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Punjabi Hindus are a group of people that follow Hinduism and have their roots and origin in the Punjab region of the Indian Subcontinent. In India, most Punjabi Hindus are concentrated in the state of Punjab and the union territory of Chandigarh, with additional populations in parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and some part of Rajasthan and Gujarat. They also have significant presence in Jammu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Punjabi Hindus
Flag of India.svg
Total population
c.  15 million
Regions with significant populations
 India 14,000,000
 United Kingdom 200,000
 United States 200,000
 Canada 100,000
Punjabi, Hindi and English
Om.svg Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
Punjabi people, North Indian people

Hinduism has been prevalent in Punjab since before the arrival of Islam and birth of Sikhism there. Punjabi Hindus can trace their roots from the time of the ancient Vedas. Many modern day cities in Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab are still named from that period like Lahore, Jalandhar, and Chandigarh. Examples of Punjabi Hindus include the former Prime ministers of India I. K. Gujral and Gulzari Lal Nanda, the former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev and scientist Hargobind Khorana, and actress Priyanka Chopra.

Influential Sikh figures such as Guru Nanak, Banda Singh Bahadur, and Bhai Mati Das, originated from Punjabi Hindu families and many Punjabi Hindus converted to Sikhism when Punjab was under the rule of the Mughals.


Punjabi Hindu sectsEdit

Sanatana DharmaEdit

Most Hindus in the Punjab follow Sanatana Dharma, which is Sanskrit for the eternal path. Hinduism in Punjab, like many other parts of India, has adapted over time and has become a synthesis of culture and history. Hinduism in Punjab centers on the concept of a "supreme self energy" or Paramātmā. To reach Paramātmā, Hinduism emphasizes to use Dharma to truthfully nurture one's Atman, while acknowledging the concept of Brahman, a universal and absolute reality. In Punjab, Hindus revere ancient texts that narrate stories of deities that had reached their highest selves or Paramātmā, and so became the upholders of the principles of Dharma. Major deities worshipped 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 deities such as Durga Mataji, Ganesha and Hanuman.

As Hindus believe that Dharma is universal and other paths and religious traditions are also equally able to nurture one's Atman and lead to Paramātmā, Punjabi Hindus routinely also pay respects to Sikh Gurus and their dharmic teachings.

Furthermore, one of the most popular goddesses is Vaishno Devi of Jammu, (commonly known as Sheranwali, "She of the lions" in Punjabi). Her shrine is located at Katra, Jammu and Kashmir.

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 Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya.

Punjab is differentiated by the fact that it has the highest population of dalits in India at 31.9%. In some areas of Punjab like Doaba it is as high as 40-50%.[citation needed] Half of Punjabi dalits are Ravidassias with 26.2% Chamar and 14.9% Ad Dharmi of state Scheduled Caste (Dalit) populations. Other Bulk group of is large number of Balmikis at 11.2 percent and Mazhabi Sikhs at 31.6 percent of state Scheduled Caste (Dalit) populations. These two bulk groups are 86.8 percent of total Dalits (Scheduled Castes) of Punjab.[1]

The Arya SamajisEdit

An important sect amongst Punjabi Hindus is the Arya Samaj. It was founded by Swami Dayananda(born in modern-day Gujarat) in 1875 in Bombay and became popular amongst Hindus in the Punjab and U.P. Arya Samajists hold the Vedic religion to be the only true religion and as such, regard the Vedas as their only religious books, but also regard Upnishad, Darshan Shastras and some other books written by Rishis (Arsh Granths), on the condition that the text in these should not be contradictory to Vedas. On this basis Arya Samaj rejected some of the Hindu scriptures like Purana and some other scriptures which, according to Arya Samaj, are against the Vedas. 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 the message of Samaj.[2] During the early part of the 20th century, the Samaj or organizations inspired by it such as Jat Pat Todak Mandal were active in campaigning against caste discrimination.[3] Other activities the samaj engaged in was that of widow remarriage and women's education.[4] When the Hindu Nationalist group, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh started expanding in Northern India in the 1930s,they found enthusiasm among the Arya Samajist of Punjab [5]

The Samaj is also present in countries such as Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, Australia,[6] South Africa,[7] Kenya,[8] Mauritius[9] and other countries where a significant Hindu diaspora is present. Immigrants to Canada from East Africa (mainly Punjabi) and the Caribbean countries (originally from UP and Bihar) respectively form separate Arya Samaj communities in many Canadian cities including Toronto.[10] Most major metropolitan areas of United States have chapters of Arya Samaj.[11]

The RadhaswamisEdit

The Radhaswami sect has its headquarters at the town of Beas and is popular amongst Punjabi Hindus. Like the Radhaswamis too are a transitional sect between Hinduism and Sikhism.

The Dev SamajisEdit

Dev Samajis, an offshoot of 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 not different from the other Hindus.

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 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 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.

1947 PartitionEdit

Punjabi Hindus suffered a great deal due to partition of Punjab in 1947. They were a minority in areas of Pakistan. Many of the Hindus/Sikhs had to move to East Punjab and Muslims to West Punjab. Estimates of a million people or more were killed in the riots following the partition and subsequent independence of Pakistan and later India from British colonial rule. Most of the Punjabi Hindus who moved from West Punjab settled in the areas which are now Indian state of Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Western UP, and even as far as Mumbai and Calcutta.

Demand for Punjabi Suba and subsequent trifurcation of PunjabEdit

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

Because the Punjabi Hindus stated Hindi as their mother tongue (due to fear of sikh hegemony as Punjabi Hindus have Punjabi as their first language) in the censuses of 1951 and 1961, after the trifurcation, many areas being mostly Punjabi Hindu were given to Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, which made Punjab a Sikh-majority state in India.

See alsoEdit


  2. ^ Raj Kumar (2004). Essays on Social Reform Movements. Discovery Publishing House. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-81-7141-792-6. 
  3. ^ Rajivlochan, M., & Rajivlochan, M. (2014). Coping with Exclusions the Non-Political Way. Mapping Social Exclusion in India: Caste, Religion and Borderlands, 82-83.
  4. ^ Kishwar, Madhu (26 April 1986). "Arya Samaj and Women's Education: Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar". Economic and Political Weekly. 21 (17): 9. doi:10.2307/4375593 (inactive 2018-09-11). JSTOR 4375593. 
  5. ^ 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 [u.a.]: Penguin Books. pp. 67–68. ISBN 9780140246025. 
  6. ^ "Arya Samaj Queensland". Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  7. ^ Lal, Vinay; Goolam Vahed (2013). "Hinduism in South Africa: Caste, Ethnicity, and Invented Traditions, 1860-Present" (PDF). J Sociology Soc Anth. 4 (1–2): 1–15. 
  8. ^ Ombongi, Kenneth Samson (1993). Hindu socio-religious organizations in Kenya: a case study of Arya Samaj, 1903-1978. University of Nairobi. 
  9. ^ Eisenlohr, Patrick (2006). Little India: Diaspora, Time, and Ethnolinguistic Belonging in Hindu Mauritius. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-520-24879-3. 
  10. ^ Coward, Harold (1999). Hindus in Canada, The Third National Metropolis Conference (PDF). Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver Center of Excellence. p. 8. 
  11. ^ "Arya Pratinidhi Sabha America". Retrieved 30 December 2013. 

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit