Posted by: Singh Is King | Saturday, August 4, 2007

Ek Sikh Barabar Sava Lakh


Ek Sikh Barabar Sava Lakhby Dr. DIPANKAR GUPTA

Sikhs may be just two per cent of India’s population, but in their self-image and deportment, it is as if they constitute two hundred per cent of India’s one billion. As the saying goes: “Ek Sikh barabar sava lakh” (“Each Sikh is a Legion”). Even during the worst days of the Partition, Sikhs never felt insecure about their religion, as their Hindu counterparts did, and continue to do.

Why then, does a small, insignificant sect like the Dera Sacha Sauda, that does not even claim to be Sikh, get mainstream Akalis and a large number of everyday Sikhs so hot and bothered? This Baba is no medieval tyrant and martyrdom of any kind would be thoroughly wasted on him. He is a minor figure, whose demonising by the Akalis raised his stature and downgraded their gurus who gave up their lives in far more glorious battlefields.

The question then is: How did the Sikhs suddenly turn so insecure? When did it happen and where were we all looking? Or did the lights suddenly go off in the changing room?

The original Panthic Party, which later morphed into the Akali Dal after 1947, never evinced such worries either, and those were very difficult times. They regularly participated with the Congress before Independence. The party even supplied the Congress with a stable of leaders, from Pratap Singh Kairon to Swaran Singh. On election campaigns in undivided Punjab, the Panthic Party frequently displayed the Congress symbol along with its own. On no occasion did any of this to-and-fro movement from the Panthic Party and back threaten Sikhism. Nor did the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee declare Kairon or Swaran Singh, or any of the others who took their political blood lines to the Congress, apostates or tankhaiyas. Sikhism had that much confidence.

In 1899, when Sardar Kahn Singh Nabha wrote Hum Hindu Nahin (We are not Hindus), he did not castigate any other religion, but just said the plain truth. The Sikhs were not Hindus and let the record state the facts. It was not as if he was prompted to write this tract because of the perceived fear that Hinduism was eating up Sikhism. In this sense, he was not the mirror opposite of Swami Dayanand, who took every other religion, including Sikhism, as a threat to the Hindu faith.

Nabha’s interjection was to remind his readers of the symbolic energies at the heart of his faith, without deriding non-Sikhs, nor, even for a moment, hoping to proselytise other religions to his own. Even the Singh Sabhas and Chief Khalsa Diwan of that period were intent on crafting a separate Sikh identity and not in impressing their own thought prints on their immediate religious neighbours.

Interestingly, in the sixty years after Independence, the Akali Dal has never used the Partition to evoke partisanship the way Hindu parties, and sadly, the Congress even, have done from time to time. This is indeed quite remarkable. Sikhs, too, had suffered along with Hindus in their migration to east Punjab and beyond. And yet, unlike Hindus, the Partition is history for Sikhs, and not a source of political energies.

When I was working with re-settled rural Sikh refugees in Punjab and Haryana, what struck me the most was that they found my questions, which recalled the Partition, quite stupid. So many of these Sikhs told me to move on and not keep looking over my shoulder for monsters and chimeras of the past.

That was such a relief. Hindu refugees, in general, were still agonising over the Partition and related stirring tales of their experiences during those times. Most of this recall was highly adorned, as my Hindu respondents in the early 1990s were either babies or playing in the mud in knickers when 1947 happened. Some post-Partition Hindu families even held prayer meetings to solemnly remember the day they were ousted from their homes. I found none of this among Sikh refugees. It is no surprise then, that even a sectarian party like the Akali Dal has no use for the Partition as a leavening political agent.

Later, during the bad days of Khalistan, a large number of Sikhs felt that they were humiliated by the Indian state, but on no account did they believe that their religion was under threat. Khalistanis were, of course, baying to the contrary from the margins, but an overwhelming majority of Sikhs did not politically side with these secessionists, though they were widely admired for giving the hated agents of the government a tough time. This is not an “a-ha” moment, for, in spite of the trauma post-Bluestar, Sikhs were willing to look ahead the instant Prime Minister V.P. Singh visited Punjab with a healing balm.

The Khalistani years, if one may call them that, however demonstrated that in times of crisis, it was not as if there were Sikhs and Sikhs. Regardless of caste and origin, all Sikhs came together. This is where the difference lies when we come to the Sikh over-reaction to Dera Sacha Sauda. There are now Sikhs and Sikhs and the lines are drawn along the grooves of caste.

