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Dear Dr Amarjit Singh

I have lifted a few articles pertaining to Nirmala Sikhs from the varios websites on the internet. If you wish to type in Nirmala sikhs in goole or yahoo search and you can see all the articles on the net pertaining to Nirmala Sikhs.

Sat seri akal

Davinder Singh KL

NirmalaEncyclopædia Britannica Article


an ascetic order of the Sikhs, a religious group of India. Nirmalas (“those without blemishâ€) at first wore only white garments but later adopted the ochre robes worn by Hindu ascetics and shared some other practices, such as birth and death rites, with Hindus. Like the Udasi order of Sikh ascetics the Nirmalas carried on missionary activities for the Sikhs and served as mahants (priests) of their temples.

The Sikhs are divided into many sub-sects viz. Udasis, Nirmalas and the Akalis. The Udasis are an ascetic order of the Nanakshahi Sikhs. The Nirmalas are celibates. They are also an ascetic order of the Nanakshahis. The Akalis are the most fanatical of all the Sikh sects. They wear a distinctive dress of blue and a black turban http://www.dlshq.org/religions/sikhism.htm

Nirmalas Doctrines Nirmala teachings incorporated Sikh teachings and doctrines within a largely Hindu/Vedantic framework. Like the Udasis (see entry) they were celibates, and did not believe in holding private funds. The Nirmalas, with the Udasis, form part of the Sanatan Sikh world-view and share many of its beliefs; along with belief in yogic/meditative and scriptural recitation and study, they reflected, in addition to the Adi Granth, on the Vedas, Shastras, Puranas and Epic literature. It is not surprising therefore that their Sanatan position does pitch them against the Tat Khalsa on certain beliefs. (See entries of Sanatan and Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhas).

History Nirmalas (spotless, pure ones) by tradition are believed to have been sent by Guru Gobind Singh to Banaras to learn Sanskrit and basic Hindu religious philosophy. However this is highly improbable since there is scarcely any mention of them in the Sikh literature before the 19th century. However, as wandering ascetic preachers, they promulgated Sikh teachings in and beyond the Panjab. They were thus the first itinerant movement to teach the ideas of the Gurus. The most famous Nirmala was Pandit Tara Singh Narotam (1822-91), who devoted his entire life to the explication of Sikh theology/philosophy. He wrote over ten books and reference materials. The deeply influential Giani Gain Singh (1822-1921) was taught by him. Sant Attar Singh (1867-1927) one of the most influential Sikh Sants (saint), also had his formal training at a Nirmala establishment. Today they form a well respected and highly disciplined organisation with many establishments. As a legitimate part of

Sikh History they are accepted as a part of the Sikh Panth (but are obviously not Khalsa Singhs), more so than the Udasis.

Symbols They wore saffron robes (symbolising saintliness and renunciation), and all were Keshdharis (bearded).

Adherents The number of establishments expanded rapidly from the late 18th century to the mid 19th century. In the 1891 census 2,828 Hindus and 1,952 Sikhs returned themselves as 'Nirmalas'.(Census of India, 1891, Vol.XX, The Punjab and its Feudatories, by E.D. Maclagan, Part II and III, Calcutta, 1892, pp.826-9 and pp.572-3.) However, there are no official, contemporary numbers, (see also the note at the end of the Explanatory Introduction).


Main Centre The Nirmalas have been particularly focused in the Malwa region in the 19th century. This was due to state patronage of the Sikh Rulers of Patiala, Jind and Nabha. However their principle centre, other than Patiala, is at Hardwar, though they do have sizeable centres at Amritsar, Prayag, Ujjain, Triambak and Kurukshetra.


This article is given with courtesy of H. McLeod

The Nirmalasa, like the Udasis, commanded considerable influence under the Sikh rulers of the Punjab, but unlike them they have been able to preserve at least a measure of that earlier respect. By tradition the Nirmala order was founded by Guru Gobind Singh, who dispatched five Sikhs to learn Sanskrit. This is highly improbable, and the Nirmala order is scarcely mentioned in Sikh literature until the late eighteenth century. At that time the references rapidly multiply, largely in land grants and religious endowments made by Sikh rulers.

During the first four decades of the nineteenth century, the Nirmalas continued to prosper under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. As with the Udasis their centres were known as 'akharas', each headed by a mahant. Each akhara would accommodate varying numbers of celibate Nirmalas initiated by the mahant. Within it their time would be occupied in meditation, yoga and scriptural study. The books they were required to study would obviously include the Adi Granth, but they also spent much time on such Hindu works as the Vedas, the Shastras, Puranas and the Epics.

