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History of Ramgariah Gurudwaras?


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I have been hearing a lot about "Ramgariah Gurudwaras" these days, so I would like to know about history of these Gurudwaras. I know whenever there are Gurdwaras based on community names then there is 100% politics involved behind it but I have searched the whole net and couldn't find anything relevent information to come to any conclusion.

Any feedback on the origin of Ramgariah Gurudwaras?

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Guest kaur1699

Fateh Ji,

What 'I've heard' is that when Gurdwara Sahibs were first set up here in the UK they were Gurdwara's. Then as time went by arguments and stuff started happening as different people wanted to hold different events in Gurdwara''s. I know that Ravidas Gurdwara's came into being as people who look up at Bhagat Ravidas were not allowed to celebrate it at the Gurdwara so they set up their own Gurdwara sahib (fact, happened locally). Its friction between different people that caused this to happen as far as I know...

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kaur 1699 is correct.

back in the days (in UK) sikhs came together and built their own gurdwaras, but in my local gurdwara the 'jatts' didnt let other castes be part of the committees..so the Ramgharians got together and made their own gurdwareh. I know that sikhs dont belive in castes..but tell that to the sikh kids at schools who get harsh treatment if they r not jatt or watever caste.

...mind you, these days i notice that this realisation of a caste system is fading away and the youth are breaking away from it, there are alot more youth becoming aware of the casteless system in sikhism. i rekon its due to more sikh camps, educational material we get at gurdwaras, internet, increase in sikh schools. i think its great, in my opinion the youth are becoming more into sikhi than back in my day...

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...mind you, these days i notice that this realisation of a caste system is fading away and the youth are breaking away from it, there are alot more youth becoming aware of the casteless system in sikhism. i rekon its due to more sikh camps, educational material we get at gurdwaras, internet, increase in sikh schools. i think its great, in my opinion the youth are becoming more into sikhi than back in my day...

Girl Uk has hit the hot spot it won;t be long before these gurdwwars will be renamed and the youngsters run wild, is the world ready Sikhi is for life not just for Vaisakhi :hearme:

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  • 4 weeks later...

Gur Fateh to ALL!

Hari is correct in stating that RAMGHARIA is "NOT" a caste -it is one of the few surviving misls, unfortunately many in the Diaspora are too keen to label them as a caste (Tarkhans, Lohars or Mistries et al).

Ramgharia derives from the RAM-GHAR killah (fortress), which in turn is taken from its original name of RAM RAUNI. So, let's look at what these terms actually mean in a simple manner:-

RAM = God

GHAR = House

Hence, very simplistically, RAMGHARIA is one from the house of God, hence naming a Gurdwara as RAMGHARIA Sabha or Gurdwara etc, is not violating any Maryada besides there is no 'law' or maryada stipulating that we must name a Gurdwara after a Guru, as some were suggesting.

This is a vast topic and certainly one very misunderstood, by so-called Ramgharias themselves! There are also many untruths and false accounts associated with the character of Jassa Singh Ramgharia, who was to all extents a puran Gur-Sikh of the Dal Khalsa Panth.

Incidently, if one really does wish to feature caste in the debate, sure, the majority of the Ramgharia Misl did stem from 'artisan' professions, hence Tarkhans (Carpenters), Lohars (Metal Workers), Mistries (Masonaries) feature as the hereditary profession of many of the Misl, however one can also see common 'Ghotras' of 'Jat' and 'Khatri' origin, for instance Gill, Sahota and Suri, respectivley, feature within the present day descendents of the Ramgharia Misl. The reasoning for the artisan professional backgrounds stems from the role that the Misl had within the Dal as the main producer of Shasters, Armaments et al.

The association with Tarkhans arose owing to Jassa Singh Ramgharia's family being of this background as were many other famous Sikhs descending from the Ramgharia Misl, for instance, Baba Raam Singh, Baba Nand Singh Ji and Baba Puran Singh. However one should note that the founder of the Misl was not a Tarkhan, but of Jatt background and also Jassa Singh Ramgharia, was a Fauji under the command of Shikar-e-Quam Jassa Singh Alhuwalia of the Alhuwalia Misl.

