Sikhs of Jatt Descent

From Wikipedia:

“The Jat people are considered by some to be the merged descendants of the original Indo-Aryans and a later addition of Indo-Scythian tribes of the region, merging to form the Jat people. The Jat people of India and Pakistan are not to be confused with the peripatetic Jats of Afghanistan, who are a distinct ethnic group.
The Jat people follow different faiths and are engaged in different professions. They have a discrete and distinct cultural history that can be historically traced back to ancient times.”

Recently I have been visiting a “Jatt” internet forum to share my thoughts, and also be educated, by fellow Sikhs (of various types) who assert that “Jat” is not a Hindu caste, rather an ethnic group.

So now I have changed my opinion and I feel that Dusenbery and the rest of us, including those who happily call themselves “Jatt Sikhs” should use the standard modern English usage – “Sikhs of Jatt Descent.”

I am happy to change my mind again as seems wise in light of new and fascinating knowledge. Here is what I learned. Please comment!

LEO TX writes:

Hi KamallaRoseKaur,

I went through some of the article and the 5 comments. I would like to hear from you, how do you categorize an ethnic group or a homogeneous ethnic group if you want to call it that, as caste? People of all Jatt clans amongst Hindu, Muslim or Sikhs, have been living in North India (and W Punjab), for about a couple of thousand years now. Prominent Indian caste system binds every outsider to their lowest category, shudra. So that is what they would call a Jatt as or even a visible white person..let us say, from Canada as. As a matter of fact, if a Brahmin of their system eats meat, eats with shudra or crosses sea, he automatically falls off his high rank. If I were to present an analogy, I will use a job or more-so military system..although, not all aspects may match.

Having given the basic geographical location geographical of Jatts from all religions, I would understand it if someone is trying to tie Jatts down as shudras, like some highly intelligent scholars from some of the Sikh websites do, calling Jatts as low class (as per Indian caste system) and then marching with an agenda of No-belief-in-caste-system. But point is, that, Jatts haven’t whined about this credo & never associated themselves with this caste system in past, neither they do now. Instead, they prefer to maintain their ethnic identity, culture and customs, language and literature etc…none of which is prohibited by any regulations of Sikhism. This is what is maintained even today. Dropping it would be asking to drop all of those I mentioned above (which I don’t understand has a any reasons to be dropped). Having said that, question arises….so where is this scary chill of someone being Jatt or an inferiority complex from so called Gurmukh Sikhs, coming from…who are trying to put Jatts down and contradicting their credo as well?

But, is addressing a Sikh as Jatt wrong? Why…? Is he not a Jatt if he becomes a Sikh? Is a person not White or Black or Hispanic if their become Sikh or Christian or Muslim? Should he not maintain his culture or ethics or values or literature if he becomes a Sikh? I think he should. By your color I might tell you are white or black or whatever and by my clan name you might tell if I am Jatt or not. Does that make you or me any smarter, higher or lower? I don’t think so and I have always failed to understand…why it does so for most learned people. By our turban, one might be able to tell if these people are Sikhs or not.

Crux of the talk is that being a Jatt or Khatri or from a Hindu high caste system or being white or black does not make anyone higher or lower. A sikh would never mind if you call him Sikh or a Jatt Sikh (if he is Jatt). A practicing Sikh may not be a Jatt and still the one doing wrong deeds. What is separating the two sides then? We both know what it is. Names and titles wash away and die. It is a waste of time thinking, why he is calling himself a Jatt Sikh and not Sikh. Well, may be because he belongs to that ethnic group of Punjab & because he might be a Sikh. So he is just addressing himself that way. Gurbani mentioned Bhagat Dhanna ji, as Dhanna Jatt, because he was a Jatt from Dhaliwal clan of Jatts. Does that make him a non Sikh? Is it wrong? No. The entire point is that despite being from any background, you can still be under One’s command which is the truth. Rest of the details that we are discussing are petty.

I hope this post will be helpful.

Jat The High Kicking

(For nonSikhs – this Sikh practices a different type of Sikhi than I do – I am pro-SRM – but then again, can’t argue that colonial influence of Sikhi was racist and oppressive and that the Brit. Victorians have a hell of a lot to answer for. I am of Irish descent. Don’t get me going!)

I do not find it offensive being called jatt sikh, it is descrivbes my culture and sikh.

Also not using castes is something preached by colonial British Raj Lahore Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha (and now mainstream) neo sikhs and not traditional or sanatan sikhs. Again neo sikhs follow “religion” anmd want to belong to tribalisitic religion and follow sikh”ism”. Traditional sikhs do not follow religon and rather follow dharma/dharam, and end of the day we r all humans and sikh hindu muslim are all labels, but that doesn’t mean i can stop calling myself jatt.

