Thakur Dalip Singh, the elder nephew of Satguru Jagjit Singh, the spiritual head of the Namdhari sect of Sikhs, refused to accept the "gaddi" in front of hundreds of followers who had gathered in Sirsa on Friday.
Instead, he placed the photograph of Mata Chand Kaur, widow of late Satguru Jagjit Singh, on the gaddi and declared her as the successor of the Namdhari sect.
Dalip Singh is supported by International Namdhari Sangat, a faction of Namdharis that wanted him to succeed Satguru Jagjit Singh as the spiritual head.
Talking to Hindustan Times on Saturday, Dalip Singh said, "Under no circumstances would I become the reason for division of the sect as I am a true Namdhari at heart, who has always thought in the larger interests of the sangat. It was the sangat's decision to give me guru gaddi, but I have refused. Instead I have placed Mata Chand Kaur's photograph on the gaddi, accepting her as the next guru of Namdharis."
He said there were a few "elements" who were acting against the interests of Satguru Jagjit Singh's family and the sect, adding, "They have made Mata Chand Kaur and Sahib Kaur captive as they can't even express their feelings. Both are under immense pressure, hence they can't even express their desire to meet me."
"However, I feel bad for my mother, Mata Dalip Kaur who, despite being the second senior-most member of the family after Mata Chand Kaur, was not allowed to enter Bhaini Sahib on the day of cremation of Satguru Jagjit Singh and has been barred from attending his antim ardas on December 23," Dalip Singh said.
When asked about his last meeting with late Satguru Jagjit Singh, Dalip Singh said he had met him before he fell ill almost two years ago and had categorically asked him not to leave Bhaini Sahib. But others did not want me around and asked me and my mother not to enter Bhaini Sahib.
Soon after the death of Satguru Jagjit Singh on December 12, the war of succession commenced between Thakur Udai Singh and Thakur Dalip Singh, who are real brothers and nephews of Jagjit Singh.
Satguru Jagjit Singh's widow, son-in-law Jagtar Singh, daughter Sahib Kaur and other members of Namdhari Darbar in Bhaini Sahib having declared Thakur Udai Singh as the administrative head on December 13 wanted to wait till December 23 for his formal coronation.
After the Satguru's cremation at Bhaini Sahib on December 13, HS Hanspal, former state president of the Congress and spokesperson of Namdhari Darbar, had declared Udai Singh as the administrative head, making the announcement on behalf of Mata Chand Kaur.
However, Dalip Singh-led International Namdhari Sangat rejected Udai Singh's appointment on December 16. The members of the Sangat fixed December 21 as the day of coronation of Dalip Singh as the sect's head at a parallel seat in Jeevan Nagar, Sirsa in Haryana.
Barely an hour after the International Namdhari Sangat press conference, Mata Chand Kaur and others from the Bhaini Sahib headquarters formally gave the 'guru gaddi' to Udai Singh, anointing him as the next Satguru.
International Namdhari Sangat president Navtej Singh said Thakur Dalip Singh's words were final for the Sangat. "We abide by him and respect his sentiments. Thus Mata Chand Kaur is our new Satguru," he added.
Meanwhile, HS Hanspal said nothing would change the fact that Namdhari Darbar had accepted Thakur Udai Singh as the next Satguru. "In addition to the antim ardaas for Satguru Jagjit Singh, we will go ahead with the dastarbandi of Thakur Udai Singh in front of Namdhari followers and dignitaries from varied fields on December 23."
Dec 12: Death of Satguru Jagjit Singh, war of succession between brothers Thakur Udai Singh and Thakur Dalip Singh, nephews of Jagjit Singh
Dec 13: Thakur Udai Singh declared administrative head, in an announcement on behalf of Mata Chand Kaur
Dec 16: Dalip Singh-led International Namdhari Sangat rejects Udai Singh's appointment, fixes December 21 as the day of coronation of Dalip Singh in Sirsa