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What’s at the heart of Dhumma-Dhadrianwale rift?

In the latest, an alleged death threat was issued to Dhadrianwale, who had escaped an attempt on his life two years ago, by a Taksal spokesman in a video that’s gone viral.

punjab Updated: May 25, 2018 13:34 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Dhumma,Dhadrianwale,Harnam Singh Dhumma
Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale and Harnam Singh Dhumma

Harnam Singh Dhumma, head of the Sikh seminary-cum-organisation Damdami Taksal, and Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale, a preacher of the religion, are at war for years now, primarily due to difference of opinion on the rehat maryada (religious code of conduct) and the style of recital of gurbani, the sacred writings.

In the latest, an alleged death threat was issued to Dhadrianwale, who had escaped an attempt on his life two years ago, by a Taksal spokesman in a video that’s gone viral. Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday issued a “stern warning” to the Taksal over it.

Dhumma, who is based out of Amritsar but has US citizenship, got the Taksal headship in 2005 after a battle for succession with another faction. He approves of recital from the Dasam Granth (containing texts believed to be by the 10th Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh) along with Guru Granth Sahib.

Dhadrianwale objects to it. The ritualistic recital of Guru Granth Sahib favoured by the Taksal is objected to by Dhadrianwale, who has termed the threat, purportedly by Charanjit Singh Jassowal, the Taksal spokesman who is also a nominated member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), as “religious hooliganism”.

The Chowk Mehta (Amritsar)-headquartered says Dhadrianwale recites ‘kachi bani’, that is, verses written by those other than the gurus. Recital by Dhadrianwale set to popular movie tunes has also received serious objections from the Taksal and other religious bodies.

Further, while the Taksal propagates recital of seven banis (gurus’ writings) as mandatory for all Sikhs, Dhadrianwale says the number is five as per maryada.

Dhadrianwale attracts huge crowds and plans his programmes for two to three days at a stretch, particularly in the rural areas and the Malwa belt.Some of his recent comments on sarovars (ponds) along gurdwaras were also objected to by the Taksal, but he says his comments were misconstrued.Last year, programmes planned by him in Amritsar were cancelled after the intervention of the jathedar of Akal Takht, the supreme temporal seat of Sikhism.

Said to be in his mid-thirties, Dhadrianwale takes his name from his native village, Dhadrian, in Sangrur district. From a humble background, he shot to fame over a decade ago due to his aggressive style, and now has his headquarters at a gurdwara in Shekhupur village on the outskirts of Patiala. He used the prefix ‘sant’ (saint) with his name, which he has now replaced with ‘bhai’ (brother).

“Their fight is not over any religious cause; it’s more of a socio-political issue and a fight for gaining more space,” says Dr Balkar Singh, director of Vishav Punjabi Centre Society at the state-run Punjabi University, Patiala. “Gurus made religion simpler; they are making it complex,” he adds.

Two years ago, Dhadrianwale escaped death when his cavalcade was attacked by men who identified as activists of Damdami Taksal, near Ludhiana. A fellow preacher was killed.

First Published: May 25, 2018 13:33 IST