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Is SARBAT KHALSA Some Magic Word That Will Cure Sikh Woes?

Chaan Pardesi

Oct 5, 2008
London & Kuala Lumpur
Is SARBAT KHALSA some magic word that will cure Sikh woes?

SARBAT KHALSA, literally means "the gathering of the entire Sikh people or nation". This was a concept used for Sikh sangat to meet yearly or twice a year in the 17th/18th century, when the Sikh population was confined to the Punjab, and literally almost every Sikh attended - where the decisions governing the Sikh people, apolitical, and social or religious affairs of the Sikhs were discussed openly. Then decisions were taken to chart the future actions or pathway of the community to meet the challenges facing the community, especially to fight the Moghul oppression and reinforcing the Sikh Panth pathway, or to introduce a new policy.

To find solutions to the Sikh religious and political issues today, that have manifested into complicated problems for all, two large gatherings of Sikhs were held recently,one known as Sarbat Khalsa [the gathering of all Sikhs] at Chabba, near Amritsar in Punjab, where up to 600,000 people came together.

The other was held in United Kingdom at Smethwick where up to 20,000 Sikhs gathered.

Great enthusiasm was shown for both. A lot was expected from the one in Chabba, Punjab. In recent times, it appears many Sikhs think somehow the words SARBAT KHALSA and any action taken through this would, rather magically somehow change the destiny of the community. They have raised their expectations beyond reality, above politics and the legalities of the current law of the land. It is a blind hope, of a misunderstood faith, and misunderstood concepts, without any introspection of the reality facing the community, I believe.

The real truth is BOTH recent gatherings have FAILED miserably to deliver what the Sikh sangats were expecting. The Chabba SARBAT KHALSA was found to be riddled with divisions, accusations and counter accusations from factions that took the lead and participated in it, and those that stayed out of it, or fell out.

What is SARBAT Khalsa? What was expected from it, and why has every Sikh since 1984 latched on to hold so much faith in this concept of SARBAT KHALSA, even though there has been no known history of a successful SARBAT KHALSA, in this century.

The last SARBAT KHALSA held in 1986 at The Holiest of the HOLY HARMANDER SAHIB, popularly known as the GOLDEN TEMPLE, was attended by up to 1,000,000 people. Many declarations were made, but all turned out to be undelivered and very hollow, often with unrealistic expectations - especially around appointment of the Jathedar of the AKAL TAKHAT - the supreme Seat of the 5 Spiritual Thrones of Sikhism. There also appears a lack of understanding around the law of the land, and autonomous Sikh aspirations, around what and how their religion should be governed or guided.

In the last SARBAT KHALSA at Chabba, additional declarations were added and all again appeared to be literally hollow, and undeliverable like in 1986, and really confined to a few.

The Chabba Sarbat Khalsa on the 15th November, and the major Sikh gathering in Smethwick, were as a result of the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib in the Punjab, over the last few months, starting in June, by anti-national and anti-Sikh elements, trying to stir and belittle the emotions of the Sikh people, in regards to their attachment to the teachings - Gurbani of the Gurus.

The gathering at Smethwick was intended to stir and support the issues of the Chabba SARBAT Khalsa and raise awareness internationally.

But it appears, although well attended, both gatherings have failed in essence to deliver anything, but has created more divisive groups and thought of mind in the community. In fact, the calls to set up panj piare nilly willy is a step into the wrong direction; and has begun badly, without a realization of the statutory laws governing the SUPREME SIKH BODY - Shiromani Gurduara Parbandhak Comittee, technically the Sikh Board- it's position in the Sikh community; and the parliamentary Act, that puts this body in place.

Once the practice of establishing Panj Piare freely, by whoever disagrees with the SGPC is let loose, there will be no end of Panj Piare emerging to out-do the last group. Everyone who disagrees with some principles, will set up another set of piare...will lead to many sets of cowboy-type practices. A very dangerous direction. Of course those who want chaos in the community will quote Guru Gobind Singh as accepting the Direction of the Five Piare; little do these people realise, they are NOT dealing with people like the Majestic Guru Gobind Singh. Today we have politicians, who are crooks by nature and politicians by design and have no principles to respect the command of the five - nor are they people with any Sikh will. So stop comparing and start living in today's reality.

According to the established protocol,only the Jathedar of Akal Takht is empowered to call the Sarbat Khalsa, legally.Others can requests the jathedar to call for one.

Another is to use the excuse that the sangat is supreme. Yes the sangat is supreme, but what gives any sangat to be more supreme than the next sangat.Sangats are too divided over minor issue within Gurduaras, have no idea what they are dealing with big issues like sarbat khalsa and the destiny of the faith.So, please stop playing with words and emotions, over issues that are beyond you and understanding that lacks of the Sikhs ethos.

One of the most eye lifting , and laughable idea was the establishment of the WORLD SIKH PARLIAMENT-but nobody explained where, how this WORLD SIKH PARLIAMENT would be set up, and who will listen to it's rulings or how will it impose it's rulings in any country, when they have no clout what so ever!Neither are they statutorily sat up or recognised in any country.Only Sikh body currently recognised is the SGPC or the DSGMC.Making such outlandish declarations without feet on the ground ,may sound impressive, but it is bound to misfire back into the face - making a mockery of Sikhs.

