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Origins of the Movement
Time of origin: Approximately 1930
Etymology: Sant is Hindu for Saint. Nirankar means The formless One, God.
The Sant Nirankari Mission was formally launched in 1929 by Baba Buta Singh Ji in the province of Punjab (British India). It is neither a new religion nor a sect of an existing religion, but an all-embracing spiritual movement dedicated to human welfare. In the English speaking world, the mission is also known as "Universal Brotherhood Mission".
Sant Nirankari Principles
The Mission believes in God, who is One, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, formless, a non-psychic objective reality and perceivable. He is distinct from celestial bodies such as sun, moon, stars; earthly elements such as earth, water, fire; and subtle elements such as air, ethar and jeeva. These nine elements constitute the entire creation and are distinguishable from the tenth, the All-pervading Divine Spirit, which creates, sustains and regulates the whole universe.
This aspect of the cosmos has been termed as 'Nirankar' (Formless God), though invisible yet all-pervading. In fact what we see is unreal as it decays and dies. But what we do not see is reality because out of that invisible power the visible comes into existence. The changeless in the changing physical world is called God and the changeless in the changing human body is called the Soul. The one who experiences it is known as 'Nirankari'. The sole aim of the Mission is to impart the knowledge of Nirankar (The Formless God) to the seekers' soul. Hence its name, ' The Sant Nirankari Mission'.
The primary beliefs of the Sant Nirankari Mission include:
- The existence of a God, that is formless and is known as (Nir-akaar)
- God can be personally realised
- All human beings are God's children
- The Spiritual Master is the bestower of the divine vision (Braham gyan)
- Belief of the five principles
The Sant Nirankari Mission is a Global Movement which seeks to establish Universal Brotherhood. It has Millions,(citation needed), of followers all over the world who aim to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of their spiritual master Baba ji promoting world peace and unity. They firmly believe in the concept of living unity in diversity and follow the pattern of their Baba ji's lead which is to create peace.
Places of Meetings or Worship
Sant Nirankari members have no particular place of worship as it is considered that regardless of wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can worship formless God. The members meet at places called Satsang Bhawans ("Congregation Halls"), or hire time slots in schools or other institutions to share their experiences, praise the almighty Fromless God and thereby strengthen their faith and spiritual selves. The Congregation halls are open to all without any discrimination of religion, caste, nationality, colour or race, and irrespective of whether one is rich or poor, and literate or illiterate. Holy scriptures of different religions or sects are read and common aim of all religions i.e. selfless love for all, is stressed upon.
In Satsang Bhawans a chair on a stage (platform) is reserved for a pre-decided devotee who will represent Satguru and other devotees pay respect to Satguru by bowing down to him. Another devotee known as the stage secretary sits on stage floor and manages events. Nirankari's also bow down (to touch the feet) of one another irrespective of age, sex, financial or social position as they believe and perceive the presence of God in all. Touching each others feet is also seen as a practice useful in removing pride or ego from a devotee's mind.
During the congregations, devotees are given a chance to express themselves. This can be either in the form of a speech or a devotional hym but sometimes plays may also be enacted. At the end the devotee on stage describes Satgurus's teachings and expectations.
Slogans of the Sant Nirankari's
The philosophy of the Mission is encompassed in several slogans, three of which are included below.
- "Religion Unites Never Divides"
- "Peace, not Pieces"
- "Unity in Diversity"
Other Info, currently being verified
This is an offshoot of the Nirankari movement to which so many mainstream Sikhs today are very hostile. In the 1930's, Boota Singh (1883-1944) broke away from the main Nirankari movement. The reasons as to why exactly he decided to part from the Nirankaris were not doctrinal, but based purely upon personal and dietary reasons. Boota Singh became fond of drinking alcohol, which was disapproved of by the parent body of Nirankaris.
In 1944, Boota Singh passed away and was succeeded by Avtar Singh, who upon arriving in Delhi, established the 'Sant Nirankari' movement as it is known today. Prior to the partition of India and the Panjab in particular, the Sant Nirankaris movement did not have much of a following.
