The following is a narration by a very prominent scholar of the 19th century, Giani Gian Singh whose books on Sikh History have been a source of knowledge for the historians. His very famous book "Panth Parkash" was translated by Giani Kirpal Singh, ex-head Granthi of Darbar Sahib. We have pleasure in presenting herewith an English translation of the Punjabi version of the 'Kuka History' as revealed and witnessed by Giani Gian Singh and ably translated by Dr. Harbhajan Singh, a renowned figure in scholarly circles. The foreword is by Maharaj Bir Singh Ji. (Kanwal)

Giani Gian Singh -A scholar of great fame

By Maharaja Bir Singh

The Sikhs have made a remarkable history, but most of its writers have been less than fair in recording, let along evaluating, its achievements. Driven by their peculiar interests and biases, for and against, they have generally proved unequal to the requirements of the craft of history. The Namdharis, of course, have suffered the most at the hands of such 'historians'.
The Namdharis, under the inspired guidance of Satguru Ram Singh Ji, were a powerful voice against the alien rule. As harbingers of the Freedom Struggle, they considered no cost too high to rid the country of the unjust foreigners' yoke.
They strove ever so hard to bring about reformative and fundamental changes in the religious and social practices of the Punjabi people. Very few historians have succeeded in putting the accomplishments of this movement in perspective. Giani Gian Singh belongs to this rare breed of historians
Giani Gian Singh belonged to the Nirmal Sect of the Sikhs, whose members are especially known for their vast erudition, intellectual depth and thorough knowledgeability in Sikh Scriptures. Notwithstanding his unshakable allegiance to his Sect, he was, in his writings, happily free from prejudices towards others. He was meticulously objective and just in evaluating the Nihangs and the Namdharis, in his magnum opus, Sri Guru Panth Parkash. He has drawn a fairly correct picture of the political nuances of the Kuka Movement, particularly its endeavors towards the restoration of the Sikh Rule. And, he minced no words to condemn the corrupt Sikh priests who obstructed the entry of Satguru Ram Singh Ji and his dedicated followers to the various Sikh shrines.
He composed no more than twenty-eight Kabits (Quatrains) to draw the salient features of the eventful history of the Namdharis. He was both brief and authentic. Being himself an eyewitness to some of the major events and incidents of the Movement, he was in a position to make definitive and authoritative statements. His writings are both commendable works of history as also its reliable source material. He was particularly endowed with an uncanny perception of the Sikh ethos. No wonder, he, while recording the martyrdoms of Banda Bahadur and his associates was able to spontaneously link them to the Namdharis who, on the fateful days of the 17th-18th January, 1872, inspired by an intense desire to throw off the alien yoke, had rushed to the cannons as moths flying to the flames. Giani Ji took particular note of the social and religious aspects of Satguru Ram Singh Ji's message and designated that period of Sikh history as its Golden Age.
Based on reliable facts and objective analysis, Giani Gian Singh's portrayal of Namdhari history can help solve some of the enigmas created by the historians with scant regard for objectivity. Unfortunately, contemporary Punjabi readers are being gradually distanced from Braja Bhasha, which Giani Ji had adopted for his writings. This is particularly true of those schooled in English. For their benefit, Dr. Harbhajan Singh has prepared an English rendering of Giani Ji's twenty-eight Kabits bearing on Namdhari history. I have gone through the whole typescript in one sitting and have found it eminently readable.
Years back I happened to meet Dr. Harbhajan Singh for the first time at a Music Festival at Delhi organised by Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji, in commemoration of Satguru Pratap Singh Ji. During a brief conversation, I found him a man or mild manners and scholarly bearing. He required both of these in ample measure to prepare this version in which the beauty of Giani Gian Singb Ji's original text came neatly through. With his vast knowledge of Sanskrit, Braja Bhasba and Punjabi, Dr. Harbhajan Singh was well equipped to get the measure of Giani Ji's greatness and render it into features acceptable to contemporary readers. Words fail mc to express my gratitude towards him for taking up this arduous job on my request.
I hope readers will find it useful and interesting.

Maharaja Bir Singh

In lieu of an Introduction

I came into contact with Giani Gian Singh's writings, in the most formative years of my life. Those were the times when the Sikhs were being aggressively conscious of the need to know and protect the salient features of the identity their: forefathers had struggled over centuries to evolve and give a definite shape to. I would eagerly lap up such facts and interpretations of its medieval and modern history as would help me understand the meaning of my being and belonging. Giani Gian Singh's Twarikh Khalsa and Sri Guru Panth Parkash were the two books that, by some happy chance, I ran into and found to be immensely relevant to the questionings that tormented me. The two books were the proud possession of an old man two generations senior to me. He had the vision of a sage and would repeatedly talk of a future moulded by historical consciousness generated by these writings, themselves£ works of historic importance. The two persons he talked of with particular veneration were Karam Singh Historian and Giani Gian Singh. He would recite chapters from Sri Guru Panth Parkash to a dozen odd persons and offer his own comments to facilitate the flow of communication. I was a regular, though uninvited and uninitiated, member of his select audience. Later, I would stealthily lay hands on this treasure of his library kept, of course, under lock and key, and avidly glance through its pages. Its contents introduced me to the glorious vistas of our heritage. I felt drawn towards it in spite of the not-so familiar features of its diction and style. It seemed I had acquired an authentic feel of the enormity or the stresses and strains our people had passed through and the trails they had blazed. I felt like sharing, in full measure, the pride that rightly belonged to the community of which I was but a small member.
When I was called upon, through the courtesy of Maharaja Bir Singh Ji, to translate one of its chapters into English, I felt invited, as if, to a refresher course on all earlier discipline of Sikh Identity. I readily accepted the charge made on me .In fact, the affection accompanying the call had so overwhelmed me that I dared not but respond positively. The chapter on the Kukas in Sri Guru Panth Prakash is a balanced mix of objectivity and affectivity. I have, while preparing an English version of this chapter, adopted Giani Ji's own model of history, I have kept as close to the original text as was humanly possible. And, while engaged in this exercise, I have been inspired in so small measure, by the ideas of piety and selfless service practiced by my friends among the Kukas.
I hope those who cherish the principles and practices of the Kuka brethrens and their gurus will find this small endeavor of some use to them.

Professor Emeritus
University of Delhi

The Kukas, a branch of the Khalsa Panth.
have shot into prominence during the last thirty years* or so.
In the ecstasy of the Sabad, they are rapturously forgetful of themselves, oblivious of their headgears falling off.
They are precisely and eminently designated as Namdharis, though because of their loud cries, they are commonly known as Kukas, Except for their turbans falling off, they remain well within the approved tradition.
*The 2nd edition of Sri Guru Panth Parkash or which this version is based was published in 1946 Bikrami.
And now I narrate how they came into being;
the Sikh rule in this land was yet whole.
On the banks of the Attock, in the heavenly tract, Pothohar*,
there is a village called Chhoi.
In that village, in Samvat 1856,
was born one Balak Singh,
the very incarnation of God.
Arora by caste,
an unshakable devotee,
he was ever absorbed in God,
discarding all worldly pleasures.

*Region between the two rivers Jhelum and Sind.


In name a child,
he was the very patron of prophets,
the master of heavens and the abjurer of all things gaudy.
The only relation he recognised was that with the Creator.
Being one with God,
he was the destroyer of evil.
He led a life of renunciation.
Like a lamp burning within a pot
he did not display his greatness.
He was praised by all for his love of God.
He was an ascetic without blemish.
An awakened soul,
he was,
to the best possible extent
ever in the company of godly persons,
reciting hymns,
singing panegyrics and delivering discourses.

In 1885 Bikrami,
his elder brother moved to another village, Hajro,
and set up a shop.
Balak Singh followed,
took residence there and earned his living by simple labour.
His fame spread,
bringing immeasurable blessing to Hajro.
The village prospered into another Ajodhya*.
Its adversity disappeared.
Exceedingly fortunate were the village folk.
Ever absorbed in the love of God,
they remained awake in the company of godly persons.
They dedicated their lives to the service of saintly persons.
*Ajodhya, the capital city where Bhagwan Ram took birth.

The spiritual message that Balak Singh delivered was
Of immense benefit to men and women.
It helped them swim across the vast Sea of Existence.
The Creator Himself has revealed His Word and charged HIM
To spread it for the purification of human life.
The Tenth Master appeared in person and informed HIM;
Ram Singh is my incarnation
Partaking of an element of mine.
I have,
Entrusted HIM, and none else,
With my authority.
The Master's message was clear and firm.


The inevitable occurred on Thursday morning, the fifth moon of Magha,
1872 Bikrami;
Very well known is the vilage Bhaini in Ludhiana district.
On this village Ram Singh descended like a god,
Casting aside all the ills inhering in the Iron Age.
Charged with spreading the idea of God-hood,
Exuding effulgence came to the childless household,
His father Jassa, a carpenter by caste
And Mother Sada (Kaur).
Even while a child, his mind was replete with Divine presence.
Dedicated to uplift of mankind,
He, along with his playmates,
Was ever absorbed in Him.
When grown-up
He went to Lahore,
Entered service in the Army, which he thought was a noble vocation.
He would recite Gurbani
Sing hymns,
Seek solitude and share his purse with the poor.
In 1898 Bikrami,
In his platoon,
Went to Hazro on official duty.
Saintly persons held a great attraction for Ram Singh.
Whatever place he happened to visit,
He would love to call on them.
Balak Singh was held in high reverence.
Like a cuckoo-fledgling brought up by a mother duck,
Ram Singh listened to and joyfully absorbed
The divine eulogies.
The good deeds previously accumulated, bestirred themselves and helped HIM absorb
All the spiritual hue.
Blessed by fortune and saturated with love, he went all the
way to touch his feet in submission.
Balak Singh recognised God's element in HIM.
Satisfied that he was deserving and worthy to receive,
Of his own volition,
Offered HIM Nam.
The quintessence of the four Vedas,
Eradicates confusion,
Instils non-involvement and destroys painful failings.
Balak Singh implanted in HIM Waheguru,
The supreme mantra that helps accomplish all the missions.
None other is as extensively effective.
There were some who would say that he has received the
Revealed word from a Sayyadani.
Such an assertion was found wholly apocryphal,
this is I say on personal testimony.
It is Waheguru.
The mantra that annihilates the dangerous and the susceptive
Ways of the Iron Age brushes aside illusion and the cycles of births.
Ram Singh was eagerly drawn to it.
He would receive it repeatedly and attentively.
He realised the utter futility of the world of affairs and left it alone.
He led a life of positive conduct
and was ever absorbed in meditation.
He was like the one intoxicated,
always in a state of undisturbed bliss.
Never downcast,
he exuded joy and was free from desire.
He senses under control and the mind properly disciplined,
he would look up, for meditation, a clean place
beside a river or a pond.
The chant of the Nam was on his lips,
his body practised austerity,
and his mind was completely submerged in the Beloved.

He spent nearly twenty years of beatitude
in single-minded devotion,
austerity and meditation.
The Ridhi-Sidhi-the treasures and the supernatural powers,
were revealed to him as no more than the maid-servants of
Such was the impact of his practice of Nam,
that whatever he uttered proved true.
The heavens themselves spoke to this great man
charging him to spread Nam,
the giver of enlightenment and the wherewithal's of life.
Spread the faith of the Tenth Master among the people,
and make them realise that the Khalsa is singularly God's own.
Charged with this spectacular mission,
Ram Singh set about delivering discourses.
He made people give up smoking and keep unshorn hair.
Particularly fortunate were those who partook of the Nectar
and entered the Sikh fold.
His fame spread apace.
People in multitude became his disciples.
Manifold grew the Khalsa.
His disciples,
soaked in the bliss of Nam,
gave up opium, hashish, poppy,
liquor and various other intoxicants.
They would not eat meat.
They would not steal.
They foreswore adultery and deception.
They practised saintliness.
The Golden Age had returned.
Ram Singh had set up a hardware and drapery shop,
with income barely sufficient
to provide him with food and clothing.
He was visited by throngs of disciples.
Huge were the gatherings at his doors.
Whatever offerings were made,
all went to the free kitchen.
Those who received Nam from him immediately went into ecstasy, forgetful of their turbans flying off their heads.
They would divulge this secret of their soul to none other;
because of it,
most of the people called it Kalam.*

*Kalam, Muslim Sermon. 'Nam' is not to be confused with the Muslim Kalam or Revelation. Nam is the Mantra specifically related to Sikh doctrine.
Thus his holy fame spread far and wide ;
those who came to weigh,
found him full and became his disciples.
He had a huge following of no less than three lacs of people
from Malwa*, Doaba"*, Majha*** and Pothohar****.
Like Akbar ,
the Emperor,
he appointed twenty-two Governors known as Subas
and blessed them with speech as effective as his own.
Men and Women would form themselves into choirs,
play drums and melodiously chant the Supreme Word of the Guru.

* Region comprising district of Ferozepur, Faridkot, Nabha,(Punjab) Jind and Sirsa (Haryana) Patiala, Ludhiana (Punjab) ** Region falling between the rivers Sutlej and Beas.
*** Region comprising districts falling between the rivers Ravi and Beas.
**** Region comprising districts falling between tne rivers Jhelum and Sind (now in Pakistan).

They would perform Havan* and continuously recite
the Guru Granth,
beginning to end,
in large congregations.
They would take a whole bath in the small hours
and engage in an unceasing chant of Waheguru.
Men and women, without exception,
would be clad in a spotless, holy white.
They would keep a woollen rosary and wear a Kachha (Shorts),
a Kara (Steel Bangle) and a Karad (small sword) as symbols.
They would not accept food or drink from,
nor would they marry into a family, outside the fold,
the nearest kin being no exception.

*Ceremonial fire kept burning by pouring on it ghee and ,certain perfumes for evoking spiritual advancement, prosperity, purification of mind, environment etc., and also for performing marriage ceremonies by circumambulating four times around it.

They do not owe allegiance to the temples,
the places of pilgrimage, the Puranas,
the Sadhus or the Brahmins.
They attach no importance to giving away
charities outside the fold.
Charities and marital proposals are affectionately made and
accepted within the fold.
All of them fondly cherish the desire for political power.
They do not invite Brahmins to perform marriage ceremonies
or death rites.
They perform Anand*-a ritual discovered by them
conforming to the tradition of the House of the Gurus.
They regard Ram Singh alone as their Satguru,
the divine incarnation and the spiritual guide,
His word is accepted, without demur, by all.

*The Sikh ritual for marriage ceremony, first performed by Satguru Ram Singh on 3rd June, 1863. The couple is required to circumambulate four times around the sacred ceremonial fire along with recitation of related hymns from the Sikh Scripture.

This way of life caused immense unhappiness to the Brahmins.
The Hindus and the Muslims,
in large numbers, mouthed denunciation.
Whenever they visited Gurdwaras,
they would recite Sabads,
throwing off their turbans in ecstasy.
Such a sight caused resentment.
The Pujaris,
hurling abuse, would like to thrust upon them (the Kukas)
their own notions,
and not accept those of the Kukas.
The Kukas thus became the talk of the town.
They grew enormously in numbers and were distinguished
from the Hindus as well as the Turks.
Whichever place Ram Singh visited,
thousands came into his fold.
They addressed him with deep humility and made handsome
offerings in cash.
Whenever, on the occasion of a festival,
he visited Gurdwaras at Damdama Sahib "and Muktsar,
he was accompanied by a huge gathering of the-Kukas.
The spectacle of ascendancy and grandeur
achieved by Ram Singh made the administrators and the
clerics lose much of their peace.
He was escorted by the Deputy Commissioner
and the City Chief of Police with his force in toe.
They offered due respects and made proper arrangements for
his security, The people around,
in their wisdom, made all sorts of comment.
Ram Singh wished to offer prayers
conducive to a spirit of unity.
He, by his conduct,
wanted the prestige of the Panth to grow.
He went to the Gurdwara to offer prasad*.
The clerics, in a body, confronted him with a clear injunction:
You shall build banks around the holy tank in concrete
as payment of a religious fine.
Your followers shall not go into ecstasy
and their turbans must not fall off.

