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Issues Affecting Sikhism

Every other day on almost all the platforms, relating to Gur Sikhi, we always and often listen the hue and cry that Sikhism is in danger. Our youth are running away from Gur Sikhi. They are scared of Amrit. They play with their beards and other body hair. They don’t listen to the elders etc. Every leader or missionary of what so ever category or stature speaks and always stresses that the youth should be persuaded to come to gurdwara congregations, or they may be encouraged to meditate or involve in NAAM SIMRAN as it is generally called to bring them closer to the religion and religious practices

There is no denying the fact that the problem is there and grave and alarming too. But to my mind is not so easy to be tackled, just by issuing sermons or delivering lectures or arranging seminars. The persons at the helm of affairs or the persons who are concerned and are really serious will have to give a deeper thought to the issues involved.
To my mind before we involve ourselves in giving lectures to others, we must address the core issues to ourselves. By ourselves I mean the elders i.e. the leaders, the parents, the teachers, the missionaries etc. Under noted some issues relating to the elders of our community are to be addressed to by all of us, before we can tell our youth to come on the right track.

OUR LEADERS:At the outset introspection is required on the part of our leaders. Before some one else points out, they have to ensure as to whether, what they expect others to do is being done by themselves or not. In the 21st century even a three years old child questions his parents about their hypocrisy and duality. To assume that that our youth shall take our advise on face value will be like living in a fools’ paradise. Before we advise others to do NITNEM or daily go to gurdwara or adopt healthy practices in life, we must ensure that we are true to our sort. We must ensure that whether we ourselves are observing daily routine as prescribed for a Gur Sikh. But besides that, we shall have to ensure that we ourselves are not indulging in drinking, mud slinging, dishonest life – dishonest not towards oneself or towards religion but dishonest towards the State, towards our employees or dishonest towards any one who comes in contact with us. Our children minutely observe our conduct and deeds more rather than they listen to our sermons.

OUR MISSIONERIES:By our missionaries, I mean here professional missionaries. The professional missionaries comprise of Ragis, granthis, Lectureres/Parcharaks, Pathis, Sewadars etc. These are the functionaries who are closely connected to religious affairs and are supposed to be mainly responsible for the spread or otherwise of religious practices.<O:p></O:p>

This is a field, which is seriously affected and infected. As on date barring a few exceptions, I think (which may be my personal opinion and not an attack or criticism of any body), the plague of their ignorance of Gurbani, Sikh History, lust of power and money, hypocrisy and duality in their preaching and practices have reached such a low level that it needs a thorough surgery or operation to restore the health of the community. The ills are vivid and many but some of them may be listed as under.
1. Most of the persons join the profession after getting some training in their respective fields from some professional training centers, may be Taksals or Vidayalays. But it will have to be admitted that their general I. Q. is at a very low level. The audience, the sangat, the youth of the day is much more intelligent, well read, exposed to media and often do not accept the statements of our missionaries on face value. They raise vivid questions that are often brushed aside by these persons, as irrelevant, uncalled for criticism and even go to the extent of calling them as non - believers.
2. Sikhism to most of us is most modern, enlightened, scientific and ultra vibrant religion, free of all the dogmas, fasts, rituals (karamkands) etc. We have been completely liberated from ‘bipran ki reet’ by Dasmesh Pita. The system of revolt from orthodox established Brahamanical practices started from Jagat Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, and culminated with the dictates of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It is my personal observation that, though, sometimes these missionaries are not aware of the basic principles of Sikhism, but most often, several of them often wont let the audience know them or may even mislead them to gain some personal and pecuniary benefits. Saradhs or Pitter Puja, have been completely banned in our religion, but we people offer langar parshad to Bhais, sewadars etc. Then Tuesday and Saturday Pershads are there. We also sing Shabad“Dhakan ku pat meri”, pRym ptolw qY sih idqw Fkx kU piq myrI ] dwnw bInw sweI mYfw nwnk swr n jwxw qyrI ] , when one offers a Rumala for Sri Guru Granth Sahib. We often sing “khet hi karo Nibera” after the demise of a person, which becomes quite irrelevant as it is a prayer to God Almighty for liberation and for seeking his bliss while one is very much alive. While we all stress for NAAM DAAN OR NAM SIMRAN, we never stress for good deeds. Although there can be no second opinion about the supremacy of Naam Simran and Gurbani Path in our religion, but good deeds have also their say. We forget
‘changiyan buriyan vatche dharma hadoor , karmi aapo aapni ke naire ke door’ or
‘Jeha beeje so lune, karma sandrha khet, or
‘Othai Pap Pun Beechariye, kurhe Ghatte Raas, or
Othai Sach Vartda Kuriyara Chit Udas. or
Othai Sacho hi sach nibrhe, Chun vakh kadhe jajmaaliya, or
Sabhana ka dar lekha hoi, Karni Bajho tare Nan koi’.
There are numerous examples from Gurbani or Bani of Bhai Gurdas, which stress that it is the deeds, which decide one’s fate at the end. But seldom do we listen such messages from our missionaries.

