GAṄGŪSHĀHĪS, a Sikh missionary order which owed its origin to Gaṅgū Shāh. Gaṅgū Shāh, also known as Gaṅgā Dās, was born in a Basī Khatrī family of Gaṛhshaṅkar, in Hoshiārpur district of the Punjab, and was a disciple of Gurū Amar Dās, the third Gurū or prophet preceptor of the Sikh faith. He was sent to the Śivālik hills to preach the word of Gurū Nānak and given charge of a seat in the Sirmūr 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 Dauṇ, near Kharaṛ, in Ropaṛ district, built by Gaṅgū Shāh, and Khaṭkaṛ Kalāṅ near Baṅgā, in Jalandhar district, built by Jawāhar Siṅgh, his great-grandson. These are venerated to this day by the members of the sect and others.
The Gaṅgūshāhīs were excommunicated by the Khālsā when Khaṛak Siṅgh, the incumbent of their gaddī at the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh'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 khaṇḍe dī pāhul, initiation by the sword, as introduced by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, and recommended instead charan pāhul.
The Gaṅgūshāhīs, a small community numerically, live in the Śivālik hill territory, mainly in the areas of Jauhaṛsar, Piñjaur, Ḍagshaī and Nāhan. They have their ḍerās or centres which the followers visit to receive benediction. They do not strictly observe the Sikh custom or code of conduct.
B. S. Nijjar