Spring Cleaning Part 2 – Panthic (Dis)Unity
April 27, 2012 § 4 Comments
Guru Piarey jio,
We Sikhs fought bravely for our Gurus. The films depicting our bravery and courage have not yet been made, the gems not yet uncovered. They will be. Future generations will be watching our history and inside them too, the spark will be lit, ready to be fuelled by Gurbani and Sangat into a raging fire of Truth, ready to spread across the Earth and destroy those who insist upon taking from poor and downtrodden. This Army of Truth will spread food and charity to all nations and people, delivering Degh inside a shelter of steel, Tegh. Freedom will reign as the roars of “Tegh Tegh Fateh” become manifestly real.
Since the 1850’s however, we’ve been systematically maligned and thrown into confusion. Our warrior spirit, our culture stolen and misdirected. First, we were convinced to fight for the British and we did so bravely. We did not register that they had tried to auction off Harimandir Sahib, stolen Ranjit Singh’s throne and children, as well as tried hard to kill or expel all the independent thinking Sikhs. From 1920 onwards, for a while, the Indian Independence movement brought some of our focus back, but it was a limited vision, seeking only to remove the British but not yet brave enough to place ourselves in the driving seat. Following the sacrifices of WW1 and WW2, (which we in the West still hark too in our defence) we Sikhs were denied the freedom we had fought for by the same 1% Hindu leadership that controls India today. We were told that we could still be good loyal (dis-enfranchised) soldiers for Mother India. It should have been Sache Patshah Dhan Guru Gobind Singh ji that we bowed too and fought for and a place at Guru’s feet, our reward, but it became the security of a monthly salary and pension that Sikh soldiers took as their reward, and medals on their chests that we applaud.
Now, as the sleeping giant of the Khalsa Panth awakens, let’s examine what traps and bonds have been placed upon us by the 1% to prevent its success in delivering Vaheguru’s (Degh Tegh) Fateh to the 99%. In order to take forward the success of #IPledgeOrange, and also the global inspiration from the Arab spring, Russians protesting, Occupy movements, we’ll have to turn inwards. Why inwards and not just outwards? Because our own house and vision must be aligned. We do’nt need a carefully structured plan. The plan is the first casualty of battle. We need a vision of our goal and a vision of the principles which we unite behind.
The reality is that most of us on the frontlines can feel the tension just under the surface, the old divisive issues bubbling up and not breaking out just yet. It’s clear that at a fundamental level, we’ve ignored and covered up the divisive issues (the real traps and bonds upon us) without dealing with them. They are the elephant in the room.
In our analysis, we see two very disturbing trends in the last 10 years.
(1) The Panthic division:
Are you Panthic or not? It seems as if anyone who gets involved in Sikhism suddenly has to answer to this question. It’s clear that some people have appointed themselves the supreme authority of deciding this question. The problem is that they usually make snap judgements. Before you’re even finished your first sentence, they’ve decided if you fit into their box or not. It’s not the case that they will want to understand exactly what you meant or see if we all can agree to disagree about something so trivial. Nope. If you ever question anything that they do or strongly believe, there is no more room for debate. That’s it, they hate you…forever.
You are no longer a Sikh for them and you’ll be labelled as “anti-panthic”. The next term that’s likely to be bandied about is that you are an agent of the Indian govt. Now because there are actually a lot of agents of the Indian Government around, its very easy to fling this accusation around.
This whole division stems from 2 main things. Firstly that people have forgotten how to debate and discuss matters with a spirit of tolerance and calmness. Why is not possible to accept that people will always have differing opinions on things and that we should learn about open debate and acceptance of differences. The reality is that talking and opinions don’t actually mean much anyway, its actions that count. This leads to second point, namely that it is because these people and organisations are not doing anything apart from arguing their points by “organising protests” and “raising awareness” that makes them so argumentative. How long can we continue to do these things without getting touchy, burnt out and needlessly petty. Of course, all these people are busy doing things, but they are not achieving anything. As we have seen in the last 55 years since the British left India in the hands of the Indian 1% and the last 28 years since that same Indian 1% decided to openly destroy Sikhs and Sikhi, things are worse now in Punjab and the Gurudwaras in the west are even more confused.com.
When people are achieving something, they dont argue, they get on with it. All they want to know is, “Are you in (with money, mind and body)?” If not, then move along and let them get back on with their work. Nowadays people will argue with you for hours, but nothing apart from protests demanding apologies ever comes up.
