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Prem Sumarag - Have you read it?

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by dalsingh, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. dalsingh

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    I've just read a translation of Prem Sumarag by the notorious Mr. McLeod. Has anyone read it. What do you make of it. Any chance of some intelligent discussion on it?
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    Dalsingh ji

    Where did you find/buy/get the book? I would try to read it and be part of a discussion. I cannot promise intelligent discussion :crazy:-- McLoed is not someone who is easy for some of us to read in a quiet detached way :}8-:


    We could try! :D
     
  4. dalsingh

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    I'm no big fan of McLeod myself. I try and detach myself and remember that he is essentially writing from a sceptical western perspective and may have some innate fear of Sikhism driving his attacks on fundamental beliefs.

    The book is on amazon (i'm presuming your in the states):

    Amazon.com: Prem Sumarag: The Testimony of a Sanatan Sikh: W. H. McLeod: Books

    Better you get it from a library.

    I must confess that I did find aspects of it fascinating. Personally I'm guessing it is from the latter part of the 18th century at earliest. Also I don't think it represents a common Khalsa soldiers perspective. But its subject matter (especially the bit on statecraft) is fascinating. I know some people think it is a modern forgery.
     
  5. Archived_Member1

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    it was first published in the 1950s with an introduction from Bhai Randir Singh ji. i wonder how much the McCloud translation differs from the punjabi?

    apparently the first manuscript dates to 1801.

    do you think McCloud added the "sanatan sikh" bit to the title? it doesn't seem to be in the original printing...
     
  6. spnadmin

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    Dalsingh ji,

    A context that is needed and is in NO way a support of McLeod. But nonetheless factual and needs to be in place. The Singh Saba Movement was an 20th Century event that shaped the way Sikhi is defined today. Prior to Singh Saba and even afterward hard and fast lines between and among sects of Sikhism were not in place. So when we look at any question we have the distance of time to consider -- a modern lens so to speak. The tradition of looking to human Gurus and even Hindu sidhus for guidance in matters big and small was a common cultural pattern among Sikhs in the Punjab in the 19th Century. And that makes a difference when we are trying to define "sanatan" then and now in terms of how we react to it, or how an historian will describe the interface of "sanatan" and Sikhism.

    My statement is not intended as a major consideration in this discussion, but just something to keep in mind. McLeod himself has seemed to be working within a vector that emphasizes earlier cultural traditions.
     
  7. Archived_Member1

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    i believe this is a misconception. RSS and Sanatan Sikhs like to encourage this idea in order to promote the idea of Sikhi as a sect of hinduism. but from the moment the Khalsa was born, there was a very distinct organized and well defined religion for Sikhs. you can find the first sects or splits immediately after Guru Gobind Singh ji left his human body.

    read up on the history of Tat Khalsa (the original, not the singh sabha movement) and Bandi Khalsa to see the first schism in the panth.
     
  8. spnadmin

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    I would be glad to supply historical documentation from outside of the RSS/Sanatan movement. Documentation that predates the formation of RSS, or uses sources from the 19th Century.
     
  9. Archived_Member1

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    ok, so if before the singh sabha movement there were no sects, please explain the original tat khalsa and bandi khalsa. also damdami taksal and the original nirankari movement (not the anti-panthic sant nirankaris), as well as the naamdharis.

    even BEFORE the Khalsa was formed, the followers of Ram Rai tried to form their own sect... they still have gurdwaras in dehradun.

    as with any faith, sects and schisms have always existed among sikhs. it's unfortunate, but it's true.

    but of course i'd love to read more history. :)
     
  10. spnadmin

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    Read again. Who said there were no sects? This is what I said,

    Prior to Singh Saba and even afterward hard and fast lines between and among sects of Sikhism were not in place.

    This statement says there were sects, but boundaries were not the same as they are today.

    ;) I will be happy to clarify further.

     
  11. dalsingh

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    I understand your point. But I also think the historical role of much western "historiography" also needs to be considered. This was previously used as a tool to validate/justify colonialism and demean and undermine cultures rightly or wrongly. Some of us feel that often some academic institutes or pursuits still continue in this fashion albeit to a lesser degree.

    In my view McLeod is one such guy. He does fascinating research but it is tinged with a very supercilious attitude. That is my opinion of much of McLeod's work. Personally I feel he is projecting his own gripes with his own previous religious belief on Sikhism.

