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Baldev Singh, Dr. ( - 2009)

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Guru Piayario Jios...

Just received the following news.

Dr. Baldev Singh Ji, famous Writer on Sikh Issues passed away on Oct 2nd, 2009 after an illness.He will be sorely missed by both...
his Critics and admirers...

This Death is a great loss to the Guru Khalsa Panth.

Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Re: Dr. Baldev Singh Is no more...

Here is a sample of his brilliance..taken from Sikh Spectrum
SikhSpectrum.com Quarterly Issue No.16, May 2004

Why I Disagree

by Baldev Singh

If I can remember correctly from the days when I was a Ph.D. student at an American university in the 1960s, academic freedom meant total freedom of thought – freedom to express, freedom to write, freedom to read and freedom to pursue any research interest. Censorship of literature in any form or manner is an anathema to academicians. There were protests and uproar in the West over the banning of Salman Rushdie’s book Satanic Verses in Muslim countries. I was surprised to read the advice by Professor Cole and Professor Barrier to the Internet Sikh Diaspora Discussion Group - editorialized in Understanding Sikhism Research Journal1 and repeated in Sikh Virsa2 by Professor Devinder Singh Chahal.
During the discussion when somebody recommended the books Trilochan Singh and Gurdev Singh about their comments on Professor McLeod, Professor Cole remarked, “ I wouldn’t recommend the books by Trilochan Singh or Gurdev Singh. They are vitriolic rather than academic. But the main point I wish to make is read McLeod for yourself. Don’t accept the judgement of others – such is the proper approach.”
At the same time Professor Barrier added, “Hew McLeod deals very specifically with these and other allegations in his autobiography, Discovering the Sikh. South Asia Books will have the non-India distribution to the book -- an orderly review of facts, misinformation, specific networks of Sikhs who published conference proceedings and individual papers, primarily in the in the 1980s and early 1990s. I will circulate information on the volume when it appears in September. Those who want to follow the charges and more than adequate rebuttals by McLeod probably should wait until definitive and systematic work is out and then compare the items referred on the Sikh Diaspora Forum that allegedly undermine his research and question his motive.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Cole that there is no place for caustic and unprofessional language or personal attacks in discussions and debates over controversial research works. I have not read Trilochan Singh or Gurdev Singh, so I am not in a position to comment on their works. However, I wish that Professor Cole had published or presented a critique of Trilochan Singh and Gurdev Singh’s works to the Sikh Diaspora Discussion Group so that we could learn how to conduct academic appraisal of controversial works. Alas! He has done the same thing to Trilochan Singh and Gurdev Singh of which he accuses them of doing to McLeod. Whereas Trilochan Singh and Gudev Singh have put forth their views about McLeod in writing for every one to see, Cole has denigrated Trilochan Singh and Gurdev Singh’s works in a few sentences without pointing out what is wrong with their work? Moreover, he expressed his views to a select group of people, which is not different from gossip intended to malign someone.
Furthermore, Cole’s remarks raise two important questions, First, if people like Cole, who is actively involved in Sikh studies, can’t understand what is wrong with McLeod’s works then why does he think that lay Sikhs can evaluate Mcleod’s works properly? Second, if he thinks that lay Sikhs should draw their own conclusions from Mcleod’s works then why should not they draw their own conclusions from Trilochan Singh and Gurdev Singh’s works?
Professor Barrier wants the Sikhs to hold back their judgement about Mcleod’s works until his next book Discovering the Sikhs is published. Haven’t Sikhs waited long enough for Mcleod’s answers to the controversies his writings have raised? His first work Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion was first published in 1968. As soon as this work was published, it became a hot topic of discussion among Sikhs. McLeod’s bold but unsupported assumptions, interpretations, conjectures, inferences and conclusions were challenged. Instead of answering his critics, he kept producing more controversial works. He kept saying, “ I am a skeptic historian and my job is to ask questions and create doubts. It is for the Sikhs to answer those questions and remove doubts.”
However, when his work was subjected to in-depth scrutiny, he took it as a personal attack on him. Instead of responding to the criticism of his work in a professional manner -- through publications or defending his work at conferences and seminars -- he started attacking his critics through decoys- his students and supporters. While Mcleod remained silent, his supporters have been plying their trade as scholars propagating McLeod's baseless assumptions3,4 and theories5 about Sikhism.
Research often generates controversies, more so in humanities than in hard sciences. However, the controversies are generally resolved in a professional and timely manner. When someone’s work is challenged one either provides more evidence and solid reasoning in defense of one's work or agrees with the critics. Sometime the issue remains unresolved, as both sides are unable to convince each other. Other times during the course of research one discovers the errors in earlier published work. In such a case the erroneous work is retracted. This does not cast any aspersion on the researcher’s scholarship, rather it enhances their credibility and integrity as a scholar.
So why didn’t McLeod respond to his critics for more than three decades? One possible explanation is that his work is indefensible; he has no proof or good explanation in defense of his views!
Although McLeod, his students, and his supporters never miss the opportunity to dismiss Sikh traditions, they don’t have any qualms in accepting and vigorously supporting even the most absurd and ridiculous tradition when it suits their purpose. For instance, the “Borrowing Theory” – Guru Arjan Dev’s alleged borrowing of Goindwal Pothis from Baba Mohan for the compilation of Adi (Aad) Granth. Recently, Professor Pritam Singh6 has admitted in the Abstracts of Sikh Studies that his earlier research on Ahiyapur Pothi (manuscript) also known as Goindwal Wali pothi or Goindwal Pothi was in error.
The pick of Western scholars, interested in Sikh Studies, including, I am told my old friend, the venerable Dr. W. H. McLeod, has rallied round Dr. Gurinder Singh Mann, the author of The Goinwal Pothis: The earliest Extant Source of The Sikh Canaon (1996)…. As I look back, it becomes clear that Professor Sahib Singh had already thrown a spanner into the prevalent theory by persistently claiming that Guru Arjan Dev had compiled the Adi Granth on the basis of an inherited corpus containing the works of his predecessors and others…. The professor also dismissed, as pure concoction, the whole story in which Guru Arjan Dev was shown as composing and singing a eulogy in honor of Baba Mohan and receiving, as reward, the Goindwal MSs, on loan. The “Mohan hymn” according to the Professor’s interpretation is a paean adoring the great Lord Himself… I may say, in all humility, that my study of the contents of the Ahiyapur pothi confirms, though indirectly, Professor Sahib Singh’s thesis and negates some of the major, if not all the conclusions of Dr. Mann and Giani Gurdit Singh. In a nutshell, my finding is that the Adi Granth and the Ahiyapur Pothi are two parallel recensions of Gurbani and Bhagat-Bani with the Adi Granth serving as the scripture of the Sikh mainstream and the Ahiyapur pothi intended to be the official sacred book of the faction set up by Mohan and his son.”
Moreover, M. S. Ahluwalia and B. S. Dhillon7 have also reported their findings on MS # 1245 in the same issue of Abstracts of Sikh Studies.
“MS # 1245 is a rich repository of extra-canonical writings (total 48) that have been attributed to the Sikh Gurus. On examining the Mina commentaries on the work of Guru Nanak, we observe that their text is full of extra-canonical verses and stanzas…Either the scholars are not aware of all these writings of extra- canonical nature, or they shun the discussion over them.”
However, Pashaura Singh maintains that MS # 1245 is an earlier draft of Adi Granth.8
The publications of Pritam Singh and Ahluwalia and Dhillon raise two questions. First, aren’t Mcleod, Mann and Pashaura Singh obligated academically to respond to the findings of Pritam Singh, Ahluwalia and Dhillon? Second, what advice would Cole and Barrier give to McLeod, Mann and Pashaura Singh? What advice would they give to the universities, which accepted the theses of Pashaura Singh and Gurinder Singh Mann for the award of Ph.D. degrees? What advice would they give to the universities, which hired Pahsaura Singh and Gurinder Singh Mann to teach Sikhism? What advice would they give to those who have been projecting and promoting McLeod as the world’s foremost authority on Sikhism?
Though McLeod’s writings and Pashaura Singh’s thesis have received more than enough attention and scrutiny, McLeod’s academic ethics and what he did to Pashaura Singh have gone unnoticed. I think Pashaura Singh has been exploited and victimized by Mcleod. Research supervisors (advisors) are not only concerned with success of the research projects of their students but also in their future well being. A research advisor instills in his or her students the ethics which are very essential for the integrity and credibility of a scholar. Research advisors fights their academic battles themselves without involving their students. A research advisor protects the student against any harm that may impinge on a student’s integrity and credibility. However, McLeod did the opposite. Instead of responding to his critics in an academic manner, he criticized them through Pashaura Singh.
