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Are The Sikhs Hindus?

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Are the Sikhs Hindus?

By Nonica Datta

No matter what the RSS chief, K.S. Sudarshan, might say with regard to the origin and development of Sikhism, Sikh consciousness has invariably followed an independent course.

"ALL MUSLIMS living in India are Hindus. All Sikhs are Hindus," asserted the RSS chief, K.S. Sudarshan, at a recent meeting in Amritsar. Citing Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, he said: "He himself acknowledged Hum Hindu Hain". This is an erroneous view. Sikhs have always been willing to accept diverse ideas and institutions, but in acceptance they have adapted and transformed their inheritance. Not always able to work the various strands into a harmonious whole, they have not yet lost their identity. This holds good for almost every manifestation of Sikh life and thought.

My own maternal grandmother, a devout Sikh, was married into an Arya Samaj family. Did she define herself as a Hindu? She did not. Her way of life, her association with the Sikh Kanya Mahavidyalaya in Ferozepur, and her perception of India's Partition signified her distinctive identity. Even though married into Hindu families, many like her were wedded to Sikh values. Without denying the existing bonds and alliances between the Hindus and Sikhs, not much has changed since my grandmother's days.

In fact, the basic flaw in Mr. Sudarshan's assertion is that he disregards the differences that have historically existed between the experiences and the lives of people of the two communities. He must know that no matter what he might say with regard to the origin and development of Sikhism, Sikh consciousness has invariably followed an independent course.

Two scholarly and popular views exist on Sikh identity. One of them traces its beginning to the Sikh gurus (1469-1708) and its crystallisation during Ranjit Singh's rule (1799-1839). All this while, so runs the argument, the Sikh religious and cultural heritage ran parallel to, not always antagonistic with, Hinduism. The other interpretation underlines the Sikhs' fluid identity in the pre-colonial period and brings into sharp focus the role of the Tat Khalsa (the true Khalsa) leadership in heightening a separate and exclusive consciousness in the late 19th century. It is fair to argue, therefore, that neither Mr. Sudarshan nor any of his predecessors have understood the changing meanings of Sikh identity. They have sought to impose their own worldview, ignoring how Sikh ideologues have understood, categorised and defined their community over the centuries.

Guru Nanak (1469-1539) had rejected the authority of the Brahmans, spurned ritualism and repudiated idol worship. Through gurbani (guru's word), sangat (religious congregation) and guru ka langar (community meal) he endeavoured to fashion a radical theology and create a moral community. However, it was the initiative of the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), which endowed his followers with a distinct identity.

The Khalsa Sikhs, thereafter, vested the authority of the Guru in the Guru Granth Sahib and the corporate community. This was a defining moment, carried to its logical culmination by the Rahit (code of discipline).

By the closing decades of the 19th century, the Singh Sabha movement defined the boundaries of the Sikh community vis-a-vis the Hindus. Such moves were largely in response to the Arya Samaj movement's strident initiative to incorporate Sikhism within the Hindu fold. In opposition to its agenda, of promoting Hindi as the official vernacular language, the Sikh reformers championed Punjabi as the medium of education and the language of administration. Moreover, Hindu idols, which had been installed in the Golden Temple premises, were removed. Bhai Kahn Singh, a Sikh spokesman, wrote in 1899, "we are not Hindus". This sentiment was vividly expressed in the everyday lives and rituals. The Sikhs knew by now who they were not.

Historically, the Sikhs have moved in and out of multiple identities. Yet, their quest for an exclusive identity was the most significant feature of their history in the last century. Although the meanings of identity have differed in certain contexts and in response to various challenges, the Sikhs have hardly ever integrated with any specific version of Hinduism. Consider, their demand for separate electorates (1917) and the role of the Gurdwara Reform movement. Thereafter, the Sikh Gurdwaras Act (1925) defined a Sikh as "a person who professes the Sikh religion", adding, "I solemnly affirm that I am a Sikh, that I believe in the Guru Granth Sahib, that I believe in the Ten Gurus, and that I have no other religion".

Before India's Independence, the Akalis tried to safeguard the political and cultural interests of their constituency. Thus, through the demand for `Azad Punjab' (1943) and for `Sikhistan' or `Khalistan' (1946), the Akalis sought to safeguard their interests as a distinct and unified entity. The Sikh leadership also mooted the idea of an `autonomous' Sikh area within Pakistan. Their ultimate acceptance of Punjab's Partition was, in fact, conditioned by such communitarian anxieties and aspirations.

