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Namdharis, also known as Kukas, are a sect of Sikhism. The main difference between Namdharis and mainstream Sikhs is their belief in a succession of Gurus after the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, with their present guru being Jagjit Singh. This is in contrast to mainstream Sikhism, which accepts Guru Gobind Singh's edict of the Guru Granth Sahib as eternal guru, its contents being the embodiment of the teachings, knowledge, wisdom and philosophy of the first ten Sikh gurus. Other differences include strict vegetarianism and placing equal importance on the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth, the writings of the 10th Guru.


Namdharis are easily recognized by their practice of wearing white homespun clothing and by their method of tying the turban horizontally across the forehead. Around their necks they wear a white woolen cord woven into a series of 108 knots and serving as prayer beads (mala).[citation needed] Always try to have all 5 Ks.

Guru legacy[edit]

Namdhari Sikhs believe fully in all Sikh gurus from Guru Nanak onwards and respect both the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth equally. Namdharis believe that Guru Gobind Singh lived for 146 years (1666–1812),[1] eventually bestowing the succession on Balak Singh[2] of Hazro in 1812. Balak Singh became the first Namdhari guru.

Balak Singh's successor, Ram Singh (1816–1885),[3] is revered by Namdharis as the most important. His status in the Namdhari sect is similar to that of Guru Nanak in mainstream Sikhism. Although he was exiled from India by its British rulers in 1872, every Namdhari believes that he is still alive and will soon return to lead the Namdharis.

The third Namdhari Guru was Hari Singh (1819–1906) who passed on the leadership to Partap Singh (1890–1959).

Partap Singh passed on the leadership to Sri Jagjit Singh (1920―2012), who became leader in 1959.

Thakur Uday Singh is the current spiritual head of the Namdharis; he took over leadership in 2012.


The Namdharis are strict vegetarians and vigorous protectors of animals. They attach equal importance to the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth and they include the Dasam Granth composition Chandi di Var in their daily Nitnem (daily prayers).

Namdharis follow the path of Guru Nanak, which is the bedrock of Sikh philosophy, i.e. Nam Simran "meditating on God's name", Kirat Karo "Earn thy living", Vand Chako "Share thy wealth". The fundamental core of Namdharis' religious life is Nam Simran and the word Namdhari literally translated means a "one who beholds God’s Name".

The Namdharis lead a very simple, humble and unpretentious life. They do not practice dowry in any form. Their marriage ceremonies are unostentatious and shorn of all pompousness, in which neither the bride nor the groom wear any jewelry. Bhog is done for Sehaj Pahths done by bride and groom for their marriage. Follower of Ram Singh Ji [4]


Aside from being vegetarians, the Namdharis are not allowed to drink tap water; water must be drawn from the lake or captured from rain and from well. Some conservative Namdharis exclusively wear a white oval shaped turban (for men) and white kurtas (long shirt)and the long white kachhera (shorts) underneath. Namdharis are instructed to boycott those involved in female foeticide or exchange marriages. They are not allowed to wear clothes of blue and black colours. They do not practice the caste system.

Role in Indian freedom movement[edit]

Namdharis played a significant role in the Indian freedom struggle against the British. They are regarded as among the first votaries of the use of non-violence, much before the Indian national movement adopted it as its credo.[citation needed]

The British Indian records also list the extremist activities of the Kuka (or Namdhari) Sikhs during the 1870s. While they were occasionally hailed as freedom fighters, their activities included attacks on Muslims on the cow slaughter issue, resulting in killings of some Muslim butchers in Amritsar and Ludhiana in 1871.[5][6] A group of 66 Namdhari Sikhs were blown up by a canon in 1872 for protesting against the British; there is a memorial to them at Malerkotla in Indian Punjab.[7]


There are currently Namdhari temples (Dharamshalas) in many areas of the world, especially countries in South East Asia such as Thailand. However, one may also find Namdharis residing in the rest of the world including Canada, US and the United Kingdom. The most sacred Namdhari Gurudwara, considered to be the Headquarters is situated at Bhaini Sahib in Ludhiana, Punjab . Most of the Namdhari population resides at Bhaini Sahib and the neighboring areas in North India[citation needed].


The Namdhari flag is white, which symbolizes their Tenets: Truth, Purity, Simplicity, Peace and Unity. It was hoisted by the 2nd Namdhari Leader – Ram Singh on the eve of the Baisakhi Festival – 1st Baisakh Samat 1914 (April 12, 1857). However, the Nishaan as by the command of Guru Gobind still remains as the prominent symbol in Sikh Gurudwaras.


  1. ^ Textual sources for the study of Sikhism By W. H. McLeod
  2. ^ Socio-religious reform movements in British India, Volume 3 By Kenneth W. Jones
  3. ^ Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1–5 By Dale Hoiberg, Indu Ramchandani
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Asiatic review, Volume 15 By East India Association (London, England) page 275 .. the Kuka, an extremist Sikh sect, not being found north or west of the ...
  6. ^ Henry Schwarz; Sangeeta Ray (2004). A companion to postcolonial studies. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 261–. ISBN 978-0-631-20663-7. 
  7. ^ Singh, Bajinder Pal, 2005. After 133 years of anonymity, Kukar martyrs finally get a name

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