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)