(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)
Controversies have been raised over issue of Sahajdhari. There seems to be two groups. The first group believes that Sahajdharis are a part of wider Sikh community and other believes they are not.
Even those who accept the tradition of Sahajdharis are not unanimous on definition of term ‘Sahajdhari’.
Actually, present conflict over definition of Sahajdhari is originated from explanation of another term ‘Patit’. A newly founded political party in Punjab (India) has been propagating that a ‘Patit’ is a person, who was once Amritdhari (a person who tastes ‘Khande Kee Pahul’), but now cuts his hair. This new definition of ‘Patit’ is different to widely accept other definition, according to which any person born in Sikh family is ‘Patit’ if s/he cuts his/her hair.
The point they agree to is that a ‘Patit’ cannot be called ‘Sahajdhari’. Thus, a ‘Sahajdhari’ is a person, who is not ‘Patit’.
We will discuss the issue of ‘Patit’ in a separate article. However, here I want to make a point on a few historic persons, who cannot be called ‘Patit’. They belonged to Sewapanthi or Addanshahi Samparda.
The sect ‘Sewapanthi’ was named after Bhai Sewa Ram Ji. He used to preach Gurbani in the area of Bhehra and Multaan (now in Pakistan). Bhai Addan Shah Ji, a disciple of Bhai Sewa Ram Ji, used to serve in the area of Lahore (now in Pakistan). His sect was called ‘Addan Shaahi’ after his name.
Because Bhai Addan Shah Ji was a disciple of Bhai Sewa Ram Ji, so it was natural that the sect named after Bhai Addan Shah Ji was considered a part of a sect named after Bhai Sewa Ram Ji. So, practically, Sewapanthi and Addanshahi are considered one sect and both of the names of ‘Seva Panthi’ and ‘Addan Shaahi’ are used for same sect.
Every Amritdhari male is required to add ‘Singh’ in his name (as last name). When we see the names of early Sewapanthi or Addanshahi sadhus, we easily reach the conclusion that most of them were not Amritdhari, because the word ‘Singh’ is missing in their names. Thus, famous early Sewapanthis/Addanshahis, like Bhai Sewa Ram, Bhai Addan Shah, Bhai Sahaj Ram, Bhai Ram Dyal, Bhai Rochi Ram and many others were not Amritdhari.
What’s more, most of them were not born in Sikh families either. They were attracted to the Gurbani and started their journey towards the Guru. They definitely were believers of Guru Nanak – Guru Gobind Singh’s religious tradition. They did not follow any other religion at all. Seeing that they were not ‘Patit’, such Sewapanthis/Addanshahis beyond doubt were Sahajdharis.
When we do not hesitate to categorize Dada Lachhman Das Chela Ram as Sahajdhari, there is no ground to hesitate putting those early Sewapanthis/Addanshahis into the category of Sahajdhari. (Many of present Sewapanthis are Amritdhari).
Furthermore, early Sewapanthis and Addanshahis were not seeking admission into any SGPC run institutions, nor were they demanding rights of voting in Gurdwara management bodies. They were on the path of Guru. The roads they were walking on were not going towards any worldly courts. Instead, they were walking, slowly and calmly, towards the Guru. Thus, we do not hesitate putting them in category of Sahajdharis.