In conclusion, Sanatan meaning 'traditionalist'
Sikhs, the Udasis, Nirmala, Seva Panthi and Akali Nihangs believe
their Dharma (spiritual path) to be eternal and universal.
The Sanatan Sikhs
from left to right: the Udhasi (missionary), the Nirmala (intellectual),
Seva Panthi/Addan Shahi (philanthropist) and the Akali Nihang Singh
(warriors). All these orders were blessed by the Sanatan Sikh Gurus
The true Dharma underlies all sincere faiths and philosophies
of the world. In its tolerant philosophy of life, there is no room
for religious or political bigots or fanatics or fundamentalism.
The tolerant nature of Sanatan Sikhism is such that
it is very difficult for many modern Tat Khalsa British Raj-era
Victorian-Sikh mentality so-called Sikhs to appreciate. Hew McLeod
spoke of the Sanatan Sikhs and Sanatan Sikh world view of late 19th
‘The Sikhism preached by the people such as Khem Singh
Bedi and Avatar Singh Vahiria is difficult to envisage today,
so comprehensive has been their defeat by the Tat Khalsa. For
them Sikhism tolerated variety and upheld the right of Sikhs
to participate in folk religion. Caste was maintained and idol
worship was tolerated. There were different forms of marriage
for different castes and, different rituals could be practised
by various members of the Panth. All manners of customs, such
as those involving astrology, horoscopes and incantation, were
acceptable. Visits to the sacred shrines of Hindus and Muslim
as well as those of the Guru’s were entirely approved.
Sanatan leaders might not follow these customs themselves, but
certainly they were prepared to tolerate them in others. They
were part of the immense variety which characterised the world
they had known and the world they hoped would continue. All
this was anathema to the Tat Khalsa. Sikhism could
not possibly be as broad and as tolerant as Sanatan Sikhs believed.
(‘Sikhism’, H. McLeod, 1997, Pa.77)
Although Sanatan Sikhism is tolerant, it does not
mean that it in any way cowers or surrenders to any bigot or fanatic.
The Faith of Guru Nanak is of oneness of Nirankar God and all mankind.
As Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh said:
‘Some are Bragis, some Synasis, some are Yogis, some
are Brahmchari and some are Jatis [All aforementioned are Hindu
Some Hindus, some Shia Muslim, some Suni Muslim but recognise
the race of all man as one. The creator, blesser, feeder of
all, the compassionate One is but one. There is no second, all
these apparent distinctions [of race and religion] arise out
of false perception. All should serve the one for the Guru of
all is one, all are of one form consider in all is but one light
[of Va-eh Guru]. The Hindu temple and Muslim Mosque is but He,
Hindu worship and Muslim worship is but He. All mankind
are but one misunderstandings are of many types.’
(‘Dasam Guru Durbar, Akal Ustat)
An old painting of depicting the ten Sanatan Sikh Gurus who all
promote humanity and Dharam (righteousness) regardless of creed,
colour of socio-economic status
The relevance of the tolerant
Sanatan Sikh philosophy of life to the great multicultural society
we live in is profound if we are to build and co-exist in a strong,
free, peace full society.