Mihan Sahibs

A Sikh sect founded by one Ramdewa who used to draw water for the Guru Teg Bahadur's followers and horses. Seeing his zeal the Guru one day said, "Brother, you pour water like the rain (Minh)." Thenceforth he was styled Mihan and the guru invested him with a seli (a woollen cord) or hair necklace, a cap (topi), a drum (nagara) and the gift of apostleship. Thus he became a sadh and made converts. When Guru Teg Bahadur became Guru, Ramdewa went to Anandpur, but hearing his drum, the Guru bade his followers take it away. Ramdewa nevertheless brought an offering to the Guru who asked him if he cared nothing for the loss of his drum. Ramdewa replied, "It is thine, thou hast given and thou hast taken away." The Guru gave him half his own turban and the title of Mihan Sahib, and also returned his drum. The mahant of the sect still wears half a turban and his followers are also called Bakhshish sadhus from Bakhsh (the gift of apostleship). They have a dera at Patiala. (The Phul Sahib dhuan of the Udasis is also called Mian Sahib. It is said to have its shrines (dera) at Bahadurpur and Chinighati. Is there any connection between the Mihan Sahibs and Phul Sahib dhuan of the Udasis?)

The Minas

A Sikh sect which owes its origin to Pirthi Chand, the eldest son of Ramdas, the 4th Guru, whose claim to succeed his father was based mainly on the primitive theory that sanctity descended in the physical sense. Orthodox Sikhs aver that Ramdas stigmatised Pirthi Chand as Mina (a nickname given by the Sikh Gurus to those who pretended to become Gurus, though unfit for the noble work as mina masandia) or 'deceitful', on account of his unfilial lack of obedience, and excluded him from the succession. Miharban, Pirthi Chands's son, wrote a janam sakhi of Guru Nanak, wherein he eulogised his father.

Namdeo Panthi

A bhagat of fame, said to have been one of the disciples of Ramanand, was Baba Namdeo, the Chhimba or cotton-carder. He is said to have been born in Marwar in Samvat 1500 (AD1443), 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 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 or Dhobis 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 Kashatryias by caste. Chhimba means a calico printer/tailor.)


The Sikh sect founded by Nanak, a Khatri of Talwandi, in Lahore. 'Nanak', wrote Maclagan in 1892, was born in 1469 AD and died in 1538 or 1539, and of his life and miracles many wonderful stories are told. There is nothing in his doctrine to distinguish it in any marked way from that of the other saints, who taught the higher forms of Hinduism in Northern India. The unity of God, the absence of any real distinction between Hindu. and Musalmans, the uselessness of ceremonial, the vanity of earthly wishes, even the equality of castes, are topics common to Nanak and the Bhagats; and the Adi-Granth, or sacred book, compiled by Nanak, is full of quotations from elder or contemporary teachers, who taught essentially the same doctrine as Nanak himself. Nor, in spite of the legends relating to him, does he appear to have had any very remarkable following during his lifetime. And yet the persons now returning themselves as his special adherents very largely outnumber the followers of any of the Bhagats or reformers of the same period. The particular success of Nanak's teachings, as compared with that of the other reforming preachers, had its foundation in a variety of circumstances, of which not the least important were the character of his successors and the nature of the people who listened to hint. Most of the other Bhagats were men of the southeast, teachers from Benares, Rajpu'ttana, or Delhi. Nanak alone had his origin in the Punjab Proper, removed equally from the centre of the empire and of Hinduism, and found his following among castes who possessed such sterling qualities us the Punjabi Khatris and Jats. But if Nanak had had no successors, or successors of no moment, his following would doubtless have remained a trifling one; and it must not be supposed that the large number of Nanak-panthis shown in our tables would have been so returned if Sikhism had not a subsequent political history.

A Nanak panthi

The Nanak-panthis of the 16th and 17th centuries were a sect much as the Kabir-panthis and the Dadu-panthis are sects - a sect with certain wide opinions differing from ordinary Hindu orthodoxy and dis-tinguished from other sects more by the character of its Gurus and the organisation of their adherents than by any remarkable differences of doctrine. The Nanak-panthis of to-day are known roughly as Sikhs who are not Singhs, followers of the earlier gurus, who do not think it necessary to follow the ceremonial and social observances inculcated by Guru Gobind Singh. Their characteristics are, therefore, mainly negative; they do not forbid smoking; they do 'tot insist on long hair, or the other four kakka; they are not baptised with the pahul; they do not look on the Brahman as a superfluity, and so forth. The chief external difference between the Nanak-panthi Sikh and the followers of Guru Gobind Singh is the disposal of the hair; the former, like the Hindu, shaves all but the scalp-lock (bodi or choti), and hence is often known as a Mona (shaven) or Bodiwala Sikh, while the Sikh proper wears long hair. They are also known as Sahjdhari. The only form of baptism known among the Nanak-panthis is the ordinary Hindu practice of drinking the foot-nectar of the Gurus and even this is not very common. It will thus be seen that from one point of view there is very little difference between a Nanak-panthi and an ordinary lax Hindu.

On the other hand, all Sikhs are followers of Nanak, and hence in a sense Nanak-panthis; and a very large number of the Sikhs of the Province have at the present Census returned themse1ves as Nanak-panthis by sect. This may mean nothing more than that the men were Sikhs, who being Sikhs reverenced Baba Nanak, and having no other definite sect returned themselves in the sect column as followers of Nanak. Or it may mean that many Mona Sikhs-men who smoke and cut their hair-have, in spite of the instructions issued to the supervising agency before the Census, returned themselves as Sikhs by religion, but modified this by giving their sect as Nanak-panthi'. The extreme uncertainty prevalent in the use of the term is well illustrated

