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The Threat From Within

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Dipankar Gupta

July 25, 2007

The threat from within

Sikhs may be just 2 per cent of the population but in their self- image and deportment, it is as if they constitute 200 per cent of India’s one billion. As the saying goes: “Ek Sikh barabar sava lakh.” Even during the worst days of the Partition, Sikhs never felt insecure about their religion as their Hindu counterparts did, and continue to do.

Why then does a small, insignificant sect like the Dera Sacha Sauda, that does not even claim to be Sikh, get mainstream Akalis and a large number of everyday Sikhs so hot and bothered? This Baba is no medieval tyrant and martyrdom of any kind would be thoroughly wasted on him. He is a minor figure whose demonising by the Akalis raised his stature and downgraded their gurus who gave up their lives in far more glorious battlefields.

The question then is: How did the Sikhs suddenly turn so insecure? When did it happen and where were we all looking? Or did the lights suddenly go off in the changing room?

The original Panthic Party, which later morphed into the Akali Dal after 1947, never evinced such worries either, and those were very difficult times. They regularly participated with the Congress before Independence. The party even supplied the Congress with a stable of leaders from Pratap Singh Kairon to Swaran Singh. On election campaigns in undivided Punjab, the Panthic Party frequently displayed the Congress symbol along with its own. On no occasion did any of this to-and-fro movement from Panthic Party and back threaten Sikhism. Nor did the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee declare Kairon or Swaran Singh, or any of the others who took their political blood lines to the Congress, apostates or ‘tankhaiyas’. Sikhism had that much confidence.

In 1899, when Sardar Kahn Singh Nabha wrote “Hum Hindu Nahin (We are not Hindus),” he did not castigate any other religion but just said the plain truth. The Sikhs were not Hindus and let the record state the facts. It was not as if he was prompted to write this tract because of the perceived fear that Hinduism was eating up Sikhism. In this sense he was not the mirror opposite of Swami Dayanand who took every other religion, including Sikhism, as a threat to the Hindu faith.

Nabha’s interjection was to remind his readers of the symbolic energies at the heart of his faith without deriding non-Sikhs, nor, even for a moment, hoping to proselytise other religions to his own. Even the Singh Sabhas and Chief Khalsa Diwan of that period were intent on crafting a separate Sikh identity and not in impressing their own thought prints on their immediate religious neighbours.

Interestingly, in the 60 years after Independence, the Akali Dal has never used the Partition to evoke partisanship the way Hindu parties, and sadly, the Congress even, have done from time to time. This is indeed quite remarkable. Sikhs too had suffered along with Hindus in their migration to east Punjab and beyond. And yet, unlike Hindus, the Partition is history for Sikhs, and not a source of political energies.

When I was working with re-settled rural Sikh refugees in Punjab and Haryana, what struck me the most was that they found my questions, which recalled the Partition, quite stupid. So many of these Sikhs told me to move on and not keep looking over my shoulder for monsters and chimeras of the past.

That was such a relief. Hindu refugees, in general, were still agonising over the Partition and related stirring tales of their experiences during those times. Most of this recall was highly adorned as my Hindu respondents in the early 1990s were either babies or playing in the mud in knickers when 1947 happened. Some post-Partition Hindu families even held prayer meetings to solemnly remember the day they were ousted from their homes. I found none of this among Sikh refugees. It is no surprise then that even a sectarian party like the Akali Dal has no use for the Partition as a leavening political agent.

Later, during the bad days of Khalistan, a large number of Sikhs felt that they were humiliated by the Indian state, but on no account did they believe that their religion was under threat. Khalistanis were, of course, baying to the contrary from the margins, but an overwhelming majority of Sikhs did not politically side with these secessionists though they were widely admired for giving the hated agents of the government a tough time. This is not an ‘a-ha’ moment for, in spite of the trauma post-Bluestar, Sikhs were willing to look ahead the moment Prime Minister V.P. Singh visited Punjab with a healing balm.

The Khalistani years, if one may call them that, however demonstrated that in times of crisis, it was not as if there were Sikhs and Sikhs. Regardless of caste and origin, all Sikhs came together. This is where the difference lies when we come to the Sikh over-reaction to Dera Sacha Sauda. There are now Sikhs and Sikhs and the lines are drawn along the grooves of caste.

Most of the animus against Baba Ram Rahim came from the Malwa region of Punjab where Jat Sikhs are politically dominant. It does not matter really if Jats vote Congress today and Akali tomorrow, it would always be a fight between ‘lions’. Dera Sacha Sauda trampled on this territory by bringing in non-Jats to kick up dust and spoil the Jat versus Jat slugfest.

This is why Baba Ram Rahim was so profoundly despised in Jat-dominated Akali circles. It was not because he was undermining Sikhism so much as using his “low caste” followers to defeat Jats in their own lair that made Baba Ram Rahim such a hated poster-boy for the Akalis. If the Congress had won without his support, that would still have been acceptable.

It is not true, as the Akalis allege, that in the advertisement put out by Baba Ram Rahim he dressed like Guru Gobind. His turban did not have a ‘kalgi (or plume)’, he was stirring Rooh Afza (or something pink) with a ladle and not with a sword (which is Khalsa tradition), and further, he was wearing pink and not blue, not even white. No icon of Guru Gobind can ever be depicted in that colour. Chhatrapati Shivaji’s popular imagery looks closer to Guru Gobind than this pink spectacle.

And yet many Sikhs blindly believed the Akalis when they said that Baba Ram Rahim was imitating Guru Gobind and thus mocking Sikhism. The majority of such Sikhs did not bother to verify the facts as they were primed to believe anything against him. It was their Jatness, not their Sikhness, that Baba Ram Rahim deeply hurt. In the 1980s, Hindus too eagerly believed the tale that the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was secessionist. The drive to hate always numbs the better senses.

At the end of the day what is most depressing is that Sikhs are becoming caste-ridden, and more and more like Hindus. If this trend continues then Sikhism will probably find its greatest threat from within and not from figures clad in baby pink.

Dipankar Gupta is professor, social sciences, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
The brahmins are in a minute majority. A single uprising would have been enough to crush the supremacy of the brahmins, but you guys never wanted to rise, you wanted to continue your mundane lives of servitude. That is what has led more to you downfall, rather than racist casteist brahmin fanatics.