The reality is many Sikhs are frustrated with the current politics that has enveloped the Sikh panth through Badal & Company - Groups that are associated with the RSS or the Central Government, who more than necessarily interfere in the internal affairs of the community. So those Sikhs who are frustrated and do not have a share in the power, feel that by using the sangat (the Sikh congregations), they can oust people like Badal. They recognise when the real time comes, most from the same SANGAT are the ones that will vote Badal and Company back into power. So, realising they have no means of ousting Badal through elections, they are using Sikh sentiments and emotional attachments to push Badal into a corner; but this does not seem to give them the results they are seeking. For as much Sikhs that they are, Sikhs are also governed by the laws of the land. To begin with, Sikh laws are not really recognised autonomously as law, as Sikhs are lumped into Article 25, which governs all the Indian-born religions, including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Hinduism.

Although, Sikh practices are recognised within the definition of who is a Sikh,these are simply practices of the faith and not a law.

The dangers of setting up Panj piare nilly willy,will work out like a bad mushroom, spreading more negativity and badness.One such example can be evidenced when one baba emerges, another pops out, then the stream does not end.The same when one silly non Sikh ritual is carried out, hundreds are waiting to follow suit.Like wise, once some members of the community become wise to manipulate this process, we will see no end of panj piare appearing, in time to come....chaos and internal civil strife will begin.

The way forward is to take control of the only legal Sikh body, SGPC-and with new officials work on correcting the wrongs.

End of the day,nothing guarantees that the new officials will not turn out to be similar like the ones voted out!

For Sikhs, the Panth is an identity and an independent pathway of nationhood. However, when looked closely at the word, most scholars will agree that Panth really means a nationhood Concept, Insight and Knowledge.

It is through the Panth Sikhs are recognised as a nation of people, different from others.But in today's world, there are Congressi, Akali, Communists,and BJP Sikhs, Khalistanis who form the "Panth"and claim to be the Panth!So what and whose Panth are these opportunists/politicians talking about?

Sarbat means WHOLE, and originates from Sanskrit word "sarva" or "sarvatas".This is to ensure that no Sikh is left out, thus allow everyone to have a part.

Without going into other nitty gritty,the idea of sarbat khalsa is to bring SIKHS? PANTH together in unity, as according to the message of the Guru ji - "Sache orre sabh ko, upper sach uchaar".

Thus, the Sikh Religion,Sikh Panth,and Sikh Nation should be walking strongly. the mission of Guru Nanak's message-that Sarbat Khalsa is "... sabhe sanjhiwal sdayiin tu kisse dasse bahra jio "magnetically.It is a message of unity, inside, outside, all around us-that ALL Sikhs be incl;uded.But were ALL Sikhs included in these recent sarbat Khalsas?

Not at all. There were two divisive groups-exposing their haume, ego, hankaar, and exhibiting their political clout-which is not at all what a sarbat khalsa should be for.Here, the Sarbat Khalsa is being misused to show another side low, to fracture the great institutions of Sikhism.

It is not to be used to exhibit loutishly noisy culture and flaying Kirpans in the air, against each other and the Sikh panth.We have seen such happen countless times,in Gurduaras throughout the world,at Fresno, in the Harmander sahib, when Sikhs with unsheathed Kirpasn were attacking each otherout a care in the workd or about the sanctity of their holy Shrine in mind.Mindless louts wearing saffron coloured turbans were swinging Kirpans upon each other.These included mature men with greying beards...trying to fight, with turbans being knocked off.

Sarbat Khalsa is an arising historical concept.The old world Panth did not give this concept to do what we are doing,in current day panth, knocking each other out.Fighting with swords drawn in or out of Harmander sahib!

The Sarbat Khalsa today is being used for political reasons within the Panth, to divide each other, to belittle each other, it is being turned into a political weapon of self destruction.This needs to be stopped.It will not help the community.There are no two ways about it.

In 1723, Bhai Mani called a Sarbat Khalsa in an attempt to settle the differences between Tatt and Bandaii Khalsa.

In 1726, the S-Khalsa was called to draw a strategy, to confront,attack and take away the Mughal loot and distribute among the poor from whom the Mughals had looted and plundered.

In 1733, the S-Khalsa was called to discuss the offer of the Nawabship and landed property/estate by the Mughals, to make peace with Sikhs.

In 1745, the S-Khalsa was to discuss the establishment of the Khalsa Army

In 1805, the S-Khalsa, met to discuss various issues, among them the prominent was whether to support the Maharatthas, fighting in the South.

In 1986, the S-Khalsa was to discuss a new Pathway for the Sikh nation after the destructive incidents on Hramnder sahib and other gurduaras and the mass genocide of Sikhs.This pathway never materialised.

Now, in 2015 the issue was around the abuse and desecration of the Guru Granth sahib in the Punjab.

But what really transpired?

There was a lot of hope built up prior to the Chabba S-Khalsa and the Smethwick Samelan.But again, it is clear absolutely NOTHING was delivered due to internal disagreements in both cases.Like the Modi Action Team in Malaysia, all disappeared into thin air-very irresponsibly!

Gurcharan Singh, Kulim,

More to come
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