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Origins of Sarabloh -AKJ, Nihangs & Taksal.

Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

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Guest Sardar Moderator Singh

Gur Fateh!

The first of the following posts was made on the Tapoban forum by “A Singh” regarding the discussion on Hindu Sarabloh Bibekis. The latter two are taken from Sikhnet by Dr Serjinder Singh and appear in parts to link with what A Singh refers to as the infiltration of Tantrik Shakat practices into Sikhi during the 18th and 19th century primarily through the Nihang Singhs (much of which is still evident today in their assertions and customs).

Since Sarabloh Bibek is a feature common amongst the AKJ, parts of the Taksal and the strict Buddha Dal Nihang Singhs, the moderators invite all Sangat inspired by these Sampradhas and Jathas as well as others to discuss their experience of Sarabloh Bibek, it’s relevance for them as Sikhs and if indeed A Singh and/or Serjinder Singh are at all correct in their assertions with regard to the pre-Sikh practices of Sarabloh veneration or indeed the claim that this is an infiltration of non-sikh customs into Sikhi, respectively.

Given the shared importance of this practice amongst the aforementioned Jathas and Sampradhas, we trust this will allow for some fruitful and mutually beneficial discussion for all.

SMS on behalf of the SA moderation team.

Author: A Singh

Date: 11-26-04 05:05

I have written about this before, perhaps not so explicitly, so here goes:-

Sarabloh Bibek is NOT a uniquely Sikh custom, although that is what we associate it with the most today,when it comes to weapons and cooking (hence Singh is correct about his 'bibek' comment, although this is simply a term which is used).

Veneration for Sarabloh is however, ancient and can even be found across early European Cults from the times of the Romans.

In India, it stems from the TANTRIK SHAKATS who are worshippers of SHIV and SHAKTI, usually the Devi in her fersome form as KALI MATA, which whom they associate Sarabloh.

Interestingly even in Europe the "Iron" cults were in fact "goddess" cults.

Whilst the term Bibek is not necessarily used by these cults, what they practice is in fact exactly that, eating only out of Iron utensils and from those initiated into the cult (for others are deemd polluted and may impact their bhagtee) and in many cases having sarabloh weapons which are also worshipped as manifestations of the Devi.

In Europe these were often linked to Masons and Ironsmiths and evidence of this pratice can still be seen in some Scythian remains, where the dead are buried with Sarabloh weapons and utensils.

As per "i don't think so" 's comments concerning caste, you'll probably find that many of the cults that practice veneration for Sarabloh are low-caste themselves, so the issue of discrimination doesn't arise, it is as already spelt out, a case of pollution, much in the same way that we as Amritdhari's only share the same bowl as other Amritdharis and Sarabloh bibekis.

On another note, given the above backdrop, is it any surprise to find that the Buddha Dal Nihangs in the Hazoor Sahib also keep Sarabloh Bibek and venerate Sarabloh just like the UK Nihangs when worshipping their weapons, which they openly state is because they worship Chandi and this forms what "they" term Chandi Pooja.

Likewise, having spend time with Namdharis and having Namdhari relatives myself, those who also practise Sarabloh Bibek, often point their fascination with the Uggardanti Bani (clearly venerating Kali and considered by many scholars not to be Bani, but the works of Sukkha Singh, a Devi Pujari) and Chandi Path.

This is the origins of Sarabloh bibek in the Indian subcontinent and how it influenced Sikhs of the 18th and 19th century (mainly the Nihangs and Namdharis), but can be traced back into the shakat tantrik cults and shivites.

The relevance of these origins and outlook on veneration for Sarabloh and what we today consider and practice as Sarabloh Bibek (mainly in the AKJ and parts of the Taksal) is perhaps quite different and needs further discussion.

Hope this helps understand the Hindu practice of Sarabloh veneration and its origins therein.

Gur Fateh!

A Singh.


Waheguru ji ka khalsa

Waheguru ji ki fateh

Iron in rust or iron oxide is in the oxidised trivalent state and is not taken up by body to any significant extent. Iron deficiency can be made up only by the divalent iron which is the reduced form of iron. Sorry about the chemical language. Divalent iron quickly gets converted to trivalent so must be stabilised by appropriate environment such as the reducing anions, chelates etc. Ascorbic acid as vitamin C is known as chemically is a very good stabiliser among others. I don't think iron oxide or rust provides much useful iron to body. To begin with being insoluble in water it is not available to body in soluble form. May be something in our sweat may reduce it and make some of it available but rust as such is not much use. As far as stainless steel Karas are concerned these are even poorer source of useful iron to the body being unreactive towards even sweat or acidic substances.

