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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Time of origin: early 1800s

This famous Sikh movement was started by Baba Balak Singh (1799-1862) in the early 1800s. In accordance with Sanatan Sikh Shastar Vidiya Gurdev Akali Nihang Baba Mohinder Singh’s view, Baba Balak was initiated into the Sikh faith by a ‘Sehajdhari’ Udasi Sikh named Bhagat Jwahar Mal of Rawalpindi. Dr Gopal Singh in his ‘History of the Sikhs’ also mentions Balak Singh as being a follower of Jwahar Mal.

Baba Balak Singh
A contemporary painting by Hari Singh Bansal, depicting the Baba Balak Singh as a child, circa 1962

Nihang Niddar Singh recently verified Balak Singh’s Udasis connection with a Namdhari Sikh named Kuldeep Singh, the present secretary of Namdhari Gurdwara in Birmingham. Kuldeep Singh stated that he heard the same fact from elderly Namdharis. A British text written early last century also claims Balak Singh was an Udasi:

‘Kuka, a fanatical sect of Sikhs. To the peaceful order of the Udhasis belonged one Balak Singh, an Arora by caste of ‘Hazro’ in Attock, who about 1846 inaugurated among the Sikhs a movement which, was directed against, the participation of Brahmins in weddings and, generally, against their influence over the community. He formed adherents in the Sikh garrison of the fort, and they became known as Sagrasi or Habiasi. On Balak Singhs death in 1863 his nephew Kahn Singh succeeded him, retaining in the locality a certain number of followers, whose doctrines are never divulged. Balak Singhs teaching was, however, taken up by Ram Singh, a carpenter of Bhaini Ala in Ludihana---.’
‘A Glossary Of The Tribes And Castes Of The Punjab And North-West Frontier Province, Vol. II, by Horace A. Rose, 1911, Pa. 560

This adopting of non-Khalsa Udasis, Sevapanthi or Nirmala spiritual guides termed as ‘Guru’ (said in context of teacher) by Khalsa Sikhs such as Balak Singh in the Sanatan Sikh world was and still is quite common.

Baba Sri Chand Ji Maharaj

An idol of Baba Sri Chand, the eldest son of Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and founder of the Udasi order

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