Shahpur district. "Of the Hindus," he writes, "12,539, or 20 per cent., and of the Sikhs 9,016, or 22 per cent., have returned them-selves as belonging to the Nanak-panthi sect, i.e., as followers of Baba Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. (With this may be taken the 405 returned as Hindu Sikh.) There is no clear distinction between these two classes; nor, indeed, is the distinction between- Nanak-panthi Hindus and orthodox Hindus at all clear. The fact is that the Aroras and Khatris of this neighbourhood are, as a rule, very lax in their religious ceremonies and doctrines, and have been very much influenced by the liberal teachings of Guru Nanak and his followers. Those who are most under the influence of the Brahmans and most particular about carrying out the ceremonial observances of the Puranas call themselves Vaishnav Hindus. Those who have been most influenc-ed by the teaching of the Sikh Gurus and of their sacred book, the Granth, and especially those who have adopted the Sikh religion as taught by Guru Gobind Singh, call themselves Nanak-panthis, or pure Sikhs. But these latter are few in numbers. There are few men who maintain all the outward forms and rules of conduct of the recognised Sikh religion (Census report, 1881, ~ 284, 265) and who can be con-sidered true Sikhs of that type. But many keep the hair unshorn, abstain from tobacco, do not worship idols or revere Brahmans to any great extent, and follow the teachings of the Granth. These also call themselves Nanak-panthi Sikhs. Others, again, while they revere the Granth, yet revere Brahmans also, worship idols now and then, do not abstain from tobacco, and shave their heads. Some of these call them-selves Nanak-panthi Sikhs, and others Nanak-panthi Hindus; so that there is no clear line of distinction between them. Thus Nanak-panthi in this district means little more than a lax Hindu. Sikhism of this type is said to be spreading at the cost of orthodox Hinduism and it is probable that the spread of education, commerce and knowledge is tending to loosen the bands of caste, and encourage a laxity of opinion and of ceremonial observance, such as was taught by the Guru Nanak,"

The term being so uncertain in its application, there is little to be learnt from the figures which our tables supply as to the respective strength of the Nanak-panthis in various parts of the Province. These figures do not bear out the view generally held that this sect is especially prevalent on the frontier; at the same time there is no doubt that the Hindus on the frontier were, and probably still are, to some considerable extent, Nanak-panthis. There are well-known colonies of them in Tirah and its neighbourhood beyond the Kohat border, and they are found in all the frontier districts; The Aroras of Kohat are commonly divided into two classes-the Bhumi or autochthonous, who are mostly Hindus and worshippers at the Jogi shrine at Kohat; and the Lamochars, or immigrants from the south and west, who are mainly Nanak-panthis. The formers are known as Sewaks, and the latter as Sikhs. These Nanak-panthi Aroras keep their hair uncut, and though they touch and sell tobacco, will not smoke it. They do not, however, as a rule, take the pahul or observe the four remaining kakkas of Gobind Singh's ordinances. They eat the meat of animals whose throats have been cut after the Muhammadan fashion (kutha) and not that of animals whose necks have been cut by the Sikh method of jhatka. Except that they will go every morning to the dharamsala, or Sikh place of worship, to listen to recitations from the Adi-Granth, and that they use the Sikh forms of morning and evening prayers (Japji and Rehras), they are in all respects as other Hindus are on the frontier. It is not improbable that followers of Nanak are diminishing on the frontier as the fanaticism of their Muhammadan neighbour cools down'; for it is now possible for Hindus to worship idols openly in the towns, whereas in former days the Hindus of those parts were obliged for fear of their lives to profess some form of their faith which, like the doctrines of Nanak, dispensed with the worship of idols.

The term Nanak-panthi, as well as those of Sikh and Hindu, are applied in common parlance in a very loose and confused way. The followers of Nanak returned themselves under various appellations; such as Nanak Shahi,, Nanak-dasi, Sikh Nanak-dasi, Sewak Guru Nanak, Nanak-math, Nanak-padri, Baba-panthi, etc. Possibly some of those returned as Adpanthls may really belong to the same sect; the term implying an adherence to the original' faith.


(Although not a sect, but a class-during Guru time)

A body of Sikh devotees who appear to have been employed as collectors of religious offerings for the Gurus until their exaction led to their suppression and almost complete extermination, though a few scattered families still survive. The story goes that Guru' Ram Rai who was an adept in yoga was in a trance when the masands burnt his body. His widow wrote to Sri Hargovind, his father, to complain of this hasty act in particular and of the peculation and vices of the masands. Sri Hargovind accordingly proceeded to Dehradun and there burnt 11 masands alive.A Guru Govind Singh also was asked by his Sikhs whether the pujaris whom he had sent out t9 preach, but who applied the offerings collected by them to their own use, were called masands, but in spite of their reiterated complaints the Guru was reluctant to take action. At last a band of mimics (naqlias) visited the Guru and he asked them to perform a farce representing the doings of the Masands. They accordingly gave a dramatic representation of the wasteful extortion and immorality attributed to these votaries, and so excited the Guru's compassion for his disciples that he had the masands all captured and brought to Anandpur where he destroyed them, to the number of 2200, in boiling oil and by other torments, in Samvat 1757. A few however escaped and were excommunicated or eventually pardoned.

Nikalsaini or Narangkaria, a sect of faqirs whose origin is thus described :-

"After the battle of Gujrat and the pursuit of the enemy by Sir Walter Gilbert, the Khalsa (Sikh) army surrendered at Rawalpindi, and giving up their arms and receiving a gratuity of a rupee each, they were permitted to disperse to their homes. A great panic prevailed among the Sikhs of the District: very many cut off their kes or long hair, and were in great dread of being forcibly converted to Christianity. Some months after three men were seen going about the cantonments of Rawalpindi, dressed up in the cast-off clothes and hats of Europeans, and with shaven heads and face.. The eldest gave himself out to be the mahant or chief of a sect, and the others to be his chelas or disciples. The mahant played upon a two-stringed instrument known as the 'dutara' and he and his chelas. sang songs in praise of the English
in general, and of John Nicholson in particular, whom they declared to he their guru. It should be borne in mind that during the Sikh rule it was by no means uncommon for faqirs to receive, through the good offices of the kardars or district officers, assignments of land-revenue from the central government at Lahore, for the maintenance of religions or quasi-religious institutions. John Nicholson was well known to the people of Rawalpindi. He had waged in the neighbourhood a guerrilla warfare during the hot weather of 1848 with Sir Chatar Singh and other rebels, and when by the proclamation of the Governor-General, dated the 29th March 1849, the Punjab was annexed, John Nicholson was appointed the first Deputy Commissioner of Rawalpindi. Therefore these men, by calling themselves Nikalsaini faqirs, were under the idea that the Deputy Commissioner of the District would feel flattered at being associated with a new sect, whose Guru he was acknowledged to be and would no doubt get them a handsome jagir or free grant with which to establish a dharmsala or. monastery all to themselves! But when they found that they were un-cared for by
Nicho1son (I have been told that he had them flogged once), and got nothing for their pains, their enthusiasm cooled down, and after two or three years they were heard of no more. I often saw them and once or twice spoke to them in 1850, and, as far as I can remember,. they had not a particle of an idea concerning any of the doctrines of Christianity. They affirmed that the Bible was true, like-wise the Quran and the Granth! Indeed, I fancy that they were the originators of the Narangkarias, Nirankari, a sect of schismatic Sikhs, which sprang up in the Rawalpindi District about the time, and which 20 years ago, promised to bring every Hindu in the Sind Sagar Doab into its fold; but afterwards, for some unknown reason, a considerable number of the converts slid back into orthodoxy, and I believe there are few Narangkarias in Rawalpindi District now. The monument to general Nicholson is at the head of the Margala Pass, about 16 miles from Rawalpindi, on the Peshawar Road. I never heard of any Nikalsaini faqirs there: indeed, I never heard of the existence of any since 1852 or 1853, certainly never since the mutiny."

Sanwal Shahis

1n the Indus valley is found a Sikh sect called Sanwal or Some Shahis, from a Guru Sanwal Shah, a disciple whom Baba Nanak deputed in 1489 to preach his doctrine in the south-west Punjab. The title Shah appears, however, to have given rise to other stories, according to one of which Sanwal Shah was an Arora of Amritsar whose father supplied Guru Ram Das with funds for the building of the Golden Temple. Under Guru Govind Singh, Sanwal Shah Singh preached Sikhism on the frontier, and Some Shah was his brother. The sect, or rather the followers of Sanwal Shah, Some Shah, and the formers descendant Bawa Shah are found in Dera Ismail Khan, Multan and Muzaffargarh, and even beyond the frontier.


A Sikh sect. Guru Tegh Bahadur had a personal follower, one Kanhaya Lal a Dhamman (Dhiman) Khatri of Sodhra in Gujranwala. Originally an officer in the service of the Mughals, he became a drawer of water to.the Guru's horses and to all with him and a menial at his table day and night. The Guru taught him and invested him with the seli and topi. On Guru' Tegh Bahadur's death Kanhaya Lal remained in Govind Singh's service and was with him at the siege of Anandpur. One day he heard some one say: "0 heart, love God," and accordingly in the battle that ensued he gave water to the wounded on either side, justifying his act by a Sikh text. From his personal service (sewa) or more probably from Sewa Ram, his first disciple, his followers are called Sewa-panthis: but in Amritsar they are known as Adan-Shahis, from Adan Shah, another disciple of Kanhaya' Lal, and ' a rich banker who devoted his wealth and leisure to the propagation of their doctrines'. Their charity to travellers and persons in distress is proverbial. Kanhaya' Lal is said to have been commissioned by Guru Govind Singh to preach Sikhism in the south-west and he founded his first dharamsala in the Thal or steppe of the Sind Sagar Doab. His followers are mainly Khatris and Aroras of that tract and the disciples are styled Nanak-Shahis, make ropes for a livelihood, refus-ing all alms and oblations. Some Sewapanthis are said to shave, others not. They are celibate and eat and share property together. Flesh, liquor and hemp are avoided. Their dress is white. Macauliffe describes them as an orthodox and honourable sect who live by honest labour.


An order of Sikh devotees whose origin is thus described:-
When Teg Shah - a faqir was alive, a boy was born of dark complexion, (or with a black mark on his forehead) and moustache, and with his teeth already cut---and his parents exposed him, - a child so born is unlucky. The sixth Guru Hargobind, happened to find the child and told his disciples to take him up but they refused, saying that he was kuthra, or dirty. The Guru replied 'he was Suthra or clean' and they then obeyed. This boy was the founder of the Suthra-Shahi sect.

A Suthra Shahi Sikh

The Kangra version adds -Twelve years later, in the reign of Aurangzeb, the Hindus were persecuted and the emperor removed every day one and a quarter maunds of sacred threads (janeoo), erased the tilaks from their foreheads, and compelled Hindu faqirs to show him miracles. The Guru then sent the boy Suthra to Delhi to exhibit miracles to the emperor and to convert him to the right path. On reaching Delhi the boy had a pair of shoes, l ¼ haths long, made at a cost of 1 ¼ lakhs of rupees. One night he put one of these shoes in the Delhi mosque, together with a lota (the vessel used for washing the hands and feet before prayer). Next morning the Muhammadans prostrated themselves before the lota and shoe, considering them to he sacred, and their fame spread throughout the city. One day the boy tied the other shoe to a stick and wended his way through the city, crying that he had been robbed of the other shoe. News of this event reached Aurangzeb who sent for the boy and asked him whether the shoe found in the mosque was his. He said it was, whereupon the emperor said that, if it were found not to fit him, he would be beheaded. The boy agreed and, calling on his Guru's name, put on the shoe, which he found a little, too small. At this his face lit up, so that the emperor in amaze bade him ask any boon he chose.

The boy warned Aurangzeb against further persecution of the Hin-dus, and the emperor assented. Moreover he decreed that all his subjects should at every wedding pay one gold mohar and 1 ¼ rupees per shop to the boy, who refused to accept more than 1 ¼ rupee at each wedding and a pice from each shop. This decree wag engraved on a copper-plate. Then the boy went to Lahore and built himself a house outside the Masti Gate. He made 4 chelas, Bawa Nihal Shah, B. Gulab Shah, B. Didar Shah and B. Changar Shah. In the plains the tax is still paid to the Suthra Shahis~, but in the hills it is not paid in full owing to the poverty of the people.

The boy Suthra composed a 'baramasa' in which the above history is given. Another version adds various details, prefixed to the above account It makes the boy go to Delhi of his own accord, put on a boar's Intestines as a janeoo and apply a tilak of ashes to his forehead. The Qazi of Delhi orders this janeoo to be broken, but in vain, so he licks it away and in consequence an evil smell issues from his mouth. The Suthra is then arrested, but the emperor Aurangzeb keeps him near the royal person and early next morning sees his face. As a result his breakfast turns into loathsome insects and he orders the Suthra to exe-cution. The latter demands to see the emperor and protests his innocence whereupon Aurangzeb declares that the sight of his unfortunate face early that morning had deprived him of food all day. To this the Suthra forcibly rejoins that the sight of Aurangzeb's unlucky face had led to his being condemned to death. So the emperor set him free and he took up his abode in a takia behind the Jama Masjid at Delhi. He had the shoes l ¼ hathas long made and a lota of earth set with precious stones. Going one night to the mosque to recite his prayers he fled in the morning from the mosque out of fear of the Muhammedans and left one shoe and the lota behind him. When he came before the emperor he found the shoe too small, but it just fitted Aurangzeb. At the Suthra's instance the emperor closes his eyes and finds himself alone with the Suthra in a terrible place. The Suthra mockingly asks him where are now his troops, and why he persecutes the Hindu faqirs. After craving his pardon Aurangzeb opens his eyes and finds himself back in the Delhi Fort.


