There are a few Sikhs, who mix Sanatani (mainstream Hindu) views with Sikh thoughts. For them, Sikhism is a part of 'Sanatana Dharma' or Hinduism. In many of present Sikh circles, these Sikhs are called Sanatani Sikhs. Some of them believe that they follow the 'old' Sikhism which they claim is the real one.
It is thought that Sanatani Sikh views is a new teaching, but this is not the case as there is a long history of Sanatani Sikh thinking. A few of Sanatani Sikh views can be found even in Sikh books written in 18th century. 'Gur Bilas', 'Bansavalinama' and 'Mahma Prakash' are included in the list of such books. Sanatani Sikh views became more acceptable during Maharaja Ranjit Singh's rule in Punjab for various reasons.
Sanatani Sikhs should not be confused with those people who show disrespect for Sri Guru Granth Sahib or other Sikh Gurus. In fact, Sanatani Sikhs show deep respect for Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. They accept it as their Guru. At the same time, they also believe in the Vedas and the Puranas. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji has been accepted as the fifth Veda.
At present, when mainstream-Sikh leadership has forgotten its duty, the Sanatani Sikh views are being preached at a large scale among ordinary Sikhs. The 'Rashtriya Sikh Sangat' preaches Sanatani Sikh views among the common Sikhs. The Rashtriya Singh Sangat has been distributing its literature on a large scale, in which Sikh views are presented mixed with Sanatani views. Mainstream Sikh organizations have not published literature on a big scale to refute Sanatani Sikh beliefs.
Sanatani Sikhism According To Sikhs
There is a group of Sikhs in the UK which holds Sanatani Sikh views. Their Sanatani Sikh views are further mixed with Budhha Dal tradition. These Sikhs in the UK call themselves Sanatani Sikhs. They claim that they are Nihangs and belong to the Budhha Dal (Santa Singh group). According to them, their Sikhism is the real form of Sikhism. Only a handful of Sikhs are associated with them.
It is the belief of these Sikhs that Sikhism was intended to protect "Hindu Dharma" from invaders and that Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji created the Khalsa Panth especially for this task.
Some Nihangs in India practise Sanatani rituals, such as smoking bhangs, which has caused controversy because it's prohibited in Sikhism. These Nihangs claim that these practises are normal in Sikhism and have existed and been practised by Nihangs ever since Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji's time.
According to a few other Sanatani Sikhs, modern-day Sikhism has been "talibanised" or "hijacked" by Sikh separatists, who they claim have fully altered Sikh history and teachings to make it seem distinct from other religions or beliefs, which they believe was a process that had already began during British rule. To make it simple, these Sanatani Sikhs believe that they follow 'old Sikhism', which they believe was changed by separatists into the 'new Sikhism' which is practised today by Sikhs.
Among a few common Sikhs as well, some believe that Sikhism was intended to be a 'sect' of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and not distinct, but also believe that this was changed when Sikh separatists altered Sikh history, texts and teachings. However, I myself cannot find any claims to support this.
A couple of non-Sanatani Sikhs claim that when they were younger, Sikhism was different to what it is now. They claim that they read books about Sikhism when they were younger, which today are apparently not found anywhere in Sikh stores and which taught the 'real' history and intentions of Sikhism, Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji's actual intentions and how and why the Khalsa was formed. The details in those books haven't been written here for obvious reasons. However, these Sikhs didn't mention anything about Sanatani Sikhism, but did claim that Sikhism was originally meant to be a 'sect' of Sanatana Dharma. One Sikh woman who claimed this was angered at the Sikhs today who she believes are "lying" about their own beliefs and are being taught the 'distorted' version of Sikhism. It is unclear whether the RSS has had a part to play with this, however, most of these said Sikhs hail from the UK and have no association with the RSS, so for now their claims should be regarded as speculation.
According to a Sanatani Sikh cause, Sikhism is "systematically being Talibanised by Neo-Sikhs,who are painting an Abrahamic picture of pure Sikhi traditions and brainwashing the Sikh youth into accepting a Sikh history which the Shiromani Guru Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha & Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ) have edited & rewritten shamelessly."
