Namdev Panthi

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History / Doctrines / Symbol / Headquaters

A bhagat of fame, said to have been one of the disciples of Bhagat Ramanand, was Baba Namdeo, the Chhimba or calico printer/tailor. He is said to have been born in Marwar in Samvat 1500 (1443), and to have flourished in the days of Sikandar Lodhi (1488-1512).

According to one account he was a Marathi, and was born at Pandharpur in the Deccan. He is said to have been persecuted by the muslims, 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 or calico printers/tailors by caste. Their founder appears to have resisted stoutly the pretensions of Muhammedanism.He believed in one omni present God he oftenly called him 'BITHAL'. 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 writings 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 Kashatryias by caste. Chhimba means a calico printer/tailor.)

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