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The Namdharis are a Sikh sect that differs from mainstream Sikhs chiefly in that it believes that the lineage of Sikh Gurus did not end with Guru Gobind Singh, as they recognize Balak Singh as the 11th Guru of the Sikh religion, thus continuing the succession of Sikh Gurus through the centuries from Guru Nanak Dev to the present day.[1] The 12th Guru is Satguru Ram Singh, who moved the sects centre to Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana) and is regarded as the first Indian to use non-cooperation and non-violence boycott in order to combat the British Empire in India.[2]


Namdharis, also known as Kuka Sikhs, believe that the line of Sikh Gurus did not end with Guru Gobind Singh, as they claim that he did not not die in Nanded but escaped and lived in secret,[3] and secretly helped the Khalsa in the coming decades under the guise of Baba Ajaypal Singh.[4][5] and that he nominated Balak Singh to be the 11th Guru, a tradition that was continued through the Namdhari leaders.[6][7] According to their beliefs, Guru Gobind Singh passed guruship to Satguru Balak Singh of Hazro, Punjab in the year 1812 on Baisakh Sudi 10.[8] before passing on Jeth Sudi 5, Vikrami Samvat 1869 (1812 A.D.), at the apparent age of 146.

They did not believe in any religious ritual other than the repetition of God's name (or nam, for which reason members of the sect are called Namdharis),[9] including the worship of idols, graves, tombs, gods, or goddesses.[10] The Namdharis had more of a social impact than the Nirankaris at the time of its founding due to the fact that they emphasized Khalsa identity, seeking to reestablish it, and the authority of the Guru Granth Sahib,[11] as well as their clashes with the British colonial authority. They call their houses of worship dharamsalas.[12]

Their 12th guru was Ram Singh, who moved the sect’s center to Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana). A Tarkhan or Ramgharia, his rural sect would be composed largely of Ramgharias and poorer Jat Sikhs.[13] Strictly vegetarian and a strong opponent of cattle slaughter, and retaliated against Muslims for killing cows in 1872.[14][15] Their leader Ram Singh was arrested by the British and he was exiled to Rangoon, Myanmar. Dozens of Namdharis were arrested by the British and executed without trial in Ludhiana and Ambala.[14] They consider Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth as equally important, and compositions from the Chandi di Var are a part of their daily Nitnem. They circumambulate the fire (havan) during their weddings, but they differ in that the hymns are those from the Adi Granth.[14][15]

The Namdharis wear homespun white turbans, which they wrap around their heads (sidhi pagri).[3][15] They are called Kuka, which means "crier, shouter", for their ecstatic religious practices during devotional singing. They also meditate, using mala (rosary).[15][16][page needed] Some texts refer to them as Jagiasi or Abhiasi.[14]

Role in Indian freedom movementEdit

Some Namdharis are recognized as freedom fighters due to their attacks on cow slaughters, inflicting death on Muslims in Amritsar and Ludhiana in Vikrami Samvat 1928 at midnight on 15 July 1871. The British had instituted a slaughter house near the Golden Temple Amritsar on 5 May 1849.[17] 4 Namdhari Sikhs- Bhai Lehna Singh, Bhai Fateh Singh, Bhai Hakam Singh Patwari, Bhai Beehla Singh took this burden onto their shoulders and killed Muslims.[18] As a result, the mentioned Namdharis were sentenced to death by hanging at Ram Bagh, Amritsar, where at present, a Namdhari Shaheedi Samarak (memorial) is placed in their honor. [19][20]

A group of 66 Namdhari Sikhs were killed by cannons on 17-18 January 1872 for protesting against the British and one 12-year-old boy (Bishan Singh) was beheaded by sword on the same day in Maler Kotla. A memorial for them at Namdhari Shidi Smarg Malerkotla in Indian Punjab is present.[21]

After Malerkotla Sadhguru Ram Singh Kuka divided the Indian Subcontinent into 22 Subas (states) with capitals in Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kabul, Patna, Bombay etc. He developed a postal system and an army. He was going to initiate a revolt but the British easily crushed the Namdhari spirit by killing all of the chieftains and soldiers and later imprisoning the Sadhguru.

Satguru Ram Singh was sent to Allahabad with his servant (Nanu Singh) on 18 January 1872, in the morning hours from Ludhiana by a special train.[22] On 10 March 1872, Satguru Ram Singh was shifted to Calcutta. On 11 March 1872 he was sent to Rangoon in British Burma. [23] [24] Satguru Ram Singh was kept there until 18th September 1880, and then shifted to Megui in Burma, in an attempt to make contact with him more difficult. [25][26]

The White triangular flag symbolizing peace

Even in exile, Satguru Ram Singh worked endlessly to keep the freedom struggle alive even sending his Suba (Lieutenant) Bishan Singh to Moscow, in order to gain the support of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, in removing British rule in India. Suba Bishan had made contact with Maharaja Duleep Singh who was also in Moscow at the time looking to gain support of the Russian Czar in order to rid the British from India, and re-institute the once flourishing Sikh Empire. However, due to the Russian-Turkish War (1877-1878) the Russians were not keen on supporting any Indian nationalist in going to war against the British Empire. Afterwards many Sikhs and Nihangs killed Namdharis and 180 Namdharis and 12 Nihangs died in the clashes.[27] [28]

Sant Khalsa (Saint Khalsa)Edit

He administered Khande di Pahul (Amrit Sanchar) to 5 Sikhs: Kahn Singh Nihang of village Chak, Labh Singh Ragi of Amritsar, Atma Singh of Alo Muhar village, Bhai Naina Singh Wariyah, and Sudh Singh of village Durgapur. Afterwards, several people from the congregation took amrit. [29] It is noted within the Kuka British Archives as well as Giani Gian Singh's Panth Parkash that within 10 years Satguru Ram Singh baptized over 1000 people with amrit.[30] The followers of Satguru Ram Singh and initiates into the Sant Khalsa were known as Namdharis or Kukas.

