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Baba Mangu Ram Muggowalia

Special on foundation day of Ad Dharm AD DHARM: A WAY OF DALIT EMANCIPATION

Prem Kumar Chumber

Ad Dharm movement was founded formerly on June 11-12, 1926 in village Mugowal near Mahilpur, District Hoshiarpur(Punjab, India) under the dynamic leadership of Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia, a famous Gadhrite. Sarva-Shri Basant Rai, Thakur Dass and Shudranand were equally other powerful lieutenants of the Ad Dharm movement who joined hands with Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia, to organize this indigenous "Dalit Movement", the first of its kind in the history of Dalits of north India.

Ad Dharm is a name of the indigenous religion of the Dalits of the region who are the natives of this land (India). The invading Aryans subjugated them and established their rule over the natives. They see to it that the culture and religion of the natives had to be wiped out fully so that they could not stage a revolt. A Geat Gadhrite Baba Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia Ji thought it appropriate to relocate the lost native religion in order to re-establish sovereign Dalit Raj once again. He named his movement deliberately after the name of the religion of the natives: "Ad Dharm"Thus Ad Dharm is both 'Religion' as well as 'Movement'.

Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia made concerted efforts in the direction of laying solid ground for the revival of Ad Dharm in Punjab. He was of the opinion that if the ex-untouchables have to live a dignified life they had to revive their gurus, religious scriptures, festivals and religious places as well. He approached Sant Sarwan Dass Ji Maharaj at Dera Sachkhand Ballan for concretizing the Bani of Guru Ravidass Ji Maharaj and the proliferation of his mission. Ad Prakash, a holy Granth containing the Bani of Sahib Shri Saturu Ravidass Ji Maharaj and other Dalit Satgurus was prepared. Baba Mangu Ram Mugowalia Ji expressed his will among close circle that his last rites should be performed amidst the chanting of the holy Bani of Ad Parkash.

The real force which made the Ad Dharm movement surging ahead was provided by Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia who transformed it into a household name in the whole big province of pre-partition Punjab. Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia set a clear agenda for Ad Dharm movement. The agenda was to create a new religion for the lower castes. The Hindus who for political motives considered them as part of their religion treated them shabbily. Arya Samaj was making frantic efforts to bring the Shudras back into the Hindu fold who had proselytized into Islam, Christianity and Sikh religion. Arya Samaj and the Christian Church were not the only organizations, which were trying to win over the lower castes. Sikhs and Muslims were equally interested in bringing them into their respective religions.Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia Ji thought it appropriate to intervene at this juncture to espouse the cause of Dalits by carving out a separate identity of their own. The issue of separate Dalit identity is very much in vogue even today.

In the Ad Dharm Mandal approach, it is clearly mentioned that every Ad Dharmi should live his/her life according to the tenets of Ad Dharm and should not believe in any other religion. He said our Gurus are Guru Nam Dev Ji, Guru Ravidass Ji, Guru Kabir Ji, Guru Valmiki Ji and all other Dalits Saints. Thus Ad Dharm movement has very early shown the vision for the establishment of a separate Dalit identity based on distinct Dalit native religion: Ad Dharm. In its detailed report the following is worth of taking note of rather more closely.

The basic principles listed in the Ad Dharm Mandal Report are: (1) The essential teachings of the Ad Dharm will always be the same: no one can change them. They can stay alive and persist only through the help of a guru. (2) Every man and woman belongs to the faith, but they may not know it. To live without a guru is a sin. (3) A guru should be someone who truly and rightly knows the teachings of the previous masters. He should be able to distinguish between falsehood and truth. He should be able to bring peace and love within the community. (4) Everyone should be instructed by the lives of previous masters; progress comes from following the masters’ examples. The practices of previous masters should not be abandoned. This leads to progress. (5) There should not be any discrimination in regard to eating with other castes. (6) Ad Dharmis should abstain from theft, fraud, lies, dishonesty, looking at someone else’s wife with bad intentions, using anything which brings intoxication, gambling, and usurping other persons’ property or belongings. All of these things are against the law of nature and therefore the law of Ad Dharm. (7) Every Ad Dharmi has the duty to teach his children current knowledge and also to teach them to be obedient to the present king. (8) Every Ad Dharmi should read the Ad Prakash and act upon it. This is a foremost duty. (9) Ad Dharm does not believe in the caste system or any inferiority or superiority of this sort. (10) To learn and seek knowledge, and to learn and seek progress is compulsory for every man and woman.

