SOḌHĪ, a sub-division of Sarīn group of Khatrīs, has acquired an aura of exceptional honour among the Sikhs because seven of the ten Sikh Gurūs from Gurū Rām Dās onwards were from among them. Gurū Rām Dās' descendants are reverently called Soḍhī Sāhibzāde. Gurū Rām Dās appointed his younger son Arjan to succeed him as Gurū. His elder son Prithī Chand, offended by what he considered an unjust confiscation of his right, declared himself as the rightful Gurū and established a separate sect called by the mainstream Sikhs mīṇās (lit. base, low). Thus the descendants of Gurū Arjan came to be called Soḍhī Sāhibzāde of vaḍḍe mel (higher line) and those of Prithī Chand Soḍhi Sāhibzāde of chhote mel (lower line). Gurū Gobind Siṅgh ended the continuation of personal Gurūship, but the members of the clan continued to enjoy popular esteem. The principal seats of Soḍhīs of vaḍḍe mel are at Anandpur Sāhib in Ropaṛ district and Kartārpur in Jalandhar districts and those of the chhote mel at Gurū Har Sahāī, Koṭhā Gurū, Ḍhilvāṅ and Muktsar, all in the Mālvā region.
Several legends are current about the origin of the Soḍhīs. The most acceptable among the Sikhs is the one popularized by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's long composition, Bachitra Nāṭak, lit. the wondrous play. According to it, Soḍhīs are linear descendants of Lava, one of the twin sons of Śrī Rāma Chandra, while the equally respected Bedī clan, to which belonged Gurū Nānak, the founder of Sikhism, of the other twin Kuśa. In the remote past, narrates the Bachitra Nāṭak, there was fierce fight betwen the descendants of Lava and Kuśa. The latter, badly defeated, migrated en bloc and found asylum in Kāśī, where they studied the four Vedas and became well-known as Vedīs or Bedīs. Later, the descendants of Lava also migrated to Sanauḍh, a country which stretched from Mathurā-Bharatpur in the east to Amarkoṭ in the west. The chief of the family married the only daughter of the King of Sanauḍh. Their son, known as Soḍhī, and his progeny called the Soḍhīs ruled over the Sanauḍh country for a long time. Generations later, the Soḍhīs came to know that the renowned Bedī scholars of Kāsī were their collaterals. They invited them to Sanauḍh and honoured them publicly. The learned Bedīs recited the Vedas and explained to the Soḍhīs the mystical meanings of the holy mantras. The Soḍhīs 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 Bedīs saying, "We shall take back the kingdom from you later." This is the reason, so goes the legend, that the true kingdom (sachchī Pātshāhī) of the Bedī Gurū Nānak devolved upon the Sodhī Gurū Rām Dās and his successors.
S. S. Vañjārā Bedī