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The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History
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Brindaban Matt

Time of origin: mid 1800s

In 1825, in household of Dalvali Singh and MahamaiI Kaur in Agra, was born Brindaban. He was the younger brother of the founder of the Radhasoami sect of Sikhism, Shivdiyal Singh (for more information on Radhasoamis, click here). Brindaban learnt his early spiritual knowledge from Sant Kanh Singh Nirmala. Brindban took to the avid study of Adi Guru Durbar.

City of the Taj Mahal, and birthplace of Brindaban

In time he sought out Baba Amir Chand Bedi, and took ‘Gurmantra’ of ‘Vaeh-Guru’ from him. Brindaban adopted Baba Amir as ‘Guru’ (Spiritual guide) as was the Nirmala tradition.

Brindaban himself built up a following over time. The ‘Sadhus’ (holy men) of the Brindaban order wore yellow robes. Some amongst them kept uncut hair others cut their hair. Brindaban also authored a number of books. He called his Samparda (order) ‘Biharbrindaban Nanakshahi’. In 1979, a privately published Agra Radhasoami book called ‘Bhaktmal of Radhasoami Faith’, by S. D. Maheshwari states that Brindaban acknowledged Akali Guru Nanak as ‘Guru’. These words are attributed to Brihdaban:

‘I salute and pay obeisance to my beloved Nanak Saheb’.

Radhasoami temple at Agra under construction

Against mainstream Nirmala belief, Brindaban also believed that Akali Guru Nanak had incarnated in him. Pundit Ganesha Singh Nirmala states that Baba Atal Singh became a prominent disciple of Brindaban. Through his own charisma and the ardor of such keen followers, Brindaban managed to establish a strong ‘Akhara’ (school) which use to march in the ‘Kumbh’ (procession) of Pragh alongside the Nirmala Akharas.

Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji
A scene described in the 'Janam Sakhis' of the first Sikh Guru
attending school under the guidance of Jai Ram, circa late 19th century

Brindaban died in 1876 and his mausoleum was made in Ayodhya. His funeral was attended by two of his disciples both named Sharan Das. The ‘Brindabanieh’ had faith in Sikhism and in general, according to Pundit Ganesha Singh, followed Nirmala traditions.

Other historians paint a different picture of Bihrindaban. In 1979, another privately published book named ‘Bhaktmal of Radhasoami Faith’, by S. D. Maheshwari (published by Agra Soami Bagh), it states that Brindaban was regarded as incarnation of Jesus by the simple village folk. This perception was due to the fact that he had begun to dress up as a European, and spoke English whilst spreading his message.

The Battle of Aliwal
With the coming of the British Raj in the early 19th century, Christianity began
to spread throughout Punjab altering the perception of faith amongst many simple village folk

The wife of Brindaban, Bibo, outlived him, and was affectionately referred to as ‘Shoti Mataji’ (younger mother). She was, and still is greatly revered by the Agra Radhasoamis.

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