3. Now let us come to another aspect of their performance. One generally or quite often listens to the sermons about the importance of Kirtan, Shabad Gurbani, Nit Nem, and Ardas Guru Ka Langar etc. But rarely one finds them participating in any of such activities when it is not their turn to perform. I am constrained to equate their performance to that of an actor on a stage. Most of the Kirtni Jathas never stay for Ardas, even though they might be quite free after their performance. I have seen Granthis entering the hall at the time of some Path programme; another enters to perform Ardas, leaving room for the earlier Pathi to leave. Rarely one will find them participating in Langar, while sitting in Pangat, ignoring the facts that even revered Gurus, took their food in Langar and even emperor Akbar, sat in Pangat, to have glimpse of Guru Amar Dass Sahib. This non-consistency in their preaching and performance is one of the major factors, to my mind, for drifting away our youth from the Gur Sikhi.

4. .We have yet to discuss another important aspect of their conduct. Although our community is rich and sensitive enough to look towards the material requirement of their missionaries, and offer money like water, yet an era has started where several of the Ragi Jathas ask for hefty amount before agreeing to perform at some programme. Whereas they always speak about Maya, its ill effects upon the society, yet they won’t come unless one agrees for a very high sum for their performance. For one-hour performance, it may go to several thousand rupees. Whereas, some weak organizations cannot muster so much amount to attract such ragis, their role when exposed unveils their duality and hypocrisy, drifts away the youth from the path of religion. We feel sorry for the path setters. One is all the more pained when our leaders, the men at the helm of affairs keep their eyes closed to such an ugly practice, which has made a permanent home in our religion. Fixation of a basic minimum may be permissible, as it is this source of income, which is their livelihood, but to ask for hefty amounts is unethical and immoral and against the basic tenants of our religion. I will go to the extent of suggesting that such Jathas, who ask for an amount beyond a certain sum to be fixed by our management at the top, may be black listed or even ex communicated. Even Guru Arjan Sahib did away with the job of his Hazoori Rababis, as they were then called, when such situation arose at that time. Sangat can it self perform and the Anand or spiritual happiness or satisfaction is much more when voluntary jathas perform. Of all the issues this is of utmost urgent attention and is needed to be addressed with top most importance.

5. .In the heat of discussion, I don’t intend to leave the topic as one sided. Whereas, some people are in a bargaining position, most of our parcharks are either semi literate, ill equipped as far as their knowledge of Gurbani/History is concerned and are underpaid as well. They live on subsistence conditions and are often on the doles or mercy of the sangat. They expect food/ money for any service rendered by them. Their salaries are so low, that they have invariably look towards these other sources of income. Then their services are at the whims of the management or some resourceful persons. There is no security to their jobs. There are no service conditions. There is no system of updating or up gradation of their knowledge. There is no in service training institutions. We don’t conduct any seminars. When we expect a lot from them for our youth and children we also owe a duty towards them to look to them, to look out to their children and families and we owe a system where we can train them in commensurate with the requirements of their jobs.
Role of parents/elders/ teachers: For the spread of the religious beliefs and practices or rather to put a stop or a break on the degradation of the same, we cannot absolve ourselves of our responsibility by just depending upon our missionaries or leaders. Every parent, every teacher or even every elder of reckoning is a guiding light for our children. The children and youth follow generally what they see and observe in society. If we all wish that our children should possess high values and be faithful to their faith and even our nation, we shall have to set examples for them. We cannot run away from our responsibility that we have no time from our busy and hectic schedule to look to this aspect of our children. If we do not look them properly, there is every possibility that they may go astray, leaving us to repent at a later stage. And if, I repeat if, we indulge in wrong, unethical, immoral, illegal or dishonest practices, even God Almighty won’t come to our rescue at a later date. Teachers have also a major role in this direction. To be effective they are not only to teach but to practice as well. To say so is very easy but to practice is all the more difficult. But if we are to show some positive results and we are serious towards something, we will have to forego several things, which may look very important when seen from a narrow angle, but shall appear futile and of least significance when seen from a broader perspective.
Knowledge and Awareness: With the advent – Parkash – of Guru Nanak Sahib on this earth in 1469 and with the physical departure of Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708 – a period of 239 years was a period when the Sikhism from a seed developed into a full-fledged tree. During this period our revered Gurus went through various obstructions, strains, agonies, pains, sacrifices, just to establish the Sikh Panth. In the course, several of their beloved ones also suffered a lot and had to pay the price for being the loyal ones with their lives. There were testing times and sometimes graver ones, even after that. To say, that barring a few short spells of peace, last more than 500 years, since when the Sikhism came into existence and got an identity and an independent entity, have always been a period of turmoil, is no exaggeration. Founded as it is, on the basis of revolt – revolt against existing social and religious practices of mutual distrust, hatred and non tolerance and against the practices of tyrannical rulers of the day and their oppressive, unjust barbaric policies, it always received the wrath of the established centers of power – political and socially or religiously fanatic ones. Books are full of our heroic acts. We boast of ‘ band band katwauna (to be killed in a cruel and torturous manner by being cut part by part and limb by limb of the body), khopri luhani (to get the skull removed instead of allowing the hair cut) zinda jandha naal bann ke sariya jaana (Burnt alive after getting tied with trees), gaddiyan thale a ke choor choor hona (to be crushed under the running trains) Sawa sawa man de peesane peesne, (to make flour of one and a fourth maund of wheat in the hand grinding mills) lalan de tote karva ke gale wich har puvauune,( To get the young kids brutally killed and put their dead bodies around the necks of their mothers in the form of necklaces), degan vich ubale jaana,( To be got boiled alive in big utensils meant for cooking) aare naal cut ke do pharh hona,( to be got cut with saw into two pieces while standing erect throughout) and innumerable other ways of sacrificing our lives for our cause and for our principles.