After Independence, various Sikh outfits have insisted on defining themselves and their followers as a `minority' living under the shadow of Hindu majoritarianism. This found expression in the demand for separate representation in the Constitution, and was followed by the movement for a State comprising Punjabi-speaking people. The demand for greater autonomy gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to the Khalistan movement itself. The Indian Army's assault on the Golden Temple in June 1984, according to Khushwant Singh, widened the Hindu-Sikh gulf, and gave the movement for Khalistan its first martyr in Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

The brutal anti-Sikh pogrom that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi fuelled anti-Hindu sentiments, especially in parts of north India.

Identity rests on the notion of difference with the other(s). Yet, the other is not constant, and keeps changing. Thus, in the 18th century, the Muslims were the bete noire of the Sikhs. In the late 19th century, the `Arya Hindus' took their place. A century later, the British colonial state became the predominant antagonist.

At the time of Partition, the `Muslim' was endowed with a new kind of otherness, especially with the imaginary fear of Sikhs being subjected to Muslim rule. Finally, the `Hindu Congress' became the principal adversary in the 1980s.

The Sangh Parivar harps on all the others, but effaces the presence of the Hindu as other in the evolution and crystallisation of a specific Sikh identity. It denies the fact that if the Sikh communities had demonised the Muslims or the Congress in the past, they did so only to protect their own cultural identity and not to consolidate the Hindutva forces. Like the Muslims, the Sikhs have resisted the Hindutva project of absorption and sameness.

The Sangh Parivar's agenda, of suppressing the contested history and identity of the Sikhs as well as the Muslims, is ahistorical. It is also a contrived agenda, for it rests on a spurious notion of Hindu identity. The political language, as echoed by Mr. Sudarshan, is neither rooted in the historians' histories nor in the diverse communitarian narratives. Finally, his comment degrades the historians' histories, and ridicules a minority's own self-image and perceptions.

(The writer teaches history at Miranda House, New Delhi.)

http://www.hinduonnet.com/2003/03/04/stories/2003030400951000.htm
 

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Ambarsaria

ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
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Dec 21, 2010
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Sikhs are not Hindus unless Hindus want to discriminate against them and call them Hindus. However the following is likely to happen,


  • Sikhism attacked the core of Hinduism in its Brahmnic central control, rites and rituals
    • Who controls Hiduism!
      • Brahmin middle and upper class
  • Given the population of India and the level of Hindus in it, unless we have mass conversions of Hindus into Sikhism, percentage of Sikhs in India will continue to decline due to lower birth rates
  • Sikhs are one minority in India which has been a prime target of Hinduism since partition
    • Through covert organizational methods which became overt over the 70s and 80s
  • Destruction of Punjab as a larger Geographic area into so called Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh was the nail in the coffin for the long term survival of a vibrant Sikh community base in Punjab
  • Regardless of how and why, the large scale migration of Hindus into Punjab from out of states will destroy Punjabi and Sikhism core
    • When such happens overtly, it is called "Cultural Genocide"
Pretty sad but who can foretell the future, may be it will be better or worse!

Sat Sri Akal.
 

onurag

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Mar 23, 2011
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Hi..
Migration of hindus in Punjab cannot destroy Punjabi or Sikhism. I know that Sikhism is not weak that it can be destroyed by anyone. We just have to modify our thinking. We can help these migrants to understand what Sikhism is. This might guide them the Sikhi way of living. I am saying this because i myself has experienced this. Now i am very close to Sikhism, try to live a true life. Its not easy but if we believe in God, have the courage to learn and follow the path of God then we'll find that it really helps a lot.
Sat Sri Akal.
 

kds1980

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Apr 4, 2005
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Regardless of how and why, the large scale migration of Hindus into Punjab from out of states will destroy Punjabi and Sikhism core
Sorry Ambarsaria ji But many people or their parents that are sitting on forums left Punjab for the sake of good life in developed countries and now the same people are concerned about demography of Punjab.The craze of going outside India is at peak so it is obvious more and more Hindu's and muslims will migrate to Punjab to fill that space.Sikhs are choosing money and materialistic life style over their homeland then why to blame Hindu's
 

findingmyway

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Sikhs are choosing money and materialistic life style over their homeland then why to blame Hindu's
Even Sikhs in Panjab are choosing money and material possessions so saying this is only NRI's is a bit below the belt and a very unfair generalisation! The article is about Sikh identity in Panjab itself so bringing in NRI's is completely irrelelvant. One does not have to be born into a Panjabi family to be Sikh as Onurag ji rightly says. It is a lifestyle that needs promotion more than the birthplace.
 

