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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhias cont'd

Even when the past Khalsa spoke of itself as a ‘Teeja Panth’ (3rd path), it was stated as being the third way of ‘Naam’ (contemplation of God) that transcended the bickering dogma of the Muslim and Hindu religions, not as a sectarian ideology. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu’s ‘Pracheen Panth Prakash’, when the Akali Nihangs and the Bandai Khalsa floated their respective letters on the ‘Sarovar’ (reservoir of water), they both sank to the bottom initially.

Lithograph of Durbar Sahib, Amritsar, circa mid 19th century

Upon seeing this, the Akali Nihangs were not concerned that this signified the end of Sikhism, but were more concerned with the end of the Hindu faith:

‘One time both sank. Both sides worried. May it not so happen that both sink. Then the Hindus will not be found, if looked for.’
‘Pracheen Panth Prakash’, by Rattan Singh Bhangu, 1832, Expurgated by Vir Singh Pa. 168

Giani Gian Singh Nirmala also spoke of the Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa as being the defenders of Hinduism, not Sikhism:

‘They have protected within the borders of Hind (India) the religion of the Hindus well by destroying the enemies race and over turning it’s rule.’
‘Naveen Panth Prakash’, Giani Gian Singh Nirmala, 1877, edited by Giani Kirpal Singh, Pa. 2810-2813

A postcard depicting Hindus in Punjab engaged in an elephant fight, circa mid to late 19th century

In one breath, both ‘Sehajdhari’ (non-Khalsa) and ‘Khalsa’ Sanatan Sikhs spoke of themselves as being both Sikh and Hindu. As stated earlier, it was the British writers who first sowed the seeds of segregation, which would germinate amongst the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia Sikhs.

Nanak Shahi
A non-Khalsa follower of Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji, circa 1825

The Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia Sikhs were goaded into action by the irresponsible action of the fool, Dayanand Saraswati, who declared Sikhism as being distinct from Hinduism. On 27th August 1892, ‘The Tribune’, a Punjabi and English daily, reported on Page 4 as follows:

English writers, even Anglo-Indian editors, who might know better, always make a grave mistake when speaking of the Sikhs. They seem to think that Sikhs are a people totally different from the Hindus, with whom they have very little in common. While the fact is that practically what differentiates a Sikh from a Hindu is his long hair and unclipped beard. In many families one brother may be a Hindu and the other a Sikh. As to religious belief, there is very little difference between the average Hindu and the Sikh in the Punjab, the GURU and the GRANTH being held in equal reverence by both. The lion-riding goddess of the Hindus is the presiding deity at Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s tomb, and the majority of the worshippers at the Golden Temple are Hindus. Among respectable Sikhs caste is observed and such as have the privilege wear the sacred thread. The Brahman priest plays as important a part among Sikhs as Hindus. In short Sikhs are not distinct from the Hindus and have adopted this name merely to show that they give a particular Guru a place above all others.
‘Ham Hindu Nahin: Arya Samaj Relations’, 1877-1905, by Kenneth W. Jones, Pa. 466

Dayanand Saraswati
The Hindu reformist of the late 19th century, and founder of the Arya Samaj movement, circa 1874

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