Article on Vaisakhi


by Sunny
12th April, 2008 at 2:17 pm    

Monday (can someone please confirm?) is VAISAKHI! I’m sure Southall Gurdwara said it was on Sunday. Anyway, I’ve written an article for the Guardian about it – Sikhs should remember the gurus’ warnings against meaningless rituals.


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  1. Gurpreet — on 12th April, 2008 at 4:12 pm  

    I think it’s the 14th this year…as declared by my mum! (and who am i to argue;)

  2. Gurpreet — on 12th April, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

    and some fair points raised in the article

  3. Sunny — on 12th April, 2008 at 6:27 pm  

    thanks Gurpreet.

  4. gurjinder — on 12th April, 2008 at 6:29 pm  

    great article – you’ve highlighted the discords within religion(s) that are caused by interpretations of texts and the conflicts that arise with the divergence of culture and religion.

  5. Dalbir — on 12th April, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    ————–
    Sunny:
    But its particular emphasis on outward signs of faith, each with specific reasoning, creates a tension that isn’t necessarily explored by adherents today.
    ————–

    Lets explore this Sunny. Can you expand on this a bit more?

    Happy Vasakhi everyone BTW!!

  6. Sid — on 13th April, 2008 at 2:08 pm  

    Great article amigo.

    Vaisakhi (or Boishakhi as we Bongs call it) has been celebrated by Muslims in Bengal since time immemorial. I believe the tradition is observed as far away as Indonesia. Much to the chagrin of local Islamists who view it as a throwback to pre-Islamic ritual and therefore suspiciouly impure.

    Liked the way you used the article to highlight the conflict between legalist form and spiritual/ethical substance in Sikhism. It’s the same everywhere and it has ever been thus. Somewhere in the last millenium mainstream Islam too has turned into a todo list of outward ritual. It’s become more busy with headscarfs, body hair and ritual bathing than the spirit itself. Conspiciuous outward symbols have become increasingly important.

  7. Sunny — on 13th April, 2008 at 3:40 pm  

    But its particular emphasis on outward signs of faith, each with specific reasoning, creates a tension that isn’t necessarily explored by adherents today.

    Ok, let me elaborate.

    I think there are several examples that can be highlighted here:

    1) The way that Amritdhari sikhs strive to drive non-Amritdhari Sikhs out of conversations or directions on what Sikhism means or should mean. I used to go to Sikh society events at uni and quickly got annoyed because certain ‘practicising’ Sikhs used to want to dominate the conversation about what it meant to be Sikh and what was allowed or not allowed.

    I’ve heard other stories of when well-meaning Sikhs organised events or had discussions, then the hardcore crew like the AKJ used to come in and try and disrupt it.

    2) There emphasis on celebrating Vaisakhi like a street festival…

    3) My broader point is that Sikh “leaders” now want to define every aspect of the religion when the Gurus intentionally kept it vague.

    For example:
    a) That infamous edict against homosexuality in Canada, when its not raised in the Guru Granth Sahib.

    b) Not allowing Sikhs to marry non-Sikhs in the Gurdwaras

    c) Having pictures of Gurus in houses

    d) Getting obessed by the SGGS not as a source of knowledge but as a book that is a Guru itself. Like, its just book with words written on it. The book itself is a symbol of the knowledge. Yet its treated as an idol in itself. If the SGGS is published in a CD, would you then sit in front of a CD and pray? You see what I’m trying to say? The book itself has become an idol rather than what should really be idolised – the knowledge contained within. This is why I got told off for bending down to receive parshad while in the Gurdwara.

    e) The obsession with the idea that you’re a good Sikhs if you have the 5 Ks and not one if you don’t.

  8. Gurpreet — on 13th April, 2008 at 4:55 pm  

    Why was Mcunty’s post deleted? I thought this post pretty much summed up your article. Someone who is ignorant of what day vaisakhi falls is teaching us about our gurus.

    a)Now im not a baptised sikh myself but from what i see around me in everyday life and experience its pretty obvious that baptised sikhs have a greater devotion towards the practice AND understanding of gurbani itself. So its only common sense that baptised sikhs would dominate conversations regarding sikhi.

    d) This point is quite ignorant considering gurbani itself says “Bani is Guru…Guru is Bani” SGGSJ Ang 982

    Recall the sakhi of when Guru Arjan Dev ji himself placed Adi Granth on a bed while he himself slept on the floor to show his love and respect for Gurbani. What was this, the guru idolising himself? Give it a rest. To someone who has little love for gurbani this will seem like idolising but to people who love gurbani it is the form of the guru himself.

    The problem here is not amritdharis, more of self obsessive non-practising sikhs who like to try and justify their self willed behaviour using the guru’s teachings. They don’t want to accept submission to their guru and instead try to elevate themselves to a position of the guru as they have so much pride in their false intellect. This is not a new phenomena. The example of Ram Rai comes to mind. Ram Rai was the guru’s son who was excommunicated from sikhi by his own father so the distortion of gurbani to fulfil his own false intellect.

    People like you do more damage to sikhs getting closer to understanding gurbani simply because you portray your own self willed thinking as the guru’s thinking.

    You serve the destructive purpose of spreading misinformed views on sikhi amoung not only ‘sikhs’ but non-sikhs too. True hearted people can see through your lack of knowledge and wisdom and this is even the good points you have to make (as rare as they are) will always fall on deaf ears.

  9. Dalbir — on 13th April, 2008 at 5:00 pm  

    Interesting points. Here’s my perspective:

    ——-
    1) The way that Amritdhari sikhs strive to drive non-Amritdhari Sikhs out of conversations or directions on what Sikhism means or should mean. I used to go to Sikh society events at uni and quickly got annoyed because certain ‘practicising’ Sikhs used to want to dominate the conversation about what it meant to be Sikh and what was allowed or not allowed.
    ——-

    The rahit or the code of conduct for a Khalsa Sikh is a hot topic. What I think happens sometimes is that people try to ascertain exactly what the original rahit entailed. The plain truth is that Guru Gobind Singh did give out some directions on what conduct is expected of the Khalsa. Yes, in the interest of both history and for those who practice, we should endeavour to establish exactly what these rules were. Simple fact is, inspite of any perceived shortcomings, what the Khalsa achieved in the first hundred years of its birth, was no mean feat. It is actually awe inspiring.

    Sikh leadership has always been a contested business (even in the lifetime of the Gurus. The problem you seem to be referring to I believe concerns a definition of the “panth”. Clearly some people are trying to make this an exclusive concept (as opposed to the Guru’s clearly inclusive message). I see this as a community trying to establish what are called normative rules of behaviour. This is something EVERY community does. Ultimately the question your asking will be answered when a clear community wide consensus takes place on the definition of panth. Will the Sikh panth be a spectrum of different people or will it shrink to a much smaller size who are relatively homogeneous. Only time will tell. Personally I think discussion is taking place with regards to this issue (not enough though) and you have to remember that the most vocal members of the community will not have the ultimate say in the matter, whatever they think. But one important point is that there is sometimes an attempt to bend things to a degree that tries to bring Sikhism in line with far left thinking because of Sikhisms inherent liberality. Yes there are common areas which both touch on, but it should always be remembered that they are different things in the end.

    It was sad to hear about your experiences at uni. Personally I found that Sikhs were generally united and open minded back when I was there – this included both monay and amritdharis. Hell I even remember an AKJ guy! Shame things seem to have gone downhill since then. I can see that clearly though. I think issues like 1984, the activities of groups like HUT in uni campuses played some part in stopping Sikhs bicker back then. Shame the younger guys can’t learn from this. What makes me laugh is the notion that todays Sikhs (of whatever background) can walk in the shoes of the original Singhs who showed unparalleled bravery, discipline and political acumen.

    As for celebrating Vasakhi like a street festival – people have voiced concerns over the years about people having a Khanda flag in one hand and a bottle and fag in the other. I don’t know if this has had any impact though. I haven’t been to one in years now.

    —————
    3) My broader point is that Sikh “leaders” now want to define every aspect of the religion when the Gurus intentionally kept it vague.
    ————–

    This is a big one. Personally I see nothing wrong with this. The only problem I see is with the “leaders”. My belief is that if their was a genuine, educated, barev, open minded and circumspect leaders, who followed the policy of consulting the wider panth when making an important decision (just like our ancestors did – remember Gurmattas), we could actually benefit. But right now it seems that vested interests (caste and Punjab politics wise for instance) hold the reins of power. Who knows, this may change in future – probably not but we live in hope.

    ——–
    b) Not allowing Sikhs to marry non-Sikhs in the Gurdwaras
    ——–

    If self preservation is a sin then Sikhs are guilty. Behind this (I think) was the fact that poor parchaar was/is created some dumb people of Sikh background who are easily converted by more cunning people. There is historical precedent in extant rahits about Sikhs marrying Sikhs (as politically incorrect as it may sound to many here). Also conversion of nonSIkh partners to Sikhism. So this doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

    ———
    c) Having pictures of Gurus in houses
    ———

    I love art and creativity. I know art has been used extensively to relay important historical ideas/incidents in Sikhism. It played it a subtle but big part in my own upbringing. Whilst I am against any sort of worship of such images, I really hope Sikh people continue to develop their artistic skills in this area. Check this Canadian guys art work as a modern example.

    http://artofpunjab.com/gallery.html

    ————
    d) Getting obessed by the SGGS not as a source of knowledge but as a book that is a Guru itself. Like, its just book with words written on it. The book itself is a symbol of the knowledge. Yet its treated as an idol in itself. If the SGGS is published in a CD, would you then sit in front of a CD and pray? You see what I’m trying to say? The book itself has become an idol rather than what should really be idolised – the knowledge contained within. This is why I got told off for bending down to receive parshad while in the Gurdwara.
    ———–

    I agree. But more and more people are studying the contents these days. This should grow significantly (unless people become indifferent!)

    Sikhs are a MAJORLY symbolic people. I think the SGGS represents A LOT to them in may spheres (you know in the old days they would take birs to battles don’t you? – so it also represents a standard for Sikhs as such. Hence the respect. But yes, some people seem to have taken the Guru status of the granth too literally. That being said, I am as lapse a Sikh as you will find but even I seriously dislike the idea of SGGS in a party hall. SO I guess it will continue to be symbolic and a source of wisdom for Sikhs. Keep SGGS in Gurwaray, that way the “respect the granth crew” wont have an excuse to go on a tear up! lol

    Damn, here’s me talking like some sort of authority…..shame

    Sunny – As it’s vasakhi – talk about something that you do like about the Khalsa, past or present!

  10. Gurpreet — on 13th April, 2008 at 5:15 pm  

    i should not that i am a different gurpreet to the one who first posted on the thread! My apologises if he/she feels a victim of identity theft! Nice name though!

  11. Gurpreet — on 13th April, 2008 at 5:16 pm  

    i should say that i am a different gurpreet to the one who first posted on the thread! My apologises if he/she feels a victim of identity theft! Nice name though!

  12. Sunny — on 13th April, 2008 at 5:18 pm  

    Oh Muzumdar (Gurpreet no. 2), give it a rest will you?

    Now im not a baptised sikh myself but

    So shall we wait from someone more informed than you?

  13. Sunny — on 13th April, 2008 at 5:20 pm  

    Oh Muzumdar (Gurpreet no. 2), give it a rest will you?

    Now im not a baptised sikh myself but

    So shall we wait from someone more informed than you?

    Bani is Guru…Guru is Bani

    I’ve not disputed that. I’m talking about the difference between the bani and the physical product – book!

    True hearted people can see through your lack of knowledge and wisdom and this is even the good points you have to make (as rare as they are) will always fall on deaf ears.

    Cry Muzumdar cry! Or write on your own dead blog. I can’t be asked to host your rubbish on here.

    Dalbir, will respond to you in a bit.

  14. Gurpreet — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:03 pm  

    Muzumdar?

    Wow, I really did steal someone’s identity and I didn’t even know about it!

    Its ok Sunny, I understand that the truth is often harsh but accusing me of being someone else won’t distract people.

    But yeah, there are plenty of people better informed than me. How many of them will waste their time like me responding to you, I do not know.

