The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism
throughout Sikh History
Page 1 of 5
Time of origin: approximately 1930
This is an offshoot of Nirankari movement to
which so many mainstream Sikhs today are so
hostile. In the 1930’s, one Boota
Singh (1883-1944) broke away from the
main Nirankari movement. The reasons as to why
exactly he decided to part from the Nirankaris
were not doctrinal, but based purely upon personal
and dietary reasons. Boota Singh became fond
of drinking alcohol, which
was not approved of by the parent body of Nirankaris.
Boota Singh Nirankari
Founder of the Sant Nirankari movement
In 1944, Boota Singh passed away and was succeeded
by Avtar Singh, who upon arriving
in Delhi, established the 'Sant Nirankari'
movement as it is known today. Prior to the
partition of India and Pakistan, the Sant Nirankari
movement did not gather much of a following.
Being from West Punjab themselves, the Sant
Nirankaris preyed upon those distressed Sikhs
and Hindus flooding in from west into India
and Delhi. As such, their numbers increased
due to the misfortune of those who had lost
their livelihood and were seeking hope.
Avtar Singh Nirankari
Disciple and eventual successor to Boota Singh
Upto the 1970’s, the Sant Nirankaris
installed Adi Guru Durbar in their temples and
termed themselves as ‘Sikh’.
Dr Gopal Singh writes:
‘Upto recently (according
to their own memorandum to the Delhi Education
Act 73), they [Sant Nirankaris] claimed
to be part of the Sikh Community.’ ‘History
Of The Sikhs’, Dr. Gopal Singh, Pa.605
In time during the pontiff of Gurbachan Singh,
who succeeded Avtar Singh, the Adi Guru Durbar
was removed from their temples.
This action was the result of criticism Gurbachan
Singh was receiving from mainstream
Sikhism. Mainstream Sikhs were unhappy that
Gurbachan Singh was presenting himself as a
self-styled Sikh Guru. To add to this, Gurbachan
Singh wrote a text named ‘Avtar
Bani’ in which he made many ridiculous
claims. One claim was that his wife Buda was
‘Jagat Mata’ (mother
of the world), his daughter-in-law was ‘Raj
Mata’ (queen mother) and he himself
was the Avtar of the Formless Almighty.
Avtar Singh (left) and the youthful Gurbachan
To further fuel the tension between Gurbachan
Singh and the mainstream S.G.P.C., A.K.J., ‘Dam
Dami Taksal’, etc. Sikhs, the Congress
Party headed by Mrs Indira Gandhi stepped in.
After the 1977 state elections in Punjab, Indira
Gandhi’s Congress representative, Jail
Singh (known as ‘Jaila’)
lost out to Prakash Singh Badal, head of the
Akali Dal. Badal led a fragile coalition, composed
of his Akali Dal and the Bhartiya
Jan Sangh, a right wing Hindu party.
Gurbachan Singh (seated left) with Indra Gandhi
(right on the microphone)
Blaming the S.G.P.C. Akalis for her loss in
1977, Indra Gandhi desired
revenge on them. She wished to retake Punjab
from the S.G.P.C. Akalis and advised by Jail
Singh, her eldest son, Sanjay Gandhi
set about trying to perform this task.