Sewapanthi/Addanshahi Sampardaye

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Sewapanthi/Addanshahi Sampardaye

While Bhai Kanhaiya is recognized as the first Sewapanthi who was given instructions by Guru Gobind Singh Ji on the aims of his order, Bhai Sewa Ram Ji and Bhai Addan Shah Ji have been given credit for the orders' differing names.

Early Sewapanthis Were Sahajdhari

Excerpted from the article: 'Early Sewapanthis Were Sahajdhari, by Amrit Pal Singh (‘Amrit’) [1]

The sect ‘Sewapanthi’ was named after Bhai Sewa Ram Ji. He used to preach Gurbani in the area of Bhehra and Multaan (now in Pakistan). Bhai Addan Shah Ji, a disciple of Bhai Sewa Ram Ji, used to serve in the area of Lahore (now in Pakistan). His sect was called ‘Addan Shaahi’ after his name.
Because Bhai Addan Shah Ji was a disciple of Bhai Sewa Ram Ji, so it was natural that the sect named after Bhai Addan Shah Ji was considered a part of a sect named after Bhai Sewa Ram Ji. So, practically, Sewapanthi and Addanshahi are considered one sect and both of the names of ‘Seva Panthi’ and ‘Addan Shaahi’ are used for same sect.
Every Amritdhari male is required to add ‘Singh’ in his name (as last name). When we see the names of early Sewapanthi or Addanshahi sadhus, we easily reach the conclusion that most of them were not Amritdhari, because the word ‘Singh’ is missing in their names. Thus, famous early Sewapanthis/Addanshahis, like Bhai Sewa Ram, Bhai Addan Shah, Bhai Sahaj Ram, Bhai Ram Dyal, Bhai Rochi Ram and many others were not Amritdhari.
What’s more, most of them were not born in Sikh families either. They were attracted to the Gurbani and started their journey towards the Guru. They definitely were believers of Guru Nanak – Guru Gobind Singh’s religious tradition. They did not follow any other religion at all. Seeing that they were not ‘Patit’, such Sewapanthis/Addanshahis beyond doubt were Sahajdharis.
When we do not hesitate to categorize Dada Lachhman Das Chela Ram as Sahajdhari, there is no ground to hesitate putting those early Sewapanthis/Addanshahis into the category of Sahajdhari. (Many of present Sewapanthis are Amritdhari).
Furthermore, early Sewapanthis and Addanshahis were not seeking admission into any SGPC run institutions, nor were they demanding rights of voting in Gurdwara management bodies. They were on the path of Guru. The roads they were walking on were not going towards any worldly courts. Instead, they were walking, slowly and calmly, towards the Guru. Thus, we do not hesitate putting them in category of Sahajdharis.
Reprinted from the article Early Sewapanthis Were Sahajdhari by Amrit Pal Singh (‘Amrit’) [2]

Aims of Sewapanthi/Addanshahi Sampardaya

The word Sampradaya can be seen as similar to the traditional religious orders of the West, such as the brotherhoods of the Catholic church.

The Sewapanthi Sampardaya ((also often referred to as Addanshahi) however, is a spiritual order that has its roots in the beginning of Sikhi. Like other Indian Guru Lineages known as paramparas, a chelum (initiate) becomes the student of a living guru, whose leadership is passed through a succession of spiritual mentors who keep the tradition's of their order's unique philosophies alive, as conveyed by their mentors to their successors, hence perpetuating their identity of the organization. Each successor, however, exercising discretion, works to keep the organization evolving, while holding on to their the panthic norms and tradtional ways.

The Sevapanthi samprada comprises of holy men who are devoted to selfless service. The name Sevapanthi can be divided into two parts 'Seva' and 'Panthi'. Seva (selfless service) and Panthi (lit. someone who walks a particular path), i.e. someone who has pledged himself to a life of self-less service. Selfless philanthropy, pacifism and scholarship and upholding the sanctity of life are the basic teachings of the Sevapanthies.

In September 2004the celebrated the 300th year anniversary of the Sewapanthi sampardaya. Today its dharmic prachaar is being carried out in the English language thanks to the loving memory of Sachkhand Varsi Sant Baba Bhupinder Singh Sewapanthi who long had been eager to see this happen.


Traditionally Sewapanthis do not live the life of a grishti (housholder) as Guru Nanak had stressed, but while , Jati (celebacy) is stressed, other values of the Sikhs who live the live of householders, such as Sat (truth), Santokh (contentment), Dayaa (compassion), Dharam (righteousness), Sati truthfulness), Vichar (ideas of truth) are stressed.

The vices of Kam (desire), Krodh (anger), Lobh (greed), Moh (attachment to illusion) are to be avoided.


Scholarship and service to the community, such as medical care and education have led to the Sevapanthis establishing many schools and hospitals.


The concept of Khalsa is broader than presented in post-reform Sikh ideology.

Historically there are three types of Sewapanthi:

  • Amritdhari; keeping kesh and dastaar, as introduced by Baba Sahib Singh Bedi
  • Sehajdhari; early Sewapanthis kept this roop also while wearing a topi. This tradition goes back to Guru Tegh Bahadur, who rewarded Bhai Kanhayya’s seva at Anandpur Sahib with a seli topi a sadhu's hat) and mala.
  • Some have wore all white or bhagvan (saffron) – There is also a saakhi from the time of Bhai Adhan Shah that refers to the wearing of saafay instead of a pagri (turban).

The Sufi Connection

Long before Guru Arjun Dev Ji invited Saint Hazrat Mian Mir to lay the cornerstone of the Harmandar Sahib, the teachings of the Sufis such as Baba Sheikh Farid and Kabir whose words, as seen below ask us to transcend the mundane labels we impose upon ourselves, the ‘I-identity’, and instead realise our true identity, have been an inportant part of Sikhi.

This union with the guru, O Kabir,
Sets me free; like salt mingled
With flour, I am no more I!
Now I have no caste, no creed,
I am no more what I am!
O dear brother!
By what name would you call me?
Bhagat Kabir

‘All is God All is God, Nothing other than God’

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See also: Sewa Panthi Sampradaye