    He uses a reductionalist approach towards studying Sikhism that tries to identify all the bricks and mortar that make up Sikhism from what was before. But in doing this he fails to see the whole "house". His perspective, although interesting, is only a partial understanding of Sikhs.

    By the way I agree that looking into Sikh history uncovers all manner of practices that Sikhs today would find strange (to say the least). That does not detract from the fact that 300 odd years ago a unique way of life was enunciated. That along the passage of time much original Sikh belief may have been scrambled, presumably due to the dangerous havoc of the 18th century, doesn't take anything away from that. Part of our journey is to explore our past - warts and all. I'm not scared of that.

    Any confident people define themselves and this definition evolves overtime with communities. Sikhs are no exception. For outside people, like McLeod, to try and tell Sikhs what they are is the absolute height of mental colonialism, where natives are too dumb to know themselves and need to be "educated" and amongst themselves those conducting the "research" snigger at the stupidity of those they study.

    Enough of McLeod. This is about Prem Sumarag. lol

    Jasleen you are right - I'm sure McLeod added the Sanatan label to it.


    What I found really interesting was the last section on statecraft. Just the fact that some people were exploring governmental tactics/policies.
     
  12. Archived_Member1

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    please do. i do not understand the distinction.
     
  13. Harjas Kaur Khalsa

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    Arya Samaj predates RSS to about the 1870's. And even before the organization of Arya Samaj, splinter Udasis, Nirmalas, and Mahants attempted to create sanatan Sikhism. Prior to Singh Sabha movement the Nirankari reform of the 1850's resisted this Hinduization of Gursikhi. And prior to Maharaja Ranjit Singhs empire, in the 1700's the Dal Khalsa under the Sikh Misls ruled Punjab and were not in any way sanatan. Sanatan corruptions of Sikhism are a later historical development.

    Singh Sabha Tat Khalsa started in 1879 as a reform reacting to the corruptions that began occuring during and after the Kingdom of Maharaja Rangit Singh, when the Arya Samaj together with sanatan Nirmalay and Udasi sects had taken control of Gurdwaras and put Hindu devas in them. Singh Sabha went back over the Sikh history, evaluating rehitnamay, various granths such as Prem Sumarag, Sarbloh Granth, Sri Dasam Granth, Mukti Marg, Gur Bilases, etc. And tried to make comprehensible sense out of what in some cases was conflicting in light of Gurbani.

    Much of this forms the basis of the SGPC Rehit Maryada of 1951, the contentions to the Rehit Maryada by DDT and AKJ (Bhai Sahib Bhai Randhir Singh Ji was one of the scholars of the Gurdwara Reform Movement and honored by all 5 Takhts.) A lot of the practices of AKJ which other Jathas interpret as strict come from rare and not well know sources such as these janam sakis and rehitnamay. (The earliest janam-sakhis were written in 1500's by Bhai Bala). The point is, Singh Sabha sought a return to the Tat (true) Khalsa, the original, not the movement. And wanted to restore the original Sikh religion as much as possible from historical sources. And in any event, Sikh historical writings far predate the Arya Samaj and bear no resemblance to Udasis or Nirmalas.

    BTW the earliest version of Prem Sumarag is 1701. And in Prem Sumarag is the teaching of Saas Giras Simran as practiced by AKJ today.
    They too fought for India's freedom ... - Google Book Search

    Mcleod calls the work sanatan, which is unfortunate. It is sanatan in the sense that Sri Dasam Granth is sanatan because it believes in Hindu gods. But just as close examination of Sri Dasam Granth you will find Guruji taught the Sikhs not to worship them but to worship the Akal. So this is unfortunately a literary bias. If you read Shabadguru Ji, you will find belief in Hindu devas, but a distinctly clear instruction not to worship them but the one God alone who is far above them.

