[Advaita-l] Advaita and other philosophies

Vivek Anand Ganesan v_ganesan at yahoo.com
Sat May 8 19:00:02 CDT 2004

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com> wrote:
> Actually there is one more.  The Udasins are the
> followers of Shrichand
> the son of  Guru Nanak the founder of the Sikh religion. 
> While they
> revere Guru Granth Sahib as their holy book they also
> consider
> Shankaracharya their acharya and follow the tenets of
> Advaita Vedanta.
> Formerly this sect was as numerous as the keshdharis (the
> turbanned people
> we usually associate with the name Sikh) and had control
> of most of the
> prominent Gurudwaras.  But two things happened.  During
> the 19th century,
> the khalsa movement amongst the Sikhs moved to sharply
> define their
> religion away from its Hindu roots and in some court
> battles the Udasins
> lost their control of Sikh shrines.  Then in 1947 during
> the tragedy of
> partition they lost a lot of their remaining property in
> Sindh and
> Pakistani Punjab.  But they still survive and have
> produced some prominent
> scholar saints.  For instance the book Vichara Sagara
> which was lauded by
> such luminaries as Swami Chandrashekharendra Saraswati
> and Shri Ramana was
> written by an Udasin named Swami Nischaladas.

  I am afraid that there are a couple of
First, the Udasins broke with mainstream Sikhism almost 
immediately after the death of the first Guru.  The Udasins
wanted Baba ShriChand to be appointed the second guru but
Guru Nanank himself appointed Angad as the second guru.
However, the Udasins continued to be an important
break-away segment of the Sikh movement and called
themselves Nanak-Putras.  It should be noted that the
Udasins followed traditional hindu monastic traditions and
do not recogonize any of the nine gurus after Guru Nanak. 
They also completely adopted Shaivite Nath Yoga and Advaita
Vedanta as their philosophy.  They did manage a few

  However, there is another group that is also considered a
break-away sect from mainstream Sikhism - the Nirmalas -
who managed most of the important gurudwaras in Punjab
after 1850.  Nirmalas trace their lineage to a set of Sikhs
who were sent to Kashi to learn Sanskrit by the tenth guru
but the Akali Sikhs ( the mainstream Sikhs who keep the
five Ks ) consider this to be pure myth.  Neverthless, the
Nirmalas became important after the British conquest of
Punjab.  The pro-British Nirmalas were entrusted with the
management of most of the major gurudwaras in Punjab by the
British.  Many of the Nirmala Mahants ( temple managers )
became quite wealthy and started abusing their power and
privilege, which led to the Gurudwara Reform movement from

  The Gurudwara Reform movement met with little success in
the beginning but the real impetus came after the
Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.  After that ghastly
episode ( in which mostly turbanned Akali Sikhs were killed
under the orders of Gen. Dyer ) the Mahant of the Golden
Temple in Amritsar, actually congratulated Dyer and made
him a honorary Sikh!  This single action incensed sikhs and
hindus alike and the Gurudwara Reform became a part of the
Congress Non-Cooperation movement.  The Congress supported
the Akalis who waged a non-violent struggle to wrest
control of the Gurudwaras away from the corrupt mahants. 
The upshot of all this was the passage of the Gurudwara
Reform Act in 1925 which created an apex body, the
Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committe, to manage the
affairs of the historic Gurudwaras of Punjab.  SGPC is the
apex body of Sikhism even today.  So, the real conflict was
between Nirmalas and Akalis not Akalis and Udasins ( who
had become part and parcel of Hindu monasticism long ago ).
 The above can be seen both from the official history of
the Congress as well as the book "Sikh" by Patwant Singh.



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