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Lotus Mudra » the namdharis – sattriya majuli

the namdharis – sattriya majuli


Sikhism & the Namdharis

Namdhari (also known as Kukas) are a community of Sikhs, that have slightly different views of history and a slightly different lifestyle than other Sikh communities.

The main difference between Namdhari Sikhs and mainstream Sikhs is their belief in Jagjit Singh as their living Guru (as opposed to the Guru Granth Sahib, the present Guru of Sikhs). Other differences include being: strict vegetarians; placing equal importance between the Guru Granth Sahib (Adi Granth) and the Dasam Granth (the holy book written by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh), and the preservation of a very high standard of sacred music.
Namdhari Sikhs are very well-known in the classical musical circles, producing stellar classical music artists like the Grammy award-winning tabla player Sukhwinder Singh (Pinky). In the times of Guru Nanak, sacred music has been performed in two ways, either in raags with sophisticated musical rules and instruments by rabaabis and raagis or in the form of divans sung from the heart by the sadh sangat (congregation) using rather basic drums ans cymbals. Satguru Jagjit Singh has contributed immensely to the field of Indian classical music by training, promoting and supporting countless artists. His deep interest in music has made him revive old raags like “Maaj” and “Suhi” used in Siri Guru Granth Sahib, but almost never sung by the modern performers of Sikh sacred music.
The word Namdhari means “one who beholds god’s name. Their great respect to the name of god is also reflected in the fact that they usually do not speak out loud the Gurmantra  “Waheguru”.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus (the last teaching being the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib Ji). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally ‘of the gurus’).

Sattriya – the monks of Majuli/Assam

The dramatic art plays of Sattriya called Ankiya Bhona were first written in the 15th century, primarily from episodes of the Mahabaratha and the Ramayana: 6 by Sankaradeva and 6 others by his disciple Madhavadeva. The Sattriya is a didactic and devotional dance dominated by the sentiment of universal love.  After 5 centuries of existence, Sattriya is recognised as one of the greatest living traditional Indian art forms, as renowned as Bharat Natyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi or Manipuri. The State of Assam, in the Brahmaputra, saw the birth and development of a specific style of dance and dramatic art: Sattriya. This sacred and didactical spectacle is interpreted by the bhakats (artist-farmer-monks). It originates from the great Neo-Vaishnavite movement that started in the 15 century. The master Sankaradeva created it in around 1480 while being inspired by elements of the Natya Sastra (great thesis on dance-theatre-music written by Bharata around 200 AD). His name comes from the word « sattra » meaning monasteries unique in their genre. For the past 5 centuries these classic masterpieces are part of all religious or royal ceremonies in Assam. Around the 1940’s, a head of a monastery, friend of Ghandi, encouraged the population of Assam to learn Sattriya, that had until then been interpreted only by monks. Today, Sattriya is very popular in Assam, and is taught in schools by very good dancers.

“There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim”.
It was from this moment that Nanak would begin to spread the teachings of what was then the beginning of Sikhism.
It preaches a message of Devotion, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals.”