Namdhari


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Namdhari

 

(“those who have taken the name of the divinity”), a sect of Sikhs in northwestern India during the 1830’s. The emergence of the Namdhari was related to the growth of class conflict in the Punjab and the intensification of feudal exploitation. Members of the sect called for a return to fundamental Sikh beliefs and moral self-improvement. From 1846 to 1872 the sect was headed by Ram Singh.

After the British conquest of the Punjab in 1849, the Namdhari became increasingly anti-British, and the sect turned into a mass organization of the Sikh peasants of the Punjab. By the early 1850’s, the Namdhari numbered 50,000. Trying to avert an explosion of popular discontent, the British colonial authorities stirred up religious animosity between the Sikhs and Muslims. Taking advantage of an attack by a group of Namdhari on the estate of a Muslim feudal lord in 1872, the colonial authorities took savage reprisals against the Namdhari. The sect exists today.

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