Udasis: Understanding Their Distinction from Sikhism

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Udasis are a unique religious group that emerged within the Sikh tradition. While they share some similarities with Sikhism, there are distinct differences that set them apart. To fully comprehend the nature of Udasis and its relationship with Sikhism, it is essential to explore their origins, beliefs, and practices.

Origins and Beliefs of Udasis:

The Udasi sect was founded by Baba Sri Chand Ji, the elder son of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Guru of Sikhism. However, the Udasi tradition does not have a line of Guru succession as seen in mainstream Sikhism. The spiritual authority within the Udasi tradition is often associated with the leaders of Udasi monastic establishments, who are not considered Gurus in the same sense as the Sikh Gurus. Baba Sri Chand Ji chose a life of renunciation and spiritual seeking, establishing the Udasi order in the 16th century. Udasis believe in the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji but follow a different path to attain spiritual enlightenment.


Udasis, also known as Nanakputras, the ‘sons of Nanak’, are known for their ascetic lifestyle and devotion to meditation and contemplation. They often reside in ashrams or hermitages and engage in practices such as yoga, chanting, and seva (selfless service). Unlike Sikhs, they do not adhere to the Five Ks (Kesh, Kangha, Kara, Kachera, and Kirpan) or the Sikh code of conduct known as the Rehat Maryada. Members of the Udasi sect are often characterized by their distinctive appearance, wearing saffron-colored robes and keeping long hair and beards.

Distinctive Aspects

One of the key distinctions between Udasis and Sikhism is the role of the Guru. Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture, as their eternal Guru. Guru Granth Sahib was completed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (Sikh’s tenth Guru) in 1708 by adding hymns of the ninth Guru (Guru Teg Bahadur Ji) in the Adi Granth. In contrast, Udasis venerated the Adi Granth. The Adi Granth was compiled by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, in 1604. It included hymns written by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and his successors up to Guru Arjan Dev himself, including hymns of five Gurus, several Hindu and Muslim saints,  (Nanak, Angad, Amardas, and Ramdas. Arjan Dev).

Another significant difference lies in the approach to social engagement. While Sikhism emphasizes active participation in society and community service, Udasis prioritizes personal spiritual growth and seclusion.


Udasis, as an offshoot of Sikhism, have their own distinct identity and practices. While they share a common foundation in the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Udasis has chosen a separate path to pursue spiritual enlightenment. Understanding the differences between Udasis and Sikhism allows for a deeper appreciation of the diversity within the Sikh tradition.

Added Contribution by S.Satbir Singh:

When the sons of Guru Nanak were deprived of gurgaddi, Baba Srichand the elder son in order to earn fame and win followers continued the religious tours to imitate the udasis of Guru Nanak. Being the son of the great personality he was able to take considerable following in many parts of Northern India, but most prominently in Sind Provence. The followers were known as udasis and they were commendable in spreading the words of Nanak. They also took great care of Gurdwaras, when the mainstream Khalsa was busy fighting the oppressive forces. Over a period of time, some of them turned corrupt and misused Gurdwara funds and property, like Mahant Naryan Das of Nankana Sahib. Still, their contribution is crucial, particularly in the field of literature and the preservation of manuscripts. Well, udasis are Sikhs they may not be Khalsa. They usually don’t marry and wear Langot which is an aberration from the Nirmal Panth of Guru Nanak, which is to live a married life, adopt an honest livelihood, and share your earnings with the needy. Guru Nanak was vociferously critical of reclusive life.🙏

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