Being from West Punjab themselves, the Sant Nirankaris preyed upon those distressed Sikhs and Hindus who fleeing their homes and livelihood in the west were suddendly refugees in India and Delhi in particular. Now homeless and jobless with little hope they often turned the Sant Nirankaris increasing the movement's ranks substantualy.
As late as the 1970's, the Sant Nirankaris installed the Adi Guru Durbar in their Buildings called Satsang Bhavans and termed themselves as 'Sikh's. Dr Gopal Singh writes: "Upto recently (according to their own memorandum to the Delhi Education Act 73), they [Sant Nirankaris] claimed to be part of the Sikh Community", History Of The Sikhs, by Dr. Gopal Singh, Pa.605
During the leadership of Gurbachan Singh, who succeeded Avtar Singh, the Adi Guru Durbar was removed from their temples. This action was the result of criticism Gurbachan Singh was receiving from mainstream Sikhs who were unhappy that Gurbachan Singh had begun to present himself as a "self-styled Sikh Guru" .
Adding fuel to the fire kindled by his claim of Sikh Guruship, Gurbachan Singh wrote and published a text named 'Avtar Bani' in which he made many outrageous, ridiculous claims. For instance he claimed was that his wife Buda was 'Jagat Mata' (mother of the world), his daughter-in-law Kulwant Kour was 'Raj Mata' (queen mother) and he himself was the Avtar of the Formless Almighty.
To further fuel the tension between Gurbachan Singh and the mainstream S.G.P.C., A.K.J., 'Dam Dami Taksal', etc. Sikhs who were members of the Congress Party headed by Mrs Indira Gandhi stepped in. After the 1977 state elections in Punjab, Indira Gandhi's Congress representative, Jail Singh (known as 'Jaila') lost to Prakash Singh Badal, head of the Akali Dal. Badal led a fragile coalition, composed of his Akali Dal and the Bhartiya Jan Sangh, a right wing Hindu party.
Blaming the SGPC Akalis for her loss in 1977, Indra Gandhi desired revenge on them. She wished to retake Punjab from the S.G.P.C. Akalis and advised by Jail Singh, her eldest son, Sanjay Gandhi she set about trying to perform this task.
The former S.G.P.C. Akali, and experienced politician Jail Singh, decided the best way to break up the S.G.P.C. Akali Dal/Bhartiya Jang Sang coalition was to wean the Sikh support away from the S.G.P.C. Akalis by propping up a another man. According to all independent sources, the man Jail Singh chose for this task was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale now known as Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
Jarnail Singh always vehemently denied he had any association with the Congress or any political party yet, the historian Patwant Singh comments:
- "The person chosen for the role was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, a seminary preacher with a considerable knowledge of the Sikh scriptures. Seen at the outset as a devout Sikh and man of God, he was built up without his knowledge - with all the Brahmnical subtlety and skill perfected over millennium into a charismatic leader who eclipsed the Akalis by utterances more fiery than their own: whose larger than-life image was repeatedly projected through the cannily manipulated press, radio and television. It came to appear as if he represented the aspirations of all Sikhs, though millions of them had no interest in him or the Akalis." (source: 'The Sikhs', by Patwant Singh Pa.232)
Jaila played his clever card to destroy the Akali Dal/Bhartiya Jang Sangh coalition by encouraging the Sant Nirankaris to hold a convention in Amritsar. This in turn gave Jarnail Singh a weapon with which to potentially smash the Akali Dal/Jang Sang coalition. Jaila was fully aware that the Sant Nirankaris were considered a heretical Sikh sect and perceived by most Sikhs as a enemy of Sikhism. When Sant Nirankaris asked the Punjab government's permission to hold the convention in Amritsar, this put the Akali Dal in a predicament.
The Sant Nirankaris had strong intercaste links with the Jang Sanghias. By refusing the Sant Nirankaris permission to hold the convention, the Akali Dal would risk a shism with the Jang Sanghias. On the other hand, if the convention went ahead the Sikhs would be upset. Jaila had played his card well and the Akali Dal decided to let the convention go ahead and weather the storm of Sikh protest.
