Social Reforms by Satguru Ram Singh Ji

‘If we set aside all good deeds of Sri Satguru Ram Singh Ji which he preached for goodness of whole mankind on one side, only his preaching for equal rights for men and women in the society take him to list of supreme reformers of the world’ (Kapoor Singh I.C.S.).

Social Reforms: The ‘Sant Khalsa’ – order of the Sikhs baptized by Sri Satguru Ram Singh Ji are known as Namdharis or Kukas. In the history of the Indian Freedom Movement the ‘Kuka / Namdhari Movement’ occupies a place of pride as the first mass movement that raised the collective consciousness of the society and the people at large against the British colonization of India.

With his prudence and foresight Satguru Ram Singh Ji realized that the Sikh kingdom, attained in the eighteenth century through several trials, tribulation and sacrifices would cease to exist due to the eroding of values and tenets of Sikhism amongst not only the Sikh Royalty but also within the society at large. He opined that British Colonization could only be challenged then by embracing the true values of Sikhism and adopting a more humane way of life. Before challenging the might of the British, Satguru Ram Singh Ji set into motion an era of religious and social enlightenment.

Emancipation of Women: The common man, especially women were subject to social atrocities. Breaking all barriers, women were liberated from the throes of social evils like female infanticide; child marriages were banned and the minimum marriageable age for girls was raised to 15-16 years and soon to 18 years. The marriageable age for boys was also raised to 20 years. Widow marriages were promulgated. Inspired by Satguru Hari Singh Ji, several families encouraged their widow mothers to remarry. Even today the Namdhari Satguru’s encourage and promulgate widow marriages.

Exchanging of girls in marriage as well as selling and buying of girls was banned. The ban was strictly imposed in the hilly regions of Punjab where it was very popular to do so. People indulging in such social evils were socially ostracized from the Namdhari fold.

Women were baptized and were encouraged to study Punjabi, thus making them an equal partner in life and respecting their religious and social rights. The appointment of Bibi Hukmi from Varihyaan as a ‘Suba’ emphatically illustrates this. Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji during His times appointed not one but three women ‘Subas’. Under the tutelage of the present Satguru – Satguru Uday Singh Ji women continue to march towards their respective goals in all walks of life as equals in the Namdhari community.

The fight against Drug and Alcohol abuse and addiction: Non addiction to drugs, alcohol or any other kind of intoxication is one of the most important characteristics of an ideal modern day society. European travellers to Lahore during the time of Satguru Ram Singh Ji state that there was hardly any Chieftain, Sikh or Soldier who was not addicted. Opium, Cannabis, Tobacco etc were freely available. Satguru Ji reformed several severe addicts and showed them the path of meditation, turning the tide towards a healthy and aware society. An idle mind is a devil’s mind. It pushes one towards addiction. Satguru Ji rid the Sikhs of laziness and motivated them to be enterprising. He motivated them to make a living out of hard work. A stricter code of conduct was imposed for the Sagely than the worldly, leaving very little spare time for negative thinking.

Marriages as per Gurmat Tradition: Abolishing the existing ostentatious and elaborate marriage ceremonies, on 3 June, 1863, Satguru Ram Singh Ji started the tradition of solemnizing marriages as per gurmat in the village of Khotay. Young girls from economically weak backgrounds were unmarried due to the lack or resources for raising dowry. Parents were forced to mortgage land and jewelry to avoid such embarrassing situations, often rendering them in debt for life. Satguru Ji banned the giving and taking of dowry along with the existing ceremonies and decreed that henceforth all marriage would be solemnized in a simple ceremony.

He propagated inter caste marriages furthering the bonds of brotherhood, promoting holistic development of the Namdhari community. These simple marriage ceremonies were further simplified during the times of Satguru Pratap Singh Ji when it was decreed that all Namdhari marriages will be solemnized as community marriages during various religious congregations or gatherings only, irrespective of the economical background of the boys and girls families. Satguru Jagjit Singh furthered this by solemnizing not only inter caste but inter continent marriages as well.

Debt Free Society: Several hard working debt ridden farmers were emancipated from the throes of high interest and debt when Satguru Ji decreed that earning income through such means was against the welfare of the religion and community, thus creating a debt free society.

Comments are closed.