Also the SRM or sikh rehit maryada u talk abput is probably the the SGPC maryada endorsed by the Akal Takht, am I right? Because firstly this maryada is not followed by nihangs, nor is it recognised by their headquarters of Budda Dal. In fact Nihangs they do not even see them as real khalsa and jut as mlecch khalsa, the Akal Takht is being occupied by neo-sikhs since the 1920s. Nihangs and nirmalas r the true khalsa. Buddha Dal rehat maryada is the most authentic maryada around.

Again jatt sikh is only an oxymoron to neo-sikhs because to them Sikh is a religion label in the western context.

‘One time the complete being [Guru Gobind Singh] said these words:
“In a hundred years my Panth [Khalsa] will reach adulthood. As adulthood increases and [Panth] matures, many are the vices that are found. Which vices?
All castes will force their way into the Sikh nation, even the Malesh [filthy]. All the bad people will force their way into the Sikh nation. They will look like Sikhs but their actions will be of thieves, deceivers and Malesh. To look at, they will be Sikhs but, their actions will be of evil with the forbidden five [5 cults, ie. the Dhir Malia, Ram Rais, Masands, and Minas]. Those, cutting their hair who have become apostate [from the Khalsa faith] will have relations, and believe in the five Pirs [Muslim holy men]. Not trustworthy, misers, known as slanderers, evil persons, highway men, Guruless, speakers of evil words, etc., such [characters] in appearance they will seem as intelligent wise Sikhs”.’
(‘Rehitnameh’, Piara Singh Padam, Pa.121-122)

And this is how sikhi was actually followed back in the day. People followed their tribal traditions INCLUDING their own types of marital ceremonies and their own cultures. It was tolerant. In that society theer would have been noproblem in being called jatt- sikh.

‘The Sikhism preached by the people such as Khem Singh Bedi and Avatar Singh Vahiria is difficult to envisage today, so comprehensive has been their defeat by the Tat Khalsa. For them Sikhism tolerated variety and upheld the right of Sikhs to participate in folk religion. Caste was maintained and idol worship was tolerated. There were different forms of marriage for different castes and different rituals could be practised by various members of the Panth. All manners of customs, such as those involving astrology, horoscopes and incantation, were acceptable. Visits to the sacred shrines of Hindus and Muslims as well as those of the Guru’s were entirely approved. Sanatan leaders might not follow these customs themselves, but certainly they were prepared to tolerate them in others. They were part of the immense variety which characterized the world they had known and the world they hoped would continue. All this was anathema to the Tat Khalsa. Sikhism could not possibly be as broad and as tolerant as Sanatan Sikhs believed.’
‘Sikhism’, by Hew McLeod, 1997, Pa. 77

So remember, 1920s, tat khalsa and British Raj, this is the kind of sikh”ism” u see, not the traditional kind taught by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Kamalla Rose Kaur :

I am happy to call people whatever they choose to be called. On the Sikh forums where I hang out people don’t talk about being Jatt or the like and I came to understand from general reading that Jat was a caste. Frankly you wouldn’t be spending so much time educating others. if this were not a common thought.

I am happy to be put straight and call people whatever they choose to be called. I do not care. I do not mean that I do not care about you as individuals, were I to meet you and get to know you, but as a group I see you as fellow Sikhs only. This comes from being a stressed and striving USAer and surrounded by so many people from all sorts of cultures that I do not have time to come to understand all of them that well this life. Which I hate in truth. I enjoy reading your posts for sure.

Again my focus of study is on the SGGS and local activism; and Sikh Women’s Right’s activism.

Lord Jatt writes:

Hi KamallaRoseKaur,

To your Topic “Jatt as tribe, Jat as caste….” I find this discussion interesting so let me add my viewpoints to this.

Sikhism and in this instance … the other Eastern tradition of Buddhism etc that deal specifically against the Caste System have specifically prohibited Discrimination based upon Caste (or Tribal or Racial). Perhaps no other religion has attacked and even at one time successfully annihilated most of the Caste System as Buddhism has in history. But Buddha is still referred to as SakaMuni (Sanskrit: Sakya Muni) meaning The ‘Silent One’ Sage of the Saka (Sakya) Tribe. Same within Sikhism. The Dasam Granth’s Bachittar Natak has details in which Guru Gobind Singh describes the origins of his Sodhi Khatri Clan. The Bani of Dhanna Bhagat in SGGS specifically refers to him as Dhanna Jatt.

Obviously, Sikhism’s position to one’s Tribe is clear – Identifying yourself with your Tribe and loving its customs is Not bad – Discriminating others on Caste/Tribal basis is bad.

