MINA, meaning hypocritical, secretive, rnean natured, deceitful, is an epithet applied in the Sikh tradition to Prithi Chand (1558-1618), the eldest son of Guru Ram Das, and such of his descendants as had not joined the main body of the Sikhs. There is also a community confined mainly to Alvar, Jaipur and Jodhpur districts of Rajasthan and Narnaul and Gurgaori districts of Haryana which is known by this name and which is generally given to the profession of thieving. Prithi Chand, despite his high caste, had the epithet of Mina attached to his name because of his envious nature. He was ambitious of securing for himself the office of Guru which, being the eldest son of his father, he claimed as his natural right.

When Guru Ram Das named his youngest son, Arjan Dev, to be his spiritual successor, Prithi Chand was deeply embittered and turned hostile towards the new Guru whom he tried to harm in several ways. Deviously he tried to wean away his followers and divert the offerings meant for him to his own enrichment. He then set up a rival scat at Hchar in the district of Lahore, declaring himself to be the rightful successor to his father. He had appropriated from the family`s collection the traditional emblem of succession and enlisted the support of the Mughal authority in behalf of his claims.

He had his son, Manohar Das popularly known as Miharban, compose hymns in imitation of Guru Nanak and his successors.He tried to have Guru Arjan`s infant son, Hargobind, poisoned. It was because of these malevolent designs that Bhai Gurdas, poet and scholar, fastened on Prithi Chand the epithet mind. He called him “the black faced mind” {Varan, XXXVI. 1). The followers of the accurst pretender were called “the shameless sect of carrioneatcrs” {Varan, XXXVI. 3).

With the help of the Mughal officials the Minas acquired control of the Harimandar, the Golden Temple of modern day, after Guru Hargobind had left Amritsar in AD 1629.They retained charge of the shrine until 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh sent Bhai Mani Singh from Anandpur to take over the management after the death of Sodhi Hariji, grandson of Prithi Chand. Once dislodged from the Harimandar Sahib, the minds left Amritsar for the Malva region where they settled in scattered villages to live in oblivion and ultimately to get absorbed into the Sikh mainstream. Guru Gobind Singh had forbidden his Khalsa to have anything to do with the Minas.

References :

1. Rose, H.A., ed., A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Lahore, 1911-19
2. Kahn Singh, Bhai, Gurushabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh [Reprint]. Patiala, 1981.