About the Endowed Chair
Dr. Hakam Singh and his wife, Harbans Kaur
The Sardani Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology, established by Dr. Hakam Singh in memory of his wife, facilitates the intellectual pursuit of music’s longstanding role in the Sikh tradition. As the first of its kind in the United States, the chair shares that rich heritage with the next generation of students.
A renowned chemist and professor with nine U.S. patents to his name, Dr. Hakam Singh is also an intellectual luminary in the international Sikh community. Dr. Singh immigrated to Los Angeles, California, in 1967 after completing postdoctoral research at the University of Southern California and a professorship at IIT New Delhi. While progressing in his scientific career, he advanced the intellectual pursuit and global understanding of the Sikh faith. His academic contributions to Sikhism include numerous articles as well as books on Guru Tegh Bahadur as an apostle of human rights and a study on
the mystic Indian poet Kabir.
Dr. Hakam Singh and his wife of 57 years, Harbans Kaur, shared an intellectual and devout appreciation for the hymns of the Sikh faith. “There are about 6,000 hymns or shabads in the Sikh scripture and each shabad is preceded by instructions as to what raga and musical measure or taal it should be sung in,” shares Dr. Singh. “This shows that our founders not only had a great knowledge of Indian music, but that they knew the influence of the singing of hymns on the mind.”
Inspired by Sardani Harbans Kaur’s lifelong appreciation for Sikh music, Dr. Singh established the Hofstra University Chair in Sikh Musicology in her name in 2008.