kds1980

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Even Sikhs in Panjab are choosing money and material possessions so saying this is only NRI's is a bit below the belt and a very unfair generalisation! The article is about Sikh identity in Panjab itself so bringing in NRI's is completely irrelelvant. One does not have to be born into a Panjabi family to be Sikh as Onurag ji rightly says. It is a lifestyle that needs promotion more than the birthplace.
Nowhere I have used the word NRI I have just said the entire sikh community whether in India or outside
 

Ambarsaria

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kds1980 ji we definitely differ on "cultural genocide" aspects. I have seen evil that has been done to Punjab since 1947, land of the Gurus and our forefathers. You are indicating it is self-inflicted and I simply postulate that there is lot more than meets your eyes. Your approach of self doubt is exactly what the enemies of Sikhism want Sikhs to believe in. There is a very large and growing constituency of such people from leaders to lay and Hinduism cannot thank you and such enough.

Sat Sri Akal.
 

kds1980

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Apr 4, 2005
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kds1980 ji we definitely differ on "cultural genocide" aspects. I have seen evil that has been done to Punjab since 1947, land of the Gurus and our forefathers. You are indicating it is self-inflicted and I simply postulate that there is lot more than meets your eyes. Your approach of self doubt is exactly what the enemies of Sikhism want Sikhs to believe in. There is a very large and growing constituency of such people from leaders to lay and Hinduism cannot thank you and such enough.

Sat Sri Akal.
India in last 20-30 years changed a lot .The biggest enemies of Sikhs are Sikhs themselves who cannot live in unity,The Sikhs which are running after money etc
The fear of India ,Hindu's is created by many Sikh leaders .India at present facing hundreds of problems and movements Sikhs at present are not even in the list of top 50 or 100.If you or any other want to believe in conspiracy theories then its O.K but Sikhs are facing much bigger problem from Inside rather than outside
 

Ambarsaria

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kds1980 ji I totally disagree with the following excerpted comment,

The biggest enemies of Sikhs are Sikhs themselves who cannot live in unity,The Sikhs which are running after money etc

  • Sikhs in Punjab are no different and don't need to be different from other communities in the world
    • They can have differences and live and grow in dis-unity
  • The question becomes how such an environment is going to be exploited by a majority (Hindus) in so called secular, democratic state
    • If the majority (Hindus) is going to exploit with intent to damage and diminish with actions like,
      • Disintegration of Geographic area no matter who asked for it
      • Destruction of Punjabi language at all levels
      • Make rites and rituals like Marriage be governed by Hindu Marriage Act and Sikhs be lumped with Hindus
      • Support community destroyers like the Babey, Deras through covert means
      • Diminish and portray Sikhs as Hindus internationally
        • How many times Government of India has interceded Internationally for Sikh situations
          • Beheading of a Sikh by the Taliban
          • Turban situations in France, Italy and other countries
          • Destruction of Sikh heritage with impositions and prominent displays of Hindi versus Punjabi in Public buildings
          • Mass media coverage encouragement to diminish Sikhs
          • Downplaying of Sikhs contribution by re-writing history or prominence to non-Sikhs for what Sikhs may have done
          • Stereotyping of Sikhs as clowns in Media and film
          • ............ on and on
  • The argument is going to be "Oh India is a free country and Government has nothing to do with most of it", pray tell me
    • That is just not so flimsy, oh Congress and BJP do not influence RSS and the like
    • The Governments have not covered up injustices done to Sikhs in 1984 and more
    • The Hindu leadership is taking stands against Shiv Sena, RSS when the push out garbage against Sikhs, Muslims and other minorities
OK let us conclude that Sikhs and Sikhism has all the faults :mundaviolin:.japposatnamwaheguru:
What a shame! peacesign

Sat Sri Akal.
 

findingmyway

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Pressures exist for Sikh communities from outside and inside no matter where you live. From my observations Sikhi is stronger outside of India, though I accept this is a generalisation and will not be true in all cases. The internal pressures are the same all over the world (they relate to human nature) so that leads me to conclude that the external pressures are more systematic and destructive in India when the cultural and historical ties should make it easier to deal with internal pressures there through sangat and tradition. Why is this not happening but a revival being seen in other places despite the challenges? I'm inclined to believe it is due to the teachings of Sikhism being undermined again and again from those at the top :swordfight-kudiyan:
P.s. Onurag ji, happy birthday!
 

onurag

SPNer
Mar 23, 2011
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Hi..
Given the population of India and the level of Hindus in it, unless we have mass conversions of Hindus into Sikhism, percentage of Sikhs in India will continue to decline due to lower birth rates
I agree with your point. It will be great for hindus to take this step and to follow a true way of living. I have also seen many hindus doing that because they are inspired by the teachings of Gurus, the Sikhi way of living and many of them are welcomed by Sikhs Community but not all. I even heared Sikh people neglecting some Hindus who have converted to Sikh by saying "He is Hindu.. how can he be compared to us".