The twelve duties mentioned in the Report are: (1) To publicize and propagate Ad Dharm. (2) To take pride in Ad Dharm. (3) To promote the use of name of the community and to use the red mark, which is its sign. (4) Ad Dharmis should try to retrieve any property of fellow Ad Dharmi that has been usurped. (5) We should distinguish among Hindus, Ad Dharmis, and other communities of India. (6) Those books, which have created the problem of untouchability and led to discrimination - books such as the Laws of Manu and other Shastras – should be completely boycotted and abandoned. (7) We should celebrate the festivals of our gurus and follow our faith to the utmost. (8) Abandon idolatry. (9) Receive education for ourselves and others in the brotherhood. (10) Boycott those who curse us as “untouchables” or discriminate against us. (11) Bring all demands of Ad Dharmis before the government. (12) Abandon expensive marriage and practice of child marriage.

The fifty-six commandments included in the Report are: (1) Each Ad Dharmi should know everything about the faith. (2) For the betterment and salvation of one’s body – physical and spiritual – one should recite the word Soham. (3) Each Ad Dharmi should remember Guru Dev for half an hour each morning or evening. (4) When Ad Dharmis meet, their greeting should be “jai Guru Dev.” (5) We should be true followers of the founders, Rishi Valmiki, Guru Ravi Dass, Maharaj Kabir, and Bhagwan Sat Guru Nam Dev. (6) A guru is necessary, one who knows about previous gurus and has all the capabilities of being a guru. (7) The wife of a guru should be regarded as one’s mother, the guru’s daughter as one’s sister. (8) Devotion to one’s wife should be a part of one’s faith, for therein lies salvation. (9) Every Ad Dharmi should abstain from theft, fraud, lies, dishonesty, and usurping the property of others. (11) One should not cause someone else heartache. There is no worse sin than this. (12) Every Ad Dharmi should enthusiastically participate in Ad Dharmi festivals and rituals. (13) There should be equally great happiness at the birth of both boys and girls. (14) After the age of five, every boy and girl should be given proper religious teaching. (15) Extravagant expenses at weddings are useless. Every marriage should be conducted according to rituals of our tradition. (16) Ad Dharmis should marry only Ad Dharmis. To marry someone outside Ad Dharm is not legal, but if someone does marry an outsider, he or she should be brought into the faith. (17) All Ad Dharmis, both men and women, should be obedient to their parents. (18) After the death of both parents it is the duty of each Ad Dharmi to cook food and distribute it among the poor. (19) The dead should be cremated, except for those under the age of five, who should be buried. (20) Ad Dharmis do not follow any other law except their own. (21) In the Ad Dharm faith only one marriage is allowed, but a husband may marry after the death of his wife. Also, if the first wife does not bear children, the husband may take another wife, provided he has the consent of the first wife. If this happens, the first wife remains a legal wife, with all the rights she had before. (22) Ad Dharmis should marry their children to the Ad Dharmis of the surrounding areas. (23) A girl should be more than twelve years old at the time of the marriage. The boy should be four years older than the girl. (24) It is illegal to receive money for a bride; on the other hand, there should not be a dowry. Those who sell their daughters commit a very great sin. (25) Offerings and sacrifices for prayers should be given only to those holy men who are Ad Dharmi and who have shown themselves to follow Ad Dharmi principles religiously. (26) It is necessary for each Ad Dharmi to provide primary education to both boys and girls. (27) The girls should be educated especially in household work such as sewing and needlework. (28) Young girls and boys should not be sent out to cut grass and gather wood. (29) It is the duty of parents not to allow young widowed daughters to remain in their household, because a young widowed daughter is a cause of disgrace. (30) If an Ad Dharmi widow with children wants to hold a commemoration of her deceased husband, but cannot afford it, then the Ad Dharm Mandal of Jullundur and its members will help her. (31) It is not good to cry and beat oneself at a death or funeral. To do so is to anger Guru Dev. (32) Among the Ad Dharmis sons and daughters should receive an equal inheritance. (33) To eat the meat of a dead animal or bird is against the law of Ad