“On the Sikh forums where I hang out people don’t talk about being Jatt or the like and I came to understand from general reading that Jat was a caste. ” – KRK

There are few of these “Sikh” forums that are doing more of a dis-service to Sikhism than anything good. Once a while you get to see few individuals on these forums who have their own Jatt-Hate agenda and purposely spread misinformation against Jatts and their customs. What’s annoying is that they even go to the extent of misinterpreting Sikhism to express their hatred for Jatts. This is Cowardice.

“Frankly you wouldn’t be spending so much time educating others. if this were not a common thought (that Jatt is a caste)” – KRK

I agree this misinterpretation is indeed a Common Thought. To counter it, JattWorld was created in the first place.

“I do not care. I do not mean that I do not care about you as individuals, were I to meet you and get to know you, but as a group I see you as fellow Sikhs only.” -KRK

That’s equally good. I’m sure most of the Jatt Sikhs always tend to seperate Religion and Culture. In the sense that these are not mixed together to create a hotch potch. The term “Jatt Sikh” is used more in the sense … meaning – “A Jatt who follows Sikhism and is a Sikh” and NOT in the sense of a “seperate kind of Sikh professing a different type of Sikhism”. So in religious sense, say, a Jatt Sikh would almost always call himself a Sikh but in the cultural sense would he use the term Jatt Sikh.



Filed under Multicultural, Seva - Helping Others, Sikhi

5 responses to “Sikhs of Jatt Descent

  1. rohn

    Ours is a vast area. Punjab,Haryana,rajasthan,delhi,west UP,himachal & j&K …….Pakistan & europe.
    ………of different faiths….we need to know & respect each other.
    Don’t try to divide the race into Hindus,bishnois,sikhs,muslims & christians.

  2. Harpreet Singh Shergill

    Jatt or Jat is a martial tribe assimilated into Indian context. They are the one, whom The Sixth Guru HarGovind Ji recruited render a martial image of Sikhism. The British studied them and realised their warring potential and termed them as Jatt Sikh, giving them a direct entry into the Indian Army without any preliminary test… Being Jatt Sikh was enough to get recruited. Without doubt, Jatts displayed their valiant character in the consequent wars and were regarded as fighters of a very high order. Thus, the term Jatt Sikh came to be used as a matter of respect among the Sikhs of Jatt origin.

  3. Baldev Singh

    There is NO caste in Sikhism so there is NO jat Sikh, just Sikh…British divide and rule policy took advantage of any differences amongst the ‘natives’ who were ‘sub-human’ to them anyway apart from Sikhs,whom they saw as extraordinary and tried to get rid of their religion and leadership in pure jealousy and hatred….THE HOUSE OF NANAK differs from any other Ideology in Human history in that it sees and treats the Human Race ( Homo Sapien ) as one , which it is and only divided by tribalism, dogma, politics and of course the Evil Hindu Caste System based on Elitism,superstition and magic…The System Dynamics of Sikhism make Sikhs free to think, travel and succeed more than any single group of Humans in the history of Earth!…and extraordinarily the Males wearing their Cotton Crowns are the only group of Males to be universally praised by the rest of of Humanity.

  4. I get the impression from my desultory reading about races that Jats not being pure Aryan were looked down upon. It is to their credit that they emerged out of their depredation and now rule major chunks of Punjab.

  5. RH Lawerence

    Jat or Jaat word originates from JAAT in Sanskrit meaning caste. The Indo scythian tribes which settled in India were basically land tillers & herders & uneducated. Elite classes were land owners & not tillers.The castless classes were referred to as Jats by the Brhmins( Priests). The sikh religion was started by Khatri Gurus ( All 10 of them) who were from well to do background & could afford education. Infact the education in those times was a preserve of the forward castes only- namely the Brahmins & the Kshtriya(Khatris).The gurus waged a war against the Muslim rulers. The Jat peasentry started joining the Gurus from sixth guru onwards.Band Bahadur( Lachman Das- A rajput from Rajauri) unified them further. After the decline of Mughal empire Ranjit singh ( A sansi/Meena- not a Jat) gained political power . The Jats were a large part of Ranjit Singhs sepoys( at lower end) . Most generals, High officials , Aristocrats were Rajput/ Khatri/ Muslim. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Hari Singh Nalwa , Zorawar Singh, Diwan Mokham Chand , etc. Slowly with the rise in political power sikh soldiers acquired grants of land from wars/ as murabbas/ from brtish & for the first time changed their status from tillers to landowners & started rising in social status . As per lahore Highcourt judgment of 1858 /56 ? they are shudras.( Se history of Sikhs – Khushwant singh. Rajputs & other forward castes still do not share Hukkas( water pipie) with jats in Rajasthan & Haryana.So the caste status of jatt siks is low … at best ambivalent …..

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