Both Hindus and Muhammedans enter this panth whose members are called Suthra Shah or Benawa. Muhammadan Suthras carry a danda (staff) with which they strike their iron bracelet (churis). Hindu Suthras claim to be Udasis, are followers of Guru Nanak,: and are said to have been founded by Hari Chand, his elder son. In theory they are monotheists, but as they have to beg from Hindus they also worship the Hindu gods. Their gaddis in the larger towns have deras attached to, and dependent on, them in the neighbouring villages. They contain no idols, except the Samadhs of deceased mahants, and to these they offer dhup dip. They chant the sabda of Guru Arjan.

The Suthras are celibate, but make chelas. They wear a seli of black wool round the neck, and carry black dandas which they knock together, demanding a pice from each shop. If this demand be refused they blacken their faces, burn their clothes and expose themselves naked in public, refusing to leave the shop until paid.

Mode of initiation.-- The candidate for admission into the panth is dissuaded, but if he persists in his resolve to become a Suthra, he is warned that he will have to subsist by begging, remain celibate and not quarrel, even if abused, His beard and moustache are then shaved off by a barber, but his top knot is left to be cut off by his guru', before whom the candidate lays a razor and asks that he will shave off his top knot. The guru' repeatedly refuses to do so, returning the razor to him several times, but finally the candidate's prayer is granted, his topknot cut off and a mantra whispered in his ear by the guru'. The initiate's clothes are given to the barber. Karah is made and distributed among those present. The initiate is invested with a seli or necklet of black wool, and a cotton janeoo or sacred thread worn by a Brahman. The two dandas are also given him and his initiation is complete. Suthras must not wear anything but a dhoti and cannot wear coloured dopattas (shawls). Liquor and flesh are avoided but not tobacco. All castes are now admitted into the order, though formerly, it is alleged, only Brah-mans, Kashatriyas and Vaisyas were initiated

Rites at death.-AII the Brahminical rites are observed at death, and a Brahman is called in to perform the kiria karam, but it is said that a Sikh is also called in to read the Granth. The Sawarni and satarhwin rites of the Hindus are also performed, The body is cremated and the ashes taken to the Ganges, but a small quantity mixed with Ganges water and cow's urine is also placed in the dera and a samadh built thereon.


or more correctly Mazhabi, is a Chuhra who has become a Sikh. Sikh Chu'hras are almost confined to the Districts and States immediately east and southeast of Lahore, which form the centre of Sikhism. Mazbi means nothing more than a member of the scavenger class converted to Sikhism. The Mazbis take the pahul wear their hair long, and abstain from tobacco, and they apparently refuse to touch night-soil, though performing all the other offices hereditary to the Chuhra caste. Their great guru is Tegh Bahadur, whose mutilated body was brought back from Delhi by Chuhras who were then and there admitted to the faith by Guru Gobind as a reward for their devotion. But though good Sikhs so far as religious observance is concerned, the taint of hereditary pollution is upon them and Sikhs of other castes refuse to associate with them even in religious ceremonies. They often intermarry with the Lal Begi or Hindu Chuhra. They make capital soldiers and some of our Pioneer regiments are wholly composed of Masbis. One of the bravest of the generals of the Gurus, was Jiwan Singh, a Masbi, whose tomb is still shown at Chamkaur in Ambala. He fell at its siege in 1705-06. During the' Muhammadan persecution of the Sikhs they dropped out of notice and failing a supporter in the place of Guru Govind, they never came to the front as a class, although Maharaja Ranjit Singh had a great admiration for their bravery and enlisted them freely. Being afraid, however, to form them into separate corps, he attached a company to various battalions. They were, however, looked down upon by the other men and naturally became discontented. When the Punjab was annexed, the Mazbi was a dacoit, a robber and often a thug. In this capacity he was generally styled a Rangretha. The latter are a class of Mazbi apparently found only in Ambala, Ludhiana, and the neighbourhood who consider themselves socially superior to the rest. The origin of their superiority, according to Srt. Denail Ibbetson 's information, lies in the fact that they were once notorious as highway robbers! But it appears that the Rangrethas have very generally abandoned scavenging for leather-work, and this would at once account for their rise in the social scale. In the hills Rangretha is often used as synonymous with Rangrez, or Chhimba or Lilari, to denote the cotton dyer and stamper, and in Sirsa the Sikhs will often call any Chuhra whom they wish to please Rangretha, and a rhyme is current Rangretha, Guru ka beta, or "the Rangretba is the son of the Guru'." The Mazbis have social distinctions among themselves. The descendants of the true Mazbis who rescued Tegh Bahaldur's body (Head) are strictly speaking, the only asl or real Mazbis, but the term is applied loosely to more recent converts. Recent converts are looked upon more or less with a critical eye and are termed Malwais. This term was probably a geographical distinction at first, but is now merely a caste one. It takes some generations to make a Mazbi, but how many he cannot say. Much depends on circumstances, and on the strictness of the convert's adherence to the faith as to when he may be admitted to an equal footing with a true Mazbi. For this reason the asl Mazbi is scarce and his physique is falling off. Until quite lately he was never found in large numbers in any special locality, except for the purpose of work on a new canal or railway. Two or three Mazbi houses are attached to the villages where they work as labourers. Grants of land have, however, been made in Gujranwala to pensioners of Pioneer regiments. The Mazbi gots are numerous and many of them are the same as those of the Jat, doubtless following the family or group whose hereditary servants they were. In their customs too, at weddings, etc., they conform to a great extent to those prevalent among the Jats.


