OP/ED: Shaster Vidiya of “Nihang” Niddar

I came across Nid­dar and his crew around 12 or so years ago, and he seemed like a harm­less enough guy, had some crazy ideas and didn’t give it much thought. Many of my friends star­ted learn­ing what star­ted off as Gatka, then became Hatka, then became, Jhatka Gatka, then became Shastar Vidiya, then became Hindu Sikh Snatam Shastar Vidiya. Things changed a lot, and as other mar­tial artists star­ted to attend, Nid­dar star­ted to assim­il­ate their tech­niques into what he claimed was an ancient com­plete mar­tial art. “old words new mean­ings”. What we see today from shastar­vidiya is a devel­op­ment over the last ten years. Being someone who has seen the trans­ition in style, I can tell you that Nid­dar moves dif­fer­ently now and his tech­niques have changed and new ones have been intro­duced. Now there is noth­ing wrong with adap­tation and evol­u­tion of a style, indeed it is needed for a style to remain cur­rent and rel­ev­ant. How­ever, for mar­tial arts pur­ists as Nid­dar claims to be, this is a prob­lem. If he had learned and ancient and unadul­ter­ated style from the last mas­ter years ago, where is the new mater­ial com­ing from? Why the change in name and philosophy?

left: Hindu mil­it­ants bran­dish­ing small tri­dents given to them by the RSS. Right Nid­dar Singh hold­ing a trident

Well the proof came over time, for myself any­way. I am a pretty chilled out guy, and very open to diversity and one­ness. But over time, I star­ted to see alto­gether sin­is­ter change in the people who went to train with him. Dear friends of mine who had become Nid­dars stu­dents star­ted to change in their beha­vior in their out­look and gradu­ally I found it harder and harder to sit with them. Their prac­tices con­tin­ued to shock me and other people who approached me to dis­cuss it. Being unable to defend the beha­vior and words of my old friends, I didn’t know what to say other than: “the Gurus Sikhs do not do this kind of thing”. It just didn’t seem right.
If a pho­to­grapher con­stantly pro­duces bad pho­tos over and over again, every­one will accept that he is a bad pho­to­grapher, if he pro­duces great pho­tos, he will be known as a great pho­to­grapher. The same is true of a teacher. The teach­ers leg­acy is in his stu­dents. Their con­duct is a reflec­tion of the philo­sophies and thoughts that they are learn­ing. The proof is in the sangat of Shastar vidiya as Nid­dar con­stantly pro­duces stu­dents of the same nature and men­tal­ity. And what men­tal­ity is that?

They fol­low the same pat­tern of, remov­ing kakars, dis­reg­ard­ing gurb­ani and med­it­a­tion, will start to eat meat from pub­lic places(even halal check link), will start to drink alco­hol (pub­lic places and wed­dings included), con­sump­tion of marijuana on a reg­u­lar basis, Become fan­at­ical about unau­thentic Nihang Rehit Mary­ada, ridicul­ing nor­mal sangat who do not believe in their ways and ulti­mately shun spir­itu­al­ity, paath and simran.

I don’t have a prob­lem with mar­tial arts, in fact I encour­age them. I don’t believe in clos­ing our minds to dif­fer­ent styles or claim­ing that all there is to learn is in one style and not another. There are many mar­tial arts groups out there, but the dif­fer­ence is that most of them focus on teach­ing mar­tial arts. With Nid­dars school how­ever, some­thing dif­fer­ent is going on. His stu­dents start to dress like Nihangs so people think that they are bap­tised singhs, but their actions are not becom­ing of singhs and many unbap­tized and sahjd­hari sikhs have approached us at camps say­ing they are dis­gus­ted by their exper­i­ence of his stu­dents. This is a prob­lem, as to any inde­pend­ent observer and even to the young people in our own com­munit­ies, the actions of these people reflect badly on all of us.

