SAHAJDHĀRĪ, a gradualist among Sikhs. Like other Sikhs, the Sahajdhārīs believe in the Ten Gurūs and in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, though they exempt themselves from the obligation of keeping their hair unshorn. Receiving the rites of Khālsā baptism one day and maintaining long uncut hair and beard remain, nevertheless, the ultimate ideal which they must realize in their lifetime or see it realized by their offspring. Some Sahajdhārī parents place themselves under a vow to rear their firstborn son as a full Sikh. The Sahajdhārīs, as a rule, are not given the Sikh surname of 'Siṅgh'. The term sahajdhārīs is a compound of two words sahaj and dharī. The word sahaj (in Sanskrit, sahaja) implies poise, unhurriedness and the word dhārī stands for adopting or accepting a creed or form. This term came into use after Gurū Gobind Siṅgh inaugurated the Khālsā in 1699 A.D., introducing the khaṇḍe dī pāhul, i.e. baptism by the double-edged sword. Those who took khaṇḍe dī pāhul received the title of the 'Khālsā', and those who for one reason or another could not came to be known as Sahajdhārīs, i.e. Sikhs who would have themselves baptized as Khālsā at some later stage. It was, in the first instance, not possible to have baptism administered all at once by the rites established by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh to Sikhs in far-flung saṅgats. Another impediment was the conflict which broke out between the Sikhs and the ruling authority soon after. However, Sahajdhārīs have been part of the larger Sikh body since the time of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Two of them in his own day -- Bhāī Nand Lāl and Bhāī Kanhaiyā -- enjoyed great esteem. Bhāī Nand LāI, a great Persian scholar and poet, maintained at Anandpur a laṅgar or refectory open to visitors all the twenty-four hours. Bhāī Kanhaiyā won the Gurū's admiration and is remembered in the Sikh tradition to this day for the devotion with which he served the wounded is battle, making no distinction between friend and foe. In the early part of the eighteenth century when Sikhs suffered fierce persecution and when to be a Kesādhārī, that is to bear kesa or long hair, was to invite sure death, the Sahajdhārīs looked after their places of worship and protected the households and the kith and kin of those driven to seek safety in hill and jungle. Some even defied the persecutors and courted martyrdom as did the teenaged Haqīqat Rāi, who was beheaded in public for his refusal to disown his Sikh belief and accept Islam. A leading Sahajdhārī Sikh of that time was Kauṛā Mall, a minister to the Mughal governor of Lahore, Mu'in ul-Mulk (1748-53), who helped the Sikhs in diverse ways in those days of severe trial. He had so endeared himself to them that they called him Miṭṭhā ('sweet', in Punjabi) Mall instead of Kauṛā (which, in Punjabi, means 'bitter') Mall. Sikh tradition also recalls another Sahajdhārī, Des Rāj, of this period who was entrusted by the Khālsā with the task of having reconstructed the Harimandar, demolished by the Afghān invader, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, in 1762. Dīnā Nāth was Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh's finance minister. Bhāī Vastī Rām, a learned man well versed in Sikh scripture, enjoyed considerable influence at the court.

        Sahajdhārīs have continued to participate in Sikh life right up to modern times and have associated themselves with Sikh institutions and organizations such as the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, Chief Khālsā Dīwān, Shiromaṇī Akālī Dal, and the All-India Sikh Students Federation. The Siṅgh Sabhās used to have seats on their executive committees reserved for the Sahajdhārīs. Among their own societies, confined prior to the migrations of 1947, mainly to north-western India, were the Sahajdhārī Committee of Multān, Gurū Nānak Sahajdhārī Dīwān of Pañjā Sāhib and Srī Gurū Nānak Sahajdhārī Jathā of Campbellpore. The Sahajdhārī Dīwān of Pañjā Sāhib attained the status of their central forum. They as well had their annual conference which met for its first session on 13 April 1929 under the chairmanship of Sir Jogendra Siṅgh who passed on the office to the famous Sikh scholar and savant, Bhāī Kāhn Siṅgh. A Sahajdhārīs' meeting formed part of the annual proceedings of the Sikh Educational Conference.

        The Sahajdhārīs share with the main body of the Sikhs all of their religious and social customs and ceremonies and join their congregations in the gurdwārās. The population in the Punjab of Sahajdhārī Sikhs (another name used is Sikh Nānakpanthīs) according to 1891 Census was 397,000 (20% of the total Sikh population); according to 1901 Census, 297,000 (13 % of the total Sikhs); according to 1911 Census, 451,000 (14.9 % of the total Sikhs); according to 1921 Census, 229,000 (7 % of the total Sikhs); according to 1931 Census, 282,000 (6.5 % of the total Sikhs). Outside of the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Province and Sindh had considerable Sahajdhārī populations. Consequent upon the partition of India in 1947, Sahajdhārīs became widely dispersed in the country. Their India-wide forum was the Sarab Hind (All-India) Sahajdhārīs Conference which rotated from town to town for its annual sessions. Three of its presidents -- Mahant Karam Chand, Bhāī Sant Rām and Bhāī Rām Lāl Rāhī -- eventually took the vows of Khālsā baptism, receiving respectively the names Gur Darshan Siṅgh, Sant Rām Siṅgh and Rām Lāl Siṅgh Rāhī.

Kirpāl Siṅgh
Bhāī Harbaṅs Lāl