|The article contains information about Sects and cults which evolved during times of gurus or later, having influence of Sikhism. These sects have many different philosophies from Gurmat or were made to put down real essence of Gurmat. These sects were not formed by any Gurus or Bhagats. If you have any comments, please discuss them here|
Namdharis are not accepted as Sikhs by the main Sikh population, right from the start.
- The Namdharis do, however, consider themselves as Sikhs, but not Khalsa.
- Naamdharis believe that Guru Gobind Singh went into seclusion after surviving the attempt on his life and passed the Guruship on to other human Gurus to this day.
- The Namdharis were founded by their Guru—Balak Singh (1797-1862) in north-west Panjab.
- They were organized into a movement by Bhai Ram Singh of Bhaini who fell under the influence of Guru Balak Singh while serving in the Khalsa as a Risaldari of Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh.
- They are also known as Kookas, Kukas, kooke, kooka or kookeh 'criers', for their shrieks (kuks) given in ecstatic meditative trance.
- The men are distinguished by their white, "round" turbans with their ears fully exposed.
- The more orthodox Kukas also wear attire which included very tight pants and long kurtas.
- They have many non-Sikh traditions like the worshiping of fire (havan), which is more akin to Hinduism than Sikhism.
The Namdharis believe in the soteriological (Soteriology is the study of salvation. The word comes from two Greek terms: soter, meaning "savior," and logos, meaning “word," "reason," or "principle.") efficacy of remembering the divine Name (nam-simaran), and the use of a rosary in this practice. They believe in the unorthodox view of personal Guruship - which did not end with the tenth and traditionally believed to be the last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. They believe that the Tenth Guru is believed to have escaped the assasination attempt on his life and lived in secret to the age of 146 (d.1812); old enough to pass on the guruship to Guru Balak Singh. They therefore believe in the doctrine of an unending Guru lineage; Guru Ram Singh is believed to be the next incarnation of Guru Gobind Singh. They are strict vegetarians who do not drink or smoke. They maintain the Hindu belief that the cow is sacred and should therefore not be killed for human consumption. Though they attach equal importance to the Adi Granth and the Dasam Granth, they do not accept the Adi Granth as the Guru Granth. They believe in certain ritualistic practices like the fire ceremony (havan or hom) which involves the practice of circummambulating the fire during a wedding ceremony (instead of the Adi Granth as in an orthodox wedding). They believe that food not prepared from their own hands should not be eaten. They also believe in the efficacy of mantras/sacred words (that are given to them at initiation), and do not believe in the initiation of Khande di pahul (baptism by a double-edged sword) of the Khalsa, though they emphatically promulgate the Khalsa appearance and their own code of conduct - unlike the Nirankaris (see entry). They do not believe in sacred sites (temples, village spots, shrines etc.) for they believed in the interiorization of faith via the divine Name - which they saw as an antidote to the sinful pleasures of Maharaja Ranjit Singh's rule. They are not accepted as Sikhs by the main Sikh population.
However, The Namdhari consider themselves as Sikhs. They are also known as Kookas' or Kukas. The men are distinguished as they wear white, "round" turbans with the ears fully exposed. The more orthodox Kukas also wear wear attire which included very tight pants and long kurtas.
A small number of hindus and Sikhs, converted to Namdhari Sect, thus breaking away from the Sikh Religion. Namdhari were from the districts of Ludhiana, Sialkot, Gujranwala, and Amritsar.
The Namdharis are also known as Kukas 'criers', for their shrieks (kuks) given in ecstatic meditative trance. The Namdharis were founded by Guru Balak Singh (1797-1862) in north-west Panjab. He was a puritan and stressed the importance of the divine Name for salvation and drew most of his followers from the poorer lower castes, namely the Jatts - whom naturally opposed the richer Sikhs and the British. However, in Ludhiana their second Guru, Ram Singh (1816-85), had the greatest impact. He was the first reformer to emphasise the Khalsa Singh identity under colonial rule, but did not exclude the Sahajdharis in his addresses. Believing in the interiority of faith in 1866, the Namdharis set about destroying Sanatan Sikh-Hindu tombs, ancestral shrines, certain villages spots and other sacred sites. The British began to fear revolution and in 1863 ordered Ram Singh not to hold religious assemblies and not to leave his village. However the desecration continued and peaked about 1867 and some Namdharis were imprisoned. Ram Singh himself was imprisoned and eventually sent to Rangoon and then to Southern Burma where he remained imprisoned until his death in 1885. The Namdhari's notorious zeal for the protection of the cow brought them into direct conflict with the British government. Four butchers were killed by zealous Namdharis. As a result eight of them were captured and sentenced to death. Such incidents increased and in 1872 forty-nine Namdharis were killed by the British and sixteen more later. Through such protests and campaigns the Namdharis initiated the fight for the collapse of the British government. However before the end of the 19th century the Namdharis discarded their militancy to return to simple piety. They consider themselves the initiators of India's struggle for freedom since they boycotted British education, law courts, railways and post office services. Apart from the belief of more than ten Gurus, they also have many non-Sikh traditions like worshipping of fire (havan), which is more akin to Hinduism than Sikhism. They do not believe in Khanda di Pahul and the Vaisakhi of 1699.