Line of Gurus recognised by NamdharisEdit

Below are the names of Gurus followed by Namdhari Sikhs as mentioned on the sect's official website:[31]

The 12 Sadhgurus, this does not have the entire list
  1. Guru Nanak
  2. Guru Angad
  3. Guru Amar Das
  4. Guru Ram Das
  5. Guru Arjan
  6. Guru Hargobind
  7. Guru Har Rai
  8. Guru Har Krishan
  9. Guru Tegh Bahadur
  10. Guru Gobind Singh
  11. Satguru Balak Singh
  12. Satguru Ram Singh Kuka
  13. Satguru Hari Singh Kuka
  14. Satguru Partap Singh Kuka
  15. Satguru Jagjit Singh Kuka
  16. Satguru Uday Singh


  1. ^ Gill, Davinder Singh (1998). Nanded Toun Baad Dasam Guru. Punjab: Capco Printing. pp. 121–123.
  2. ^ "Ram Singh Philosopher". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. ^ a b Sects in Sikhism, Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. ^ Gill, Davinder Singh (1998). Naded Toun Baad Dasam Guru. Capco Printing. pp. 28–30.
  5. ^ Sects and other groups: Sikhism, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  6. ^ McLeod, W.H. (1984). Textual Sources for the Study of Sikhism. Manchester University Press. p. 126. ISBN 9780719010637. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  7. ^ Jones, K.W. (1989). Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India. 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780521249867. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  8. ^ Singh, Giani Gian (1880). Sri Guru Panth Parkash Vol. 7. Punjab.
  9. ^ Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (2019). "Namdhari (Sikh sect)". Encyclopædia Britannica.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ V.K. Agnihotra (2010). Indian History with Objective Questions and Historical Maps, Twenty-Sixth Edition 2010. Allied Publishers. p. C-171. ISBN 9788184245684.
  11. ^ Mandair, Arvind-Pal Singh (2013). Sikhism: A Guide for the Perplexed (illustrated ed.). London, England: A&C Black. p. 79. ISBN 9781441102317. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  12. ^ Gerald Parsons (2012). The Growth of Religious Diversity - Vol 1: Britain from 1945 Volume 1: Traditions. Routledge. pp. 221–222. ISBN 978-1-135-08895-8.
  13. ^ W. H. McLeod (2005). Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Scarecrow. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-8108-5088-0.
  14. ^ a b c d Louis E. Fenech; W. H. McLeod (2014). Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 219–220. ISBN 978-1-4422-3601-1.
  15. ^ a b c d Kristen Haar; Sewa Singh Kalsi (2009). Sikhism. Infobase Publishing. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-1-4381-0647-2.
  16. ^ Joginder Singh (Professor of history) (2010). A short history of Namdhari Sikhs of Punjab. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University. ISBN 978-81-7770-156-2. OCLC 746619629.
  17. ^ Sanehi, Swaran Singh. Foremost Freedom Fighters. Maden Head: Deportation Centenary Committee. p. 3.
  18. ^ Further correspondence regarding the murder of butchers at Amritsar & Raikot in Ludhiana District: Judicial, B, August 1871 Nos. 26-32
  19. ^ Henry Schwarz; Sangeeta Ray (2004). A companion to postcolonial studies. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 261–. ISBN 978-0-631-20663-7.
  20. ^ Singh, Jaswinder. Great Namdhari Martyrs of Amritsar Episode.
  21. ^ Singh, Bajinder Pal, 2005.
  22. ^ Recent disturbances by Kookas in the Ludhiana District of the Punjab.: Judicial, A, 20 January 1872,Nos. 55-71
  23. ^ Removal of Ram Singh, Kuka leader from Allahabad to British Burma.: Judicial, A, March 1872, Nos 111-112
  24. ^ Removal of Ram Singh, the Kuka leader to British Burma.: Judicial A, May 1872, No. 122.
  25. ^ Joginder Singh (Professor of history) (2010). Namdhari Guru Ram Singh. National Book Trust. (1st ed.). New Delhi: National Book Trust, India. ISBN 978-81-237-5918-0. OCLC 696603673.
  26. ^ Kooka Chief Ram Singh in Rangoon: Judicial, A, May 1872, No.80
  27. ^ Singh, Jaswinder (1985). Kuka Movement Freedom Struggle in Punjab. Punjab: Atlantic Publishers & Distributions. ISBN 9788171560813.
  28. ^ Singh, M.A., Nahar. Gooroo Ram Singh & the Kuka Sikhs, Book III. Kamla Nagar, Delhi: R.K. Printers.
  29. ^ Sanehi, Swaran Singh. Foremost Freedom Fighters. Maidenhead, Berks: Deportation Centenary Committee.
  30. ^ Panth Parkash, Giani Gian Singh Vol.7
  31. ^ "Namdhari Sikhs article on Namdhari Sect's official website". Sri Bhaini Sahib.

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