For every Indian Writer, the honor of the Sahitya Akademi Award is quite similar to what an Olympic medal is to an athlete. This is the ultimate honor for which a writer or a poet thrives throughout his life.
Right now the honor of Sahitya Akademi Award is the second-highest literary honor in India after Jnanpith Award. The tradition of Sahitya Akademi Award was started in 1955 when Sahitya Akademi honored dozens of writers from across the country for their outstanding contributions in Indian literature.
One among those dozen names was Bhai Vir Singh, who holds the distinction of being the first Punjabi Writer to have received this award. His name was chosen for his poem 'Mere Sainya Jeo.' Year after he was also honored with the civilian honor Padma Bhushan.
However, it would be quite unfair to reduce the legacy of Bhai Vir Singh within the realms of these two awards. His legacy is way beyond these honors.
Bhai Vir Singh was born on 5th December 1872 in Amritsar. He belonged to the royal lineage of Diwan Kaura Mal, the vice-governor of today's Multan. His father Dr. Charan Singh was also a known figure within the Sikh community, who too had a deep interest in poetry, music, and literature.
Bhai Vir Singh did his schooling from Church Mission High School, where exposure to western philosophy and culture further sculpted his vision. With time, he mastered himself in languages like Persian, Urdu, and Sanskrit.
After matriculation, he started a lithography press with one of his father's friends. Besides this, he also became active in activities of Singh Sabha Movement. He was also one of the founders of Punjab and Sind Bank. Nevertheless, as writer Mr. Singh started his career in 1898 with the Novel Sundari, which was followed by Bijay Singh (1899), Satwant Kaur - I (1900), Satwant Kaur-II (1927), Subhagji da Sudhar Hathin Baba Naudh Singh and much more to his credit.
Most importantly, Bhai Vir Singh was a strong champion of women's rights and equality. The reflection of this notion can be seen very strongly in most of his works as they had compelling female characters in the center stage.