DHĪR MALL (1627-1677), the elder son of Bābā Gurdittā and a grandson of Gurū Hargobind, was born at Kartārpur, now in Jalandhar district of the Punjab, on 10 January 1627. From his early years, he was prone to stubbornness which trait became stronger as he grew up. He stayed behind in Kartārpur when Gurū Hargobind moved along with the family to Kīratpur. At the death, in 1638, of his father, Bābā Gurdittā, he did not go to Kīratpur to attend the obsequies, nor did he part with the original volume of the Ādi Granth which had been left at Kartārpur at the time of Gurū Hargobind's migration to Kīratpur and which had to be recited as part of the rites. When Gurū Hargobind named Har Rāi, his (Dhīr Mall's) younger brother, as his successor in the spiritual line, he set himself as Gurū at Kartārpur and appointed his own masands, or ministers, to collect tithes. He made friends with Rām Rāi who had been anathematized by his father, Gurū Har Rāi, for garbling a line from the Holy Writ, and together they took complaints to the Mughal emperor, Auraṅgzīb, challenging especially the installation of Gurū Har Krishan as successor to Gurū Har Rāi. Gurū Har Krishan's sudden illness and death at Delhi in March 1664 gave Dhīr Mall another chance to stake his claim to the gurgaddī, i. e. the spiritual seat of the Gurūs. He installed himself at Bakālā as successor to Gurū Har Krishan and, when Gurū Tegh Bahādur was formally anointed Gurū, he turned an nemy. He conspired with one of his masands, Shīhāṅ, who one day fired at Gurū Tegh Bahādur, but missed the target. His men attacked the Gurū's house and ransacked it unchecked. Makkhan Shāh, one of Gurū Tegh Bahādur's followers, retaliated by pillaging Dhīr Mall but the Gurū had everything returned to him, including the old volume of the Holy Book and what had been plundered from his own home.

         Dhīr Mall remained unrepentant and continued to attract followers who formed a sect of their own. A few months after the martyrdom of Gurū Tegh Bahādur, Dhīr Mall was also summoned to Delhi by Emperor Auraṅgzīb and was imprisoned in the Fort at Raṇthambhor, where he died on 16 November 1677. His descendants, the Soḍhīs of Kartārpur, are still in possession of the original copy of the Ādi Granth prepared under the direction of Gurū Arjan. The shrine at Kartārpur dedicated to the founder of the sect is known as Ḍerā Dhīr Mall.


  1. Gurbilās Chhevīṅ Pātshāhī. Patiala, 1970
  2. Bhallā, Sarūp Dās, Mahimā Prakāsh. Patiala, 1971
  3. Chhibbar, Kesar Siṅgh, Baṅsāvalīnāmā Dasāṅ Patshāhīāṅ Kā. Chandigarh, 1972
  4. Santokh Siṅgh, Bhāī, Srī Gur Pratāp Sūraj Granth. Amritsar, 1926-37
  5. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Panth Prakāsh. Patiala, 1970
  6. Macauliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909
  7. Trilochan Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Delhi, 1967
  8. Harbans Singh, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Delhi, 1982

Madanjit Kaur