Sikhs at Loggerheads

Sikhs need to ask themselves as to what their priorities be - It's time to Ponder.

Before i begin on the topic, here are some truths that Sikhs and non-Sikhs must know about Sikhism.

Hard Facts about Sikhs and Sikhism

1. Sikhism though considered to be the fifth largest religion on earth in terms of number of adherents but the gap between the fourth largest religion of the world and the fifth largest is immense.
Total number of Sikhs in the planet are 25 million only while the fourth largest that is Buddhists number around half a billion.

2. Sikhism is the only organized religion on earth consisting majority of its adherents from one particular ethnicity that is Punjabi. Rest, all the world faiths consists of followers of multiple ethnicities. Be it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or even Judaism.
Sikhs be it British Sikhs, Canadian Sikhs, Malay Sikhs, Thai Sikhs, majority of them are of Punjabi ethnicity.

3. There are approx. 130 million Punjabi speaking people in this world. Majority of them follow either Islam or Hinduism or Christianity. Population of those Punjabis professing Sikh faith is only 25 million. So, even amongst the Punjabis, Sikhs are a tiny minority.

4. Only 1% - 2% of total Sikhs on Earth are of non-Punjabi heritage. In India, the non-Punjabi Sikhs consists of mainly Sindhi speaking, and Assamese speaking. In Afghanistan, the non-Punjabi Sikhs are Pashto speaking and Farsi speaking.

And yet the fact is handful of these Sindhi, Assamese, Pashto and Farsi speaking Sikhs' ancestors migrated from Punjab during the Gurus' time but now centuries later they have completely submerged into the local culture.

These Assamese and Sindhi speaking Sikhs follow their own Assamese and Sindhi traditions and marry off their children in their own community.
And the same goes for the Pashto and Farsi speaking Sikhs. Their total population stands at few hundreds.

In the Western hemisphere, the non-Punjabi Sikhs often referred to as White Sikhs or the Gora Sikhs are the recent converts in the last 5 decades consisting of few thousands. It was Late Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan, an Ex-Customs Officer at the New Delhi Airport, and the first Sikh in the history to introduce Sikhism in the Western Hemisphere. It was in the year 1971, Yogi Bhajan was bestowed the title of Siri Singh Sahib by Sant Chanan Singh at the Akal Takhat and was then authorized to perform the Amrit Ceremony.

5. Except India, there is not even a single nation where the Sikh population has reached the one million mark.

So, Sikhism can be classified as one of the world's smallest faith in terms of number of adherents and ethnicity just 25 million mainly of Punjab, Punjabi, and Punjabiyat background.

The big four faiths in this world are Christianity having more than 2 billion adherents, Islam having 1.8 billion adherents, Hinduism having 1 billion adherents and Buddhism having ½ a billion adherents and that too with multiple ethnicities stretching from the Korean Peninsula to the Persian Gulf and from the North Caucasus to Madagascar.

Issues within the Panth

1. Though Sikhism rejects caste-system but only in theoretical terms because the fact is casteism is highly prevalent amongst the Punjabi Sikhs. Punjabi Sikhs too have high caste and low caste. Jutt Sikhs in the Indian Punjab are considered to be superior compared to other castes mainly Khatris, Aroras, Ramgharias, Labana, Mazhabi, etc. etc.

All the religious and political leaders in Punjab are Jutt Sikhs. The current Chief Minister of Punjab Capt. Amrinder Singh is a Jutt Sikh, his Cabinet Colleague and the most popular leader Navjot Singh Sidhu is a Jutt Sikh, the former Chief Minister and Patron of Shiromani Akali Dal Party Prakash Singh Badal is a Jutt Sikh, the President of the SGPC and the Heads of all the Takhats in Punjab are Jutt Sikhs.

The so-called Chooda Sikhs have no importance in Punjab and are looked down upon. In the past few years, these Chooda Sikhs in large numbers have either converted to Islam or to Christianity.

These Ex-Chooda Sikhs say that they are much more loved and respected amongst Moslems after they embraced Islam. This has led to high increase of number of Moslems in Punjab. Lots of new Mosques have been erected in all the Doaba, Majha, and Malwa regions of Punjab.

Even Gurdwaras are divided on the basis of Castes, Sects and various affiliations. Sikhs feel proud displaying the board outside their places of worship that says, Ramgharia Gurdwara, Gurdwara of the Namdhari Sect, Satsang Bhawan of the Nirankaris, Satsang Bhawan of the Radhasoamis.

2. Though Sikhism says Women are equal to Men but only in theoretical terms because the first step of discrimination against women starts within the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Golden Temple Complex itself where women are not allowed to perform even Kirtan. Some of the Sikhs in Punjab will give you some stupid reason of not allowing women to do Sewa(Selfless Service). They say, women menstruate so they are unclean.

3. In Indian Punjab since 2015, about 122 incidents of sacrilege have been reported with the maximum cases from Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

Now, the larger issue is, as to why do Sikhs keep fighting amongst themselves and keep pointing fingers to each other.

1. In majority of the Gurdwaras around the world there are certain groups who accuse each other of being Golak Chor(Thiefs of the Money Box).

Often we hear cases of Kirpan fights over various issues amongst Sikhs inside Gurdwaras in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji including the Golden Temple.

