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Not to be confused with the Chhimba Darzi a Muslim community.

The Chhimba Punjabi: ਛੀਂਬਾ are an ancient group of the Kshatriyas caste. They are the Kshatriyas[1] community in India .[2] Chhimba or Chhimpa is also a caste engaged in the arts of dyeing, printing and tailoring clothes.

Historic account

H.A. Rose[3] writes that The Hindu Chhimbās are divided into two sub-castes, Tank and Rhilla. The following legend explains the origin of these two sub-castes :— At Pindlapur in the Deccan lived one Bamdeo, who one night entertained Krishna and Udhoji, but, as the latter was a leper, the villagers ejected them. They were in māyavi form, and at midnight both of them vanished, leaving Bāmdeo and his wife asleep. Udhoji hid in a shell (sipi), and when Bāmdeo went to wash clothes he found the shell and placed it in the sun. It produced the child Nāmdeo who was fostered by Bāmdeo's wife. Nāmdeo taught his son Tank, and Rhilla, his daughter's son, the arts of dyeing, printing and tailoring clothes.

Notable members

  • Sant Namdev, whose gurbani is included in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs.

Namdev Panthi A bhagat of fame, said to have been one of the disciples of Ramanand, was Sant Namdev, the Chhimba or cotton-carder. He was born on October 29, 1270. According to one account he was a Marathi, and was born at Pandharpur in the Maharashtra. He is said to have been persecuted by the Musalmaans, who tried to persuade him to repeat the words "Allah, Allah", instead of his favourite ,"Ram, Ram", but by a variety of astonishing miracles he escaped from their hands. After a considerable amount of travelling to and fro, he at last settled in the village of Ghuman, in the Batala tehsil of the Gurdaspur District, where he died. A shrine known as the "Darbar", was erected in his honour in Ghuman, and on the Sangrand day of every Magh, a crowded fair is held there in his honour.

His followers can scarcely be said to constitute a sect. They are almost entirely, if not entirely, Chhimbas by caste. Their founder appears to have resisted stoutly the pretensions of Muhammedanism, and was looked on as a follower of Ramchandra, but his Hinduism was by no means of the ordinary type. He taught emphatically the unity of God and the uselessness of ceremonial; and his doctrines would appear to have approached fairly closely to those of Nanak and the earlier Sikhs; and several of his poems are incorporated in the Sikh Adi Granth. At any rate the followers of Baba Namdeo are very largely Sikhs by religion and they are said, whether Hindus or Sikhs, to hold the Granth in reverence and to follow many Sikh customs. They have no distinctive worship of their own. The Hindu Namdeo-panthis are found mainly in Jalandhar, Gurdaspur and Hissar, and the Sikh mainly in Gurdaspur. The saint's name is pronounced, and often spelt Namdev; and his followers call themselves Sikh Namdev, Namabansi, Baba Nam ke Sewak, and the like. (Chhimbas are kshatriyas by caste. Chhimba means a calico printer/tailor.[4]

  • Bhai Nanu, resident of Delhi, a Sikh contemporary of Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh, who reclaimed the severed head of Guru Teg Bahadur from Chandni Chowk, the site of Guru's execution in November 1675, and, accompanied by Bhai Jaita, also of Delhi, carried it to Anandpur. Bhai Nanu became Nanu Singh after taking the rites of the Khalsa. He laid down his life in the battle of Chamkaur on December 7, 1705. His two sons also laid down their lives at Anandpur.







*Bhai Mohkam Singh(1663–1705) (or "Mokham"), born Muhkam Chand, was one of the original Panj Piare or the Five Beloved of honoured memory in the Sikh tradition. Hwas the son of TIrath Chand, a calico printer/tailor of Dvaraka in Gujarat. About the year 1685, he came to Anandpur, then the seat of Guru Gobind Singh where he practised martial arts and took part in the Sikhs' battles with the surrounding hill chiefs and imperial troops. He was one of the five who offered their heads in response to Guru Gobind Singh's call on the Baisakhi day of 1699 and earned the appellation of Panj Piare. Initiated into the order of the Khalsa, Muhkam Chand received the common surname of Singh and became Muhkam Singh. He died in the battle of Chamkaur on 7 December 1705 with Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh.

  • Bhai Santokh Singh, (8 October 1787 - 19 October 1843) the noted author of six works - Naam Kosh, Guru Nanak Parkash, Garb Ganjni Teeka*, Balmik Ramayan, Atam Purayan Teeka and his magnum opus, Sri Gur Partap Suraj Granth aka Suraj Parkash, was born on 8 October 1787. He was the son of Bhai Deva Singh and Mata Rajadi, professional cloth printers of Nurdin village, also known as Sarai Nurdin, 7 km northwest of Tarn Taran in Amritsar district of the Punjab. * (Teeka or tika means translation and explanation of a work.)

1.Background and Early life His father, though poor, was educated and well versed in the sacred texts. He sent his son, after preliminary education at home, to Amritsar where he became a pupil of Giani Sant Singh (1768–1832), a renowned man of letters and custodian of Sri Darbar Sahib.

After having studied Sikh Scripture and history, Sanskrit language and literature, poetics, philosophy and mythology at Amritsar for about 15 years, Santokh Singh moved to Buria, an old town on the right bank of the Yamuna in the present Yamuna Nagar district of Haryana, some time before 1813. 2.Writer, poet and preacher

There he established himself as a writer, poet, and preacher. His patron was Dial Singh, also from a clothmakers' family and an old acquaintance of the poet's father, who was serving as an army officer under Sardar Hari Singh, chief of Buna.

Here Santokh Singh wrote his earlier works, Nam Kosh, a versified Hindi translation of Amar Kosa, the famous Sanskrit dictionary, (completed in 1821), and Sri Guru Nanak Prakash, an epic poem consisting of 9,700 verses dealing with the life and teachings of Guru Nanak (completed in 1823).

He had attained such repute as a poet and scholar that Bhai Udai Singh, chief of Kaithal, invited him in 1825 to join his court. Santokh Singh is said to have spent some time at Patiala also as an employee of Maharaja Karam Singh before going to Kaithal.

3.Spends 18 years in Haryana During his 18 year span at Kaithal, now a district town in Haryana, he wrote Garab Ganjani Tika (1829), an exhaustive philosophical commentary in Hindi prose on Guru Nanak's japji, along with a critical appreciation of its poetic features (the work was meant to be a rejoinder to Anandghana's tika of the Japu); Valmiki Ramayana (1834), a versified translation of the epic in chaste and refined Braj Bhasa; a translation of Atma Purana in Sadhukari prose (date not known); and his mangum opus, Sri Gur Pratap Suryodaya, popularly known as Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, a voluminous history of the Gurus, written in Braj Bhasa, consisting of 51,820 verses written during 1835-43. 4.A family man with a burning flare Bhai Santokh Singh was married during his stay at Buna to Bibi Ram Kaur of Jagadhri. Five sons and three daughters were born to the couple. Some of their descendants are now living at Patiala and at Kaithal. The poet died at Kaithal on 19 October 1843, soon after the completion of his Gur Pratap Suraj Granth.

A shrine in honour of his memory was constructed at his native place, Sarai Nurdin, during the 1950s.


  • 1. Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib pages 733, 1375.
  • 2. Mahan Kosh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, page 492.
  • 3. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Kosh, Bhai Vir Singh page 262.