SATNAMI. The word satnami is derived from satnam, lit. the True Name , a term used in some religious traditions including Sikhism to denote the Supreme Being. Literally, a Satnami is one who believes in and worships only the True Being and as such every Sikh is a Satnami. However, the term has been adopted by at least three religious bodies as a title of their respective sects. The Sadhs, a unitarian sect of northern India founded in 1543 by Birbhan and which is also said to be an offshoot of the Raidasis, employ this term among themselves.
Probably, it was this sect of the Sadhs which was responsible for the Satnami revolt against Aurangzib in 1672. The next sect calling itself Satnami was founded by Jagjivan Das (b. 1(582) of Sardaha in the Barabanki district in Bihar.He began his religious career as a Kabirpanthi and, according to some authorities, these Satnamis are merely a branch of that faith. Another sect called Satnami, believed to be a later offshoot of the Raidasis, is found in the Chhattisgarh area and was founded between 1820-30 by Ghasi Ram, a chamarby caste.
These Satnamis profess to adore the True Name alone whom they consider the cause and creator of everything in this world. He is said to be formless, without a beginning and without an end. Although they profess to worship but one God, yet they also pay reverence to his manifestation revealed in incarnations, particularly those of Rama and Krsna.Their moral code enjoins upon them indifference to the world ; devotion to the guru ; clemency and gentleness ; rigid adherence to truth ; honest discharge of all social and religious obligations; and the hope of final absorption into the Supreme.
Fasts are kept, at least to a partial extent, on Tuesday (the day of Hanuman) and on Sunday ( the day of Sun). Their distinctive mark is a black and white twisted thread, usually of silk, worn on the right wrist. On the forehead is worn a tilak, consisting of one perpendicular streak. They bury their dead. Consumption of flesh and alcohol are taboo. They were nicknamed by the people as Mundiyas (Shavelings) because of their habit of shaving the body clean of all hair.
1. Faiquhar,J.N., Modern Religious Movements in India. London, 1924
2. Narang, Kirpal Singh, History of the Punjab. Delhi, 1953
3. Sarkar, Sir Jadunath, A Short History of Aurangzib. Calcutta, 1962
4. Majumdar, R.C., ed., The History and Culture of the Indian People, vol. VIII. Bombay, 1974