Dharm. (34) To use wine or any other intoxicants is a sin, except in the case of sickness. (35) It is legal to eat food offered at noon – Ad Dharm marriages, but the food should be decent, and not leftovers. (36) Cleanliness is important. It guaranteed good health. (37) It is forbidden to practice idolatry and worship statues, and one should not believe in magic, ghosts, or anything of the sort. (38) All Ad Dharmis should forget notions of caste and untouchability and work toward the unity of all people in the world. (39) Each Ad Dharmi should help a fellow Ad Dharmi in need. (40) One Ad Dharmi must not work at a place where another Ad Dharmi works until the first Ad Dharmi has been paid his wages. (41) If Ad Dharmis enter into a dispute with one another, they should attempt to come to some agreement by themselves or within the community. If no agreement is accomplished, they should refer the case to the Ad Dharm Mandal, Jullundur, and the Executive Committee will take action. (42) Ad Dharmis should open shops and business in every village. (43) Every Ad Dharmi should be a missionary for the faith. (44) Ad Dharmis should call themselves such and register in the census as “Ad Dharmi”. (45) A Red turban on the head is mandatory, for it is the color of our ancestors. (46) Every Ad Dharmi should work hard for the progress and peace of the community. (47) Ad Dharmis should organize themselves into cadres called martyrdom cells. They should work hard on the Ad Dharm’s projects. (48) Each Ad Dharmis should separate himself form Hindus, Sikhs, and members of other religions. (49) Each Ad Dharmi should be a good citizen, a patriot loyal to the present government, and should follow the law of the land. (50) Ad Dharmis have the obligation to consider the Ad Dharm Mandal of Punjab, city of Jullundur, as their rightful representative, and to recognize that the programs of the AD Dharm are for their benefit. (51) It is the duty of every Ad Dharmi to trust the Ad Dharm Mandal of Jullundur, and to share its work. (52) The Ad Dharm Mandal of Jullundur should certify all local branches of the Ad Dharm, and those, which are not certified, should not be considered genuine. (53) All Ad Dharmis should save their fellow Ad Dharmis from fraud and selfishness on the part of other communities. If such a situation arises, the Mandal should be informed. (54) Each Ad Dharmi should report any difficulty concerning the community to the Mandal in Jullundur. (55) Ad Dharmis should subscribe to the Qaum’s newspaper, Adi Danka. They should receive it regularly, read it regularly, and help support it regularly. (56) Anyone violating the laws of the Ad Dharm or of the guru, or who insults these laws in one way or another, will be liable to punishment, even the greatest punishment – being banished from the community [The report of the Ad Dharm Mandal, (1926-1931) published on May 15,1931. Originally in Urdu, Mark Juergensmeyer and Surjit Singh Goraya translated the report into English (Juergensmeyer 1988: 290-308). C. L. Chumber (Editor-In-Chief: Kaumi Udarian, Jalandhar) translated it into Hindi and Punjabi (C. L. Chumber, June 11 2000 : 1-54). The Hindi and Punjabi translation also include the name of the five hundred members of the Ad Dharm Mandal and its fifty-five missionaries.


Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia founded Ad Dharm movement for the emancipation and empowerment of his people. He organized all the ex-untouchable castes falling under the then category of the Depressed Classes in Punjab and reminded them of their rich heritage. He told them how they were reduced into worse than slaves in their own land by the alien Aryans who brought with them their sick social system called caste and oppressed them with the whip of untouchability. He told his people that for them the real battle is the battle against the Chaturvarna system of Brahmanical Hinduism. He reiterated that Scheduled Castes are neither Hindu nor Sikh. They are also neither Muslim nor Christian. They are the original inhabitants of this ancient land called Bharat (he called it Hind). Their real religion (Ad Dharm) was much older than Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. All these religion are born after Ad Dharm, the real religion of the original inhabitants of India . He said that the Hindus did not only subjugate them but also made their religion oblivious; and thus made the ex-untouchables their slaves. He said that real freedom for the indigenous people will be to liberate themselves not only from the British rulers but also from Brahmanism.

