MIHAN, BHAI, founder of the Mihanshahi or Mihansahibi sect of Udasi sadhus, was a Sikh contemporary of the eighth, ninth and the tenth Gurus. His real name was Ramdev. His father, Nand Lal Sohna, had been a disciple of two Muslim devotees of Guru Hargobind, Khwaja and Jani, and later remained in attendance upon Guru Hargobind, Guru Har Rai and Guru Har Krishan. Sohna, i.e. handsome, was the epithet bestowed upon him by Guru Hargobind for his very striking features and physique. Nand Lal introduced his eldest son, Ramdev, to the service of Guru Har Krishan in 1663.
Ramdev took upon himself the duty of carrying water for Guru ka Larigar and of sprinkling water upon the ground where the holy assembly took place morning and evening. When Guru Tegh Bahadur set out on his travels through the Malva country in 1665, Bhai Ramdev was in his retinue performing his usual chore. At ever)`hall he would inundate the dusty ground with his sprinkling as if by rain, mmh in Punjabi. According to Sarup Das Bhalla, Mahimd Prakash, Guru Tegh Bahadur, pleased at his devotion and diligence, nicknamed him Mihdn, bringer of rain.
The name stuck and Ramdev came to be known as Bhai Mihari. Guru Tegh Bahadur at Dhamtan during the same journey bestowed upon him a drum and banner as symbols of sovereignty (in matters spiritual, in this case), released him from personal attendance and bade him preach on his own. This was one of the six bakhshishes or bestowals on the Udasis made at different times. Bhai Mihari preached mainly in northern India.
He also once waited upon Guru Gobind Singh and received blessing from him. His followers established many derds or preaching centres, the better known among them being Dera Magni Ram at Patiala and Sadhu Bela, near Sakkhar, now in Pakistan, established by the most prominent of his successors, Bankhandl (d.1863). Bhai Mihari himself died at Sohiari, a village in Naroval tahsil (subdivision) of Sialkot district, now in Pakistan.
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