The Kuka Movement was a religio-political struggle founded in 1840 in Western Punjab. Bhagat Jawahar Mal (also called Sian Saheb) started the Kuka Movement as a religious movement but gradually turned into a revolt against the British. This religious movement turned political when the British entered into the province of Punjab. It aimed to remove the ill-practices, superstitions, remove class distinctions and evoke the true spirit of Sikhism. Its followers were taught to lead a simple life, abstain from alcohol and drugs and chant God’s name from which came the word Namdharis.
The word Kukas comes from the Punjabi word kook, meaning a cry. The Kukas were Namdharis and were called so due to their particular style of reciting the Gurbani or the sayings and teachings of the Guru.
After Bhagat Jawahar Mal died his disciple, Balak Singh and Satguru Ram Singh took the movement forward. In 1857 Satguru Ram Singh founded the Namdari Sect and asked his followers to boycott everything that was British. As part of the revolt, the followers boycotted British government, English education, English products and clothing. They strictly wore only handmade clothes. They started their own independent government and legal system. The Kuka followers adopted Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of Non-cooperation and Civil Disobedience.
Under Satguru Ram Singh the Kuka Movement turned political and aimed at restoring Sikh sovereignty and overthrow the British rule from India. Greatly influenced by Bhai Balak Singh, Satguru Ram Singh became his disciple and dedicated himself to the Kuka movement. He was a soldier in the Sikh Army and fought against the British in the 1845 Anglo-Sikh war at Mudki, Punjab, India. In 1863 he became the Kuka Movement’s head. This revolt of the Kuka people against the British is called the Kuka revolt. Satguru Ram Singh is thus considered the real founder of the Kuka movement.
The Kuka Movement attracted lakhs of supporters not only from the Sikh community but also from the Hindu community as well. Between 1863 and 1872, the British tried to suppress the increasing popularity. Thus in 1872, the British could put the revolt. They captured and exiled Satguru Ram Singh was to Rangoon. However, there are claims of him sent to Andaman jail.
After the death of Ram Singh in 1885, the Kuka Movement gradually declined. The Indian post released a stamp in Dec 2014 in commemoration of the Kuka revolt.
Last Updated: Jan 4, 2019
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