SATNAMIS SECT (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – History & Art & culture)

News-CRUX-10     13th June 2024        

Context: Members of the Satnami religious sect set fire to the Superintendent of Police's office and pelted the District Collector's office with stones in Baloda Bazar, central Chhattisgarh, protesting alleged inaction over the desecration of a religious site at Amar Cave.

Satnamis Sect

  • About: It is known for challenging political and religious authority by rallying around an understanding of God as "satnam."
  • Founded by: A saint named “Birbhan” in 1657 in Narnaul in Haryana.
  • Demographics: Members of the Satnami sect, mostly belonging to the Scheduled Caste, reside primarily in Chhattisgarh and adjacent areas of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Social Composition: This sect is thought to be an offshoot of the Ravidasi sect and comprised of the lower strata of Hindu society, particularly leather workers, sweepers, carpenters, goldsmiths, etc.
  • Locations: A significant shrine for the Satnami community is the Jaitkham, located about 5 km from Giraud village in Baloda Bazar district.
  • The Chhattisgarh Satnamis trace their theological lineage to Guru Ghasidas, an 18th-century saint who is revered in the community.
  • Practices: The followers of this sect kept their heads shaven (thus called Mundiyas) and abstained from liquor and meat.
  • Religious Text: The religious granth of the Satnamis is called Pothi.

Satnamis Revolt

  • Timing: The Satnamis revolted during the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.

oThe revolt began in 1672 when a Mughal soldier killed a Satnami.

  • Reasons: Many Hindus resented Aurangzeb’s strict Islamic policies, which included the revival of the Islamic Jizya tax (poll tax on non-Muslim subjects), banning music and art, and destroying Hindu temples.
  • Initial Retaliation: Other Satnamis took revenge on the Mughal soldiers, and in turn, the Mughal soldiers repressed the Satnamis.
  • Suppression of the revolt: Aurangzeb personally intervened, leading to the dispatch of 10,000 troops with artillery.

oThe Mughals eventually suppressed the Satnami revolt after intense fighting.

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