The holy city of Kashi and Sikhi have a long running connection.
Said to be founded by Mahadev and Parvati, Mahatma Budh gave his first sermon here.
Guru Nanak Dev ji visited Kashi and did charchaa with the famous Pandits there (Gurdwara GuruBag marks this event). Here, they collated the bani of the divine Bhagat Surdas and of Swami Ramanand and his 4 famous Gurmukh students: Bhagats Kabir, Ravidas, Pipa and Sain. All of whose bani is present in Adi Granth.
Guru ji left a new following of Sikhs behind (as they did everywhere they went, who were later referenced in Hukumnamai as ‘Sarbat Sangat Venaras kee’.
Bhai Gurdas the eminant Sikh Scholar, also visited Kashi and promoted Gurmat via charchaa with the intelligent sadhu sangat present.
Guru Tegh Bahadur visited Kashi a number of times, including at the time of Dasmesh Pita Ji’s birth (Gurdwara Nichibag commemorates this).
Guru Gobind Singh ji visited Kashi as a child. In later life, Dasmesh Pita selected 5 intelligent Singhs and sent them to study and master the philosophies of the puratan granths in their original language, Sanskrit. In doing so, Guru ji planted the seed of higher and comprehensive self learning in the Panth. In order to arm the Panth with comprehensive gyaan of all philosophies.
These 5 Gurmukhs became Sants (teachers of higher spirituality) and were known as the ‘Nirmalai’ (ones without blemish). Their order was called the Nirmala Samprada.
The Nirmala order is the academic and saintly heart of the Panth. From its roots have been blessed and risen many famous mainstream Sants ie Ratwara, Hoti Mardan, Harkowal, Rara Sahib, Bhindera etc.
Many scholars par excellence also belong to the Nirmala school ie Bhai Kavi Santokh Singh, Bhai Tara Singh, Giani Giaan Singh to name a few. Responsible for blessing the Panth with majority of our ithihaas and traditions ie agya bhey akaal ki.
The famous university of Venaras was sponsored by Sikh Maharajas. Sant Attar Singh Mastuana Vale laid the foundation stone of this world famous Sanskrit school.
The domes of the famous Visvanath mandhir of Kashi, were covered in gold by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (who also covered Sri Harimandhir Sahib in gold).
During the Singh Sabha reforms of the early the 20th century the original orders of Sikhi (Udasi, Nihang, Nirmalai, Seva Panthi and Rababis) were pushed from the sphere of seva and influence. Although some are now near extinction, the Nihangs and Nirmalai have held on, and are today being rediscovered and making a slow but steady come back.
The Nirmalai were responsible for doing parchaar when the Singhs were being hunted and decimated in the early to mid 18th century and inspiring tens and thousands of downtrodden Hindus and Muslims to pull back the reigns of respect, courage and wisdom, and come onto the spiritual and warrior path of the Khalsa. The Panth was fast replenished after 2 genocides in the 1700s, thanks to our Sant Nirmalai brothers.
Many famous vidhvaans of the 20th century also received Gurmat education from Nirmalai Gurdevs, some of these include Sant Gurbachan Singh Ji Bhinderavale and Giani Sant Singh Maskeen ji.
SHARE GYAAN WITH THE SANGAT
This is a truly panthic effort, we would be honoured to add your findings here. Please provide the exact reference and content in either Gurmukhi or English. Puraatan ithihaas, puraatan rehit or Gurbaani is foundational. But if you have any other useful and relevant references we will certainly consider it.