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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Divaneh Sadh cont'd

Hari and Bala were from the Malwa region of the Punjab and did great service of Merhban, greatly pleasing him. Bala asked his Guru for the creation of such a Panth, the likes of which there has never been. He desired to cut his hands and ears like the ‘Gorakhnathi’ Sadhus.

A temple in Nepal dedicated to Gorakhnath, the famous Yogi, circa late 19th century

Merhban instead advised him to adorn a ‘Kafani’ (long loose sleeveless gown worn by Indian mendicants), put around neck necklace of conch shells, on head wear a hat of peacock feathers and on shoulder carry a wooden pestle. Bala was further advised to blacken his face and consider it as shaved, and in hand he was to take up a broken piece of pottery and consider his hands cut. He was further advised to beat a drum, dance and sing praises of God using hymns from Adi Guru Durbar and writings of Merhban Thus, dressed in such an absurd manner, Bala and his followers attained the name ‘Divaneh Sadh’ - men mad with love of God. In the Sanatan Sikh world, Divaneh Sadh were famous for signing Gurbani and dancing to it, akin to the Sufi Dervishes of Islam.

Sufi Dervishes, circa late 19th century

Divaneh Sadh still claimed to be ‘Nanak Panthi’ (followers of Akali Guru Nanak, i.e., Sikhs). However, as a Divaneh Sadh text found in Gurdwara of Verko written in 1803, under guidance of Bhai Darbari points out, they differed on point of Guruship from other mainstream Sikhs. Divaneh Sadhs acknowledged the first five Sikh Gurus and along side Akali Guru Hargobind Sahib, they also considered Merhban as the sixth successor of Akali Guru Nanak.

Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji Maharaj
Scene depicting a scene from the 'Janam Sakhis' of the
first Sikh Guru's wedding reception, circa mid 19th century

Bala, who has been accredited for making the Divaneh Sadh sect famous, had three chief disciples - Pir Haria, Nohshah and Pir Patra. Through the holy influence of these three Sikh holy men, the Badolia, Pachadia and Patti clan of bandits stopped robbing and plundering Malwa. During the turbulent times of the Sikh kingdoms, Amir Das Divanah Sadh, a master of Ayurvedic medicine became very famous. His disciple, Bal Mukand wrote the ‘Sarbsangreh’, text, in which he traced the succession order of Divaneh Sadh thus:

1. Bala
2. Hardas
3. Masa Das
4. Darbari Das
5. Chatur Das
6. Ram Sunder
7. Nickti Das
8. Sidkhi Das
9. Mohan Das
10. Ram Das
11. Amir Das
12. Bal Mukand

Other Divaneh Sadh give other lineages of Divaneh Sadh depending on which Merhban's disciple they are descended from.

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