All Namdharis are at least Keshdharis (those with uncut hair). They wear only white home-spun clothing. Their turbans have a particular style, being tied horizontally across the forehead, called Sidha Pag (straight turban). Because the British, fearing revolution, banned the right to carry arms, Namdharis carried a smaller version of the kirpan in the kanga to symbolise the sword of the Khalsa warrior. Many wore a knotted wolloen cord around their necks which served as a rosary.
In the 1891 census 706 Hindus and 12,319 Sikhs returned themselves as 'Kuka'. (Census of India, 1891, Vol.XX and Vol.XXI, The Punjab and its Feudatories, by E.D. Maclagan, Part II and III, Calcutta, 1892, pp.826-9 and pp.572-3. (See also the note at the end of the Explanatory ntroduction).
Originally, under Guru Balak Singh, Namdharis were focused in the north-west of Panjab. However the headquarters shifted to Bhaini Sahib in Ludhiana under the second leader Guru Ram Singh.
Namdhari History Two
KUKAS or NAMDHARIS, is the name given to the members of a sectarian group that arose among the SIKHS towards the close of the nineteenth century.
- Kuk, in PUNJABI, means a scream or shout. While chanting the sacred hymns at their religious congregations, the adherents of the new order broke into ecstatic cries which led to their being called Kukas.
- Namdharis, also used as a term for them, means devotees of nam, i.e. those attached to God`s Name.
The sect had its origin it the movement of reform intimations of which first became audible in the northwest corner of the SIKH kingdom of LAHORE. It harked back to a way of life more in keeping with the spiritual tradition of the Sikhs. Its principal concern was to spread the true spirit of the faith shorn of empty ritualism which had grown on it since the beginning of Sikh monarchy. These ideas were preached by Baba Balak SINGH (1797-1862), a pious and saintly man, who collected around him at Hazro, in Atlock district in the northwest frontier region, a small following.
He was visited one day by a young man, Ram Singh (1816-85), then serving in the Sikh army. Ram Singh was deeply impressed by Baba Balak Singh`s concern about the decline of Sikh values in the wake of political power and his appeal for a life of simplicity and spirituality. He resigned from the army and dedicated himself to his precept. Before he died, Baba Balak Singh named him his successor. Baba Ram Singh who made Bhaim in LUDHIANA district his headquarters, imparted to the movement vigour as well as form. He attached special importance to the administration of the rites of amril or Pahul, the vows of the Khalsa introduced by GURU Gobind Singh.
Those admitted to the discipline were distinguished by their peculiarly simple style of tying their turbans and by their woollen rosary and white dress. A strict code of conduct was enjoined upon the members. They were to adore the One Formless Being and to acknowledge but one Scripture, the Guru GRANTH Sahib. They were forbidden to worship at tombs and graves and to venerate scions of the Sodhi and Bedi families, then claiming religious popularity. The importance of leading a life of regular prayer and meditation and of abstinence from falsehood, slander, adultery, and from eating flesh and use of liquor, hemp or opium was reiterated.
Protection of the cow was made a cardinal principle of the Kukas` social ethics. Beggary and parasitism were condemned as evil, and industry and charity were applauded. Regard for personal hygiene, likewise, formed an essential ingredient of the Kuka code. No caste distinctions were recognized. Women were freely admitted to the ranks of the brotherhood and were allowed to participate in all community activity. Female infanticide, enforced widowhood and dowry were forbidden. Simple and inexpensive marrige custom, following Sikh injunctions, was introduced.
Baba Ram Singh asked his followers to breed horses, learn horsemanship and carry clubs in their hands; also, to recite daily Guru Gobind Singh`s martial poem, Chanat a1 Var. An hierarchical structure comprising subds (governors), naib subas (deputy governors) and jathedars operated within their jursidictions and maintained with the centre at BhainT Sahib, as also amongst themselves, regular communication by means of their own private postal service. Special emphasis was laid on the use of swadeshi, homespun cloth, as against the imported millmade cloth.
Education through the medium of English introduced by the British was to be shunned. The Kuka activity made the government wary and in April 1863 Baba Ram Singh and his followers were interrogated by officials at the time of their visit to Amritsar. This was resented by the Kukas who had among their ranks some old soldiers of the Sikh army and who were generally critical of Christian proselytization as well as of the opening of slaughterhouses by the foreign rulers.
Their divans were now marked by added fervour. The news that the head man of a village in Firozpur district had become a Kuka, burning away in his new zeal his plough, bullockcart, a bedstead and the spinning wheel, alarmed the district authorities who saw in such accretions the signs of the growing influence of the movement. More than 40 Kukas trying to convene a meeting at Tharajvala, in Firozpur district, were arrested and seven of them were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment by the deputy commissioner.
