"Sabka Malik Ek"1

The relatively unknown Sri Krishna-Pranami Dharma, a 400 year old sect, is a liberal blend of the Bhagwad Gita and the Quran

By Archana Sharma, in the Mid-Day, based on http://www.krishna-pranami.org. Re-Edited by Lúcio Mascarenhas.

A liberal blend of the Bhagwad Gita and Quran, Krishna and Allah, no caste system, no idol-worship, vegetarianism and non-violence — some of the features of the relatively unknown "Sri Krishna-Pranami Dharma2, a 400 years old sect. It finds a mention in Mohandas Gandhi's autobiography My Experiments With Truth as his mother Puli-bai3 was a Pranamist. Gandhi says, it is "a sect deriving the best of both the Quran and the Gita, in search of one goal — God."

Though there are almost ten million Pranamists, or as they are also called, the Sunder-Saaths (Pleasant Company) in the Indian Union, a majority of them are based in Gujarat, Central India, Nepal and Bhutan. In Bombay, there are around 20,000 Pranamists, mostly Gujaratis. They have two temples here — at Bhuleshwar and Borivali. They meet every week for satsang4 and sing bhajans5 and prayers that are a mix of Hindi and Urdu words. In their holy book, the Swaroop Saheb, words such as Mohammad, Momin, hukumat, ilam, barkat appear often. The current head of the sect is Acharya Sri 108 Sri Krishna-mani, who recently attended the international religions summit of the United Nations. "Our religion believes that Krishna is the supreme lord and other gods and goddesses are his shakti6," he says.


The Sri Krishna-Pranami Dharma was founded by Devachandra in Jamnagar in Kathiawar region of Gujarat, and propagated by Prana-nath Swami and his disciple, Chhatrasal, King of the Bundelas. During the 17th century, the religious environment in India was turbulent. Non-Muslims, especially Hindus, under the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb faced religious oppression. The Jiziya tax on non-Muslims, abolished by his great-grandfather Emperor Akbar, was re-imposed and many Hindus were forcibly converted to Islam as part of state policy.

Those were the times when Devachandra, who was born at Umarkot, left home at the age of 16 to quench his spiritual thirst. He went to Bhuj and then Jamnagar, where the Krishna-pranami movement began. Here, Devachandra studied the Bhagwad Gita by attending the discourses of Kanji Bhatt for 14 years with unswerving attention and devotion. Followers say that during one such discourse, Devachandra went into a trance and was granted a vision of Krishna, during which he was given the highest knowledge, called the Tartam Mantra, the "Supreme Truth." Thereafter, Devachandra founded his own sect, the Sampradaya (sect) called the Nij-Ananda ("Foundational-Bliss"), also called the "Sri Krishna-Pranami Dharma or the Sunder-Saaths, establishing his center, the Sri Navtanpuri-Dham, at Jamnagar.

"One World, One Religion"

The most important propagator of this sect was Prana-nath, 1618-1694. He brought unity in various religious faiths by analyzing and comparing their holy books and laid the foundation of 'One World, One Religion.' He presented the sum total of all religious knowledge as the Kuljam Swaroop (or Tartam Sagar). In 1678, he went to Haridwar to attend the Kumbh Mela ("Festival of the Pot") and met heads of other religious sects. He had detailed discussions with each one of them, at the end of which, they unanimously conferred the title of Vijaya-abhinand Nishkalank Buddhaji upon him.

King Chhatrasal, born to a Bundela chieftain in 1706, was Prana-nath's most devoted disciple. He wanted to fight against the oppression of Aurangzeb, but did not have the wealth to build up an army. He met the Maratha King Sivaji, who was also fighting agaisnt Augranzeb in the Deccan, and found Guru Ramdas to be the Maratha King's spiritual guide and strength. Therefore, he turned to Prana-nath for guidance. Prana-nath blessed Chhatrapal and said, "Riding your horse tomorrow in the morning, the land you cover will be full of diamonds." And Panha in Bundelkhand is even today one of the biggest diamond fields in India.

Religious Centers

The Sri Navtanpuri-Dham in Jamnagar is the main pilgrim center of Pranamism, because Devachandra obtained enlightenment here. Believers say that once Devachandra planted two twigs which he had used for cleaning his teeth, which twigs grew into huge trees. Today, even after 400 years, they are still there and are called the Khijada trees. And the temple there is called the Khijada Mandir.

Prana-nath spent 17 months preaching Pranamism in Surat. During this time, he was offered the throne of leadership by his disciples, who also adorned him with the title of "Mahamati Swami". Since then, the site of this event in the Saiyadpura area came to be known as the Sri 5 Maha-Mangalapuri-Dham, or, more popularly, the Mota Mandir ("Great Temple").

Panha is where Prana-nath met King Chhatrasal, blessed him and gifted him with a sword, called the Jal-pukar ("Summoning of the waters"). With this sword, Chhatrasal defeated the Mughal Army at the Battle of Mhow. Prana-nath also blessed the land of Panha to yield diamonds, which gave Chhatrasal the wealth to confront Aurangzeb. Wishing to establish a new Panha on the Vindhya Mountain ranges, Prana-nath chose an even land and hoisted a flag called the Sri-ji-ka Jhanda ("Flag of Krishna") there. This flag can still be seen even today. Prana-nath lived in Panha for 11 years and achieved "Samhadi"7 here. The place of his "Samhadi" (death) is known as the Mukti-Peetham ("Place of Salvation"), and the temple established there is called the Sri Padmavatipuri-Dham.

A huge temple, one of the biggest in Bengal, has been built in the old British hill-station of Kalimpong, near Darjeeling, between the Catholic and Protestant churches. Built at the cost of Rs. 130 million, the temple is named after Guru Mangaldas for his contribution in spreading the sect.

This temple also houses orphans, many of whom, after leaving the temple, pursue carreers in various cities of India.


By Lúcio Mascarenhas.

1. "Sab ka Malik Ek" = "The God of all is one".
2. "Sri Krishna-Pranami Dharma = "Religion of Krishna-worship".
3. "Bai" means a woman or lady.
4. "Satsang" means "congregation".
5. "Bhajans" means "religious songs".
6. "Shakti" = power, here specifically, "energy manifestations"
7. "Samhadi" means to have attained to liberation from this earthly life.
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