Vaisakhi 1978 and the the Aftermath, Two Versions
On 13th April 1978, the Nirankari convention took place in Amritsar. A fanatical agricultural inspector named Fauja Singh, affiliated with the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and Bhindranwala marched through the streets of Amritsar to confront the Sant Nirankaris. They saw it as their duty to stop what was, in their eyes anti-Sikh preaching, however, along the way Bhindranwala and a few of his close associates slipped away. For this act, Bibi Amarjit Kaur, Fauja Singh’s wife and head of Babbar Khalsa called Bhindranwala a coward.
That day, 12 Sikhs including Fauja Singh and 3 Sant Nirankaris died in the ensuing clash. The 12 Sikhs were immediately declared as martyrs by Akhand Kirtani Jatha (A.K.J.), and Samparda Kartar Singh Sikhs (known popularly as the Damdami Taksal. This situation presented Sanjay Gandhi and Jail Singh with a potential political disaster.
The Congress Party began to whip up anti-Sant Nirankari sentiments amongst the Sikhs via their Congress-controlled Sikh temples in Delhi. Not wishing to alienate their coalition partners, the S.G.P.C. Akalis tried to play down the Sant Nirankari incident in Punjab. The Congress-held Gurdwaras in Delhi promoted Bhindrawala as the hero of the Sant Nirankari incident.
Meanwhile the Sant Nirankaris had their court case moved from Punjab to the neighboring state of Haryana because they felt that in Punjab they would not get a fair hearing.
At that time, Haryana was having a dispute with Punjab over sharing of waters. Evidently, the majority of Sikhs felt that the Haryana courts would lean towards the Sant Nirankaris.
The Akali Dal allowed the Sant Nirankaris to move their case to avoid breaking up the coalition government. The Haryana court acquitted the Sant Nirankaris. The Nirankari web site gives the Nirankari version of above said and aftermath thus:
- "Quite predictably, the voice of truth first raised by Baba Buta Singh Ji and Avtar Singh Ji and now spread by Baba Gurbachan Singh was opposed by the orthodox. The rapid progress of the Mission under the divine leadership of Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji, in fact, upset these elements to the level of desperation. Baba Ji called upon them to first understand the Mission and then point out if there was anything wrong. But all his gestures fell flat on them.
Nirankari congregations were disturbed at many places. Violent attacks were also reported from several centres. The worst in the chain was the attack on the Baisakhi Smagam in Amritsar on April 13th, 1978. Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji was scheduled to address the Samagam. But before he arrived, about 200 fanatics attacked the congregation. The police opened fire. Eighteen precious lives were lost. The incident was followed by a court case. Several Nirankari saints remained in judicial custody for more than two years before they were acquitted honourably. The case was declared to be false and fabricated.
The court passed severe strictures against then government for filling a totally false case against innocent Nirankaris. The court held fanatics responsible for the brutal attack on the peaceful Nirankari congregation. While the case was on, Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji did not sit back due to the turmoil. He declared that such opposition Truth had always to face and the greatest quality of the saints is that they do not feel frustrated realising that the truth is on their side and it must triumph in the long run. There was, therefore, no let up in the activities of the Mission."
The Haryana courts acquitted the Sant Nirankaris on grounds of self-defence. Jarnail Singh’s young militant followers and the militant wing of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (A.K.J.), the Babbar Khalsa, found this unacceptable. Thus, owning to their extremist and highly warped logic led them to conclude that if the law courts of India were not willing to provide justice to the Sikhs, then the Sikhs should take the law into their own hands and deal out justice in their own way.
In a short space of time, the A.K.J. and Samparda Chowk Mehta militants made 2 failed attempts on the Sant Nirankari Guru’s life: first in Kanput (Uttar Pardesh) and then later near the village of Durg (Madhya Pardesh).
On 24th April 1980, the Sant Nirankari Guru, Gurbachan Singh was shot dead at his house by a member of the A.K.J. named Ranjit Singh who had gained employment in the leader's compound. Ten years later, while still serving his sentence in Tihar Jail, Ranjit Singh was named the Jathedar of the Akal Takht by the S.G.P.C led by Gurcharan Singh Torha. In 1996 he took over the post when he was released.