2. Golak Chor: In the recent developments in New Delhi, the President of the prestigious DSGPC(Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee) Manjit Singh GK had to step down from his post. He was accused of being a Golak Chor, of theft of Sangat's(Congregation) money of more than INR. 100 crores.

3. Role of the Jathedar of Akal Takhat(Supreme Temporal Authority): Now, Jathedar(Ordained leader) ought to have played a bigger role over issues arising in the Sikh Panth but again the issue is even the Jathedar of the Akal Takhat could not consolidate his own position.

In the recent weeks, Giani Gurbachan Singh, the Jathedar had to resign over the issue of pardoning the controversial Godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Giani Harpreet Singh was appointed the new acting Jathedar but during his first customary speech during Bandi Chhor Diwas(Diwali Day), black flags were shown to him amidst raising of Pro-Khalistan slogans.

During that period, Sarbat Khalsa appointed Parallel Jathedar Jagtar Singh Hawara released a separate message for the Panth sitting inside the Tihar jail in Delhi while another parallel acting Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand released a separate message for the Sikh Panth.

So, as of today as the year 2018 comes to a close, the Sikh Panth is having three Jathedars of the Supreme Temporal seat Akal Takhat, Giani Harpreet Singh, Jathedar Jagtar Singh Hawara and Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand.

The three messages in a competitive mood have mocked the community because the existing set of parallel Jathedars had been instrumental in disuniting the Sikhs.

4. Gora Sikhs and Yoga: A section of people amongst the radical Sikhs accuse White converted Sikhs of indulging into yoga.
But why is yoga considered to be un-Sikhi? Is yoga not a form of exercise? Does doing yoga mean that a person is forced to chant Hindu mantras?

5. Singh Sahib and Sikhnet: Deliberate attempts are being taken by the radical Sikhs to defame Late Singh Sahib Yogi Bhajan and Sikhnet in the social media.
One will come across various stories which says as to how these Gora Sikhs perform Hindu Pooja (Prayers). All fake stories keep floating in the social media forums.

6. Sikhs-Moslems and Sikhs-Hindus: What I fail to understand as to why Sikhs consider Moslems to be their true friends and Hindus to be their sworn enemies.

Sikhs often open their doors of the Gurdwaras for the Moslems to offer Namaz if Moslems are unable to find a suitable place outside to say their prayers. Sikhs offer Iftar parties for the Moslems during Ramadan.

There are number of such cases where Sikhs do not hesitate to welcome Moslems. That's Good but why not offer the same love and affection for the Hindus?

Does the Sikh Code of Conduct says that offering Namaz is O.K inside Gurdwara but not the Hindu prayers?

The fact is there is a sizeable population amongst Punjabi speaking Sikhs who like Hindu bashing and India bashing but is this what our Gurus have taught us?

Important issues of the Panth:
Why Sikhs have not raised their strong voices over the important issues to be resolved first?

Sikhs in Afghanistan:

The most important issue today is that of Sikhs in Afghanistan who live under constant fear. There are only 1500-2000 Sikhs left in Afghanistan today. These Sikhs are very poor and illiterate. They have no provision to move out of the country.

The entire Sikh leadership of Afghanistan was wiped out during a recent suicide bombing. All the Afghan Sikh leaders were killed in the suicide bombing in the city of Jalalabad on 1st July, 2018.

All the historical Gurdwaras in Afghanistan have been destroyed, only one Singh Sabha Gurdwara remains in the city of Kabul and couple of Gurdwaras in the city of Jalalabad. Rest, all the Gurdwaras across the country are in dilapidated condition.

Afghan Sikh women cannot step out of their homes for fear of being kidnapped and then forcefully converted to Islam.

Afghan Sikhs do not even have a proper place to cremate their dead ones. Sikh children haven't gone to schools for years because of being bullied by the Moslem classmates.

Afghan warlords have seized the properties once owned by wealthy Sikhs.

For a Sikh living in Afghanistan today owning even 100 dollars is a big amount. But unlike most of the Punjabi Sikhs who are trimmers and clean-shaven, these Afghan Sikhs are all Sabat Soorat.

Sikhs in Pakistan:
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan consists of four provinces, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and also the national capital region of Islamabad and the POK(Pakistan occupied Kashmir).

The popular belief is that Sikhs are safe in Pakistan but that is partly true only. The Sikhs living in the Punjab province of Pakistan are safe and their Gurdwaras are well maintained.

But the fact is majority of the Sikhs live in the Pathan dominated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that too in the city of Peshawar but over the past few years Sikhs in KP province are facing the heat. There are number of cases where Sikhs in KP have been kidnapped and then shot dead or even beheaded for refusing to pay ransom or embrace Islam.

Most of the Sikhs in KP have started migrating to Punjab's cities of Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Sikhs living in Sindh too are facing certain issues.
Rest, there is almost negligible Sikh population in Balochistan, Islamabad and in POK but the situation in KP and Sindh is pathetic for the Sikhs.

The United States Department of State has added Pakistan to its blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom over its treatment of minorities.

Open Secret:
It's an open secret that Sikhs are deeply divided, deeply fractured Panth accusing each other for the mess up.

Sikhs need to ask themselves as to what their priorities be. Is it important for them to find out and shame those Sikhs who are doing Yoga and Hindu Pooja or is it important to save the lives of those penniless and helpless Sabat Soorat Sikh men and women from the clutches of Islamists in Afghanistan?

It's time to Ponder?

Amarjit Singh Gupta
<[email protected]>

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