  15. Uttam Singh — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:28 pm  

    I did not realise you, Mr Hundal could look into Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj’s mind and determine that the beautiful Panj Kakkars were made for a limited period of time. Seeing as you are not an amritdhari there no way whatsoever that you can understand the spiritual and physical benefits of them, but those “hardcore” sikhs such as AKJ and other wonderful groups are reaping the benefits without the need for questioning the Guroo.

    Mr Hundal, why dont YOU give it a rest mate and stop trying to be some authority on Sikhi. If you think your puny little article makes a difference to the Guru’s sikhs then you are simply deluded. We will carry on follwing Maharaj’s hukam as best as we can, rather than breaking it to bits saying it is not really his order.
    The truth is only the person living the life can truely comment on it, so I once again suggest to you to give it a rest.

    Good day

  16. Uttam Singh — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:32 pm  

    Furthermore your point about Guru Sahib making Sikhi vague is laughable. People like you pick apart Sikhi until we are nothing more than humanitarians.
    How about you read and LIVE bani first. You could learn alot from those “hardcore” sikhs.

  17. Nandeep — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:33 pm  

    Sunny,

    e) The obsession with the idea that you’re a good Sikhs if you have the 5 Ks and not one if you don’t.

    In reality you are only a sikh if you have taken amrit and given your head to the Guru. You cannot call your self a sikh of the Guru’s if you do not observe the 5 k’s. Its as simple as that. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth master, himself took amrit, before he could take on the name singh. As the Guru he had no need to do so, he could call the shots. But he showed the way for the Panth.

    Too many folk nowaday come up with the excuse “dil saaf hona chaida” (as long as you have a pure heart – no need for amrit). If these people have a cleaner heart than the tenth master then i will take everything back.

    Sunny – in reality i don’t think you are in a position to write about vasakhi, or indeed Sikhi. Because if you had truly understood Sikhi, then my friend, you would now have been a khalsa.

    As the one person has already stated, you look at the SGGS as scriptures and nothing more. To a GurSikh, it is his Guru- Just like Guru Arjan Dev Ji sat on the floor whilst the adhi Granth was placed on a manji – are you saying that Guru Arjan Dev Ji was wrong???

    Guru Gobind Singh Ji was probably a bit more far sighted than me and thee, and therefore to say the symbols were a need for that time only, i feel is a poor assesment of the Guru.

    The anand karaj is the time for a sikh couple to take blessings from the eternal Guru, but in reality if we do not follow the gurus teachings – why do we require his blessings??? We must build a relationship with the sat guru before taking such steps. On the flip side you get blokes who were pissed the night before, still stinking of booze, wearing a temporary turban for the ceremony, asking for the blesings of the Guru – again why??

  18. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:49 pm  

    Nandeep:

    “Guru Gobind Singh Ji was probably a bit more far sighted than me and thee, and therefore to say the symbols were a need for that time only, i feel is a poor assesment of the Guru.”

    I am not a Sikh, but it surely is important to place a few symbols in their historical context, especially the kirpan. The kirpan was needed because of Mughal-Rajput persecution, but it is more difficult to justify a 14- year old carrying it round now (or maybe not, given the violence).

  19. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:50 pm  

    Oh, and happy Vaisakhi everyone.

  20. Nandeep — on 13th April, 2008 at 6:56 pm  

    How many cases have there been when a baptised Sikh has used his/her kirpan in the uk?? I don’t have the exact figures. The only incident i recall is the one at the vasakhi event at brum last year – however its not clear wether those using the swords were baptised…

    I refuse to accept that Guru Gobind Singh Ji was basically giving us the 5 kakkars for a few years, after which we no longer required them. If that was the case then we may aswell disregard everything the gurus said.

  21. Muzumdar — on 13th April, 2008 at 7:02 pm  

    Hi Sunny et al,

    Just thought I’d say, that wasn’t me in post two or whatever.

    Guru Rakha everybody,

    PS – Sunny, are you getting bored of watching the tumbleweed stutter across your blog these days?

    Still, nice to know that you’re thinking of me in my absence.

  22. Rajvinder Singh — on 13th April, 2008 at 7:37 pm  

    I am intrigued by Sunny’s article. It reminds that when you ask a young person which lessons he likes. the answer might be,” I like PE and Music”. What about other you ask. “Oh they are for nerds etc. and the teachers are rubbish anyway.”

    Just a thought. Comparing his misdemeanour to Guru Nanak’s example is not only churlish but suggests that he has not entirley understood the significance of the event both poitically and spiritually. Guru Nanak was not just a spiritual leader he was political leader. And just to remind people the name of the tenth Guru is “Guru Gobind Singh Ji” is added for respect.

    Every school in every country has a uniform, I wonder why do not people say. ‘They are just symbols’.

    I agree the rituals that Guru Nanak and all the Gurus’ after him damned have made a come back but lets not throw the tub with the bath water. There is a purpose to the Five K’s and other aspects. Learning about Sikh Philosophy and understanding it requires time and effort rather than empty and recycled ideas about rituals.

    Let’s discuss what is the philosphy of Sikhism and not just the bits we like or that agree with our world view. People often raise questions and a message from the teachings and lives of Guru’s enshirened in the Guru Granth Sahib is to seek who disagree’s but not argue just for the sake of it.

    Learning only works/ happens when one is willing to recieve rather than when the mind is already made up.

  23. curious? — on 13th April, 2008 at 7:44 pm  

    Guru’s teachings are aad sach jugaad sach hai bhi sach nanak ho si bi sach.

    the 5 kakkars (articles of faith-each with its own identity and use) bestowed to us by Guru Sahib are as relevant now as they ever were.

    Raaj Karega Khalsa

    Happy Vaisakhi everyone

  24. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2008 at 8:08 pm  

    Nandeep:

    “How many cases have there been when a baptised Sikh has used his/her kirpan in the uk?? I don’t have the exact figures. The only incident i recall is the one at the vasakhi event at brum last year – however its not clear wether those using the swords were baptised…”

    I am not saying that Sikhs are prone to use their kirpans if angered, but you can see why (for example) schools wouldn’t want children walking round with daggers. Even if the Sikh themselves never used the kirpan, it could quite easily be stolen by bad children and used by them.

  25. Gurpreet — on 13th April, 2008 at 8:18 pm  

    ^you mean in the same way a knife can be stolen from the canteen or brought in from a kitchen at home. These kitchen knifes are generally sharper than kirpans, so forgive me if i find that point of view as silly.

  26. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2008 at 8:31 pm  

    Gurpreet:

    “You mean in the same way a knife can be stolen from the canteen or brought in from a kitchen at home.”

    Exactly. You don’t want people carrying round knives/daggers, even if they don’t intend to use them.

  27. Gurpreet — on 13th April, 2008 at 8:47 pm  

    come on then lets start a campaign to ban school dinners and no one under 18 is allowed into any kitchen where a sharp knife is kept.

  28. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2008 at 8:54 pm  

    Gurpreet:

    I am talking about the school environment specifically. Can you see the potential problems that knive-carrying children may cause, even if it not their fault? To take a silly example, what if some person’s religion mandated that they carry a flamethrower everywhere? Would that be acceptable? Should children be allowed to carry guns to school, if their families have been involved in clay pigeon shooting for three generations?

  29. Gurpreet 1 — on 13th April, 2008 at 9:03 pm  

    (this is gonna get messy-I am the original Gurpreet from the 1st post)

    I agree with Rumbold, whatever it’s symbolic value the kirpan at the end of the day is a knife/sword. And if it is purely for symbolic purposes then can you not keep a small replica on a chain/in your wallet etc on you. (I remember some of the kids at school doing this)

  30. curious? — on 13th April, 2008 at 9:12 pm  

    a flamethrower? what religion is that

  31. Amrit — on 13th April, 2008 at 9:17 pm  

    Ah, just as I thought, this has turned into one big babies’ cry-fest!

    I like the way, when somebody tries to criticise Sikhism (or Hinduism for that matter) from a respectful and inquisitive point of view, the only responses received (here, not on the CiF original post, thank God), are infantile and reactionary shrieks to the effect of ‘You don’t know enough to comment on this topic / ‘insert appropriate term here’ know/s more than you.’

    Ultimately, it amounts to: HOW DARE YOU CRITICISE! TRAITOR! YOU DON’T FULFIL OUR STANDARDS OF RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE! with COCONUT! lurking in there somewhere too I’d bet.

    Grow up, would you? You’re making me even more ashamed of you, as if Star Plus wasn’t already enough of a reason.

    I think Dalbir’s (among others) is what a real Sikh’s reaction should be: he has actually interacted with what he’s read. ‘Sikh’ means ‘student’, people, remember? Or were you too busy being better-informed than everyone else to recall that?

  32. Rumbold — on 13th April, 2008 at 9:33 pm  

    Gurpreet1:

    Thanks (unless you are actually Gurpreet2 in disguise trying to lull me into a false sense of security).

    Curious:

    “A flamethrower? what religion is that.”

    Old-school Quaker. I was using an extreme example to make my point.

    Amrit:

    “You’re making me even more ashamed of you, as if Star Plus wasn’t already enough of a reason.”

    Heh. Oh the camerawork. Though any channel that shows ‘Lucky’ cannot be all bad.

  33. Nandeep — on 13th April, 2008 at 10:03 pm  

    Rumbold,

    I understand your concern, but how many incidents do we know of where a kirpan has been misused??

    amrit,

    I stand by my statement, that Sunny should not be commenting on sikhi and vasakhi, as i feel he has little knowledge or gian on the subject (he maybe educated in other fields sure). Just like a person who has little knowledge on medicine cannot make sweeping statements about medicine (well he can but they will have to be taken with a pinch of salt).

  34. s johal — on 13th April, 2008 at 10:07 pm  

    none of the guru’s before the birth of the Khalsa wore any symbols, where they less sikhs? none of them were named singhs, Guru Hargobind Singh Ji fought the most battles . I have close relatives who wear the 5ks and they lie out of their teeth. The gurus fought against the cast system, oppression, womens rights, against expolition.(bai lalo and malak bago)One thing we must remember is, there were no Sikhs at the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji so who were they fighting for. I have been on many demos against racism, anti war and on, I am sad to say I have not seen people who wear the 5ks at these events but what I have seen in plenty is the MONA sikhs. I strongly believe that sikhism after Banda Bhahadur has been hijacked by the ‘Masand’ Can someone explain to me why sikhs dont eat meat, why women in some Gurdware are told sit separtly. Who where the Punj Pyare and what they think is meant by Bandh Shakou?

  35. zohra — on 13th April, 2008 at 10:10 pm  
  36. Dalbir — on 13th April, 2008 at 10:32 pm  

    ———
    I am talking about the school environment specifically. Can you see the potential problems that knive-carrying children may cause, even if it not their fault? To take a silly example, what if some person’s religion mandated that they carry a flamethrower everywhere? Would that be acceptable? Should children be allowed to carry guns to school, if their families have been involved in clay pigeon shooting for three generations?
    ———

    Rumbold: I work in education. Believe you me, the last thing to get concerned about is Amritdhari kids carrying kirpans! I have seen a few Sikhs getting involved in fracas…they have all been “modern” Sikhs. Actually I can’t recall a single incident involving a baptised Sikh using his kirpan.

    I have to seriously commend them for this because I am actually surprised at this given the sharp increase in racism since 9/11. I have spoken to many Sikhs who wear the Khalsa uniform (I don’t by the way) and many have told me of racism they have encountered since due to a perception of being related to Bin Laden’s beliefs. Any of you guys reading this: Respect to your restraint. I know many Panjabis would go bezerk under the same situation.

  37. Sunny — on 13th April, 2008 at 11:53 pm  

    To some of the “criticisms”.

    Uttam Singh:
    and determine that the beautiful Panj Kakkars were made for a limited period of time.

    I didn’t say they were anywhere.

    Furthermore your point about Guru Sahib making Sikhi vague is laughable.

    Didn’t say that either anywhere.

    stop trying to be some authority on Sikhi.

    Never said I was. But only authorities sanctioned by people such as yourself, who can’t even understand a simple article, meant to write anything on Sikhi?

    so I once again suggest to you to give it a rest.

    If you’d actually said anything intelligent or relevant to my article I’d bother listening.

    ————-

    Nandeep:
    In reality you are only a sikh if you have taken amrit and given your head to the Guru. You cannot call your self a sikh of the Guru’s if you do not observe the 5 k’s.

