Open main menu

Punjabi Hindus are a group of people that adhere to Hinduism and have their roots and origin in the Punjab region of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Most Punjabi Hindus are concentrated in the Indian states of Punjab and Delhi, and in the union territory of Chandigarh, with additional populations in parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and some parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. They also have significant presence in Jammu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Punjabi Hindus
Punjabi, Hindi, and English
Related ethnic groups
Punjabi people

Hinduism has been prevalent in Punjab since before the arrival of Islam and the birth of Sikhism. Punjabi Hindus can trace their roots from the time of the ancient Vedas.[citation needed] Some cities in the region may owe their names to that period, examples being Jalandhar[1] and Chandigarh.[citation needed]

Influential Sikh figures such as Guru Nanak and Banda Singh Bahadur were originally Punjabi Hindus.[2]


Punjabi Hindu sectsEdit

Sanatana DharmaEdit

Most Hindus in the Punjab follow Sanatana Dharma, a term originating in the Sanskrit for the eternal path. Hinduism in Punjab, as in many other parts of India, has adapted over time and has become a synthesis of culture and history. It centres on the concept of connecting with ones own "eternal self energy" (Paramātmā), to reach which it emphasises use of a concept known as Dharma to nurture and purify the soul (Atma). Hindus do this while acknowledging the concept of Brahman or "external energy", which is a metaphysical concept that is believed to be the single binding energy behind the diversity in all that exists in the universe. In Punjab, Hindus revere ancient texts that narrate stories of deities (Devas and Devis) that had reached their highest Paramātmā or "supreme soul", and so became admired and respected. Deities in Hinduism are honoured for their roles in ancient Indian history because they were the upholders of the principles of Dharma in the past. Hindus believe that a supreme Bhagavan manifests itself through these Devas and Devis. Major deities worshiped include Rama and Sita from the Ramayana, Krishna and Radha from the Mahabharata, as well as the Trimurti and Tridevi of Shiva and Parvati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, and Brahma and Sarasvati, along with other prominent deities such as Durga Mataji, Ganesha and Hanuman.

As Hindus believe that Dharma is universal and evolves with time, most of them also value other spiritual paths and religious traditions. They believe that any traditions that are equally able to nurture one's Atma should be accepted. Hinduism itself encourages any being to reach their Paramātmā in their own unique way either through Bhagavan or through devotion to their own personal Ishvara Bhagavan. Punjabi Hindus routinely also pay respects to Sikh Gurus and their dharmic teachings.

Sanatan Dharma Sabha was founded in the Punjab in late 19th century to promote traditional Hinduism. It sent scholars overseas and became a major force in some of the overseas Hindu communities. In January 1933, the session of the All-India Sanatan Dharma Sabha, presided over by Madan Mohan Malaviya, passed a resolution that Dalits were as much entitled to enter temples as other Hindus.

Arya SamajisEdit

An important sect amongst Punjabi Hindus is the Arya Samaj. It was founded by Dayananda Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay and became popular amongst Hindus in the Punjab and what was then known as the United Provinces. Arya Samajists hold the Vedic religion to be the only true religion and as such, regard the Vedas as their only religious books, although they also respect the Upnishads, Darshan Shastras and some other books written by enlightened Rishis where the text in those is not contradictory to the Vedas. On this basis, Arya Samaj rejected some of Hindu scriptures, such as the Purana. The Arya Samaj also pleads for Shuddhi or the re-conversion into Hinduism of those Hindus who were converted to other religions. The places of worship of the Arya Samajists are different from those of the Sanatan Dharmis and have no idols. Worship includes performing yajnas, reciting mantras and seeking spiritual solace by listening to religious discourses.

Prominent Indian nationalists from Punjab, such as Lala Lajpat Rai, belonged to Arya Samaj and were active in propagating its message,[3] and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a Hindu nationalist group, found enthusiastic support from Punjabi Samajists when it began expanding in Northern India in the 1930s.[4]

During the early part of the 20th century, the Samaj and organisations inspired by it, such as Jat Pat Todak Mandal, were active in campaigning against caste discrimination.[5] Other activities in which the Samaj engaged included campaigning for the acceptance of widow remarriage and women's education.[6]


The Radhaswami sect has its headquarters at the town of Beas. It is a transitional sect between Hinduism and Sikhism.[according to whom?]

Dev SamajisEdit

Dev Samajis, an offshoot of the Brahmo Samaj, are rationalists. Their headquarters is at Moga. Their activities are mostly confined to the moral fields. As such Dev Samajists have not attained much popularity. In all other respects the Dev Samajists are no different to other Hindus.[according to whom?]

