What Sikhs Do

And What it means to be a Sikh.

Education in the world has grown rapidly and the number of magnificent Gurdwaras has also increased. Sikhs have a large number of professionals such as doctors, engineers, scientists, planners, politicians, economists, and thinkers, and occupy high positions in every corner of the world. However, there is a great need to analyze the current situation, historical legacy, and contemporary context of Sikhism. There are many different interpretations of Sikhism, which can lead to confusion for the common person. Some Sikhs focus solely on the devotional aspect of their faith, while others emphasize its political and social aspects. Some Sikhs adopt ideologies that are opposite to Sikhism. Knowing and understanding the history of Sikhism is an important responsibility for Sikhs and intellectuals. The history of the Sikhs, from the birth of the Sikh nation to the present day, is available in the form of texts, historical documents, and commentaries. However, Sikhs have not yet been able to give a clear and definite explanation of what it means to be a Sikh.

 One of the most visible controversies today is the national status of the Sikhs. The Constitution of India and the Hindu Bill consider Sikhs to be a part of the Hindu religion, which is not accepted by Sikhs. Some Sikhs are refusing to accept the status of a nation due to low-selfishness or low intelligence. Sikhs are a religious community that originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of India. They follow the teachings of Guru Nanak and the subsequent nine gurus. The main beliefs of Sikhism include a belief in one God, the importance of meditation and hard work, and the equality of all people. Sikhs are known for their strong sense of community and commitment to social justice. However, there is a great need to analyze the current situation, historical legacy, and contemporary context of Sikhism and many different interpretations of Sikhism which can lead to confusion for the common person. 

Sikhs are a separate community with their own rich and glorious history and heritage. Many modern political scientists, like Oslon, Rainey, McLean, Soderman, Joseph, Lapalombran, Dunkin Rastov, etc., have recognized the characteristics of a nation in Sikhs, such as their own national symbols and flags, organizations, and constitution. Sikhs have made significant sacrifices for India's independence, yet their demands are often dismissed as a threat to the country's integrity.

  There is a need to explain the concept of education in Sikhism in the current context and circumstances. Sikh educational institutions, universities, and conferences are being held, but it is important to question whether they are fulfilling their basic objectives and what shortcomings need to be overcome. There is also a need to examine the role of religious Sikhs in the management of these institutions and whether the administrators are living up to Sikh beliefs. It is important for Sikhs to come under a central organization to preserve their fading history and not only compete with the organizations of other nations, but also to take them ahead. This is also a religious duty of all Sikhs to remove the disease of imitation in exams. There is also a concern about some teachers and professors who outwardly appear to be Sikhs, but secretly propagate against the Sikhs for ideological and political gain. Steps should be taken to be aware of such individuals and to address these issues.

 The passage describes concerns about the current state of Sikh society, including issues related to caste, substance abuse, and discrimination. Rather than being known by their name, individuals are more often identified by their caste. The use of alcohol, opium, and other substances is common among Sikhs. Marriages and other traditions have become non-simplified, with the development of dowry. The passage questions the importance of celebratory activities, such as the adoption of Jaimala (garlands), if Sikhs continue to engage in negative behaviours. It also addresses the need to address discrimination and divisions within Sikh society, as well as concerns about the dress of Sikhs and the influence of British colonialism. The passage also criticizes the government's policies towards minorities especially Sikhs and the lack of attention given to the release of Sikh prisoners.Why Indian laws are different for Sikhs and non-Sikhs?

 The passage argues that Sikhs have a complete philosophy of life that includes guiding principles for various aspects of life, but that these principles have not been effectively communicated to the public. To address this, the author calls for Sikh intellectuals and theologians to provide clear answers to the following questions based on Gurbani, Sikh history, traditions, and philosophy, in order to truly spread Sikhism. These questions include:

(a) What is the concept of an ideal society in Sikhism, and how will it be built? What are the relationships between individuals, groups, and society in this ideal society?

(b) What will be the political structure of Sikh society? How can the concept of Sikhism and democracy be realized? How will majority versus minority issues be resolved?

