NIRAÑJANĪE, also called Handālīe, was an heretic cult founded by Handāl (1573-1646) of Jaṇdiālā in Amritsar district, a former follower of Sultān Sakhī Sarwar, who became a Sikh in the time of Gurū Amar Dās. He served in the Gurū kā Laṅgar. Pleased with his devotion, the Gurū appointed him a preacher in his native Jaṇḍiālā and the surrounding area. People admired him for his simple ways. Handāl attracted many followers. But as time passed, he grew very vain and appropriated unto himself the status of Gurū and started calling himself Niranjañīā, i.e. one who had overcome his illusion. This is the name by which his entire sect came to be known. His village Jaṇḍiālā came to be redesignated as Jaṇḍiālā Gurū. His son, Bidhī Chand, went a step further and rewrote Gurū Nānak's Janam Sākhī (biography) in which he not only exalted his father at Gurū Nānak's expense, but added several heretical anecdotes. Nirañjanīās thus drifted apart from the Sikh mainstream. After Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's time when the Sikhs were subjected to severe persecution, the Nirañjanīe sided with the State and spied on the Sikhs hiding in forests or lying low in their villages. The most notorious among them was one of Handāl's linear descendants, Haribhagat, who was instrumental in the arrest and murder of scores of Sikhs including the reverend Bhāī Tārū Siṅgh of the village of Pūhlā.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)