    Lets get something clear here. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib says nothing about the 5 Ks. I can follow that, call myself a Sikh, a learner, and still be fine. You don’t define what I call myself. I do.

    To become a Khalsa you follow the 5 Ks and you take the name Singh. I do neither.

    Because if you had truly understood Sikhi, then my friend, you would now have been a khalsa.

    I don’t claim to have truly understand Sikhi. Do you? Are only those who have fully understood it allowed to comment.

    ———————

    Guru Gobind Singh Ji was probably a bit more far sighted than me and thee, and therefore to say the symbols were a need for that time only, i feel is a poor assesment of the Guru.

    Aaargh, you guys have completely misunderstood the point of the article. I’ve not doubted what the Gurjis did or said at the time. My problem is with Sikh nowadays who who take the whole ritualism and symbolism too far.

    And lastly on the mis-use of the Kirpan.

    Ever been to a Gurdwara committee meeting? You’ll then see how quickly the kirpan gets misused then. Its shocking.

    Anyway, most of the comments in criticism have been typically pitiful. As if I’d criticise the Gurus. My problem is with the sad state of “Sikhs” today.

  38. Sunny — on 13th April, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    And more specifically, to add to my last point, my concern is not that there aren’t enough practicing Sikhsm these days, but that the so-called practicising Sikhs are so mired in their little identity politics and cussing others for not doing things their way.

    We’ve got our own version of Hizb ut-Tahrir, people who reckon they’re holier than thou looking down on everyone else. The people who hang around Sikh Sangat is probably the best example of this continuing stupidity.

  39. Sunny — on 14th April, 2008 at 12:16 am  

    Dalbir, thanks for responding to my article properly. Let me start by saying Sikh history is very awe-inspiring and I’ve got no issues with that. My issue is with where we are at now, and the terrible level of debate within the Sikh community now.

    You can see evidence of this above, a bunch of “critics” who haven’t even read my article above, challenging assertions that I didn’t even make. Muslims have far more open theological debate about their faith than Sikhs do in this country.

    Now, to the points you made:

    This is a big one. Personally I see nothing wrong with this. The only problem I see is with the “leaders”. My belief is that if their was a genuine, educated, barev, open minded and circumspect leaders, who followed the policy of consulting the wider panth when making an important decision (just like our ancestors did – remember Gurmattas), we could actually benefit. But right now it seems that vested interests (caste and Punjab politics wise for instance) hold the reins of power. Who knows, this may change in future – probably not but we live in hope.

    There is always going to be a problem with leaders. Let’s not forget that not long after Guru Gobind Singh Ji passed away, the Punjab area was ruled by corrupt people. It took first Banda Bahadur and then Maharaja Ranjit Singh to try and change that, but we have to bessentially abandon the idea that we need leaders in the first place.

    We have the SGGS and we have examples laid down by the Gurus. Why do you need leaders for? To do what? The Akal Takht has no direct relevance to our lives and it will continue to wither in influence, or be open to corruption anyway.

    My point is precisely that there is no need for specific leadership because that will always be open to corruption, and prone to be taken over by people more motivated by greed and power than people’s well-being.

    If self preservation is a sin then Sikhs are guilty. Behind this (I think) was the fact that poor parchaar was/is created some dumb people of Sikh background who are easily converted by more cunning people.

    Well we live in a different world now, and I think stopping people of non-Sikh background to marry a Sikh goes against the spirit of what the Gurujis said.

    This is partly my problem – that Sikhs were meant to set an example to other people mired in mindless rituals – to protect the innocent and be good ambassadors of values embodied in the SGGS. Instead they’ve turned out like everyone else: obsessed by mindless rituals, want to protect their territory by going on about how Muslims are converting their girls (without evidence) and in short, becoming as bigoted as anyone else.

  40. gurpreet2 — on 14th April, 2008 at 3:01 am  

    It is too funny how Sikhs who were not baptised and didn’t follow the disciplines of their religion were not allowed to join the Sikh Regiments of the British Army during World War 2. However now when it doesn’t suit the interest of the British its ok to stop Sikhs from following their religious disciplines.

    After reading these views, I’ve decided I’d rather have my children steeped in ritualism than have them belong to the same ignorance to which you guys belong. At least then they might have some link to a source of wisdom.

    Peace!

  41. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 3:51 am  

    In reality you are only a sikh if you have taken amrit and given your head to the Guru. You cannot call your self a sikh of the Guru’s if you do not observe the 5 k’s.

    Nandeep. I would estimate that only around 15% of so called Sikhs in the UK observe all 5 Ks strictly.

    That would mean that there are only a few tens of thousands of Sikhs in the whole of Britain, right?

    Around 45,000 Sikhs in the whole of Great Britain, right?

    Is that what you’re saying Nandeep?

  42. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 3:56 am  

    none of the guru’s before the birth of the Khalsa wore any symbols, where they less sikhs?

    This is a very good question. All those saying that only those who follow the strict Khalsa panth, are basically saying that every Sikh from Guru Nanak until Guru Gobind Singh and the Panj Pyare were not actually Sikhs.

    I have never had a satisfactory response to this question.

  43. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 3:59 am  

    Old-school Quaker. I was using an extreme example to make my point.

    But you had to make an extreme example to make your point. It was very extreme and not really comparable.

  44. Nandeep — on 14th April, 2008 at 9:31 am  

    Sunny and jag,

    You both seem to be fine with the concept of calling yourselves sikhs and yet not following the hukum of the Guru’s. How does that work.

    Lets not take my word for it, Sunny, you said you follow the SGGS, lets look at the definition within there of what a sikh is. Do you know what it says who is a sikh?

    Even before Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s time to become a sikh of the Guru you had to take amrit from charan pahul.So i take it you guys must have done that as you call yourselves sikhs but aint khalsa (not that there is any difference between a khalsa and a sikh).

    You talk about the SGGS not mentioning the 5ks, did you know that in the SGGS it does not mention the word waheguru either…. so shall we also say that this term is incorrect too, and has nothing to do with being a Sikh.

    Sunny i still maintain that you don’t have a clue when it comes to Sikhi, and therefore i suggest you put disclaimers on every article you write on the subject.

    Jags,

    The number of adherent sikhs is probably about that much. Plenty of people like me and you call ourselves sikhs but are far away from Guru Ji’s teachings.

    So Sunny, if the SGGS is being idolised now, why did Guru Arjan Dev Ji respect it so much????

    Lets get another aspect straight, the teachings of each of the gurus never contradicted each other. Guru Nanak Dev Ji said “Jao tao prem khelen ka chaoo, sir dhar talli galli meri aao”. This was then put into practice by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The khalsa presented by Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the final product of what was started by Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

  45. bananabrain — on 14th April, 2008 at 11:20 am  

    have any of the sikhs here read “flashman and the mountain of light”? i found it most illuminating, personally, plus very interesting…even if it made the lahore durbar under ranjit singh and his successors sound like, without meaning to offend, a cross between a gurdwara meeting as described by sunny and a knocking-shop, much to the disgust of the akalis (not those akalis) and the more doctrinaire and militant leaders of the khalsa back when it was an actual army, not an élite group, often described as “aldershot in turbans”. even flashman himself, so scathing about everybody, struggles to suppress just how impressed he is with just what a bunch of tough bastards the sikhs of the british army were (and probably still are).

    i must admit i find sikhs and sikhism quite fascinating, probably because i’m jewish and sikhism is one of the closest groups to judaism in an ethno-religious-nationalistic sense, having all those elements included from homeland to ethnic group to religion. it seems to me, however, that what sikhism is going through at present is something rather akin to the yavneh period of the “tannaim” before the oral Torah was codified, which accounts for much of what you guys are arguing about re the SGGS. seriously, you should all take a look at the mishnah – that was how we re-engineered judaism to work as a diaspora religion without an actual nation. it strikes me that there’s a really interesting piece of dialogue work to be done there.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  46. Gurvinder Singh — on 14th April, 2008 at 12:04 pm  

    Sunny,

    I agree with some of your points in your article. There are plenty of meaningless rituals that have crept into Sikh practices, but the 5Ks are not mere symbols, each has a practical use. Without properly researching this area, it is not right to make such a public assertion as you have done in your article for the Guardian.

    Sitting with your back to the Guru is a sign of disrespect, just as it’s disrespectful to turn your back to the Queen when she comes to meet you. Somebody is bound to point this out to you, especially if they feel you may be doing this without knowing.

    Regarding the story of Guru Nanak in Mecca, would you say that Sikhs ought not to bow to Guru Granth Sahib (as Guru Gobind Singh himself did)? Clearly, bowing to the Guru and respecting the Guru is not the point of Mecca story. The point of that story was to highlight to the Muslims that God does not reside in Mecca alone.

    You stated above that, “I can follow that, call myself a Sikh, a learner, and still be fine. You don’t define what I call myself. I do.”

    Actually, this is a common misunderstanding. It is actually the Guru who defines whether we are his Sikhs, just as a headmaster defines whether we are students of his school. I can not justifiably claim to be a student of a school, if the school itself does not recognise that I am a student of it.

    To be a Sikh is much much more than simply being a learner. The word Sikh does indeed mean a “learner”, but it refers to us being learners of the Guru. The Guru has laid out some pretty difficult challenges to anyone who wishes to become a Sikh.

    This forum is probably not the best place to elaborate on these teachings properly. However, if you are interested, I would suggest you attend The Sikh Course (www.SikhCourse.com) to gain a deeper insight into what Sikhi is really all about.

    Gurvinder

  47. Dalbir — on 14th April, 2008 at 12:27 pm  

    ———
    We have the SGGS and we have examples laid down by the Gurus. Why do you need leaders for? To do what? The Akal Takht has no direct relevance to our lives and it will continue to wither in influence, or be open to corruption anyway.
    ———

    The phrase “throwing the tub away with bathwater” comes to mind here. The Akal Takhat is symbolic of Sikh political aspirations. Even if the building was completely empty it would still serve a grand purpose, especially as some people are prone to get completely engrossed in the softer spiritual side. The miri piri balance should not be forgotten.

    The reason the Akal Takhat has little relevance to our lives today is because of who are controlling it (read Badal and cronies). I reiterate my previous point that sometime in the future, a different breed of person may be sitting there. I am not a person who likes to be led myself but I can see potential benefits from having enlightened centralised leadership for a globally dispersed community. Whether it happens or not is another matter. Besides, historically the Akal Takhat has moved in and out of prominence in Sikh politics. Maharajah Ranjit Singh pretty much dissolved it so he could remain unchallenged.

    ———–
    My point is precisely that there is no need for specific leadership because that will always be open to corruption, and prone to be taken over by people more motivated by greed and power than people’s well-being.
    ———-

    That is something peculiar to all politics. But it is right that Sikhs strive to keep institutions corruption free. They are just doing a piss poor job of it right now. Keep this in mind too, look at “modern” “progressive” Britain, they still produce dickheads like Tony Blair who are about as internally corrupt and bankrupt as you get (and cowardly too). This however shouldn’t excuse Sikhs, they should know better.

    ————-
    Well we live in a different world now, and I think stopping people of non-Sikh background to marry a Sikh goes against the spirit of what the Gurujis said.
    ————-

    I think that this is projecting Anglo-Saxon values on Sikhism. I don’t agree with you regarding that is in the spirit of the Gurus. The Gurus went out of their way to demarcate boundaries for the Sikh community. This solidified in time through the actions of successive Gurus (who, if you follow Sikh doctrine, should be considered one in spirit). Don’t get me wrong, I have a multicultural family myself but this shouldn’t detract from the fact that Sikhs are encouraged propagate the way of life, yes even through marriage choices.

    You made the point earlier about not allowing Sikhs and nonSikhs to marry in Gurdwaray. Why is this a problem?? Why would someone who isn’t Sikh want to get married in a Gurdwara anyway? This is a non issue to me, because such people can always go to the registry office.

    ———-
    This is partly my problem – that Sikhs were meant to set an example to other people mired in mindless rituals – to protect the innocent and be good ambassadors of values embodied in the SGGS. Instead they’ve turned out like everyone else: obsessed by mindless rituals,
    ———

    Here I can agree with you. It seems like some of the magic has disappeared. But that being said, Sikhs (a comparatively small numeric group compared to others), have borne the brunt of some SERIOUS attacks over the last few centuries. I don’t think they’ve had much time or stability to truly study their heritage in great depth because they have been busy in all manner of activity (good and bad). Lets hope some stability and prosperity brings the people back to their roots.