    Not being sanatan doesn't mean not having resemblance to Hinduism. Sanatan is Hindu religion, making worship of Hindu gods prerequisite, such as claiming the name of god in Gurbani Ram, refers to Hindu deva Ram. So sanatanism is not part of Gursikhi. Gursikhi is expressly distinct while building on a foundation and tradition that included Hinduism: the vedas, puranas, simritis, shastras, etc, as well as the Koran and even Christian Bible, kateb. Obviously Guruji was a Master of all these writings. He expounded on the major principles and even made corrections. If you read Gurbani, not only does it talk about Hindu devs but chakras, reincarnation, etc. So it is NOT a Vaishnavite error on part of Jathas like AKJ, but a broader understanding of Sikhism in light of Gurbani and Sikh historical literature. Sikhism is a religion founded with Vaishnavite and Sufi saints. And it says something that these Sikh scholars at the time of Singh Sabha were clear Sikhism is NOT a sect of Hindu religion. Not for political purposes, but because the Sikh history and Gurbani was so unequivocally clear.

    ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਾਦੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਵੇਦੰ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਈ ॥
    guramukh naadhan guramukh vaedhan guramukh rehiaa samaaee ||
    The Guru's Word is the Sound-current of the Naad; the Guru's Word is the Wisdom of the Vedas; the Guru's Word is all-pervading.

    ਗੁਰੁ ਈਸਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਗੋਰਖੁ ਬਰਮਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਰਬਤੀ ਮਾਈ ॥
    gur eesar gur gorakh baramaa gur paarabathee maaee ||
    The Guru is Shiva, the Guru is Vishnu and Brahma; the Guru is Paarvati and Lakhshmi.
    ~SGGS Ji p. 2

    Sikhism isn't a true monotheism in the sense that Abrahamic religions teach and denounce idolatry of strange gods. Sikhism is a monotheism that is polytheistic in the sense that Akal Purakh is pervading all, and that All-ness is Ek Oangkar. And ultimately the salvation of Sikhism is finding the True Guru within and merging with the Infinite Lord. What is the difference between Omkar and Oangkar? Most Hindu scriptures begin with Om or Aum.

    is a radical concept to the traditional Omkar. It distinguishes that the Oangkar is really one, not a trinity, not a multiplicity. Nevertheless, everything is manifested within that One, unity of the Primal Being. Vaaran Bhai Gurdas :Vaar3Pauri15:SearchGurbani.com

    So this is an example where Guruji takes a Hindu concept and turns it on it's head and makes an entirely new concept out of it. Bhagwati means goddess in Sanskrit. Commonly it relates to goddess Durga. But Guruji also uses Bhaguati as the concept of Akal in the sword.


    ਤੈ ਹੀ ਦੁਰਗਾ ਸਾਜਿ ਕੈ ਦੈਤਾ ਦਾ ਨਾਸੁ ਕਰਾਇਆ ॥
    Tai hoo Durgaa saaj(i) kai daigaa daa naas(u) karaaiaa||
    O Lord! By creating Durga, Thou hast caused the destruction of demons.
    ~Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji p. 298

    The Gurbani is very clear, whether it is Shabadguru Ji or Dasam Granth bani, the Oangkar is primary, but all the Hindu devas are created from it. And all the Hindu devas are subordinate to it. And Guruji makes no inconsistency in saying Gurmukhs serve only the Oangkar.


    ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਉਤਪਤਿ ॥
    ouankaar brehamaa outhapath ||
    From Ongkaar, the One Universal Creator God, Brahma was created.

    ਓਅੰਕਾਰੁ ਕੀਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਚਿਤਿ ॥
    ouankaar keeaa jin chith ||
    He kept Ongkaar in his consciousness.

    ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਸੈਲ ਜੁਗ ਭਏ ॥
    ouankaar sail jug bheae ||
    From Ongkaar, the mountains and the ages were created.

    ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਬੇਦ ਨਿਰਮਏ ॥
    ouankaar baedh nirameae ||
    Ongkaar created the Vedas.

    ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਸਬਦਿ ਉਧਰੇ ॥
    ouankaar sabadh oudhharae ||
    Ongkaar saves the world through the Shabad.

    ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਤਰੇ ॥
    ouankaar guramukh tharae ||
    Ongkaar saves the Gurmukhs.