“Since then much of the energy of Sikh scholars has been devoted to proving the authenticity of the Karatrpuri Bir or recension. A great deal of this energy is directed these days at the writings of W. H. McLeod, who has been raising questions about Adi Granth and making a plea for sustained campaign of textual analysis to establish a sure and certain text. Although McLeod combines sensitivity with meticulous care in his analysis of Sikh documents, his arguments on Sikh scriptures have been received with caution within the Sikh community. It is a conspicuous feature of the modern Panth to perceive critical scholarship as an attack on the Sikh faith. That is perhaps why the organized response offered by a group of Sikh scholars (of whom the most notable include retired civil servants of the Government of India and doctors of medicine, as well as academics) appear to be so defensive that one can easily sense a feeling of insecurity in their approach. It appears to be a new phenomenon linked with the post-1984 events.”9
The defense of McLeod’s scholarship by Pashaura Singh in his thesis puts a question mark on his objectivity and academic integrity. Perhaps, it was this paragraph more than the contents of the thesis, which drew the attention of so many critics! There is no need to comment further on his thesis as enough has been written about its quality and contents.
Perhaps, it was Pashaura Singh’s idea to add this paragraph as sometime students do things to please their supervisors, which they regret later on. But still it was Mcleod’s responsibility to advise Pashaura Singh to take this paragraph out. Besides, instead of defending his thesis in an academic manner – through publications or presentation at conferences, Pashaura Singh chose the easy way out. He went to the clergy at Amritsar to rehabilitate his academic reputation. It is inconceivable that he didn’t consult McLeod before he decided to prostrate before the clergy. Pashaura Singh’s academic credibility and integrity was further damaged by this action as the clergy at Amritsar is not competent or qualified to pass judgement on academic research work. Probably, Pashaura Singh has not realized as yet what McLeod did to him, as he has not stopped talking about his ill treatment by Sikh scholars and the clergy and defending McLeod against his critics.
“My unpublished thesis, filed at the University of Tronto library, was copied without my knowledge or authorization and circulated throughout the world. This led to a series of denunciations in letters and reviews in Sikh community newspapers, which accused me of committing blasphemy…This has created a climate of anxiety for scholars of Sikh tradition as their work is being reviewed by the highest religious authority for the Sikhs in a politically charged atmosphere. There have been charges of blasphemy in public gatherings against some scholars, notably Piar Singh, Amarjit Singh Grewal and Pashaura Singh. In fact, these scholars have been compelled to endure a determined and venomous campaign.
It has been argued by a group of traditional Sikh scholars that they have challenged the revealed character of the Sikh scripture and threatened its canonical status. How can we understand this phenomenon of charged religious reaction to academic scholarship? What is the future of Sikh Studies in view of the current situation?
In order to find answers to these questions we need to address the following issues: the concept of revelation versus textual analysis, religious fundamentalism-cum-political manipulation, and academic freedom versus religious authority…W. H. McLeod, the leading Western scholar of Sikhism explains this development as a reassertion of tradition over critical understanding of Sikh history…In this context. W. H. McLeod aptly notes: It is not the sacred scripture as a Book which served to differentiate ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ Sikhs, but rather the meaning of the scripture…The question of what is the “correct meaning” of the scripture and who is entitled to know it raises the further problem of religious authority among Sikhs.
There are indeed certain members of the Panth who subscribe to ardent beliefs with regard to scriptures and the Sikh tradition in a literalist way… They try to manipulate the institution of the Akal Takhat and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (the supreme within the Panth), and they have been able to exercise considerable control over the Sikh press. The majority of other Sikh scholars who understand the aims of academic scholarship have retreated into the closet.
Their silence has indeed contributed to the present climate of intolerance and suppression of inquiry that has made honest scholarly judgements dangerous. Here, it is instructive to note that several of the more vocal critics lead (or at least led) lives which do not exactly correspond with criticism which they are making of academic scholars working in the area of Sikh Studies.
Commenting on the life styles of three prominent critics for instance, W. H. McLeod argues that “one critic had grown his beard only after the [anti-academic] campaign was initiated and reverted to shaving; another allowed his children to cut hair; a third had previously held views which made it very difficult to term him a fundamentalist. He further argues that religious fundamentalism is not a “deeply-held belief” among these critics, although this label has been used frequently as a convenient tool to understand the recent scholarly controversy. … The Acting- Jathedar, Manjit Singh, agreed to certain points of my explanation at the time of my first appearance before the “Cherished Five” (panj singh sahiban) alone in a special room.
In our closed-door meeting, for instance, he remarked “It is not a matter of words or letters, rather the bani is divinely inspired” (akhran di gal nahin, bani tan dhur ki hai). He accepted that the change in language did not create any problem with respect to the status of the revealed nature of the bani.
It is, however, an entirely different matter that he totally changed his stance later on and aligned himself with the Chandigarh-group of scholars (who had raised the storm over my doctoral thesis) in the so-called “open debate” at the Akal Takhat Office. …. However, I would not like to appear too self-referential in this article. The detailed account of my story will appear in another work in which I will provide a lengthy treatment of the complex situation that led me to be called to the Akal Takhat.”10
I would like to suggest the sponsors of the Chair of Sikh and Punjab Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, to look at the return on their investment – the above quoted publication is by Pashaura Singh. I would also urge scholars of Sikh Studies to evaluate the scholarly worth of this publication.
After studying several of McLeod’s works carefully I get the impression that McLeod came to Batala (Punjab) with a preconceived agenda. He came to tell the Sikhs “forget what your scriptures say, forget what your traditions say, forget what historians and theologians say and forget what others like Mcaullife and Cunnigham say – I will tell you what does Sikhism and Sikh mean?” For instance, commenting on the language of AGGS he says, “Mcauliffe must bear most of the responsibility for the misleading impression that the language of the Adi Granth is unusually difficult.”11 First, McLeod has used the incorrect name for the current Sikh scripture throughout his writings. He calls it Adi Granth whereas it is generally called Guru Granth Sahib, a shorter version of Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.12
Second, people who have studied AGGS seriously would agree with McAuliffe not with McLeod about the complexity of the language of AGGS. In Mcleod’s works there are very few reference to AGGS except Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion wherein he has misinterpreted many verses in order to distort Guru Nanak’s teachings.13 For instance, he has interpreted “karmi aavai kpra nadri mokh duar” as: karma determines the nature of our birth (lit. cloth), but it is through grace that the door of salvation is found.14 He has made three mistakes in the interpretation of this verse.
First, he took a single verse from a stanza of seven verses, which are interconnected. Second, karmi is not derived from karam (Punjabi) or karma (Sanskrit) meaning actions, it is derived from karam (Persian) meaning kindness or favor. Third, though kapra has been used as a metaphor for human body in AGGS, in this verse it means cloth or clothing, a metaphor for God’s love. Moreover, there are numerous verses in AGGS in the form of questions and answers. Lack of attention and understanding could result in misinterpretation of these verses.
The examination of the stanza reveals that the first two verses describe the greatness of God. God’s bounty is unlimited and whatever we posses is God’s gift. The third and fourth verses are questions: then what should we do or offer to God to win God’s love? The fifth and sixth verses are answers to the third and fourth verses: if we meditate on God constantly then God will love us resulting in union with God. In this stanza there is no mention of past or future life. Karm (actions) are described in the fifth verse. Guru Nanak rejected all the essentials of Hinduism and the moral authorities of Hindu scripture.15, 16, 17 He rejected karma, reincarnation, transmigration and the Hindu concept of salvation (mokash).3, 4
Contrary to McLeod, almost a century ago, Macauliffe interpreted this verse accurately.18
True is the Lord, true is His name; it is uttered with endless love.
People pray and beg, ‘Give us, give us’; the Giver giveth His gifts.
Then what can we offer Him whereby His court may be seen?
What words shall we utter with our lips, on hearing which He may love us?
At the ambrosial hour of morning meditate on true Name and God’s greatness.
The Kind One will give us a robe of honour, and by His favour we shall reach the gate of salvation.
Nanak, we shall thus know that God is altogether true. AGGS, Jap 4, P 2.

Professor Sahib Singh has also interpreted this verse the same way as Macauliffe has done: (This way) the Gracious One gives a scarf of (meditating on His greatness). (The wall of falsehood) is eliminated by His kindness and the door of salvation is opened to the devotee.19
Both, Macauliffe and Sahib Singh have interpreted kapra as cloth. However, due to cultural differences one calls it a robe of honor and the other calls it a scarf of love. Both robe and scarf are metaphors for God’s love.
Moreover, Pashaura Singh has cited the interpretation of this verse by Giani Badan Singh20 as follows:
“Through the Lord’s gracious glance one achieves the robe of honor in the form of loving devotion (bhakti), by means of which one reaches the door to liberation in the form of knowledge.”
Commenting on McLeod’s interpretation of this verse, Pashaura Singh points out: “Here there is no mention of the role of the past actions (karmi) in the interpretation of this line from Japji. Rather, the emphasis is placed on the dual function of divine grace which paves the way for the loving devotion in the first place and then for the knowledge of the door to liberation.”
However, Cole interprets this verse the same way as McLeod did:
Good actions may result in a human form, but liberation comes only from God’s grace.21 But in the same article he has interpreted kapra differently. He has explained the fourth verse of the stanza below correctly by interpreting kapra as cloth:
God bestowed on me the robe of honoring Him and singing His praise.
The meaning of kapra as cloth becomes abundantly clear from Guru Nanak’s use of this word in his discussions with yogis.
I was an unemployed minstrel (dhadi),
But the Master gave me an occupation.
The Master ordered me to sing Its praises day and night.
It called me to Its abode of Truth.
And honored me with a robe (kapra paya),
Of ‘propagating Its true glory’. (AGGS, M 1, p. 150)
In several other places in the AGGS, kapr has been used for clothes. Thus using the correct meaning of karmi and kapra the verse “karmi aavai kpra nadri mokh duar ” should be translated as: (Then the Bounteous One) will reward us with Its love and by Its grace the door of salvation will open for us.
The interpretation of a verse discussed above clearly supports Mcauliffe’s views regarding the complexity of the language of AGGS. It should be noted that Sikhs and Sikhism is dedicated to Jerry Barrier: teacher, scholar, bookseller and friend.
Professors Cole and Barrier’s advice is misdirected. Had Professor McLeod dealt with the controversies raised by his writings in a professional and timely manner, there might not have been any controversy today and he would have earned the respect due to a scholar. Alas! Instead of answering his critics through publications or defending his work at conferences and seminars, he chose to attack his critics through his students and friends. Professors Cole and Barrier have ignored this point.
II Sehjdhari Sikhs and Brahmanical interpretation of Gurbani Misinterpretation of Gurbani and misrepresentation of Sikhism started right during the time of the Sikh Gurus and it still continues. Not only non-Sikh scholars but many Sikhs spread misinformation, either out of ignorance or to further their personal objectives. Such misinterpretations are also found in many Punjabi and English translations of the Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) in printed media that includes compact discs and Internet websites.
While glancing through The Sikh Review, I came across a report by Professor Devinder Singh Chahal on the second Institute for Understanding Sikhism (IUS) seminar held in Canada in 2002.22 I took notice of a resolution proposed by Dr Harbans Lal to deal with the increase of misinterpretation of Gurbani and Sikhism in the Sikh literature by some people. I am not aware of any ongoing effort by Bhai Harbans Lal or ISU on this issue. I disagree with some of Dr. Lal’s own views about Sikhism.
I will analyze three articles published by Dr. Harbans Lal in Understanding Sikhism Research Journal, which was launched in 1999 by Chahal on the premise of projecting Sikhism in its true perspectives on the basis of AGGS, the only authentic source of Nanakian philosophy.
Sehjdhari Sikhs and Vaisakhi of 169923
In this article Lal has endeavored to explain the meaning of Sehjdhari Sikh and to determine the role and place of Sehjdhari Sikhs under the leadership of Guru Gobind Singh and afterwards. However, Lal does not support his views on the basis of AGGS, instead, he relies on bipran literature, 24 which not only subverts Sikhism, but is also responsible for creating hostility between Sikhs and Muslims. The article is full of errors, and self-contradictions as is demonstrated by the discussion hereunder.
The article abstract begins by emphasizing the distinction between Sehjdhari and Amritdhari Sikhs and traces its origin to the day of historic Vaisakhi of 1699 CE. A statement in the introductory paragraph leads the reader to believe that this distinction began during the time of the tenth Guru when many Sikhs elected to become Amritdhari while others remained Sehajdhari. Before the Vaisakhi of 1699, the followers of the Sikh Movement were simply known as Sikhs.
In the third paragraph (p 37), Lal claims that some Sikhs who participated in the battle of Bhangani including Guru Gobind Singh’s Darbari Ratan (court jewels) like Bhai Nand Lal, and others like Bhai Kanayia were Sehjdhari Sikhs. He further states that among the fifty-two poets whose names are recorded by Bhai Kahan Singh only less than one third used Singh as their surname thereby suggesting that most of the poets in Guru’s court were Sehjdhari Sikhs.
What Lal has failed to realize is the absence of the term Sehjdhari Sikh in the AGGS and that there is no evidence that it was used before creation of the Khalsa in 1699. It is then reasonable to believe that this distinction between Sehjdhari and Amritdhari Sikhs started after the Vaisakhi of 1699, when Guru Gobind Singh initiated the Khalsa by administering Khandae Dee Pauhl (baptism of the double edged sword). Lal himself says in the abstract that the distinction between Sehjdharis and the Amritdharis owes its historical origin to the Vaisakhi day of 1699. If Lal believes in his theory then why would he emphasize the absence of amritdharis in the Battle of Bhangani, which was fought eleven years earlier in 1688.25
Let us examine whether Bhai Nand Lal, Bhai Kanyia and others who did not have Singh as their lastname were not Amritdhari Sikhs as suggested by Dr. Lal. It is true that Guru Gobind Singh did not force any person to take Khandae dee Pahul. The initiation was voluntary. Sikhs who still believed in the caste system refused to volunteer and turned hostile to the Guru and became his enemies. It is inconceivable that Bhai Nand Lal, Bhai Kanyia and other devout Sikhs, who were in tune with Guru Gobind Singh spiritually and understood his mission, did not emulate him when he requested the five beloved ones (Panj Piare) to baptize him.