There is much that can be discussed with regard to this Misl and its history and relevance as well as much that needs to be understood correctly to clarify the mistaken accounts of the Ramgharia Sardar, although this is a long story! Should any wish to discuss this further, please do feel free to continue this discussion, 'sensibly' and not let this fall into a political argument. I am still looking for further research and material on the Ramgharia Misl and that too of the Alhuwalia and Bhangi Misls, so welcome any support in this regard.

Bir Ras de Naal...GUR BAR AKAAAAAAAAL!!!

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Ramgarhia Gurdwaras came into existance because most of the Gurdwaras, such as the Singh Sabha's, in the UK would only have jatts in their committees. In this way the Ramgharias may have understandingly felt as if they werent welcome, so they decided it was best for them to open their own Gurdwaras. I read in a book not so long ago, that certain jatts used to look down on ramgharias, because back in India, jatts were farmers, and ramgarhias were craftsmen, metalworkers and carpenters (ramgharias played a massive role in building the east Africa railways)....hence they made the machinary and equipment that the jatts would use on their farms. This kind of made jatts think they were superior to ramgharias.. Which is why many Gurdwaras had solely Jatt committes in the UK. Lets hope these beliefs rightly change in the near future, because this kind of inequality isnt right in Sikhism.

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i remember reading in the book sikh predictions that for a while the future sikhs will be divided by caste , but in the end will come together inline with other happenings at a time when the panth will bein a grave danger after suffering major setbacks for a long period. but the outcome is meant to be good.

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Gur Fateh to All!

Gurjit Semhi Ji has some valid points on recent political points concerning Ramgharias vis-a-vis relations with the Singh Sabhas and 'Jatts' post partition.

The separation in terms of Gurdwara Organisation actually emerged in East Africa, where for the first time since the Misldar Period, the Ramgharias eventually found themselves in the majority in certain locations (owing to the British Raj and need for the East African infrastructure constructions as Semhi Ji referenced).

However, the split emerged early on with the Singh Sabha Gurdwaras invariably resulting in 'Jatt' domination through numerical majority (prior to the increase in Ramgharia populace) -please could the Sadh Sangat note, that I am not referencing caste out of spite or because I practice the 'system', simply for factual purposes (in no way am I trying to imply superiority of one above another -these are largely hereditary professions that many families chose to keep within and are not mentioned here for vindictive purposes, only for factual record).

This did lead to the emergence of the Ramgharia Gurdwaras in East Africa, although I am aware that Ramgharia Councils and Sabhas also existed in India. Following the migration of the East African Sikhs into the UK (predominantly) during the 1970s, the institution (Ramgharia Sabha and Ramgharia Gurdwaras) were also brought with them.

Interesting to note on the occupation of power by the Jatt brethren is that this occurance is spread across the diaspora, which also explains the existance of Ravi Dasia Gurdwaras and such like and also the events and politics surrounding much of Punjab and the SGPC management.

As far the establishment of the Ramgharias in East Africa andsubsequently the UK is concerned, it is interesting to note that the eventual numerical majority in East Africa did have quite an effect on the community and the Panth at large.

Many received success in a number of fields outside of the traditional Carpentry, Metal Work et al and moved into Engineering (some may argue this is a natural progression but keeps within the Hereditiary Tradition), Law and Medical fields. The result upon their arrival in the UK was notable in that previous Sikh immigrants during the 1950s had largely shed their Khalsa Identity and would largely encourage new Sikh immigrants upon arrival to have their haircut in order to assimilate and find work in Britain.

Although not the only ones to do so, the Ramgharias had considerable impact in reserving this trend in maintaining their Dastaars and Kesh, aided by their British Based education and experience in East Africa, this was a time of subtle revival for the Sikhs, incidently around the same time that Harbhajan Singh Puri (aka Yogi Bhajan) found success with the Guru's message in the US. Dr Sangat Singh in "Sikhs in History" makes reference to these events as two turning points in the 1960/70's for the Sikh diaspora, who were at the time beginning to lag in terms of the Khalsa Maryada. Of course, this was further followed by the great work in Punjab of Baba Jarnail Singh Bindrawale...

