Satnami Revolt, 1672

The Satnami sect was founded by a saint named “Birbhan” in 1657 in Narnaul in Haryana. The major religious activity of this sect is to chant and meditate the true names {Sat-Nam} of God specially Rama and Krishna.

This sect is thought to be an offshoot of Ravidasi sect and comprised of lower strata of the Hindu society, particularly, leather workers, sweepers, carpenters, Goldsmiths etc. The followers of this sect kept their heads shaven {thus called Mundiyas} and abstained from liquor and meat. Today, there are at least 1.5 million followers of Satnami sect spread in Rajasthan, UP, MP, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Birbhan and Pothi

Birbhan was monotheist and described God by the name of Satnam or Truth. Thought this sect revered Ram, Krishna and Hanuman yet the idol worship was not practiced.  The religious granth of the Satnamis is called Pothi, which the followers revered like the Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs.

During the rule of Puritan Mughal Aurangzeb, there was resentment among Hindus for revival of Jaziya and general destruction of temples under imperial orders. The revolt triggered when a Mughal soldier killed a Satnami. The Satnamis killed the soldier in revenge and in turn Mughal soldiers were sent to teach them a lesson. Some 5,000 Satnamis stood up in arms and routed the Mughal troops in the town, drove away the Mughal administrators and set up their own administration under their leader Birbhan.

The rebellion was crushed when Aurangzeb himself took personal command and sent 10,000 troops with artillery to crush the Satnamis. In the sort of a large battle, some 2000 Satnamis were slain. This was followed by an attempt to pursue and kill every member of the Satnami sect, thus a kind of genocide happened. The remaining Satnamis fled in all directions and for a long time remained disorganized. This is one reason that the small population of Satnamis is found scattered in several parts of the country.