www www.sarbloh.info
Information Site Map Glossary Articles Sanatan Skhs Sanatan Sikh Scriptures Sanatan Sikh Gurus Universal Faith The Truth Introduction
The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
Page 2 of 4

Sanatan Singh Sabhias cont'd

The Sanatan Sikh world that the British conquered was considered ‘Boh Panthi’ (pluralistic). The reader must appreciate that the western definition of what one considers a ‘religion’ cannot be applied to the Sanatan Sikh world, which is riddled with paradox, multi-layered ideologies and Indian culture. In comparison to this, the homogenous Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia Sikh world considers one to be a Sikh when he/she is wearing the five K’s, is a ‘Khalsa Sikh’, and adheres to the Sikh Rehit Maryada.

Bo Panthi
A group of Udasi and possibly Nirmala(?) Sikhs at Hardwar, circa late 19th century

The Sanatan Sikh world could not be more different to this, even if one wished it to be so, where non-Khalsa Udasi, Seva Panthi and Nirmala Sikhs are on equal footing to Khalsa Sikhs in the running of Sikh temples. Non-Khalsa Sikhs such as the Nirmalas, who were not bound by the five K’s would freely mix with Hindu Brahmins, Sufi Saints, Sadhus of various sects, and they in turn mixed with Sanatan Sikhs. Vedantic texts such as ‘Pars Bhaag’ were kept within Sikh temples and read to the congregation. Although Sanatan Sikhs considered themselves as iconoclasts, they still tolerated Hindu idols within the precincts of Sikh shrines.

A etch based on the work by WIlliam Carpenter depicting the precincts of Durbar Sahib, circa late 19th century

The descendants of Bhai Mardana, the Muslim ‘Rababias’ (players of the Rabab), were the main singers within the Sanatan world. Though caste was not acknowledged at the spiritual level, it was practiced at the socioeconomic level.

Bhai Mardana
17th generation descendant of Bhai Mardana, Ashiq Ali Bhai Lal (left), along with his
brother Bhai Irshad (2nd from right) and two sons at the Golden Temple, Amritsar, October 2004

Page 2