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13th June 2024 (13 Topics)

Satnami Sect

Context

The Satnami sect has recently made headlines due to their protest against the government in Chhattisgarh regarding the desecration of Jaitkham, a sacred religious site located in the Baloda Bazar district.

Who are the Satnamis?

  • The Satnamis are a predominantly Scheduled Caste sect living mainly in Chhattisgarh and parts of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Guru Ghasidas, an 18th-century saint is revered as the spiritual leader of the Chhattisgarh Satnamis.
  • Furthermore, the Satnamis find their roots in the teachings of Kabir, a 15th-century Bhakti poet who advocated for the worship of an immanent, formless Absolute.
  • 1657: A mendicant named Birbhan, inspired by the teachings of Kabir, founded a Satnami community in Narnaul in present-day Haryana in 1657. Initially, most Satnamis belonged to an “untouchable” caste engaged in leatherwork.
  • Features:
    • They rejected ritual and superstition
    • They forbid caste distinctions within their community.
    • Displaying sympathy towards the poor and skepticism towards authority and wealth

History of Protests

  • Revolt Against Aurangzeb: During the Mughal era, the Satnamis rose against Aurangzeb's oppressive tax demands, leading to a significant rebellion in Punjab and Haryana. Despite facing severe suppression, they fought valiantly for their rights.
  • Revival under Guru Ghasidas: Guru Ghasidas led the revival of the Satnami community in the mid-18th century, emphasizing the worship of one true God and rejecting idol worship. His teachings allowed the Satnamis to transcend social restrictions and embrace their spirituality.

Fact Box:

Guru Ghasidas (1756-1836)

  • Guru Ghasidas was born in Chhattisgarh in an untouchable family. Ghasidas was born in a socio-political milieu of misrule, loot and plunder.
  • He was a great social reformer and philosopher in Chhattisgarh. 
  • The Satnam Panth (sect) is said to be based on these principles formulated by Ghasidas.

Kabir Das (1440-1518)

  • Kabir Das, a revered Indian saint and mystical poet, lived during the 15th and 16th centuries. His teachings have left a profound impact on Indian spirituality.
  • Philosophy of Oneness with God: Kabir emphasized the concept of unity with God and saw karma as the true path to enlightenment. His teachings influenced people's attitudes towards kindness and righteousness.
  • Fusion of Hindu Bhakti and Muslim Sufi Beliefs Kabir's love for God transcended religious boundaries, merging Hindu Bhakti and Muslim Sufi beliefs. He sought to unite Hindus and Muslims through a universal spiritual path.
  • According to Kabir, every life is influenced by two spiritual truths: Jivatma (individual soul) and Paramatma (universal soul). He believed that moksha, or liberation, occurs through the merging of these two heavenly truths.
  • Literary Contributions: Kabir Das authored 72 works, including Kabir Bijak, Kabir Bani, and Anurag Sagar. His literary contributions continue to inspire spiritual seekers across generations.

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