Sikh Police
corner left-topcorner right-top
LITERATURE

Knowledge, Discourse and Philanthropy
corner left-bottomcorner right-bottom

Literature

In the form of Q&As we have formed a list of contemporary issues that discuss human rights violations against Sikhs in India. Violations of human rights are usually carried out by police forces at the behest of regressive governments. We explain the threats and challenges facing Sikhism.

What is the origin, and the basic principles, of Sikhism?

Sikhs are a religious community and a political nation simultaneously and, thus, they are a unique society of the world. The Sikhs are distinguishable from Hindu society, which is essentially a territorial culture-group. Essentially, Hinduism is non-exportable and locatable and its modern conversion and oecumenical activities are unsanctioned innovations. Islamic society is grounded in totalitarianism of religious formulae and social laws, enforceable by political sovereignty and overlordship over non-muslim societies. Christendom and Christianity formed a political society of medieval ages and are an oecumenical, universal religion of Gentiles, without being a political society in the modem world. Jewish society is basically and fiercely ethnical while Buddhism is fundamentally non-social and non-political.

Sikhism is a social religion, non-ethnical, oecumenical, grounded in a political society, directed and committed to propagation and establishing of a plural world-society, tolerant, open, progressive and free in character.

Thus, Sikhism and the Sikhs form a unique religion and a unique society, which and who can be clearly distinguished from the other religious and political societies of the world.

Arnold Toynbee, the world-famous historian and philosopher of History, in his magnum opus, History, refers to Sikhism as the forerunner of the true elan of the Communist Party of Lenin. Arnold Toynbee adds that Lenin was quite mistaken in claiming that his Communist Party was a unique party in the history of the world and had been formed for the first time. Arnold Toynbee asserts that because of its elan and structure, the Khalsa of the Sikh society is a true forerunner and prototype of the Communist Party of Lenin.

Sikhism and its apotheosis, the Khalsa, have merely a structural affinity and kinship of elan with the Communist Party of Lenin in so far as it is essentially an organization of committed elites for furthering the cause of social transformations, but in aims and content it is poles apart from communism, as it is irrevocably committed to social pluralism and freedom of conscience, tolerance, and recognition of the human individual as an end in himself, and not an expendable limb in the beehive society of communism. This aspect of the matter, Arnold Toynbee has failed to appreciate and point out in his great book.

Above all, Sikhism is irrevocably committed to the doctrine of the existence of God, the one almighty God, as the beginning and the end of all, that is and all that shall be.

Sikhs are an international community, about 20 millions in numbers, mainly concentrated in the north-west of India, but found in most continents and countries of the globe: in India, Malaysia, Africa, Europe, South and North Americas.

Sikhs are universally admitted as excelling most other races of mankind in the basic activities of man: production of food, manipulation of tools and fighting. As agriculturalists, artisans and manual labourers they excel many other races and human groups and as soldiers they are inferior to no group in the history of the world, in bravery inspired by ethical considerations.

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak, who was born in the year 1469 A.D. Guru, in Sikh terminology, means, a prophet and a world-teacher, and Sikhism is a prophetic religion based on a definitive revelation like Semitic religions of the west, and it, therefore, can be clearly contradistinguished from the eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, which have an anonymous mysticism as their source of validity. In this sense, understood this way, Guru Nanak is the first prophet born in India, as one who claims that the religion he preaches is a revealed religion. The religious truths which Guru Nanak preaches have been revealed to him, so Guru Nanak claims, through a direct and face-to-face encounter with God.

The first words that he uttered, upon receiving his ministry, are recorded as “There is no Hindu, no Muslim." It was a fit formula for the commencement of his divine mission of reconciling the two antagonistic and warring cultures, the Aryan and the Semitic, by pointing out that deeper down in the two, there lay a common substratum of identity. A revelation is not a psychological process in the individual’s mind. It is an encounter with Reality, and the individual does not make a spiritual discovery through his own mental cogitation, but he encounters God and this distinction is fundamental. Henceforth, Nanak becomes Guru Nanak; Nanak, the World Teacher. 

This encounter is described in the Janamsakhis in the following words: 

"As God willed, Nanak, his devotee, was escorted to His presence, to the divine presence, and then a cup filled with Liquid of Immortality was given him, accompanied by the command : ‘Nanak, pay attention. This is the cup of holy adoration of my Name; drink it. I am with thee, and thee do I bless and exalt. Go, rejoice in my Name, the Name of God, and preach to others to do the same. Let this be thy calling."

Guru Nanak himself refers to this divine assignment with deep gratitude. He says : "I, an unemployed minstrel, was assigned a very rewarding task, indeed."

Guru Nanak thereafter started on long journeys into all directions of the then accessible world, to preach the religion of the Name of God, which is Sikhism. He, the Guru, himself, recorded his own revelations, as did his successors, which add up to the Sikh scripture. This Scripture is now deemed as the only and final guide of the community and the focal point for all Sikhs. 

During his missionary journeys, which are recorded as four directions of the globe, Guru Nanak laid down and demonstrated the true application of basic Sikh doctrines on which the Sikh society was to be based. Guru Nanak made a most explicit statement of his doctrine that truth must be the basis of all religions, and further, that the religion must be socially committed. Bhai Gurdas, a very learned man of Sikhism - sometimes described as the St. Paul of Sikhism - tells us that when the Yogis residing in these inaccessible regions asked Guru Nanak as to "how did the news go in the world of the mortals", the reply of the Guru was sharp and to the point: "The society has become rotten to its core." And here he raised an accusing finger at these Yogis, adding : "And Sires, you are the guilty ones, for, society cannot be guided and sustained without men of high sensitivity and culture, but you, who possess it, have become escapees." 

In this doctrine, he answers the question of questions, the question which has been, for thousands of years, worrying the sensitive and thinking man and which question still remains finally unanswered. This question of questions is as to whether the carriers of the grace the liberated men the men who have achieved the highest apex of spiritual evolution, whether they should rise like lions or die like lambs. Guru Nanak’s answer is clear: it is that every fully liberated person must be socially and politically committed, and must return back to society to serve and guide it, to elevate it, and to preserve its basic ethical and spiritual values.

The next doctrine of Sikh society was demonstrated by Guru Nanak when he visited Mecca, the holy sanctuary of Islam. Inside this holy sanctuary, when doubts arose on account of his behaviour as to whether he was a Muslim or a Hindu, he was accosted with the question: "Who are you, and what is the book that you carry under your arm, for it is not the holy Quran. Tell us, please, according to this book that you carry, whether the Muslim religion is true or the Hindu religion.

The reply of the Guru is not only clear but fearless, particularly when you keep in view the situation in which this reply was made. The Guru said: "Oh, pilgrims, neither those who profess Islam nor those who profess Hinduism are superior, one to the other. It is the practice and its moral quality that makes one individual superior to the other in the eyes of God, and not mere lip profession."

Likewise, the third doctrine was demonstrated by his ‘exclamations’ against the tyranny involved in the invasion of India by Babur, the Mughal, in the year 1521 A.D. He heard of this invasion while he was still in Central Asia, and, it would seem, that he hurriedly returned to India through Hussan Abdal which is now the Sikh shrine of Panja Sahib. His poetry (Babur-Bani) gives the proper reaction of a cultured, socially committed man towards situations of this kind, where a strong and powerful tyrant tramples over the rights and lives of those who have got neither the means nor the power to defend themselves and nor is there anybody else to defend them. The heart rending cry and audacious question of Guru Nanak put to God is the Babar-bani on witnessing the misery caused by Babur’s brutalities to undefended and unarmed civilians of India, “just as a herd of meek cows is attacked by a blood thirsty tiger”. There is clearly the seed of his new concept of individual, personal and human responsibility of man to be directly concerned with evil on this earth, and to resist it instead of either remaining unconcerned and high and dry about it or hoping for extra terrestrial intervention to destroy it. Guru Nanak has said in the revelation called, Babar bani: "So much misery and so much anguish caused to the people and their lamentations, you, O, God, saw and heard all of them and yet you were neither moved nor did you intervene”. This is the harsh cry and the question of Guru Nanak in relation to a situation of this kind, implicating that under such circumstances it becomes the duty of an enlightened and spiritually committed person to come forward and to organize with those who are similarly cultured, to resist evil at all stages, resist in the hope and in the faith that God will give success, but never to sit in the comer, or the fence, feeling that it is none of my concern or saying that it is the concern of God alone, whose duty it is to send somebody to stop this evil. The implication is clear: God helps those who help themselves. This distinguishes the society that Guru Nanak founded, from most of the previous societies that have existed in the East, or elsewhere.

These doctrines which Guru Nanak had thus enunciated and were, by the successor-Gurus, demonstrated in relation to individual and contingent situations, were applied to the practical task of setting up a new society, the Sikh society, and, the last of the Sikh prophets, the tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, ordained an Order of the Sikh elites, the Khalsa, who now represent and spearhead the tasks of Sikh religion, and are recognisable throughout the world as bearded and turbaned Sikhs.

Guru Nanak had already declared that such elite must organize to leaven and elevate society, by using the ‘organization’ (Guru Panth Khalsa), and ‘the idea’ (Guru Granth) as the only legitimate levers available to man for this uplifting. Then the perfected yogi’s asked Nanak specifically as to how does he propose to eradicate evil and to oppose the tyrant, because no individual has the power to eradicate evil, it being universal and inherent, and no unarmed citizen or group of them has the capacity to oppose and halt the tyranny of a person who has the power of well organised arms at his command, that is, controls the state, and who is bent upon running amuck over the society. And these perfected yogi’s asked Guru Nanak, "Do you possess some miraculous, supranatural powers by which you can cure these two rootal maladies of society? If you have not, as a mere human being, you are utterly helpless. If you have any such powers, any other means by which you think that the elites and the cultured people can halt the progress of evil, then please tell us." The reply of Guru Nanak to these queries of the yogi’s is recorded. The Guru said, "I possess no such miraculous powers as you refer to. I have no extra-psychical potency to do what an average, cultured man cannot do, but I am convinced that man, provided he is properly cultured, properly committed, and takes a serious view of life, a man, a human being, with all his failings and with all his imperfections, is capable not only of halting the progress of evil, but sometimes stopping and eradicating the evil. And the levers which he can use, or which I propose and advise for use in the society which I want to found in the world, are two." The Guru is recorded as having said, "I want to use two levers: human organization of those seriously committed to the task of defending goodness and to the task of opposing evil; and I want to use a second lever, of the authentic and true ‘idea’ of religion which is revealed in the conscience of highly sensitive and cultured man. The ‘idea’ and the ‘organisation’, which are both human, with these two levers I hope to be able not only to resist the evil, not only to halt the progress of evil in the society, but to elevate and exalt society to heights yet undreamt of. Through this society I hope to evolve deified men on this earth, who will be God-like, God-united and yet human.

Such are the basic social and spiritual principles of Sikhism as enunciated by its founder and as perfected by his nine successors, and as apotheosized by the last Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, into the Order of the Khalsa, who now have the responsibility and the assignment of setting out these directives of Guru Nanak into practice, and who now bear the heavy burden of this responsibility of establishing a world-society in which the growth and unchecked march of evil is stopped and the evil is ultimately, if not eradicated, controlled and contained. Such a high task it is that lies on the shoulders of those whom you sometimes see in various parts of the world wearing turbans and unshorn hair. These turbans and unshorn hair are not symptomatic of some kind of lack of modern cultural view point. They are the exteriorisation of a psyche and of a sense of such high mission the like of which the history of the world does not know, that which has not ever been conceived or practised before.

After the passing of Guru Gobind Singh and after the ordination of the Khalsa, since the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Sikhs have played, by no means an insignificant part in the history of Asia and, indirectly, the history of the world. 