    —————
    want to protect their territory by going on about how Muslims are converting their girls (without evidence) and in short, becoming as bigoted as anyone else.
    —————-

    I can only talk from my personal experience. When I was at university I recall around half a dozen Sikh girls approaching me and a few Sikh friends about being constantly harrassed by Pakistani boys (I’m not saying all are doing it). I recall a few Hindu girls saying the same thing. Without going into it too much, some of them were truly terrified. And yes, there was a state of “hiss” between groups belonging to both sides.

    In more recent times I have been told by young female members of my immediate family that they have been persistently and subtlety harassed at work or in education institutes. Some of my ex girlfriends (call them Panjabi/Sikh or whatever) have also complained about the same thing. The harassment ranges from sexual innuendo, disparaging comments about their religion, continually pestering them for “dates” and yes, even when I was at uni, some idiots tried the old “convert to Islam and be saved” thing on me! Now being a strong minded Panjabi myself they had no chance of doing it, but you could easily see the dimwitted and weak willed being swayed. I believe the actions of some moronic girls have created a stereotype for some of these guys that activates them when they see a potential victim with a kara on.

    I fully aware that the police have claimed to have found no evidence of this. Personally I wouldn’t believe those farkers as far as I could throw them. Am I supposed to ignore my own family and what I have witnessed myself?

    This refers to actions of groups of guys and I am in no way saying that all Muslims are doing this for the record.

  48. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 12:43 pm  

    seriously, you should all take a look at the mishnah – that was how we re-engineered judaism to work as a diaspora religion without an actual nation

    You’ve had over a thousand years of diaspora experience, including close contact with the most important streams of intellectual current, art and thought in Europe and later in America, for hundreds of years.

    There has only been a significant Sikh diaspora for 45 years. Sikh farmers migrated to the west coast of Canada and California in small numbers in the early 20th Century, and in the 1920′s Sikh workers went to Africa. But they were working class people who have alost been forgotten from history, and never were established enough until now to be able to think of these things.

  49. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 12:46 pm  

    The number of adherent sikhs is probably about that much. Plenty of people like me and you call ourselves sikhs but are far away from Guru Ji’s teachings.

    But you said that only those who are amritdhari are Sikhs. In which case there are only about 40,000 Sikhs in Britain. In which case most gurdwarey should be closed down. In which case all these Sikh society flanney-floonay who start talking about ‘British Sikh’ this and ‘British Sikh’ that, should sit down and zip it, because they are statistically insignificant. If you want to play the numbers game like that, you have to understand that you are making a minority even more of a minority.

  50. Nandeep — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:24 pm  

    Jag,

    Like i said read in baani how the Guru defines a Sikh, and then make the call yourself. We can’t argue with what baani says and then still try to call ourselves sikhs.

  51. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:28 pm  

    Well Nandeep, why is it that there has always been acceptance that sehajdharis are Sikhs and that there has always been a variety of levels of Sikh observance under the umbrella of Sikhism? This neo Orthodox hardline militancy is preposterous, ahistorical, and reduces Sikhism to the size of some kind of small cult. The world is full of finger pointing hypocrites who think that their religious duty is to exclude or marginalise others.

  52. Haqiqat — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:39 pm  

    Well, according to the SGPC Rehat Maryada, Sahajdharis are in fact Sikhs.

    ” ‘Sahajdhari Sikh’ means a person-

    (i) Who professes the Sikh Religion, believes in one God, follows the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib and Ten Gurus only;
    (ii) Who performs all the ceremonies according to the Sikh rites;
    (iii) Who does not smoke, use tobacco, kutha (Halal Meat) in any forms;
    (iv) Who does not take alcoholic in any forms drinks;
    (v) Who is born in not Sikh family, but not a Patit.”

    First english edition of SGPC Rehat Maryada, November 1978 ”

    But it all depends on which ‘Rehat’ you follow. The ‘neo-Sikhs’ follow Babbar Khalsa, Damdami Taksal or AKJ Maryada, where nobody is Sikh except them and their latest baba.

  53. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

    Ah yes, the neo Orthodox Super Sikhs, who are more like a cult than Sikhs. The most amusing thing is that they each dispute the others claims. They quite literally don’t know what they are talking about, saying that only amritdharis can call themselves Sikhs. Brainwashed and narrow minded. Make up your own rehat as you go along, and then they accuse others of doing the same. Hilarious.

  54. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:47 pm  

    Some of them have the most bizarre rules in their rehat. Like only being able to eat off sarbloh steel dishes, and only being able top eat food prepared by an amritdhari. So much for the institution of langar making all people than equal.

    They should read George Orwell’s book. All animals are created equal but some are more equal than others. Just like some Sikhs are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

  55. Haqiqat — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:49 pm  

    Indeed, the Damdami Taksal Rehat also exhorts its adherents to venerate ‘black cows’. All rather strange…

  56. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:54 pm  

    Jag,

    A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. If you don’t understand something, it’s very easy to dismiss it.

    The harsh words you direct towards those Sikhs who live and die for Sikhi are very tasteless. Your hatred shows through in your posts and you should perhaps look at your own state of mind before lambasting those who are trying their best to follow the beautiful path of Sikhi.

    30 years ago today, 13 Sikhs from AKJ and Taksal gave their lives for Sikhi. We are standing on their shoulders. Some respect to those who have done so much for us is due.

    D

  57. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 1:59 pm  

    Haqiqat,

    Sahajdhari Sikh is not mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib, so if you are not so keen on Rehat Maryadas, then you simply do not exist as a Sikh unless you are what Guru Granth Sahib says a Sikh ought to be.

    D

  58. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:04 pm  

    The harsh words you direct towards those Sikhs who live and die for Sikhi are very tasteless. Your hatred shows through in your posts and you should perhaps look at your own state of mind before lambasting those who are trying their best to follow the beautiful path of Sikhi.

    Harsh, hatred, tasteless, lambasting, etc etc etc, blah blah blah. Paranoia is your middle name, and knee jerk is your only response. You’re as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

    A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. If you don’t understand something, it’s very easy to dismiss it.

    Fine words! Apply them to yourself.

  59. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:06 pm  

    Sahajdhari Sikh is not mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib, so if you are not so keen on Rehat Maryadas, then you simply do not exist as a Sikh unless you are what Guru Granth Sahib says a Sikh ought to be.

    Are the bizarre dietary and other rules of various neo Orthodox sects mentioned in the GGS? If you think a Sikh is only an amritdhari or whichever sect you belong to, there are probably only a handful of Sikhs in the entire country.

  60. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:08 pm  

    Indeed, the Damdami Taksal Rehat also exhorts its adherents to venerate ‘black cows’. All rather strange…

    What? Never heard of that one. How bizarre.

    Whoops! Stop showing hatred and blah blah blah. Be respectful to Darshan and everything he says, otherwise you’re a horrible evil thing who eats children etc etc etc

  61. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:10 pm  

    Jag,

    You say, “Are the bizarre dietary and other rules of various neo Orthodox sects mentioned in the GGS? If you think a Sikh is only an amritdhari or whichever sect you belong to, there are probably only a handful of Sikhs in the entire country.”

    What is bizarre to you is something different to what you consider to be right. Have you ever thought that what you consider to be right may actually be wrong?

    Guru Granth Sahib does indeed mention that there are only really a handful of Sikhs. So, although this may be a bizarre idea in relation to your current understanding, it is your understanding that is incorrect.

    D

  62. Haqiqat — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:11 pm  

    Darshan

    Sure, but the Rehat Maryada wasn’t just constructed out of thin air by simpletons; it was penned by Sikh scholars – and I can bet they were Amritdharis.

    In any case, your revisionist interpretation of Sikh theology excludes some prominent figures in Sikh history from being called ‘Sikh’: Bhai Kannaya, Bhai Nand Lal, Haqiqat Singh Rai, Udham Singh, Kartar Sing Saraba etc etc

    Considering that Guru Gobind Singh himself decalred that Kannaya, a Sahajdhari who didn’t take Amrit on Vasakhi day 1699, was a ‘Sikh of the Guru’, your argument does collapse somewhat.

    I’m not trying to ‘undermine’ you/your baba/the DDT,BK, AKJ etc etc. I’m just calling it how I see it.

  63. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:13 pm  

    Jag said, “Whoops! Stop showing hatred and blah blah blah. Be respectful to Darshan and everything he says, otherwise you’re a horrible evil thing who eats children etc etc etc”

    I see you are would rather not have a sensible discussion. Resorting to such comments is hardly helping you with your case.

    D

  64. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:18 pm  

    I see you are would rather not have a sensible discussion. Resorting to such comments is hardly helping you with your case.

    Darshan, you were the one who introduced ad hominem insults, by describing me as ‘hateful’ and ‘disrespectful’ and all of those rather hysterical and presumptive comments. Its so predictable.

  65. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:20 pm  

    Haqiqat,

    All Rehat Maryadas can be taken only as historical documents which show the understanding of Sikhs at the time they were created. All stories/Sakheea are also just what people remember or what has passed over time.

    I’m not saying that we ought to dismiss them out of hand, they have their place and need to form part of a wider perspective on what Sikhi is.

    However, if Rehit Maryadas or stories/Sakhees are nto in line with the teaching of Gurbani, then Gurbani is what comes out as the winner. Everything we discuss about Sikhi must be backed up with Gurbani in the first instance.

    Going back to your original point about Sehjdhari Sikhs, Gurbani is very clear on what a Sikh is and what it takes. There is only one type of Sikh, not a multtude to suit everyone. Indeed, Gurbani makes it very clear that to be a Sikh is extremely difficult.

    We all need an identity, but it is not right for us to then skew the teachings of the Guru to suit our emotional needs.

    A Sikh is a Sikh is a Sikh. And it is the Guru alone who defines what a Sikh is and who is His Sikh.

    D

  66. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:23 pm  

    Jag,

    You said, “Darshan, you were the one who introduced ad hominem insults, by describing me as ‘hateful’ and ‘disrespectful’ and all of those rather hysterical and presumptive comments. Its so predictable.”

    You ought to read your comments and see just how affectionate and respectful they are.

    Anyway, let’s get beyond this bickering. I’ll admit I started it, but lets get to the real point of your argument so we can discuss properly.

    D

  67. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:27 pm  

    What is bizarre to you is something different to what you consider to be right. Have you ever thought that what you consider to be right may actually be wrong?

    Wow, relativism from an absolutist. Well done. So you accept the basic validity of alternate interpretations within a common framework. Except when you want to exclude others from an absolutist definition of your own. Nice piece of self contradicting hypocrisy there.

    Guru Granth Sahib does indeed mention that there are only really a handful of Sikhs. So, although this may be a bizarre idea in relation to your current understanding, it is your understanding that is incorrect.

    See above. And its not the GGS I find bizarre. Try and understand that, I know its hard to grasp. Its exclusivist and bizarre interpretations that seek to marginalise all others from the definition of what a Sikh is, and the many bizarre rules they manufacture.

  68. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:28 pm  

    Anyway, let’s get beyond this bickering. I’ll admit I started it, but lets get to the real point of your argument so we can discuss properly.

    Don’t act like a cry baby, throwing out insults, and then claim the high ground, you look ridiculous.

  69. Deep Singh — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:30 pm  

    Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa!
    Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

    Best wishes to one and all for Vaisakhi and for the coming year!

    Kind regards,

    Deep Singh.

  70. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

    We all need an identity, but it is not right for us to then skew the teachings of the Guru to suit our emotional needs.

    Which is exactly what the various jathas and sects do.

    Spiritually, Sikhi is a complex philosphy contained in the Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru decides on who a Sikh is, all is contained in there. We all know that. You’re stating the obvious. And the point is, it is contained in there and outlined by gubani. Not by men who place divine judgment in their own hands and deign to speak on behalf of Guruji as self appointed referees of who is and is not a Sikh.

  71. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

    Jag,

    OK, you’re right.

    D

  72. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:33 pm  

    My last post was to Darshan.

  73. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:34 pm  

    Darshan said:

    We all need an identity, but it is not right for us to then skew the teachings of the Guru to suit our emotional needs.

    Which is exactly what the various jathas and sects do.