He struggled hard to convince British rulers to include Ad Dharm in the Census list of 1931 as a separate religion of the Depressed Classes in Punjab in 1931. A great victory of the Dalits indeed! Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia became the pioneer of seeking political power as a key to all the problems of the community. In 1937, his Ad Dharm won 7 out of all the 8 reserved seats in Punjab . He also stood like a rock with Dr. Ambedkar in his tirade against caste annihilation at the national level. During Dr. Ambedkar's fight with Gandhi at the Roundtable Conferences in London (1930-32), Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia sent telegrams in support of the former as the leader of the untouchables in India against Gandhi. In 1946, Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Hoshiarpur.

Through his consistent efforts, people of Punjab became aware of their rights. They started recognizing their true position in the given circumstances which helped them shape their identity in a distinct way. Ad Dharm gave them their true Gurus, cultural symbols, prayers, organizations and religion, which they are very proud of. On this day, April 22, 2013 ,,, and Ambedkar Times & Desh Doaba news papers fondly remember Babu Mangu Ram Ji Muggowalia Ji, the architect of distinct Punjabi Dalit identity. Posted on on Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia's 33rd death anniversary, April 22, 2013
Prem Kumar Chumber Editor-In-Chief : Ambedkar Times & Desh Doaba
510 219 8920
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Special article on Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia's
127th birth anniversary,
January 14, 2013

O. P. Balley
General Secretary Supreme Council,
Shri Guru Ravidass Sabhas, USA

I congratulate Ambedkartimes Group and the followers of Ad-Dharam movement on the commemoration of Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia’s 127th Birth Anniversary which falls on January 14th, 2013. On this historic day I feel an imperative urge inside to vent my impressions about the legacy of this great leader who was a freedom fighter and founder of glorious Ad-Dharam movement which gave the Dalit community in Punjab, a distinct and a separate identity to live a life of respect and dignity like other communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. To understand Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s vision to achieve his goal we have to evaluate the role played by him in totality for the upliftment of the Dalit community as a whole. Some of the glimpses of his struggle and sacrifices which speak for themselves are shared as under:

Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia, as he was affectionately called by his followers, was born on January, 14th, 1886 in village Muggowal (Near Mahilpur), District Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India. He had acquired a very good grasp of the social inequalities, inherently built in India’s social hierarchy as codified by Manu’s Smiriti and Chaturvarna.

TRAVEL TO USA AND ROLE IN GADHAR MOVEMENT: - After completing his school education he helped his father for a while in promoting his family business in tanned leather. In 1909 he was persuaded and encouraged by his father, Mr. Harnam Dass to go to USA at the young age of 23. After working for a few years in Agricultural farms in Fresno and adjoining areas of California, he came in contact with the Gadhar movement established in San Francisco to support the liberation of India from British colonialism. During his years in USA Mangu Ram developed a new insight and a revolutionary spirit of liberation and dignity. At the instance of Lala Hardyal and Sohan Singh Bhakna, the senior leaders of the Gadhar movement, he undertook a very dangerous mission of shipping weapons to India in support of the liberation movement. He along with his other companions was captured by the British but he managed to escape under very difficult conditions.

After a sojourn of almost 16 years abroad Mangu Ram Muggowalia arrived back in Punjab in 1925 and found that the lower sections of society still had to live under carping humiliations and slave-like conditions at the hands of the upper caste people. This made Mangu Ram Muggowalia realize that that liberation from British colonialism would not serve the real purpose until the down-trodden are not freed from the shackles of social injustice, prejudice and discrimination.

