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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Ramgharia Sikhs

Time of origin: circa 1730s

Many Sikhs today mistake the term ‘Ramgharia’ for a caste rather than a sect. The Ramgharias are predominantly ‘Tarkhans’ (carpenters) by caste. A Tarkhan named Hardas, and his son Bhagwan Singh served Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh in the late 1600s/early 1700s. Later they would serve Banda Bahadur during his battles with the Moghals.

A painting by Kapur Singh of a carpenter named Dyal Singh, who specialised in making combs, circa mid 19th century

Bhagwan Singh had four sons - Jassa Singh, Tara Singh, Ali Singh and Khushal Singh. In 1740s Jassa Singh was accused of female infanticide and excommunicated from the Khalsa Panth by the Budha Dal Jathedar, the true head of the Akal Takht. The ostracized Jassa Singh, along with his father and brothers went and joined the Moghals as mercenaries. Bhagwan Singh died as a mercenary alongside the Moghals while fighting against the Persian invader Nadir Shah.

Jassa Singh Ramgharia
Jassa Singh Ramgharia (left) with Jodh Singh and Bir Singh, circa late 18th century

As a result of Bhagwan Singh’s and his sons’ bravery on the battlefield, the Moghals gave a land grant of five villages to Jassa Singh’s family. Jassa Singh and his brothers served Adina Beg. In October 1748, Adina Begs armies led by the Sahejdhari Sikh Kaura Mal besieged the Khalsa at Ram Rauni. In the ranks of Adina Beg stood Jassa Singh Ramgharia and a few of his Singhs. Seeing the plight of his brethren, he secretly communicated to the Khalsa that he wished to be forgiven and join them within the fort. The Khalsa accepted, and Jassa Singh and his troops deserted Adina Beg taking with them a great deal of ammunitions and supplies. Moghal spirits were broken.

From this moment on, Jassa Singh and his brothers once more joined the Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa ranks. They fought alongside the Khalsa in all their future battles. In time Jassa Singh established his own kingdom with its capital at Hargovind Pur.

Jassa Singh Ramgharia’, as he became to be known, was succeeded by Jodh Singh, who would later be subdued by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The successors of Jodh Singh, Bir Singh and Diwan Singh, remained in servitude of Ranjit Singh having lost most of their land. Ranjit Singh only allowed them enough holdings to sustain themselves. A Mangal Singh of the Ramgharia Missal (confederacy) was made ‘Sarbrah’ (caretaker) by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, to police the shrines of Amritsar.

Sardar Mangal Singh Ramgharia

Photograph of the 'Sarbrah' of all shrines in Amritsar

At present Tarkhan Sikhs who are descended from the Ramgharia Missal, especially in UK, keep their Gurdwaras separate and try to, contrary to Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia thinking, maintain their distinctiveness in Sikhism. Many of their practices are in line with Sanatan Sikh ideology.

Ramgharia Sikh
A Ramgharia Sikh in Southall, UK, circa early 1970s wearing a distinctive 'Kenya' style turban

Some sections of Ramgharias, in line with ancient Tarkhan practices, still practice the ancient Hindu Tarkhan worship of Baba Bishkarma.

Ramgharia Bunga
The only two surviving 'Bunga' (towers) in the Golden Temple complex in
Amritsar which were heavily damaged during Operation Bluestar in June 1984

Ramgharia affiliated websites:


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