While I don’t really care what they do or claim in the capa­city of mar­tial artists, I do object to them claim­ing to be Akali Nihangs or “Hindu-Sikhs” (whatever they hap­pen to be) but hav­ing no con­nec­tion with the Guru and no eth­ical val­ues.
What angers us most is how Nid­dar has hijacked the illus­tri­ous sac­ri­fice and repu­ta­tion of Sikh mil­it­ary his­tory (includ­ing the Akali Nihangs) and claim it as his own leg­acy to legit­im­ise his unproven mar­tial art from a school that no one has heard of.

We have been help­ing out at camps for young Sikhs for many years. We try our best to help steer them onto a path of light towards the Guru, teach­ing them about Gurb­ani, med­it­a­tion, to abstain from dark­ness, become closer to the Guru and find peace in their hearts. Stay away from alco­hol and drugs, prac­tice med­it­a­tion and become shasterdhari(weapon clad) and bap­tized as Guru Gobind Singh ji wished for us and did so him­self. We do not force or coerce people, we just share our exper­i­ences and allow them to exper­i­ence the feel­ing of sikhi.

Recently meet­ing some of the young Sikhs who have since a young age been com­ing to gurd­wara, grow­ing up through our camps, learn­ing tabla, vaja and being in the sangat most of their life, have star­ted to dis­play a sim­ilar pat­tern to what I have exper­i­enced before. We have star­ted to see young people do com­plete u-turns, where we tried to get them to stay away from alco­hol and drugs they are now wear­ing big­ger turbans with spikes in them and turn­ing to alco­hol and drugs.

One such young­ster who changed the style of his turban so it was over his ears (claim­ing that it was ideal if in a com­bat situ­ation) star­ted to ridicule us say­ing we were clue­less, that we car­ried unbal­anced kirpans and that we didn’t know how to use them. We were quite shocked with his sud­den change and the need­less anim­os­ity and hatred towards us, as we have always preached a mes­sage of calmness and against fan­at­icism. He seemed to have adop­ted a very fan­at­ical Nihang approach to everything. He also pro­claimed that everything we did wasn’t mary­ada and that we were cre­ated by the Brit­ish. He went on to tell us that only those prac­tises pre­scribed by Shastar­Vidiya ver­sion of Nihangs was the cor­rect ori­ginal way of the Sikhs.

Another young­ster who we saw grow­ing up at our camps has taken to call­ing him­self a Hindu now and openly preaches that it is ok to drink alco­hol. His cousin was telling us that he openly states to fam­ily mem­bers that its ok to drink, noth­ing wrong with it so carry on. We also spoke to par­ents of some of the young­sters who said that their sons, hav­ing joined Nid­dar, have stopped doing their nit­nem or med­it­a­tion any­more, and when asked about it, one even said “I am liv­ing a war­ri­ors life, and as a war­rior I have no need for paath or meditation”

And that is not the end of it, I will not be men­tion­ing any names (or put­ting peoples pho­tos up on cow­ardly anonym­ous blog­spots as that is just child­ish and stu­pid), but so many young people around me I have seen suc­cumb to Nid­dars influ­ences and left the path of Sikhi for alco­hol, marijuana and a life where any­thing goes. As I said before, some of these people were once dear friends of mine, which is why I and oth­ers like me feel com­pelled to speak up.

While every­body has the right to free speech and my old friends were old enough to choose their path, I draw the line at impre­ssionable young­sters who know little gurb­ani and are eas­ily swayed by the bold claims and his­tor­ical accounts that Nid­dars ideo­logy is based on. The biggest pain is that It’s really sad to see people leave the Gurus path. I speak from exper­i­ence when I say even talk­ing to these people makes me incred­ibly sad as they do not speak of the Guru or spir­itu­al­ity favorably as they once did. They have become com­pletely cyn­ical mak­ing a joke out of everything, tak­ing noth­ing seriously.

Many have ques­tioned why I am doing this now. I just don’t want young people to fall into that down­ward spiral into dark­ness and ignor­ance. And so I exer­cise the free­dom to share my views and give people the bene­fit of my exper­i­ences, and the exper­i­ences of those people who are try­ing to rebuild their lives and their spir­itual strength hav­ing left Nid­dar and his “philo­sophies” behind.