The government found further grounds for suspicion in some of the Kukas`joining the armies of the Indian princes. It was feared that the object of such recruits was to get military training and then return to the Punjab to raise a tumuli against the British. Since the Kukas were averse to seeking service under the English, some of them had visited Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Kashmir in 1869 and offered to join his forces. The Maharaja agreed to recruit a new regiment and enlisted about 150 Kukas under the command of Suba Hira Singh of Sadhaura, but the force was disbanded two years later under pressure from the British government.
In the early 1870s, events moved at a catastrophic pace bringing the career of the Kuka revolution to a dramatic climax. In their zeal for protecting the cow, some Kukas attacked a slaughterhouse in the sacred city of Amritsar on the night of 15 June 1871. Four butchers were killed and three seriously wounded. Seven of the Kukas were apprehended out of whom four paid the extreme penalty of the law. Exactly a month later, a similar incident took place at Raikot, in Ludhiana district, where three butchers were killed. Five Kukas including Giani Raian Singh, esteemed as a scholar, were given the death penalty. Returning from the Maghi fair at Bhaini Sahib at the beginning of 1872, a group of Kukas planned to plunder u.c armoury at Malerkotia, the capital of a princely state. On the way they attacked the house of the Sikh chief of Malaud to rob it of arms and horses which they needed for their assault on Malerkotia.
At Malerkotia, the Kukas, more than a hundred strong, were challenged by police as they scaled the city wall on the morning of 15 January 1872 to enter the treasury. In the fracas that followed eight policemen and seven Kukas lost their lives. Sixtyeight of the Kukas, including two women, were captured by Mir Nia/ `AIT, an officer of the Patiala state, at Rar, a nearby village to which they had retired. Under orders of the British deputy commissioner of Ludhiana, all of them, cxcept the women prisoners who were made over to Patiala authorities, were executed with 49 blown apart by cannon and one put to the sword on 17 January and the remaining 16 again killed at gunmouth.
Baba Ram Singh was exiled from the Punjab along with ten of his Subas, and taken to ALLAHABAD from where he was transferred to Rangoon and detained under the Bengal Act of 1818. The Subas were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment. A police post was stationed at Bhaini Sahib, the Kuka headquarters, and the entire setup placed under strict surveillance. Village functionaries, zaildars and nambardars, were ordered to report under penalty of deprivation of office or other punishment the movements of Kukas within their respective areas. The assembly of more than five Kukas was forbidden throughout the Punjab as also the carrying in public of axes, ironknobbed sticks and other weapons.
Despite these repressive measures, the movement was sustained by the mystique that grew around Baba Ram Singh. His followers continued to believe that he would one day reappear among them and lead them to freedom from British rule. A few even made the arduous journey to Rangoon to see him, circumventing the guards, and bring messages from him. In the Punjab, Baba Ram Singh`s brother, Budh Singh, who now assumed the name of Hari Singh, took his place. One of the Subas, Gurcharan Singh and after him Bishan Singh, made secret trips across the borders to make contact with the Russians.
Prophecies, in the name of Guru Gobind Singh, were circulated predicting that Russia would invade the Punjab and drive away the British. The Kukas were also active in campaign for the restoration of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last Sikh sovereign of the Punjab, who had been dethroned after the second Anglo-Sikh war. With the turn of the century, the excitement had ebbed away. The Kukas retained their religious fervour and evolved over the years a distinct identity. The process received great stimulus from the personality of Baba Partap Singh who succeeded Baba Hari Singh upon his death in 1906.
The Kukas emerged, under his leadershp, as a cohesive social and religious group. Their numbers increased and they flourished in their chosen trades such as animal husbandry, agriculture and small industry. Baba Partap Singh died in 1959 and was succeeded by Baba Jagjit Singh. Bhaini Sahib, in Ludhiana district in the Punjab, and Jivan Nagar, in Hissar district in Haryana, are today the two principal centres of the Namdharis, the term which is now more commonly used. The Namdharis generally go to their own Gurudwaras. They install the Guru Granth Sahib in their Gurudwaras, but believe in living Gurus, Baba Jagjit Singh being their present Guru. The Namdharis are known for their simple living and rigid code of conduct. They wear white homespun and wind round their heads mull or longcloth without any semblance of embellishment. They are strict vegetarians. Marriages are performed inexpensively usually in groups on special occasions such as Hola Mahalla.
1. Ganda Singh, Kukidii. di Vithid. Amritsar, 1944
2. Vahiini, Taran Singh, ass Jivan. Rainpur (Hi.ssar), 1971
3. Fauja Singh, Kukii Movement. Delhi, 1965
4. Jaswinder Singh, Kuka Movement: Freedom Simple in Punjab. Delhi, 1985
5. Ahlnwalia, M.M., Knkas : The Freedom Fighter`, of the Panjab. Bombay, 1965
6. Jolly, Snrjit Kaur, Sikh [ieviralist Movements. Delhi, 1988
7. Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, vol. 11. Princelon, 1966
8. Hal-bans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983 F.S.
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