This website has been designed to provide a comprehensive
overview of Sanatan (Traditional) Sikhism, its
origins, philosophy, and heritage. This is the original form of
Sikhism that existed prior to the arrival of the
British Raj in Punjab in 1849, and is true to the eternal philosophy
expounded by Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first
living Sikh Guru.
Modern Sikh historians trace the origins of Sikhism
back to Akali Guru Nanak (1469-1539). However, Sanatan (Traditional)
Sikh orders - the Udasis, Nirmalas,
Seva Panthis and Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa,
think otherwise. These Guru-ordained groups, drawing upon the internal
evidence from the three sacred Sikh scriptures - Adi Guru
Durbar, Dasam Guru Durbar and Sarbloh
Guru Durbar, trace the origins of Sikhism to before the
beginning of time.
In the words of the first Sikh Guru, Akali Guru Nanak,
Sikhism is that ineffable spiritual truth:
‘Truth before time began,
Truth when time began,
Is truth now, and,
Oh Nanak, will be the truth in the future.’
(‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Japji, Pa.1)
Akali Guru Nanak Dev Ji
A Pahari painting depicting an imaginary meeting between Akali Guru
Nanak Dev Ji and Akali Nihang
Guru Gobind Singh Ji (bottom right and left), flanked by Ganesh
(bottom left), Brahma and Saraswati (top left),
Vishnu and Lakhsmi (top centre), Shiva and Parvati (top right),
and Durga (bottom right), Pahari late 19th century
Hence, Sanatan Sikhs term their Dharma (spiritual
path) as ‘Sanatan’, meaning the 'most
A photograph taken at Batinda, Punjab, of Adi Guru Durbar and Dasam
Sarbloh Guru Durbar is traditionally kept as a secret text amongst
the Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa
That Dharma, which proceeds all things, the highest
being, 'Nirankar' (Formless) God, Himself and no
other. The 10 Sikh Gurus, the Sanatan traditions and Sanatan orders,
all see Nirankar God and 'Sarbloh' (martial designation
of God), as One and the same:
‘Traditions that are Sanatan
are the ancient Dharma whose virtues the Vedas sing.
That [Sanatan] Brahm [all pervasive God] highest God,
Sarbloh, is known as king of all demigods.’
(‘Sarbloh Guru Durbar’, Vol. 2. Chapter Five, Pa.549)
A further, more concrete definition of 'Sanatan' is
given in Sarbloh Guru Durbar thus:
‘...Siri Sarbloh consider as Sanatan.’
(‘Sarbloh Guru Durbar’, Vol. 2. Chapter Five, Pa.196)
Bhagat Kabir (a Muslim Indian saint
whose works are found within the foremost Sikh scripture Adi Guru
Durbar) speaks of how his mind, on seeing the one primordial Nirankar
God, had become Sanatan:
‘From seeing angels of death [fearing
death] now I see but Ram [Ramachandar/Nirankar God].
My suffering has fled and comfort taken abode [in my heart].
Those denying God [the five senses], have become noble [having
acknowledged Nirankar God].
Now I have attained complete bliss.
I have been cooled [mind settled] when I appreciated Gobind
In the body are found innumerable troubles.
Now, spontaneously in comfort, I am absorbed in God.
I have recognized my true self.
Now no ailment of the three fevers affects me. Now
my mind has changed and become Sanatan.
Now I appreciate [Truth] having died whilst alive [meaning being
unaffected by temptations of the world].
Says Kabir, in comfort spontaneously be absorbed in God. I fear no one, nor am I intimidated by anyone.’
(‘Adi Guru Durbar’, Raag Gauri, Pa.326-327)
Now, this Sanatan Sikh Dharma is not a ‘religion’
in the modern sense, but it is the ineffable truth of which Akali
Nihang Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru writes:
‘According to one's intellect
one expresses it [the truth] in a myriad of ways.’
(‘Dasam Guru Durbar’, Treh Charittar 104)