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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.

They raised their own shrines at places like Daun, near Kharar, in Ropar district, built by Gangu Shah, and Khatkar Kalan near Banga, in Jalandhar district, built by Jawahar Singh, his great grandson. These are venerated to this day by the members of the sect and others. The Gangu shahis were excommunicated by the Khalsa when Kharak Singh, the incumbent of their gaddi at the time of Guru Gobind Singh`s death, called the Sikh congregations `widowed` with the implicit meaning of himself being left to lead the Sikhs, and to buttress his claim, he is said to have performed some miracles.

He also opposed khande di pahul, initiation by the sword, as introduced by Guru Gobind Singh, and recommended instead charan pahul. The Gangu shahis, a small community rumerically, live in the Sivalik hill territory, mainly in the areas of Jauharsar, Pirijaur, Dagshal and Nahan. They have their deras or centres which the followers visit to receive benediction. They do not strictly observe the Sikh custom or code of conduct.

References :

1. Crooke, W., The Tribes and Castes of the North Western India. Delhi, 1974
2. Ibbetson, Denzil, A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Patiala, 1970

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