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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Sutra Shaieh cont'd

One tale speaks of a haughty Muslim Fakir who regularly visited the ‘Langar’ (free communal kitchen) of the seventh Sikh Guru. Once Suthra Shah confronted the Fakir and snatched his cap of him, throwing it in a well. Suthra then openly challenged the Fakir to summon out his cap from the well using his occult powers. When the Fakir could not do this, Suthra commanded the cap out of the well successfully and appropriated the cap for himself. Then he also snatched the Fakir’s stick too. With this act the haughty Fakir was humbled and Akali Guru Har Rai greatly pleased. The Guru gave Suthra Shah a ‘Seli Topi’ (cap) and stick of his own and established for him a ‘Bakhshish’ (gift/blessing) in the guise of an Udhasi Sikh order named after him called ‘Suthra Shaheh’.

Sutra Shahi
Painting of a Sutra Shahi Sikh wearing a 'Seli Topi' and holding Fakir sticks, circa mid 18th century

The Guru charged Suthra and his followers with the mission of spreading Sanatan Sikhism.

Suthra Shah gained many ‘Sikhs’ (disciples) and spread the fame of Sikhism through many lands. He even confronted the bigoted Moghal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi, with the blessing of Akali Guru Har Rai.

A scene depicting the Moghal Emperor's marriage procession, circa late 18th century

History recalls that the Emperor and his ‘Qazis’ (Muslim clergy) were fond of insulting Hindus by forcefully removing their ‘Jannu’ (sacred thread) and ‘Tilak’ (saffron paste put on the forehead). Suthra Shah accosted the Qazis on both of these issues. He put on a ‘Jannu’ made of Pig entrails and adorned a ‘Tilak’ of Pig feaces and challenged the Qazis to either break the ‘Jannu’ or lick the ‘Tilak’. If they could not do so, they should leave the Hindus alone. As it turned out, the Qazis were humbled and humiliated.

Sutra Shahi Sikh
Depiction of a Sutra Shahi Sikh (labeled as a 'Nanak
Pounthy' holding the trademark sticks, circa late 18th century

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