Killings of Sant Nirankaris begin
On becoming Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Ranjit Singh said in newspaper reports, "I have no regrets. I did it for the Panth (community)". Upon hearing this, Sikh militants began killing Sant Nirankaris at their discretion throughout Punjab and beyond India itself.
The late 1980’s and early 1990s saw these militant Sikhs carrying out genocide of Sant Nirankaris in the name of cleansing the ‘Sikh Panth’ of unwanted foes. Rather than weakening the Sant Nirankari movement, this mindless persecution served to elevate the Sant Nirankaris to the status of martyrs.
As fate would have it, over time, the Khalistani Sikh militant/terrorist groups were defeated by the Indian security forces, and the Sant Nirankari movement, lead by Baba Hardev Singh began to flourish in Delhi and the surrounding regions. Today, the movement has extended to as far as Europe and Canada. It is a well-known fact that persecution only serves to strengthen movements over time.
Prior to the Khalistani movement in the 1980s, there is no example of Sikhs persecuting ANY heretical movement within it ranks. Even the despicable Sikh sect, the Handalis, who caused so much harm to the Khalsa in the 19th century were allowed to die a natural and inevitable death.
As the truth is revealed, false movements fade away given time. Reasoned truth is the ultimate weapon against heresy, not violence and/or persecution. Furthermore, it has to be realized that heresy often arises when orthodoxy itself has some shortcomings.
"The Fanatic Sant Nirankari Cult baits their fellow Sikhs"
Using the fanatic "Sant Nirankari" Sect, Indira Gandhi hoped to destroy Sikh unity by attempting to rip apart the fabric of the Sikh religion. In the 1970s, she gave their leader, Gurbachan, a diplomatic passport so that he could travel the world, spreading his blasphemous "preaching".
The Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji belittled
He openly declared that he would put his foot on the Guru Granth Sahib, claiming that the 11th Guru was just a bundle of papers and that he was the real Guru of the Sikhs. The Sant Nirankaris, first thought of as a menace that would eventually go away, were ignored, but then during Vaisakhi 1978, they held a procession through Amritsar, shouting insulting slogans against the Satguru and the Sikh religion. Disgusted by this, 125 GurSikhs decided to hold a peaceful protest against the Sant Nirankari procession. The Nirankaris had named themselves Bibi Nanaki ji, Bhagat Kabir ji and other names, picked to insult the Gurikhs. The Nakli Nirankari (Fake Nirankari) leader said that Guru Gobind Singh made the Panj Pyarai (5 beloved ones) and so he would make sat sitarai (7 stars).
Bloody Massacre at Amritsar, Vaisakhi 1978
On 13th April 1978 sikhs gathered at Amritsar for the Vasakhi celebrations. Kirtan had started from Amrit Vela and at about 10 o'clock a message was received. The message said that the followers of Nakali Nirankari Gurbachan Singh were holding a procession in Amritsar and were shouting slogans against the Satguru and shouting insults against the Sikh religion.
All the Sikh Sangat knew very well that the Nakali Nirankaris had been doing these things for the past few years. The Nirankaris had given degrading names to some GurSikhs including Mata Tripta Ji, Bhai Gurdas Ji, Bibi Nanaki Ji, Baba Budha Ji, Bhai Lalo Ji, Bhagat Kabir Ji. They called the Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji a bundle of papers, and they called Kar Sewa, Bikar Sewa. The Nakali Nirankari leader said that Guru Gobind Singh Ji had made 5 Panj Pyarai, I shall make 7. Once he had even dared to place his foot on the Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Bhai Fauja Singh heard the news from the loudspeaker when he was kneading dough for the langar. He washed his hands and rushed to the congregation. He delivered a short speech, explaining the dire situation and drew a line, as had Baba Deep Singh long ago, asking for those who are willing to receive martyrdom to cross it. Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara asked children and women not to go. However many "Bibian" still insisted on going. After performing Ardas, the Gursikhs bowed before the Satguru and went off to Ramdas Niwas.
