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Sanatan Sikhi (General Practices) Discussion 101

Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Gur Fateh!

In addition to the existing 101 discussion on Sanatan Sikh Sampradhyas (to which many questions and possible answers have been suggested on behalf of the Moderation team, yet the "Sanatan Sikh" remain silent), we propose to run the following thread concerning the general atmosphere of the so-called "Sanatan Sikh" era through up to the overturning of the Sanatan Sikh Singh Sabha by the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha and the eventual formation of the SGPC.

To begin with, here are a few matters to consider:-

1. Sanatan Sikhs world view is known to have accomodated regional folk religion together with Gurmat. This has been well documentation with respect to "Sakhi Sarvar" and "Gagga Pir". What are the true implications of such practices and what role do they have for Sikhs?

2. The acknowledgement of caste and lineage often blurred under the Sanatan Sikh world, where we see clear practices such as the refusal to allow those from lower castes to marry into others (argueably not much has changed here today) through to preventing the lower-castes from bathing in the same sarovar as the other Sikh sangat and indeed in some instances refusal of Karah Prashad. (This type of mentality can still observed in the Buddha Dal and Chautha Paurh today with respect to the distribute of Amrit and langer).

3. Sanatan Sikhs clearly approve of the devi episode with regard to the Amrit Sanchar and also recommend recitation of the Chandi Path as a direct eulogy of the Devi (as opposed to the symbolic understanding explained by many modern day Sikh scholars). In addition, no issue was seen in the placing of Idols (fo devis and devtas) around the parkarma of the Harimandir (considered to be a "journey from Sargun to Nirgun"). Is this truly an ideal of a multi-cultural society or something to be concerned about, as indeed the latter Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha was.

4. The Namdharis, although considered 'Sanatan' in certain respected -(acceptance of both Adi and Dasam Guru Granth Sahibs), Havans, Chandi Path etc -were openly opposed to excesses of the Sanatan Sikhs of their day. Their activities of protest included openly demolishing folk religious sites and denouncement of what they considered (and many today would too) to be supertitious folk and cultural practices that had found their way back into the panth. The clearly points to elements within Sikh society not necessarily of the "Tat Khalsa" extreme reformist mind, that had its odds with the 'Sanatan Sikhs'.

As has ben stressed elsewhere, please try and present your information, questions, thoughts and answers to these and other points relating to the topic in a constructive manner and do not allow this thread to descend into a mud slinging match.

Look forward to the debating...

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Whats the difference between Sanatan and Puratan?

If they are same. Why did u prefer calling it sanatan dharma even though in Budda Dal the term "Puratan" is used widely over sanatan?

The reason I asked this question its because in hinduism- RSS loves to use the term Sanatan Dharma. I personally think its very risky for us to use sanatan Dharma that will give RSS another chance to manipulate us and cause major problems by their tactics.

I have asked this to db...he told me the reasons...so i just wanted to get other forum members views.

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Whilst questions 1- 4 still stand to be discussed, here is one more which has been raised previously concerning 'Farla' maryada on this website and frequently gets mentioned on other sites. Perhaps the Nihangs can help set the record straight.

5. Farla-Maryada

www.sarbloh.info indicates that the Farla is bestowed upon Nihangs after some 14 years or so of dedicated service in addition to any exemplary conduct or sacrifice. It then bestows the Nihang with the title Akali Nihang and promotes him to a higher ranking within the Dal.

Nowadays, such Akali Nihangs are commonly termed 'Mahakaal' for instance Mahakaal Baba Vajeer Singh who has frequented the UK recently.

We have seen many comments aired here by the Nihangs against members of the AKJ who have adorned their Dumalas with Farlas as breaking away from the maryada of the Farla, as this has to be bestowed by the Jathedar of the Buddha Dal himself.

The origins of the Farla Maryada usual cite the accounts of Baba Fateh Singh adorned in a tall conical dastaar in Guru Maharaj's Darbar or that of the Uch da Pir episode, however these do not indicate anything other than that the blue dress and dastaar origins of the Nihangs.