Recently at a camp in Birm­ing­ham in a room packed with young­sters as one of the talks fin­ished one of Nid­dars close stu­dents star­ted an argu­ment, when one young man talked about how drink­ing and parties in Gurd­wara build­ings was wrong, His stu­dent shouted that “We drink alco­hol and we eat meat, this is our way, we are going to do this and we are not going to leave our tra­di­tions behind”, in front of a packed audi­ence of young 14–18 year olds. Think about it. 14–18 year olds hear­ing this at a camp where they have gone to learn about Gur­mat and liv­ing by the codes and con­ducts of Sikhism as pre­scribed by our Gurus through Guru Granth Sahib Ji Mahraj. What kind of dam­age could that do?

This is when we real­ized that this Nid­dar busi­ness is turn­ing into a bit of a cult. This is a new form of “Nihang” com­monly referred to as a ‘Nang’ in India, mean­ing someone who is naked mean­ing someone who dresses like a Nihang but is naked of any vir­tue or respect for sikhi.

We have spoken to many proper Nihangs and they also do not recog­nize this new group that claims to have splintered off from Buddha Dal.  Look­ing at www.ShastarVidiya.org web­site it’s like an advert for the RSS(Rashtriya Sikh Sangat) who’s aim it is to “to unite and reju­ven­ate the Bharat nation on the sound found­a­tion of Hindu Dharma”. The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat is also a part of Rashtriya Swayam­sevak Sangh (RSS) Wiki­pe­dia, a right-wing, para­mil­it­ary volun­teer Hindu nation­al­ist organ­iz­a­tion in India who has had many a run in with Sikh organ­isa­tions in India.  And guess what their main sym­bol is — the Trishul,  a three poin­ted dag­ger that Nid­dar can be seen bran­dish­ing in his recent news­pa­per art­icles.  The RSS is known to hold events called “Trishul Diksha” dis­tri­bu­tion of trishul like weapons to incite viol­ence against minor­it­ies and stir up nationalism.

I have heard many people defend Nid­dar and count­less times I have heard him say that “I don’t tell them to drink” or ” I don’t pro­mote these things”, or his cheley(cult fol­low­ers) like to say “It’s not Gurdev’s fault, what some of his stu­dents choose to do”. Yet isn’t it strange that so many of his stu­dents end up going down that path? The com­mon factor in all of their lives is Nid­dar and his ideas and influ­ence. While he may claim not to TELL people what to do,  at the very least it can be said that through his influ­ence,  they get the idea that drink, drugs and meat  is O.K. I have seen first hand how dan­ger­ous it can be to remove all the bar­ri­ers, there remain no lim­its and people go too far. Also many people have gone to see Nid­dar per­son­ally to hold him account­able, which I think is a waste of time, as he seems sym­path­etic and will listen to your objec­tions, but then just car­ries on regard­less.  His stu­dents are a res­ult of his teach­ings, so either most of his stu­dents are idi­ots who don’t turn up to train­ing, don’t listen to him and just waffle on about con­tro­ver­sial stuff (because it makes them feel bigger/more know­ledge­able) or he is a really BAD teacher who can’t handle his own students.

There is, of course a third pos­sib­il­ity: That he knows exactly what he’s doing, and he is con­sist­ently get­ting the res­ults that he wants.  If  he is call­ing him­self GURDEV then he has a respons­ib­il­ity for his Cheley(students) to main­tain some level of con­trol and teach them bal­ance. If he can­not con­trol his stu­dents then he has no busi­ness teach­ing.  He calls him­self Gurdev, the Guru of the Shastar­vidiya yet he pois­ons their minds with doubt and then aban­dons them, leav­ing them with no bar­ri­ers and no sikhi.