In the first era of Sikh sovereignty, the Sikhs under the command of Banda Singh Bahadur set a republic in the heartland of the Moghul Empire in India, wherein they gave the land to the tillers in a feudal society, proclaimed equality of all men as citizens of a state, and declared that power emanated from and just belonged to the people and not to a hereditary privilegentsia. These remarkable and most modern principles, which were not only avowed but which were put into practice, although for a very short while, are historical phenomena with which not many people in the West or even the East are acquainted. Unfortunately, it only lasted 6 years due to the might of the Mughal Empire that suppressed it. There came a period of about half a century of relentless persecution and genocide pogroms against the Sikh people by two contending empires, the mightiest empires of Asia of those days, the Moghul and the Pathan Empire.

Not abandoning their cry of ‘death or liberty’, the second era of Sikh sovereignty commenced almost immediately and the Sikhs regained sovereignty in the 1760’s, under the command of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. This republic slid in the form of an empire, when it was annexed in 1849 by the British.

The third era of Sikh sovereignty, was commenced by Bhai Maharaj Singh in 1849. (In the 1940’s, Sikh leadership misled by Nehru and Gandhi, naively opted Sikh destiny into ‘India’. Despite British offers made to Sikhs to have a sovereign independent country, under the provisions of the British Parliaments ‘Transfer of Power Act of 1947’. Furthermore, in light of that Act which specifically provides that the Indian government at the Centre shall be a federal, loose-centred government, having only powers on three subjects; communication, defence & foreign affairs. All other powers shall be devolved to the states. As result of the Indian Governments gross violation of that Act, the Sikhs are fighting for freedom and equality. That Sikhs are committed to help establish a world-society which is plural, non-coercive, expansive and forward-looking, motivated Godwards, in which there is maximum toleration, ever-growing affluence and minimum of mutually destructive ambition.)

Whilst the Sikhs may look forward to a hopeful and bright future, in India, their historical homeland, they now face the basic problem of their identity and existence, since the control of their own history has been snatched out of their hands and their historical potential has been submerged and throttled. Sikhs want to live, as all living things do; they do not want to die. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

What are the essentials of Sikhism?

Religion deals essentially with three subjects of the nature of reality, the nature of man and its relation to this reality, and lastly, with the way to reach this reality. The first two subjects belong to philosophy proper and it is the third subject which brings the other two also into the domain of religion. As long as religion merely defines the nature of reality and seeks to lay down the true values of human activity, it is no more than philosophy and ethics, but when it seeks and promises to help the human soul to take these truths to heart and to put them into action with the object of resolving the problem of suffering, which is inherent in the innermost core of man, the self-consciousness, then it becomes religion proper. Man can possibly keep his mind away from the intellectual problems of the mystery of the universe, the nature of his own self and that of the world around him and the nature of the relationship that binds both, but he cannot help yearning and suffering. 

A summary of the Sikh tenets are threefold:

  1. Earn a livelihood by honest creative labour,
  2. Share the fruits of the labour with the needy, and,
  3. Practice the Discipline of the Name.

Sikhism is essentially a Religion of the Way, i.e. something that must be lived and experienced rather than something which may be intellectually grasped and comprehended. True, there can be no practice without the doctrine. Sikhism, therefore, has its doctrines, its views of reality, its view of the nature of man, and their interrelationship, but it lays primary stress on the practice, the discipline.

A careful reading and understanding of the contents of the Sikh scripture shows that the religion of Sikhism has three postulates implicit in its teachings:

i. That there is no essential duality between the spirit and the matter.

ii. That man alone has the capacity to enter into conscious participation in the process of evolution, which further implicates that the process of evolution, as understood by the modern man, has come to a dead-end and it, therefore, must be rescued by the conscious effort of man who alone is capable now of furthering this process.

iii. That when man reaches the highest goal of evolution, namely, the vision of God, he must not be absorbed back into God of voidness, but must remain earth conscious so as to transform this mundane world into a higher and spiritual mode of existence.

It is this that made it possible for Sikhism to lay down that the highest religious discipline must be practised while remaining active in the socio-political context, and not by giving up and renouncing the worldly life. It is this which has given the Sikh mind a sense of urgency, and imparted to it a genuine strain of extroversion which the Western mind has achieved only through adopting basically different postulates, such as, that this one life on earth is the only life a soul may look forward to till the end of time, and that the essence of the real is its characteristic of being the object of sensory-motor perception. It is the peculiar virtue of Sikhism that while it retains the primacy of the spirit over the matter, it prevents human life degenerating into the purely secular, utilitarian and expedient modes of activity. 

By far the most startling postulate of Sikhism is that the true end of man is not such a vision of God which culminates in re-absorption of the individual into the absolute reality, but the emergence of a race of God-conscious men, who remain earth-aware and thus operate in the mundane world of phenomena, with the object of transforming and spiritualising it into a higher and more abundant plane of existence.

Since Sikhism recommends that religion must be lived and practiced in the socio-political context, it has modeled this practice of the yoga of the Name so as to make it possible and practicable for a person to pursue this discipline simultaneously while engaged in earning honest livelihood. As man progresses in the path of spiritual realization, he must deem it as his duty to help others to tread the same path through socio-political activity which must be progressively purified of all taints of selfishness. This is the doctrine of ‘humanitarian service’ of Sikhism, without which, Sikhism declares, the practice of the Name does not fructify. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

What is the Sikh scripture?

In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh performed an act that has no historic parallel. The Guru bowed his head before the Guru Granth Sahib and said to the congregation, “It is my commandment: Own Guru Granth Sahib in my place. He who so acknowledges it will obtain his reward. The Guru will rescue him. Know this as the truth”. This act established the final seal and structure to the Sikh faith.

Since the compilation of this supreme sacred scripture it has become the sanctum sanctorum for Sikhs - the Word of God. God Himself is responsible for the creation of His scripture, through Guru Nanak - ‘The Spectator of All Time and All Existence’. The scripture dispels the darkness and contains the formula to enlighten the soul. Guru Nanak’s soul exists in the Guru Granth Sahib, it is the final consummation of all that that has been said before: the perfection, the completion, the conclusion. Its philosophy is timeless, and its teachings are the heart and soul of not only the Khalsa Republic, but also the panacea to mankind.

The Guru Granth supplies the answers to all those questions that are incumbent upon every scripture to reply in detail to its readers. It clearly and comprehensively enlightens the world as regards all those questions that are related to God, the Soul, and the Universe, including in disclosing the purpose of creation. In addition, it contains a exegesis of mans relations to God, which later covers mans relation to his fellow beings, in a framework of a civilised state. It strictly postulates a social context for the practice of the Godly Name and enjoins strict, uncompromising and high-pitched ethical conduct, unamended by considerations of expediency or self interest, and unbending on the matters of principle.

Three topics stand discussed in the Guru Granth Sahib - “the Truth, Human Concord with the Truth and the Discriminatory Wisdom which leads to this Concord”. 

It is of fundamental importance to understand the distinction that Guru Granth Sahib is the Guru, and not merely a deputy of the Guru. The Guru’s genius is recorded in this testament. Guru Gobind Singh formally reiterated and recognised the true status of the Guru Granth Sahib, which was always conceded, as of primary importance as ‘the idea’, coupled with the collective of the Order of the Khalsa, ‘the organisation’. The oriental formal homage paid to the Guru Granth Sahib is symbolic of sovereignty. Its transcendental wisdom, both spiritual and temporal, has enabled the Khalsa’s survival and reign.

Ever since the Sikhs recognise no human successor to Guru Gobind Singh, and speak of Guru Granth and Guru Panth as a condominium, it is the teachings that emancipate from the Guru Granth and will empower the Guru Panth in this world forever.

What was the socio-political contribution of Guru AmarDas?

Guru AmarDas was born on May 5, 1479. His occupation was agriculture and petty trade. He married at the age of 24 and had two sons and two daughters. He was a staunch vaishanavite Hindu who annually went on pilgrimage to Haridwar to have a dip in the Ganga and he practised austerities and regularly performed religious rituals befitting a pious Hindu. It was rather late in life that he came in contact with the second Guru, Angad. AmarDas was eventually consecrated as the third Sikh Guru, in the year 1552, and became known as Guru AmarDas.

For 22 years of his remaining life he preached righteousness and organised Sikh religious affairs with unremitting zeal and unabating exertion and the obscure village of Goindwal, near Amritsar, became, elevated to the 'Acropolis of God' in popular estimation, as the Sikh Scripture records." In the Sikh World this village became adjudged as "the Axle around which Sikhism revolves and moves forward." Here Sikhs congregated from far and near and here princes and princesses, Muslims and Hindus, Emperor Akbar and the Raja of Haripur, Kangra came to pay homage to the Guru.

Guru AmarDas perpetuated two revolutionary concepts in relation to food;

he stated that the Sikh doctrine of 'food' relates only to nutrition and health, regarding it as a gift from God. This disassociated it from the Hindu view of food as the core of psychic life and religious practices. The Sikh doctrine compresses the concept of food blemishes to just one comprehensive blemish, that the food eaten must clean, health-promoting and obtained through just and fair means. 

using free healthy food, Guru AmarDas illustrated the Sikh doctrine of universal brotherhood of humankind. He established his open free kitchen that served food to visitors round the clock and the Guru made it obligatory for every visitor to him to have food in this Eating House, langar, before coming to his presence, and the Emperor and the prince, the rich and the poor, the high caste and the low caste regardless of gender, all complied with this requirement to eat the same food, prepared by anyone, at the same time and at the same level, without any distinction whatsoever.

In relation to women’s rights, Guru AmarDas advocated 3 revolutionary stances:

he made a seminal pronouncement on the subject of widow-self-immolation sati by deepening its spiritual significance and annulling its draconic requirement of cremation of the living wife. He redefined this barbaric concept, and advocated re-marriage of the widow (a duty imposed on the father-in-law) or living in loving memory of the deceased spouse, instead of suicide. (‘Sati' literally means one wedded to truth' and its accepted meaning is ‘a virtuous wife’. From times immemorial, in India, it has been recognised as the true test of a sati that she cremates her living body along with that of her dead husband. The premier and ancient Brahmapurana lays it down as "the highest duty of the woman to immolate herself after her husband, since this is commanded by the Veda as a path greatly reputed in all the worlds.")

in startling contrast to these age-old and almost universal convictions and practices of womanhood, Guru AmarDas, over 400 hundred years ago, appointed and ordained a large number of women preachers under the nomenclature of ‘the Sacred Thrones’, and it is on record that, at least one woman was ordained and appointed as a Sikh bishop, Mathura Devi, wife of Murari. This is a truly remarkable phenomenon in the history of world-religions and marks a new insight into and makes a most liberal estimation of the innate capacities of woman in relation to the highest spheres of human activity, the religion.

he was unprepared to accept any reason for the veiling of women’s facial features. Guru AmarDas outlawed the wearing of the facial veil from his congregation, thus the removal of the purdah or niqab elevated the social status of women, and tackled the discriminatory roots of this unfair practice.

All these revolutionary socio-political ideas were propagated and integrated in the Sikh way of life by Guru AmarDas. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

The concept of Sikh sovereignty explained.

The Sikh position on the all-time tantalising questions of:

  1.  Politics versus Religion,
  2.  State power and Sikhism, and
  3.  Political Sovereignty and the practice of Sikh religion,

is unambiguously codified in the litany sung daily in all free Sikh congregations ever since the passing away of Guru Gobind Singh (1707); 

"The Sikh people shall remain free and sovereign, always none challenging this position, all everyone must eventually accept this position, no matter how unpalatable and bitter it, to them, be. And behold, peace and safety is in such a concession, or submission."

This startlingly tall and audacious claim has been publicly proclaimed by the Sikh people during the last three centuries, firmly and defiantly and it has moved many to sheer ridicule, others to fright, still others to resentment and boiling-heat anger, many Sikhs themselves so chicken-hearted craven fear or shameless apologia and the political Hindus of the post-1947 euphoria, it has, almost invariably moved to greater  contempt for those whom they see as already in their death-throes. (It is accepted that the present day Sikh people are politically subjugated, culturally submerged, intellectually confused and barren, morally decayed, economically deprived and plundered through the partition of lndia and religiously profaned, it cannot be, off-hand asserted or insinuated that this Sikh doctrine is prima facie ill-conceived or unsustainable).

