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Nāmdhārī or Kūkā (Pañjābī, ‘adherent of divine name’). A Sikh movement which others regard as a sect, although Nāmdhārīs regard themselves as a revival of Sikh orthodoxy. The Nāmdhārī movement was founded in the 19th cent. by Bālak Siṅgh's disciple, Rām Siṅgh, who based himself at Bhainī Sāhib, Pañjāb. Bālak Siṅgh's insistence on the importance of repeating God's name (Nām) gave his followers their title. The alternative name, Kūkā, resulted from the ecstatic cries (Pañjābī, kūk) of Rām Siṅgh's followers during worship.

Nāmdhārīs regard their belief in an indispensable, ever-living Gurū, apart from the scriptures, as consonant with the Ādi Granth, but this tenet is rejected by other Sikhs. According to Nāmdhārīs, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh did not die at Nandeṛ, but continued to travel, finally bestowing the Guruship on Bālak Siṅgh. While awaiting the return from exile of Rām Siṅgh, Nāmdhārīs look upon Jagjīt Siṅgh as their Gurū.

Under Rām Siṅgh's leadership the movement aimed at social uplift, particularly of women, at ending British rule, and protecting the cow from Muslim butchers. The Nāmdhārīs' life is strictly disciplined. They must rise early, bath, then meditate upon a mantra confided to each by the Gurū. A woollen rosary of 108 beads is used. Their diet is vegetarian and dress must be simple, with the turban tied flat across the forehead as in portraits of Gurū Nānak.

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