Dated 15th August, 94
Dear friends,

A district-level meeting of Brahmin Samaj was held at Balaghat on 15th August. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Trivedi, an ideal saint of Jabalpur. The following resolutions were passed in the meeting.
  1. Shudra communities means Backward Class like Pawar, Marar, Lodhi, Kasar etc. should be kept involved in the religious affairs so that their attention be kept away from political rights and they always remain slaves and supporters of Brahminism.
  2. The political consciousness that has developed among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Class and Religious Minorities has threatened the leadership of Brahminism. Hence, such a confusion and conflict be created in them, that they keep on fighting among themselves.
  3. We must go to the people of fourth Varna, Shudras and tell them that the constitution is against Hindus and it must be changed. This awakening must be created and spread in the masses.
  4. Everybody in Brahmin Caste, of any political party like Congress, BJP, Communist and any organisation, social-religious, must gather under one banner to save Brahminism, because the leadership of Brahminism is in danger.
  5. Wrong confusion must be spread among Pawars, Marars, Lodhis (backward classes), Scheduled Castes/tribes and religious minorities (Muslims/Christians/Buddhists) due to which they must fight and kill each other.
  6. Because of the politics of Bahujan Samaj Party (Kanshi Ram) and consciousness of Dalits, the leadership of Brahminism is threatened. To oppose this, we must tell the people that this is the party of Mahars and Chamars only, so that other smaller castes do not join.
  7. The employees of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, backward class and muslims have developed fat in their bodies. Hence they should be physically and mentally tortured and they must be humiliated by paper actions and their work must be carried out by the Brahmin Officers who are occupying high posts, in a secret manner.
  8. The Officers of Brahmin community, who are holding higher posts should spread confusion among the unemployed youths of low castes that only Scheduled Castes and Tribes people are taking advantage of reservation, and posts meant for you are being given to them only, so that they keep on fighting among themselves.
  9. If Brahmin community does not come on one platform to protect themselves and protect brahminism, this will be the matter of great shame and death for them and they will become the slaves of untouchable castes. Therefore to keep them slaves, we must adopt every tactics to protect Brahmins and to retain leadership of the country.
  10. The backward classes should be kept in forefront, by giving the slogan of Jai-Shriram to use them as shield (source) to protect Brahmins and they should be kept confused by religious acts like Gayatri Yagya, Brahmakumari Institution, Satya Sai of Shirdi and the Buddhists should be confused by Shiva-Patra.
  11. If Ambedkarism grows in the country, Gandhism means Brahminism will be finished. Nobody will be there to take the name of Dr. Hegdewar, Golwalkar Guruji, the great men of R.S.S. Hence we must infiltrate in their every organisation and get information secretly, to defeat their every plan.
  12. If the Brahminism is to be kept alive, then we must raise religious emotions and sentiments among the youths of backward classes, to keep them confused and create communal conflicts/riots with the youths of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, so that the children of Brahmins retain their domination, in the Government administration and politics.
  13. To save Brahminism, the ladies of Brahmins should come forward and it is necessary that Brahmin ladies should sacrifice, to protect Brahminism. If one lady comes forward to protect Brahmin, they will get 'Punya' on the basis of Manusmriti.
Friends, the whole thing must be implemented secretly. This letter should not reach in the hands of lower castes. It is a secret letter.
District Level Brahmin Samaj


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Begum ji

The post says "This is a secret letter." Would you share how you obtained the letter? I found a similar letter at this web site The Brahmin Samaj and the Religions and Ethnic groups of India. But that site is not a very credible source. What is more the 'original' newspaper which allegedly reported the samaj meeting in Balaghat cannot be easily checked.

Brahmin Samaj is a very common title for local groups of Brahmins organized throughout the world, including the U.S. and Canada. These groups are public and do not appear to have conspiratorial agendas. The google search engine will turn up several pages for the term Brahmin Samaj. My problem is that a particular Brahmin Samaj is made by this letter to be up to no good. But the Samaj cannot defend itself against the accusations because the letter is a "secret letter". No way therefore to validate them.

When I investigated Brahmin Samaj of Balaghat using Google, I found that this letter was described many times as a fraud. In fact many believe that it is part of an effort by Christian missionaries to undermine non-Christian groups. Just google Brahmin Samaj of Balaghat and you will see for yourself.

Whatever may have been planned by this Samaj may have fomented unrest in India, but a lot of other things have fomented unrest in India as well, which have nothing to do with Brahmins. We really need to question the credibility of this "letter" or present evidence to support it. Folks know that I am not patient with Hindus claiming that Sikhism is a Hindu sect. At the same time Hindus should not be accused without proof.

So more needs to be said.


ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
Jul 14, 2007
Every thread which appears on websites are not altogether baseless. Such info, no doubt, has been exxegerated and over-emphasized by the Christian groups to win members but the method of presentation definitely requires some analysis as we can learn from such threats.

The very reason I brought it out is because Sikhs have always thought Brahmins as allies and that they will never be of any threat to Sikhs, so it does not hurt to be weary of such political moves. Sikhs should not be the last to know that they have been 'suckered' into a massive conspiracy like not asking for a separate country when the opportunity was there. The 1984 incident on Sri Harmandir Sahib has naturally caused Sikhs to have biased feelings towards the Hindu Political Alliance and presently more effort is being made to highlight the religious differences between Sikhism and Hinduism.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004

We all have a responsibility to be truthful and seek facts. The only way to counter the hysteria that leads to religious intolerance and ultimately to catastrophe. Someone has to be the first to say NO.
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