Although the Nirmalas are accepted as a part of the Panth, ascetic discipline and the strongly Hindu nature of their study deviate sharply from the teachings of the Tat Khalsa. Members of the order wear saffron robes and observe celibacy, and the teachings they receive and impart are strongly Vedantic. As itinerant preachers, they did much to commend Sikh teachings beyond the Punjab (particularly in such centres of Hindu pilgrimage as Hardwar and Allahabad), and although some of their doctrines met with strong disapproval from Khalsa, they were regarded cordially by Sanatan Sikhs. In the controversies that enlivened Singh Sabha days, their fortunes declined with those of the Sanatan Sikhs, but never to the point of being totally eclipsed. They still exercise some influence within the Panth particularly in the Patiala area.

Prominent writers like Bhai Santokh Singh, Tara Singh Narottam and Giani Gian Singh Ji were from this sect (Kanwal)


The Sanatan Sikhs - The Nirmalas Page 1 of 2

The literal translation of 'Nirmala' is 'the pure one without blemish'. Nirmalas are an old order of Sikh intellectuals. Their origins lie with the five Sikhs, Ganda Singh, Karm Singh, Sena Singh, Vir Singh and Ram Singh whom Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh sent from Paunta Sahib to Benares to learn Sanskrit in 1688.

The Nirmala Order

A contemporary painting of Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh ji given commands to Ganda Singh,

Karm Singh, Sena Singh, Vir Singh and Ram Singh to visit the holy city of Benaras and learn Sanskrit

It is said that once Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh Ji asked his court Pundit Ragunath to teach his Sikhs Sanskrit, but, the Brahmin refused saying he could not teach the Sikhs Sanskrit. His reason was that Sanskrit was the sacred Sanatan Hindu language of the Hindu demigods, and because there were amongst the Sikhs individuals belonging to low castes, he could not teach them.

This reaction prompted the Guru to send the above-mentioned Sikhs in guise of Sadhus to Banares. There, they learned all manner of ancient Indian Sanskrit knowledge. When they came back they founded the Nirmala order of Sikhs with the blessings of the Guru.

Nirmalas were the masters of Sanskrit and were the intellectuals and scholars of Sikhism. Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh gave them a duty to educate the illiterate Indian populace and promote the philosophy of oneness of Nirankar God and all mankind amongst the Hindu scholars (regardless of caste or creed).

Nirmala Harbhajan Hari

A photograph of a great learned man, Harbhajan Hari

who belongs to the Sanatan Sikh Nirmala (intellectual) order

The beauty of the Nirmalas is in fact that they are not adverse to study any kind of spiritual knowledge. Pooriwala Sant, a present day Nirmala holy man in Amritsar, commented:

‘Sikh scripture says, “Vedas and Ktebs [semitic religious texts Koran, Bible etc.] do not call false. False is he who does not contemplate them.†Farid [sufi Saint] has said just find out from where you can attain knowledge be it from tombs. If a Buddhist text gives you knowledge take it, if a Jain gives you knowledge take it, if a Udasi text gives you knowledge take it, if Nirmalas give you knowledge take it, if Ramayan gives you knowledge, take it. Well what else is in their but knowledge? Now if we say it is Hindu mythology. They [Lord Raam and Ravan] just fought over a woman [as some Tat Khalsa mentality Sikhs say]. Then that is not Guru’s thinking for knowledge is knowledge. Take it from wherever you can. A being should seek to gain virtues. A being should have wisdom, which he can attain from anywhere. Religious texts will give an individual great virtues. All religious texts are worth worshipping of whatever religion they are.’

( Pooriwala Sant. transcript of a recording, 12-02-2001)

Nirmalas, like other Sanatan Sikhs, distinguish between 'Matt' (Individual religion or individualistic thinking which fuels ego and puts up barriers between people) and Sanatan Dharma (Universal religion/philosophy or thinking which brings all together).

Majority of people who practice a 'religion' get engrossed in their particular Matt. Only a few ever seen the true spiritual path of Sanatan Dharma, the true heart and soul of all true religions. Baba Teja Singh (a well-respected Nirmala Sikh) comments:

‘From 15th century in that time the [Adi] Guru Granth was composed. At that time, the four religious way’s that were existent. There was Gur Matt [sikh Guru’s thinking] in the Punjab, Bhagti Marg [Way of devotion] in South of India, Sufism in the west around Multan, and Vedant which was through out India. Those who believe in Vedas are to be found through out India. These four religious ways deal with one same subject. Bhagti Marg, Sufism, Gurmat and Vedant basically stand on one platform. Alright, I possess knowledge of Vedant. People will say that he speaks Gurbani [Guru’s word which is Dharma] in the manner of Vedant. If Someone is more versed in knowledge of Sufism, he will speak [Guru’s word] in a Sufi manner. If some one has interest in Bhagti Marg studies it he will talk in that manner [Guru’s word]. Some will speak of it [Dharma] in manner of Sikhism. According to each other’s religious learning they speak. But, in terms of foundation, when we look at the four

religious ways, their principles are basically one. To have faith in God and to see God in all, this is their subject.’

