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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Time of origin: early 1600s

In the village of Jandaila lived a Jat named Gaji Kang. In 1573, his wife Sukhi gave birth to a son named Hindal, who was married into a Chahal Jat family residing in Kartarpur at the tender age of 12.

Soon after, Hindal dreamt of a Yogi who instructed him to seek out ‘Sat Sang’ (holy company). From this moment on, Hindal’s mind would not settle, and in time he began to search for spiritual solace. This lead him to the city of Amritsar where he settled in the precincts of the Golden Temple. His parented followed him and attempted to persuade him to return to Kartarpur, but he refused. In desperation, Hindal’s mother turned to Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji who sent one Bohra Sikh to fetch Hindal. The Guru advised Hindal to return home with his mother. Hindal agreed to the request but added that he would only do so after 12 years of serving the Guru. The Guru fed Hindal from the ‘Langar’ (communal kitchen), it is said that Hindal became enlightened.

Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj
Fresco from the walls of Baba Atal Gurdwara, Amritsar, depicting the fifth Sikh Guru (left)
dictating scripture to Bhai Gurdas Ji (center) while the great Hindu Muslim Bhagat Kabir (right) looks on

Hindal began his service at the ‘Langar’ that fed thousands. Once, the Guru paid a visit to the kitchen as Hindal was kneading dough. As the Guru approached, Hindal put his hands behind his back as they were covered in dough. Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji advised Hindal to salute him in that manner from then on, and in time, Hindal received blessings and permission from the Guru to spread the word of Sikhism. Hindal left the Guru and became itinerant. After 12 years away from home, he returned.

Fresco from the walls of Baba Atal Gurdwara, Amritsar, depicting
a scene from the 'Janam Sakhis' of the first Sikh Guru eating Langar during his wedding

Upon his arrival, Hindal went and destroyed his father’s ancestral place of worship dedicated to Sakhi Sultan. His family and other clan members were angry, but Hindal sat down uttering “Sat Kartar” (true eternal Creator). Upon hearing these words, many abandoned their old religious beliefs and became Sikhs. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu’s Pracheen Panth Prakash, Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji requested 20-30 villages to visit Hindal and receive religious instruction. They became known as ‘Niranjanieh’ initially, but with time they became to be known as ‘Hindalieh’.

After building up a large following, Hindal passed away in 1648. The fifth Sikh Guru had warned Hindal about setting himself up as a Guru, and becoming a false prophet. However, Rattan Singh Bhangu writes that Hindal had begun to dissociate himself from the Sikhism of Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji in his later years. Hindal even stated that Akali Guru Nanak was an ‘Avtar’ (incarnation) of Raja Janak, and that he himself was an Avtar of Janak’s son-in-law, Siri Ram Chandra Maharaj.

Hindal even edited the ‘Janam Sakhis’ (mythologised biographies of Akali Guru Nanak’s life) to include his claims. Hindal was succeeded by his son, Bidhi Chand who eventually married a prostitute who bore him a son named Devi Das. In order to justify his marriage to a prostitute, he edited the ‘Janam Sakhis’ and stated that Akali Guru Nanak had married a Muslim wife named Manjot. Manjot would give birth to 2 sons and a daughter. Bidhi Chand also preached that any action a King or holy man did would never taint them, and they would remain without sin. In time, Bidhi Chand was succeeded by his son, Devi Chand.

Janam Sakhis
A folio from an illustrated 'Janam Sakhi', circa late 18th century
depicting Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji engaged in discussions with holy men

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