Furthermore, in Kabul, Afghanistan, it's been reported that both Sikhs and Hindus (who have been living there since the 19th century) share the same temple (which was originally a Durga Temple) and participate in each other's religious functions with equal devotion. However, there is also a gurdwara in Kabul. This may be an example of Sanatani Sikhi being practised by Sikhs in Afghanistan.
It is important to note that not all Sanatani Sikhs think this way; some Sanatani Sikhs just follow a Sanatani-influenced version of Sikhism as it is how they were raised.
The project 'Sanatan Sikhi' - Aalochnaatmak Adhiyain is a sincere effort to analyze the views of Sanatani Sikhs.
Sanatan Sikhi Vs Sanatan Mat
There has been lot of negative talks about the term "Sanatan". The prefix "Sanatan Sikhi" is used mostly from the adhyatamic perspective (spiritual). It simply means eternal sikhi. quotes to back it up from sikh scriptures both siri guroo granth sahib and sarbloh granth:
‘From seeing angels of death [fearing death] now I see but Ram [Ramachandar/Nirankar God]. My suffering has fled and comfort taken abode [in my heart]. Those denying God [the five senses], have become noble [having acknowledged Nirankar God]. Now I have attained complete bliss. I have been cooled [mind settled] when I appreciated Gobind [God]. In the body are found innumerable troubles. Now, spontaneously in comfort, I am absorbed in God. I have recognized my true self. Now no ailment of the three fevers affects me. Now my mind has changed and become Sanatan. Now I appreciate [Truth] having died whilst alive [meaning being unaffected by temptations of the world]. Says Kabir, in comfort spontaneously be absorbed in God. I fear no one, nor am I intimidated by anyone.’ Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Raag Gauri, Pa.326-327
Traditions that are Sanatan are the ancient Dharma whose virtues the Vedas sing. That [Sanatan] Brahm [all pervasive God] highest God, Sarbloh, is known as king of all demigods.’ ‘Sarbloh Granth’, Vol. 2. Chapter Five, Pa.549
Siri Sarbloh consider as Sanatan.’ ‘Sarbloh Guru Durbar’, Vol. 2. Chapter Five, Pa.196
Now definition of Sanatan Mat:
I was reading Akaal Ustat english translations by Surinder Singh Kohli. page- 39 in his book.
Came across to this verse.
Kaie Dev Ad Kumar, Kaie Kirsan Bisan Avtar || Created many gods, and Adi Kumars, sons of brahma (Sanak, Sanndan, Sanatan and Sanat Kumar), many Krishnas and incarations of Vishnu.
Sanatan Matt was created by son of bhrama. Sanatan Mat does not have anything to do with Gurmat.
Gurmat does not equal to Sanatan Matt
However Gurmat equal sanatan sikhi because it's eternal.
Anyone can be sanatan Sikh ..mind you it's not a sect or a brand..it has its eternal meaning.
Now main issue-
- Do Nihangs from UK use Sanatan sikhi term as eternal or create another brand within sikhi (ie- Sanatan Matt/traditional).
Answer: Some Nihangs from uk consider Sanatan Sikhi as eternal, not traditional and consider it's more of a spiritual term than actual brand or sect/orders BUT some DON'T and consider sanatan as traditional because they misinterperated Sanatan Sikhi as Sanatan Matt (distinctive group).
Remember Sanatan matt is completely opposite of Gurmat.
One who follow Gurmat and can not alinged themselve to Sanatan Matt but they can surely aling themselves as "Sanatan Sikh" because it's eternal.
Because it means eternal..if we look at the ultimately and study from those quotes above under Sanatan Sikhi then every one of us is Sanatan not traditionally but spiritually because we follow Sikhi of Nirankar..we follow bani which is from dhuro(divine message) - Dhur Ki bani.
Reason I'm clarifying is because of this hatred towards Sanatan word itself...and that's not right..one has to make distincation between sanatan sikhi and Sanatan matt.
So please guys, don't just hate the word Sanatan Sikhi because it means more than you think it means... it means eternal, not tradition.
Defination of eternal: Being without beginning or end
Ikongkar satnam karta purkh nirbhau nirvair akaal murat ajoni sahibang Gurparsad || Jap Ad such, jugad sach, hai bhi sach nanak hosbhi sach ||