Sikhs resorting to violence in gurdwaras shame Guru Nanak

Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, May 13: What happened recently at a Southall gurdwara in UK is shameful.

A preacher was beaten up by a section of the Sikhs holding views contrary to him on issues that concern more the rituals rather than the essence of Sikh thought and doctrine. His turban was tossed and his hair and beard pulled.

The Sikhs have diluted their struggle on the turban issue by indulging in this appalling action. The disrespect shown to the turban by this section of the Sikhs can now be cited by the governments to make the assertion  that since the members of the community  themselves don’t show any respect to it, this is not an essential part of Sikhism.

At another level, this shocking incident has shamed Guru Nanak who preached logic, discussion and debate.

Discredited Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh too has joined the discourse and warned those interpreting Gurbani in their own way.

The issue here is not whether the preacher- Amrik Singh of Chandigarh in this case- is right or wrong. Under focus is the image of the Sikhs that is projected by such violent, outrageous  and un-Sikh actions of this section who behave like goons.

There is another section of the Sikhs at the global level that is doing proud to Guru Nanak and projecting a new identity of the community associated with compassion and kindness. They are the people who serve the people even in conflict areas like Syria. They are the people who have focussed  on the institution of ‘Langar’ to serve the mankind. This perhaps could be a better way to take Sikh doctrine to the people at large at the global level rather than by fighting pitched battles in gurdwaras over issues that relate to rituals.

April witnessed massive turn out of Sikhs from Brisbane to Surrey to celebrate Baisakhi that is associated with the birth of the Khalsa. These events were attended by people from the political classes in respective countries. The Sikhs have made themselves count at the political level. Canada is now a Second Punjab. 

It is not for the first time that police had to intervene in a gurdwara outside India. This has been happening more frequently in USA where the Sikhs fight over gurdwara control that in effect is control over gurdwara income from offerings by the devotees. The fight over golak is now a universal phenomenon associated with the Sikh shrines. It should be a cause of concern.

The problem with the Sikhs is that Guru Granth is their living Guru. They just don’t try to grasp the teachings of Gurbani. This is different from reverence. The Sikh Gurus provided the framework for the creation of ideal man and ideal society. This, of course, is one aspect.

The Sikh religious institutions turn out people who are more of religious robots  and  their actions are dictated by non-doctrinal aspects.

The problem is that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee is failing in carrying out its duties and responsibilities.

One major section of the Sikhs associated with the so called deras  don’t follow the code of conduct (maryada) prescribed by the SGPC. However, it is the doctrinal aspect that is more important and this is virtually missing.

It is the semi-literates not grounded in Sikh thought and doctrine who are trying to dictate the Sikh religious discourse.

They continue to shame Guru Nanak.


Jagtar Singh


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