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Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics (16)
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
BHATRAS (the term bhatra appears to be a diminutive of the Sanskrit bhatta, a bard), an endogamous and tightly knit group among the Sikhs with peddling and fortunetelling as their principal occupations. More than one story is current about their origin. However, the Bhatras themselves trace it to Baba Changa Rai of Sangladip (Ceylon), who was admitted as a disciple by Guru Nanak during his journey to the South. His name figures in the old text Haqiqat Rah Mukam Raje Shivanabh Ki. Changa Rai, himself a devout Sikh with a substantial following, added the suffix "Bhatra" to his name.
2. DERA,
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
DERA, a word of Persian extraction, has several connotations. The original Persian word derah or dirah means a tent, camp, abode, house or habitation. In current usage in rural Punjab, a farmhouse or a group of farmhouses built away from the village proper is called dera. Even after such an habitation develops into a separate village or a town, it may continue to be called dera, e.g. Dera Bassi in Patiala district of the Punjab, or Dera Ghazi Khan and Dera Isma`il Khan in Pakistan. Where colloquially used in place of Hindi dehara, the word will carry the connotation of a temple or memorial over a cremation site.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
DHARAM DHUJA, lit. standard or banner of dharma or faith, is the popular name of Akhara Nirmal Panth Guru Gobind Singh Ji, a seminary at Patiala in the Punjab belonging to the Nirmala sect of the Sikhs. Now affiliated to the Nirmal Panchaiti Akhara at Kankhal near Haridvar, Dharam Dhuja was the first permanent centre of the Nirmalas established in 1862 under the patronage of the rulers of Patiala, Nabha,Jind and Kalsia. See NIRMAL PANCHAITI AKHARA.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
DHARAMSALA or dharamsala from Sanskrit dharmasala, lit. court of justice, tribunal, charitable asylum, religious asylum, stands in Punjabi for a place of worship or the village hospice. Dharamsala as a Sikh institution is the precursor of gurdwara (q.v.). According to janam sakhis, accounts of the life of Guru Nanak (1469-1539). the Guru wherever he went, enjoined his followers to build or set apart a place where they should meet regularly to sing praises of the Lord and to discuss matters of common concern. These places came to be called dharamsalas and the congregations assembling therein became sangats. Dharamsalas grew up in far flung places in the wake of Guru Nanak's extensive travels.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
DHUAN, Punjabi for smoke, is a term which is particularly used for seats of certain monkish orders where a fire is perennially kept alive. In the Sikh context it is employed for the four branches of Udasi Sikhs established by Baba Gurditta (1613-38), on whom the headship of the sect was conferred by Baba Sri Ghand, traditionally considered founder of the sect. The dhuans are generally known after their respective heads who were initially assigned to different regions in north India for preaching the tenets of Sikhism as laid down by Guru Nanak.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
DAUDHAR DERA, a school for training Sikh musicians popularly known as Vadda Dera, was established in 1859 by Sant Suddh Singh (d. 1882) at Daudhar, village 22 km southeast of Moga (30° 48`N, 75° 10`E), in Faridkot district of the Punjab. Suddh Singh was a disciple of Thakur Didar Singh, a Nirmala saint ofManuke, with whom he studied Sikh texts. According to local tradition, a chance meeting with a bairagi sadhu, formerly a court musician to a chief in Uttar Pradesh from where he had migrated at the time of the uprising of 1857, led Suddh Singh to invite him to his Dera to teach classical music to the inmates.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
GANGUSHAHIS, a Sikh missionary order which owed its origin to Gangu Shah. Gangu Shah, also known as Ganga Das, was born in a Basi Khatri family of Garh shankar, in Hoshiarpur district of the Punjab, and was a disciple of Guru Amar Das, the third Guru or prophet preceptor of the Sikh faith. He was sent to the Sivalik hills to preach the word of Guru Nanak and given charge of a seat in the Sirmur region. He and his successors built a considerable following which emerged over the years as a distinct order.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
GIANI SAMPRADAI is one of three major schools of Sikhs theologians and expositors of the Sikh scripture, the other two being the Udasis and the Nirmalas. Giani, the Punjabi form of Sanskrit jndni from the rootjnd (to know), originally meant a scholar of high learning. In Sikh tradition, a gidmis a learned man of pious character, competent to recite faultlessly, interpret and expound the Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh religious texts. Sampraddi denotes a sectarian system or school of thought of accredited standing. It is claimed that the school of Gianis originated with Bhai Mani Singh (d. 1737) who had the privilege of receiving instruction from Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
JAGIASI, also Jagiasu orJijnasu is a religious sect cognate with the UdasT section of the NanakpanthTs of Sindh. The word jagidsd is derived from Sanskrit jijndsd (desire to know), jagidsi denoting one desirous of knowledge, of spiritual insight. T`.ic members of the Jagiasi sect are mostly sahajdhdns i.e. gradualists, believing in the Gurus and following generally the Sikh tenets but not yet sworn as full members of the community. There arc however some who accept the rites of Khalsa initiation and wear long hair while some others add the suffix `Singh` to their names. Following the example of the founder of the sect, Baba Sri Chand, the elder son of Guru Nanak, the Udasts do not marry.
Philosophy, Spirituality and Ethics
MAHANT, originally the superior of a math or any other similar religious establishment. In the Punjab of early Sikhism, its characteristic usage referred to the leaders of Nath deras. The term acquired a distinctive Sikh application during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, period during which many Sikh gurdwaras passed into the, hands of hereditary controllers. These men, who became virtual owners of their gurdwaras, were known as mahants. Many of them were not initiated Sikhs and as a class they incurred considerable odium as self-seekers who exploited popular devotion for personal gain.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.

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