Upon reaching Ramdas Niwas they found that the procession had finished. The Gursikhs then decided that they should go to the place where the Nirankaris had gathered and do a peaceful protest against the insults shouted at the Satguru. It is known that some of the Sikhs of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Bhindra (Damdami Taksal) Jatha reached the Reego Bridge near Gobind Gar, where they were stopped by the police authorities. The Singhs told the police about the insults shouted at the Sikh Gurus and the Sikh Religion in the procession, and which were still being shouted at their gathering which was still in progress.
The insults could be heard clearly from where they were standing. They told the police that they wanted to do a protest against the organisers of the gathering about the shouting of these insults. A police officer told the Singhs that he would go and stop the Nirankaris and for them to remain there. The police officer went to where the Nirankaris had gathered and the Sikhs waited for 30 minutes for him to return. On his return there were more policemen with him. Joshi D.S.P told the Jatha of Singhs to go back and that the meeting had finished a long time ago.
But, even then, the violence provoking speeches could be heard over the Sant Nirankari's loudspeakers. It was then that about 5-6000 uniformed Nirankaris carrying rifles, guns, spears, swords, sticks and even bows and arrows rushed the 2-300 unarmed Jatha of Singhs and within seconds attacked adding stones, acid bottles, hand-made bombs to the weapons already mentioned. The Singhs that were hit with bullets fell to the ground were they were butchered with swords, spears and axes. When the ground became covered with bodies of the dead and wounded, the police fired tear gas, but even that was towards the Jatha of Singhs, so the Nirankaris received even more help and the Singhs received even more injuries.
Bhai Fauja Singh was fired upon by the Superintendent of Police, who emptied his 32-calibre pistol into Bhai Fauja Singh`s chest. These were not the only bullets Fauja Singh was to receive that day, but he kept standing, uttering only "Waheguru". Two Sikhs attempted to carry the still breathing and chanting Bhai Fauja Singh to the hospital for treatment, but those two were arrested by the Police. Bhai Fauja Singh`s body was taken by the Police and put into the "Dead Wagon". Again, another Sikh came upon Bhai Fauja Singh and found him breathing as he contiued to utter "Waheguru". He attempted to help, but half an hour later, when Bibi Amarjit Kaur arrived, Bhai Sahib had attained martyrdom.
The Eye Witness Account of Dalbir Singh.
Dalbir Singh was a former communist who had devoted himself to trade union activities for more than a decade, and is one of many who believe that the Nirankaris had fought the Sikhs with a pre-conceived plan. At the time of the clash he was a correspondent of "The Tribune", based at Amritsar.
"It was 13 April 1978 afternoon. I had returned home from a routine beat of Amritsar. I was taking a nap after lunch when the telephone rang. Someone, who refused to identify himself, told me that several persons have been killed in a firing at the Nirankari convention. I rushed out to the stadium at the railway colony. There were many dead bodies that were strewn outside the venue of the convention. I did not yet know what had happened. I wondered around and met Govind Singh, a son-in-law of the Sant Nirankari Guru, on the stage of the convention. Govind Singh first led me to a tent in which there were many armed persons. He entered it but immediately turned to lead me to another tent in which some Nirankaris were chatting with Deputy Superintendent of Police. I approached him and explained that I had seen some armed men who might have been the killers. The officer, however, ignored this information. The next day, the police searched the Nirankari center in Amritsar for the killers and their weapons. They had let the killers scatter, when they could still have been nearby, to catch scapegoats one day after the incident."
Dalbir Singh maintains that the local administration had allowed the main culprits to escape. (Courtesy :Ram Narayan Kumar)
D.S.P Joshi was responsible for shooting Bhai Fauja Singh, and not allowing any of the GurSikhs medical attention. Eventually the police took the bodies of the "Shaheed Singhs" to the morgue, and some wounded Singhs were taken to hospital.
The astonishing thing is that the gathering of the Nirankaris continued for 3 and a half hours after this bloody massacre. It has also become known that the D.C of Gurdaspur Naranjan Singh I.A.S and other senior officers were present in the gathering during the killing of the unarmed Singhs. It is clear that the authorities of the Amritsar district allowed the Nakali Nirankaris to do the procession in the Sikhs main city Amritsar on Vaisakhi. The authorities are guilty of allowing the Nirankaris complete freedom and not dealing with them properly at the right time, and they should have been punished accordingly.
