SODHl, a subdivision of Sarin group of, Khatris, has acquired an aura of exceptional! honour among the Sikhs because seven of (lie ten Sikh Gurus from Guru Rain Das onwards were from among them. Guru Ram Das` descendants are reverently called Sodhi Sahibzade. Guru Ram Das appointed his younger son Arjan to succeed him as Guru. His elder son Prithi Chand, offended by what he considered an unjust confiscation of his right, declared himself as the rightful Guru and established a separate sect called by the mainstream Sikhs minas (lit. base, low).

Thus the descendants of Guru Arjan came to be called Sodhi Sahibzade of vaddc mel (higher line) and those of Prithi Chand Sodhi Sahibzade of chhote mel (lower line).Guru Gobind Singh ended the continuation of personal guruship, but the members of the clan continued to enjoy popular esteem. The principal seats of Sodhis of vadde mel are at Anandpur Sahib in Ropar district and Kartarpur in Jalandhar districts and those of the chhote mel at Guru Har Sahai, Kotha Guru, Dhilvan and Muktsar, all in tlie Malva region. Several legends are current about the origin of the Sodhis.

The most acceptable among the Sikhs is the one popularized by Guru Gobind Singh`s long composition, Bachitra Natak, lit. the wondrous play.According to it, Sodhis are linear descendants of Lava, one of the twin sons of Sri Rama Chandra, while the equally respected Bedi clan, to which belonged Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, of the other twin Kusa. In the remote past, narrates the Bachitra Natak, there was fierce fight between the descendants of Lava and Kusa. The latter, badly defeated, migrated en bloc and found asylum in Kasi, where they studied the four Vedas and became well known as Vedis or Bedis.

Later, the descendants of Lava also migrated to Sanaudh, a country which stretched from Mathura Bharatpur in the east to Amarkot in the west. The chief of the family married the only daughter of the king of Sanaudh.Their son, known as Sodhi, and his progeny called the Sodhis ruled over the Sanaudh country for a long time. Generations later, the Sodhis came to know that the renowned Bedi scholars of Kasi were their collaterals. They invited them to Sanaudh and honoured them publicly.

The learned Bedis recited the Vedas and explained to the Sodhis the mystical meanings of the holy mantras. The Sodhis were so affected by the newly acquired spiritual knowledge that they lost charm for worldly possessions and decided to retire to forests to practise austerities. They handed over the kingdom to the Bedis saying, “We shall take back tlie kingdom from you later.” This is the reason, so goes the legend, that the true kingdom (sachchi patshahi) of the Bedi Guru Nanak devolved upon the Sodhi Guru Ram Das and his successors.

References :

1. Ibbetson, Denzil, Panjab Castes. Lahore, 1916
2. Rose, H.A., A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes oi `the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Lahore, 1911-19
3. Kahn Singh, Bhai, Gurushabad Ratanakar Mahan Kosh. Padala, 1981
4. Vanjai a Bedi, S.S., Panjabi Lokdhara VishavKosh, vol. III. Delhi, 1978