Regarding the use of Singh as a last name, I would like to state that in my village there were two elderly Amritdhari Sikhs, Sher Singh and Harnam Singh, who participated in the Sikh Gurdwara liberation movement. People in the village addressed them by their nicknames, Sheru and Hami, respectively. Nobody called them with their real name. Does this prove in any way that Sheru and hami were not Sher Singh and Harnam Singh? It is very possible that Sikhs like Bhai Nand Lal, Bhai Kanyia and others, who were well-known in the community before the initiation of Khalsa, were addressed by Sikhs with their original names.
In the second paragraph (p 37) Dr. Lal writes, “In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh initiated (baptized) the Sikhs by Khandae dee Pahul and brought to an end the custom of Charan Pahul (baptism by the holy water prepared by the touch of Guru’s feet). He also terminated the authority of masands to administer the initiation rites and asked Sikhs to restrain from the congregation still led by the masands.”
Dr. Lal does not give any reference from AGGS to support his claim that Sikh Gurus practiced the ceremony of Charan Pahulto initiate the Sikhs. It does not seem logical that Sikh Gurus practiced Charan Pahul to initiate Sikhs. Why Guru Nanak who refused to wear the sacred thread (janeu) would accept the Hindu custom of Charan Pahul for the initiation of his followers? “Consider compassion as cotton, contentment as thread, chastity as knot and truthful living as the twist thereof. O Pundit, a sacred thread made from these ingredients elevates the inner-self -- conscience. If you have such a one, then put it on me! (AGGS, M 1, p 471).”
Besides, according to Gurbani, Shabad (Word) is the Guru. There are numerous references to gurcharan (Guru’s feet) in AGGS and it means Guru’s teachings or attributes. Sometimes it is a metaphor for humility (to be at someone’s feet).
On page 38 he contradicts himself by saying, “Dr. Maan Singh Nirankari cited Ratanmala claimed by some to contain narration of many conversations of Guru Gobind Singh: “The Guru described his having three categories of Sikhs: Sehajdhari, Charandhari meaning those initiated by the touch of the holy water by the Guru’s feet, and Khandae de Amritdhari.”
According to Dr. Lal, in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh initiated (baptised) the Sikhs by Khandae dee Pahul and brought to an end the custom of Charan Pahul. He also terminated the authority of masands to administer Charan Pahulto the Sikhs. If Dr. Lal is correct, then could he also tell us who administered Charan Pahul to these so-called Charandhari Sikhs? Where are the Charandhari Sikhs today, and who administers them Charan Pahul?
On page 38 he Dr. Lal asserts, “Guru Gobind Singh’s trust in sehjdhari Sikhs is further evident from the role given to sehjdhari Sikhs in propagating the Guru’s religion and in the management of Gurdwaras during that period. Guru Gobind Singh sent some Sikhs to the holy city of Kashi to learn Sanskrit and to establish a Sikh University in Punjab for the purpose of training scholars on Gurmat. This group of Sikhs in turn trained many scholars of Sikh theology, who are well recognized in the Sikh history. Among those were included some great amritdhari Sikhs such as Gyani Gian Singh and Bhai Santokh Singh.”
How did Guru Gobind Singh’s predecessors manage to preach Gurmat without finding the need to educate Sikhs educated in Sanskrit at Kashi? I am amazed by Sikh scholars who on the one hand proclaim loudly that our Gurus enlightened the people with their liberating philosophy in the language of the masses, and on the other insist that Sanskrit education is needed to understand this philosophy. Lal’s statement flies in the face of evidence that Sikh Gurus rejected the moral authority of Hindu scriptures and the essentials of Hinduism.26, 27, 28, 29, 30 The writings of Giani Gian Singh and Bhai Santokh Singh contain many stories and interpretations that contradict the fundamental teachings of AGGS.
Besides, it is a myth that Guru Gobind Singh sent some Sikhs in disguise to Kashi to learn Sanskrit from the Brahmans.31 Nirmalas (holy man) claim that Sikhs, who were sent in disguise by Guru Gobind Singh to Kashi to learn Sanskrit from Brahmans, founded their organization. It is more likely that Brahmins, who had (have) no moral revulsion about ascribing immoral acts to their own gods and goddesses, made up this story.
Furthermore, it seems reasonable to believe that Brahmins started this organization in Sikh disguise. The story of Nirmalas is full of holes. There is no evidence that Guru Gobind Singh’s predecessors sent Sikhs anywhere to learn Sanskrit. What was the need for learning Sanskrit during the time of Guru Gobind Singh?
If for the sake of argument, we believe that Guru Gobind Singh wanted Sikhs to learn Sanskrit to study ancient Indian literature, where did Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Nanak or Guru Arjan go to learn Saskrit? Did they go to Kashi? It is quite possible that some medium for learning Sanskrit was available in Punjab so the need for Sikhs to go to Kashi to study Sanskrit does not arise.
Guru Gobind Singh had many scholars and poets with him at Aandpur; couldn’t he hire few Sanskrit teachers? Were the scholars, who translated Sanskrit texts into Braj Bhasa, not competent enough to teach Sanskrit? Let us suppose further that Guru did send some Sikhs to Kashi. What were their names and where did they come from? Is there any biographical information available about them? What did those Sikhs do with their knowledge of Sanskrit? Did they teach Sanskrit to Sikhs or translated Gurbani into Sanskrit?
Moreover, Nirmala / Mahant organization (Akhara) was started under the patronage of feudal lords, the Rajas of Patiala, Nabha and Jind in 1918.31 There is no surprise in it! Throughout history rulers have used clergy to keep their subjects ignorant so that they could exploit them without any resistance and public outcry. Brahmins used to elevate their rulers to the status of god, for example, Sri Ram Chander Ji and Sri Krishn Ji were rulers.
Brahmins even regarded Mulim rulers as God incarnate.32 Christian clergy used to confer divine rights on their kings and the Muslim clergy did the same for their rulers. The Sikh feudal lords used the Nirmalas to keep their people ignorant for easy exploitation. No wonder the Sikhs under the British rule were more educated and better off than under the rule of Sikh Rajas. Nirmalas / Mahants used to frighten people not only with their curses but also had the legal power to impose fine on Sikhs for refusing to comply with the request of the mahant (clause 17 of the charter).33
On page 39 is written, “There exist many Hukmnamae (letter, an epistle, decree or edict) issued by Guru Gobind Singh to his individual followers or the Sikh congregations. They have been published and authenticated. These Hukamnamae contain Guru’s instructions to follow his path of Gurmat and perform the specific chores to fulfill the needs of the Guru’s house and congregations. These Hukamnamae can be cited to show that Guru Gobind Singh bestowed full recognition to Sehajdhari Sikhs even after the date of the initiation of Amritdhari Sikhs.”