Sikhs are one minority in India which has been a prime target of Hinduism since partition
We can't blame complete Hinduism because many are targeting Sikhs. I know however this is very wrong but every individual has Good and Bad in him/her.

Destruction of Punjab as a larger Geographic area into so called Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh was the nail in the coffin for the long term survival of a vibrant Sikh community base in Punjab
The main reason for the conflict between Hindus-Sikhs are the people who have the power to rule we stupid people. We elect them as our leaders but just to protect their vote banks, they influence us to go against each other. Taking side of hindus/sikhs helps them with hindu/sikh vote banks.

Regardless of how and why, the large scale migration of Hindus into Punjab from out of states will destroy Punjabi and Sikhism core
Regarding this i have already mentioned, migration of hindus in Punjab cannot destroy Punjabi or Sikhism. I know that Sikhism is not weak that it can be destroyed by anyone. We just have to modify our thinking. We can help these migrants to understand what Sikhism is. This might guide them the Sikhi way of living. I am saying this because i myself has experienced this. Now i am very close to Sikhism, try to live a true life. Its not easy but if we believe in God, have the courage to learn and follow the path of God then we'll find that it really helps a lot. I dont want to mention but even i was born Hindu, but after studying the teachings of our Gurus, the Sikhi way of living, i fell in love with Sikhism. I try to live my life in a Sikhi way.

I am proud to say that there is no fault in Sikhs and Sikhism. We are the best. I said "we" because i feel myself as a part of Sikhism. peacesign
 

pamma

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May 15, 2011
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I'm tired of people debating on this topic. Lets stop thinking whether a Sikh is a Hindu or whatever we may choose to say. Pay heed to the Gurbani and be thankful to God for making you a humanbeing. Realize what you are and don't bother what people say.
The Gurbani says- "Mun tu jyot swaroop hai, Apna mool pehchaan"
spend time in thinking about the Almighty, in naam, in seva and daan, the three important teachings of Sikhism.
Lets start thinking in broader terms-The Gurbani is beautiful, take one line as your thought for the day and see how all these issues will seem so trivial.
If some one asks me my religion, I say, to Love God's creation and to try and follow the wonderfu teachings of my 11 Gurus (including The Guru Granth Sahib).

WAHE GURU BLESS US ALL!
 
Last edited:

spnadmin

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pamma ji

I'm tired of people debating on this topic.
I do not think it will ever stop. It was a problem throughout the entire 18th and 19th Century. British tried to sort it out in the 1891, 1901 census. Historical notes on their efforts show that Sikhs themselves were divided on the point and in some cases refused to commit. This worked well into the hands of the "divide and rule" methods of the raj. In the 19th Century the SinghSaba movement was formed to put an end to doubts over Sikh identity. This movement took on many different forms, and continued its lobby with the quom through the early 1900's, and even to this day. Controversies broke out within the movement, and it splintered into a strict khalsa identity which alienated many people, and a broader view which tolerated sanatan influences for the sake of unity and peace in the family. Throughout the history of this controversy Sant Samaj and other sanatan interests have continued to plant seeds of doubt for political reasons. The so-called Dasam Granth is an unmistakeable artifact of the struggle to own Sikh identity. Ownership of the Sikh identity btw what the controversy is about. I suspect it will continue much longer.

I am giving you the general outline of the problem. For every sentence here there are chapters of details I have left out. We really need a carefully constructed historical thread that traces each episode going back even to the time of Guru Nanak, when his brother tried to take hold of the reins.

A Hindu wrote the starter article. Why has no one commended him for his clear and unequivocal denial that Sikhs are Hindus? He should be commended for his clear, authoritative statement.

The Sangh Parivar's agenda, of suppressing the contested history and identity of the Sikhs as well as the Muslims, is ahistorical. It is also a contrived agenda, for it rests on a spurious notion of Hindu identity. The political language, as echoed by Mr. Sudarshan, is neither rooted in the historians' histories nor in the diverse communitarian narratives. Finally, his comment degrades the historians' histories, and ridicules a minority's own self-image and perceptions.
 

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