    Spiritually, Sikhi is a complex philosphy contained in the Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru decides on who a Sikh is, all is contained in there. We all know that. You’re stating the obvious. And the point is, it is contained in there and outlined by gubani. Not by men who place divine judgment in their own hands and deign to speak on behalf of Guruji as self appointed referees of who is and is not a Sikh.

  74. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 2:45 pm  

    Jag,

    You say, “Not by men who place divine judgment in their own hands and deign to speak on behalf of Guruji as self appointed referees of who is and is not a Sikh.”

    Actually, the Sikh that Gurbani defines is a much more difficult to live upto than what any Rehat Maryada by any man states.

    I disagree with all the Rehat Maryadas that have popped up by Deras like Dam Dami Taksal, but they are within their right to write something should they so wish.

    Ultimately, it does not matter whether we call ourselves Sikhs or not. What matters is whether we have a close relationship with the Guru and follow Sikhi lovingly.

    D

  75. Rumbold — on 14th April, 2008 at 3:56 pm  

    Nandeep, Dalbir:

    I doubt that kirpan-wielding Sikhs are prone to use them, but schools have policies against such items for good reason. Can you imagine how much a school could get sued for if there was an incident involving a kirpan?

  76. Sunny — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:14 pm  

    Rumbold – when it comes to kirpans, its not the school kids who are the problem but the middle-aged men who run the Gurdwaras.

    A few points
    Nandeep:
    You both seem to be fine with the concept of calling yourselves sikhs and yet not following the hukum of the Guru’s. How does that work.

    I don’t claim to follow the Gurus hukum to the letter or all the way through. I’m still going through my journey. But you don’t have any right to judge or say what I should call myself. Just keep that in mind.

    You talk about the SGGS not mentioning the 5ks, did you know that in the SGGS it does not mention the word waheguru either…. so shall we also say that this term is incorrect too, and has nothing to do with being a Sikh.

    Again, such silly statements come from your insistence in looking at everything in simple black and white terms.

    I didn’t say the 5 Ks were irrelevant any more than the word waheguru is irrelevant. I’m saying that just because one doesn’t do everything like adopt the 5 Ks or say waheguru 500 times a day, you don’t know how good or bad a Sikh they are.

    This is what I mean about this obsession with outward signs of faith and religiousity. Do you care about whether a person is good at heart or not? How do you measure that? A charity worker working in Africa is more of a Sikh than many of the Granthis that regularly attend the Gurudwaras. Except, according to you, they’re not. Your insistence in looking at everything superficially is exactly why the Sikh community is in such a mess.

  77. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:18 pm  

    Can you imagine how much a school could get sued for if there was an incident involving a kirpan?

    I dunno Rumbold. Give us an estimate. More or less than for an incident involving a flame thrower?

  78. Sunny — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:18 pm  

    Gurvinder:
    but the 5Ks are not mere symbols, each has a practical use. Without properly researching this area, it is not right to make such a public assertion as you have done in your article for the Guardian.

    I didn’t say the 5Ks were only mere symbols, but they are also symbols. I said taking this symbolism further, like being obsessed by the khanda (what is its religious significance, anyone?) and rituals is a problem.

    This phrase of mine might indicate what I was trying to say: there has always been temptation since to push Sikhism further towards becoming a more rule-bound religion steeped in ceremonies.

  79. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:22 pm  

    Ultimately, it does not matter whether we call ourselves Sikhs or not. What matters is whether we have a close relationship with the Guru and follow Sikhi lovingly

    Yes. But the problem is that there are people who make it their concern to declare in a Spanish Inquisition style who is and is not Sikh.

    Most people deeply dislike it when people reduce the complex philosophical and spiritual content of GGS to a narrow penal code of dress and behaviour for their own sectarian aims. Transmuting very deep esoteric concepts about spiritual striving and being a Sikh of the Guru into a political agenda of sectarianism and marginalisation at a complete anathema to the basic message of social inclusiveness that reflects the very idea of God in Sikhism.

  80. Rumbold — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:22 pm  

    Jag:

    “I dunno Rumbold. Give us an estimate. More or less than for an incident involving a flame thrower?”

    Heh. If the school had a police of allowing daggers into school and a child was stabbed, all hell would break loose. Parents sue schools for no reason these days.

  81. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:23 pm  

    Sunny,

    You just wrote, “A charity worker working in Africa is more of a Sikh than many of the Granthis that regularly attend the Gurudwaras.”

    Now you are defining who is a Sikh. What makes you think your definition of a Sikh is correct?

    D

  82. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:25 pm  

    Heh. If the school had a police of allowing daggers into school and a child was stabbed, all hell would break loose. Parents sue schools for no reason these days.

    What’s your solution Rumbold? Let us know.

  83. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:28 pm  

    Now you are defining who is a Sikh. What makes you think your definition of a Sikh is correct?

    You’re just going round in circles.

    The point is, his definition does not exclude anyone, even if you disagree with their interpretations of form and level of observance. Other people do actively seek and struggle to define such things narrowly.

  84. Haqiqat — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:28 pm  

    Darshan

    Any comment on post #61?

    Or do you consider all those named as not Sikh?

  85. Rumbold — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:29 pm  

    Jag:

    As somebody suggested above, why not simply carry/wear a very small dagger which has been blunted. If it is about the symbolism of the kirpan, then honour is satisfied.

  86. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:29 pm  

    Jag,

    You said, “Most people deeply dislike it when people reduce the complex philosophical and spiritual content of GGS to a narrow penal code of dress and behaviour for their own sectarian aims. Transmuting very deep esoteric concepts about spiritual striving and being a Sikh of the Guru into a political agenda of sectarianism and marginalisation at a complete anathema to the basic message of social inclusiveness that reflects the very idea of God in Sikhism.”

    I do agree with you here. There are some individuals (not organisations) that feel the need to push their choice of dress etc onto others. What they miss out are the very core teachings of compassion and truth etc.

    This is not to say that they are incorrect in some of their beliefs, but pushing it onto others is not the Sikh way.

    Sikhi is a spiritual path which, although is the same for everyone, it’s also somethign each of us must discover individually.

    D

  87. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

    As somebody suggested above, why not simply carry/wear a very small dagger which has been blunted. If it is about the symbolism of the kirpan, then honour is satisfied.

    They already do Rumbold. Small, blunt, sheathed and always worn underneath clothes. If there is any issue over this it can be debated and guidance issued by Sikh granthis. I really don’t believe you didn’t know that. Oh well.

  88. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:34 pm  

    See Darshan, we are basically more or less on the same page here.

  89. Sunny — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:35 pm  

    Sikhi is a spiritual path which, although is the same for everyone, it’s also somethign each of us must discover individually.

    Bang on. This discussion is a prime example of how some people are still obsessed by symbolism and wanting to brand others are ‘not-proper Sikhs’ so only they can have a conversation about Sikhism.

  90. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:37 pm  

    Jag,

    You said, “The point is, his definition does not exclude anyone, even if you disagree with their interpretations of form and level of observance. Other people do actively seek and struggle to define such things narrowly.”

    But the point you are missing is that it was not the aim of the Guru to be all-inclusive so that everyone could be called a Sikh and feel happy. The Guru’s door was and is open to everyone, but when choosing to become a Sikh, then one must do what the Guru asks, not what we wish to do.

    If you read Gurbani, then you will see that to be a Sikh is very difficult. Hence, the vast majority of us can not be called Sikhs. We may label ourselves as Sikhs, but that is pretty self-delusional.

    D

  91. Rumbold — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:41 pm  

    Jag:

    I did not know that, otherwise I would not have argued. That seems fine to me.

  92. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

    Sunny,

    You said, “Bang on. This discussion is a prime example of how some people are still obsessed by symbolism and wanting to brand others are ‘not-proper Sikhs’ so only they can have a conversation about Sikhism.”

    Yes, BUT… not everything which seems to be mere symbolism is just that. For some people, uncut hair is a symbol, but when in delve into Sikh spirituality, one begins to realise that it is anything but a symbol.

    Also, if someone was to approach me and tell me I’m not a proper Sikh, then I hope I would have learnt enough patience and humility to discuss the reasons behind their assertion, do some introspection, read Gurbani and then come to a conclusion as to whether they have a point. After all, what do I care what others think? I only care what my Guru thinks of me.

    D

  93. Sunny — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

    The Guru’s door was and is open to everyone, but when choosing to become a Sikh, then one must do what the Guru asks, not what we wish to do.

    Agreed, but here’s two questions:

    1) Why can you not substitute Khalsa instead of ‘Sikh’? I’m not saying being Sikh means nothing, but that as far as I can see, there were stringent requirements before you called yourself a Khalsa, not a Sikh.

    2) Why can’t there be a degree of acknowledgement that not everyone is perfect and has gone down that path of self-discovery and enlightenment (we don’t do all suddenly develop sudden love for the AKJ at university you know)… so to say they can’t even call themselves Sikh is unnecessarily exclusive. That goes against what the Gurijis taught – to become so obsessed with labels. Who is to judge who is a good Sikh or not and whether someone can call themselves Sikh?

  94. Jag — on 14th April, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

    But the point you are missing is that it was not the aim of the Guru to be all-inclusive so that everyone could be called a Sikh and feel happy. The Guru’s door was and is open to everyone, but when choosing to become a Sikh, then one must do what the Guru asks, not what we wish to do.

    If you read Gurbani, then you will see that to be a Sikh is very difficult. Hence, the vast majority of us can not be called Sikhs. We may label ourselves as Sikhs, but that is pretty self-delusional.

    You are transmuting spiritual metaphor and concepts of striving to become a ‘Sikh’ at the deepest level of gurbani-understanding into a material category.

    Becoming a ‘Sikh’ in that sense means attaining a level of enlightenment and good living commensurate with being a disciple of the Guru; and further more, that this is a process. There is no end point, because there is no end to spiritual striving, learning, and good living. Therefore, nobody can truly become a fully attained, perfect Sikh, because life is an ongoing journey and knowledge can never be complete.

    To extrapolate from this that people of various levels of observance or affiliation in the real world are not ‘Sikh’ in the sensibility or aspiration is totally erroneous. These are two differnet spheres we’re talking about.

  95. Dalbir — on 14th April, 2008 at 5:16 pm  

    Here is a definition of a Sikh by Guru Arjan Dev on page 305 of SGGS. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to post it here but in the context of what we have been discussing I think the last lines are worthy of reflection by all of us, especially today.
    —————————————————–

    One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord’s Name.

    Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar.

    Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased.

    Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord’s Name.

    One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food – that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru’s Mind.

    That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate – upon that GurSikh, the Guru’s Teachings are bestowed.

    Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. ||2||

  96. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 5:19 pm  

    Sunny,

    1) You can substitute Khalsa for Sikh. The term Khalsa is just a descriptive term for a Sikh. I know that people have created two differing interpretations for these terms, but when looking at the source, i.e. Gurbani, one comes to realise that they refer to the same person. If there were two different flavours of Sikhi, then you could have two different types of Sikhs, but Guru Nanak very clearly proclaims that He has one message for the whole of humanity.

    2) I totally understand your point here. I think the way it works is, people discover Sikhi, think it’s great, start to adopt it, find it’s difficult, but then instead of focussing their self-disappointment to better themselves, it’s far easier to find faults in others which don’t exist in oneself, thereby appeasing one’s temporary lack of self-esteem.

    I can not say whether someone is a Sikh or not, only the Guru can say that. I can not even say whether I am a Sikh – I would seek the Guru’s judgement on that too. As a wannabe-Sikh, it is not in my interests to judge others, even if I could.

    There are those who don’t look like Sikhs externally, but are developing internally. There are also those who do look like Sikhs externally, but are stagnant internally. The Guru wants us to develop internally and externally.

    From what I know, the AKJ tries to follow and preach the word of the Guru. There are some within it, as with all large organisations, who aren’t exactly great ambassadors! I have met some myself. But equally, there are those who are great examples of humble Sikhs.

    D

  97. Darshan — on 14th April, 2008 at 5:26 pm  

    Jag,

    You said, “There is no end point, because there is no end to spiritual striving, learning, and good living.”

    Actually, the whole point of Sikhi and human life, as per Gurbani, is for our souls to merge with the the great-Soul (God) by following the teachings of the Guru. So, there is, in fact, an end point.

