A friend, Randy, sent me a link to an article about "Deras, Caste Conflicts and Recent Violence in Punjab." It's interesting.
Twice I've visited Dera Baba Jaimal Singh in the Punjab area of India. It's the headquarters of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, an organization that practices a form of neo-Sikhism.
Meaning, a living guru is worshipped, not the Adi Granth Sahib, a book (which traditional Sikhs revere in somewhat the same sense as Christians look upon the Bible, as God's word).
I wasn't aware how many "deras" there are in the Punjab. The article says:
Being an American, I don't understand how the caste system can still be such a powerful influence in 21st century India. But the Deras, which are described as sects "headed by self-styled godmen," have sprung up largely in response to caste inequalites.
Recently riots broke out in the Punjab after a leader of one of the sects, Dera Sach Khand, was killed in Vienna. If it weren't for religion -- the weird aspects of Hinduism and Sikhism -- likely none of this would be happening.