Apparently from 'sahij', 'easy, gently' so easygoing or conforming, as opposed to Kesdhari, the Sikhs who wear the kes, i. e. do not cut the hair at all, and refrain from smoking tobacco. Generally speaking the Keshadhari may be defined as followers of Guru Govind Singh while the Sahjdhari may be roughly equated with the NANAK-PANTHI or followers of Guru' Nanak. Recent movements in the Sikh fold have tended to "raise the status of the Kesdhari Sikhs, so much so that while formerly Kesdharis and Sahjdharis of the same caste inter-married without distinction, a Kesdhari will usually not give his daughter to a Sahjdhari now unless he takes the pahul, although - he does not mind marrying the daughter of a Sahjdhari. In other words, the Kes-dharis are beginning to establish themselves as a hypergamous group."'

On the other hand: "the relations of Sikh., whether Kesdharis or Sahjdharis, with Hindus pure and simple are so close that it is im-possible to draw a clear line of distinction. Even amongst the Keshadharis who are the followers of Guru' Gobind Singh a large number---e.g. the Manjha Jats in the Lahore and Amritsar Districts-allow boys to have their hair cut, up to about 15 years, when they take the pahul (receive initiation) and begin' to wear the kes, but all the time the boys are as good Sikhs as the parents. Then in one and the same family, one brother may be a Keshadhari, another a sahijdhari and the third while wearing .the kes may be a sarwaria who smokes the hukka. In numerous cases the father is a Kesdhdri, the son does not wear the kes and the grandson is again initiated and becomes a follower of the precepts of Guru' Gobind Singh in an office of the N.-W. Railway, there is an Arora calling himself a Kesdhari Sikh, who wears the kes but shaves his beard. His brothers are sahajdharis. There are several instances in which the wife of a Sahijdhari Sikh vows to make her first son a Kesadhari. The younger sons remain sahijdharis. A Keshadhari marries the daughter of a Sahijdhari and the daughters of Keshadharis marry sahijdharis. Indeed intermarriage between Keshdari and sahijdhari Sikhs and ordinary Hindus are still matters of everyday occurrence, although the modern movement has succeeded to a considerable extent in confining the followers of Guru Gobind Singh in a water-tight compartment, restricting intermarriage with non-keshadharis and enforcing the initiation on all male descendants of Keshadharis. But to this day, instances of Sahijdhari sons of Keshdhari fathers, particularly in the educated community, are fairly numerous.


Tthe 'pure' Khalsa, or those of the elect among the Sikhs who adhere to the doctrines of Guru Govind Singh. The term dates back to the time of Baba Banda trusted disciple of that Guru, who, after his death proclaimed himself as the eleventh Guru. Those who accepted his claims came to be known Bandai-Khalsa but others who did not adhere to this and under the guidance of Mata Sundri (wife of Guru Gobind Singh), became 'Tat Khalsa' (pure Khalsa). With the fall of Banda bahaddur, his following gradually melted away and the term Tat Khalsa also fell into disuse. It has been revived recently, by the class known as the Neo-Sikh party (a term disliked by the Sikhs of that class) who are wholly and solely devoted to the tenets of the 10 Gurus and do not like their religion to be corrupted by association with any non-Sikh belief. They are trying to restore the faith to what they consider its pristine purity. The term Tat Khalsa appears to have been taken up by the Hindus who are opposed to the separatist movement of the Sikhs as a nickname and is now resented by the followers of this new reform movement. The members of this group disregard caste and restrictions on eating and drinking, and aim at establishing a universal brotherhood amongst the Sikhs, with views, liberal in some respects and orthodox in others, based mainly upon convenience. The movement is more or less reac-tionary and although averse to fanaticism it enjoins a very strong esprit de corps. The chief centre of the movement is Amritsar. Khalsa means 'the pick' and implies the true followers of Guru Gobind Singh. The term is applied generally to all keshadharis, but has recently acquired a special significance similar to that of Tat Khalsa. Punjab Census Rep./, 1912.

The Bandai Sikhs

The regime founded by Govind Singh was however destined, even before its birth, to be profoundly affected by separatism and even schism. The principal exponent of a more violent policy than the Guru's was the famous Banda. The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 was followed by dissension among his sons. Govind Singh found a protector or at least a sympathiser in the emperor Bahadur Shah, but he was not able or willing to restrain the activities of Banda. This man had a curious history. By birth a Rajput' of Rajauri in Kashmir he had changed his name of Lachhman Bala to Narain Das at the shrine of Ram Thamman near Kasur and became a Bairagi in 1686. But in 1691 he became a Jogi and an adept in occult science' with the name of Madho Das. Meeting the Guru, probably at Nader,1 'he was given the title of Bahadur, with that of Banda which he had earned by his ,submission to the Guru', together with five arrows and other weapons But he was not initiated with the pahul (other authorities say he was so initiated) and while imparting to him his spiritual power the Guru enjoined on him five rules according to which he was to remain strictly celibate and truthful, not to start a new sect or use a cushion in a Sikh temple, or allow himself to be styled Guru, but live in peace with the Singhs.
Banda proceeded to wage open and relentless war on all Muhamdans and he was joined by the Singhs. He exacted vengeance for the execution of Guru Tegbahadur and for the treachery of the Pathans of Damla. Moreover he reduced Sadhaura in spite of its adherence to the Guru and some four months before his death he destroyed Sirhind with merciless slaughter. To its province he appointed a governor and a diwan, organised its administration and the collection of its revenues.

This victory made many join the Khalsa, but it was not followed up atleast by Banda himself. One of his first acts was to chastise the Ram Raias of Pael (in Patiala) and then after exacting contributions from Malerkotla and Raikot, he retreated to Mukhlasgarh in the hills, renamed it Lohgarh, and provided it with immense stores, but he himself retired into the Joharsar Hills for religious meditation Meanwhile the Sikhs met with defeats at Tirauri and Khrar but were joined by Banda at Burail and a victory there enabled them to regain Sirhind, which they had lost. But he failed to take Jalalabad by siege and after defeats at Ladwa and Shahabad in 1709 Sirhind was reoccupied by the Muhammadans and the Sikhs retired to the hills.Banda had apparently again retired to Lohgarh whence lie emerged for another advance on Sirhind and regained all the country lost by the Sikhs. But again his triumph was short lived for he met with a crushing reverse af Saharanpur-Buria at the hands of prince Rafi-us-shan and was driven back to Lohgarh. Thence he escaped in disguise, fleeing into the hills and getting possession of Sirhind again, but only for a short time as in 1711 the emperor's appearance in person made him seek refuge in the hills once more. At Pathankot, he had a successful encounter with the Mughals, killing Shams Khan, a faujdar, and Bazid Khan. The emperor issued an edict that Hindus should shave off their beards and that all Singh should be indiscriminately massacred, a step which led to the slaughter of thousands of Hindus on suspicion.