(c) What will be the economic structure of an ideal Sikh society? Who will own the means of production, and how will the relationship between labor and production be determined? What will be the motives of production in this economy, and how will the gap between minimum and maximum wages be addressed?

(d) What is the concept of rights and duties in Sikhism? Will all individuals in Sikh society have the same rights? How will the status of untouchables and backward classes be elevated to that of other classes in society?

(e) What will be the state structure of Sikh society? How responsive will the government be to the people, and how aware will it be of their demands and aspirations? What role will Sikh society, political parties, and interest groups play in this state structure?

  To what extent the prevalent and accepted tendencies of the present age secularism, socialism, representative government, presidential versus parliamentary etc. can be absorbed in the Sikh society or what efforts will be made to make the adverse tendencies of the Sikh principles ineffective? Basically, we can bring Sikhism to the present Sikh generation and future generations only if we can present Sikhism as an ideology that solves the complexities of every aspect of life, answers every question, every doubt. Able to withdraw. That is why Sikh ideology needs to be redefined scientifically, in today's context.

  The national basis of Sikhs is religion. Our heritage, symbols, fives, and life-test are based on religion. If we are firm on the basic beliefs of our religion, then our national palace is as strong as a rock. Therefore, our first need is to inculcate religion in the children born in Sikh homes, the next generation. In order to make the current and future generations firm on religion, it is very important that we first clarify what our religious complexities are. The first prohibition is to define the basic principles of the Sikh faith. Do not bow down and believe in any worldly-spiritual-power or person other than Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In the same way, the principles can be defined. There is a need to clarify the religious mistakes that have come among the Sikhs and to remove them. The foremost number in this is to reform the Gurdwara system. Our Gurdwara administration is run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, elected for a fixed term with adult voting rights. How to prevent election corruption?

 Administrators of Gurdwara Sahibs tend to focus more on power politics than religious social work. The natural decline in gurdwara management is another big problem. We keep hearing complaints of malpractice and corruption at places of worship. It is extremely important to take measures to prevent it. The dire need for Gurdwara discipline is increasing day by day. In the Gurdwaras, incense-deep, photo-worship, lighting, etc., many other forbidden rituals have come. Such displays disturb the spirit of all and bring down the respect of one of the holy Gurdwaras. In this regard, can't some rules and regulations of discipline be developed to prevent misuse of Gurdwara money and our problem is also two-sided in relation to preachers, granthis, ragi singhs. On the one hand, most of our scribes, preachers, ragi brothers are not knowledgeable, no knowledge or education is mandatory for them, their personal life does not meet the principles of Gurmat and on the other hand, our managers, important people do not even respect them. Granted, their theoretical status is very big in our society, and we do not provide them that status in practical life. What we all need is to make arrangements on scientific lines for the training of granthis, preachers, and ragi singhs and fix any minimum qualifications for them. Let's give them salaries and other facilities, so that they can lead a dignified life. Isn't it important that the administrators of the Gurdwara should not consider them as subordinates, but above them and respect them accordingly?

 To motivate the youth towards Sikhi, a new approach should be taken that focuses on educating them about Sikh history, philosophy, and doctrines, highlighting their relevance in today's and future contexts. This can be done by abandoning traditional methods such as literature publications and instead, using scientific explanations and logical reasoning. Additionally, it is important to ensure that preachers, narrators, and teachers of religion have knowledge of logic, comparative study of religions, and prevailing ideologies and tendencies in the present age. Amrit-parchar  requires a strict disciplined lifestyle and should only be given to those who understand and are committed to the principles of Sikhism.

The Sikh traditions  are different from Hindu traditions in terms of individual family relationships, inheritance, and other matters. The Anand marriage system and the concept of women's status in the family and society in Sikhism are also different from Hindu concepts.

  To address these complexities, Sikh intellectuals, heads of institutions, Saints, Gursikhs, etc. should come together to find solutions that can be implemented. 

Jasbir Singh Sarna

Native of Kashmir, Independent historian, poet, Journalist. A well known writer with 56 published books in Punjabi and English. Retired Agriculture Officer

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