It is true that Ganda Singh and others collected these “Hukamnamae”, but they did not vouch for their veracity. Mehboob has argued very forcefully and logically that the corrupt Masands and unscrupulous Sikhs issued most of these Hukamname for their personal benefits.34
Further down on page 39, Lal writes, “There exists a Rehit Nama written and signed by Guru Gobind Singh specifically addressed to Sehajdhari Sikhs.” He has cited Piara Singh Padam’s book published in 1989 to support this claim.35. Reference 10 on page 41 claims, “Bhai Nand Lal was poet Laureate of Guru's court. He wrote two Rehit Namae, one in 1695, that is, four years before the Vaisakhi of 1699, known as Rehit Nama, and the other in 1699, known as Tankhah Nama. Nand Lal was asked by the Guru to compile Guru’s injunctions for the guidance of the Sikh community after the Guru left his human body for the heavenly abode. Guru Gobind Singh made himself available for his conversation with Bhai Nand Lal to guide him to compose his writings.”
It seems that Lal did not read what Padam said about Rehit Namae in 1991.34 “Extensive research is needed to determine who wrote the Rehit Namae, and when? One thing is clear that no Rehit Nama was written by Guru Gobind Singh, otherwise it would have been included in Dasam Granth. It seems that Rehit Namae were written in the 18th century by Sikh writers, who assigned them to close associates of Guru Gobind Singh like Bhai Nanad Lal, Bhai Dya Singh, Bhai Chaupa Singh and others to enhance their value and acceptance by the Sikhs. It is possible that Bhai Nand Lal and others might have written some parts of these compositions. However, a closer look at the contents, details and style of the language reveals that probably they were written after 1720. One can say with certainty that only Desa Singh’s Rehit Nama is his own work. Some of the contents of some Rehit Namae are not consistent with Gurmat. For example, Brahmin authors have excessively praised Brahmins, used abusive language against Muslims and advocated against the learning of Farsi and Arabic, and Desa Singh has advocated the use of opium, marijuana and alcohal.” Moreover, aren’t the injunctions in AGGS sufficient to guide the Sikhs? Didn’t Guru Gobind Singh confer spiritual Guruship on the teachings of AGGS?
On page 39, Lal asserts, “Guru Gobind Singh and his successors issued several Hukamnamae exclusively to Sehajdhari Sikhs as indicated by them not using “Singh” surname.”
Who were Guru Gobind Singh’s successors? Didn’t Guru Gobind Singh confer Gruship jointly on AGGS and the corporate body of the Khalsa (entire Sikh community)?
In reference 1 on page 40, he says that Kesar Singh the author of Bansawli Nama was related to Bhai Dharm Chand, one of the five beloved ones (Panj Piarae). The original name of that “beloved one (Piara)” was Bhai Dharm Das, not Bhai Dharm Chand. Furthermore, he belonged to a Jat family from Hastnapur (UP) whereas Kesar Singh Chibber belonged to a Brahman family of Punjab. There is no possibility that they were related to each other because inter-caste marriages were unthinkable in those days.
On page 40, he has quoted Bhai Gurdas in support of his views about Sehjdhari Sikhs. “Sehjdhari Sikhs as any other Sikh take a step towards Guru by declaring their faith in Guru’s path, Gurmat. The Guru promised to receive them with open arms (Bhai, Gurdas. Kabir 111 (Punjabi), Singh, O., Ed., Patiala, 1994.).” There is no mention of Sehjdhari Sikhs in the couplet cited above. Dr. Lal has taken the liberty to insert it in the verse.
Scholars especially those who claim to be Sikhs should not loose sight of the objective of Sikh philosophy, which is to bring humanity together under “One and only God” -- irrespective of their caste, color, creed, gender, ethnicity and language.“Nanak says that a true Guru brings all together to meet God (AGGS, M, 1, p 72).”
At the least a Sikh scholar should bring all the Sikhs together, instead of dividing them into different categories. Besides, it does not make any sense for people to call themselves Sehjdhari Sikhs three hundred years after the Vaisakhi of 1699. The term Sehajdhari Sikh was applied to those Sikhs who during the time of Guru Gobind Singh and the first half of the eighteenth century did not take Khande Dee Pahul. However, their children and grandchildren filled the ranks of the Khalsa Order when it was engaged in a life and death struggle against the tyranny of the combined forces of casteist Hindus and Muslim rulers. The use of this word by today’s Sikhs is not only a distortion of Sikh history but also disrespectful to the memory of “real Sehjdhari Sikhs”, who suffered extreme hardships and sacrificed their flesh and blood for the glory of Sikh Panth during the first half of the eighteenth century.
All Sikhs follow AGGS, and in my opinion those who add adjectives like Sehajdhari, Jat, Ramgarhia, Namdhari etc. are either ignorant of the teachings of AGGS or they are insincere -- not genuine Sikhs! The word Sehajdhari Sikh is not found in AGGS. AGGS has very clearly defined a Sikh. “One who imbibes Guru’s teachings through deliberation, crosses the (ocean of worldly temptation) under the watchful eye of the Benevolent One (AGGS, M I, p. 465).”
It is interesting to note that Dr. Lal has relied on sources other than AGGS to build his thesis on Sehajdhari Sikhs. In all the 23 references cited by him there is none from AGGS. For the sake of brevity, in the following two sections the discussion is mainly restricted to the interpretation of Gurbani.
Interfaith dialogue and the Aad Guru Granth Sahib37
Let us discuss the ecumenical nature of Sikh faith as demonstrated by AGGS, which includes the works of Bhagats (saint)and Sufis. This article contains controversial statements and misinterpretation of Gurbani and Bhai Gurdas’ composition. On page 7, Dr. Lal informs us, “Guru Nanak tells in the AGGS that one is born with innate tendency to seek four life objectives. But soon after birth, one finds oneself trapped in the house of maya, the great illusion of a Pseudo-self. So blinded, one misses the objective and is lead away from Reality…
"The humans are born with an inborn drive to secure four life objectives (dharam, arth, kam and mokh): thus they start living within the walls of Maya (illusion). In addition, as they are blinded by darkness of Maya, they forget about Naam and lose contact with the cosmic Creative Self leading to defeat in the purpose of this life (AGGS, M1, P 1027).”
Firstly, kam (sexual drive), and arth (drive for riches) are innate drives, and the other two, dharma (religious duties), and mokh (salvation) are the products of the environmental influence under which a person grows.
Second, Maya (material world) is not illusion according to Nankian philosophy.38 For the Gurus, the world is real, not illusion and their emphasis is on the authenticity of life – union with the Creator.

