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Is Fasting For Social Or Political Purposes Allowed In Sikhi?

Inderjeet Kaur

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We all know that Sikhs are forbidden fast for religious reasons, at least I hope we all know that.

My question is whether fasting is permissible when it is used to achieve a social or political end, to convince human beings without reference to the Divine, as in the case in the article below, from Sikh24.com

Campaign by Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Attracts Scores of Sikh Leaders to Gurdwara Amb Sahib

Baba Ranjit Singh: First we are Sikhs, Our Organisations Come Second
By: Nirvair Khalsa Dal

Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Punjab (December 2, 2013)—A number of prominent personalities from various Sikh organisations gathered today at Gurdwara Amb Sahib, Ajitgarh (Mohali), where an Akhand Path Sahib Bhog took place followed by speeches in support of the Sikh prisoners justice campaign.

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, a Sikh activist, is currently on day 19 of a hunger protest with a pledge to carry on until death, unless authorities free 7 political Sikh prisoners that have long served their legal sentences, but still languish in Indian jails without good reason.

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and the Sikh bodies have announced a peaceful March on 4 December 2013 in Punjab to highlight the justice campaign to free the 7 Sikh prisoners. The procession will commence promptly at 9:00am from Sri Akal Takht Sahib, travelling through the cities of Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Sumrala and Morinda, before finally ending at Gurdwara Amb Sahib in Mohali.

After the speech by Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, Sikh Panthic preacher Baba Ranjit Singh Khalsa Dhadrianwale, who has personally known Bhai Sahib for many years, spoke at the gathering and told the Sangat how even 13 years ago the Sikh activist used to ask for, and be given ten minutes of stage time to speak about Panthic affairs after the Diwaans in the early days of their Parchar. Baba Ranjit Singh Khalsa, attending after a meeting with Bhai Sahib on 30 November to show solidarity with the cause of innocent Sikh prisoners, advised on the need to come on one platform for oneness in the nation and reminded the Sangat, “first we are Sikhs, and our organisations come second.”

Other prominent personalities in attendance were Bhai Daljit Singh Bittu (Panch Pardhani), Bhai Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib (Dal Khalsa), Bhai Harchranjit Singh Dhami (Dal Khalsa), Bhai Harpal Singh Cheema (Akali Dal Panch Pardhani), Baba Ram Singh (Damdami Taksal), Former IAS Gurtej Singh, Former DGP Shashi Kant, Human Rights Activists Advocate Navkiran Singh and Advocate Amar Singh Chahal, Sikh Scholar Bhai Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Bhai Gurpreet Singh Khalsa (Son of Baba Hari Singh Randhawe Wale) amongst others.

The [appointed] Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Singh Sahib Giani Gurbachan Singh Khalsa, as well the SGPC President, Avtar Makkar, have also visited Bhai Sahib to discuss the peaceful campaign and enquire about his wellbeing.

In the meantime, Sikhs across the Diaspora outside India are active to support the campaign, with the UK population believed to be organising a demonstration in Birmingham on 3 December.
 

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aristotle

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In my humble opinion, hunger strike is not the same as fasting. Forsaking food to make a point or getting one's voice heard maybe an extreme form of protest, but not exactly fasting, which is a ritual ascribed to certain faith traditions or maybe a part of some dieting programme. But that would be microdissecting meanings.

At the same time I don't think it is disallowed in Sikhi as long as it isn't the form of ritual fasting as in Hinduism, Jainism and Islam.

Sikh have had their fair share of hunger strikes. Bhagat Singh Ji, Darshan Singh Ji Feruman are a couple of well-known names.

Anyways more power to Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Ji. His cause is a noble one and few have the gall of doing what he is doing.
 

Gyani Jarnail Singh

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Y ES WE should be able to discern the difference...this is NOT the RITUAL fasting which is condemned. Its a way of FIGHTING..

SIKHS stood in front of cannons..faced bullets...faced lathi charges..Guru Teg bahadur ji gave his head...all these were not rituals, nor were they for individual gain or glory...they were fights for RIGHTEOUSNESS...only the WEAPON of CHOICE differs..I am sure IF BADAL were to order Bhai GS Ji to STOP his fast or LOSE his HEAD...Bhai sahib ji would bow his head before the sword..after all its the exact same thing...IF Aurengzeb had asked the GURU to "go hungry" or CONVERT..what would be Guru Jis answer ?? GO HUNGRY. Same Fight for RIGHTEOUSNESS....Bhai sahib Gurbaksh Singh ji just like Feruman Sahib..can accept food and quit...or travel the length..and die...
There is not an IOTA of anti-gurmatt or anti-sikhi here..its propoganda to divide us and drive us AWAY from Bhai Gurbaksh Singh jis action. period. SUPPORT HIM all the WAY.
 
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Sadly it seems that the hunger-strike is over. They've kidnapped Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and thrown him in an ambulance. Probably they will force-fed him and then lock him up for months, years on some false charges. :(

Source
Mohali/ Chandigarh (December 6, 2013): It is learnt that an intense fight took place between the Sikhs and the police personnel in civil dresses on the intervening night of 5 and 6 December. The fight took place when a large group of police personnel who were in civil dresses attacked Sikhs staying with Bhai Gurbaksh Singh.

Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khasla Sikh Siyasat sources informed that around mid-night a large groups of persons arrived at Gurdwara Amb Sahib where Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was holding fast into death since November 14, 2013 seeking release of certain Sikh prisoners who were not being released from Indian jails despite completing the terms of their sentences. These persons were in civil dresses. The scuffle between this group (the police) and Sikhs started when some Sikhs staying with Bhai Gurbaksh Singh recognized some members of the group and disclosed that they were police personnel.

The scuffle soon turned into intense fight between the two sides when police personnel attacked Sikhs. But the. Sikhs were outnumbered by the police personnel.

The source told Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) that the police has arrested Bhai Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa. It is expected that after registering his formal arrest the police would hospitalize him and he may be subjected to forced feeding in wake of his continuing hunger strike for last 22 days.
Hopefully some good will come out of this, hopefully it will cause people to rally like the threat to Rajoana's life did. They can 'arrest' one person. They can't 'arrest' the whole kaum.
 
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Bhai Sahib hospitalised.

I first of all thought that the smiling man standing behind him was a smirking police-officer, but on second thoughts I don't know, he's wearing a kesri dastar, I don't think a policeman would be doing that. Then again, it could be part of the disguise they used to sneak up and grab him.
 
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Source
Ajitgarh/ Mohali, Punjab (December 06, 2013): The incident of mid-night police attack on Sikh morcha at Amb Sahib Mohali has caused a wave of anger and agitation among the Sikhs globally.

As per information revealed by the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) sources from Gurdwara Amb Sahib (Mohali), after his arrest last night Bhai Gurbaksh Singh was initially admitted to Civil Hospital of Phase VI (Mohali) where the doctors under pressure from the police attempted to forcefully feed Bhai Gurbaksh Singh.

Sources had confirmed information that Bhai Gurbaksh Singh’s determination foiled the attempt of police and doctors to feed him forcefully.

According to latest reports the police has booked Bhai Gurbaksh Singh under section 306 of Indian Penal Code for allegedly attempting to commit suicide and he has been sent to Ropar Jail.

While talking to Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) Bhai Harpal Singh Cheema and Gurnam Singh Sidhu, who have been appointed as official spokesperson for the morcha, confirmed that Bhai Gurbaksh Singh has been lodged in Ropar jail.

“We have received a message from Bhai Gurbaksh Singh from Ropar Jail that every attempt to forcefully feed him was foiled by him and he remains firm on his determination to continue with his struggle” Bhai Cheema said.

Meanwhile Five Sikhs namely – Bibi Manjot Kaur, Bhai Inderpal Singh, Bhai Jaswant Singh, Bhai Harpreet Singh and Bhai Hardeep Singh sit on the hunger strike around 1:30 am (December 06) after performing the ardas..

Bhai Harpal Singh Cheema said that Bhai Gurbaksh Singh has sent a clear message that his fast unto death shall continue in Jail.

“Bhai Gurbaksh Singh has said that the Sikh sangat should not change the location of the struggle and five Sikhs should sit on 24 hours hunger strike in his absence”, he added.

Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) sources present on the site of morcha have informed that various Sant Samaj leaders have reached Gurdwara Amb Sahib (Mohali).
 

Ambarsaria

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The dichotomy of treatment of Sikhs versus the majority based personalities in India. Let us compare,


  • Anna Hazare
    • Put on a pedestal, made into a national leader, up and down the Government the leaders approached and looked for compromises
    • The ruling party was successful in putting the whole movement on a back burner
  • A Sikh tries to make a statement and gets arrested and put in jail
    • With a motive just and intentions pious
Let all judge democracy and so called secularism or not in practice!


Not to offend just to bemuse and note!

PS: Separately I believe Sikhism has examples of passive fighting as in willing to be martyred like Guru Teg Bahadur ji, Guru Arjan Dev ji, and many more. The more active and forceful response usually follows when all means of passive actions do not produce results. As per Guru Gobind Singh ji, such Khalsa took shape in 1699. See also famous lines in Zafarnama,

<iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/P0SSRdlX0lw?feature=player_detailpage" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" width="640"></iframe>
 
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Gyani Jarnail Singh

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<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Sikh Siyasat News (SSN) sources present on the site of morcha have informed that various Sant Samaj leaders have reached Gurdwara Amb Sahib (Mohali).
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

."VULTURES"......OPPORTUNISTS...Leaders looking to TORPEDO the Morcha and take the credit...etc etc...have reached to make hay while the sun shines...Siveh teh rottian sekann valleh "Sant samaaj"...
 

Inderjeet Kaur

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Let's not start an IRA debate here please...