    ਓਨਮ ਅਖਰ ਸੁਣਹੁ ਬੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
    ounam akhar sunahu beechaar ||
    Listen to the Message of the Universal, Imperishable Creator Lord.
    ~SGGS Ji p. 930


    ਮੈ ਨ ਗਨੇਸ਼ਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮ ਮਨਾਊਂ ॥ ਕਿਸ਼ਨ ਬਿਸ਼ਨ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨਹ ਧਿਆਊਂ ॥ਕਾਨ ਸੁਨੇ ਪਹਿਚਾਨ ਨ ਤਿਨ ਸੋਂ ॥ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਮੋਰੀ ਪਗ ਇਨ ਸੋਂ ॥੪੩੪॥
    Mai na Ganeshah(i) pritham manaaoon|| Kishan Bishan kab-hoon nah dhiaaoon|| Kaan sune paihchaan na tin son|| Liv laagimoripag in son||434||
    I do not adore Ganesha in the beginning and also do not mediatate on Krishna and Vishnu; I have only heard about them with my ears and I do not recognize them; my consciousness is absorbed at the feet of the Supreme Kal (the Immanent Brahman).434.

    ਮਹਾਕਾਲ ਰਖਵਾਰ ਹਮਾਰੋ ॥ ਮਹਾ ਲੋਹ ਮੈਂ ਕਿੰਕਰ ਥਾਰੋ ॥ ਅਪਨਾ ਜਾਨ ਕਰੋ ਰਖਵਾਰ ॥ ਬਾਹਿ ਗਹੇ ਕੀ ਲਾਜ ਬਿਚਾਰ ॥੪੩੫॥
    Mahaakaal rakhvaar hamaaro|| Mahaa loh main kinkar thaaro|| Apnaa jaan karo rakhvaarr|| Baah(i) gahe kilaaj bichaar||435||
    The Supreme Kal (God) is my Protector and O Steel-Purusha Lort ! I am Thy slave; Protect me, considering me as Thy own and do me the honour of catching my arm.435.
    ~Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji p. 732


    ਬਰਨ ਚਿਹਨ ਸਭਹੂੰ ਤੇ ਨਿਆਰਾ ॥
    Baran chihar sabh-hoon te niaarraa||
    He distinct from all others of various colours and signs.

    ਆਦਿ ਪੁਰਖ ਅਦ੍ਵੈ ਅਬਿਕਾਰਾ ॥੩॥
    aadh purakh advbai abikaaraa||3||
    He is the Primal Purusha, Unique and Changeless.3.

    ਬਰਨ ਚਿਹਨ ਜਿਹ ਜਾਤ ਨ ਪਾਤਾ ॥
    Baran chihan jih jaat na paataa||
    He is without colour, mark, caste and lineage.

    ਸੱਤ੍ਰ ਮਿੱਤ੍ਰ ਜਿਹ ਤਾਤ ਨ ਪਾਤਾ ॥
    Sattra mittra jih taat na maataa||
    He is the without enemy, friend, father and mother.

    ਸਭ ਤੇ ਦੂਰਿ ਸਭਨ ਤੇ ਨੇਰਾ ॥
    Sabh te door(i) sabham te neraa||
    He is far away from all and closest to all.

    ਜਲ ਥਲ ਮਹੀਅਲ ਜਾਹਿ ਬਸੇਰਾ ॥੪॥
    Jal thal mahooal jaah(i) baseraa||4||
    His dwelling is within water, on earth and in heavens.4.

    ਅਨਹਦ ਰੂਪ ਅਨਾਹਦ ਬਾਨੀ ॥
    Anhad roop anaahad baanoo||
    He is Limitless Entity and hath infinite celestial strain.

    ਚਰਨ ਸਰਨ ਜਿਹ ਬਸਤ ਭਵਾਨੀ ॥
    Charan saran jih basat bhavaanoo||
    The goddess Durga takes refuge at His Feet and abides there.
    ~Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji p. 34


    ਏਕ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਨੇਕ ਦਰਸਨ ਕੀਨ ਰੂਪ ਅਨੇਕ ॥
    Ek moorat(i) anek darsan koon roop anek||
    Thou, the One Entity, appearest as Many creating innumerable forms.

    ਖੇਲ ਖੇਲ ਅਖੇਲ ਖੇਲਨ ਅੰਤ ਕੋ ਫਿਰਿ ਏਕ ॥੮੧॥
    Khel khel akhel khelan ant ko phir(i) ek||81||
    After playing the world-drama, when Thou wilt stop the play, Thou wilt be the same One again.81.