    “Therefore, nobody can truly become a fully attained, perfect Sikh, because life is an ongoing journey and knowledge can never be complete.”

    Quite the opposite, Gurbani talks about how one can become a perfect being. Gurbani also talks about the Guru blessing us with Gian (knowledge) of everything.

    It is only God who has no limits, everything else has a limit.

    D

  98. Dalbir — on 14th April, 2008 at 5:30 pm  

    Sorry guys that bani was actually by Guru Ram Das.

  99. Nandeep — on 14th April, 2008 at 6:26 pm  

    So by the quote from Gurbani found by bhai Dalbir, how many of us still insist we are sikhs???? Its not dalbirs opinion or mine, its what the Guru himself has said. we could argue all day and night, but its written in black and white in bani.

    Sunny

    “I don’t claim to follow the Gurus hukum to the letter or all the way through. I’m still going through my journey. But you don’t have any right to judge or say what I should call myself. Just keep that in mind.”

    As has been mentioned by others if you are writing for a mainstream publication on the subject of Sikhi and vasakhi then its only logical that you have some knowledge on the subject – which from your write up is evidently zilch…And as mentioned by others again, it does not matter one bit what i call you, or for that matter if you believe you are a Sikh. what matters is will Guruji view you as his Sikh??

    Theres no doubt an aid worker in Africa will accumulate some great karam etc. But without contemplating on Waheguru/God, then Gurbani says (not me) that life is being wasted really. Line after line within Gurbani repeats the message to jap naam. If one could get to sach khand by doing charity work alone then where does Waheguru fit into the picture.

    Gurbaani states our mission in life is to become one with the waheguru. but we are entangled in maya, and do not see the reality that there is nothing but waheguru/god.The way to break away from this maya is by recieving naam from Guru Ji, by giving your head. This is also noted within bani.

  100. bananabrain — on 14th April, 2008 at 6:44 pm  

    You’ve had over a thousand years of diaspora experience, including close contact with the most important streams of intellectual current, art and thought in Europe and later in America, for hundreds of years.

    There has only been a significant Sikh diaspora for 45 years. Sikh farmers migrated to the west coast of Canada and California in small numbers in the early 20th Century, and in the 1920’s Sikh workers went to Africa. But they were working class people who have alost been forgotten from history, and never were established enough until now to be able to think of these things.

    yes, but my point was that during the period of the early roman empire, we were in very much the same position as you are now. we’d lost our kingdom, a lot of us had emigrated and there were a lot of splinter sects who were making great progress with our own peasants, the “‘am ha-aretz”. the mishnaic process enabled the jewish diaspora to be unified through the rabbinic academies that were set up after the destruction of the Temple. we lost our sobraon and our khalsa, too. i might even say that you are lucky that you still have amritsar and the golden temple – swindling imperialist bastards though they were, you were undoubtedly luckier to be dealing with the minions of queen victoria than those of the emperors vespasian, titus, trajan and hadrian.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  101. Dalbir — on 14th April, 2008 at 8:44 pm  

    By the definition of the granth very few of us are good Sikhs including non-inclusive Amritdharis . Note the last lines:

    Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it. ||2||

    How is anyone going to inspire other people to do naam simran by excluding and antagonising them? Again from what I see (and I could be wrong) is that part of being a good Sikh is inspiring others to do kirtan and simran.

    Also the lines:

    That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate – upon that GurSikh, the Guru’s Teachings are bestowed.

    These seem to imply that understanding bani (i.e. the Guru’s teachings) is a matter of grace, how many of us can honestly say we think we have reached that level?

  102. s johal — on 14th April, 2008 at 9:22 pm  

    Happy vaisakhi to all.
    I have just read the comments on this site that: only a person with 5ks is a true Sikh. This then means all the followers of the Gurus and Bhagat before Guru Gobind Rai where not Sikhs. What rubbish! The meaning of the word Sikh is a learner. The problem is that we have all become Gurus. I want these Modern Gurus to answer the following:
    Is it true that the bani of Guru Gobind Singh ji is not included in the SGGS if not why?
    What other reason was there for the creation of Khalsa Path the then ending of Guru Ship and bringing in of democracy (which is a good thing).
    Did the Sikhs not have an identity before the creation of the Khalsa Path?
    What is the difference between a Bhai Lalo Sikh and Malak Bhago Sikh?
    How would you define Guru Nanak Dev Ji If he was around today, with is anti-casteism, anti exploitation, anti -war stance. And finally who would he be mobilisation in fighting these evils in today’s world of Globalisation?
    I am strong Follower the Guru’s teachings but not blinding. Guru Nanak Dev Ji said do not follow anything blindly.

  103. Sunny — on 14th April, 2008 at 11:14 pm  

    Nandeep: As has been mentioned by others if you are writing for a mainstream publication on the subject of Sikhi and vasakhi then its only logical that you have some knowledge on the subject – which from your write up is evidently zilch…

    I’m sorry, I didn’t realise I had to go through some sort of a committee who would determine what level of knowledge I had and whether I was then competent enough t write something. As yet you’ve failed to find anything wrong with my article. Your only annoyance seems to be that I’m not as holy don’t look as informed as you, so you choose to pass judgement. I’m afraid I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking.

  104. Nandeep — on 15th April, 2008 at 6:29 am  

    Sunny,

    lol, i’ve told you what was wrong with your article and what was wrong with your elaborating on one of the points. i.e the SGGS, which you still haven’t answered. like i said previously, you’d expect someone who’s writing such a piece to have knowledge of the subject. Is that too hard for you comprehend or understand. I’ve not once mentioned that your not as holy as me (afterall who am i), if i have please highlight my comment.

  105. Darshan — on 15th April, 2008 at 10:08 am  

    S Johal said: “only a person with 5ks is a true Sikh. This then means all the followers of the Gurus and Bhagat before Guru Gobind Rai where not Sikhs. What rubbish!”

    The Guru has the power to change the requirements for a Sikh. prior to Vaisakhi 1699, Sikhs were not required to keep the 5Ks officially. Hence, they were still Sikhs as they did what the Guru asked. the Guru now requires us to keep the 5Ks, so it is a must.

    “Is it true that the bani of Guru Gobind Singh ji is not included in the SGGS if not why? What other reason was there for the creation of Khalsa Path the then ending of Guru Ship and bringing in of democracy (which is a good thing).”

    The Guru is still here: Guru Granth Sahib. The concept of democracy does not exist in Sikhi. Instead, Sikhi has a selection of 5 Sikhs from within the Sangat in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib.

  106. Darshan — on 15th April, 2008 at 10:24 am  

    Sunny, you said: “As yet you’ve failed to find anything wrong with my article.”

    I find it astonishing that you do not recognise the errors in your article. Is it normal to receive so much criticism for an article you write?

    You stated in your article:

    > The paradox is that Vaisakhi is rich with symbolism and ritual.
    - This is simply not true. Please explain how you came to this conclusion?

    > For historical reasons the gurus felt creating a strong Sikh sense of identity and symbolism was important and necessary.
    - Again, not true. The Sikh faith has nothing to do with history, but everything to do with spirituality. Sikhi is not based on actions of others. Sikhi is based solely on the command of God which came via the Guru. Gurani explains this multiple times.

    > But its particular emphasis on outward signs of faith, each with specific reasoning, creates a tension that isn’t necessarily explored by adherents today.
    - Again, not true. There is some emphasis on external appearance etc, but most of Sikhi is about internal development.

    > So while the gurus asked that their adherents challenge orthodox ideas, question their faith
    - This again is simply not true. please provide the Gurbani references where the Guru advises his Sikhs to challenge “orthodox Sikhi” and question their faith in God/Guru/Sikhi.

    > I was once told off in a gurdwara for kneeling down with my back towards the Guru Granth Sahib….
    - This has been explained by Gurvinder Singh above. You are clearly misunderstanding the whole teaching of the Mecca story.

    > However, because of the symbolism bestowed by Guru Gobind – which was necessary at the time…
    - Simply not true. Sikhi does not change over time. The command of God is timeless, as written in Gurbani. The Guru has specifically told his Sikhs to not flinch from His path despite the changes the rest of the world may blindly bring to bear on the rest of us. Fashions comes and go, btu the truth never changes.

    I’m not trying to be unnecessarily critical, but there are some glaring mistakes in your article. If you at least acknowledge the possibility that you may be wrong, that itself would be a useful start.

    It is very important that the Sikh faith is not portrayed inaccurately. It’s beauty must not be mixed in with our own closely-held ideals. The Guru requires us to abandon our own beliefs and ideals and then receive the pure truth. How else can we possibly fully understand what the Guru teaches?

    I hope this makes sense.

    D

  107. Sunny — on 15th April, 2008 at 3:06 pm  

    Is it normal to receive so much criticism for an article you write?

    Completely expected. This is one of the reasons why ‘normal’ Sikhs don’t want to express or talk about their religion because they feel they’ll be judged by more holier-than-thou Sikhs. Lo and behold, we have them. I never expect everyone to agree with what I say, but I do expect people to read what I’m saying. It seems many haven’t. That’s not my fault.

    You say:
    > The paradox is that Vaisakhi is rich with symbolism and ritual.
    - This is simply not true. Please explain how you came to this conclusion?

    What? There’s no symbolism or ritual in Sikhism? What are the 5 Ks? What is the nagar kirtan if not a ritual? These are just basic examples. The point isn’t that they’re bad per se, the point is whether we go further down that line or not.

    - Again, not true. The Sikh faith has nothing to do with history, but everything to do with spirituality. Sikhi is not based on actions of others. Sikhi is based solely on the command of God which came via the Guru. Gurani explains this multiple times.

    This is a matter of interpretation. There are plenty of Sikhs who discuss the development of the faith as being partly shaped by the situation that the Gurus found themselves in. They had to defend freedom of religion, and yet they wanted Sikhs to stand out, be fearless in their own identity and stand up for others. The symbols they adopted feed into those ideals. To say it had nothing at all to do with the historical context is absurd. That isn’t to say that those symbols should only be looked at through a historical context.

    - This again is simply not true. please provide the Gurbani references where the Guru advises his Sikhs to challenge “orthodox Sikhi” and question their faith in God/Guru/Sikhi.

    I didn’t say challenge orthodox Sikhi, but challenge orthodox and traditional ideas. That may relate to Sikhism, or they may not. But certainly, they always wanted people to find and discover Sikhi for themselves rather than take other people’s word for it. Isn’t that true?

    - This has been explained by Gurvinder Singh above. You are clearly misunderstanding the whole teaching of the Mecca story.

    I interpret it in a different way. That is my prerogative. You don’t like it, fine. But I still think its excessive symbolism.

    - Simply not true. Sikhi does not change over time. The command of God is timeless, as written in Gurbani. The Guru has specifically told his Sikhs to not flinch from His path despite the changes the rest of the world may blindly bring to bear on the rest of us. Fashions comes and go, btu the truth never changes.

    You sound like someone from Hizb ut-Tahrir. The Truth never changes but times do change and interpretation of those ideas will change over time. Now women want to walk ahead of the men during the Lavan ceremony because they believe in equality. Are you going to say thats forbidden? How long has it been since women were allowed to clean the inner sanctum of Harminder Sahib. You’re naive if you think ideas and times don’t change.

    Secondly, my point was that guru gobind felt it was necessary to develop Sikhism further by introducing symbols. I said that was fine. I’m warning against MORE symbolism and ritualism, not saying that because times have changed those symbols are now unnecessary. Please READ CAREFULLY WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN.

    but there are some glaring mistakes in your article.

    There aren’t mistakes, there is you and others wilfully misreading what I’ve written.

  108. Dalbir — on 15th April, 2008 at 3:29 pm  

    It is actually quite a pleasant surprise to find that despite all of the issues facing Sikhs, there are still plenty of people from all types of backgrounds who are still passionate about their roots in one way or another.

    Related to the theme of vasakhi, that energy would do wonders if it were directed towards a unified purpose.

    309 years against the odds.

  109. Darshan — on 15th April, 2008 at 4:19 pm  

    Sunny, you said:

    > What? There’s no symbolism or ritual in Sikhism? What are the 5 Ks? What is the nagar kirtan if not a ritual?