Let us glance through the World History, ever since well defined and locatable civilizations have emerged and we find that there have always been, at any given period, one or two nations, peoples, which were leading raj-jati, characterised by the ethos of, Raj Karega Khalsa, who were admired and were tacitly imitated by others. There is no exception known to this rule.

This phase of leadership, political or moral or both, has passed from one nation to another in rotation, and in historical times, no nation has yet enjoyed it twice. Whether such is some hard and fast law of history cannot be asserted.

For, Sikhism, unlike most other world-religions, is not merely a Church of worship but is simultaneously, a Church of social policy also, and as soon as the Sikh people are separated from and deprived of political sovereignty and power, Sikhism becomes eviscerated of its elan and true ethos. It is for this reason that the ambition, the claim, and the destiny adumbrated and proclaimed in the litany: "The Sikh people shall remain free and sovereign...”  is basic to Sikh religion and the assignees of its social commitments, the Sikh people, and the second hemistich of this litany: "...And behold, peace and safety is in such a concession, or submission" is merely complementary to the first, both being obverse and reverse sides of the same coin.

It, therefore, follows that the Sikh claim and doctrine 

  1. that religious worship and social commitment are inter-related, 
  2. that political participation and power are complementary to Sikh religious activity, and 
  3. that the aspiration to political power to be employed as a fulcrum for social change and upliftment are legitimate Sikh activities, are neither 
    1. ungrounded in the firm patterns of history, 
    2. contrary to the tenets of Sikhism, or
    3. otherwise impracticable or fantastic merely because of the current depressed, degraded condition and colonial subsidiary status of the Sikhs. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

The Legacy of the Mughals from a Sikh perspective

THE LEGACY OF THE MUGHALS FROM A SIKH PERSPECTIVE

A Sikh critique of Historical Bias at the British Library

 

Pargat Singh and Palbinder Singh

A recent exhibition at the British Library on ‘Mughal India’, asserted that the Mughals ruled ‘tolerantly’ in South Asia from 1526. Any Sikh or indeed any reasonably well informed English Christian knows that this is nonsense. 

There were ten Sikh Gurus, spanning a consecutive period of 239 years from the advent of Guru Nanak in 1469, until the demise of Guru Gobind Singh in 1708 a period of time coinciding with the reigns of the ‘great eight’ Mughals Emperors. Here we identify the differences in outlook that led to the conflicts between the House of Baba, the Sikh Gurus, and the House of Babur, the Muslim Mughals.

The Sikh Gurus introduced a new order, which identified the Divine at the epicenter of all human activity, including socio-political life.  Sikhism is a philosophy which aims to reunite the human soul with the Divine soul by seeking to improve global society. The Sikh Gurus directly challenged violations of human rights , state oppression, religious bigotry and extremism.   

Following the invasion of India by Babur, the first Mughal Emperor, sharia law was introduced in India from about 1526 which would impinge adversely upon the other two major religions in India; Hinduism and Sikhism. Any religious ideology that would terrorise and degrade humans into slavery was contested by Guru Nanak. The dichotomy was between the rigid rules based on descriptive instructions of the Muslim Mughals and the flexible rule based on principles of enlightenment of the Gurus. Guru Nanak described the political context of the time in his hymns as “a darkened age where falsehood has triumphed over truth and where the instruments of state power are butchering their own citizens. The global vision of Guru Nanak favoured a non-sectarian, tolerant and plural society; a free and fair society enshrined with universal human rights. Guru Nanak rejected the claims that any faith had a monopoly of truth: “it was the deed and not the creed that mattered”.

The Mughal Programme

In direct conflict with these fundamental Sikh precepts, the Mughals propagated the idea that it was the creed and not the deed that was paramount. Anyone in India who challenged the Sharia laws would suffer death. Non-muslims were subject to ‘jizyah’ tax, and there was a  Hindu pilgrimage tax. Indians were disempowered and reduced to slavery. The Mughals wanted to eliminate Sikhism by converting the Sikh Gurus to Islam. The Sikh Guru Nanak visited Islamic institutions at Mecca, Medina and Baghdad, where he confronted the most senior Muslim leaders on their failure to respect human rights. He questioned critically their concept of the ideal Muslim and how such people should act.

The Hindu situation

Owing to; the Hindu caste-system, the Hindus employment of entangling rituals, and their tendency of submission, the Hindus were unable to champion equality or social rights. However all forms of oppression were challenged by the Sikh Gurus and any religious justification for such oppression was rejected. Guru Nanak criticised the lack of any proper Hindu resistance to Islamic rule. Guru Nanak attended the elite Hindu institutions at Hardwar and the Himalayas where he discussed human rights with several Hindu saints. He strongly rebuked them for not safeguarding the masses from the Mughal onslaught. As the common man became increasingly inspired by the egalitarian teachings of Nanak, the Hindu priestly caste, the Brahmins, lost credibility among those they purported to lead. In response to this threat, the Brahmins complained about the Sikhs to their Mughal overlords and for reasons of self interest became in effect allies to the Islamic State. Throughout the centuries of Mughal rule in India, many higher caste Hindus supported the Mughals.

The Sikh World-View

In his hymns, Guru Nanak outlined two key concepts that formed the basis of human response to any given situation. The first is that the evil, unless resisted by human effort, grows and endures and does not wither away or die by itself. The evil, therefore, must be resisted by human effort and destroyed. But the evil must not simply be endured until God chooses to intervene to destroy it... man directly concerned with combating evil on this earth and must resist it instead of either remaining unconcerned about and aloof from it or hoping and waiting for heavenly intervention to destroy it. Professor Kapur Singh states that it was this teaching which changed the entire attitude of the Sikh community to the onslaught of Islam in India.

Sikh Tolerance and Mughal Intolerance

It was the Guru Arjan, the 5th Sikh Guru (1563-1606), who composed the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. He was the author of a hymn that was severely critical of Muslim behaviour. This attracted a death penalty in accordance with Sharia law and, he was burnt alive for refusing to embrace Islam. Prior to his death, he sent a message to the 6th Guru, the saintly Guru Hargobind (1595-1644) telling him he must now act like a sovereign. Hargobind was instructed to wear two swords to represent spiritual and temporal power. In response, the Mughal state decreed that a non-Muslim could not conduct any activity that was reflected sovereignty; no non-Muslim might wear a turban, carry a sword, ride a horse, erect a throne higher than twelve foot or sing their own scriptures in public. Guru Hargobind rejected this totalitarian view. He was arrested by the state for defending the right of individuals to choose their own way of life. When imprisoned, he ordered his Sikh followers  not to pay any fine demanded for his release, as this would give legitimacy to the legality of his detention. After his release the Emperor Shah Jahan on four separate occasions declared jihad on Guru Hargobind, but Guru Hargobind successfully defended his people and principles on the battlefield. Despite winning those battles, Hargobind did not seek to lay claim to any territory.  But he had taught and empowered the Sikhs to defend human rights from oppressive regimes even if this meant, in the last resort, taking part in an armed conflict. 

In 1675, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Guru of the Sikhs (1621-1675) received a deputation of Brahmins who petitioned him that the Emperor was planning to liquidate the non-Islamic population of India and would do so, unless a nobleman was prepared to defend them. The Emperor Aurangzeb gave the Guru an ultimatum convert to Islam or face public execution. Guru Tegh Bahadur refused to convert to Islam and chose to challenge the entire legitimacy of this attempt at the Islamification of India. Aurangzeb ordered the execution of Guru Tegh according to the basic state-laws of Islam.

The Sikh Legacy

The 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), was subjected to ferocious attacks throughout his entire life. The Mughal States principal aim was to eliminate Guru Gobind Singh. Despite suffering the loss of his parents, all his children and comrades, he refused to compromise or submit to oppression. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh established the Order of the Khalsa, a fraternal and democratic order, to campaign and fight for human truths and freedom. In 1708. Guru Gobind Singh appointed Banda Singh the first Commander-in-Chief of the Sikhs to continue the fight against oppression. This is what really happened.

Contrary to what was suggested by the British Library exhibition, possibly to advocate liberal theories of Mughal rule in India, there is overwhelming evidence that the Mughals would not tolerate any difference from or challenge to their rule. The Sikh Gurus’ attempts to introduce notions of tolerance and equality were met with barbaric punishment from several Mughal emperors. The Mughals were quite unable to accept the existence and ideology of the Sikh Gurus. We have no reason to take seriously the thesis of Mughal tolerance propounded by the British Library in their biased exhibition underwritten by the British taxpayer. Why were they unable to give proper weight to the more truthful Sikh account? 

 

 The British Library guide pamphlet states; “The Mughals ruled a vast land with a diverse population and as Muslims, had to accommodate their largely non-Muslim subjects. The peace and well-being of the empire depended on maintaining a balance between the interests of Hindu, Christian, Zoroastrian, Jain, Sikh and other religions. In general, the Mughal emperors exercised a degree of religious tolerance that was rare in their time and is arguably part of their legacy”.

 

 Chahal, Pritam (1228: 2002) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Volume 4. Amritsar: CSJS.

 

 Singh, Kapur (17: 1991) Guru Nanak Life and Thought. Amritsar: GND University.

 In Goindwal, which is situated on the banks of the River Beas, there lived a Hindu whose name was Arjun and who professed to be a religious teacher. Thus he acquired quite some fame in the country as an expounder of religion and many a simple-minded Hindu and also some ignorant Muslims admired his character and piety. They called him the Guru. From all directions crowds of people gathered around him and extolled him as a true teacher. This business had been going on for three or four generations. For a long time past, it had been my intention to shut this shop of falsehood or, alternatively, to convert this man to Islam".

 

Singh, Kapur (20: 1992) Guru Arjun and his Sukhmani. Amritsar: GND University, quoting Emperor Jahingir’s diary; Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri.

 “To be a Muslim is difficult; if one be so really, then one may be called a Muslim. Let one first love the religion of saints, and put aside pride and pelf as the file removeth rust. Let him accept the religion of his pilots, and dismiss anxiety regarding death or life; Let him heartily obey the will of God, worship the Creator, and efface himself, When he is kind to all men, then Nanak, shall he be indeed a Muslim. and,

Make kindness thy mosque, sincereity thy prayer-carpet, what is just and lawful thy Quran, Modesty thy circumcision, civilty thy fasting, so shalt thou be a Muslim; Make right conduct thy Kaaba, truth thy spiritual guide, good works thy creed and thy prayer, Thy will of God thy rosary, and God will preserve thine honour, O Nanak. Nanak, let others’ goods be to thee as swine to the Muslim and kine to the Hindu; Hindu and Muslim spiritual teachers will go bail for thee if thou eat not carrion. Thou shalt not go to heaven by lip service; it is by the practice of truth thou shalt be delivered. Unlawful food will not become lawful by putting spices therein. Nanak, from false words only falsehood can be obtained. and again,

There are five prayers, five times for prayer, and five names for them – The first should be truth. The second what is right, the third charity in God’s name. The fourth good intentions, the fifth the praise and glory of God. If thou make good works the creed thou repeatest, thou shalt be a Muslim. They who are false, O Nanak, shall only obtain what is altogether false”. 

 

Macauliffe, M (38: 2000) The Sikh Religion. Oxford University Press.

 

 Chahal, Pritam (938: 2002) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Volume 1. Amritsar: CSJS.

 Lay aside hypocrisy and be true to your principles. Be brave, do not cow-down to oppressors and in your weakness do not oppress the vulnerable. The brahmins are criminals in religious garb, their entire life is consumed in falseness, they view modesty and piety as signs of weakness when, in fact, it was their cowardice when they surrendered to Islam. They butcher their own citizens. By becoming assumed in Islamic attire they become acceptable to muslims who fund their worship of Hindu scriptures. They claim that the touch of another pollutes their food and kitchen, yet in their hypocrisy they eat Islamic prepared food. The real pollution is their hypocrisy and evil deeds that stem from it; these leaders lack the strength and courage which is an essential criteria for rulers. If the Lord casts an angry glance, He demotes leaders to destitute beggars. If a leader has a pure heart, he cannot be a hypocrite, then alone shall he attain the True One. 16. 