Ecumenical HinduismEdit

A large segment of Punjabis who are now categorised as Hindus or who identify themselves as Punjabi Hindus, continue to live out heterogeneous religious practice that includes spiritual kinship with Sikhism. This not only includes veneration of the Sikh Gurus in private practice, but also visit to Sikh Gurdwaras as well as Hindu temples. Some Punjabi Hindus visit Jain temples and Jain munis.

This is evident[weasel words] from the continuing propensity to conduct important life cycle ceremonies such as on marriage or death by any of the Hindu or Sikh rites. This is especially true[weasel words] for the Khatri and Arora communities, and even more so among the Kukhran tribe emanating from West Punjab, an area now in Pakistan.

This predilection for heterogeneous religious affiliation has continued, in spite of decades of aggressive identity purification efforts by the forces of identity politics in the Punjab.[original research?]

1947 PartitionEdit

Punjabi Hindus suffered a great deal due to the Partition of India in 1947. This split the former British province of Punjab between the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The mostly Muslim western part of the province became Pakistan's Punjab province; the mostly Sikh and Hindu eastern part became India's East Punjab state (later divided into the new states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh). Many Hindus and Sikhs lived in the west, and many Muslims lived in the east, and the fears of all such minorities were so great that the Partition saw many people displaced and much intercommunal violence. Some have described the violence in Punjab as a retributive genocide.[7]

The newly formed governments had not anticipated, and were completely unequipped for, a two-way migration of such staggering magnitude, and massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the new India-Pakistan border. Estimates of the number of deaths vary, with low estimates at 200,000 and high estimates at 2,000,000. The worst case of violence among all regions is concluded to have taken place in Punjab.[8][9][10][11] Virtually no Muslim survived in East Punjab (except in Malerkotla) and virtually no Hindu or Sikh survived in West Punjab.[12]

Demand for Punjabi Suba and subsequent trifurcation of PunjabEdit

After Partition, Sikh leaders and political parties demanded a "Punjabi Suba" (Punjabi Province) in North India. They wanted to carve out a state in which Punjabi was the most predominant language, since Punjab had been the most prominent province in North India before the partition but most of that was now in Pakistan.

Although Punjabi Hindus speak Punjabi as their first language, they stated Hindi as their mother tongue in the censuses of 1951 and 1961. As a result, many areas being mostly Punjabi Hindu were given to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh after the trifurcation. This made Punjab a Sikh-majority state in India.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Welcome to Official Website of Jalandhar District, Punjab". Archived from the original on 9 July 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  2. ^ Syan, Hardip Singh (2013). Sikh Militancy in the Seventeenth Century: Religious Violence in Mughal and Early Modern India. I. B. Tauris. pp. 34, 240. ISBN 978-1-78076-250-0.
  3. ^ Raj Kumar (2004). Essays on Social Reform Movements. Discovery Publishing House. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-81-7141-792-6.
  4. ^ Jaffrelot, Christophe (1999). The Hindu nationalist movement and Indian politics : 1925 to the 1990s ; strategies of identity-building, implantation and mobilisation (with special reference to Central India). New Delhi: Penguin Books. pp. 67–68. ISBN 9780140246025.
  5. ^ Rajivlochan, M.; Rajivlochan, M. (2014). Coping with Exclusions the Non-Political Way. Mapping Social Exclusion in India: Caste, Religion and Borderlands. pp. 82–83.
  6. ^ Kishwar, Madhu (26 April 1986). "Arya Samaj and Women's Education: Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar". Economic and Political Weekly. 21 (17): WS9–WS24. JSTOR 4375593.
  7. ^ "The partition of India and retributive genocide in the Punjab, 1946–47: means, methods, and purposes" (PDF). Retrieved 19 December 2006.
  8. ^ Talbot, Ian (2009). "Partition of India: The Human Dimension". Cultural and Social History. 6 (4): 403–410. doi:10.2752/147800409X466254. The number of casualties remains a matter of dispute, with figures being claimed that range from 200,000 to 2 million victims.
  9. ^ D'Costa, Bina (2011). Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 9780415565660.
  10. ^ Butalia, Urvashi (2000). The Other Side of Silence: Voices From the Partition of India. Duke University Press.
  11. ^ Sikand, Yoginder (2004). Muslims in India Since 1947: Islamic Perspectives on Inter-Faith Relations. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 9781134378258.
  12. ^ "A heritage all but erased". The Friday Times. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2017.

Further readingEdit