    - We have already discussed above that the 5Ks are not merely symbols. there are often practical and spiritual use. Sikhi is not about symbolising anything to anyone. Sikhi is all about travelling a spiritual path for oneself – not for show. The Nagar Kirtan is no way a ritual. It started off as a practical way to encourage people to sing Kirtan. It’s like me coming around to your house and talking to you about Sikhi – how is that a ritual? There are real benefits of a Nagar Kirtan, it ‘s not a meaningless ritual of which there is no tangible benefit. There may well be people who derive zero benefit from a Nagar Kirtan, but that does not make it a ritual per se.

    > This is a matter of interpretation. There are plenty of Sikhs who discuss the development of the faith as being partly shaped by the situation that the Gurus found themselves in.

    I agree this may be about interpretation, but if we don’t base our interpretations on Gurbani, then how can one ever hope to come to the correct interpretation? An historical event can be interpreted in a thousand different ways, but if were to read the writings those involved in those historical events, we suddenly get their perspective on the whole matter. It is vitally important to not ignore Gurbani and it’s teachings.

    > I didn’t say challenge orthodox Sikhi, but challenge orthodox and traditional ideas. That may relate to Sikhism, or they may not. But certainly, they always wanted people to find and discover Sikhi for themselves rather than take other people’s word for it. Isn’t that true?

    - Well, if you didn’t say orthodox Sikhi, that’s still wrong as the Guru has never told his Sikhs to challenge other religions, whether they are practised in an orthodox manner or not. In fact, the Guru actually told people to be more orthodox, more true to their faith.

    I agree that we ought to only take the Guru’s word for it, and not other people’s, but equally we mustn’t be so closed off from other people’s views that we see them as orthodox, holier-than-thou and therefore wrong! This type of seize mentality won’t get anyone far, as Sikhi requires us to abandon our own ideas and adopt the Guru’s teachings afresh.

    > I interpret it in a different way. That is my prerogative. You don’t like it, fine. But I still think its excessive symbolism.

    - You think that not turning your back on Guru Ji is excessive symbolism? Well, you may actually be right, but that is only true for you. There are others who see it as deep respect for Guru Ji, see the story of Bhai Manjh who was so in love with Guru Ji he didn’t turn his back on Him even when fetching wood from the jungle. Just read up on how much the Guru loved Bhai Manjh.

    > You sound like someone from Hizb ut-Tahrir…. You’re naive if you think ideas and times don’t change.

    - Your ideas are simply out of touch with Gurbani, so you resort to name calling, how intelligent! Of course ideas change with time, but if you think that Sikhi is simply an idea, then you are way off the mark. Have you actually ever read Gurbani? It can takes years of research on Gurbani to fully understand these key concepts, and yet you are making such rash statements about Sikhi without any shred of evidence that your views are in line with Gurbani.

    Sure, the SGPC is not right in the way it manages Harmandir Sahib and who it allows to do Seva there, but that has nothing to do with what Sikhi is all about. They have chosen to make mistakes, we can only highlight those to them.

    > I’m warning against MORE symbolism and ritualism…

    But, Sikhi is totally against ANY ritualism and has hardly any, possibly no symbolism. The Khanda is often seen as a symbol, but in fact it is a teaching, just done in the form of a drawing as opposed to words. As explained numerous times above, those thigns which you have highlighted as mere symbols are not symbols at all, but rather practical items.

    > There aren’t mistakes, there is you and others wilfully misreading what I’ve written.

    - Oh please! Do you really believe that I have nothing better to do than wilfully misread your articles! If only I had so much spare time. I’m trying my best to explain why there are elements of your article which are not correct. Surely you must be able to take constructive criticism.

    I may not have time to respond again, but I beg that you learn more about Gurbani and what it really says. It seems to be some distance away from what you think it says.

    Humility takes some real character to adopt, but without it we can never be in the right frame of mind to properly understand what Sikhi is all about, as we simply will not let go of our own ideas. First we must learn that we are completely fallible then we can start learning from the Guru.

    Good luck in your journey.

    D

  110. riazat butt — on 15th April, 2008 at 5:42 pm  

    I’m always a fan of your work and whoever commissioned the piece was a genius. I also like your rather robust response to naysayers and prophets of doom. Must be all them samosas eh?

  111. Sunny — on 15th April, 2008 at 8:12 pm  

    Thanks Riazat.

    Dalbir – true!

    Darshan:
    We have already discussed above that the 5Ks are not merely symbols.

    I didn’t say they were merely symbols. I said they are symbols and acknowledged they have deeper meaning. You cannot deny they are symbols.

    The Nagar Kirtan is no way a ritual. It started off as a practical way to encourage people to sing Kirtan.

    It is by definition a ritual. Bhakti is a ritual. Waking up in the morning and washing your face is a ritual. My point isn’t whether its a worthwhile ritual or not, but on the fact that it is a ritual and that we should be careful of letting in more ritualism into a faith that is broadly (thank god!) fairly ritual and superstition free! Stop arguing for its own sake.

    but if we don’t base our interpretations on Gurbani, then how can one ever hope to come to the correct interpretation?

    the Gurbani is not the be all and end all of Sikhism. There is also Sikh history and that has to be sometimes taken into account. why else do we read about the lives of the gurus? why else are there pictures of what the gurus did at Gurdwaras? Why else do we have stories on what the Gurus did? Again, you’re arguing for its own sake. I’m merely saying that historical context is also important. That doesn’t mean those symbols are less important now, but that history is important to understading how sikhism developed.

    - Well, if you didn’t say orthodox Sikhi, that’s still wrong as the Guru has never told his Sikhs to challenge other religions, whether they are practised in an orthodox manner or not.

    You’re being disingenuous here. The gurus challenged the caste system. the gurus challenged how Muslims and Hindus lived there lives. They wanted them to do away with rituals and focus on being good and on god. Sikhism is actually a highly revolutionary religion and its beauty is the fact that it constantly asks people to challenge the orthodoxy and question the establishment. Its sad you don’t see that. Its even sadder you think that the Gurus did not challenge other orthodoxies and how other people lived their lives.

    This type of seize mentality won’t get anyone far, as Sikhi requires us to abandon our own ideas and adopt the Guru’s teachings afresh.

    Sikhi requires us to think for ourselves and offers us a path to a higher consciousness. My problem is partly that many people who see themselves as Sikh are driven away from learning more about their faith, through discussion, by holier-than-though fundamentalists like the AKJ crew.

    see the story of Bhai Manjh who was so in love with Guru Ji he didn’t turn his back on Him even when fetching wood from the jungle. Just read up on how much the Guru loved Bhai Manjh.

    That’s great but I don’t think you realise that religion is also a personal journey about what feels right. I don’t like the idea of doing something that someone else did just because they liked it. I know many hardcore Sikhs don’t like the idea of a diverse Sikh faith with people interpreting it in different ways but you’ll one day have to get to grips with it. A faith that has little hierarchy is being stifled by people who want uniformity and rigidity, when its not necessary.
    Sure, the SGPC is not right in the way it manages Harmandir Sahib and who it allows to do Seva there, but that has nothing to do with what Sikhi is all about. They have chosen to make mistakes, we can only highlight those to them.

    So let me get this straight. for over 300 years since the last Guru passed away, not a single proper Sikh decided to be intelligent enough to raise a voice in favour of gender equality and ask why women are not allowed to clean the inner sanctum. You’re right – it has nothing to do with Sikhi. but it has everything to do with spineless adherents who aren’t willing to challenge (sexist) ideas within their own community and intepret the Gurbani in the radical way it was meant to be.

    But, Sikhi is totally against ANY ritualism and has hardly any, possibly no symbolism.

    Depends how you define both.

    The Khanda is often seen as a symbol, but in fact it is a teaching, just done in the form of a drawing as opposed to words.

    I don’t think you understand the definition of the word symbol.

    Seeya!

  112. Amrit — on 15th April, 2008 at 8:28 pm  

    (I’m sorry, Sunny – I know you’ve already put this muppet to bed, so to speak, but I couldn’t resist this).

    ‘So while the gurus asked that their adherents challenge orthodox ideas, question their faith
    - This again is simply not true. please provide the Gurbani references where the Guru advises his Sikhs to challenge “orthodox Sikhi” and question their faith in God/Guru/Sikhi’

    ‘Well, if you didn’t say orthodox Sikhi, that’s still wrong as the Guru has never told his Sikhs to challenge other religions’

    Thank you, Darshan, for giving me a great laugh. It downright delighted me to see you effortlessly prove Sunny and other commentators here right by misinterpreting what he said – or just plain failing to read it – not once, but TWICE SUCCESSIVELY!

    Sunny said, in short, that the Gurus told us not to be mindless sheep who follow everything we are told or encouraged to do. NOT to ‘challenge orthodox Sikhi’ or ‘challenge other religions.’ That means, quite simply, being brave, open-minded and iconoclastic. Much like Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was when he offered himself up to Aurangzeb so that the Kashmiri Pandits would not be forced to convert to Islam against their will.

    I would say ‘Au revoir’ here, but I’d rather not, so – bye!

  113. Nandeep — on 15th April, 2008 at 9:40 pm  

    Sunny – “the Gurbani is not the be all and end all of Sikhism.” lol ok mate whatever you say.

    Sunny – “There is also Sikh history and that has to be sometimes taken into account. why else do we read about the lives of the gurus? why else are there pictures of what the gurus did at Gurdwaras?”

    the Gurus never wrote their own history for a perfect reason, because they wanted Sikhs to concentrate on Bani, not on the life stories of the Gurus. I’m not saying we should ignore the stories, but what we should do is always put our complete faith in Bani.

    Sunny- “That’s great but I don’t think you realise that religion is also a personal journey about what feels right. I don’t like the idea of doing something that someone else did just because they liked it.”

    So we can discard Bhai Manj, how about Guru Amar Das Ji. He used to collect water for Guru Angad Dev Ji’s morning bath, he did this without turning his back on his Guru. And here you are telling us how you find it a ritual the way Sikhs respect their eternal Guru (SGGS). Add to the Guru Angad Dev Ji and Bhai Manj saakhis the satkar that Guru Arjan Dev Ji bestowed upon the Adhi Granth. Are you telling me all these (two of whom are Gurus were wrong, and your ritual theory surrounding SGGS is correct). In that case why do you even want to be a Sikh of the Gurus – their ideas clearly do not align with yours.

    If you want i can post you details of the significance of amrit for a Sikh.

    Sunny – “There aren’t mistakes, there is you and others wilfully misreading what I’ve written.” – waah kya humility hai. tussi dhan ho.

  114. s johal — on 15th April, 2008 at 10:21 pm  

    Sunny excellent reply to Darshan’s article, but the problem with people of blind faith or any faith is that their ideology defies all logical reasoning, and sometimes I feel it’s a waste of time debating anything with them. I used to perform this ritual every morning and evening.
    Someone on site said that only a person with 5ks, is Sikh. It was Guru Gobind singh Ji who blessed the 5ks to Khalsa Panth. But the Guru JIs bani is not included in the SGGS. And it is also mentioned in the article that we must believe in SGGS the 11 guru, but the SGGS only contain the Bani of 7 Gurus, ( Guru Harkrishan passed away at the age of 7 and Guru Hargobind was too busy on the battlefield ) Didn’t Guru Gobind Singh Ji not say that in no form should is image be made and that anybody who calls him a Guru will burn in hell correct me if I am wrong, I am more confused then before.

  115. s johal — on 15th April, 2008 at 10:24 pm  

    *Sunny excellent reply to Darshan’s article, but the problem with people of blind faith or any faith is that they defy all logical reasoning, and sometimes I feel it’s a waste of time debating anything with them. I used to perform this ritual every morning and evening.
    Someone on site said that only a person with 5ks, is Sikh. It was Guru Gobind singh Ji who blessed the 5ks to Khalsa Panth. But the Guru JIs bani is not included in the SGGS. And it is also mentioned in the article that we must believe in SGGS the 11 guru, but the SGGS only contain the Bani of 7 Gurus, ( Guru Harkrishan passed away at the age of 7 and Guru Hargobind was too busy on the battlefield ) Didn’t Guru Gobind Singh Ji not say that in no form should is image be made and that anybody who calls him a Guru will burn in hell correct me if I am wrong, I am more confused then before.