 

(472) Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

 "Thy majesty is the protector of our customs and the redresser of our wrongs. Every man's religion is dear to him. Guru Amar Das of Goindwal hath abandoned the religious and social customs of the Hindus, and abolished the distinction of the four castes. Such heterodoxy hath never been heard of in the four ages. There is now no twilight prayer, no gayatri, no offering of water to ancestors, no pilgrimages, no obseques, and no worship of idols or of the divine salagram. The Guru hath abandoned all these, and established the repetition of Wahguru instead of Ram; and no one now acteth according to the Vedas or the Smritis. The Guru reverenceth not jogis, jatis, or Brahmans. He worshippeth no gods or goddesses, and he orderth his sikhs from refrain from doing so for ever more. He seateth all his followers in a line and causeth them to eat together from his kitchen, irrespective of caste - whether they are jats, strolling minstrels, Muhammadans, Brahmans, Khatris, shopkeepers, sweepers, barbers, washermen, fishermen or carpenters. We pray thee restrain him now, else it will be difficult hereafter. May thy [Islamic] religion and empire increase and extend over the world! [our emphasis]". 

 

Sikh History, Guru Ram Das Ji History of the Sikhs. [Online], Available: http://www.sikh-history.com/sikhhist/gurus/nanak4.html [24 Sept 2011].

 

 Singh, Kapur (73: 1991) Guru Nanak Life and Thought. Amritsar: GND University.

 “Make truth thy prayer and faith the prayer mat. Subdue thou thy desire and remove thy hope. Make thy body, thy mosque, thy mind the priest and to be genuinely pure thy Divine word-creed. Make the practice of the Name, thy Code, the ‘Shariat’, which is the first stage of moral life. Make the search for God and abandonment of the world thy “Triquat’, the second stage of moral life. O holyman, make the silencing of the mind thy 'Marfat', the third stage and meeting God thy 'Haqiqat' the fourth one, by which thou shalt not die again. The teachings of the Koran and scriptures, thou practise in thy heart and keep the ten females of senses away from bad ways. Bind down the five demons with faith, charity and contentment and thus shalt thou be accepted. Mecca be made thy kindness and dust of the feet of all, thy fasting. Deem thou, appropriately living by the Prophet's word, as heaven. God alone is the fairy, light and fragrance and the Lord's meditation is the sublime chamber of worship. He alone is a 'Qazi', who practises truth. He alone is a 'Haji', who purifies his heart. He, who banishes the ‘Satan’, cursed one, is a ‘Maulana’, true divine. He, whose support is the Lord’s praise is a true mendicant, 'Darvesh'. Make all hours, thy prayer time. Remember God, thy creator, in thy mind. Make thou the suppression of the ten senses, your telling of the rosary. To remember God, have good conduct and adopt self-restraint, be thy circumcision. Know in thy mind that everything is but short-lived. The family, home and brothers are all entanglements. The kings, rulers and nobles are all perishable, the God's Portal alone is eternal. The first prayer is the Lord's praise, second contentment, third humility and fourth alms-giving. The fifth prayer is the restraint of five desires at one place. These are thy exceedingly sublime five times of prayers. Make the knowledge, that God is everywhere, thy daily worship. Make the abandonment of evil deeds, the water pot in thy hand. The knowledge, that there is but one God, is thy making a call to prayer and to be a good child of God is the sounding of a horn. Eat thou the food which is honesty earned. Making your heart as vast as a river, wash off thy pollution. One, who realizes his Master, attains paradise. Izrail, the death's courier shall not thrust him into hell. Make good deeds thy body and faith thy bride. Revel thou in the True Lord's love and entertainments. Make pure which is impure. Consider the Lord's presence thy counsel. Let the complete body be the turban over your head. A Muslim is he, who has a tender heart. He ought to cleanse his inner impurity from his heart. He should not draw near the worldly pleasures and ought to be pure like the flower, silk, clarified butter and deer skin. He, on whom is the grace and compassion of the Merciful Master, he is the manliest man amongst men. He is the Muslim preacher, the chief of Shaikhs, the pilgrim of Mecca and he alone is the Lord's slave on whom is the grace of God. By realization that power belongs to the Almighty Lord and kindness to the kind Master; by the praise of the unfathomable Lord and love of the Merciful Master, the True Lord's true will is realized. Nanak says, by this realization thou shalt be released from the prison and shalt ferry across the world ocean.”

 

Chahal, Pritam (1083: 2002) Sri Guru Granth Sahib Volume 3. Amritsar: CSJS.

 Emperor Aurangzeb frustrated that he failed to take control of the Guru-ship at the 8th ministry, ordered Guru Tegh Bahadur’s execution after a number of interviews with the Guru in which the fundamental principles of the Mughal state policy came under discussion, as to;

Whether the ultimate Truth could be encased in verbal formulae,

Whether the creed-formula of Islam did so encase it justifying its claim to being the final and exclusive deposit of Truth,

Whether this claim could be and should be imposed through terror and temptations, ash-shara’ tahtut-saif, and

Whether a totalitarian, altogether dissent-free society was divinely predetermined as the Will of God.

 To all the above profound and rootal questions the reply of the Guru is recorded as having been in the negative and consequently, Aurangzeb clinched the issue by formally inviting the Guru to embrace Islam. 

 

Singh, Kapur (320: 2003) Me Judice. Amritsar: CSJS.

The issue with Sikh Identity, and 2 sensible solutions.

Certain individuals and governments struggle accepting the Sikh image, despite it being natural, non-threatening and aesthetic. This response seeks to reassure others on Sikh sentiments, so that the progressive people of this world can work together for the solutions which are proffered at the end of this short article.

The following 5 points are accepted facts:

  1. The Sikhs possess a distinct, well-solidified, historically recognized political identity and the status of a nation internationally recognized, even by France and England up to 1849, when their empire was merged in British India;
  2. They were recognized as the third legitimate heir to the sovereignty of the undivided British India in 1947 by the British parliament, besides Hindus and Muslims;
  3. Before quitting India in 1947, the British carved out a Muslim country, Pakistan, for Muslims, and the Sikhs accepting solemn and definitive commitments made by Hindus to carve out and establish an autonomous Sikh area in the north of India wherein the Sikhs could become conclusively effective at the decision-making levels of the state and wherein they would live and flourish according to their own genius within the Union of India, rejected all offers of satisfactory political arrangements on behalf of the Muslims and the outgoing British;
  4. After the departure of the British, however, the unalterable majority of the Hindus of India have cynically repudiated all their solemn commitments to the Sikh people, have gathered all power in their own hands through the facade of ‘one man, one vote’ and a ‘secular’ state and have embarked upon a long-term plan of demoralizing and degrading the Sikhs so as to submerge them into the Hindu community as its peripheral, humble and subservient component, with a view, eventually, to divest them of their cultural significance and historical potential and to deprive them, for all times, of their control of their own history.
  5. For this purpose, subtle and gross, well-conceived and misconceived, political, cultural, economic and administrative measures have been put into operation during the last 70 years or so.

Even the judicial apparatus of the country has been shamelessly brought in to serve this ‘Grand Design’, and there are cases on record wherein relation to similar facts in all respects and the identical laws being applicable, opposite decisions have been handed out by the highest Courts in the country: in one case to refuse legal relief to a Sikh petitioner and on the other case, readily granting the legal relief to a Hindu petitioner, thus proclaiming that although all are equal before the law in India, some are more equal. In this background the only political organization of the Sikhs, the Shiromani Akali Dal, has gone on record by formally resolving on the 20th of July, 1966 that:

‘After having carefully viewed the findings, the reports and judgements of judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals and forums that have dealt with matters and cases involving important Sikh interest, (The Shiromani Akali Dal) comes to the conclusion that the entire judicial machinery and judicial process of the Independent India ... has been perverted against the Sikh citizens of India in relation to their just and legal rights.’

Placed in this predicament, there are two fair demands currently being made by the Sikhs, to redress this inequality and injustice:

  1.  For a Sovereign Sikh State, as an effective buffer between Pakistan and India; or,
  2.  Setting up an autonomous area in the north and within the Union of India wherein the Sikh interests are constitutionally recognised as of special importance. *

Sikhs have tried to explain dispassionately and objectively the Sikh political problem today, so that the Sikhs abroad and the international public opinion and community may take note of it. Unfortunately, every time we attract an audience to discuss the British ‘Transfer of Power Act 1947’, our meaningful dialogues are hijacked by those, who have violated this Act. As they have more economical weight than the Sikhs, and by utilizing pseudo-Sikhs as their tools to abstain from this discussion, human rights issues slip down the agenda. As such, evident from daily news coverage, the Punjab continues experiencing turmoil. 

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

Why does modern India despise Sikhs?

Sikhs, and, consequently, Sikhism that has been glaringly underpinned in modern India by two circumstances:

  1. a lop-sided and inadequate comprehension of the basic conceptual content and significance of Sikhism, and 
  2. a deep-rooted prejudice against them borne out of awareness of the Sikh’s discreteness, peculiarity and individuality that cannot be assimilated or digested by the pan-Hinduistic impulse for centralising all political power, total power and paternalistic authority in the hands of the traditional privilegentsia of the pyramidal Hindu Society.

These predicaments of the Sikhs have been active on the political and cultural surface of India continuously the realisation of independent India from the 1930’s onwards. 

It was the incomparable and prestigious Tagore, followed by Mahatma Gandhi, who referred to Guru Gobind Singh as a "misguided patriot". Tagore and Gandhi were critical of Guru Gobind Singh (and Sikhism) precisely, because 

  1. Sikhism refuses to submit to brute political force as valid in its own right and irrespective of religion, and 
  2. it declares legitimate use of force in defense of human values, not only permissible but incumbent upon men of high culture. Both these propositions are anathema to the minds of Tagore and Gandhi through their caste-status and concept of non-violence.

Why have the Sikhs and Sikhism created these unhappy reactions amongst the Hindus of modem India, when the religious postulates of Sikhism are not hostile to those of Hinduism and when their historical role constitutes a splendid service to the prestige and prevalence of Hinduism and the Hindus as a people?

The Sikhs have not tried to set up an antagonistic social system to that of the Hindu society, even though they repudiate its basic concepts of Varanashram-dharma. They uphold the fundamental insights into Reality, which are peculiarly Hindu, such as karma, dharma, punar-janama and imparting them with new and extended conceptual contents. In the development of the course of History, they have firmly and vigorously upheld the right and privilege of the Hindu race and Hinduism, to independent existence and to peaceful propagation.

Despite Sikhs making innumerable sacrifices for India, and that the egalitarian ideas of Sikhism have moulded and shaped the entire history of modern India there remains a deep rooted resentment of Sikhism.

In the fifteenth century Sikhism was born in Northern India and in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh founded the Order of the Khalsa that "debased" spiritualism, "misguided" patriotism and "infected" pure Hinduism with something more dreadful than the conquering and temple-destroying Islam. In 1709, the Sikhs, in implementation of the objectives specified by Guru Gobind Singh himself, proclaimed a sovereign state in the Sirhind region of Northern India under Banda Singh Bahadur, whom the modern Hindu writer delights in insulting by calling him a Hindu bairagi, ascetic. The Official Seal of this first indigenous sovereign state in Northern India, after almost a millennium of foreign subjugation, bore the following legend, the climate and flavour of is the true prototype of what came, more than a century afterwards to Europe and the modern world, in the form of proclamations of the French Revolution, the American Declaration of Independence and the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels. This Sikh legend says:

The ever-expanding prosperity, the strength of arms, the continuous victory and common well-being, are all guaranteed to mankind by the Guru, Nanak-Gobind Singh.”

In 1799, the Sikhs firmly occupied Lahore and turned back the two-thousand years’ flow of foreign invasions into the opposite direction by recovering the long lost north-western Hindu regions.

Ironically, it is the Sikh desire for sovereignty that the Hindu mind despises the most. 