So a lot of you know me and you know I’m not an extrem­ist or reli­gious nut­ter I am quite open minded and accept­ing of other peoples views.  For a long time I was will­ing to accept Nid­dars dif­fer­ent views, but when i saw the impact he was hav­ing on the lives of his stu­dents, I thought “this can’t be right”.

I’m not stu­pid enough to let a blatant mis­rep­res­ent­a­tion of the Guru’s Philo­sophy or his­tory go unanswered. And neither am I afraid of speak­ing out and mak­ing a stand on what I beleive. I have no hatred for Niddar, just the dark­ness he seems to be really good at spreading.

Many of his stu­dents are good people at heart, but they seem to have become brain­washed and mis­guided.  Many have already left and many more are unhappy with their cur­rent pre­dic­a­ment of suf­fer­ing from lack of gurb­ani and spir­itu­al­ity, while they sim­ul­tan­eously fall prey to the pain of addic­tion to drink and drugs.  All we need to do is edu­cate our youth so they can answer the claims of Nid­dars Cult.

The truth is that his stu­dent num­bers have been dwind­ling, many don’t even turn up to classes, many old stu­dents have turned away from him and people are get­ting bored of his “scrip­ted kung-fu like” demon­stra­tions and his lack of sub­stance. His stu­dents have already shown their true col­ours through their actions.  People are not buy­ing his books which they des­per­ately try­ing to flog to the very sikh pop­u­la­tion they have ali­en­ated.  This is just a final push to make sure him and his books do not make their way into main­stream sikh sangat.

Every Time someone has spoken out about Nid­dar they are accused of being an extrem­ist. So please don’t use any­thing you read here to jus­tify act­ing in a way that can be labled extreme. We just hope that you will join us and present the Gurus bani with respect and com­pos­ure and let people make their own choices.  We don’t need to stop Nid­dar, we just need to stop our youth going to learn from him.

In the end no one wins in these kind of argu­ments.  They have been going on for cen­tur­ies.  Even in Guru Gobind Singh jis time there were many fake Gurus, War­rior Kings and Peers and in time noth­ing became of them.  All I aim to do is provide a  coun­ter­bal­ance to the view­point that the Shaster­vidiya web­site presents, and hope that it will pro­mote aware­ness and also serve as a warn­ing to oth­ers.  I hope a few young people will choose the light over the dark­ness.  If we make just one young per­son recon­sider going down that path, then all this will be worthwhile.

I will hope­fully start post­ing some art­icles here on vari­ous sub­jects relat­ing to Shaster Vidiya and back it up with Gurbani.  There will also be guest writers con­trib­ut­ing mater­ial that will be of bene­fit to read­ers. If any­one is inter­ested in get­ting involved, please con­tact me, and if you have any good art­icles or com­ments to add then post them in the comments.

I know there are  many old stu­dents who have since left Nid­dar Singh, after exper­i­en­cing his ver­sion of “Spir­itu­al­ity”, I would request all of them to come for­ward and share their exper­i­ences, so that other young Sikhs can learn.

Trust me when I say I didn’t really want to do this, but my spirit com­pels me to speak out pub­licly, Many oth­ers feel the same and should also speak out pub­licly, and con­demn this false­hood in a calm, respect­ful and peace­ful way so that people can take on board what you are saying.


ਜੇ ਜੇ ਜਗ ਕੋ ਡਿੰਭ ਦਿਖਾਵੈ ॥ ਲੋਗਨ ਮੂੰਡ ਅਧਿਕ ਸੁਖੁ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
Those who exhibit dif­fer­ent guises, find dis­ciples and enjoy great comforts.

ਨਾਸਾਂ ਮੂੰਦ ਕਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਣਾਮੰ ॥ ਫੋਕਟ ਧਰਮ ਨ ਕਉਡੀ ਕਾਮੰ ॥੫੭॥
Those who pierce their nos­trils and per­form pros­tra­tions, their reli­gious dis­cip­line is vain and useless.57.