After creating the world of life, God manifested Itself as Naam therein to make the world a seat for righteous actions.
AGGS, M 1, p, 463.

According to AGGS, the purpose of human life is to realize God, and a life of separation from God is a life of Maya (illusion). It is Haumen (self-centeredness), which causes alienation from God.
In Haumen, one is engrossed in Maya and its influence.
AGGS, M 1, p 466.

Whoever is afflicted by duality is the slave of Maya.
AGGS, M 1, p 1153.

Intoxicated with Maya one is vain and mean and suffers from delusion, thereby getting away from God.
AGGS, M 5, p 924.

Third, the interpretation of verses by Lal is Brahmnical, not consistent with Nankian philosophy (Gurmat). Here Guru Nanak is commenting on the four objectives of human life according to Hinduism. The desire to achieve these four objectives leads to entanglement with Maya, which causes alienation from God. The primary objective of human life according to Nankian philosophy is union with God. Furthermore, the concept of mokh or mukti (salvation) is different in Sikhism than that in Hinduism.
I don’t crave for worldly kingdom or salvation -- surg or baikunth (heaven), I crave for the comfort of dwelling on God’s attributes (lotus feet).”
AGGS, M 5, p 534.

O my mind meditate on God, Whose virtues are indescribable. Whereas others long for Dharam (religious duties), arth (wealth), kam (sex) and mokh (heaven), a Gurmukh (God-centered being) is not distracted by them.
AGGS, M4, p 1320.

True Guru (God) is the controller of the four padarth (objectives). By God’s grace one obtains freedom (mokh) from the other three (dharam, arth, and kam).
AGGS, M 1, 1345.

On page 7, Dr. Lal has interpreted following two verses incorrectly.
Like the intoxicated in sensuality the female elephant loses freedom in the hand of captors so has the entire civilisation in this age succumbed to intoxication of Maya and lost out to the delusions.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 1, Pauri 7.

No one respects any one else or their deities.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 1, Pauri 7.

The interpretation does not match the first verse. Bhai Gurdas has described the moral condition of the people of India of his time. The verse quoted here means: “In this age the world is in the grip of Maya and everyone has been deceived by its glitter.”
The problem with the Indian society was not the lack of worship of deities, but the recognition of the “Real Deity” – God. Here puja means respects and ooch neech means good and bad, so the correct interpretation is “People do not respect each other and have lost the sense to discriminate between good and bad.”
On page 11, Lal says that Bhai Bala was a life long companion of Guru Nanak.
Bhai Bala was not a life long companion of Guru Nanak. Generally, Lal quotes Bhai Gurdas’ works abundantly in his writings. For some reason he has ignored the eleventh Var (ballad) wherein Bhai Gurdas has listed the names of prominent Sikhs. While the name of Bhai Mardana occurs near the top, there is no mention of Bhai Bala.39
Furthermore, the name of Bhai Bala is not mentioned in other Janamsakhis (biographies). Most historians agree that “Bhai Bala Janamsakhi” is the work of Hindalias (also known as Niranjanias), who were the bitter enemies of Sikhs.40 This sect played a very active role along with other Hindus in the extermination of Sikhs during the time of Zakria Khan and his minister Lakhpat Rai.41 Therefore, Bhai Bala was either a member of the Hindalia sect, or a fictitious character, not a companion of Guru Nanak as claimed by Lal.
Surat: Higher Consciousness of Divine Engagement.42
This article is about Surat, which facilitates the comprehension of the Shabad. The interpretation of Gurbani is Brahmnical, not consistent with Nankian philosophy (Gurmat).
On page 29 Lal writes that according to Gurbani those not relating to Surat miss the boat in their life; they will continue to cycle in the circle of birth and death. For example, Guru says that without connecting one’s Surat to Sabd one continues to remain in the cycle of birth and death.
Without the Sabd-Surt, one comes and goes in the cycle of birth and death, and is humiliated through recycling in this coming and going.
AGGS, M 1, p 1031.

