SHUDDHI SABHĀ, a society working in the closing years of the nineteenth century primarily for the reconversion to Sikhism of those proselytized into Christianity or Islam, was established in 1893. Christian proselytization had started with the advent of British rule in the Punjab with official encouragement. Though the rate was never alarming, the local religious communities were becoming increasingly self-conscious. The Sikh response had materialized in the shape of the Siṅgh Sabhā. That the Sikhs were the main target is clear from the valedictory instructions given to the first batch of misssionaries of the Church of England appointed to the Punjab in 1852."A few hopeful instances," they were told, "lead us to believe that the Sikhs may prove more accessible to scriptural truths than the Hindus and the Muhammedans…. The principal mission centre was set up at Amritsar, the religious capital of the Sikhs. Converts steadily came from amongst Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. To reclaim such of them as had converted to Christianity, the Muslims formed associations like Himāyat-i-Islām. Orthodox Hinduism does not permit readmission of the apostates, and it was not till the rise of the Ārya Samāj that reconversion of shuddhī was encouraged. The Siṅgh Sabhā was not averse to reclaiming converts, but its focus was mainly on religious reform and education. Specifically for reconversion a separate Jaṭṭ Siṅgh Sabhā was formed at Lahore by Bhāī Uttam Siṅgh and Bhāī Nihāl Siṅgh Jamādār. Some other Sikhs individually cooperated with the Ārya Samājists in their efforts at reconversion. A broad-based organization came into existence only when Dr Jai Siṅgh (1856-1898), who had not long before set up as a chemist in Lahore, established on 17 April 1893 the Shuddhī Sabhā, with representatives from the Siṅgh Sabhā, Jaṭṭ Siṅgh Sabhā, Ārya Samāj, Sanātan Dharam Sabhā, and Paṇḍit Sabhā. Its first president was Sardār Basant Siṅgh, vice-president Lālā Dilbāgh Rāi Bakhshī and secretary Sardār Mehar Siṅgh Chāwlā. By August 1893, its membership had risen to 70.

        Under the constitution of the Sabhā, shuddhī meant conversion or reconversion of one from Christianity or Islam to Sikh--- or Hindu -- faith. Like converts, patits, i.e. fallen ones guilty of a major kurahit or breach of religious discipline, were readmitted into the Sikh faith. If a Hindu wanted to enter the Sikh fold and was willing to observe rahit or the code of the Khālsā, he was to be administered khaṇḍe dī pāhul, Khālsā rites by the double-edged sword. If any new entrant was not yet prepared to adopt the Sikh discipline, he was, as a first step, administered charan pāhul, or initiation by sanctified water, to become a sahajdhārī (gradualist) Sikh declaring himself a follower of the Sikh Gurūs and of no other religion.

        The main force behind the activities of the Shuddhī Sabhā was Dr Jai Siṅgh. In Baisākh 1953 Bk/April-May 1896, he established a journal in Punjabi called Shuddhī Patra Khālsā Dharam Prakāshak. A large number of converts were brought back into the Sikh fold through the initiative of Shuddhī Sabhā. But the death on 9 June 1898 of its founder, Dr Jai Siṅgh, tolled its knell. Both the Sabhā and its journal folded up soon afterwards.


  1. Jagjīt Siṅgh, Siṅgh Sabhā Lahir. Ludhiana,1974
  2. Shuddhī Patra Khālsā Dharam Prakāshak. April-May 1896 and January-February 1897
  3. Vīr Sudhār Pattar arthāt Srī Gurū Siṅgh Sabhā Bhasauṛ de Aṭhme te Naume Salāne Dīvān dā Siṭṭā. Bhasauṛ, 1903
  4. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

Jagjīt Siṅgh