Look at just the simple things, there is not one good documentary out about the Guru Granth Sahib yet there are thousands of hours spent arguing about hundreds of things, that are in no way more important than our Guru itself. There is not one movie about the life and travels of Dhan Guru Nanak Dev ji. Forget even that, there is not even one full time Raag Teacher employed by any Gurudwara in the whole of the UK, Europe, US or Canada. There is not one Sikh holocaust museum. Not one Sikh Reference Library in the UK worthy of the name. Not one bachelors degree in Sikh Studies, Not one bachelors degree in Punjabi. So whats the use of all our arguments?
The biggest panthic division is if you criticise the idea of Khalistan. You’ve seen our previous posts about this, we’d prefer to start with India as a whole rather than witha much reduced Punjab. The Indian people not only need us to free the 99%, they also owe a massive Karmic debt for what the Sikhs sacrificed from Guru Tegh Bahadur’s time. We can tell you one thing, if you look at the state of Punjab politics today, as well as the politics of the people who are arguing for Khalistan, most of us wouldn’t want to go live in a Punjab only Khalistan. The current thinking would mean it is likely to be a police state with rules upon rules, with no debate and freedom of expression.
In essence, the Panthic division consists of a lot of people who cannot take even a little criticism and are “defending the honour of the panth” and yet doing nothing to extend the honour of the panth. They cuss Sikh charities who are trying to do good and try to get them involved in their own political issues rather than coming together to support the m and others who want to serve the panth.
(2) The Amrit/ Maryada division:
Sure you’ll always get some people who are not so political, some more into Khalistan and others doing Bhagti but this is different, this is when the actual Amrit we are taking as initiation into the Khalsa Panth is being labelled. Some people are less interested in whether you have taken Amrit and more interested in where. If you’re part of their Maryada, then you’re great, they’ll overlook all your faults. However if you happen to be from another group, then no matter what you do, you’ll never be good enough. Some people wont even say Fateh to you, sit next to you in Gurudwara or eat langar with you, let alone think about marrying their sons or daughters to someone from another group! Are we really serious? We claim Caste is a big problem and people should not be hindered by caste. People say we should start using only Singh or Kaur, and then you get people unable to marry within the Khalsa Panth!! Just cause someone is a Nihung or a Taksali or an AKJ or a missionary or even a nobody free-agent? Their solution is to ask you, “please take Amrit from our group again”. Honestly! Just how many times can you give your head??! Surely if you made a mistake, you should ask for forgiveness, but take Amrit again to become part of a group within the Khalsa Panth when you’re already Amritdhari…something has to have gone wrong when this starts happening. I mean surely if we are going to tell other people about the Khalsa being a universal collective, we have to at least behave differently from the general Punjabi caste ridden society. It’s gotten to the point where some of the people out there doing parchaar etc are more interested in getting people to join their Jatha or Maryada then getting people into Sikhi.
It is really the case that these arguments very often turn people off taking Amrit or getting involved in Panthic work. Imagine this situation, someone gets inspired, sees all the Singhs and Singhnees and thinks, “How great it would be to join this big family of Khalsa. We;re all brothers and susters, one father, Guru Gobind Singh and all hail from Anandpur Sahib.” “Sun Galla Akaash Ki, Kitaa Aiee Rees” (When the insects hear talk about the heavens, even they wish to follow). Then this person starts talking to more of these Amritdharis and all of a sudden members from both groups start talking about how the person should take Amrit from their Jatha. An argument breaks out over Raagmala, or Dasam Granth, one person is saying, you know if you read xyz, you’ll go to hell, the other is saying, if you dont read it you’ll go to hell. Don’t even get started on meat, people can get really worked up about that one! Just imagine whats going to happen to that person who was initially interested in Amrit. She’ll think, “These people just hate each other, there’s no love or family here. Forget joining them”. Either she leaves Sikhi altogether or becomes independent, and then in effect, shunned by all the groups. The question that comes to mind is, “Are we preaching Sikhi or preaching our jatha/maryada?”. Whatever happened to “Aiee panthi sagal jamati – The highest sect is the whole creation”. There are a lot of (Non)Issues that seem to pre-occupy some people, the list is long but one thing we can all be certain of, none of them have a straightforward solution and none of them will conflict with the baseline tenets of Guru’s teachings, i.e. Kirtan, Paat, Simran, Seva and fighting your panj chor. Combining spiritual growth with moral conduct and service of humanity are our uniting forces and we should be all behind them.
In essence, we would like to propose some simple rules for Panthic Unity and share our vision. This unity needs to come at an individual level. Each of us will have to start to implement this into our own thinking, so that when we meet up with people in our own areas, then we start to unite in small groups. Be educated about Punjab but focus on unity in your community. Focus on solving the problems in our Gurudwaras and local area, be strong in our Sikhi and unite as small communities, then build upwards.