If the Gurus believed in the “cycle of birth and death” as claimed by Lal, then there could be numerous chances to meet God – theoretically unlimited chances! There is categorical rejection of the concept of Hindu belief of “cycle of birth and death” (transmigration) in AGGS. The Gurus did not talk about the past life or the life after death, what they talked about and laid stress on is the present life. They made it abundantly clear that the present life is the only chance to realize God. For example:
This alone is your chance to meet God, ponder and seek within.
AGGS, Kabir, P 1159.

Being born as a human is a blessing indeed, this is the opportunity to meet God.
AGGS, M, 5, P 378.

Nanak says, “Don’t look to the past, make efforts to move ahead (to realize God). This is the chance (to meet God) because there won't be a birth again for you.”
AGGS, M, 5, P 1096.

Why should one who wants to have a glimpse of the Beloved, should bother about the salvation and paradise?
AGGS, M, 1, P 360.

“(O careless one), you won’t be born again, make efforts to realize of God (salvation). Praising the Merciful One, will take you across the ocean of worldly temptations,” says Nanak.
AGGS, M 9, p220.

This is your chance to meet the Lord of the Universe, meet Him. It took a very long time for this human body to evolve.
AGGS, M 5, p 176.

Kabir, human birth is difficult to obtain because the same person is not born again and again, like a ripened fruit once fallen on the ground, does not get attached to the branch again.
AGGS, Kabir, p 1366.

When we know that after death we are not going to come back then why waste our life in the pursuit of perishable worldly things?
AGGS, Farid, p 488.

The verse quoted by Lal is from a long shabad covering almost the entire page. In this shabad Guru Nanak has emphasised that the panacea for all human problems is Naam Simran (constant meditation on the attributes of God). Naam Simran transforms a person to a “God-centered being” (Gurmukh), who becomes one with God (Jiwan Mukta). Becoming one with God is the purpose of life according to Guru Nanak. This verse consists of two parts, Guru Nanak’s philosophy of Naam Simran and the Hindu belief of transmigration (cycle of death and birth). So in this verse Guru Nanak advises someone who believes in “the cycle of birth and death” that without Naam Simran, one comes and goes and suffers humiliation in the “cycle of birth and death”. “Cycle of birth and death” is not Guru Nanak’s belief, nor he endorses it.
On page 31, Lal has quoted Gurbani emphasising the fact that for a human being the present life is the only chance to meet God
Meet the Lord of the Universe - now is the time to meet Him. Taking so very long, this human body was fashioned for this purpose.
AGGS, M 5, p 176.

You have been blessed with this human body and mind (in contrast to other forms of animal kingdom).
This is your opportunity to meet the Manager of the Universe.
AGGS, M, 5, P 378.

Here, Lal has contradicted his earlier statement, “Without the Shabd-Surt, one comes and goes in the cycle of birth and death, and is humiliated through recycling in this coming and going.” Later, on page 32, while interpreting another verse he contradicts what he said on page 31 described above. This mind is blackened with many cycles of birth and death (AGGS, M 3, 651).
Lal has interpreted janam janam as “many cycles of birth and death” either literally or he believes in the “cycle of birth and death”. Let me first deal with the pitfalls of literal translation of Punjabi expressions. When a mother says “jug jug jivae mera lal”, she is not talking about the mythical Hindu ages, she is wishing a long life for her son. Similarly other expressions like duniya char dina dee khaid ja duniya char dina dw mela mean that our sojourn in this world is limited. As I mentioned earlier, AGGS rejects the concept of “ cylcle of birth and death”. Therefore, janam janam means different experiences in life and the verse should be interpreted accordingly as: “This mind is blemished with the ill effects of various life experiences.”
The analyses of these articles show that Bhai Harbans Lal’s writings use Brahmincal interpretation of Sikhism, and not the authentic version of Sikhism consistent with Aad Guru Granth Sahib.