BIRTH OF AD-DHARM MANDAL WITH A DISTINCT IDENTITY: - Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s agenda was very candid and clear that we were the original inhabitants (Ad Dharmi/Mulnivasis) but with the invasion of India by Aryans, our culture and civilization, which once thrived, was completely erased and obliterated from the pages of ancient history of India and was rewritten as per the dictates ofManusmriti. This led to the birth of a new and a vigorous movement which appealed to the conscience of the lower sections of society and started to spread and flourish in the entire province of pre-partition Punjab. In 1931 census, Ad-Dharam was recognized as a separate religion and led to many electoral alliances and victories in the legislative Assembly of Punjab making Babu Mangu Ram a house-hold name in Punjab.

In fact, the Ad-Dharam movement launched by Babu Mangu Ram had carved out such a deep impact on the minds of the people, especially in the Doaba region of Punjab, that some of our ancestors from Punjab who migrated and settled in Fiji Islands in the early 1930’s, established their first Guru Ravidass temple outside India, under the name of Ad-Association of Punjab, in Nasino Suva, which still stands as a living example of its past history.

ROLE OF ARYA SAMAJ - Before the foundation of Ad-Dharm Mandal under the leadership of Babu Mangu Ram the other leaders in the Ad-Dharam movement were associated with the Arya Samaj which wanted to make some reforms in Hindu social order, but only by staying within the fold of their Vedic philosophy. There were conversions from untouchables to Islam and Christianity and it ultimately posed many difficulties for the Ad-Dharam movement in maintaining its distinct religious entity.

MANGU RAM ’S SUPPORT FOR BABA SAHEB: - Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who had assumed the dynamic leadership of the entire Dalit community at the national level, was strongly supported by Babu Mangu Ram at a very critical phase of Baba Sahib’s leadership during the Round Table conferences and at the time when coercive pressures were used by Mahatma Gandhi and his supporters for signing the Poona Pact Agreement in 1932, to avoid separate electorates for untouchables awarded by the British Government. Baba Saheb ‘s approach to liberate the untouchables by building a egalitarian social order at the national level which he believed was not possible within the fold of Hinduism. In the words of Baba Saheb “The basis of my politics lies in the proposition that the untouchables are not a sub division or sub section of Hindus and they are separate and distinct element in the national life of India”.

Internal dissensions between the Congress and Muslim league leadership in the wake of the division of India into two nations, appeared to have led to some distractions in the progressive and prolific growth of the Ad-Dharam movement, but its objective and spirit which were born out of the fundamental truth of ancient history of India, remained alive. The caravan, which halted for some time due to various factors of history will be moving forward with a renewed vigour and zeal.

My PERSONAL VIEWS AND COMMENTS: - In the year 1963 I visited village Mugowal to attend the marriage ceremony of my brother-in law in the family of Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia and had a chance to meet him and talk to him for many hours on the historic role of his mission in the 1920’s.Before that I had also met Baba Saheb many times in Delhi in 1955-56 and thus I had personal grasp and knowledge of their missions. Baba Sahib’s mission as well as Babu Mangu Ram’s for the emancipation of the suppressed humanity in India were the same, but variations in their approach and organizational structures, perhaps, became one the characteristic reasons why they could not be presented together from the same platform.

Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s life is an inspiring example of what a man can achieve by his indomitable courage, perseverance and great self-denial, even under the most depressing conditions. He was bestowed with the charisma for social transformation. Prof: Mark Juergensmeyer who has written a very exhaustive assessment of Babu Mangu Ram’s mission in his book “Religious Rebels In the Punjab” and interviewed him many times at his village, states” He was a restless, ambitious man, socially sensitive and politically astute.”

I also appreciate, its regular contributors and readers for the efforts to revive and reinvigorate the mission of Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia in North America. Mr. Prem Kumar Chumber Editor-In-Chief is also appreciated for providing copies of Babu Mangu Ram’s photos to Guru Ravidass Sabhas in the United States of America.

In the end I will not hesitate to say that a Nation can be united only by erasing all artificial barriers and divisions created by so called upper strata of society and the onus of responsibility to discard the very structure of this social malady of caste system, lies with them. I again congratulate you all on Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia’s 127th birth Anniversary on January 14th, 2013.


O. P. Balley
General Secretary Supreme Council, Shri Guru
Ravidass Sabhas, USA

Posted on on Babu Mangu Ram Muggowalia's 127th birth anniversary, January 14, 2013