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The Sadh is one of the few endogamous religions. They call the God in the name Satnam, which means "the true name". Their population is mainly concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. It is one of the richest castes in India.
The sect was formed by Birbhan sadhji in Bijesar, a village near Narnaul, Haryana in the year 1543 CE. They use the name Satnami (it means the true name) to call upon the God. Hence, they call themselves as Satnamis.
A major revolt against Aurangzeb, the Mughal Emperor, occurred in Narnaul and surrounding localities in the year 1672, which was led by Sadh people. The revolt was caused by the oppression led by the revenue officials of the Mughal Emperor. The absence from North India of the major proportion of royal troops helped the revolting people to establish a temporary gain and the movement of rebels towards Delhi became a matter of serious concern for the emperor himself. A large reinforcement was sent to contain the revolt and in the following battle thousands of rebels were killed.
The following paragraph is the story of the Sadh origin as per Sadh belief & their holy book. Sadh community has an entire different picture of the creation of Earth, creation of mankind and the entire natural process of everything we see and do in our life. They believe in the supreme power which is above all other Hindu deities, "Sat Avgat" literal meaning: sat se avgat hona; for them it is the true creator. Sadh community pray to their creator "Satgur Saheb". Rumors have it that this sect was started by Birbhan Sadh but the Sadh holy book "Nirvaan Gyaan" has mentioned that with the wish and command of "Satgur Saheb" the creation of Earth & mankind took place and everyone was Sadh at the beginning of time, it is what the people did and believed in& karma and their own doing led to the creation of different religions and sects. Their Holy book "Nirvaan Gyaan" has kadas which have the entire details from the day of creation and further. The book also contains rules and regulations in the form of Bani's(Shlokas) a Sadh should follow. It also mentions ways by which a Sadh or any person could attain moksha.
The sect has 112 rules of faith centred on modesty, humility, truth, simplicity of clothing, vegetarianism and the abandonment of caste distinctions. They believe in meditation and praying one God. Their holy book is called Nirvana Gyan. Eggs are also prohibited in the diet, according to the Satnami tradition.
SATNAM is used as a greeting when two people meet,irrespective of their age. Their religious rites are centered around meditating and chanting the word, "Satavgat". They believe in meditating devotedly by repeating divine names in order to stabilize the fluctuations of the consciousness, which makes one fit to receive higher intuitive knowledge of the divine. Sadh caste is divide into 2 groups(fareekhs) . All of these groups have their own groups.They observe no caste distinctions – judging people only be their actions (by Karma/karni).The priests are called "Mauhrayats".
The adults of the sect are required to wear white garments only, and abstain from intoxicants and animal foods. These tenets are still practiced by many today. They are allowed to conduct inter caste marriage. Drinking of alcohol is bad thing written in their holy book" nirvana gyaan"
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Today the sect followers are to be found in Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand (Alawalpur, Hasanpur, Dehradun, Chhutmalpur, Roorkee, Hridwar, Rishikesh) Gujarat, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Goa. In Uttar Pradesh they concentrated in Sadhwara Farrukhabad District, also are in Saharanpur, Mirzapur, Meerut and Bareilly districts. In Haryana, the major places where Sadhs live are Sonipat(Rohat), Jind, Karnal, Kaithal, Rewari, Panipat, Narwana, Rohtak and Jind. In Rajasthan their population is concentrated in Jaipur, Karauli, Jodhpur, Marwad, Pali, Bhartpur district. The Head of all Sadh's lives in Sadhpura village (Karauli district) in Rajasthan where a huge temple is built. In Ludhiana (Punjab) also some of them could be found. The spread is due to the fact that those who survived the genocide following their rebellion against the Mughals spread out into small units over vast tracts of land. Marwad, Pali and Jodhpur Sadhs are known as Marwadi Sadhs (Marwad Wasi Sadh's). Even today these Marwadi Sadh's are also called Satnami's by locals there.
Chauki Sadhan is the places (temple) where the Sadh's congregate for worship and prayer. Every Sadh is supposed to attend the congregation of Pooranmashi (Poono), that happens every full moon at Chauki Sadhan . They also conduct a festival called Bhandara in the Phagun month (February – March), three days before the Hindu festival of Holi, in a place of mutual agreement.
Nowadays, Sadh people are engaged in a variety of professions like calico printing, colour dyeing, dyeing of Cotton and silk cloth, merchant export manufacturing, wholesale merchandise etc. Most of the people of this community are engaged in the textile and garment export business . Many Sadhs are farmers in many Uttar pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan villages.
- Grierson, George Abraham (1908). "Sadhs" (PDF). In Hastings, James. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. XI: Sacrifice-Sudra. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 46–47.
- https://ia601604.us.archive.org/20/items/in.ernet.dli.2015.61973/2015.61973.Maasir-i--Alamgiri-1947_text.pdf |Chapter XV