Bahadur Shah's death in I712 led to the usual strife amongst his sons for sovereignty and Banda took fall advantage of it to occupy Sirhind again and compel the Rajas of Sirmur, nalagarh and Bilaspur to submit formally to his allegiance. He reduced the Muhammadan jagirdars of Ropar, Bassi, Kiri and Bahlolpur to a similar position, and in 1714 was strong enough to hold a regal darbar at Amritsar, at which he appeared in royal dress with an aigrette on his head. His
next step was to take Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Batala, which last named town he gave up to indiscriminate pillage and massacre, beginning with its wealthiest quarter, the muhalla of the Qazis. These events were followed by the reluctant submission of the Kangra chiefs.

In 1713 Farrukhsiar's reign began and he promptly attacked the Sikhs on two sides, calling in a large army from Kashmir and sending picked forces from the east against them at the same time. The Sikhs rallied at Sirhind, but were compelled to fall hack on Lohgarh which was besieged, until Banda sallied forth from his hill fastness and drove back the imperialists, thus bringing the country between Lahore and the Jumna under Sikh control. Farrukhsiar next tried to use the influence of Guru Govind Singh's widow against Banda, who was excom-municated on eight counts in that he had married, started a new creed, substituted a charan pahul for the Sikh khanda pahul, invented the war-cry of,"Fathe daras" (victory of faith), in lien of the Sikh war-cry, attired himself in royal robes, styled himself the 11th Guru and claimed to rule the Sikhs, his followers being called Bandai instead of the Singhs of the Guru'. Banda's answer to these charges was significant. He said he was merely a Bairagi faqir and not the follower of Govind Singh: yet that he was merely carrying out his orders for the campaign of vengeance and the protection of the Khalsa.

This edict led to the disruption of the Sikhs, the true or Tat Khalsa holding Amritsar, while Banda went to Gurdaspur. His power lay chief-ly along the Jammu border as far as Attock, hut he had adherents also in Ambala whose faujdar they defeated. But all his efforts at reconciliation with the Tat Khalsa failed and in 1711 he was captured at the siege of Gurdapur. He is generally said to have been put to death with great cruelty at Dehli, but another tradition is that by a mental pro-cess he survived his tortures and resuscitated himself. Refusing the offer of some Singhs to place themselves under his leadership he retired to Bhabhar on the Chenab in the Rusi pargama of Jammu where he died in 1741, leaving a son whose descendants still hold charge of his shrine.

Banda's relations to the Tat Khalsa are not very clear. It certain-ly fought against him at his siege of Lahore, but generally refused to do so. It had made terms with the Mughal governors, but was certainly reluctant to join them in repressing Banda. The Imperialist attitude to the Sikhs indeed changed as soon as Banda had been captured, and the Singhs retaliated. In 1725 they proclaimed their intention of holding the Diwali fair at Amritsar, but the Bandai Sikhs, still more numerous than the Singhs, disputed the claim. It was settled by lot and most of the Bandai Sikhs went over to the Tat Khalsa, being initiated by the khanda pahul. Confused, desultory fighting ensued with the Imperialists, but in 1731 a Sjkh force surprised their main body at Bhilowal 20 miles from Lahore, and then Farrukhsiar weakly offered them a jagir of Rs. 100,000, with the title of Nawab to cease their depredations. This latter offer the Sikh leaders one and all rejected, but Kapur Singh of Faizullpur then working a hand.pankha was decked in the imperial robe, and proclaimed Nawab. Whatever the truth of this story may be, Kapur Singb became a notable figure among the Sikhs. He had succeeded his father, as leader of the Singhs who subsequently formed the Faizlapuria misl, and in various battles received no less than 43 wounds. It was considered a great honour to be initiated by him and among many others Ala Singh, of Patiala, and many of his relations received the pahul at his hands He paved the way for the Khalsa's rise to power and its transformation into a monarchy. He appears to have designated Jassa Singh Ahluwalia as his successor in the leader-ship of the Khalsa.

The Singhs or their leaders however certainly accepted the Dipalpur, Kanganwal and Jhabal parganas in jagir and abandoning plunder contrived to subsist on its income. but as their numbers increased they divided in 1734 into two dals or armies, one called the Budha or veteran, the other the Tarn or young. The latter had five jatthas, companies or groups, viz; the Shahids, Amritsarias (headed bv Khatris of Amritsar),the Dallewalias (headed by Khatris of Dallewala that of Baba Kahn Singh, and the Ramdasias (headed by Ramdasis or Mazhabi Singhs) These dals fought in unison, especially in the submontane tracts along the Jammu border, and the division had no religious significance.

The events of the next few years can only be very briefly touched upon It is however necessary to hark back first for a moment to Banda's relations with the Rajput chiefs of the Kangra hills and the adjoining tracts in the north-west corner of the Punjab plains. As already described the Kangra chiefs had reluctantly submitted to him in 1714, and he had undoubtedly found allies in the hills whence he de-scended in that year to fall upon the country round Batala and Kalanaur, and whither he fled when imperial troops were sent against him. In I 716 however he again emerged from his strongholds, falling upon the two towns just mentioned and sacking them with much slaughter of the Muhammadans, including the famous family of Shaikh-ul-Ahmad. But some of the hill Rajas sided with the Mughal governors, for Abdul Samad DalerJang, governor of Lahore, set out in pursuit of him assisted not only by the hakims of Eminabad, Pasrur, Patti and Kalanaur but also by Raja Bhim Singh of Katoch and Dhru'va Deva of Jasrota.

But Nadir Shah's invasion in 1738-9 appears to have led indirectly ly to a general combination between the Mughal governors and the Hill Rajas to put down the Sikhs, although they had fiercely assailed the invader on his retreat. The Sikhs had seized the opportunity allowed them by the confusion created by the invasion to plunder Muhammadan villages and Nawab Kapur Singh had refused to join Nawab Zakaria Khan, governor of Lahore, in resisting them. A demand for restitution of half the booty wrested from Nadir Shah was rejected by the Sikhs and this exposed them to the enmity of Hindus as well as Muhammadans.

