Dyal Singh Public Library
  • Dyal Singh Majithia



Dyal Singh Majithia (1848-1898) was more than just the founder of the Dyal Singh Public Library,
the man who left his fortune to the Dyal Singh College in Lahore – its successor institution is in the heart of Lutyens’
Delhi and the Tribune. He was also a leading businessman and philanthropist of late 19th century India and one of the founding fathers
of Indian nationhood. He was the only Punjabi in the ‘group of 17’ that met in Chennai and agreed to set up the Indian National
Congress, a rare north Indian luminary in the predominantly Bengali Bramo Samaj, the child of a Sikh warrior clan that
had fought alongside Ranjit Singh, who travelled to Europe and sought to replicate the best of the Enlightenment
in his beloved Punjab, and his treasured India.

A strange, singular character, Dyal Singh was philosopher and spiritualist whom no one faith
could claim nor consume. He anticipated the future, putting in the capital to help set up the first bank
entirely run and owned by Indians,the Punjab National Bank, so that Indian industrialists could get easy access to
capital to take on Britons. As a social reformer, he imagined the need of education for the common man and founded Dyal Singh Public
Library and Dyal Singh College. As a constitutionalist and a liberal, he realized the value of the free press and set up what
became northern India’s leading nationalist newspaper in the English language, The Tribune.

Yet he had good friends among the British and admired their educational system, insisting that the University of Punjab be not
an Oriental seminary but modelled on the University of London. Today, the institutions he put in shape continue to influence two
nations. Not surprisingly, he is the only public figure who has had biographies published by the governments of both India
and Pakistan. Even the Wagah border, so close to his native village of Majitha, cannot divide his legacy.