I put a poser to the leaders of the day and persons at the helm of affairs of our community. Can they be sure for themselves as to what percentage of our youth who are going astray are aware of our glorious past? I would invite them to conduct a sample survey. I am sure the respondents will say these are subjects of fairy tales or matters of fiction only.
Naturally a question arises where have we gone wrong. There is no dearth of Khalsa Schools and colleges. Missionary teachers are also there. We have also a State now - though tiny one – where our language and values can flourish. In spite of all why this degradation is there. Here is a matter, which can become a subject of serious thought for all the well-wishers of the community.
The opinions may differ. There may be a plethora of causes, some of which have been given above. But I think, persons of our generation, who have seen Master Tara Singh, Giani Kartar Singh, S.Kehar Singh Vairagi, S.Sant Singh Teg, Jathedar Santokh Singh and even Giani Badal Singh, won’t find anywhere on the entire Sikh stage, leaders or parcharaks (Missionaries) of their stature. If I don’t exaggerate, there is a systematic planned - though in a conspiracies way –thought of eliminating the Parcharaks from our community. In all big or small religious congregations where people assemble there is a stress on ‘kirtan’ only. Though Kirtan is supreme in our religion as it is laid down in gurbani ‘kalyug mai kirtan pardhana’, and one cannot get peace or solace without listening to kirtan. But I think to understand kirtan or to find peace in that is the last stage of development of a Gursikh mind. This is like joining postgraduate class without even clearing matriculation examination. Basic tenants of the religion and our glorious past has to be put into the mind of the child and the youth in a simple and understandable language, which can only be done by well trained missionaries and lecturers. In the process of promoting Kirtan we have e virtually eliminated other modes of spreading Gursikhi, viz. Kavi Darbars, Dhadi Darbars and Gurbani Katha Itihasak vichar etc<O:p></O:p>

Role of Print and electronic media:
The other day I was talking to one of my friends who shared my anxiety about the issues pertaining to our religion. His one idea struck my mind instantly. He suggested that in modern day busy world, when we or our youth and children rarely find time or are attracted to big or small religious congregations, why cannot we use electronic or other print media to send our message to every home. The idea was perfectly workable. T.V. with its multi channel system and vast exposure can be of immense use if used in proper direction. Our Managements or Parbandhaks as they are often called at the helm of affairs, can buy some time on any popular channel for sending the message to every home. It may be in the form of lectures, Gurbani Vyakhayan or Katha called in common terminology. We may also show some of the clips from our history or can get prepared some skits depicting the martyrdom of our ancient and modern Sikhs, our Massacres (GhalloGharas), historical movements which brought triumph to our fight on our principles for the upkeep of our turban, keeping of kirpan and other symbols etc – within India or abroad. We can also highlight our continuing fight in several lands even today. There is no dearth of writers, producers, music directors or singers etc. within our community. If need be, there is no harm in hiring them from outside our community too. There is no shortage of funds. People are and are willing to shed any amount for this cause, as this has become a cause of concern for every one.
We are aware that Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee is already showing a weekly programme on every Sunday in the morning titled ‘Goonjan Virse Diyan’. It is a step in the right direction. My stress is, instead of showing our past and present activities; we should come forward with some constructive and appealing programmes, aiming at showing our glorious past, so that our youth on seeing could raise their heads high in the society. Attractively designed magazines in different languages can also be started. Once we are determined to do something, obstructions if any will automatically cease to stand in our way, as Waheguru is always there to guide us and lead us to achieve the desired goals.
Sep 11, 2005
The reason for youths drifting away from sikhism is that some high tech and highly learned POTHI PATRI Scholars have made sikhism very complex and hyped it as complex with their unnecessary , lengthy and voluminous intrepretations , whereas sikhism is very simple and understandable .

Instead of trying to bridge the gap between the religion and practical life , what they do is create a wide gap by making it highly complex.
Jul 30, 2004

both of you are right.

First step is Sing Glory(that all is from Akal)
Then do labour(work to earn unlike many of our high up so called Sants (work is doen by mercy of Akal).

By mercy of Akal share with others which we get.
Jul 30, 2004

last world of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Worship of Akal.

preaching/rule of Words(of Gurbani as a whole and not only Guru Granth Sahib Ji say like non controvertial Japu Sahib at least).

Vision of Khalsa or to see God in Khalsa ie mutual respect as to repect others Sikhs as we respect Guru.

Guru even wanted to us to see Guru in foes also.

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