It is the values that underpin this sovereignty, such as, honest (non-exploitative) labour, without the spivvery of middleman-ship i.e. the Caste-system. The ability to guard society by the force of arms when necessary, yet being fair to all. Forming a civilisation, where women are not degenerated to second class citizens, and to improve the conscience of humankind. Education and equal opportunities for all, including the so-called lower-castes. Having universal literacy as the necessary base for an enduring culture. Sikhism therefore, aims at ensuring maximum amount of generosity, thoughtfulness, happiness, beauty, and humour and minimum measure of ambition, brutality, oppression, grief, bitterness and rancour. Hinduism, unfortunately advocates the opposite. It is these reasons, that Hinduism is opposed to a progressive Sikh system.

Let there be a new and fresh re-orientation of attitudes towards the Sikhs and a reappraisal of Sikhism by those who wish to preserve enduring glory of the Hindu race and Hindu values of life. Let this re-orientation and reappraisal be freed from the shackles of ignorance prejudice of the likes of Tagore and Gandhi. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

Why are Punjabi Hindus so hostile to Sikhism?

The real political dynamism behind this high conspiracy to demoralise and destroy Sikhism as a world-religion and to liquidate Sikhs as a political people, has been known in knowledgeable circles for the last 75 years, but there has been a conspiracy of silence, by the national media and the political power wielders, for reasons of expediency. The below quote was published in the Daily Indian Express by Mr Baghi, in April 1978:

“The genesis of the real trouble between the Niranakaris and Akalis goes back to the years when Mrs. Indira Gandihi headed the Union Government. She wanted to weaken the Shiromani Akali Dal but found that Akalis could not be brought to heel. She thought of an elaborate plan to strengthen the Niranakri sect not only in Punjab but throughout the country and abroad also. Official patronage was extended to the Nirankaris much to the chagrin of Akalis who have always considered the Nirankaris as heretics.

In pursuit of this policy of divide and rule, Mrs. Gandhi personally gave clearance for a diplomatic passport to be issued to the Nirankari Chief and the Indian High Commissioners and Ambassadors abroad were instructed to show him respect and regard. This was meant to help the sect to improve its image and increase its following abroad.

During Mrs. Gandhi's regime, the Nirankaris were known to be receiving financial help from secret Government funds not open to audit or scrutiny by Parliament.

During the Emergency the recalcitrant attitude of the Akalis further annoyed Mrs. Gandhi and Mr. Sanjay Gandhi. Efforts for building a parallel organisation among the Sikhs of Punjab as a counterblast to the Akalis were intensified. At the instance of Mrs. Gandhi, the Congress regime, began giving greater official patronage to the Nirankaris sect. Mr H.S. Chhina, IAS, a staunch Nirankari was appointed Chief Secretary to the Punjab Government in 1976.

As a result of open official patronage and support this sect got a considerable boost within the administrative set-up of the Punjab Government. Mr. Chhina appointed Mr. Niranjan Singh, IAS, as Deputy Commissioner of Gurdaspur. Mr. Niranjan Singh tried his best to enlarge the field of operations of the Nirankaris. It is during this period that the Sant of Bhindranwale took up the challenge posed by this growing sect".

Mr Baghi might have added that the Government of India directives to their ambassadors abroad specifically stated that all necessary steps must be taken to boost Gurbachan Singh (an anti-Sikh government agent) amongst the Sikhs settled abroad.

Apart from this high political hostility, the Sikhs in India face other grave impediments to their viability and honourable existence. Firstly, the die-hard, obscurantist element of Punjab Hindus have openly viewed the Sikhs and Sikhism as their enemy number one, a sentiment which obstreperously erupted, in the seventies of the 19th century, after the loss of the hegemony and political sovereignty of the Sikhs in the north of India, with no foreseeable possibility of its recovery. The impulse and shape of this utter hostility is spelt-out in the 'Secret' document, A Report on Developments in Sikhs Politics (1900-1911), by Mr. D. Petrie, Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence, Government of India, Simla dated, the 11th August, 1911, now preserved in the National Archives, New Delhi, which has the following as its paragraph, 6:

“Hinduism has always been hostile to Sikhism whose Gurus powerfully and successfully attacked the Hindu principle of Caste, which is the foundation on which the whole fabric of Brahminism has been reared. The activities of Hindus have, therefore, been constantly directed to the undermining of Sikhism both by preventing the children of Sikh fathers from taking the pahul (Sikh baptismal) and by seducing professed Sikhs from their allegiance to their faith. Hinduism has strangled Buddhism, once a formidable rival to it and it has already made serious inroads into the domains of Sikhism”.

This Hindu hostility to Sikhism has become a permanent strain in the sub-conscious psyche of the citified Punjab Hindu, not urbanised, not mentally cultured or intellectually elevated, but surface-polished and dulled within. The present day noisy disavowal of the principle of Hindu caste on political level and for political reasons in India, has not, in the least, mellowed the rigour of this urban crust of the Punjab Hindus of their hostility to Sikhism and the Sikhs, and every opportunity is avidly seized upon to do down the Sikhs, whether it is the question of Punjabi language, Punjabi-speaking state or ready support to any movement or trend aimed at weakening or destroying Sikhs. 

The current rulers of India even have not made any secret of their desire and determination to wean the Sikhs away from the core teachings of their Gurus that, the Sikhs cannot fulfill their divine spiritual and social assignments without their own base of political power and that for a Sikh to insulate politics from religion is an unutterably abominable degradation and fall from grace.

This mainly explains the orchestrated anti-Sikh and pro-Gurbachan Singh stances consistently adopted by fascist Hindu leaders and the Urdu and Hindi Press of Jullundur, an exclusive monopoly of this anti-Sikh brigade. Fortunately for the Sikhs, this irrational and primital hostility towards the Sikh is not shared by the Hindus in the East and South of India, or the trans-Jamuna Gangetic plain generally. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

How to achieve a non-corrupt and fairer India.

If the spiritual upheavals and stirrings of political awareness of the Hindu intelligentsia in the decades before Indian independence in 1947 are carefully analysed it becomes clear that the topmost Hindu leaders of thought and action were overwhelmed with two passions and aims, to realise which the entire Hindudom acted in singleness of purpose and with unabated energy. These aims were and have become clear since 1947 after a seriously truncated India fell into their lap:

  1.  To gather, to capture and to hold all decisive political power in the hands of the Hindus and for the Hindus, without possibility of an effective challenge,
  2.  To devise and enforce such constitutional arrangements and ideological smokescreens as to make (1) invisible to the external observer.

 

The Judiciary

There exists in the Indian judicial system a special rapport between the judges and the political leaders, or the community to which they belong. The interpretation of law is different from man to man, and the legal relief to be allowed depends upon the face of the individual, and not the legal principle, it can then be concluded that the judiciary is a vehicle of the State. 

Sikh doctrine advocates an independence of the judiciary from the State vehicle so that justice is fair and equal, and effected in an non-discriminatory manner.

 

The Future

In short, it is plain to any honest and intelligent Sikh that unless the situation changes fundamentally, and suitable arrangements are made to ensure Sikhs enjoy a proper existence and proper future in India, the Sikhs are bound to be first pushed out of the main stream of Indian history, and then made to disappear from the historical scene, altogether.

The Khalsa must be committed to their origins. They must uphold the banner of righteousness and universal freedoms, and establish a tolerant, plural society based on peace and mutual understanding. In light of these observations, Sikhs should continue with the reconstruction of India, under Britain's Transfer of Power Act 1947. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

Why Sikh philosophy is in the best interests of India.

The immediate establishment of an independent Sikh State is in the best interests of India and is the need of the hour. To strive for its achievement is the prerogative and duty of the Khalsa.

Deliberate and persistent efforts are being made to disintegrate and dissolve the Khalsa ever since the country gained freedom. Under the disguise of democracy, secularism and theory of one-nation subtle schemes and policies are being adopted with the aim of first disintegrating the Khalsa into individual Sikhs and then debasing the individual Sikhs into secular citizens so that they make good cannon fodder, good Sikh businessmen of a united Indian nation and thus they are deprived of their history-making potency and dynamism. For example;

  •  In educational text and policies, they are injecting anti-Sikh material, (without any evidential basis),
  •  In the public services they are creating an atmosphere hostile to the self-respect, integrity and cohesiveness of the Khalsa,
  •  In the armed forces, they are reducing the Sikhs soldiers to devalue other Sikhs and its visible apotheosis and ideal, the Khalsa.

This policy of corrupting the Sikhs, will ensure that they become a hazard and blight society. The consequences to India, to Hinduism and to Hindu society and to the world indirectly will be terrible and grievous. For this reason, the demand that the Sikh philosophy rules India, by way of the Khalsa, must be immediately conceded. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

A few reasons why Sikh temples (Gurdwareh’s) have become corrupt & ineffective.

When the Punjab Gurdwara Act was placed on the statute-book in 1925 the main objective was to clean the Sikh gurdwaras from managerial control of those whose commitment to Sikhism had become obviously doubtful. The other motivation which inspired these arrangements has been claimed to be the determination to keep Sikh holy shrines free from State interference on the ground that the State was no longer the Sikh government and, therefore, it was likely to exercise its influence in a prejudicial manner to the true interests of the Khalsa.

Those who have watched this experiment, during the last century, have no illusions left either that the objective and the impulse have remained inviolate or that the method of controlling historical Sikh shrines and endowments through the democratic procedure of one man one vote has led to happy results.

To begin with, it was a most unprecedented and ill-conceived proposal to place these Sikh shrines in the hands of a democratically elected committee. Throughout the history of Religions of the world, there is not a single case on record where such an ill-advised and stupid procedure has been accepted, even as a trial measure, for managing and controlling fundamental centres of religion. In Catholic Christianity the entire direction of the interpretation of doctrines and exposition of theology as well as the ritual and ceremonial management of centres of religion has been in the hands of a class of specialists, specially ordained, exclusively trained and wholly dedicated to the cause of religion. The result is  that the religion has prospered.

Nor is there any Sikh tradition or doctrine which lends support to the notion that Sikhism is a sphere into which every person has the birth-right to meddle and over which every hoodlum or ignoramus has rights of control.

Since, in our mass wisdom, we decided, about a century ago, that the Sikh historical shrines with large endowments should pass into the hands of persons elected on the basis of adult suffrage, we have paid the price which all those who disregard dictates of reason, historical experience and common sense pay. The Sikh gurdwaras have become cesspools of vulgarity and corruption and the low level to which the practice of Sikhism in these centres of religion has been reduced is a matter over which every sensitive Sikh shed tears of blood.

We may leave aside the manner in which the offerings and funds of these gurdwaras are utilized because what is happening here is just that which was to be expected in the circumstances we have ourselves generated. But it is the practices, the doctrines and the rituals of the religion that have been corrupted, vulgarized and degraded in a manner which leaves little hope for a return to regeneration and renaissance of religion. 

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is not capable of leading the Sikhs to their past glory, even through the illegitimate powers conferred on it by the Punjab Sikh Gurdwaras Act. Nor do they possess the requisite qualifications to advance the Sikh religion, and yet they have had the impudence of doing so and no Sikh has effectively protested against it. *

www.SikhPolice.org, has openly gone on record to challenge the S.G.P.C. and its appointed ‘jathedars’. Not accepting their credence, we ask others to join us to accept the sovereign authority of the Khalsa, and not the dependent S.G.P.C.

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

A template to improve Gurdwara management.