So the following questions arise:

a) where has this Farla Maryada come from?

B) what is the difference between a "Farla" and a "Turla" as adorned by Punjabis, Afghans and others?

c) what are the differences/similarites between the 'Dastaar Boonga' and the headgear adopted by "Shiva Jee" Maratha?

and finally to satisfy the curiosity that surrounds Nihang Niddar Singh's Jathedar status of the Buddha Dal UK:

d) can a non-farla-dhari Nihang be a Jathedar?

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Why this sudden love for the word 'Sanatan.' Their is no need for this word. Yes I come from a so called 'Sanatan' ideaology but the instance on the behalf of some peopl that this word should be thrust into the forefront is basically working to divide sikhs even further. This is the same as the word AKJ, Babbar, or Taksali.

Before asking what 'Sanatan' Sikhi says why not ask what Sikhi says?

So called 'Sanatan' Sikhs are not a new breed. They are merely ordinary sikhs who are striving to keep the maryada of the Guru's alive.

Less divides = more pyaar.


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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Challenge Everything Veer,

It is not the intention of the moderation team to create divides. We have had discussions on the AKJ, Taksal and others.

Sanatan Sikhs have referred to themselves as such many many times on this and other sites and on their own websites. This is their choice, so we are in no way put forth this assertion.

In any event the above questions still stand and the lack of response to address these simple queries is interesting given the frequency with which similar discussions on the AKJ or Taksal were hit with opinions and comments.

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

So called 'Sanatan' Sikhs are not a new breed. They are merely ordinary sikhs who are striving to keep the maryada of the Guru's alive.


It is evident from reading the literature of the Sanatan Singh Sabha that the caste system and its taboos had become an integral part of Sikhi and all efforts were made to enforce it, to the extent that those who broke these caste rules were classified as patits and shunned (see “The Khalsa, June 27, 1900 p.3).

The only real manner in which the Sanatan Singh Sabha differed from the Brahmanical caste structure was their inclusion of those such as Jats (traditionally included amongst the Shudras) within the superior castes (a trend still evident in modern day Sikh institution inspired by the Tat Khalsa model, albeit they may claim to be a caste-free society).

One key text that came out from the Sanatan Singh Sabha was Avtar Singh Vahiria’s Khalsa Dharam Sastar (Amritsar, 1914) wherein on pages 321-2 he states the Sanatan Singh Sabha worldview in line with the Brahmanical paradigm of ‘varnasremadharma’ which he also elucidated in his Sikh(Kharaa Khalsa) Dharam Tat Darsan:-

“From Brahmin to Nai, including Chippe and Jhivara (all sudra castes), all those who belong to the 4-fold caste system are not allowed to partake food cooked or touched by outcastes. This implies that just as the 4 Hindu castes can be polluted by the untouchables, similarly in the Sikh Khalsa religion all persons belonging to the 4 castes can be polluted too. Those Sikhs who belong to the untouchable groups (like the Mazhabi, Rahtia and Ramdasia) constitute a separate caste. These untouchable castes do not have the right to proceed beyond the 4th step in Sri Amritsar (at the Harimandir). Members of the high castes should take care not to mix with persons belonging to the lower castes. If someone seeks to do so he forfeits his claim of belonging to the high castes.”

The renowed Nirmala scholar Gyani Gyan Singh (who’s heavy pro-Jat attitudes have been mentioned elswhere on this forum) in his Pustak Khalsa Dharam Patit (Amritsar 1903) also outlines various means by which to overcome numerous kinds of caste-related pollution.

The moderation team would like to request the forum, and particularly the Nirmalas Shaka Nyorai, Tsingh and Vijaydeep Singh together with Veer Challenge Everything, to kindly comment upon the above if indeed we should seek to be context specific about terms of usage and practices prevalent amongst their former prodigy and also

"Before asking what 'Sanatan' Sikhi says why not ask what Sikhi says?"
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  • 4 weeks later...


With all due respect, I cannot see anyone discussing 'what sum1 wants 2 call it', but rather highlight issues of practices and beliefs.