Iron was born by Sikhs because weapons were made of iron. Worship of iron per se is a legacy of worship of Kali (also called Asi or Sarabloh meaning iron) retained by early eighteenth century Sikhs especially the Nihangs. Sikhs are not supposed to worship Durga or Bhavani.


Serjinder Singh


Waheguru ji ka khalsa

Waheguru ji ki fateh

The tradition of Sarbaloh is a Shakat influence in Sikhism which crept in immediately after tenth Guruji. The followers of goddess in various forms, i.e. Durga, Kali, Chandi, Bhavani worship goddess by various names. One of these is Sarabloh. Sarabloh originally meant Kharag or Khanda which did not have a wooden handle or for that matter any weapon that does not have any wooden components and was all iron. However, from the beginning of Iron Age in the Indian sub-continent, the iron ore, Iron metal and weapons made from Iron were worshipped as a manifestation of goddess. We find this not only in Shakat compositions in Dasam Granth but in many Shakat scriptures as well. Sarbloh Granth is also considered by sikh scholars to be a Shakat compositions. Iron is called Asi as are the iron weapons. Durga and Kali are known by the epithept of Kharag carrier(Asipan)and Sarbaloh is another name for Kali in classical Shakat scriptures. Unlike the situation after Singh Sabha movement, most sikhs in eighteenth and nineteenth century especially close to the Nihang organisation believed strongly that Guruji made Devi to appear at Naina Devi and that the weapons being manifestations of Devi need to be worshipped. (See Daya Singh's Rehatnama, see Panth Parkash by Rattan Singh Bhangoo where he justifies the martyrdom of thousands of Sikhs because Kali asked for Sawa Lakh heads for restoring political power to Sikhs. Suraj Parkash by Santokh Singh also mentions the appearance of Devi at Naina Devi.). It is no wonder therefore many of unique Nihang practices have Shakat roots and connotations. For example taking of Bhang is a Shakat as well as Shaiv practice. Meat or Maas is one of the five Makkars of Shakats ( others are Machhli (fish),Madira (wine), Maithun(sexual intercourse), and Mudra (sexual position)). Sixth Guru ji in one of his hukamana had clearly indicated "Maas Machhi de nere nahin jana". Same is in one of the hukamanamas from Baba Banda Bahadur. Guruji and Devi story is also mentioned during early eighteenth century by Gur Bilas Patshahi Dasvin.

Needless to say, I can never believe Guruji had anything to do with Devi but a large section of Sikhs who came from families with Devi worship past were very quickly made to believe by various Brahminic writers that Guru ji made appear Devi and that Devi blessed Guruji. The glaring proof of this domination is the inclusion of the first pauri of Chandi di vaar in our Ardas and the insistence by Nihangs to recite this var routinely which is nothing but euolising the Devi.


I remain the charan dhoor of the Sangat

Serjinder Singh


Waheguru ji ka khalsa

Waheguru ji ki fateh

This text is not the writing of Guruji. It is an interpolation by Shakat writers who worshiped goddess Durga or Kali. Kali is worshipped even today as Kirpan, Sarbloh or Iron even today by Shakat Hindus and Rajputs. Shivaji the Maratha leader contemporary of Guruji worshipped sword as Bhavani.

You are absolutely right in questioning how the worshippers of Akal, the formless and timeless can invoke or worship a piece of iron which will rust away with time and is a physical object that has a form like a statue of gods or godesses. Even if the text is posted on SGPC site. Our Guru is Guru Granth Sahib and not a statutory body set up under the Indian legislation.

Some persons tend to say Guru ji was praising the Shakti or energy of Akal Purukh Waheguru. Precisely, for this reason,the Shakats, the worshippers of goddess are called Shakats or worshippers of Shakti. They don't see Nirankar God as Supreme but only energy or Shakti which is Maya or a physical manifestation. We know that energy or Shakti and matter are interconvertible hence not worth invoking or worshipping.

Gurbani cautions us,

Sakat Sang na keejiye, Douron jayeey bhag

We should not keep company with Shakats, and must run away (on seeing one)

Was Guruji a Shakat?

Certainly not.


I remain the Charan Dhoor of Sadh Sangat

Serjinder Singh


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