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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Handalieh/Niranjanieh cont'd

In the 19th century, Har Bhagat became the leader of this apostate Sikh sect. He became an ardent enemy of the Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa, and it was he who persecuted Nihang Rattan Singh Bhangu’s family informing on his grandfather Nihang Mitab Singh.

Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa
A sketch of Ajaib Singh Nihang by Bhai Kehar Singh, circa mid 19th century

After him and his treacherous great grandsons, Kirpal and Diyal gathered rewards by informing on the Khalsa army, they then collaborated with the invading Afghan forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali. They were key protagonists in the ‘Vada Galhugahra’ (great Sikh holocaust) of 1762 in which over 30,000 Khalsa of all ages were massacred.

Rattan Singh Bhangu writes that after Ahmed Shah Abdali died, the great grandsons of Har Bhagat only saved themselves from the wrath of Budha Dal and Tarna Dal Akali Nihangs by falling at Khalsa’s feet and begging for mercy. The Hindalieh once again presented themselves as ‘Nanak Panthis’ (Sikhs of Akali Guru Nanak). Kirpal eventually passed away during the pre-Khalsa Raj internecine factional wars of the Khalsa, fighting on side of one of the Sikh factions. Kirpal’s younger brother, Diyal Das succeeded to leadership of the Hindal sect who was eventually succeeded by his son, Sharan Das.

Janam Sakhi
Folios from an illustrated version of the 'Janam Sakhis' depicting
events from the life of Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji, circa late 18th century

Sharan Das was reputed to be a drunkard and debaucher. Being a man of great size and strength, he could eat an entire goat in one sitting. He followed ‘Dharma’ (righteousness) only in name. Unable to control his lust, he began to prey on the pretty young women of his congregation, and as such, his followers stopped their womenfolk from attending the court of Sharan Das. Rattan Singh Bhangu writes:

‘When no daughter, or daughter-in-law would come to him, he then made up a ‘Sakhi’ (anecdote attributed to Sikh Guru to justify his debauched behavior). Sikhism is hard to uphold [he began to preach in his congregation]. It is finer than a hair and sharper than a keen edge of a ‘Khanda’ (Indian double edged sword). This is written in ‘Vedas and ‘Shashtars’ (Sanatan Hindu texts which Sanatan Sikhs such as Nirmalas studied) that daughters and daughter-in-laws are another’s property [he taught].’
‘Pracheen Panth Prakash’, by Rattan Singh Bhangu, commented upon by Akali Nihang Baba Santa Singh Ji, Pa. 518-519

The Hindalieh Sikh sect survived till late 19th century. The disciples of this sect were primarily ‘Grishti’ (householders) and did not mourn their dead. They deposited their deceased cremated remains in the reservoir of Nathoaneh. Pundit Ganesha Singh Nirmala further noted:

‘They have no rites done by Brahmins. They have no faith in pilgrim centers, Hindu Gods, ancestor worship etc. They marry according to their own traditions. Other than one ‘Niranjan’ (Almighty God) they have faith in and worship no other. On meeting they place their hands behind their back.’
‘Bharat Mat Darpan’, by Pundit Ganesha Singh Nirmala, 1926, Pa. 90

One of the 7 sacred pilgrim centers of the Sanatan world, Hardwar is situated on the foothills of the Himalayas

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