Sanatan Sikhs have been beating their drum concerning AKJ, SGPC and Tat Khalsa Sikhs for a number of years and in the process highlighted some discrepancies between historical views and even social behaviours, it's very interesting to observe that when the same is applied to them that we see silence or responses like yours, which aim like the accusation by Sanatan Sikhs under the AKJ discussion "to divert the topic" into other non-issues and such like.

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I have just seen this topic and would like to fill this 'silence' with something suitably diplomatic (joke).

I feel it is a slightly unfair comparison made by niranjana, between the ideological critique that has been posted on forums such as this of a post-reform sikhi by those who choose not to follow it, and this current discussion on the role that the varnasrama system played within the samprdas, which really is part of a greater issue of the mindset and practices within the larger Sikh community during the 19th century. My objection is that this is more of a subjective area, compared against a more objective critique of a set of reforms. Although Nirmalay commanded considerable respect, influence and patronage at that time, I'm still not convinced they should be held accountable for such attitudes within the general community. Yet I accept his point, and recognise the importance of posing tough questions about the Nirmala samprdas standpoint on such issues.

I am certainly no spokesman for any Nirmala institution beyond the particular parampra I am linked to and can only go by my own limited experiences of others. I concur that the varnasram was and I'd imagine still does pervade some of the Nirmala establishments. I myself to date have only found the same level of emphasis and practice that the Gurus themselves maintained (in issues of marriage alone) and have never come across issues of pollution beyond the common jooth mentality.

Lets be clear here, I myself have asked similar questions and been assured categorically that once a Nirmala the jaat has no significance and that those from all caste backgrounds existed within and had been accepted into the samprda historically since in matters of spirituality all stand equal.

I concur that there are texts that reference caste discrimination, Sudharam Marg Granth itself accepts as Khalsa but maintains a negative attitude toward dalits, and as such is very much of it's time as a 19th century text. Furthermore a text was written titled varnasramdharma by an important 19th century Nirmala, but I have not managed to track this granth down to date. Due to the subject matter of many Nirmala granths it is not possible to delineate common attitudes of Nirmalay in the 18th and 19th centuries, and still even today it is difficult to do so without stereotyping.

Finally, it would be incorrect to assume that Avtar Singh Vahiria was the elected spokesperson for all those who did not side with Lahore Singh Sabha.

Perhaps all that sounds evasive, but I think on such a subjective issue, it is difficult to come to a clear conclusion due to the lack of comprehensive sources and appropriate textual content. Give me 20 years and I may have a more wisened answer.

I'm sure others more learned than me can add more.

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The word sanatan, in relation to Sikhs has been used in many context. Textually references are made in the Adi, Dasam and Sarbloh Granths in the context of ones mind being 'snatan'. On a social level, it is arguable whether people would call themselves snatan. Howver the reason for this may well be, that using 'snatan' to label a set of people is an invention of modern day on lookers.

They are only snatan to us, because something else now exist, so it is a relative term, that is defined against todays forms of SikhISM.

Hence, the essence of any argument about snatan sikhs should be well defined.

The main arguments of the relatively labelled snatan sikhs is simple:

Only FOUR smapradyas were intiated during Guru period.

And form the textual analysis, it is even simpler. For your mind to be snatan, merely could be taken as fixing your mind on the primal source.

Which does not mean Brahma, Vishnu, Shiv Maharaj, etc. Although excepted as important figures. This means that primal entity beyond form or source tha precedes them.

Yes, there is the feeling now generating as people 'jump on to the snatan boat' of relative relations with other orders, who ever the term must be viewed in the correct context. As most modern day authors have been able to do (McLeod, Oberoi, Pushwara, etc...), which of couse more contempory sources wouldn't have (Malcolm, Foster, etc...)

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Gur Fateh!

TSingh, thanks for your input. I concur that the subject matter is deep and I appreciate your honesty in coming forward to 'break the silence'.

But as you said, the proponents of 'Sanatan Sikhi' in the UK are not but evasive with regard to issues raised above and on the other threads created by the moderators.