ਫੋਕਟ ਧਰਮ ਜਿਤੇ ਜਗ ਕਰਹੀਂ ॥ ਨਰਕ ਕੁੰਡ ਭੀਤਰ ਤੇ ਪਰਹੀਂ ॥
All the fol­low­ers of the futile path, fall into hell from within.

ਹਾਥ ਹਲਾਏ ਸੁਰਗਿ ਨ ਜਾਹੂ ॥ ਜੋ ਮਨੁ ਜੀਤ ਸਕਾ ਨਹਿ ਕਾਹੂ ॥੫੮॥
They can­not go to heav­ens with the move­ment of the hands, because they could not con­trol their minds in any way. 58.
(Guru Gobind Singh Ji, 141 — Dasam Granth)

Originally published by shastervidiya.org


  1. probally the best article on nidar singh-

    taking into account all historical factors of nirad since he started reaching.

    he has recently started to show his art form as a comprehensive martial art e.g 1) walk, 2) mis-alighn, 3) attack

    i also went to his calees over 10 years ago, and he did not teach this, he started with grapling and sine breaking, and i have never seen him teach those moves again.

    i stopped going to his lessons when he changed his web site from shaster vidya to hindu-sikh shastar vidya

    while it is true, that hindus practice this art- and they have been in wars with muslim invaders for over 800 years.

    the sikhs got this art directly from god, passed to guru nanak, given to baba budah ji- who then taught the 5th guru. and this form was a revitalised more revolutionary form compared to the hindu form. hence sikh shastar vidya.

    if anything a comparision should be made or original historical research on baba budah ji and guru nanak, would prove what the real art is.

  2. Guys, to be honest I’m quite impressed with the art. If the ancient way was outdated, why did Maharaj request all warriors to carry a sri sahib? Why did’nt GOD give him clearvoiance say start carry tazers, laser guns or even a light saber. “Close quarter builds the heart, spirit along with many other positive attributes”.

    You have a riot in the street where you gonna get an apache helicopter from? Did the Singhs have this to hand in 84? NO! And unfortunatly for our team, neither did they have this kind of art/vidya/science. You preech never forget 84, we’ll start from learning from our mistakes. Internal friction, complaicency no martial true arts skills etc. Recepie for a beating!

    Good luck to anyone who is teaching a real fighting/combat art. I for one will find the time to train soon – and for thoes that don’t – go to chineh and complain and write articles when they pray to The Buddah!

  3. Whether you agree with Niddar Singhs religious views/belief sets or not is a different matter. Fact is he has highlighted and exposed issues that many Sikhs today like to brush under the carpet and I have yet to see concrete answers:

    – What was the combat arts of the Sikhs, it certianly wasnt Gatka..this is evident to any logical person…yet alone martial artisits. Firstly Gatka has no un-armed combat system. Secondly the majority of weapons used by Gatka crews are incorrect sizes and weights. They do this because they dont have concepts of how different wepaons were sued in differect scenarios for different puropses…They generally just swing swords and sticks aroound in the same very basic movements.

    – What happened to traditional Sikh arts outside of the Martial arts ? i.e: why is raag vidiya lost ? Why did the Vaaja (european harmonium) become the chief instrument in kirtan when it was only introduced by the British in the 1800’s.

    – Why did the pro-vegetarian aspect of Sikhi only appear in the 1800’s when we have enough evidence in historical texts such as Suraj Prakash, Panth Prakash, Jhatka Prakash Granth etc..that Jhatka is a traditional Sikh Warrior tradition. Not to mention the Akal Takht Hukumnama and SGPC Rehit Maryada which permits Jhatka Meat.

    – Destruction of Sikh history and heritahe…why was the Dasam Granth removed from Harminder Sahib when the SPGC too control in the 1800’s ? Why does Sikh tradition and history not sen in the Punjab still exist in Hazur Sahib where the SGPC are not in charge ?

    This and many more questions about Sikh histor and culture prior to British Infueuence we must ask ourselves…Nidar Singh has bought these issues into the limelight.

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