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Betrayal Of The Sikh Gurus?

Sep 3, 2010
mumbai (bombay), India
Betrayal of the Sikh Gurus

Title: Betrayal of the Sikh Gurus Author: Virendra Parekh Publication: The Observer Date: May 1,1999 In projecting Sikhism as a religion separate from and opposed to Hinduism, Sikh scholars have betrayed the Gurus. In comparing them with self-appointed prophets and self-proclaimed saviours, they have defamed them. In presenting Sikhs as a religious minority a la Muslim and Christians, they have rendered a disservice to their brethern. And in pinning their hopes for Hindu-Sikh amity on Nehruvian secularism they are chasing a mirage. For Hindus and Sikhs are not just brothers; they are one. To restore that oneness, certain notions maliciously floated by foreign rulers and picked up by their collaborators, need to be exposed. Now for a century Sikhs have been told by controllers of Akali politics and neo-Akali writers that Sikhs are not Hindus, that instead of deriving from Hindu advaita, bhakti, avatarvada karma, and rebirth and moksha, Sikhism has grown as a revolt against Hindu polytheism, Idolatry, caste-system and Brahmanism. The early inspiration was provided by Christian missionaries and British administrators. Imperialism thrives ,on divisions and it sows them even where they do not exist. The Britishers, had conquered Punjab with the help of poorabiya soldiers, but these played a rebellious role in 1857 mutiny. So the Britishers were looking for other allies and focused on Sikhism who had remained faithful. They started telling them gust Hinduism had always been hostile to Sikhism and even socially the two had been antagonistic. Officials like Max Arthur Macauliff told the Sikhs that Hinduism was like a boa constrictor which winds its opponent and finally swallows it. The Sikhs may go that way, he warned. He put words in the mouth of Gurus and invented prophecies by them which predicted the advent of a white race to whom the Sikhs would be, loyal. He described the 'Pernicious effects of bringing up the Sikh youths in a Hindu atmosphere'. It was a concerted effort by the officials, scholars and the missionaries. To separate the Sikhs, they were even made into a sect of Islam. Thus, The Dictionary of Islam, a scholarly work edited by one Thomas Patrick Hughes who worked as a missionary in Peshawar for twenty years, gave one-fourth of a paw to the Sunnis, seven pages to the Shias but twelve pages to the Sikhs! The British government took administrative and political measures which yielded quicker results. They formulated a special army policy which gave pride of place to the Sikhs. In 1855, there were only 1,500 Sikhs (mostly mazhabis) in the British army. In 1910, there were 33,000, mostly jats. Their very recruitment was calculated to give them a sense of separateness and exclusiveness. Only Khalsa Sikhs were recruited. They were sent to receive baptism according to the rites prescribed by Guru Govind Singh. Each regiment had its own Granthis. They greeted British officers with Wahguruji ka Khalsa, Wahguruji ki fateh. As a result of these measures, "the Sikhs in the Indian Army have been studiously nationalised." observed Macauliff. A secret CID memorandum, prepared by D Patrie in 1911 sold that "every endeavour was made to preserve them (Sikh soldiers) from the contagion of idolatry", ie Hinduism. "Sikhs were encouraged to regard themselves as a totally distinct and separate nation", said Patrie. The Britishers also started Singh Sabhas and Khalsa Diwans who pledged loyalty to the Raj. It may be noted that those foreigners who boned Sikh 'nationalism', personally had scant respect for the Gurus. The same Patrie, for instance, wrote that "Guru Arjun Dev was essentially a mercenary", who was "Prepared to fight for or against the Moghuls as convenience and profit dictated". He tells us that "Tegh Bahadur, as an infidel, a robber and a rebel, was executed In Delhi by Moghul authorities". He also said that glorification of the Sikhs had its 'danger' because it gave them 'wind in their heads'. That has not prevented their mental progeny from repeating the lessons taught by them to this very day. Sadly, scholars who ought to know better lead the charge, taking cue from the pamphlet 'Hum Hindu Nahin' written in 1898 by Bhai Kahan Singh, chief minister of Nabha and a staunch loyalist. Since the essence is identical, external differences are pushed to the utmost and made much of. Sikhism is forced into the mould of Semitic theologies. We are told that Sikhs have a Book in Granth Sahib, like Quran and the Bible, while Hindus have none. Sikhism has a tradition of prophets or apostles in the ten Gurus, which Hinduism lacks. Sikhism frowns upon idolatry, While Hinduism is full of it. Sikhism has no use for Vedas, Puranas and social system of Dharmashastras, which form the cornerstone of Hinduism. By giving up the external marks, the five K's, Sikhs relapse into Hinduism. The latter, therefore, represents a danger to the Sikhism which must preserve its external marks at all costs. And so on. The arguments represent, at best, sloppy thinking. Guru and prophet are two different categories belonging to two opposite types of religions. None of the ten Gurus ever claimed to be a prophet, ie, a privileged messenger who brought verbatim messages from a personal God, to be obeyed by less privileged humans for ever. True, the nirguna brahma of the Granth Sahib and Upanishads is one without a second and is formless. But If such a God cannot be depicted with an Idol, he cannot be caught in a name or book either. He cannot be cruel, whimsical, jealous and vindictive (as Is the God of Bible and Quran) or benevolent rational, generous and forgiving. He is beyond all qualities and attributes. Without analysing the concept of Idol worship, It can be mod that Sikhs are not the only Hindu sect that does not believe in idol worship. Vedic aryans did not worship idols. Buddha did not want his followers to worship his own, statues. This is even more true of caste. Claiming to be anti-caste is the typical Hindu thing to do these days. RSS, VHP and Arya Samaj, all regarded as orthodox Hindu bodies by their supporters as well as opponents, expressly claim to be anti-caste. On the other hand, Sikhs have observed caste rules as much as Hindus have. Castes have existed on both sides and marriages take place between Sikhs and non-Sikhs but within the same caste (eg, Jats). But Sikh scholars and politicians are not alone in betraying the Gurus. The Hindus, too, have betrayed them. And not just by disowning Punjabi as their mother tongue. The attitude of Dayananad Saraswati, who described Guru Nanak as dambhi (impostor). and activities of Arya Samaj, which offered shuddhi (purification) to the Sikhs along with Muslims and Christians, played straight into the hands of foreign mischief mongers. Modern Hindu intellectuals have not bothered to claim the legacy of the Gurus and Sikh heroes. They have shown a totally wrong haste in calling Sikhs a religious minority. The Hindu tradition of offering, the eldest son to the Gurus is almost extinct. And the attitude of the Rajiv Gandhi government to the Sikhs was not much different from that of the Moghuls. The Gurus taught self-exploration, self-purification and self- transcedence. We have replaced them with self-stupefication, self-righteousness and self-aggrandisement. The Gurus placed devotion above erudition, spiritual wisdom above rituals, and God realisation above heavenly pleasures. We are doing the opposite. However, all is not lost yet. Ordinary Hindus still cherish the memory of the Gurus, take pride in Sikh heroes, and seek solace in the Granth Sahib. There is no dearth of Sikh scholars who see the Sikh spirituality as part of the larger and older tradition of Upanishads and Puranas. Celebrating the tercentenary of Khalsa on the threshold of a new millennium, the time has come for them to make themselves heard more loudly and clearly, in a dharam yudh against wrong and poisonous ideas planted by foreign rulers with a malicious intent. Their voice is bound to reverberate in the heart of Sikh masses - a heart still tuned to Shabad kirtan singing the strains of Sanatana Dharma.
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