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Debate: Sikh, Dera need patience

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. Archived_Member16

    Archived_Member16
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    http://www.ibnlive.com/news/debate-sikh-dera-need-patience/43810-3.html

    Debate: Sikh, Dera need patience



    CNN-IBN

    [​IMG]


    New Delhi: It’s Sikh versus Sikh in Punjab once again. The Dera Sacha Sauda issue is set to become a major political crisis. Punjab’s Akali government has cleared the arrest of Dera chief Baba Gurmeet Singh Ram Raheem, even though the Baba has already apologised twice to the Akal Takht for appearing in an advertisement dressed as a Sikh guru.

    Is the Prakash Singh government playing with fire by trying to appease radical elements in the state? And why is the Dera issue being politicized and blown out of proportion? To answer that on CNN-IBN Face the Nation was Rajya Sabha MP and Former Chairman of National Minorities Commission Tarlochan Singh with Social Activist Swami Agnivesh.

    Punjab clears Dera chief's arrest: Does Sikhism needs to become more tolerant?

    Tarlochan Singh who is close to the Akali government, was asked as to what is the crime that the head of the Dera Sacha Sauda has committed. All that the Dera chief did was that he dressed up as a guru in an advertisement, for which he has already apologized twice.

    Yet, the Prakash Singh Badal government wants to arrest him on charges of “disgracing” the Sikh religion. Is the issue being politicized to benefit some select elements? Is this au all a political vendetta?

    “The issue is not at all political, but a purely religious one, where the identity of the Sikh minority is at stake. The minority community has to watch its own interest. The Sikh community cannot tolerate anyone trying to minimize the role of Sikh gurus or imitating out religious founders,” said Tarlochan Singh.

    The Akal Takht supporter said that there is a clear difference between media’s perception and the one of the ruling Akalis on the entire Dera controversy.

    “Look at history and we have shown enough tolerance even in the worst conditions. Our gurus were butchered, tortured and slain. But we never attacked back. This time, our religion is being ridiculed and hence we cannot tolerate it,” said Singh.

    But, is the strife between Dera Sacha Sauda and Akal Takht a proxy political battle? The Deras supported the Congress in the previous elections—one of the probable reasons why Prakash Singh Badal government is now going out for the Deras. The entire standoff is being viewed as a politics of vendetta on Badal’s part.

    “I can tell you from my personal experience that when I went to Dera Chiefs to help him wriggle out of the situation, he made me stand for whole 10 hours outside his camp in Sirsa. And he would not come up with a simple apology,” social activist Swami Agnivesh said.

    But why should Baba ram Rahim apologies anymore? What is so criminal about just wearing a costume that resembles one worn by a religious guru? Can someone who just dresses up like a guru, damage a great faith like Sikhism?



    A deeper philosophical question that confronts modern Sikhism is—whether it’s the Nirankaris sect, the Namdhari sect or the Dera Sacha Sauda—why does the Sikh clergy sees these sects as religious pollutants or those trying to damage the identity of their religion?

    “You have to understand the perception of the minority community. Look at Muslims, a simple cartoon of Mohammad Sahab sent the Islamic community up in flames. Sikhs are offended much the same way,” said swami Agnivesh.

    Responding to the issue of minority communities, Tarlochan Singh said, “India recognizes only one minority which is Muslims. For them, even the government can go to any extent. But when something wrong happens with Sikh community, we are told to get modernized in our view.”

    “We are great because we have the best message for the world. But we cannot tolerate humiliation. We have tolerance but that doesn’t mean we do away our principles,” he added.

    While the controversy does not seem to end, some pinpoint to the fact that stiff competition between the mainstream institutional religions and the small sects, is responsible for the row.

    These tiny sects give voice to the poor, do welfare work and hence manage to gather huge number of followers. Dera Sacha widely popular because it has given acceptance and support to dalits and backward casts whereas the mainstream Sikh religion is made of rich Jat Sikhs.

    Responding to the issue, Tarlochan Singh said, “We have no dispute with them. They can carry on whatever they are doing but they must not forget their limits. They should not disgrace other religions.”

    “Dera has a right to exist but within lawful limits,” said Swami Agnivesh. “The Dera chief must be arrested on the CBI charges against him that involve serious offences like rape and murder,” he concluded.

    Final Results: Does Sikhism needs to become more tolerant?

    Yes: 85 per cent of the viewers said, the Sikhs need to be more tolerant towards other sects and religious groups while 15 per cent said no.
     
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  3. satwant

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    I was totally unaware that the Sikhs in punjab in fact go and pray to a human being and not the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Why is such a thing being allowed to exist?

    Yhis man seems to be mighty powerful just by reading what has been going on from the interntet. It seems that he so powerful that not even the government has been able to control him. I may be completely wrong but it seems that men of higher standing have been visiting him and asking for blessings rather than going to gurdwara.

    It truly baffles me that the land where the Sikh Gurus were born has no longer any respect becasue the Sikhs in punjab have been going to places called deras and seeking blessing. how shameful. The world calls PUnjab the holy land of the Sikhs but it seems that this statement will no longer seem to hold any truth as the dera would be order of the day eventually.
     
  4. spnadmin

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    Soul_jyot ji,

    This article says a lot about how distortions become part of a public dialog, as if distortions are factual realities. The article is a good topic for discussion (maybe debate). Thanks for posting it.

