The Resurgence of the Sikh Religion - Part I

The decline of Sikhism began under the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who could neither understand the philosophy enunc...

Op-Ed from Sikhsangat.org

The decline of Sikhism began under the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who could neither understand the philosophy enunciated by Guru Gobind Singh nor did he follow the concept of Miri Piri defined by Guru Hargobind. Instead, he followed the imperial life style of the Mughal emperors and indulged in extravagance and loose morality. In this way he neglected the Sikh tenets and allowed evils and vices to be crept in the religion. Instead of paying obeisance to Harimandir Sahib and bathing in the Sarovar regularly he paid visits to Haridwar and bathed in the Ganga river. When he died some of his wives Came “Satis” which rite was repugnant to Sikh religion.

When the British conquered and annexed Punjab in 1849 they were aware of the power and glory of the Sikhs. They also new that Sikh power emerges from the Gurdwaras. Therefore they conceived a sinister plan to scuttle Sikhism by taking control of these institutions of religious power through their agents. In pursuit of their aim they installed Hindu Mahants as managers of historic and important Gurdwaras. For instance Mahant Narain Das and Mahant Sadhu Ram, both anti Sikh elements, were respectively made in-charge of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and Harimandir Sahib. The fanatic and corrupt Hindu Mahants installed idols in the Gurdwaras and introduced Hindu rites and rituals which practices were denounced and renounced by the Sikh Gurus. In this way the Mahants again brought Sikh religion under the evil influence of Hinduism and muddled it greatly.

At the same time Daya Nand Sarswati, founder of Arya samaj, aggressively launched a campaign against Sikh religion. He criticised Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Gobind Singh and denounced Guru Granth Sahib. His tirade against Sikhism was effectively checked by the devout Sikhs who formed Singh Sabhas, Shiromani Akali Dal, and Chief Khalsa Diwan. These institutions countered the ill-designed campaign launched by the Arya S’amajis. These Sikh organizations, with a view to regaining the control of the historic Gurdwaras, launched a vigorous struggle. They also founded Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee for the management of historic Gurdwaras. The British rulers were forced to give legal sanctity to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and for that purpose they passed the Gurdwara Act in 1925 and recognised the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee as the sole authority to control and manage the historic Gurdwaras in the united Punjab. Thus an ill-conceived designs of the Hindus with collaboration of the British to assimilate Sikhism in Hinduism was successfully foiled. The control of historic Gurdwaras, including Nankana Sahib and Sanctum sanctorum, Harimandir Sahih, was taken over from the corrupt and immoral Mahants at heavy loss of lives of the devout Sikhs.

When the British granted freedom in 1947 they gave Pakistan to Muslims and gifted the rest of India to the Hindus. The Sikhs were left in the lurch because of deceit by Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and other Hindu leaders. Master Tara Singh could be equally blamed for this act of deceit. These Hindu leaders promised the Sikh leaders that after attaining freedom the Sikhs would be assigned a specific area in the north west India where they could feel a glow of freedom and advocate their religion and culture. When the deceptive Hindus got freedom in 1947 and consolidated their power they conveniently forgot the promises made to the Sikhs. Not only that they were not given the promised land but they were constitutionally made a part and parcel of Hinduism which the Sikh Gurus had denounced and renounced more than four and half centuries ago. Article 25 (2) was incorporated in the Constitution of India which defines the Sikhs as Hindus. This was a clever move of the Hindus to assimilate Sikhism by dubious means.

When the Indian government decided to reorganise states on linguistic basis and census was held in 1951 the Hindus living in Punjab recorded Hindi as their mother tongue though they spoke pure Punjabi at homes and in conversation with others. This was another attempt on their part to deprive the Sikhs of their Constitutional and fundamental right to claim a Punjabi speaking state. Such Hindus who can betray their mother tongue can also be supposed to betray their mother land for their selfish and vested interests. Thus the fanatic Hindus by their deliberate acts have sowed the seeds of blatant communalism and then they blather to blame others for its emergence.

In 1956 all Hindu dominated states were reorganized on language basis but Punjab under the preconceived scheme was declared as a bilingual state. The Sikhs felt further betrayed. To get justice from the communal forces, the Sikhs launched a Morcha for formation of a Punjabi speaking state. The communal Hindus of united Punjab started a counter agitation opposing the creation of Punjabi speaking state. This counter agitation was started at the behest of the Indian Government which was overwhelmingly dominated by the Hindus. Nevertheless after a protracted struggle carried out by the Akali Dal for a decade and sacrificing costly lives, they achieved their partial aim in the form of a truncated Punjab on 1st November, 1966 minus Haryana and Chandigarh, the capital of the state. Not only this a large area of Punjab including Shimla, Dalhousie, Kulu Manali, Lahaul Spiti and Dharmshala were merged with Himachal Pradesh. Besides this gross injustice the Indian Government retained with it the control of Bhakra Management Board and river waters distribution.

The Shiromani Akali Dal again launched a Morcha demanding inter-alia restoration of Punjabi speaking areas given to Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, Union Territory of Chandigarh, control over river waters and enactment of All India Gurdwara Act, with a view to encompassing the control of Nander Sahib, Patna Sahib and other historic Gurdwaras situated in other states, But the Indian Government was not to yield so easily. When the Morcha reached its climax Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister, announced an award in 1970 proposing to transfer Chandigarh to Punjab provided Fazilka and Abohar, which are Punjabi speaking areas, but Hindu majority areas are given to Haryana in lieu of Chandigarh. This was out and out a communal approach. When the Sikhs were consistently discriminated and betrayed by the Indian government, the Akali Dal was forced to recast their demands. In pursuit of this the Akali Dal drafted a resolution and passed it at Anandpur Sahib in October 1973. This resolution is known as Anandpur Sahib Resolution. The main features of this Resolution are: the Union government should keep four portfolios viz; Defence, Foreign Affairs, Currency and Communication, with it and rest of the powers should vest in the states so that a true federal system of government is given a practical shape. It also says that the people should be permitted to keep arms ranging from shot gun to carbine of 30 calibre subject to the condition that the person should not be a convict and that he/she shall get the arms registered with the authorities. This Resolution in a modified form was passed in the annual conference of Akali Dal held at Ludhiana in October, 1978.

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