BIHANGAM, from Sanskrit vihang which means a bird, is a term applied to wandering ascetics who lead a life of complete detachment. A Biharigam is a celebate who lives in poverty renouncing all worldly ties and follows the path of holiness. In the Hindu tradition, he, abjuring religious dogma, worships Siva, Rama and other incarnations. Bihangams, among Sikhs, are likewise holy men who do not marry and who shun worldly ambition and temptation. The object of their devotion is the One Supreme Being.
They recite gurbani, the Sikh canon, and devote themselves to nam and seva. They do not form any separate sect; in fact, the most unworldly of the followers of different orders give themselves this name. For instance, several of the Nirmala Sikhs take pride in calling themselves Bihangams. They wear white and, instead of learned study of the holy texts which is customary with the Nirmalas, they occupy themselves with humbler deeds of service. Their most popular centre is at Mastuana, near Sangrur, in the Punjab. They interpret the word bihangam as aconstruction from hangata, Skt. aham = ahanta, meaning egoity or pride, a Bihangam being one who discarding these takes to the path of humility.
1. Rose, H.A., A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Patiala, 1970
2. The Census Reports.