After Ahmad Shah's invasion of I1748 a proclamation issued for their extermination. About 15000 Sikhs had collected in the dense jungle of Kahnuwan which Lakhpat Rai Khatri, chief minister to the governor at Lahore, invested. His blockade lasted three months and when the Sikhs had exhausted their ammunition they tried to Cut their way out towards the hills through Pathankot, only to find the passes all blocked by the Hill rajasd under orders from the Governor of Lahore. Finally they broke through towards the south and directed their course towards the MAlwa. This fight was known as the Chhota Ghalughara. Again in 1756 when Adina Beg, governor of Lahore, fled before Ahmed Shah Abdali's invasion of that year he sought protection under the Hill Rajas.

After Banda's execution the Sikhs waged implacable war against the Muhammadans, but made no attempt to establish an organised government. In 1748, Cunningham states, the dal of the Khalsa, 'the army of the elect, ' was proclaimed by Jassa Siugh Kalal, one of their ablest leaders and head of the Ahluwalia misl and a few years later he struck coins in the Mughal mint at Lahore with the legend: "Coined by the grace of the KhAlsa in the country of Ahmad, conquered by Jassa the Kalal." In 1761 when Ahmed Shah retired from the Punjab after his great victory at Panipat, Jassa Singh attacked him while he was crossing the Bias and released about 22,OOO Hindu captives, male and female. For this feat he was popularly known as Bandichhor or ' the liberator.' He also occupied Lahore. But the Sikhs had to cope with internal dissension, for about this time the rnahant who was Hindal's successor at his shrine in JandiAla, turned against the Singhs and tampered with Nanak's biography. He had destroyed hundreds of innocent Singhs and now called in the aid of the Abdali whose forces in l862 raised the siege of Jandiala, which the Sikhs abandoned, concentrating at the siege of Sirhind which they would probably have taken in that year but for the advance of the Shah's forces, allied to the Muhammadan chiefs of Maler Kotla, Baroch and other places. Their great defeat at the hands of the Abdali near Hatbur-the vada Ghalughara or great defeat-followed in the same year.

Nevertheless in 1763 the Sikhs took Sirhind, sacked and destroyed it. This event virtually decided the fate of the Punjab proper far as the Abdalis were concerned, and the generally received account is that in 1762. Ala Singh of Patiala received the first title of Raja ever bestowed on a Sikh chieftain and, though no coins of his appear to be extant he seems to have minted rupees in 1763 or two years before his death which occurred in 1765. The Sikh policy was radically changed from that time. The Phulkian chiefs became sovereigns in their own states. Tradition indeed describes how after their victory at Sirhind in 1763 ' the Sikhs dispersed as soon as the battle was won, and how riding day and night, each horseman would throw his belt and scabbard, his articles of dress and accoutrement, until he was almost naked, into successive villages, to mark them as his." This description may well have been true of their earlier conquests, but the old Mughal province of Sirhind was partitioned in a much more systematic way.

In 1764 the Sikh chiefs assembled at Amritsar and proclaimed their supremacy and struck the Nanakshahi and Govindshahi rupee, which bore the inscription -
Deg wa teg wa fatih nusrat be drang
Yaft az Nanak Guru Govind Singh.
"Guru Govind Singh received from Nanak, The Sword, the Bowl and Victory unfailing".

This inscription adhered to in the main by later Sikh chiefs, including Ranjit Singh, though petty chiefs occasionally inserted the emperor's name. It was also retained by Nabha, but never adopted by the other two Phulkian States.

From time to time attempts were made to restore the Sikh theocracy, under representatives of the sacred Khatri families. For instance in 1800 Sahib Singh Bedi, a descendant of Ba'ba Nanak, 'pretended to religious inspiration.' Collected a large force, invested Ludhiana, took Malerkotla and 'called on George Thomas to obey him as the true representative of the Sikh prophet. But the time had gone by for militant religious leaders and the Bedi soon retired north of the Satluj.

1. This is very uncertain, as indeed is the whole question of Banda's relations with Govind Singh: see Khazan Singh (pages 198-200). There seems some reason to believe that he had been active before the death of Govind Singh and possibly it was that Guru's death, which caused the leaderless Sikhs to flock to his standard.


Handal Jat of the village Jandiala was born in Samvat 1630. He was married to Uttami daughter of Hamza Chahal and they had a son named Bidhi Chand.

Bhai Handal was a devout Sikh of Guru Amardas (the 4th Guru). Guru Amardas blessed him with a 'manji' for his devotion and preaching of Sikhism and for carrying on with the tradition of langar. The name of his village was hence called 'Guru ka Jandiala' .
All the time Handal used to pronounce the word 'Niranjan-Niranjan', because of it his followers were called 'Niranjanias'. Handal died in Samvat 1705.

Handal's son 'Bidhi Chand' was a nefarious person and he corrupted the 'Janam Sakhi' of Guru Nanak by altering many sakhis. Also he is responsible for altering the date of birth of Guru Nanak from 'Katak to Vasakh'.


A follower of Kabir (above). A life of Kabir, who was a little earlier than Luther, having been born in 1440, and who died in l5l8 A. D.
Of all the fourteen persons usually classed as Bhagats or saints, viz., Beni, Bhikhan, Dhanna, Shaikh Farid, Jaidev, Kabir, Namdeo, Pipa, Ramanand, Ravidas, Sadhna, Saina, Su'rdas and Trilochan (whose lives are) for the most part, given in the Bhaktamaal, or the North Indian ' Lives of the Saints) Kabir and Tulsi Das have had the greatest influence for good on the unedu-cated masses of Northern and central India.

A mystery hangs over Kabir's birth, but it appears that whoever his parents may have been, he was brought up in a family of Musalman weavers at Benares. He is generally looked on as having been a weaver by caste, and the weavers of the country by a process well known in eastern ethnology are fond of calling themselves as the descendants of this celebrated member of their caste. Many of the julahas in the Punjab return their caste as Kabirpanthi and many of those who return their sect as Kabirbansi or Kabirpanthi, are probably little more than ordinary weavers who have no idea of distinguishing themselves from other Hindu weavers in matters of doctrines. However, Kabir9 whatever his caste may really have been, is said to have been a pupil of Ramanand and whether this be true or not, it is beyond doubt that he imbibed a good deal of that master's teaching. From one point of view the Kabirpanthis are merely Ramanandis who refuse to worship idols.

