TATT KHĀLSĀ, lit. the Real or Pure Khālsā, as against the followers of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur who came to be called Bandaī Khālsā, was one of the factions in the schism which arose among the Sikhs after the passing away of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, while sending Bandā Siṅgh to the Punjab in 1708 to lead the Sikhs, had abolished the line of living Gurūs bequeathing spiritual gurūship to Gurū Granth Sāhib. Bandā Siṅgh in the flush of initial victories made some innovations which appeared heretical to the orthodox Khālsā. Instead of the Sikh salutation of "Vāhigurū Jī kā Khālsā, Vāhigurū Jī kī Fateh" he introduced "Fateh Darshan"; discarding the traditional blue dress of the Khālsā warriors he adopted garments of red colour; and, what hurt the Sikhs most, he allowed his followers to treat him as Gurū. Many Sikhs led by the veteran Binod Siṅgh and his son, Kāhn Siṅgh, parted company with Bandā Siṅgh during his last defensive battle against the imperial army. They called themselves Tatt Khālsā, "ready" Khālsā. Bandā Siṅgh was put to death at Delhi in June 1716, but the schism persisted.

        With the assassination of Emperor Farrukh-Sīyar in 1719, persecution of the Sikhs slackened somewhat and they began to gather occasionally at Amritsar. The differences between the two groups increased with the Bandaī Khālsā claiming 50 per cent of the income from offerings at the shrines and the Tatt Khālsā refuting the claim as entirely baseless. When this state of affairs was brought to the notice of Mātā Sundarī at Delhi, she despatched Bhāī Manī Siṅgh with six other Sikhs for the management of the Darbār Sāhib at Amritsar, and enjoined that the entire income should be spent on Gurū kā Laṅgar. Matters came to a head on the occasion of Baisākhī in 1721 when the Bandāis made fortifications around their camp and prepared for a confrontation. However, on Bhāī Manī Siṅgh's mediation both parties agreed to seek guidance from the Gurū. Two slips of paper, one with the words "Vāhīgurū Jī kā Khālsā, Vāhīgurū Jī kī Fateh," written on it and the other with the words "Fateh Darshan", were dropped into the sacred pool. Whichever slip came up on the surface first was to indicate the Gurū's verdict. It so happened that the slip Bearing "Vāhigurū Jī kī Fateh" surfaced first. Many Bandaīs bowed their heads and came over to the camp of the Tatt Khālsā, but some questioned the propriety of the procedure adopted. It was then decided to settle the issue through a wrestling bout. The bout was held in front of the Akāl Takht between Mīrī Siṅgh, son of Bābā Kāhn Siṅgh, leader of the Tatt Khālsā, and Saṅgat Siṅgh, son of Lahaurā Siṅgh Bandaī. Mīri Siṅgh won and the Tatt Khālsā was again declared the winner. The bulk of the Bandaī Sikhs joined the Tatt Khālsā and a few who remained adamant were driven away. Although the name of the sect, Tatt Khālsā, became redundant thereafter, the words continued to be used especially in the Siṅgh Sabhā days, to denote Sikhs fully committed and ever prepared for action on behalf of the community. This was in contrast to ḍhillaṛ (Sikhs) connoting indolent, passive or ineffectual.


  1. Gandā Siṅgh, Life of Banda Siṅgh Bahadur. Amritsar, 1935
  2. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983
  3. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Panth Prakāsh. Delhi, 1880
  4. Bhaṅgū, Ratan Siṅgh, Prāchīn Panth Prakāsh. Amritsar, 1912

Sudarshan Siṅgh