It is desirable that there should be a basic template for all Gurdwara administrators to follow. If implemented, it may reduce the number of times that police are called to Gurdwara management disputes. The below is a suggestion that may help:

  1.  The financial control and management of such gurdwaras, as within this template, must not be centralized but federalized and decentralized, the effective power vesting in local congregations, according to the true Sikh tradition hallowed by the Guru themselves.
  2.  The principle that only the Khalsa has the obligation, the duty and the prerogative to spearhead the management of historical and traditionally significant Sikh gurdwaras must be accepted.
  3.  Those wishing to assume statutory responsibility for the management of our gurdwaras must, finally and altogether, abandon personal political ambition, otherwise, our whole religion will be debased and politicized, and we cannot afford for any further debasement of this great World Religion.
  4.  Minimum educational, and other suitable qualifications must be statutorily prescribed.
  5.  The local bodies to administer our gurdwaras might be structured on the basis of direct franchise, subject to the limitations afore-mentioned, and the Central body, i.e. the S.G.P.C. which has great potentialities for political prestige and future of the Sikhs, might be based upon indirect election on a two or three tier basis through electoral colleges of the Khalsa septinate policy.
  6.  Sehejdharis, Udasis, Nirmalas and all such Nanak-Panthis must be, by suitable statutory requirements, associated with this proposed template, in particular, and local gurdwara committees in general, through the device of nomination and not election, and in order to make their association effective and meaningful they must be empowered and enabled to function as non-voting members with the right to have their dissenting opinion or advice recorded in the official gurdwara gazettes public information, so that the weight of their moral prestige becomes heavier than a mere mechanical and empty voting right.
  7.  The status and position of the Jathedars of the four Sikh Takhts must be independent of any Act, Board or Committee. They must only be dependent upon the Guru Granth and Guru Panth.
  8.  The questions of basic Sikh doctrines and institutions must be specifically removed from the purview or powers of the Central Board, or the Committees contemplated under this template, leaving all questions to be settled by general discussions and expert persuasion of the Sikh sangats and Sikh intellectuals, through gurmatas and over all consensus of the Sikhs, as is the true Sikh tradition and the age-old practice of non-priestly religions of the World. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

The problem with Sikh political leaders.

Sikhism is a distinct word religion in its own right and not a sect of Hinduism, and the Sikh society is likewise a distinct society having its own postulates of social organization and also, the Sikh people legitimately aspire to political sovereignty and an autonomous status, such as they had acquired in the eighteenth century after making tremendous sacrifices and which they lost in the middle of the nineteenth century through a combination of malevolent circumstances and inner weakness of their own political structure.

These points must be borne in mind before we come to consider whether Sikhism as an independent world religion is viable in the modem world, and whether the Sikh people have now, in view, some definite political goal, and lastly, whether such a goal is capable of being achieved.

In the fateful year of 1947, the Sikhs had a good opportunity of acquiring for themselves a sovereign or an autonomous status in the Indian subcontinent such as could enable them to walk into the mainstream of World history, but such was the incompetence of the leadership that they had thrown up and sustained during those days that all the friends and well-wishers of the Sikhs were unanimous in concluding that the Sikh leadership had lost the battle of the negotiation table which they had been conceded by the contingency of history.

H.V. Hodson, the Constitutional Advisor of Lord Linlinthgow, the Viceroy of India during the years immediately preceding 1947, in his well documented book, The Great Divide, (1969) observes that, 

“on the approach of the Transfer of Power, the Sikhs who mattered were not those in ordinary politics but men with influence in and through the gurdwaras. They had neither the training nor the experience to cope with the problems of partition. Ill-versed in national politics, divided in their attitude, the Sikhs reverted to a historical posture of only defence and defiance." He wrote further: "Time and again the powers that were in the Central Government of India complained of political incompetence of the Sikhs."

Why does such a terrible fate overtake the otherwise active, dynamic, sober and practical minded Sikh people again and again? In the fifth decade of the 19th century this chronic political incompetence of the leadership thrown up and sustained by the Sikhs lost them their empire and sovereignty within a decade of the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and again in 1947 it lost them the opportunity which the History may take another hundred years to offer to the Sikhs.

There is something inherently fatal in the make-up of political consciousness of the Sikhs which does not let them submit to an inferior political status of camp-followers and secondary citizens but which also renders them incapable of throwing up and sustaining an honest, dedicated and competent political leadership.

Sikh political leadership has fallen into the hands of the nefarious, those uncommitted (and uneducated) to Khalsa ideals. They serve self-interest. These people have neither background nor integrity and yet they are the ones that shape Sikh communities. 

 

The Remedy

Those amongst the Sikhs, who would understand the true nature of the tragedy and who would also appreciate that in order to be viable in the modem world the Sikhs must fulfill two conditions, firstly, they must interpret their world religion in an idiom which is understandable to the modem educated man and secondly, they must define, proclaim and try to achieve a political autonomy which can guarantee the preservation and development of their political personality, must put their heads together to cure the community of the two ills that have eaten into the vitals of the Sikh people for the past many years. These two ills have been stated above;

  1. the supremacy of the unscrupulous, the incompetent, and the thug, in Sikh public affairs, and 
  2.  absence of declaration and even open disavowal of their true political goal by their spokesman. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

How to recognise the ploys of ‘pseudo Sikhs’.

There are many people whose external appearance resembles the Sikh form, however, their beliefs and values are inconsistent with Sikhism. Such persons, through trickery and cunning, normally dupe the innocent and genuine Sikhs to become community leaders whereby they are able to further benefit from being in positions of trust. Here are some behaviours of pseudo Sikhs, whilst the list is not exhaustive, you should be able to identify how they operate. For example, they:

  •  will argue for religious programmes to be dominated by continuous religious singing, as opposed to deep theological discourse / explanation of the same. (Lest they want Sikhs educated in their political doctrine).
  •  insist that Sikhs must separate religion from politics, (to destroy the miri-piri concept). They claim that Sikhism only has a spiritual base, and not a political one.
  •  install the sacred Guru Granth Sahib in institutions where Sikhs were meant to discuss politics, thus the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib restricts this political activity as, naturally, certain rites have to be followed for the Sikh scripture. The Takhats of the Sikhs is a good example of where this has occurred.
  •  do not propogate the true Sikh doctrine of Guru Granth Sahib (in any understandable language) and insist that repetition of the ‘Waheguru’ mantra should suffice.
  •  deliberately devalue Sikh scholars, and work to destroy their scholarly work. They include only a bare minimum of reading material in Sikh libraries, most of which is  second rate, however, discourage research in such institutions.
  •  adamantly advocate that the Khalsa ideal of a separate Sikh Sovereign state is ridiculous. They only aspire for their own political gain, but not for the collective good of the Nation.
  •  do not propogate the resolution of the Sikh State, which was formally enshrined at the All India Annual Akali Conference held at Ludhiana, in December 1966. Neither do they advocate the British Transfer of Power Act 1947 or the Anandpur Sahib Resolution October 1973.
  •  do not challenge the Constitution of India, which brands Sikhs as Hindus.
  •  within Sikh religious programmes they introduce aspects of Punjabi culture, to confuse the Sikh society on the true ethos of the Khalsa doctrine.
  •  are opposed to supporting independent Sikh initiatives of Sikh charities, Sikh NGO’s, gender issues or other initiatives that empower others.
  •  despise the Sikh litany, ‘Raj Karega Khalsa’ or Khalsa Sovereignty shall rule.
  •  do not promote the political sovereignty of the first Sikh Nation, proclaimed by Banda Singh Bahadur, as its roots are entrenched with Guru Gobind Singh, rather they only promote the Sikh sovereignty of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, that being the period that allowed the corrupt agents to infiltrate and join that government.
  •  advise that Sikhs should only wear a tokenistic kirpan, and should not be enjoined to wear a kirpan of choice.
  •  are subservient to political leaders, but not subservient to the Khalsa of Guru Gobind Singh.
  •  misinterpret the theology of the Sikh Gurus to reinforce their stance.
  •  in Sikh institutions engineer bogus voting at elections, in the name of democracy, thus quelling the Sikh doctrine of ‘Equality of Effectiveness’.
  •  entertain crooked politicians, corrupt industrialists and black-marketing businessmen and bribe bureaucrats.

However, they will never let onto their intentions and candidly come out with the above, rather they will indulge in tendentious propaganda. 

It is highly improper, if not mean to try and deviate Sikhs from a position and interpretation of their religion which has received the universal assent of the Sikh Gurus.

 

The Remedy

No amount of Akhand Paths for the prosperity of the Sikh Nation will come to the rescue of the Sikhs when they are being systemically annihilated. No amount of joined supplicatory hands or muttering the name of God will save them from total degradation and humiliation. If Sikhs wake up in time, turn their faces towards the Guru, and salvage their political personality in line with Khalsa sovereign precepts, there is every prospect of such an awful  fate, to the Sikhs, being averted.

20th Century rascals.

It will do the people of India, as well as the International Community, a great deal of good to listen to a brief narration of this story of betrayal of a people, who though small in numbers have not been adjudged as of no consequence in terms of dynamism of History, people, though modern and forward-looking, are staunch guardians of the basic insights into Reality of the ancient Hindu race, and a people who though they may be matched in qualities of courage, self-sacrifice and patriotism, have not been surpassed by any community in India or any group of people outside. Here is the brief story of a callous betrayal of the Sikhs of India who had upheld the highest and the noblest notions and standards of ethical conduct in respect of the subject of keeping faith with fellow men and redeeming promises solemnly made.

In the year 1929, when the All India National Congress met at the banks of the River Ravi Amravati and fixed Complete Independence as its political goal. The Sikhs had previously taken out a 500,000 strong procession with veteran Baba Kharak Singh leading it on elephant back, from under the walls of the ancient fort of Lahore, which was described in THE TIMES, of London, as “a most impressive spectacle of human congregation that put the Congress show into shame and shade.” It was on this occasion that Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Moti Lal Nehru, and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, went to meet Baba Kharak Singh, and gave the Sikhs a solemn assurance that after India achieves political freedom no Constitution shall be framed by the majority community unless it is freely acceptable to the Sikhs. This promise was then reduced into a formal Policy Resolution of the All India Congress Committee.

Afterwards, this Policy Resolution was repeatedly reiterated, officially and semi-officially, throughout the period up to August 1947, and it was not officially repudiated till 1950 when the present Constitution was framed. The trusting Sikhs, who in their daily prayer, extol keeping faith as the noblest of human virtues, placing complete reliance in this solemn undertaking given to them by the majority community, resisted and refused all offers and proposals made to them by the British and the other people whom we now prefer to call, the Muslim League proposing to accord the Sikhs a sovereign or autonomous status in the areas constituting their ancestral homeland between the River Ghaggar and the River Chenab. This is first link of the story which I am going to narrate here so as to provide background to the betrayal of the Sikhs.