In the 14th century Ramanand, the founder of the Bairagis, lived at Benares. One day he went to gather flowers for worship in his garden, but there he was seized and taken by the gardener's daughter to one of the rulers of that period. The girl took with her also the flowers, which she herself had picked, and on the road found that they had turned into a handsome child. Thinking Ramanand a wizard she left both him and the child on the spot and fled homewards. Ramdnand then gave the child to a newly wedded Muhammadan Julaha and his wife who chanced to pass that way, and they brought the boy up as their own son.

Another version is that a Brahman's wife craved the boon of a son and used to do homage to her sadhu for one. But one day her husband's sister went to do him reverence in her stead, and it was to her that the sadhu granted the desired boon, though she was a virgin. On learning this the Sadhu declared himself unable to recall his gift, and in due course a child was born to her from a boil which formed on her hand when it was scratched by the rope at a well. In her shame she secretly cast the child into a stream, where it was found by a weaver and his wife on their way home after their muklawa. The child was named Kabir, from kur, palm, and bir, a son, and one-day his adoptive mother took him to a tank to bathe. There too came Ramanand and hurt the boy with his sandals, but when he began to cry, he endowed him with miraculous powers. On his death Hindus and Muhammadans disputed for possession of his body, so it was placed under a cloth and when that was again removed it had disappeared. Half the cloth was then burnt by the Hindus and the other half buried by the Muhammadans.

" In the midst of the dispute," says Professor Wiksn, " Kabir himself appeared amongst them and desiring them to look under cloth supposed to cover his mortal remains, immediately vanished. Obeying his instructions they found nothing under the cloth but a heap of flowers." The Hindus took a half of them and burnt them at Benares ; the Mohammadans took the other half and buried them in Gurakhpur, 'where his death is said to have occurred. Flower-born Kabir at his death turned to flowers again

Kabir is in many ways rather a literary, than a religious celebrity and his writings in the common Bhasha are very voluminous. The Adi.Granth of the Sikhs is full of quotations from him, and he is more often quoted there than any other of the Bhagats. His apothems are constantly on the lips of the educated classes, whether Mussalman, even at the present day ; and possibly there is no native author whose words are more often quoted than those of Kabir It is noticeable, too, that Kabir instead of impressing on his disciples like most Hindu leaders, the necessity of absolute adherence to the Guru, was fond of stimulating enquiry and encouraging criticisms of his own utterances.

Kabir was probably a Muhammadan Sufi, but as a sufi his teaching was addressed to Hindus as well as Muhammadans. Wilson's description of the Kabirpanthi doctrines is still exact:-

"The Kabirpanthis, in consequence of their master having been a reputed disciple of Ramanand and of their paying more respect to Vishnu than the other members of the Hindu triad, are always included among the Vaishnava sects and maintain, with most of them, the kamawats especially, a friendly intercourse and political alliance. It no part of their faith, however, to worship any Hindu deity, or to observe any of the rites or ceremonials of the Hindus, whether orthodox or schismatically. Such of their members as are living in the world conform outwardly to all the usage of their tribes and caste, end some of them even pretend to worship the usual divinities, although this is considered as going rather further than is justifiable. Those, however, who have abandoned the fetters of society abstain from all the ordinary practices and address the homage chiefly in chanting hymns exclusively to the invisible Kabir. They use no mantra nor fixed form of salutation; they have no peculiar mode of dress, and some of them go nearly naked, without objecting, however, to clothe themselves in order to dressed when clothing is considered decent or respectful.. The mahants wear a small scull cap; the frontal marks, if wore, are usually those of the Vaishnava sects, or they make a streak with sandal or gopichandan along the ridge of the nose; a necklace and rosary of tulsi are also worn by them, but all these outward signs are considered of no importance and the inward man is the only essential point to be attended to."
It is however very doubtful if the view that Kablr was probably a Muhammadan Sufi can be accepted with confidence, and Dr. G. A. Grierson would regard the sect founded by Kabir as one of the bhakti-sects. A common feature of many of these sects is the maha prasada or sacramental meal. On the evening of the appointed day the worshippers assemble And the mahant, or leading celebrant, reads a brief address, and then allows a short interval for prayer and meditation. All who feel themselves unworthy to proceed further then withdraw to a distance. Those that remain approach the senior celebrant in turn, and placing their hands together receive into the palm of the right hand, which is uppermost, a small consecrated wafer and two other articles of consecrated food. They then approach another celebrant, who pours into the palm of the right hand a few drops of water, which they drink. This food and water are regarded as Kabir's Special gift, and it is said that all who receive it worthily will have eternal life. Part of the sacramental food is 'reserved' and is carefully kept from pollution for administration to the sick. After the sacra-ment there is a substantial meal which all attend, and which in its character closely resembles the early Christian love-feasts. It is possi-ble that this rite was borrowed rein the Jesuit missionaries at Agra, but the headquarters of the Kebir.panthi sect are at Benares, and the rite is now likely to be a survival of historian influences.

The Kabirpanthi sadhs or faqirs in this Province wear generally clothes dyed with brickdust colour (geru); and both they and the laity abstain from flesh and spirits. The present f0llowers of Kabir hold an intermediate position between idolatry and monotheism, but the mission of Kabir himself is generally looked on as one directed against idolatry; and at Kanwsrdeh, near Ballabgarh, in the Delhi district, there is a community of Kabirpanthis descended from an Argarwal Bania of Puri, who used to travel with 52 cart-loads of Shivs and Salgirams behind him, but who was convinced by Kabir of the error of his ways. The sect of Kabirpanthis is probably better known in the Gangetic Valley than in the Punjab, and the Kabirpanthis are largely found in the south-east of the Province ; but considerable numbers are also returned from Sialkot and Gurdaspur, and it is said that the Meghs and Batwals, so common in those districts, are very generally Kabirpanthis. The sect is also very largely recruited from the Chamar (leather worker) and Julaha (weaver) castes, and it is open to men of all classes to become Kabirpanthis. The Kabirpanthi will almost always describe himself as a Hindu, but a certain number have returned the name as that of an independent religion, and some as a sect of the Sikhs.

An offshoot of the sect is the Dharm Dasias, founded by a wealthy merchant of Benaras who turned sadhu. The Dharm Dasis, however, appear to differ in no way from the Kabirpanthis in doctrine, and they are very rarely found in the Punjab.


(Most of the above has been taken with courtesy from H.S.Rose's book "Tribes & Castes of Punjab &NW Frontier" This book was written in 1892 AD. Many Sects are probably extinct or have changed considerably now.- Kanwal)