    ਦੇਵ ਭੇਵ ਨ ਜਾਨਹੀ ਜਿਹ ਬੇਦ ਅਉਰ ਕਤੇਬ ॥
    Dev bhev na jaan-hoo jih bed aur kateb||
    The gods and the Scriptures of Hindus and Muslims do not know Thy secret.
    ~Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji p. 14


    So from the very beginning, before any reform movements in Sikh history, Guru's bani is remarkably clear, Sikhism is a whole new religion which worships the Akal alone. But that Sikhism is built on a foundation and culture of the ancient Indic faith.

    ~Bhul chak maaf karni ji
     
  14. pk70

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    Harjas Kaur Khalsa ji
    Very informatory about early Sikh times. Good job.
    I think all janam Sakhis were written during Tenth Master as per Dr. Sahib Singh ji as he analyzes historical factors. Not sure though, I have to consult his book on this again.
     
  15. Zafarnamah

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    Some additional resources on the Prem Sumarag to further this discussion.
     
  16. Ambarsaria

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    To me uninitiated, it appears a backdoor to authenticating Dasam Granth through dating and such and referring to parts of Dasam Granth in it.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
  17. Zafarnamah

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    There is no reference to the "Dasam Granth" in the Prem Sumarag. It does contain a reference to the "Jaap" and the "Bachitar Natak," which is not the same as the Dasam Granth. This is not to say that the "Bachitar Natak" is not apocryphal but that it was in use in some sections of the Sikh community in 1701 when the Prem Sumarg was completed. McLeod's dating is incorrect since Bhai Randhir Singh used a 1701 manuscript from the Lahore Public Library. McLeod is unable to conceive the assertion of a Khalsa identity in any period before the colonial encounter; therefore, he is obliged to date the text as close to the Singh Sabha period as possible. The text is also remarkable for its rejection of dowry and its advocacy for administering Amrit to women, all of which was too modern for McLeod and could not possibly be dated to 1701, when the tenth Guru was still alive.
     
  18. Ambarsaria

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    Zafarnamah ji I really am not a historian and not sure of yourself.

    My objective in life would be to study Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, live as a Sikh there of and then attend to all and sundry. Everything else in this regard is pretty superflous and takes away from the core.

    I wish people would show same zeal and fervor and effort in understanding Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and helping others understand.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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  19. Zafarnamah

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    It's wonderful to know that you objectives are clear. Even a cursory look at Sikh history and rahit, however, invites us to look at sources that may enhance our understanding of the Guru Granth Sahib. The shabad of the Guru does not exist in a vacuum; it was revealed in a specific context and that context requires the assistance of other texts to explicate itself. (The Muslims for instance pay close attention to the suras [chapters] of the Quran that were reveled in Mecca and distinguish them from those revealed in Madina because of the different circumstances surrounding the early Muslim community). Furthermore, the discipline of the rahit, if it is to be taken seriously, requires a richer understanding of sources such as the Prem Sumarag. The Khalsa must live in sidak and this discipline requires an understanding of both the Granth and the Panth. It is the latter that has been marginalized since the time of Ranjit Singh and it is because of this loss that we are unable to organize against internal and external threats. Of course the Guru Granth Sahib is the most important of things in our possession, but the Panth is equally important since it is able to perpetuate the teachings enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib.
     
  20. Ambarsaria

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    Veer ji I have no problem with what you state. The issue is there are camps in existance and are growing in division. If they were true to SGGS without exterior distractions, in the name of so called reading or understanding SGGS. I am very sorry the people are looking for short cuts and keys, unfortunately it is grunt work rest is politics. Some agreed to certain terms to mend the panth, I suppose they later changed their minds and the current environment is free for all and supported by the state to increase the divide. Panth is in very sorry state because of it. The issue is not SGGS or that people cannot read or understand without all kind of artificial aids provided some kind of status like banis. I find it extremely regretful what is going on in the name of Dasam Granth and this thread really belongs in Dasam Granth section. I have no interest in "Vajey Paarh Simran/Extra Loud Shouting and associated musical accompaniments". This is just how I am.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
  21. Zafarnamah

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    It looks like you are interested in separating miri from piri. The two are indistinguishable since the time of Guru Nanak. The political sphere cannot be abandoned by any Sikh with a true appreciation of the Guru Granth Sahib. I don't care much for the Dasam Granth and I don't know how you formed the impression that this thread is about it.
     

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