  • The second link is that in the year 1932, at the time of the Second Round Table Conference, the British Government, through Sardar Bahadur Shivdev Singh, then a member of the Indian Secretary of State’s Council, made an informal proposal to the Sikhs that if they dissociate finally with the Congress movement, they would be given such a decisive political weight-age in the Punjab, as would lead to their emerging as a third independent element in India after the British transfer Power to the inhabitants of this subcontinent. The much maligned, the naive, Master Tara Singh promptly rejected this tempting offer. 
  • The third link is this: In the month of July, 1946, the All India Congress Working Committee met at Calcutta, which reaffirmed the assurances already given to the Sikhs, and in his Press Conference held on the 6th July, there, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru spelt out the concrete content of this solemn undertaking in the following flowery words: “The brave Sikhs of the Punjab are entitled to special consideration. I see nothing wrong in an area and a set-up in the North wherein the Sikhs can also experience the glow of freedom”. In these words, an autonomous State to the Sikhs, within India, was promised. 
  • Fourthly, in the early Winter of 1946, the Cabinet Mission, while at Delhi, communicated to the Sikhs through Sardar Baldev Singh that if the Sikhs are determined not to part company with Hindu India, the British Parliament, in their solicitude for the Sikh people, were prepared to so frame the Independence Act of India, so that in respect of the Sikh homeland, wherever these areas might eventually go, in Pakistan or India, no Constitution shall be framed such as does not have the concurrence of the Sikhs. But Sardar Baldev Singh, in consultation with the Congress leaders, summarily rejected this offer which went even beyond the assurances given by the majority community, in 1929 and in 1946 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in Calcutta. 
  • Fifthly, in April 1947, Mr. Jinnah, in consultation with certain most powerful leaders of the British Cabinet in London, offered to the Sikhs, first through Master Tara Singh and then through the Maharaja of Patiala, a sovereign Sikh State comprising areas lying in the west of Panipat and east of the left bank of the Ravi river on the understanding that this State then confederates with Pakistan on very advantageous terms to the Sikhs and Master Tara Singh summarily rejected this attractive offer. The Maharaja of Patiala declined to accept it in consultation with Sardar Patel and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. 
  • Sixthly, on the 9th December, 1946, when the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held under the Chairmanship of Babu Rajendra Prasad, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru moved the first and the fundamental Resolution in which it was said: “Adequate safeguards would be provided for minorities… It was a declaration, a pledge and an undertaking before the world, a contract with millions of Indians, and, therefore, in the nature of an oath, which we must keep.” To take recourse to a solemn oath, to inspire confidence that might be betrayed when convenient, is quite in the political tradition of the Indian National Congress. On 16th March, 1931, Mahatma Gandhi came to a special Sikh congregation held in Gurdwara Sisganj, Delhi, where he was asked as to what guarantee there was that his Indian National Congress would implement the assurances, given to the Sikh people in 1929, at Lahore. His reply is published in his Young India, of the 19th March, 1931, and it contains the following: “Sardar Madhusudan Singh has asked for an assurance that the Congress would do nothing that might alienate sympathies of the Sikhs from the Congress. Well, the Congress, in its Lahore Session, passed a Resolution that it would not enter into or be a party to any settlement with regard to the minority question that failed to satisfy any of the minorities concerned. What further assurances the Congress can give to the Sikhs, I fail to understand. I ask you to accept my word and the Resolution of the Congress that it will not betray a single individual much less a community. If it ever thinks of doing so, it will only hasten its own doom’. I pray you, therefore, to unbosom yourselves of all your doubts… What more shall I say? What more can I say than this. Let God be the witness of the bond that binds me and the Congress with you”. When further asked as to what may the Sikhs do in case of betrayal he said, the Sikhs could, in that case, take their kirpans in hand with perfect justification before God and man. 
  • Seventhly, on the 17th May, 1947, Lord Mountbatten, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Nawab Liaqat Ali Khan and Sardar Beldev Singh, flew to London on the invitation of the British Cabinet, in search of final solution of the Indian communal problem. When the Congress and the Muslim League failed to strike any mutual understanding and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru decided to return to India, the British Cabinet leaders conveyed to Sardar Baldev Singh that, if he stays behind, arrangements might be made: “So as to enable the Sikhs to have political feet of their own on which they may walk into the current of World History.” Sardar Baldev Singh promptly divulged the contents of this confidential offer to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and in compliance with the latter’s wishes, declined to stay back and flew back to India after giving the following brave message to the Press: “The Sikhs have no demands to make on the British except the demand that they should quit India. Whatever political rights and aspirations the Sikhs have, they shall have them satisfied through the goodwill of the Congress and the majority community.” 
  • Eighthly, and lastly, in the month of July, 1947 the Hindu and Sikh members of the Punjab Legislative Assembly met at Delhi to pass a unanimous Resolution favouring partition of the country, in which Resolution occur the following words: “In the divided Indian Punjab, special constitutional measures are imperative to meet just aspirations and rights of the Sikhs.” It is these very Hindus of the Punjab, who, with the ready aid of the Government of India leaders, even when their understanding was not qualified to keep pace with the wishes of the heart, adopted every conceivable posture and shrank from no stratagem to keep Sikhs permanently under their political heel, first, by refusing to form a Punjabi-speaking State in which the Sikhs might acquire political effectiveness, and second, by falsely declaring that Panjabi was not their mother tongue. When in 1950, the present Constitution Act of India was enacted, the accredited representatives of the Sikhs the Shiromani Akali Dal declared vehemently and unambiguously in the Constituent Assembly that: “The Sikhs do not accept this Constitution: the Sikhs reject this Constitution Act”. Our spokesmen declined to append their signatures to the Constitution Act as a token of this clear and irrevocable rejection. The reply which Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave to Master Tara Singh in 1954, when the latter reminded him of the solemn undertaking previously given to the Sikhs on behalf of the majority community, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru coolly replied, The circumstances have now changed. If there is one thing that the Sikhs know too well, it is that now the circumstances have changed!

If there is one political crime greater than any other, the ruling party has committed during the post-Independence era; it is frequent employment of Judiciary for quasi-political purposes, and the result is that the Working Committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal has passed a Resolution on the 20th July, 1966, which reads: “AFTER HAVING CAREFULLY VIEWED the findings, the reports and judgements of judicial and quasi-judicial Tribunals and Forums that have dealt with matters and cases involving important Sikh interests, COMES TO THE CONCLUSION, that the entire judicial machinery and the judicial process of the Independent India, under influences of a certain section of political Hindus, is prejudiced and has been perverted against the Sikh people in India in relation to their just and legal rights”.

Constitutional provisions are not the same thing as day-to-day political realities. As for democracy, its form is one thing and its substance is quite another thing. Those who equate them are treacherous without art and hypocrites without deceiving. A modern State, that is, the Government, has four estates: Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Press. The concrete realities of these four alone can furnish an acid test as to whether the Sikh problem in India is a real problem or not. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

What is the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, and its origin?

  1. The Sikhs, like any other community, wherever they happen to be in any appreciable numbers, have a right to be dealt with as a civic group and an attempt to atomise this group for exercise of political power over them, constitutes an infringement of this right. The postulate behind this law of Sikh social constitution is that on the socio-political level, the significant unit is the group rather than the individual, for, it is the group which lays down norms of conduct for the individual,
     
  2.  Political subjugation or slavery is incompatible with the basic constitution of Sikh society,
     
  3.  It is the implied right of the Sikhs to assemble freely, as such, to consider and deliberate upon any matters, that they may deem as vital to their interests, irrespective of whether these matters are relevant to others, and
     
  4.  The Golden Temple, and by analogy, the other Sikh places of worship, have a theo-political status which is not a matter of concession by a political state, but is a right, sui generis.

These are the four socio-political doctrines which are a way of life, and it is these doctrines which impel a Sikh and the Sikhs to abhor personal rule or group-domination. It is in defiance of these basic human rights of the collective Sikh group, that they now seek to introduce the British constitution in Punjab, detailed under the British ‘Transfer of Power Act’ of 1947 or re-branded as the Anandpur Sahib Resolution: 

Whereas the Sikhs of India are a historically recognised political nation ever since the inauguration of the order of the Khalsa in the concluding years of the I 7th Century, and

Whereas, this status of the Sikh Nation has been internationally recognised and accepted by the major powers of Europe and Asia to France, England, Italy, Russia. China, Tibet, Persia (now Iran) Afghanistan, Nepal and the Company Bahadur, Fort William, Calcutta till the middle of the 19th century, and again, by the outgoing British and the Hindu Congress and the Muslim League of India in the middle of the 20th century , and

Whereas, the brute majority in India, in 1950, have imposed a constitutional arrangement in India which denudes the Sikhs of their political and cultural particularity, thus liquidating the Sikhs politically and exposing them to a spiritual death and cultural decay leading invariably to their submergence and dissolution into the saltish sea-waters of incohate Hinduism, and

Whereas, the Sikhs have been thus shackled and enslaved in unethical and cynical repudiation of solemn and binding commitments and public promises earlier made to the Sikhs, while the Sikh representatives in the  India Constituent Assembly, in 1950 refused to become a consenting party to those crocked arrangements and declined to affix their signatures to the official copy of the Constituent Act, thus promulgated, the Shiromani Akali Dal in the name and on behalf of the Sikhs,

Proclaim that the Sikhs are determined, by all legitimate means, to extricate and free themselves from this degrading and death-dealing situation so as to ensure firmly their honourable survival and salvage their inherent dignity in India, and their birth right to influence meaningfully the mainstream of world-history. The Sikhs, therefore,

  • Demand firstly, that an autonomous region in the north of India, should be set up forthwith wherein the Sikh interests are constitutionally recognised as of primary and special importance to the fundamental state policy.
     
  • Secondly, that this autonomous region should include the Punjab (of 1947), thus bringing main contiguous Sikh population and traditional Sikh habitats within this autonomous Sikh region, as an integral part of the Union of india.
     
  • Thirdly, this Sikh autonomous region may be declared as entitled to frame its own internal constitution on the basis of having all powers to and for itself except; Foreign Affairs, Defence, Currency and General Communications to remain as subjects within jurisdiction of the Federal Indian Government.

Such a political system will secure Sikh rights, and avoid the tragedies of the 1984 military attack on the Golden Temple, and the genocide of Sikhs which followed. *

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

Some reasons why the Sikhs should now disobey the Akal Takhat Jathedar.

It is accepted that this appears to be a serious question concerning Sikh political theology, however, the reason to ignore the injunctions of the Jathedar will become evident by reading the below passages.

Guru Gobind Singh’s direction

Never in the history of Sikhism has it been demanded or has it been accepted by the body of the Khalsa that they should be put under police regimentation or some central authority, in control of certain individuals that should dictate to them as to how they are to behave. The only allegiance of a true Khalsa and of a true Sikh is to the doctrine and to God, to the Guru and to Truth. 

Guru as the harbinger of the Truth, and Truth the revelation which God has made for the benefit and guidance of mankind. Guru Gobind Singh, when he left this world said, "Henceforth the authority of the doctrine and the destiny rests with Guru Granth, and the determination of policy is with the body of the Khalsa"—not with any centralized regimented body, but the body of the Khalsa. What is Khalsa? Guru Gobind Singh said, "Wherever five Sikhs who are fully committed to the doctrines of the Guru and who live according to the teachings of the Gurus, in their meditation concentrate on the Guru, that is the Khalsa."

 

Governmental direction to despose of Guru HarGobind’s Institution

From the above, those acquainted with Khalsa sovereignty, will have to question why the Akal Takhat was relegated to secondary position, reporting subserviently to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which in turn is answerable to the Central Government of India. The SGPC employs puppet Jathedars, a position that was reserved to the Panth Khalsa, through appointment.

The SGPC is a statutory body created by a statute of a small state in India, to manage the financial and secular affairs of certain Gurdwaras and historical Sikh shrines which have considerable property attached to them. That law can be changed, that law can be transgressed. How is that a secular law of a small state in India is binding upon the very Sikhs who were attacked by Indian military?

By this point you should be thinking, is this seriously how it is? for this set-up appears misconceived and invalid, and seeks to destroy the genius of the Khalsa. Surely, there must be some kind of misunderstanding. You may well be thinking, ‘if I disobey the Jathedar will I be declared a heretic? In fact, it is contrary, you’re more likely to be disobeying the Guru if you follow these spurious SGPC injunctions. You must remember that Guru TeghBahadur was turned away from entering the precincts of the Harimander Sahib (the Golden Temple).

 

The history of the wording; ‘Jathedar’ and the methodology for Khalsa success

The words "Jathedar" and "Meet Jathedar" are terms which were coined by the Sikhs when they regimented themselves for martial purposes. The word "Jathedar" appears in Sikh history for the first time round about 1730. After Guru Gobind Singh the Sikhs created a sovereign state and after five or six years that state fell and then the Sikhs had to pass through the valley of death. And a stage came when the government reports showed that Sikhs did not exist, they had become extinct. There was no Sikh to be seen. Then the Sikhs who were sent back to their homes after the collapse of the Sikh Republic which was founded around Sirhind, were engaged in peaceful activities of agriculture. For about twenty years they were subjected to great persecutions, the parallel of which is not to be found in the history of any religion. During that period, round about 1723 or 1724, when Bhai Mani Singh, the first Granthi (priest) of the Siri Harimander Sahib, was arrested and hacked to pieces, it was at that time that wherever the Sikhs happened to be they were persecuted by the state. It is recorded in Giani Gian Singh’s Panth Parkash that about 50 to 66 Sikhs collected at Amritsar on the occasion of Baishakhi, and at night time after reciting ‘Rahiraas’, they held a meeting. One Sikh stood and said, "We had, under the directions of the Guru, established the sovereign republic. Our next step was to establish our political hegemony in the whole world of India, and then to go forward. But we have failed, and now, knowing that we have no power left, we have retired back to our original homes, and engaged ourselves as humble agriculturists. But even as labourers and humble agriculturists, we are not allowed to live in peace. Look, what has happened. We have been harassed, we have been persecuted, each one of us, and now has come the turn of the saint martyr, the unique intellectual amongst the Sikhs. A most learned man, Bhai Mani Singh, has been cruelly hacked to pieces. Now we must do something." And they asked, "What can we do? We are so few, and the state power is so strong and so well-entrenched, we are simply helpless." And then a man whose name we do not know but whose words are recorded said, “Sires of the Khalsa, as far as I can see, there is no way out for us except for us to turn our faces once again toward the Guru." He was asked to explain himself. He said, "The Guru has conferred upon us the sovereignty of the earth. And we have become humble slaves and citizens. Let us rise and take what belongs to us, the sovereignty. Let us lay our claim to sovereignty, to full sovereignty, and to total sovereignty. Either the throne or the scaffold should be our objective. Liberty or death. No third alternative." And there was a shout, an instinctive shout of "Sat-Siri-Akal". But then someone said, "What and how?" They agreed, “That is for the Guru. Let us make a start. We are sixty. All right, let us spread out into five groups and let each have one Jathedar, and let these five go back to their villages. Then after one year they should come back here on this very occasion of Baisakhi, and bring with them more men enlisted in their jathas, (that was a word used then), more men and arms from wherever you can procure them. Then we can contemplate the next step."