In the UK, Slough and Ilford being key examples in London, regular dialogue between the Singh Sabhas and Ramgharia Sabhas are common place and annual events such as the Vasakhi Jor Mela et al are collectively organised and managed as one.

An aspect I am quite keen to explore is the links that both the Singh Sabha (historically in Punjab) and Ramgharias (through East Africa) had with the British. The impact of this, when critically viewed can be seen manifest in the organisation of both present day Sabhas and on an individual basis in terms of attitudes and outlook...

(to be cont!)

Gur Fateh to one and all!!! :D

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Gur Fateh to All!

Malwadoabamajha Ji (that sure is a mouthful! LOL) as per your query regarding committee members, as far as I am aware, Ramgharia Gurdwara Constitutions usually state that the Gurdwara is open to all (as per Maryada, i.e. regardless of Caste, Race, Religion et al) however the committee members are solely Ramgharias (so yes, non-Tarkhans can be on the committee, as not all Ramgharias are Tarkhans, albeit all Tarkhans tend to be Ramgharias -see my earlier notes). This is what essentially makes it the "Ramgharia" gurdwara.

Yes, this is partly due to the issues arising from the discrimination experienced from past participation in the Singh Sabhas, however as stated earlier, this does not change the functioning of the Gurdwara Maryada in anyway and most areas have all annual events (i.e. Vasakhi, Gurpurabs etc) organised together by the Singh Sabhas and Ramgharia Sabhas.

What remains of the historical heritage of the Ramgharias in India (much of it has been destroyed) can be seen near the Dabar Sahib Amritsar as the Ramgharia Bungas, although these have been re-constructed following the events of 1984. Interesting, prior to the advent of the SGPC and evolution of the Tat Khalsa orthodoxy as it stands today, there were many Bungas surrounding the Harmandir Sahib belonging to the Nirmalas and Udasi Akharas and Deras. These functioned as seats of learning and education from what little I understand of this (if anyone should know more, please do advise), however were sunsequently demolished and with them too the Nirmalas and Udasis removed from their positions in Amritsar...

As per the topic of commitees (and subsequently elections and organisation) this is an interesting one to look into not only for Ramgharia and Singh Sabhas, but also for the Panth as a whole...particularly in light of the comments upon which I left my last note.

Presently, most Gurdwaras are run upon a system of elections and many a text book on Sikhi and on Guru Gobind Singh in particular makes mention of Sikhi supportive of democratic systems. Similarly, Jassa Singh Ramgharia is also cited as having based his leadership upon democratic principles. Personally, I have always found this hard to stomach (just as much as the political leaflets of the 'communist' Sikh advocates). This is a wide topic and maybe better raising in a new thread, however I would like to suggest the following before closing:-

To my knowledge :

-none of the Guru's were elected (I acknowledge, this is somewhat different to local level management as some may argue)

-none of the Masands (set up by Guru Amar Das Ji) had their heads

elected

-(temporal) leadership of the Panth following Guru Gobind Singh was never elected (i.e. Gurbux Singh aka 'Banda Singh Bahadur')

-leaders of the Dal Khalsa and Misls were never elected

Uptil the Sikh Raj under Ranjit Singh, there appears to have been a system of 'selection'. Following the Sikh Raj and the establishment of a monarchy (Sikh or Un-Sikh??? -maybe another topic to also discuss), democracy and elections seems to have appeared by virtue of British influence.

I would recommend reading articles on Sikh policy by the late Sardar Kapur Singh (in Parasaranasna) and also Dr Seva Singh Kalsi's paper on Power in the Sikh Community (I shall look to provide links or mroe comprehensive references in due course).

