This is another of the great traditional Sikh orders.
Udasi Baba Karm Prakash, speaking on behalf of the Seva Panthis
at Guriana Mandi (in Punjab) in presence of Sant Baba Jagjir Singh,
the Seva Panthi chief caretaker, spoke of the purpose of the Seva
‘The chief work of the Seva Panthis is
this: to serve the living spirit and not to worship stones,
to provide food for all beings in free, the the communal kitchen
as service, and to make havens for cows, cattle etc. To do all
such religious deeds.’
(Baba Karm Das, transcript of recording, 06-03-2001)
Seva Panthi order was started by Bhai Kanhaiya.
He was born in 1648 in a town called Sohadara now in Pakistan. In
time, after searching for a spiritual guide amongst Hindus and Muslims
he became a Sikh of the ninth Sikh Guru. Akali Guru Tegh Bahadur
instructed Khanaiya to go out and serve humanity. Thus began the
life time work of Bhai Khanaiya, ‘Seva’,
self-abnegating service to all living things.
Bhai Kanhaiya Ji
A contemporary painting of Bhai Kanhaiya, the founder of
the Sanatan Sikh Seva Panthi/Addan Shahi philanthropist order
Bhai Khanaiya established a Dharmsala
(Rest house and temple) in the Northwest frontier in the Attock
district of Punjab on a hilly track near the village of Kawa. The
Dharmsala was situated on the Grand Trunk Road
between Lahore and Peshawar. There, Khanaiya served all indiscriminately.
He preached all Muslims and Hindus to be brothers in the eyes of
the one Nirankar God the father of all. In time Akali Guru Tegh
Bahadur attained glorious martyrdom and his son Akali Nihang Guru
Gobind Singh came to occupy Akali Guru Nanak’s spiritual seat.
Bhai Khanaiya was greatly saddened upon hearing of
the martyrdom of his Guru. He in time resolved to see his great
successor. The early years of Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh were
to be the preparation for the oncoming wars with the caste-bound
Hindu Rajas and the bigoted imperial Moghal power of Aurangzeb.
Akali Nihang Guru Gobind Singh ordered all his able-bodied
Sikhs to wear weapons and learn the arts of war. Bhai Khanaiya also
obeyed the Guru's instructions and put on a sword but claimed his
sword being a symbol of his Guru was for the use of his enemy. Thus,
the Guru exempted Khanaiya and his followers from
military duty and told him to carry on performing the duty allotted
him by his reverend father Akali Guru Tegh Bahadur of serving all
In a latter battle in Anandpur Bhai Khanaiya served
water indiscriminately to friend and foe alike.
For this act, some angry Sikh warriors, the Nihangs accusing him
of treason brought him before Guru Gobind Singh Ji. When Guru Ji
asked him why he was helping the wounded enemy. Bhai Ji replied:
“I cannot distinguish between friend or foe I only see
you the one true Guru Va-eh Guru in all”
Friend or Foe?
Bhai Kanhaiya Ji seen here in a contemporary painting giving water
to a Muslim soldier
The Guru was very pleased, and not only did he order
Khanaiya to continue, but also gave him a medicine chest as a gift.
He then blessed him saying after him shall be a Sikh order who will
serve all mankind indiscriminately. Noor Shah was amongst those
Afghan soldiers to whom Bhai Khanaiya had served water and attended.
He went onto become a great disciple of Bhai Khanaiya setting up
a Dharmsala of his own.
Blessing from the Guru
A contemporary painting depicting Akali Nihang Guru Gobind
Singh handing a bag of ointment to Bhai Kanhaiya Ji and blessing
After Bhai Khanaiya his Sikh order came to be known
as ‘Seva Panthis’ (The path of servers).
This name came through Bhai Khanaiya’s disciple Seva
Ram. Seva Panthis are also known as 'Addan Shahia'.
This name is derived from another of Bhai Khanaiya’s disciples