    My reaction:
    When a person follows this story over the weeks but is reading with western eyes, it is hard to know what to say about the main theme- should Sahib be arrested for imitating Guru Gobind ji and offending Sikhs? Most of us don't know enough about India, today and yesterday, to fully understand the question. But is not hard to be repulsed by Sahib's behavior.

    What is a person supposed to think about this statement from an established news organization, CNN-IBN?

    Dera Sacha widely popular because it has given acceptance and support to dalits and backward casts whereas the mainstream Sikh religion is made of rich Jat Sikhs.

    Now from reading Indian news articles on the Internet for a few years, even I know that the mainstream Sikh religion is not "made of rich Jat Sikhs". There a many mainstream Sikhs who are poor, extremely poor, and do not turn to Sahib for help. The statement was passed off as if it were true, without comment

    Another finding - the results of a poll. 85 per cent of the viewers said, the Sikhs need to be more tolerant towards other sects and religious groups while 15 per cent said no. This statement is mystifying. Somehow the entire event got turned around and it is Sikhs who are at fault. They are not tolerant enough. Again, no commentary. At this point the ugly American says, "Duh?"

    So far Sahib has not been arrested or had his day in court for rape, murder and extortion. Next he goes about taunting "the intolerant Sikhs" who the newsmedia describe as being pig-headed about their gurus, as usual.

    So whether one believes that Sahib should be arrested or not for offending Sikhs, it is a fact that Sikhs were offended, and the natural response to this should be one of dismay. It is incredible that somehow Sikhs have been turned into the wrong-doers. It just may be time for the table to turn.

    I am still in a fog after reading this article. But thank you. It is a learning experience.
     
  5. prabhjits

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    Well, I have been following the events in Punjab since it started. There are several issues at play here:
    - Sikhism as the main religions vs SIkhs following other cults
    - marginalisation of lower class SIkhs vs acceptance of higher classes
    - racial tolerance in a multi-racial community
    - politics vs religion, or shd politics interfere in religions matters

    The whole matter is very very complicated. On the one hand we have someone masquerading as a Sikh Guru, and he claims its acceptable that he can dress any way he likes. There is not hard law or decision that anyone cannot dress the same way as the Sikh Gurus, so he says.

    Yes, to a western point of view, this seems a logical matter, and based on principles of democracy, anyone shd be allowed to dress any way they wish. Yes, and these are the same western people who flouted racial sensitivities
    by drawing up images of the Prophet Mohammad and making a mockery of Islam.

    But in all seriousness, I have to agree with Satwant's point of view, as what is happening to the Sikhs in Punjab? Is it so easy to start following other cults and abandon Sikhism?

    The level of corruption in the state and the government machinery is too deep. Politics there is all about where can you get the highest number of votes. Even if you have to play dirty and compromise Sikhi principles and make deals with the devil.

    I found this analysis by tehelka.com so illuminating about the whole incident. When are the Punjabis gonna wake up and see who are manipulating them in the background?

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main30.asp?filename=Ne020607Sword_and_CS.asp

    Also read the other articles listed below this article.

    We can only hope the Punjabis (residents of Punjab) learnt the bitter lessons from the last, ill-fated Khalistan movement, and how the politicians worked in the background to engineer the whole fiasco.
     
  6. spnadmin

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    prahbjits ji

    All your points are well-taken. They have been very clearly stated by you and echoed in many editorials in Sikh publications, and even here on the forum. And Satwant's point about high level personalities paying their respects to the Dera leader are all correct.

    Let me repeat, the behavior of the Dera leader is repulsive.

    Politicians here are playing both ends and maybe this time they cannot get out of the trap they set for themselves. This is politics, no question. And tragic in Punjab. Your news link should shed more light on this for western readers.

    I still say that media (CNN-IBN) is not being responsible, and it is even culpable, when it stereotypes mainstream Sikhs as rich, and publishes a poll describing them as intolerant, when neither statement is true. That is irresponsible and keeps the conversation at the level of name-calling and accusation. How does that help?

    Thanks nonetheless.
     
  7. satwant

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    I agree that the whole focus from the time of the dera episode started touched on how the Sikhs will react. I am glad that the Sikhs had not taken steps that would have fueled another riot and the Sikhs rights would have been curtailed by the state and the government. Everyone blamed the Sikhs in 1985. i read practically most of the articles of 1985 and none blamed Indira Gandhi for invading Amritsar. the blame lay on Sant Bindhrawalem and the Sikhs. Rightly or wrongly what Sant did cannot equate to Indira invading a sikh grudwara. If this had been muslim issue, would she have invaded the mosque?

    Deja vu 2007. No one blames the Dear cheif but the Sikhs for taking up issues for making a mockery of our religion. The credit than can be taken from this episode is that the Sikhs are wise and treated the issue with maturity. But i would like to qualify that by testing the tolerance of the Sikhs will lead to a volcano eruption one day when the tolerance level reaches zero.

    Why is the Dear chief not arrested baffles me? There have been reports before about him abusing his position but no action taken. Is punjab so huge that the police does not know where he is? Or is like aad0002 said, it is the game politicians are playing but with the lives of the Sikhs. Little do they realise that they are playing with the lives of their fellow Sikhs.

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
     

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