  116. Dalbir — on 15th April, 2008 at 11:25 pm  

    ——-
    Didn’t Guru Gobind Singh Ji not say that in no form should is image be made and that anybody who calls him a Guru will burn in hell correct me if I am wrong, I am more confused then before.
    ——-

    Johal, the words I think you mean are from Bachitar Natak and are as follows (note he was trying to stop people calling him a God):

    ਇਹ ਕਾਰਨਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਮੋਹਿ ਪਠਾਯੋ ॥ ਤਬ ਮੈ ਜਗਤਿ ਜਨਮ ਧਰਿ ਆਯੋ ॥
    For this reason the Lord sent me and I was born in this world.

    ਜਿਮ ਤਿਨ ਕਹੀ ਇਨੈ ਤਿਮ ਕਹਿਹੋਂ ॥ ਅਉਰ ਕਿਸੂ ਤੇ ਬੈਰ ਨ ਗਹਿਹੋਂ ॥੩੧॥
    Whatever the Lord said, I am repeating the same unto you, I do not bear enmity with anyone.31.

    ਜੋ ਹਮ ਕੋ ਪਰਮੇਸਰ ਉਚਰਿ ਹੈਂ ॥ ਤੇ ਸਭ ਨਰਕਿ ਕੁੰਡ ਮਹਿ ਪਰਿਹੈਂ ॥
    Whosoever shall call me the Lord, shall fall into hell.

  117. Jagjeet — on 16th April, 2008 at 9:42 am  

    ਜੋ ਹਮ ਕੋ ਪਰਮੇਸਰ ਉਚਰਿ ਹੈਂ ॥ ਤੇ ਸਭ ਨਰਕਿ ਕੁੰਡ ਮਹਿ ਪਰਿਹੈਂ ॥
    Whosoever shall call me the Lord, shall fall into hell.

    I think the above line is misinterpreted in English, I have asked other sikhs about why would Guru Gobind Singh Ji say this? It makes more sense to me that Guru Ji is saying that whoever calls themself god will fall in hell, as for me Guru is god, theres no difference.

  118. Haqiqat — on 16th April, 2008 at 10:03 am  

    The second word in Gurmukhi says ‘hum’, so the Guru is clearly referring to himself.

    as for me Guru is god, theres no difference.

    The Gurus consistently referred to God as ‘nirankar’ (formless); the Gurus had human form.

    The Gurus exhorted the Sikhs to worship God not them.

    What you have said about the Gurus being God is actually going against the very grain of their teachings.

  119. jagjeet — on 16th April, 2008 at 1:29 pm  

    I dont think you understood what Im saying, this topic is going off the point though, but Guru ji also says theres no difference between god, guru and disciple. When god has created he is within his creation and therefore we can see him (by gurus grace), when god destroys and everything goes back into him, then he is formless. Im not saying the physical form of the gurus was god, but it was the jot(god) inside them, which not everyone could see! The whole aim of a Sikh is to have darshan of vaheguru, now how can you have his darshan without any form at all? You have to see something. I maybe totally wrong and if someone can make me see otherwise then im open to that.

  120. Parvinder Singh — on 16th April, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

    Just going back to the original article by Sunny regarding the Gurus’ warnings against meaningless rituals. I have only read bits of the Guru Granth Sahib and therefore cannot comment about much of the issues raised here. The points raised about the 5Ks though do have their origin in history but are much relevant today and those who wear them (myself excluded) do have a sense, a deep sense of their meaning, both practical and spiritually. From the outside, they may seem mere symbols, but for the wearer they make up a uniform of the Order of the Khalsa, bestowed by the last guru to those Sikhs who have taken the pahul (baptism) so that they would stand out in a crowd, ready to defend the weak and fight oppression whichever form it might take.

    Having said that though, ritualism is indeed creeping into the Sikh faith. One only has to visit Gurdwaras like Park Road and Havelock in Southall to see the number of Akhand Paths (readings of the Guru Granth Sahib) being read simultaneously, commissioned at quite high rates by families who are rarely in attendance. I am quite sure this is not quite the way it was meant to be. Correct me if I’m wrong but the Guru Granth Sahib should be read or listened to, and yes, discussed and debated. In my view, this is the most important aspect of the Sikh faith.

    The caste system is alive as is much idol or image worshipping in many houses. On visits to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, I am always taken back when some people think bathing in the sarovar would cleanse their sins. Then there’s the practice of immersing ashes at Kiratpur Sahib and doing ‘pilgrimages’ before one dies. Much of this was frowned upon by the Gurus, yet sadly have reappeared. I can understand that this would mostly be prevalent in the Indian sub-continent as the day to day cultural scene revolves mainly around Hinduism, popular culture through films and tv but its such a shame it now is effecting the diaspora.

    #8: ‘baptised Sikhs have a greater devotion towards the practice AND understanding of gurbani itself’.
    - I would strongly disagree and believe me, I have met enough to say that many, not all go about their lives oblivion to what gurbani teaches.

    #34: ‘I have close relatives who wear the 5ks and they lie out of their teeth.’
    - there’s good baptised Sikhs and bad, there’s good non-baptised Sikhs and bad. Period.

    Guru Nanak: ‘Truth is high, but higher still is truthful living’.

  121. s johal — on 16th April, 2008 at 9:13 pm  

    120:
    From the outside, they may seem mere symbols, but for the wearer they make up a uniform of the Order of the Khalsa, bestowed by the last guru to those Sikhs who have taken the pahul (baptism) so that they would stand out in a crowd, ready to defend the weak and fight oppression whichever form it might take.

    I just want to relate this to the following( please put me right if I am wrong, I have not read the SGGS, as my Punjabi is very poor and so is my English. After the Martyrdom of Guru Teg Bhadhur Ji, his decapitated head was brought back to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Guru asked how many of his followers gave Shaheedi with him, the disciple replied two, the Guru Ji replied in astonishment ‘just two’ (apparently the others fled) In response to this cowardly act the Guru Ji,is believed to have said the following Words ‘I would create a Khalsa that would be recognised amongst a million’ I strongly believe, it was this event that led to the creation of a Khalsa Panth, this is only logical conclusion that I can think of. Please shed more light on this matter.

  122. D Singh — on 15th May, 2008 at 12:13 pm  

    “From what I know, the AKJ tries to follow and preach the word of the Guru”

    This is the height of absurdity. The Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ) despite their outward display of supposedly orthodoxy are actually far from following the ‘word of the Guru’.

    Here’s why:

    1. The AKJ are foremost amongst splinter groups that exist today and have their origins in late 19th century/early 20th century Colonial organisations seeking to deny the authenticity of the Sikh Scriptures – whilst they have chosen to focus their current attention solely on the “raagmala” (index of musical measures) at the end of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), they are nonetheless related to various individuals (indeed their origin begins with one such person) who went as far as to remove Bhagat Bani (hymns included by the Sikh Gurus within the SGGS by non-Sikh Saintly figures of Hindu and Muslim origin), so just how they are ‘following the word of the Guru’ when they consider themselves an authority to effectively silence their ‘Guru’ I fail to understand.

    2. Even looking towards the living tradition of the Guru, i.e. the daily practice and lifestyle of the Khalsa Sikh, the AKJ have sought to argue using rather flawed ‘logic’ (rooted in their 20th century origins) to even change the 5Ks of the Khalsa that they seek to represent, forcing their fundamentalist outlook onto impressionable members of the Diaspora youth (in India, it is particularly well known that the AKJ are little more than a failed experiment, hence their increasing efforts to generate support and thus income in the UK and Canada).

    3. Religion, contrary to the notion propagated by the Modern and Western forms Christianity and together with this Atheism, is not something that concerns ‘belief’ as much as it is does an indivisible combination of practice, tradition and aesthetics – the AKJ, like their fundamentalist counteparts in modern and western influenced religiousity have none of these factors, there is nothing aesthetically pleasing about any of their practices (and given their modern roots, they can hardly lay claim to tradition or orthodoxy!) – this is particularly revealing for an organisation that likes to present itself as a “kirtani” jatha (singers of divine praises), I would ask those who are unfamiliar this group to visit the ‘kirtan’ sections of websites like http://www.tapoban.org or http://www.akj.org and judge for yourselves if this ‘music’ even qualifies as ‘singing’ let alone ‘kirtan’ (divine hymn singing).

    That being said, aside from the above communal and theological issues, the item of particular relevance for this blog is the links that the AKJ have to terrorist groups like the Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) – whilst this group has been banned in the UK following 9/11 alongside ISYF, as you have covered previously on this site, several founding and leading members of these groups are the very same individuals who now ‘represent’ Sikhs through groups like the Sikh Federation.

    The AKJ have been long trying to distance themselves from BKI post the events of 9/11 (for those unfamiliar the BKI have also had their fair share of involvement with plane hijacking), the underlying issue remains that the AKJ are little more than a recruiting nusery for organisations such as the BKI. Visit the above mentioned websites and one will find images of BKI terrorists and pages of articles and forum discussion singing praises of their actions, for those unfamiliar, look up a certain Talwinder Singh Parmar – that’s usually a good place to start.

    Sunny, if groups like the AKJ are to be discussed on this forum, let’s focus on the issue that concerns all of us, are they as they claim to be, “a choir of hymn singers” or is there something underlying of this which requires further attention.

  123. Lia Qirat — on 15th May, 2008 at 10:35 pm  

    D Singh

    While I agree with a lot of what you say re the AKJ, I’m perplexed as to why you have issues with their kirtan.

    I’m not an Orthodox practicing Sikh by an stretch of the imagination but I do know good kirtan when I hear it.

    The AKJ has its faults and theological inconsistencies, most jathebande and individuals do, but their kirtan rocks (IMHO).

    So I was just wandering what you had against it specifically?

    Many thanks.

  124. Deep Singh — on 16th May, 2008 at 9:39 am  

    Lia Qirat,

    Whilst the answer to your question concerns matters of aesthetics and hence subjective, as you allude to in the beginning of your post, the issue here (i.e. for the forum, composed of members who are Sikh and Non-Sikh, is the closing paragraph of the earlier post.

    That said, whilst what someone likes and dislikes will be subjective, there are certain standards of what constitutes musical acceptance, simple things like keeping time and singing in tune – the latter in particular, which I think most will agree is essential to any form of music, is something where the AKJ frequently fail – why is this an issue, for what effective is their supposed cover (i.e. we are not a fundamentalist and/or terrorist supporting organisation, but a group of hymn singers), it should ring alarm bells for most, as to why the majority of their singing fails to be even that.

    This is before we move onto more specific and/or theological issues with their approach, such as:

    - The gross lack of skill (AKJ Tabla players for instance are about trained in the intrument as a 3 year old child – this is no exaggeration, search youtube and you’ll find literally 3 year old children playing with more control and musicality, again raising the above issue, i.e. why is a group that claims itself to be choir so appalling bad in every sense of the word when it comes to their chosen focus)

    - AKJ claim to be the ‘backbone’ of the Khalsa Panth (Sikh community) as they supposedly fall what they consider orthodoxy and as the above quote seemed to suggest they follow and preach “the word of the Guru”, yet the Guru’s compositions (together with those of the Bhagats) in the SGGS are frequently recorded in specific musical measures and metres (raags and taals), yet we can find plenty of popular AKJ ‘kirtan’ sung to tunes such as “Jingle Bells” and “yankee doodle”, quite how these entail an ‘orthodoxy’ is beyond me.

    - In short, leaving aside subjective matters of musical “taste”, the ‘Kirtan’ performed by the AKJ falls considerably short of being ‘musical’ by any sense of the imagination. As provided above, I would suggest listening to the ‘kirtan’ selections provided on the tapoban website and ask yourself, is this really the works of a group that prides itself on representing the orthodoxy of the a living tradition, which itself places large emphasis on ‘kirtan’ of which they consider themselves to be the foremost exponent.

    As mentioned at the outset, this particular issues (the Kirtan)is very specific and/or theological issues, the purpose behind raising them here was to challenge the assertion that the AKJ are simply trying to “follow the word of the Guru” and more importantly raise the issue of their very close links to groups such as BKI and the manner in which their websites and members continue to support known terrorists such as the late Talwinder Singh Parmar – the figure behind the recent years of controversy at the Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtans in Vancouver, B.C.

    p.s. Sunny, you are absolutely correct in challenging Nagar Kirtans – there is no “maryada” or orthodoxy supporting this practice.

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