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Akali Santa Singh
ਅਕਾਲੀ ਸੰਤਾ ਸਿੰਘ
13th Jathedar of Buddha Dal
In office
Preceded byAkali Chet Singh
Succeeded byAkali Surjit Singh (Disputed with Baba Balbir Singh)
Personal details
Pashaura Singh

Gujranwala, Punjab
Died8 May 2008 (age 80)
Known for13th Jathedar of Buddha Dal

Pashaura Singh (1928–2008) also known as Santa Singh or to Nihang Sikhs as Jathedar Akali Baba Santa Singh Ji Nihang 96 Crori was the 13th Jathedar of Budha Dal (Nihang Dal), succeeding Akali Chet Singh.

Early life

He was born as Pashaura Singh in Gujranwala.[1]


Sarbloh Granth

The Sarbloh Granth was first published in the mid-20th century by Santa Singh. He had major influence over bringing its teachings to the wider Sikh community. [2]

Reconciliation with the Sikh community

In 2001, Santa Singh accepted the “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) pronounced by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, the Jathedar of the Akal Takht.

Also in the same year, the followers of Santa Singh have said he had made the choice to reintegrate himself with the Sikh Panth. They asserted that his decision would serve as a source of motivation for Sikhs. Udhe Singh (Secretary of Budha Dal and nephew of Baba Santa Singh), Maharaj Singh, Partap Singh, Prithipal Singh, the personal assistant to Jathedar Vedanti, played pivotal roles in facilitating Santa Singh's reconnection with the Sikh community.[3]

Differences in Sikh religious, social and political views

Political views

Santa Singh was an avid supporter of Indian National Congress and was close to many leaders. He had been dubbed by many Sikhs as a "government stooge".[4]

In the early 70s Santa Singh became close with India's President Zail Singh. Zail Singh even gifted Santa Singh a car. After this Santa and fellow Nihangs regularly attended Congress rallies and blessed Indira Gandhi before her elections.[4]

In the aftermath of Operation Blue Star he attended a Congress rally organised by Indira Gandhi. This led to heavy criticism by Sikh leaders.[5]

Santa Singh was said to be close with Home Minister and Congress leader Buta Singh.[6]

Bhang consumption issue

In 2001, Santa Singh along with 20 chiefs of Nihang sects, refused to accept the ban on consumption of bhang by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.[7] However, there exists a tradition of Nihang Sikhs using edible cannabis, often in the form of the beverage bhang.[8][9]

Akal Takht reconstruction

Santa Singh rebuilt the Akal Takht after its damage during Operation Blue Star in 1984. The construction work was done by paid workers.[10] This caused controversy with Damdami Taksal, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and many members of the wider Sikh community.

As a result, Baba Santa Singh was excommunicated by SGPC.[11][12]

The Akal Takht, was torn down two years later under the orders of Baba Thakur Singh , the leader of the Damdami Taksal, at the 1986 Sarbat Khalsa.

Views on Sikh separatism

When asked about Khalistan, Santa Singh said, "Isn't the President of India a Sikh? There are so many ministers, generals, officers. There is no discrimination. And in which little district will they make their Khalistan?"[4]

When asked to comment about the Akali Dal claiming they did not oppose Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale out of fear Santa Singh said, "Why did they never approach me for help? I would have happily sent in my cavalry. What are all these gallant horsemen for if not for saving the shrines from desecration? It is because they did not ask their own Sikh armies that Mrs. Gandhi had to send in hers" [4]


When asked about why he is upset with the SGPC Santa Singh said, "They have been messing about for 60 years. They just make a commotion. I call them Khappoo Singhs (Khap means noise in Punjabi). Their movement has failed and now they are running marches, hiding behind women and children. Why didn't they act when Bhindranwale's men were going about defecating and drying underwear on the balconies of the Akal Takht?"[4]

In 2012, SGPC reversed its initial decision to install Santa Singh portrait in the Central Sikh Museum due to backlash from certain fractions of the community. [13]


  1. ^ "13) Akali Baba Santa Singh Ji". Shiromani Panth Akali Budha Dal. 12 December 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  2. ^ Singh, Santa; Singh Ji, Guru Gobind (2003). Sri Sarbloh Granth Sahib Ji. B Chattar Singh Amritsar.
  3. ^ Walia, Varinder (17 March 2001). "Baba Santa Singh accepts 'tankhah'". The Tribune.
  4. ^ a b c d e "We are the real heirs of the Sikh shrines and traditions: Baba Santa Singh". India Today. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  5. ^ Hazarika, Sanjoy (13 August 1984). "SIKH REBEL IS CHALLENGING RELIGION'S LEADERS". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  6. ^ "Now, Akalis, Congress woo Nihangs". Indian Express. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  7. ^ "Nihangs 'not to accept' ban on bhang". The Tribune. March 26, 2001.
  8. ^ Pashaura Singh; Louis E. Fenech (March 2014). The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies. OUP Oxford. pp. 378–. ISBN 978-0-19-969930-8.
  9. ^ Pashaura Singh; Michael Hawley (7 December 2012). Re-imagining South Asian Religions: Essays in Honour of Professors Harold G. Coward and Ronald W. Neufeldt. BRILL. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-90-04-24236-4.
  10. ^ Chima, Jugdep S. (11 March 2010). The Sikh Separatist Insurgency in India: Political Leadership and Ethnonationalist Movements. SAGE Publishing India. ISBN 978-93-5150-953-0.
  11. ^ "Warrior Sikh excommunicated". UPI. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  12. ^ "Baba Santa Singh accepts 'tankhah'". The Tribune. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  13. ^ "SGPC doesn't install portrait of Santa Singh at museum". Hindustan Times. 9 May 2012.