Kartar Singh was born in Sarabha, a village in district Ludhiana , in 1896. He was the only son of his parents. He was still very young when his father died. His grandfather brought him up with great care. After passing the ninth grade, he went to Orissa to live with his uncle. He completed his high school and began college while there. It was the year 1910-1911, when he had the opportunity to read a lot of books outside the narrow range of school or college text books. This was also the time of nationalist movement. It was this political environment that aroused the feeling of patriotism in him. It was then that he decided that he must travel to America.
The family did not have any opposition to that. He arrived in San Francisco in 1912. Having arrived in the "free nation" his tender heart was subjected to blows and humiliation at every step. He would be very upset when he heard himself being called a damn Hindu or black man by the whites. At every step he felt his country's dignity and respect in jeopardy. With the constant memory of home, he also visualized India - helpless and in chains. His tender heart began to harden gradually and his determination to sacrifice his life for the freedom of country began to become firm.