Finally, Khalsa Akal Purakh Ki Fauj...Dal Khalsa...Sant Sipai...all are indicative of an Army...can an Army ever function on the basis of election/democratic decision making???

Malwadoabamajha, I hope I provided some insight into yout query, I welcome all comments from all in the Sadh Sangat on any of the foregoing, and ask that any foolish comments on my part please be excused.

Gur Bar Akaaal!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Nirajana Ji,

Democratic principles are essentially about appointing the best person for the job as a pose to some form of hereditary title......fairness, equality and social justice being the core to democratic principles....here are some examples in Sikhi of this.......

- Guruship was not heredatory.......best people were appointed.....

- Panj Pyarey........again best people were appointed by the people.....

- Masands were the best people appointed........when it became autocratic ........it was abolished by the 10th Master.......

- Daswand or giving to the poor is based on the Democratic principle of Social Justice.......

- Social Justice is found largely in Democratic left wing orientated states......

I can cite many more examples.........but I am sure you get the gist......

Thanks

I would say.........we Sikhs have made a mockery of these priciples.........

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Sardar Randip Singh Ji!

GUR FATEH!

Thanks for your response, I agree that democracy 'aims' to have the best person appointed for the job in hand, however in practice, Democracy is little more than power to the numerical majority or increasingly as we are seeing, power to the mob...

...now I agree with the examples you give, the individuals concerned were awarded the roles in question on the basis of their merits, but, unless I am mistaken, none were ever elected....

...given your examples on social justice, I feel this to be where we may need to separate the discussion, I had initially referred to democracy as a means of political structure and power, and as you quite rightly say, Sikhs along with the rest of the I would add, have made a mockery of such principles...however, matters such as social justice are more akin to principles arising from a 'welfare state' which is not exclusive to democracy...

...this is an interesting topic, which I hope we can continue to explore, I am no political scientist or scholar, so please forgive any foolish comments on my part...I leave you with the following from the late Sardar Kapur Singh on the Sikh Poitical Structure...

(1) The sangat, meaning, the local folk assembly of direct representation.

(2) The Panth, which is the whole Commonwealth represented by the Peoples’ Assembly of indirect representation.

(3) The Khalsa, which postulates the sui generis, inalienable sovereignty of the People.

(4) The condominium of Guru Granth and Panth, which implies that the exercise of power is always subject to bonafides and good conscience.

(5) The Panjpiaras which is the doctrine of collegial leadership in the direction of State policies. [34]

(6) The Gurmata which is the symbol and form of the authority of the Collective Will of the people duly formulated.

(7) The Sarbat Khalsa doctrine of completely equalitarian free democracy.

Ref: http://www.sikhcoalition.org/Sikhism15.asp

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Hi Naranjhan Ji,

I am deliberately being vague about democratic principles..........there are many systems of democracy around the world................what I would say is that they are based on the General consensus........although there was no formal voting in Sikhi..............it was always about the best person being appointed.....Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji muddied the water a bit and I think if he had adhered to the "best Person" principle........there may have been a Sikh Kingdom for longer....................

anyway....back to the point............if you take the general democratic principle of "Consensus" and the "Best Person"................I am sure you will have no doubt that these principles exist exclusively in Sikhi.................other faiths seem to be hung up on other issues.................however unfortunately Sikhi seems to be moving that way..........

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Gur Fateh Randip Singh,

Good to hear from you again! In general, I find that we broadly agree in terms of the core principals here and yes Sikhi is certainly exclusive in this regard.

However, as you say, we have long lost this faculty. Maharaja Ranjit certainly did break away from this notion in setting up a Monachy and the present day incumbents of Sikh temporal power the SGPC have really taken matters to the pits with their pseudo-democratic elections.

The way forward is a difficult one to assess, Dr Seva Singh Khalsi's paper on this subject (which I've to locate for a weblink) deals with the pros and cons of the various systems used today from elections, selections, punj pyare, 'parchia pona' (drawing lots) through to appointed selection/heritage...

Thanks for sharing your ideas,

GUR BAR AKAAAL!

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