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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Jat Sikhs cont'd

Hence, the ancient Jats have a very powerful and illustrious history coupled with a rich martial heritage. It was this martial heritage that would help assist the Sikhs in the 17th century. According to ideal caste-negating Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia philosophy, the acknowledgement of caste is by nature anti-Sikh. Within Sanatan Sikhism however, caste was not accepted nor acknowledged at a spiritual level, but, at a sociopolitical level, it was fully practiced. Cunningham writes:

‘It may nevertheless be justly observed that Gobind abolished caste rather by implication than by direct enactment, and it may be justly objected that the Sikhs still uphold the principal distinctions at least of race. Thus the Gurus nowhere say that Brahmans and Sudars are to inter-marry, or that they are daily to partake together of the same food: but they laid a good foundation for the practical obliteration’s of all differences ------.’
‘History Of Sikhs’, by J. D. Cunningham, 1849, Pa. 313

Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh Ji
A Pahari painting of the tenth Sikh Guru (second from left) greeting a Sufi saint, circa early 18th century

Of all modern Sikhs, the Jats are today most meticulous in not marrying outside their clans. Many Jats today, irrespective of the ideals demanded by Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia Sikhism, hypocritically cling onto many remnants of their past religious traditions.

Jat Women
Jat women in Punjab wearing in their traditional dress, circa late 19th century

The Jat faith of old was a simplistic faith of ancestor worship. Amongst the ‘Chahal’ clan of Jats, there is even a ‘Jat’ version of Akali Nihang Baba Deep Singh story. One must appreciate Akali Nihang Baba Deep Singh is famous in Sikhism for his reputed ability to fight on even, though he was ‘beheaded’. Modern fundamentalist Sikhs attribute Baba Deep Singh’s ability to fight whilst carrying his own head to the divine power of ‘Naam’ (the contemplation of Sikh sacred mantra ‘Va eh-Guru’). Yet, long before Baba Deep Singh, there lived the 'super' Chahal Jat known as Joga Pir, who preformed the same feat. Punjabi folk historian Sohinder Singh Bedi writes:

‘In the region of Moga in Kuli Chahal a festival is held at the memorial of Joga Pir at time of fourth Norata, in it Jats of the Chahal clan from afar come and participate. Joga Pir was some ancestor of the Chahal Jats who became a martyr fighting the Moghals. Tradition holds even after his head was separated from his body Joga holding his head in one hand and in the other the Tulwar and kept on slaughtering the Moghals.’
‘Punjab Dee Lokh Dhara’, by S.S. Bedi, 1973, Pa. 136

Akali Nihang Baba Deep Singh Shaheed
An example of a modern contemporary painting found at the Baba Deep Singh
Shaheed Bunga (tower) at batinda, that romanticizes and perpetuates the myth that Akali Nihang
Baba Deep Singh was 'beheaded' and yet continued to fight while carrying his severed head on his hand

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