Though the Sikhs underwent a great many sacrifices, and their sufferings lasted thirty to forty years, in the end they emerged as a sovereign people. This is the first time the word "Jathedar" was used. And when the Sikhs waged a confrontation and movement against the Britishers for the recapture and re-control of the Gurdwaras, then they again formed themselves under the leadership of individuals they called Jathedars.

 

A brief history of the Akal Takhat

By tradition Sikhs have four Takhats. Takhat is the throne of sovereignty. Takhat is a Persian word that means the throne of sovereignty. The original word, before the Muslims came to India, for the throne of sovereignty was ‘Singhaasan’ meaning ‘seat of the lion’. The first Takhat (Akal) was established by Guru Hargobind, in circa 1607. 

After Banda Singh Bahadur (d.1716) the Khalsa chose the Jathedar, on a system of meritocracy and commitment to the Guru Granth and Guru Panth. It was only when the British came and annexed the Punjab, that they started appointing a government nominated Jathedar. Then Akal Takhat became merely a slave place for about one hundred years. As long as the British remained there, the Akal Takhat was just another institution under the control of the local British officer at Amritsar. After that, when this Gurdwara movement started for the direct control of the Gurdwaras by the collectivity of the Sikhs, through the mechanism of Anglo-Saxon method of democratic vote, at that time when the lists of the Gurdwaras were prepared this Act was to apply to Punjab only. And in Punjab at that time, only two Takhats existed: one, the Keshghar Sahib, the other Akal Takhat Sahib. They were included in that list of the holy Gurdwaras which are to be managed by the Committee (SGPC). Sikhs said, "How are we going to have these Takhats under our control? These Takhats are the focal point of Sikh sovereignty. What shall we do with the Jathedar? Who shall appoint the Jathedar? What will be the relationship of the Jathedar with the SPGC, which is only a statutory body?” And proposals were made that these Takhats should be left out of the purview of the new Act which was going to be enacted, that the Takhats should not be under the control of the management of the SGPC. But Master Tara Singh in particular and some others, they said, "No. We must control Akal Takhat and Keshghar Sahib so we won’t be influenced by the British, so we can condemn and damn the British from these two Takhats”. That was the argument given. Whatever the real intentions was shall never be known. From 1925 onwards the Jathedars, so-called, I should say, because a real Jathedar is not an [government] appointee, a Jathedar of Akal Takhat and a Jathedar of Keshghar Sahib Takhat, were appointed as employees of the SGPC. They drew salaries and they carried out whatever instruction the SGPC gave them. That condition continues. *

 

The way forward

The solution to this slavery of Sikh institutions, is to revert to the Khalsa methodology as seen through the Khalsa’s septinate political policy. In short, the appointment of the Jathedar should be from the Khalsa Panth, the SGPC should not preside over the Akal Takhat, in fact, it should be made an administrative body serving the Akal Takhat. There should be no regional or central governmental involvement. 

 

The test

A true Jathedar will not issue senseless injunctions on sexuality, banning intellectuals from the community or abstaining from sitting on chairs, rather he will be issuing injunctions on matters pertaining Sikh sovereignty, for example, to;

  1.  afford Amritsar ‘Vatican-City-Status’,
  2.  direct all Sikh witnesses in court to take oath on the Vedas until India repel their discriminatory Constitution,
  3.  direct all Sikhs serving in the Indian paramilitary and police forces to resign from their posts, and seek alternative similar employment elsewhere,
  4.  issuing Nanakshahi currency, instead of the Indian rupee
  5.  establishing the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, for greater peace and prosperity.

This is not an exhaustive list, but Sikhs would be able to garner a true Jathedar from a disingenuous candidate.

* We are grateful to Professor Kapur Singh, whose insight of Sikh affairs have been partially reproduced in this section.

UK Government involvement in the attack on the Golden Temple and its failure to respect the Human Rights of Sikhs in the Genocide of 1984

Q: UK Government involvement in the attack on the Golden Temple and its failure to respect the Human Rights of Sikhs in the Genocide of 1984

 

A:

Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living---Guru Nanak

Truth is high, but higher still is trade—1984 UK Government.

 

London: (08 Feb 2014); On Tuesday 4th February representatives of many Sikh organisations met with Rt Hon Hugo Swire, Minister MP at the Foreign Office to express concerns over the Cabinet Secretary’s Report on revelations on UK government support for Indian Army action against Sikhs in the Golden Temple.

 

SUMMARY

UK Sikhs are particularly concerned that despite a promised full inquiry, the Terms of Reference of the Report appear to have been designed to mitigate embarrassment resulting from incriminating documents inadvertently coming into the public domain. The Report of the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood is selective in its examination of documentation and concludes that British involvement was minimal. No mention is made of the background of a decade of increasingly active persecution of Sikhs by the Congress government as detailed in reports by Amnesty International and other human rights organisation.

 

The then Cabinet’s collective bias against Sikhs in the released papers is seen in a consistent labelling of Sikhs with a pick and mix assortment of pejorative descriptions such as separatist, dissident, extremist, fundamentalist etc. to produce a negative image of the community. The documents also showed the absence of a single word of sympathy for the thousands killed in the attack on the Golden Temple on one of the holiest days in the Sikh calendar and the organised widespread killing of Sikhs later in the year. The Inquiry Report instead seeks to show minimal UK military involvement.

 

The unanswered question remains why and on what criteria the UK government decided to accede to the then Indian government request for military assistance against India’s 2% Sikh community.

 

DETAILED CONCERNS

 

Trade of greater importance than Human Rights of Sikhs 

Lord Singh, Director NSO was invited to meet the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood on 21st January. He explained the hurt and sense of betrayal felt by UK Sikhs over the revelations of British government involvement. The Cabinet Secretary’s response was that his task was simply to look at all documentation and report accordingly. When Lord Singh mentioned that the documents showed that the only concern of the then government seemed to be that a lack of support for the Indian government might jeopardise arms exports, he received the astonishing response from the Cabinet Secretary that he and his team were unaware of any arms trade implications in the papers. Lord Singh responded that he had seen several references to arms sales to India being under threat, and at the Cabinet Secretary’s request, gave his office details of a Cabinet document dated 22 November 1984, referring to a five billion pound arms contract.

 

Cabinet papers reveal several other references to arms sale concerns. A two-hour search by an NSO researcher at the National Records Office at Kew, found additional material and importantly evidence of key documents being removed. It has since been confirmed that the missing file related to ‘military intelligence relating to India for 1984’.

Lord Singh also informed Sir Jeremy Heywood of a personal experience when he went to see a former Cabinet member in November 1984 to express concern over UK government silence over the widespread organised killing of Sikhs throughout India. The staggering response was ‘Indarjit, we know exactly what is going on, it’s very difficult; we’re walking on a tightrope: we have already lost one important contract’. 

 

Cabinet papers show that all members of the then Cabinet wilfully ignored the reality of the persecution of Sikhs in India despite evidence then available.

The UK consistently says that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. Yet a policy decision seems to have been taken by the 1984 Cabinet to give unquestioning support to a Congress government with democratically tainted credentials in military action against India’s minority Sikh community. The decision ignored widely available evidence of the systematic persecution of Sikhs. This freely available evidence included:

 

A detailed report by Amnesty International in 1983 (AI Index: ASA 20/01/84 Distr: SC/CO) documenting widespread human rights abuses by the government.

 

A Report by highly respected Hindu civil rights lawyers entitled ‘Who Are the Guilty’, was smuggled out of India in November 84 and personally placed by Lord Singh in the pigeonholes of every MP.

 

A presentation was also given to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights who unanimously decided to send a two man investigating team to India. The Indian Government refused them visas. They appealed saying that their inquiry would help reduce tensions in the UK. They were still refused visas.

 

Censorship of foreign journalists.

Jane Corbyn, a highly respected journalist from Channel 4, in India at the time of the organised killing of Sikhs in the first week of November, had her film confiscated by the Indian authorities. She did however manage to smuggle a duplicate copy to the UK. This censorship of foreign journalists is mentioned in the documents and was only relaxed after the end of the organised killings of Sikhs throughout India.

 

Perusal of the released papers also reveals Cabinet discussions on the need to curb the UK media against allowing any reporting or interviews about or with Sikhs that might offend the Indian government. 

 

Unhelpful use of pejorative language in Cabinet papers to tarnish the image of UK Sikhs.

Reading through the documents gives the impression that anyone who expressed concern over the plight of Sikhs in India was immediately labelled an extremist by the UK government.

 

The papers show several examples of government pressure on the media to deny Sikhs a voice.

 

This use of pejorative language to smear a religious minority (referred to earlier) is underlined by Lord Singh’s personal experience. In November 84, two Scotland Yard officers visited him early on a Sunday morning. They said they were concerned about tensions in the Sikh community and asked Lord Singh if he was ‘an extremist or a moderate’? To emphasise the absurdity of such terms he replied he was ‘extremely moderate’. They then asked if he supported Sikh fundamentalism, to which he replied that the fundamentals of Sikh teachings were about the equality of all human beings, respect for other ways of life and a commitment to work for the betterment of society, ‘Yes I do try to be a Sikh fundamentalist’.

 

ACTION DESIRED

The present government cannot be blamed for what happened 30 years ago. But the Cabinet in 1984 must have been aware that the day chosen for the attack on the Golden Temple was the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan, (the founder of the Golden Temple) when the huge Temple complex was full to overflowing with innocent pilgrims. The reason given was to remove supposed extremists. The unanswered question is why then were 40 other gurdwaras in Punjab attacked at the same time? Today the UK government should reflect on the continuing hurt of the Sikh community, including the then government giving unthinking support to the cruel and vindictive Mrs Gandhi. To many outside the Sikh community, the events of 1984 are, in the words of the poet, ’dying embers’; to Sikhs they remain ‘red hot coals’ now fanned afresh by the revelation of British government involvement.

 

The events of 1984 damaged the previous close relationship and mutual respect between the Hindu and Sikh communities. 30 years after the event it is time for an open, independent inquiry that that punishes the guilty and leads to healing and closure.

 

Two of the three main political parties in India have openly declared their support for such an inquiry, and even Raul Gandhi speaking for the Congress has agreed that there was Congress involvement in the genocide.

 

Sikhs in the UK call on the government and UK political parties to give their strong backing for a long due open inquiry. In response to a question from Paul Uppal MP, in the Commons, the Foreign Secretary obliquely supported the need for such an inquiry; it should now be given support at the highest government level.

 

Sikhs are duty bound to stand up for the human rights of all people (Sarbat Da Bhalla), and in this spirit we call on the UK government to show that the subordination of human rights to arms sales to any part of the world is no longer present policy. If the UK government does not do this it forfeits any moral right to lecture other countries on the abuse of human rights.

 

 

Lord Indarjit Singh of Wimbledon