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Guru Ram Singh

(1816 – 1885) – (Punjab)

Guru Ram Singh (Aged 69) was born in 1816. At the age of 20, he joined the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh but it crumbled after the death of the Maharaja three years later. Seeing the weakness of the Sikhs and the power of the British, Ram Singh introduced new practices among the Namdharis, who were later called Kukas, to help the Sikhs regain their self-respect.

Ram Singh instilled a sense of worth and dignity in his followers by telling them that they were the select few of God and that other sects were unclean. He also boycotted British goods and postal services by establishing his own couriers. In 1863, he attempted to proclaim himself the reincarnation of Gobind Singh, but the police intervened and restricted him to his native village.

As years passed and his prophecy of breaking British rule remained unfulfilled, internal trouble broke out, and the Kukas began to attack local minority communities. The British saw this as the start of a revolt in the Punjab and dealt with the Kukas in a barbarous way. Ram Singh even appealed to Russia for aid, but Russia refused.

After his release from prison, he was exiled to Rangoon, where he spent almost 14 years as a state prisoner. He passed away by 1885, but the Namdharis believe that he is still alive and will return one day to lead their community.