Anyway, even members of the Indian establishment are starting to support Bhai Gurbaksh Singh now:
http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/12/07/shashi-kant-former-dgp-prisons-supports-the-cause-of-sikh-prisoners-criticized-badal-regime/


This also reduces the credibility of the argument that life technically does mean life in India. I would expect the former DGP to know sentencing laws very well, so if he is stating that these men should be released then there's a good case for it.
 

spnadmin

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Inderjeet Kaur ji

Maybe you are being facetious. Sometimes I cannot tell.

The Jathedar's pronouncement came after conferring with SGPC. You know this entire story cannot be unwound from the politics of upcoming elections. Any of us, as has been the case on most issues, draw our direction from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on moral questions, or we should, with rare and few exceptions from the rehat. Otherwise we are giving our minds to politicians, and held hostage.

The entire panth is held hostage anyway. I was remiss in not point that out originally.
 

Ambarsaria

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Apropos to this thread, I note that none other than the Jathedar of Akal Takht said :

fast unto death was suicidal, which had no place in 'Gurmat' (Sikh traditions).
This at least answers part of the question of fasting for a Cause.
Let us think logically and review the following,

  • When Guru Teg Bahadur ji decided to sacrifice, why was not that equivalent to suicide other than that someone else cut your head off when you knew that is what will happen?
  • When two elder Sahibzade went to fight against all odds and died who would not have thought that they were sacrificing self. Isn't sacrificing equivalent to an action of premeditated death?
  • When Satwant Singh killed Indira ji in the presence of other guards was there any doubt that he will be killed and was in no illusion of self sacrifice in a belief?
  • When Sant Fateh Singh in the 60s built fire ovens on four corners of the roof of Akal Takht to burn himself alive, was that not planned suicide?
    • It was funny as we in our village looked up towards Darbar Sahib to see smoke to rise knowing full well in our hearts that it was a gimmick and sign of terrible leadership posturing.
  • Master Tara Singh did lot of fasts and could have died in any one of those during the ill fated and destructive Punjabi Suba movement. That was the beginning of the end of a respectable place of living for Sikhs as was Punjab at that time. The slide he started never stopped and has accelerated to the garbage we see in Punjab today.:hopmad::hopmad:
Fundamental issue is that our leadership is so impotent and useless that they refuse to take up honest and pious causes and are just there to posture and exploit. Very very sad state of affairs indeed. Why should individual Sikhs be driven to desperate measures while the fat cats live in luxury and protection :soccersingh:.
That reminds me :doh:what happened to the Hondh Chillar express investigation launched by the SGPC. You may want to review the following,

http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/1984/34554-1984-sikh-genocide-26-years-new.html#post142465

Sat Sri Akal
 

spnadmin

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Ambarsaria ji

I think I follow your argument, but also am not sure. Would you clarify for me because the same things confused me earlier in the thread.

What am I missing? The sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur and the 5 Sahibzhadey are on the same list with Fateh Singh and Master Tara Singh. From earlier discussions I know that you did not think Master Tara Singh's political agenda was either constructive nor good for Punjab. Somewhere there is a subtle point and I am missing it. I would appreciate it if you could say more. Maybe it has something to do with how things have changed and have become spiritually and politically worse over time.

Thanks for helping me out. It may only be a technicality but leaves me stumped nonetheless.
 

Ambarsaria

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spnadmin ji I am happy to expand and do not pretend to be all correct and wish to be corrected too.

When actions or intent of actions has certainty of death one can classify and regard these in different ways. Let us review a few below,

  • A person walking into a hail of bullets coming their way with no chance of survival
    • If it is a soldier,
      • Looking pragmatically and harm to that person level
        • At base level the action would surely be suicidal
        • The enemy will say the person must be suicidal
      • Looking positively
        • The person sacrificed self so that others would not be harmed
        • The person committed a heroic act
        • There will be posthumous awards, etc.
      • We will call the actions of Sahibzadas and similar others like Satwant Singh who sacrificed self to avenge 1984 at a personal level as heroic, done to protect the faith, done to signal the sanctity of a line in the sand that no one will cross without impunity, etc.
  • Committing or planning to act in a way to end one's life
    • At a personal level and justified however internally it is clearly called a suicide
      • No one else to be judge or the community
      • Such people raise flags and show signs but the near ones and others in the know perhaps try, not try or fail to overcome person's determination
    • Planning to end or sacrifice one's life in an announced way for reasons personal or communal
      • Carrying out manipulative schemes with fake or no sincerity
        • Sant Fateh Singh
        • Tara Singh
        • Ana Hazare
        • Ram Dev shananigans
      • Sacrificing for a pious cause without causing death of others
        • People of higher mind and state of living
        • Our Guru ji's
        • Pheruman ji
        • The thread underlying person in question
What we always need to remember in Sikhism is that we are bigger than our living bodies. Much of us lives after we die. It is through the person you interact with, in general the life and matter you interact with, the physical legacy through off-springs if so be it. Sikhism teaches us to leave imprints deserving of the preciousness of human form. Great people never die, some live even larger than life in death.


I hope the above provides the context behind my post and clarifies.


Sat Sri Akal.
 

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