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Sikhism Sikhism: Anti-Sikhism

Discussion in 'Book Reviews & Editorials' started by Aman Singh, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    Sikhism: Anti-Sikhism
    Author: Charanjit Singh Bal, Canada
    Published by: SB Publishers, New Delhi
    Pages: 159, Price: Rs. 150; US$: 5.99; C$: 7.99
    Reviewed by: Professor Hardev Singh Virk

    The book under review consists of 19 essays. I was attracted to read and review it because of its title which is quite fascinating. I was curious to explore something unique in the essays under section Anti-Sikhism but to my dismay I found most of the articles a recount of the material already published. Charanjit Singh Bal belongs to a new genre of Diaspora Sikh writers who want to promote Sikhism in the western hemisphere; who are well versed in using new tools of IT world but who lack vision and insight of a mature writer. The author writes in the preface: “This book is a composition of my articles and virtually verbatim print media news reports and cyber messages pertaining to noble Sikhism and ignoble Anti-Sikhism. It is my humble endeavor to propagate quintessential concepts, egalitarian doctrines, pragmatic practice and authentic history of universal Sikhism.”
    In Chapter 1, the author reports what many others have already written, namely, “Views of prominent non-Sikh writers about Sikhs and Sikhism”. I wonder why the author fails to cite the references where these quotations occur. I remember my own predicament when I quoted the views of Reverend H.L. Bradshaw about Sikhism in my article and the Editor pulled me up for not giving reference to his quote. I believe the author has not made an attempt to look up and research original sources of these quotations.
    Chapter 2-4 are the most important chapters of this book. The author gives a vivid account of the religious situation in India at the time of advent of Guru Nanak in Punjab, in Chapter 2. He tries to establish Sikhism as a pragmatic faith in Chapter 3, calling it a unique and practical religion. The author is at his best in Chapter 4, “Concepts of Sikhism”. He defines concept of God, Guru, Origin of Universe, Creator, Human Virtues and many other concepts in a nut-shell manner, quoting relevant shabads from Guru Granth Sahib. He succeeds in proving the rational approach of Sikhism which rejects dogmatism, ritualism and asceticism. However, the author commits some blunders in Chapter 2(p.24) calling Shiva’s consort (wife) Sita, instead of Parvati and locating Younepeeth shrine in Gauhati in Bihar(p.25), instead of Assam. A shabad of Guru Ramdas (p.60) is attributed to Guru Amardas.
    Chapter 7 deals with Sikh Rehat Maryada (Code and Conventions). The author traces the historical evolution of Sikh Rehat Maryada and its implications. The author is critical of the Amrit Sunskar ceremony as practiced today (p.84-85): “Guru Gobind Singh’s concept of Amrit has apparently been misconstrued and ritualized. Amrit Sunskar reads like creed of dogmas from Hindu Simritis. There has to be greater emphasis on preparedness and determination of worthiness of a Sikh prior to Amrit Sunskar.” In Chapter 8, “Khalsa Panth”, the author goes into background of the need for creating the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in a logical manner. However, his definition of Khalsa as pure is too literal. In fact, Khalsa is a Persian word which means crown property that belongs directly to the King. Hence, Khalsa belongs to the Guru/God. The author is advised to check up historical facts regarding Iftar Khan as governor of Punjab (p.91) and correct his date/year of baptismal ceremony which was held in March 1699, and not in March 1669 as mentioned by the author (p.96).
    In the Chapter 5, ‘Guru’s Langar’, the author remarks, “Guru’s Langar combines three noble principles of Sikhism: charity, community service and social equality.” The author is highly critical of the priestly class, Jathedars and their hukamnamas. He refers to the ongoing tussle between Sikh intelligentsia and Akal Takhat Jathedar in view of hukamnamas issued against Kala Afgana and Joginder Singh, Editor Spokesman. The author also condemns fake Khalsa (p.100): ‘Although the identity is an integral part of a religion, it does not enhance a man’s spiritual consciousness. But the zealous orthodox religionists profess that the religious garb takes precedence over exalted spiritual consciousness.”
    Chapter 12 “Anti-Sikhism” traces the history of persons and movements which were inimical towards the revolutionary religion of Sikh Gurus and tried to create schisms in it. Anti-Sikh movements started during the Guru period and continued unabated till date. The author displays wonderful sense of history in this chapter and narrates all the events which tried to torpedo the Sikh movement. Role of RSS, both the Hindu and its counterpart, the Sikh organization, is criticized. The author does not spare some of the authors, like Rattan Singh Jaggi, who change their stand without bothering about their conscience. I do not know why the author considers it obligatory to include Chapters on Air India Massacre and on Homosexuality under the Anti-Sikhism section? The book ends with an interesting Chapter on Nankana’s Endowment Lands, which has no relevance to the theme of the book, and is based on the narration given by Harpal Singh Pannu in his article published in Sikh Shahadat.
    It seems the author has made his first attempt in writing this book in English language, which is not his mother tongue. The publisher is equally responsible for ignoring the editorial/vetting work. There is all type of errors, rather howlers, incomplete sentences (p.143, 146), spelling mistakes (quakes for quacks, p.69) and all types of flaws which one expects from a novice, not well versed in English language. Despite all its short comings, the book can serve as a reference material for those interested in the study of Sikhism.
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  3. hps62

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    Dec 8, 2005
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    It is great an laudable to see that some of the most enthusiastic work on Sikhism is occuring out side its mother land Punjab.

    I guess it is there spirit of adventure , pioneering landing by Sikhs in late 19 century in Canada ; and the tremendous freedom Sikhs have enjoyed in Canada that leads to so much of literary work being done there.

    I guess in the annals of Sikh history Canada shall always find a place of Pride.

    love to all Canadian Sikhs and all Canadian citizens.

    Nanak Nam chadi kala ter bana sarbat tha bhalla


  4. Archived_Member5

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    (previously jeetijohal, account deactivated at her

    Mar 14, 2006
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    The sacred faith and Nam of Sikhism is upheld and as valuable and efficacious in a post modernist confused and displaced society as the efforts of each individual of this faith.
    Mindful that the honour and nobility of Sikhism and its ongoing steadfast adherence to its wisdom truth and tradition is maintained and kept alive by the ardent practice and exemplary conduct of its advocates.
    One Gursikh has the ability to bring lauds and glory upon a noble faith. It requires simply one unscrupolous, selfish and disillusioned individual to corrupt and bring ruination to the same.
    Each conscious and aware Sikhi governs his household as his little world, remains true to his faith whilst integrated and socialising with members of other faiths of his neighbours.
    The highest condition of man is peace and loving kindness. He who is able to dwell harmoniously and peaceably with all whilst faithful to his own motherland and beliefs is in a state of nirvana. The sword of righteousness is infinitely more potent and powerful than the sword of fear and warfare.
    J. K. Johal
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