1 Chahal, D. S. Integrated and comprehensive philosophy of Sikhism. Understnding Sikhism Res. J. 2003, 5 (2), p 3-6.
2 Chahal, D. S. Integrated and comprehensive philosophy of Sikhism. Sikh Virsa, 2003, 8, 56-58.
3 Singh, B. Misinterpretation of Gurbani by W. H. McLeod, Part I. Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 2003, 5 (2), p 72-80.
4 Singh, B. Singh, B. Misinterpretation of Gurbani by W. H. McLeod, Part II. Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 2003, 5 (3), p 66-78.
5 Singh, J. Misinterpretations: Jats and Sikh militarization in The Sikh Revolution, 4th reprint, 1998, p 260-283.
6 Singh, P. The Ahiyapur Pothi. Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 2003, 5(4), p 14-21.
7 Ahluwalis, M. S., Dhillon, B. S. Textual studies of the Adi Granth: current issues. . Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 2003, 5 (4), p 56-63.
8 Singh, P. The Text and the meaning of Adi Granth, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, 1991, p 64.
9 Singh, P. The Text and the meaning of Adi Granth, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, 1991, p 20-21.
10 Singh, P. Recent trends and prospects in Sikh studies. Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses, 1998, 27 (4), p 407-425.
11 McLeod, W. H. The Sikh Scriptures in Sikhs and Sikhism, 1999. P 69.
12 Guru Arjan Dev compiled the first Sikh Scripture by incorporating the compositions of his predecessors, his own and that of Bhagats and Sufis and the resulting codex is called Adi Granth. It is also known as Pothi (sacred text) and Kartarpuri Bir (sacred text of Kartarpur) as it in the possession of a Sodhi family of Kartarpur. Bir means Jild -- binding of a book.
Since the Adi Granth was a bound manuscript, it acquired the name Adi Bir. Later on Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, added the composition of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru, to the compositions of Adi Granth and the resulting sacred text was (is) called Damdami Bir, as according to Sikh tradition it was prepared at Damdama. The current Sikh Scripture is a copy of Dadami Bir.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which manages the historical Gurdwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Himacchal Pardesh, and Sikh-religious affaires, is also responsible for the printing and distribution of the current Sikh Scripture and it has named it as “Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.” In literature it is referred as Guru Granth Sahib or Guru Granth or Granth or Sikh Scripture or even Sikh Bible.
However, quite often people not only call it Adi Granth but also pronounce it as Adee Granth, erroneously. From the time of Gurus, the Punjabi language has undergone evolutionary change in pronunciation. For example the vowel, I (sihari) of Adi in modern pronunciation is de-emphasized and Adi is pronounced as Aad. In Adi, i denotes i (sihari).
In my writings I use the name, Aad Guru Granth Sahib, as Aad which means (eternal or first in preference) is very important to distinguish it from other Granths or Guru Granths. Recently, some malicious people have started calling Dasam Granth as Guru Granth. I have dropped Sri (Mr.) and Ji (yes, Sir) as the use of Sri before Guru and Ji after Sahib is redundant.
13 McLeod, W.H. Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion, 1968.
14 Mc McLeod, W.H. Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion, 1968, p 205.
15 Grewl, J. S. The Sikhs of the Punjab, 1994, p31.
16 Singh, J. The Sikh Revolution, 4th reprint, 1998, p 105.
17 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 21-22
18 Macauliffe, M. A. The Sikh Religion, reprint, 1990, Vol. I, p 197.
19 Singh, S. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan (Punjabi), Vol. 1, 1972, p 59.
20 Singh, p. The Text and the meaning of Adi Granth, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, 1991, p 225-226.
21 Cole, W. O. The Sikh Concept of Guru, Understnding Sikhism Res. J. 2000, 2 (1), p 20-23, 39-40.
22 Chahal, D. S. Second ISU Seminar 2002 in Canada: Shabad Guru, Conscience and Consciousness. The Sikh Review, 2002, 50 (11), p 66-68.
23 Lal, H. Sehajdhari Sikhs and Vaisakhi of 1699. Understanding Sikhism Res. J. 1999, 1 (1), p 37-41.
24 Bipran literature: Literature that subverts Sikhism.
25 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 68.
26 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., New Delhi, 2001, p 19.
27 Grewal, J. S. The Sikhs of the Punjab, New Delhi, 1994, p31.
28 Singh, J. The Sikh Revolution, New Delhi, 1998, p 105.
29 Singh, B. Misinterpretation of Gurbani by W. H. McLeod, Part I, Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 2003, 5 (2), p 72-80.
30 Singh, B. Misinterpretation of Gurbani by W. H. McLeod, Part II, Abstracts of Sikh Studies, 2003, 5 (3), p 66-78.
31 Kala Afghana, G. S. Bipran Ki Reet Ton Sach Da Marg, part 5, (Punjabi), 1999, p 32-60.
32 Eeshvro va Dilishvro va (The emperor of Delhi is as great as God).Narang, G. C. Transformation of Sikhism, 5th ed. 1960, p 98.
33 Kala Afghana, G.S. Bipran Ki Reet Ton Sach Da Marg, part 5, (Punjabi), 1999, p 37- 38.
34 Mehboob, H. S. Sehjae Rachio Khalsa (Punjabi), 1988, p 723-746.
35 Padam, P. S. Rehat Nama Sehjdharian Ka (Vajubularaz). In Rehat Namae (Punjabi), 1989.
36 Padam, P. S. Rehat Namae (Punjabi), 1991, p 43-44.
37 Lal, H. Interfaith Dialogue and the Aad Guru Granth Sahib. Understanding Sikhism Res. J, 2001. 3 (2), p 6-13.
38 Singh, Daljit. Sikhism a Comparative Study of its theology and Mysticism 2nd ed., 1994, p 186, 206-208.
39 Gurdas, B. Varan Bhai Gurdas (Punjabi), Amritsar, 1976, 95.
40 McLeod, W. H. Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion, 1996, p 23.
41 Singh, Sangat. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, 97, 100-101.
42 Lal, H. Surat: Higher Consciousness of Divine Engagement. Understanding Sikhism Res. J, 2003, 5 (1), p 29-35.

Copyright©2003 Baldev Singh. About the author


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Re: Dr. Baldev Singh Is no more...

Gyani ji

I really appreciate this memorial article. Dr. Baldev Singh had to be one of my favorite writers on Sikhism from the pure power of his scholarship. No matter whether I agreed with him or not. Enormous credit is due him for his steadfast devotion to Sikhism which he demonstrated through an unflagging search for detail. logic, sources, and clear argument. It was clear to me from my first days studying Sikhi that Dr. Baldev Singh was a scholar through and through, in Sikhism and in any other field where he applied his heart and mind. Discovering what was true was important to him and he spared no one when a work was irresponsibly short on facts and logic, even his allies came under scrutiny. And he was never rude himself. Freedom to speak and question was another value he championed. As a Sikh that is right. Every article, long or short, was a testimony to the care he took because he CARED about Sikhism. What a loss! God bless his family.

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
Re: Dr. Baldev Singh Is no more...

Dr. Baldev Singh had many qualities. One of the most important was the separate his emotions from the subject of Sikhi being discussed, hence it made his analysis, his thought process more objective rather than subjective, which is the case in many Sikh Scholars of today.

We will surely miss him but always treasure the treasure he left behind for Sikhi.

Tejwant Singh


May 9, 2006

Does anyone have a link to a biography or some background information about beloved Dr. Baldev Singh ji, please?

I've given one of his articles to someone who has questions about reincarnation and was hoping to give some background information about him but I couldn't find any.

Many thanks.
Last edited:


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
This has proved very difficult to do on Google. The reason I think two fold. Dr. Singh has passed away and so current writing accompanied by a biography doesn't show up obviously. Sikh Spectrum where he wrote many articles is now in archival format only. I don't see him listed there in the contributors' section. When using Google a prominent Indian military official takes up the initial search pages. When adding "biochemist" a microbiologist in India crops up.

He was a neighbor of my mother, living only 10 minutes away. When he became ill he moved to California to live with his brother. He passed away in California. His children still live in the old neighborhood.

I think we are going to have to get lucky to find a bio. A few years ago it would have been really easy.

Harry Haller

Panga Master
Jan 31, 2011
This man is a hero of mine and has contributed to my thinking hugely, allow me to assist in the hunt, I will post anything I find, if nothing else, debating what he stood for, I think would have made him happy, especially if a few managed to see what his arguments were about.

The man was Sikh through and through.