GULABDASIAS, a sect subscribing to epicurean ethics, were the followers of one Pritam Das, originally an Udasi sddhu. Pritam Das`s principal disciple was Gulab Das after whom the members of the sect came to be known as Gulabdasias. Gulab Das, son of Hamira, was born in 1809 at the village of Rataul, near Tarn Taran, in Amritsar district. He had served as a trooper in the army of Maharaja Sher Singh. On the abrogation of the Sikh rule, he became a follower of Pritam Das, succeeding him on his death as the head of the sect.
He gave the sect its peculiar character and philosophy. Among his several Punjabi compositions Updes Bilds and Pothi Gulab ChamanDl contain his principal tenets. According to Gulab Das, man is essentially of the same substance as the Deity, into whom he will eventually be absorbed. He discountenanced the veneration of saints and prophets and forbade all religious customs and ceremonies, claiming pleasure and gratification of the senses the only desirable ends. His followers wore costly dresses and freely indulged in all kinds of excesses, though they are said to have great abhorrence for lying.
They dressed themselves in several different styles. Some wore white, others preserved the Udasi garb; some clad themselves like Nirmalas, while some went shaven. The sect had only a very small following and this also began dwindling when their entry into Paliala state was banned by the Sikh Maharaja owing to their licentious ways. According to the 1891 census figures, they numbered 763 (464 Hindus and 299 Sikhs). Before the partition of the Punjab in 1947, the sect had its headquarters at the village of Chatthe, near Kasur, now in Pakistan.
1. Crooke, W., The Tribes and Castes of the North Western India. Delhi, 1974
2. Ibbelson, Denzil, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Patiala, 1970