(Baba Teja Singh, transcript of a recording, 9-03-2001)

Nirmala Baba Teja Singh

A photograph of Baba Teja Singh in his dispensary where

he gives out free medication and advice to all those who require it

Hence Nirmala Scholars easily integrated with the scholars of other religions and philosophies. Nirmalas see themselves as true Sanatan 'Sam Vadi' (egalitarians) as opposed to 'Katar Vadi' (religious fanatics).

Bhai Daya Singh ji (1661 - 1708 A.D.) Bhai Daya Singh was one of the Panj Piare or the Five Beloved celebrated in the Sikh tradition. He was son of Bhai Suddha, a Sobti Khatri of Lahore, and Mai Diali. His original name was Daya Ram. Bhai Suddha was a devout Sikh of Guru Tegh Bahadur and visited Anandpur more than once to seek his blessing. In 1677, he travelled to Anandpur along with his family including his young son, Daya Ram, to make obeisance to Guru Gobind Singh, this time to settle there permanently. Daya Ram, already well versed in Punjabi and Persian, engaged himself in the study of classics and gurbani. He also received training in the use of weapons. In the historic divan in the Kesgarh Fort at Anandpur on 30 March 1699, he was the first to rise at the Guru's call and offer his head, followed by four others in succession. These five were the first to be admitted to the fold of the Khalsa and they in turn administered the rites of initiation to Guru Gobind

Singh who called them collectively Panj Piare. Daya Ram after initiation became Daya Singh. Although the five enjoyed equal status as the Guru's close confidants and constant attendants, Bhaa Daya Singh was always regarded as the first among equals. He took part in the battles of Anandpur, and was one of the three Sikhs who followed Guru Gobind Singh out of Chamkaur on the night of 74 December 1705, eluding the besieging hordes. He was Guru Gobind Singh's emissary sent from the village of Dina in the Punjab to deliver his letter which became famous as Zafarnamah, the Letter of Victory, to Emperor Aurangzab, then camping at Ahmadnagar. Bhai Daya Singh, accompanied by Bhai Dharam Singh, another of the Panj Piare, reached Ahmad nagar via Aurangabad, but found that it was not possible to have access to the Emperor and deliver to him the letter personally as Guru Gobind Singh had directed. Daya Singh sent Dharam Singh back to seek the Guru's advice but before the latter could rejoin him

with fresh instructions, he had managed to have the letter delivered, and had himself returned to Aurangabad. A shrine called Gurdwara Bhai Daya Singh marks the place of his sojourn in Dhami Mahalla.

Bhai Daya Singh and Bhaa Dharam Sidgh returned and, according to Sikh tradition, they re-joined Guru Gobind Singh at Kalayat, a town 52 km southwest of Bikaner (28 4'N, 73 - 21'E) in Rajasthan. Bhai Daya Singh remained in attendance upon the Guru and was with him at the time of his death at Nanded on 7 October 1708. He died at Nander soon after and a joint memorial there for him and for Bhai Dharam Singh known as Aaigitha (lit. burning pyre) Bhai Daya Singh and bhai Dharam Singh marks the site of their cremation.

Bhai Daya Singh was a learned man. One of the Rahitnamas, manuals on Sikh conduct, is ascribed to him. The Nirmalas, a sect of Sikh schoolmen, claim him as one of their forebears. Their Darauli branch traces its origin to Bhai Daya Singh through Baba Dip Singh.

In the institution of Panj Piares the names of the five Beloved one's have a very special significance. Bhai Daya Singh Stands for Compassion, Bhai Dharam Singh signifies the rule of Dharma or justice, Bhai Himmat Singh, denotes courage, Bhai Mohkam Singh refers to discipline and serinity, and Bhai Sahib Singh represents Sardari or Leadership/Sovereignty. Thus Guru Gobind Singh looking for an element of all five (Compassion, Justice, Courage, Discipline and Leadership) among his Khalsa.

Amarjit Singh <amarjit101@ntlworld.com> wrote:

Dear Members of the discussion groups

I would greatly appreciate receiving information about NIRMALAS SIKHS who were/are they and what roles had they played in Sikhism and Sikh history?

Many thanks in advance in enlightening me about them.

Dr Amarjit Singh, UK

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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