In most cases, these are not too complex points, since most of them appear to follow on directly from the Sanatan Sikh lectures that were organised at the end of last year in London and relate to the points and areas put forth by Nihang Niddar Singh, who freely quoted Avtar Singh Vahiria and the Sanatan Singh Sabha, to the extent that the last talk actually was nothing but the ideals of the Sanatan Singh Sabha -which is interesting in itself, as this too was a reformist movement, just like it's offshoot in the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha.

"gupy", your statement can equally apply to what you have termed "normal Sikhs", our very own "Khalsa Fauj" of late and our old friend "Babbar Sher" being two fine examples of what you call "normal sikhs" who consider it more important to place their trust in the writings of Kala Afghana, Teja Singh Bhausauria and others and yet simultaneously claim of Sikhs of the Guru Granth Sahib, which they now seek to edit...come to think of it, this nicely applies also to the AKJ and SGPC, given their well known stances on certain compositions.

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A giani sits next to the guru all day long.. yet we all know what we think of gurdwara gianis.

A aunty in the langar spends all day doing seva.. yet we all know what we think of the aunties conversations.

A sanatanist talks about history using oral tradition and books.. and develops his/her sikhi on a factual basis .. yet we all know what we think about sanatani's

A normal sikh disregards anything other then their faith and their mystical experience and relationship with Guru.. yet we all know what we think about normal sikhs..

so the conclusion..

we all know what we think about the conclusion.. :)

my point about this post is that everyone will come up with their own idea of what "WE" think about each of the above mentioned entities.. some may agree others may differ, the key point to note is that we are imposing our view and then justifying it by making the assumption its the view of "WE"..

There is no collective view on anything.. because we all expect to agree insted of accepting to disagree..

He who has undying faith in his guru and disregards words which do not fall into the common belief has his place in society and in the court of the lord, but he should ask himself or herself this question .. If I am only concerned with the Guru as the ultimate authority why do I pick and chose when he enters my mind, why do I pick and choose when to wake up and when to feel bairag or nihaal etc etc.. If Guru is your only authority then why are you concerned with preaching?

naanak hukamai jae bujhai th houmai kehai n koe

to preach is to assume you know what Guru intends..

maybe you are right and those who follow books are on the wrong path ..

eaehi bh dhaath thaeree dhaathaar ||

ba(n)dh khalaasee bhaanai hoe ||

but to be such fools they have become fools by the grace of god and by his will..

Basically what Im getting at is the one line so beautifully answers the "us" and "them" notion..

gaavan jathee sathee sa(n)thokhee gaavehi veer karaarae ||

The celibates (AKJ), the fanatics (TAKSAL), the peacefully accepting (SANATAN NIRMALS AND SEVAPANTHIS) and the fearless warriors (NIHANGS)sing.(in the darbar of akaal purakh)

everyone is there in the darbar of akaal purakh.. wether they read books shoot people drink degh or jerk off.

man i dont even know what i was trying to get at.. I just got loved up by readin maharajs bani.. going to read some more.. will come back to my point when I can think straight..

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I'm not advocating that we should base our beliefs on academic works on HIstory. But what ever they are, we should be able to provide some justification for them.

To simply ignore History is just as bad too...

So my point remains :

Only 4 sampradyas were intiated by the Gurus - Nirmala, Nihung, Udhasi, Seva Panthi

This does NOT mean i expect every individual who claims to be sikh to be one of the above. But I at least expect some RESONABLE explination, besides name calling and other typical responses

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quite a grand assumption.

I don't recall gupy stating the website or fellow forum members as the sources for his information.

Furthermore, your argument loses a lot of ground when you try to assert that people should follow our Gurus. Am I not correct in stating that one of the contentious points in this whole saga is that Sanatan Sikhs place heavy emphasis on Guru Ji (in the form of their writings in Dasam Granth)?

Also, issues of Rehit are commonly found in the writings of Sikh scholars; therefore they should be looked at closely and NOT ignored.

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