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Kamaljeet Paul, Hindustan Times
Jalandhar, February 02, 2010
The Dera Sachkhand Ballan released a code of conduct for its followers on Monday after formally severing its ties with Sikhism. While Sachkhand means the abode of God, Ballan is the village where the dera (the congregation) is located on the outskirts of Jalandhar. The dera, where devotees of Ravidas come together, announced on Saturday its distinct faith on the 633rd birth anniversary of its patron saint.

“We will respect all religions, love mankind, and lead a virtuous life,” the code declares, adding that the followers will recite texts from the new holy book of the faith.

According to sources, Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib, which thus far had a place of honour at Ravidas shrines, is now likely to be replaced with a newly released Amritbani Satguru Ravidas Maharaj-ji — though in a phased manner.

The new code lays down the objectives of the Ravidassia Dharam — primarily propagating Ravidas’ teachings.  Besides, the teachings of Namdev and Kabir — Bhakti saints of the 15th and 16th centuries — will also be propagated. There is no mention, however, of any of the 10 Sikh gurus.

Relations between Ravidassias and Sikhs were strained following the assassination of Dera Sachkhand deputy chief Sant Ramanand in Vienna in May last year. Dera chief Sant Niranjan Dass had sustained bullet injuries. Sikh hardliners are suspected to have been behind the attack.