The government did make a Panel of Doctors for the post mortem of the dead bodies. It has become known that Mr Janjooha D.C ordered the post mortems of some of the Singhs to be done only by one doctor and the government orders were not carried out. The D.C was also involved with the Nirankaris.
The press also printed the news details of the incident incorrectly. The Singhs of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the Bhindra (Damdami Taksal) Jatha were called fanatics. Harbhajan Singh Yogi responded stating, "Today I read the newspaper report in which it was said, â€˜ a body of fanatic Sikhsâ€™. If doing kirtan and defending the good name of our father Guru Gobind Singh Ji makes us fanatics, then we welcome this allegation. Remember, those who do not defend the grace of their father are never worthy of respect on the earth. These martyrs of Amritsar have shown us that we shall live in grace; if it is not possible, we choose to die in grace."
The killing of the Jatha of Singhs by the Nirankari leader Gurbachan Singh was a very big crime. We ask where did these acid bottles, bricks, stones, guns, pistols, spears, swords and sticks come from? By giving the order to kill the Singhs, the leader of the Nirankaris Gurbachan Singh was the main guilty party of the bloody massacre and should have been punished severely for this according to the law.
In this bloody massacre 13 Singhs were martyred and there were more than 70 wounded. Many of them left behind wives and children. The names of the 13 Shaheed Singhs are:
Bhai Fauja Singh s/o Surain Singh, Amritsar
Bhai Avtar Singh s/o Bhagwan Singh Kuda Kurala, Hoshiarpur
Bhai Harbhajan Singh s/o Jagat Singh, Bhattian, Gurdaspur
Bhai Piara Singh s/o Kishan Singh, Bhungrani, Hoshiarpur
Bhai Raghbir Singh s/o Nawab Singh, Bhagupur, Amritsar
Bhai Gurcharan Singh s/o Daleep Singh, New Model Town, Ludhiana
Bhai Gurdial Singh s/o Sohan Singh, Mode, Amritsar
Bhai Amrik Singh s/o Kundan Singh, Khujala, Amritsar
Bhai Dharambir Singh s/o Lal Singh, Ajeet Nagar, Amritsar
Bhai Kewal Singh s/o Amar Singh, Prem Garh, Hoshiarpur
Bhai Hari Singh s/o Gurcharan Singh, Kot Ralia Ram, Amritsar
Bhai Ranbir Singh Fauji s/o Kala Singh, Thraj, Faridkot
Baba Darshan Singh s/o Achhar Singh Ji, Mehtha, Amritsar
The funeral of the 13 Singhs took place on Saturday 15/4/78 in front of Gurdwara Siri Ramsar Sahib in front of a large congregation of about 25-30,000 people. All the Shaheed GurSikhs were cremated together. excerpt from the book 'Kurbani'.
Unfortunately, because Gurbachan had a Diplomatic Passport he was able to go abroad into America, Canada and England spreading his blasphemy to gullible people . The Sikhs decided to put a stop to this and issued a Hukkhamnama, from the Akal Takht, stating that all Sikhs should excommunicate ALL Nirankaris and permanently boycott any form of relations with them, and NOT allow these Nirankaris to flourish in any society. Now, many decades on, they flourish in Britain, the west and even control some Gurdwaras in Canada, and use the Internet to spread their propaganda. By the Hukkham of the Akal Takht, It is the duty of every Sikh to stop them…
Baba Hardev Singh : After the assasination of Baba Gurbachan Singh by Bhai Ranjit Singh, Hardev Singh (a photographer by profession)son of Gurbachan Singh was declared their next Guru by Sant Nirankari Mandal,New Delhi. Till now he is leading this organisation. He has three daughters. He is closely associated with top political leaders of Delhi. Every year in the month of Oct-Nov Big annual Samagam is held at Burari Road New Delhi. In which the followers from all parts of India participate. The Gurbani is frequently used in these samagams called "Sant Samagams".
Hardev Singh,his mother Kulwant Kour and his wife Savinder Kour use MUKUTS (used by the Anicient Kings)to declare themselves as Kings, call mother of Hardev Singh as RAJMATA and sit in their congregations as KINGS.
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