Suggested Rules for Panthic Unity!
(1) Have unity, not Uniformity. Make unity our foundation. If you say you’re a Sikh, then you’re a Sikh. Each of us should just focus on our own spiritual growth and education ourselves more and sharing the knowledge, then doing seva to uplift society.
We do not discriminate in any way on the basis of
- Caste or race
- Maryada or jathebandi
- Reading of dasam bani
- Reading of raag mala
- Cutting of hair, wearing turban
- Whether you choose to eat on tables or chairs.
- Whether you eat meat
- If someone is Amritdhari
- Bibeki langar or sarb loh utensils.
- View on the panj kakkars
- Sexual orientation
- Male or female
- Whether you support Khalistan or not
- Your pronounciation of paat.
- Length of your kachera
- Whether you wear bana or “pent-shirt”
These are all artificial issues, either created by enemies or well-intentioned people that have now ballooned and threaten to split us apart. We recognise these differences exist, but that they form only 1% of people’s actual lives. We also feel that when we broaden our horizons, broaden our vision and broaden our aims and responsibilities, then things that looked big become smaller in comparison to those bigger challenges. We also have faith in Guru’s word that the Khalsa will rule and have faith that when the Khalsa starts delivering on the goods it is supposed to, then people will be inspired and sign up. We won’t need to argue about these issues or demand justice. It’s that vision and the implementation that we need.
We dedicate ourselves, mind, body and soul to our Guru and will unite on the basis of the 99% that we share, i.e. Guru Granth Sahib ji, Kirtan, Paat, Simran and Seva. Once we have all achieved spiritual enlightenment, have memorised our nitnem and have a strong amrit vela routine, learnt Raag kirtan and tabla taals, become fit and healthy and can do sehaj paat of Guru Granth Sahib ji, and also live good honest lives and give dasvadh (10%) to charity. When we start becoming relevant to the community around us every day, by tacking drug addiction, lack of education and unemployment, depression and child neglect, when we have also simultaneously addressed the issues of poverty, homelessness, global economic injustices, widespread slavery, forced prostitution, famine, violent dictatorships killing people, when we’ve set up a UN army rapid response team able to stop massacres of innocents and despots stealing the wealth of the poor… When we’ve also dealt with the economic and political issues of Punjab, the farmer suicides, the water rights, language teachings, drug addiction, female foeticide, set up parchar centres, cleaned up SGPC politics, got diaspora representation into the Akaal Takht, when we’ve made the world aware of Guru’s message for humanity, achieved gender equality, prevented persecution of people on the basis of sex, race, creed, religion, background and sexual orientation, when all the people who can easily quote Jesus, Malcolm X, or Nelson Mandela or Gandhi can also quote Guru Nanak, Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh and understand what Sikhi is about…
At that time, dear Sadh Sangat ji, and only then, will we think about arguing on the basis of the (non) issues stated above. We understand these issues are important to some people, so we promise to address them at that time, and will everything in our efforts to bring about the world above as soon as possible so we can get to addressing them. Please do be patient and help us along this way. We do advise you that when we reach that point, its highly likely that you may no longer think it’s such a big issue.
One thing is for sure however, once that day comes, Dhan Guru Gobind Singh ji will be doing infinite kirpa upon the Khalsa Panth and the sounds of Degh Tegh Fateh and Panth Ki Jeet will resound across the globe. Every life shed for this vision will be fruitful, every shaheed for this cause will be bringing blessings upon his/her past and future generations and every single person who lets their inner demons stand in the way of this destiny, will themselves be destined to reap the poison which they have sown, until that day as which they accept the inevitability of the Age of Truth that the Khalsa is to bring.
Guru piarey jio, let us unite in the pursuing this mission. This is not a new mission, its an imperfect elucidation of Dhan Guru Gobind Singh ji’s own message for us. Is it not what we sing every day, when we say, Agya Bhei Akaal ki, Tabai Chalaayo Panth. Was it not Akaal Purakh’s own order that Guru Gobind Singh ji followed in creating the Khalsa Panth? This is how high the order came from and therefore, the vision must also be as high as that, as high as the Creator herself. We must think big and we must include and inspire every single person who wants to serve this vision. Our vision must be Sat Yug, for that must be the earthly realisation of Sach Khand itself, the heavenly realm wherein resides the Formless Lord.
In our next post, we’ll look at “The Gurudwara Experience”. May Dhan Guru Gobind Singh ji bless us with unity and friendship. May we share our virtues and help uplift each other and the whole planet. May the love of sadh sangat inspire us all to love our True Beloved and may we serve our Guru each day in thankfulness.