study of Sikhi, he was at the same time very liberal and progressive in his views. He was clearly brilliant but also very humble and possessed a great sense of humor. He was a wonderful conversationalist and I always found him to be very inspiring.
Dr. Neki was involved with the Chardi Kalaa Foundation since its founding in 1998 as the Chardi Kalaa Sikh Community Center. He joined us for some of our English language services at the center and was very supportive of the concept. More recently, he participated in our monthly Vichaar programs whenever he was here in the U.S. He led the discussion for two very inspiring Vichaar sessions on “Concept of Naam” and “Revelation in Sikhi”. The Chardi Kalaa Foundation has provided financial support for the Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, of which Dr. Neki was the Honorary General Secretary, and the Foundation has a seat on the Sadan’s board represented by S. Rawel Singh.
Dr. Neki devoted the last 50 years of his life to the Gurmat studies in addition to Award winning recognition in his professional life as Director PGI Chandigarh and as Head of Department of Psychiatry in All India Medical Institute, New Delhi. In the are area of religious and literary activities he had the rare distinction of being recognized by all the major relevant organizations.
As a poet he is best known for his poetry collections, Asle to Ohle Tak (Illusion and Reality, 1955) and autobiographical, Koi Naon Na Jane Mera (2000). n. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1979 for his work, ‘Karuna di Chhoh Ton Magron’ (The Compassionate Touch). His long autobiographical poem Simriti De Kiran Ton Pehlan (Before Shedding Memory) published in 1975, is considered masterpiece of Indian literature.
His works as a scholar of Sikhism include Ardaas: Darshan Roop Te Abhiyas which has been designated as an all time classic, Sada Vigas, Achetan di Leela , Divine Intimations, Prophet of Devotion and Pilgrimage to Hemkunt, spiritual heritage of Punjab, basking in the divine Presence; Jap sahib and many more. Two of his recent books that I have personally enjoyed and found very inspiring are Gurmat Manovigyan (Psychology according to Gurmat) and Haumai ton too hi val.
For several years, he has been a member of the Dharam Prachar Committee of Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. He was chairman of the Board of Consultants constituted by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee for setting up of an Institute of Medical Sciences. In 1989, he received the Kohli Memorial Award for being the Best Professional of the Year.
He will be sorely missed by all of us at the Chardi Kalaa Foundation and in the Sikh community, but we are grateful for the many years of support and friendship and will continue to benefit from his extensive writings and numerous public presentations.
—Inder Mohan Singh, Chairman, Chardi Kalaa Foundation