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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
Page 15 of 15

Namdharis/Kookeh cont'd

Namdharis in Birmingham, UK speak of recent sightings of Baba Ram Singh in Germany by certain Germans. In accordance with above Kookah belief, Baba Ram Singh is alive. His successors - Baba Hari Singh, Baba Partap Singh and Baba Jagjit Singh, though addressed as and treated as Namdhari ‘Gurus’, are only just ‘custodians’ of Baba Ram Singh’s ‘Gurgadi’ (Guru’s throne).

Namdhari Gurdwara Birmingham, UK

The 'Astan' (place) reserved for Jagit Singh, the present Satguru of
the Namdharis (his photograph hangs on the wall above the reserved area)

According to Namdhari prophecies, Baba Ram Singh, born 1816, is to live for 250 years then he must appear before 2066 to bring about the ‘Golden Age’. The present ‘Satguru’ of Namdharis is the accomplished musician and Sikh holy man, Baba Jagjit Singh.

Though the Namdhari Sikhs do not believe in the Adi Guru Durbar as Guru, this does not imply that they do not respect or revere the sacred scripture. The manner in which Namdharis relate to Adi Guru Durbar is analogous to how mainstream Sikhs view Dasam Guru Durbar. They look upon the teachings as ‘Gurbani’ (Guru’s holy words), but not as ‘Guru’. Namdharis in no way disrespect Adi Guru Durbar, or for that matter Dasam Guru Durbar. Indeed, from experience, they show more respect towards Adi Guru Durbar than the vast majority of Sikhs who claim it to be their Guru. The elderly Namdharis in particular are firm in their ‘Rehit’ (code of conduct) as they understand it.

Namdhari Sikhs engaged in reciting scripture from Adi Guru Durbar
during a ceremony marking the 'Shaheedi Divas' (day of martyrdom) of Akali Guru Arjan Dev Ji

Namdharis excel nearly all Sikhs in one particular skill, that of ‘Gurmat Sangeet’ (singing of sacred scriptures). As a community, they are are the forefront of the correct singing of Sikh sacred scriptures according to ‘Raag’ (musical meters stipulated within Adi Guru Durbar, Dasam Guru Durbar and Sarbloh Guru Durbar). This tradition of 'Raags' amongst the Namdharis began early last century in the 1930s where Baba Partap Singh employed Hindu, Sikh and Muslim Indian classical music masters to teach his son (and eventual successor), Baba Jagjit Singh.

Gurmat Sangeet
Namdhari Sikhs singing Sikh scripture according to 'Raag' using traditional Indian musical instruments

In his lifetime Baba Jagjit Singh has greatly promoted ‘Raag Vidiya’ (knowledge of Raag and Indian classical music), thus gaining the applause of all Indian classical music masters such as Nihang Baba Balbir Singh, Ustad Ajmad Ali Khan, Pundit Hari Parsad Chaurasia etc. It seems that only S.G.P.C. do not appreciate the classical music mastery of Namdhari Sikhs, and have outlawed the best Sikh ‘Kirtania’ (musicians) from performing Kirtan in mainstream Sikh temples since 2000. This is due to the S.G.P.C. stance against the Namdharis for for believing in a living Guru, rather than Adi Guru Durbar.

Baba Jagjit Singh

The present 'Guru' of the Namdhari Sikhs, and an expert musician

Namdharis are absolute theists, believing in ‘Nirankar’ (formless) God alone. They do a particular form of ‘Naam Simran’ (contemplation), a forerunner to Akhand Kirtani ‘Sas Gras’. In dietary habits they are vegetarians, and although they acknowledge ‘Degh’ of ‘Sukha’ (cannabis), they abjure all other drugs.

They hold Adi Guru Durbar and Dasam Guru Durbar as equal in light of being holy Sikh scriptures.

Like the Udasis of today and Akali Nihangs of past, Namdharis do ‘Havans’ (burning of sacrificial fires with incense and ghee) whilst reciting Sikh scripture. The havan is also central to their weddings, they also circumvallate the sacred fire, rather than Sikh holy scriptures as is usual mainstream Sikh practice.

Like Nihangs, Namdharis circumvallate anticlockwise, rather than clockwise. The dress of Namdharis, emphasizing their ‘Sato Guna’ (virtue of purity), is white. Their style of turban is a unique with distinct flat pleats going across forehead.

Namdhari Sikhs
The Memorial erected at Malerkotla, Punjab, that commemorates the martyrdom
of the 66 Namdhari 'Shaheeds' (martyrs). The pillar is studded with 66 holes, one for each martyr

Namdhari of today though having faith in quaint prophecy-based beliefs with regards to Sikh Guruship and they are on whole gentle, tolerant devote true Sikhs of Akali Guru Nanak.


Gurmat Sangeet

Neeladhari Sikhs

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