*Cooked sacred food made of floor, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar for offering to the Guru and distribution in the congregation.
Ram Singh said both these injunctions
were beyond his means to comply with.
He was only too ready to make an offering within his capacity.
Mahant Mangal Singh of Gurdwara Tamboo Sahib hit upon a
plan to test the genuineness of his offer .
He was only too aware that no Kuka would ever wear
a blue dress.
He brought a blue robe of honour for Ram Singh.
He respectfully accepted the robe,
yet, the clerics were not reconciled.
There was a similar uproar at Anandpur in 1922-23 Bikrami.
He was accorded a warm welcome by the Government officials
when he visited Amritsar
during the Diwali festival in 1924 Bikrami.
He camped outside Chativind Gate
with nearly twenty thousand Kukas in company.
He went to the Golden Temple with abundant offering
of Prasad; but again,
the Pujaris (Clerics) acted malevolently.
Some of them demanded thousands of rupees as bribe,
while others insisted on imposition of a religious fine as big as
four to five lakh of rupees.
There were some other conditions too:
No Kuka shall take off his turban while in ecstasy,
nor shall he call himself your Sikh.
And, he shall wear a blue dress.
Replied Ram Singh: These conditions can be enforced by
none but the Guru himself.
It is beyond me to change the very psyche of the people.
You have only to prove that I have committed anyone of the
Four Deadly Sins* and I would pay the religious fine without
*Four Deadly Sins (1) Killing a Brahmin. (2) Killing a cow.
(3) Killing one's daughter or giving away one's daughter for money, (4) Accepting food from a corrupt or immoral person.
A lengthy wrangle ensued.
Realising that the situation could further aggravate,
Ram Singh said his prayers in front of the Gurdwara
and distributed Prasad.
Reciting hymns,
all of them circumambulated the Gurdwara and returned to
their camps.
The 'Pujaris had behaved in a similar fashion
towards the Nirmalas.
The meanly Pujaris, acting like Kanji*
that splits milk, would oppose all attempts towards unity of the Panth.
* Kanji: A beverage prepared from black carrot by mixing salt and
The Pujaris persisted in their hostility towards them.
Nevertheless, both the Kukas and the Nirmalas
blessed by the Guru,
And now,
how the Kukas sacrificed their lives in the cause of Dharma
and found their place among the martyrs of faith.
In between the second and the third decades of the (19th Century)
Bikrami Samvat,
cows came to be slaughtered
in larger numbers and at various places.
The Hindus felt miserable and helpless.
They were not powerful enough to seek remedy with the
And, then
the courageous Kukas were roused to action.
They put a number of slaughterhouse butchers to sword.
Prominent Hindus at Amritsar and various other places were
arrested and persecuted by the English Government.
When they were about to be executed,
the Kukas,
on their own,
came forward,
led evidence to prove that they and none else,
had dealt the deadly blow.
they went to the gallows and,
from thereon, to the land of God Himself.
After that,
there was yet another act of rare heroism at Malerkotla.
There were about sixty Kukas
who, having resolved to court certain death,
dispatched the butchers and protected the cows.
They were engaged by the armed forces of the Muslim State
of Malerkotla,
but the Sikhs repulsed them.
The Patiala troops practised subterfuge,
took false oath,
persuaded them to their point of view
and finally got them arrested.
Absorbed in the love of Sabad,
they gladly offered themselves to be blown off by the cannon.
They were,
they thought,
exceedingly fortunate to die for their faith.
The Kings and the Chiefs,
the Courtiers and the English officers were all awe-struck by
this miracle of a deed.
The English,
after deep deliberation, deported Ram Singh,
then found utterly free from blame,
to Rangoon.
The various Subas were scattered in different directions and the ascendancy of the Panth was sought to be curbed.
In the absence of Ram Singh,
his brother,
Budh Singh*,
is now regarded as the Master and leader of the Kukas.

* The lineage, to this day, runs as follows: Baba Budh Singh (Baba Hari Singh), Baba Partap Singh and Baba Jagjit Singh.

They worship Bhavani,
recite Bani and chant Waheguru over and over again.
They are distinguished by their white dress, white woollen
straight turban and flowing beard.
They perform Havan,
recite hymns from the Guru Granth.
They are the true followers of Guru Gobind Singh,
and cannot be diverted from their resolve to establish a
Government of their own.
Such are the impenetrable Kukas
known for their worshipful ways.
Gian Singh has narrated as he has witnessed them.

Giani Gian Singh in his magnum opus. Panth Parkash, gives a fairly detailed account of the continuous executions of the Sikh warriors who were taken prisoners along with their leader, Banda Singh Bahadur. He says"
And, then, every day they were brought to Chandni Chowk.
Twenty-five of them would gladly offer themselves to be killed. Every one of them would desire to be killed earlier than the others. They, the fortunate ones, loved to be martyred. They recited aloud the Word of the Guru over and over again and with gusto.
They gave away their lives happily and generously.
Said: We are leaving for Baikunth, the Heavenly Abode." And then, he departs from the narrative and tells us that he has learnt it from the writings of Khafi Khan, Ram Jas of Jaipur and Hari Charan of Meerut. Suddently, he turns to similar executions of the Kukas in his own time. True to the great Sikh tradition, they had happily laid down their lives espousing a noble cause. They, too, had embraced Death, reciting the Word of the Guru. Each one of them was in a great hurry to be present in the heavenly Guru Darbar. Giani Ji says :
The account of those Sikhs (the Dandais) has been set out in a number of books. But, now, I would speak to you, in truthful details of what I saw with my own eyes. During Nineteen Twenty-eight Bikrami I came into contact with the Kukas. The butchers who had slaughtered cows were themselves slain by these lion-hearted men of the Guru. Nearly sixty of them, pure souls, were arrested and were brought to Malerkotla in custody. The English (Government) issued orders that they be blown off by cannon.
They were delighted to hear of this order they were indeed overwhelmed with joy. Their exuberance shot into their miens They recited aloud the word of the Guru. As moths rushing towards a lamp, unrestrained they made for the cannon. Their spirits in high transport, they hurried forward without a thought for their dear lives. This I saw with my own eyes, People had gathered in a large number. They saw and were filled with wonder. Wedded to the Supreme life-style of the Sikhs, They were not afraid of embracing death by arms. They could meet the enemy on the battlefield and be restrained from neither laying down not taking life.