Most of the animus against Baba Ram Rahim came from the Malwa region of Punjab, where Jat Sikhs are politically dominant. It does not matter really if Jats vote Congress today and Akali tomorrow; it would always be a fight between “lions”. Dera Sacha Sauda trampled on this territory, by bringing in non-Jats to kick up dust and spoil the Jat-versus-Jat slugfest.

This is why Baba Ram Rahim was so profoundly despised in Jat-dominated Akali circles. It was not because he was undermining Sikhism, so much as using his “low caste” followers to defeat Jats in their own lair that made Baba Ram Rahim such a hated poster-boy for the Akalis. If the Congress had won without his support, that would still have been acceptable.

It is not true, as the Akalis allege, that in the advertisement put out by Baba Ram Rahim he dressed like Guru Gobind Singh. His turban did not have a kalgi (plume), he was stirring Rooh Afza (or something pink) with a ladle and not with a sword (which is Khalsa tradition), and furthermore, he was wearing pink and not blue, not even white. No icon of Guru Gobind Singh can ever be depicted in that colour. Chhatrapati Shivaji’s popular imagery looks closer to Guru Gobind Singh than this pink spectacle.

And yet many Sikhs blindly believed the Akalis when they said that Baba Ram Rahim was imitating Guru Gobind Singh and thus, mocking Sikhism. The majority of such Sikhs did not bother to verify the facts, as they were primed to believe anything against him. It was their Jatness, not their Sikhness, that Baba Ram Rahim deeply hurt. In the 1980s, Hindus, too, eagerly believed the tale that the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was secessionist. The drive to hate always numbs the better senses.

At the end of the day, what is most depressing is that Sikhs are becoming caste-ridden, and more and more like Hindus. If this trend continues, then Sikhism will probably find its greatest threat from within and not from figures clad in baby pink.

Dipankar Gupta is professor of social sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

[Courtesy: The Hindustan Times]



  1. plz sikh ji who taught u about castism,does holy gurbani refer anywhere about cast,pavitar gurbani teach us EK PITA EKS KE HUM BALAK or AWAL ALLAH NUR UPAHIA KUDRAT KE SAB BANDE EK NUR TE SAB JAG UPJIA KOA BHALE KON MANDE

  2. Who is talking abt the cast here?? It is an article published in Hindustan Times News Paper, which i thought, would be nice to share.

  3. Baba ,s low cast followers in ur writing,isnt shows a true sikh u should oppose this kind of statments instead of getting forward.if u read the history of true saints then u come to know that most of their followers were worldly poor but spritually rich which is real richness according to holy gurbani.accroding to jesus christ its very easy to sow the seed of love in worldly poor people.

  4. plz dnt mind brother about anything if i say anything wrong m really sorry for that

  5. I know that is wrong and i am totally against this baba’s, that is why i have posted this to show wht is wrong with these baba’s. I really appreciated ur effort in whatever u wrote on my blog, the knowledge ur sharing with everybody is priceless.Keep up this good work. just use a better name while posting as your name is more sounding like a Christian name, are u a christian??

  6. my real name is gurjit singh sidhu m living in nz approx 7 years,my short name is gary here but my wife is christian.can u let me why u so against baba ji coz he is true satguru since about 20 years and he taught me the lesson of love and humanity,accroding to baba farid ji UTH FARIDA SUTIA MELA VEKHEN JA MAT KOI BAKCHHIA MIL PAVE TU BI BAKCHHIA JI or NANAK KACHARIA SION TOR DHUND SANT SAJAN PAKIA IH JIMDIA BICHHRE OHE MOIA NA JAE CHHOR. and i found him as a true saint as holy gurbani ordered me

  7. its doesnt happen only with us,this thing happen with every religion if u c christian they think jesus is first and last prophet and same with muslim and our wife always says to me that all religion are the copy from chrisitian in real there is no prophet after jesus,if u see the muslim they say kuran is latest and modern even science already proved some stanzas from kuran.sikh religion says that my satguru ji coping from holy gurbani ,for instance if i want to explain my body structure how i will do ,height 5feet 5 inches skin,white eyes,black something like that then i say to friends and family to explain myself definately all of them would be same ,style could b different ,language could b different,dialect could b different but my structure explanation will b same coz in real m 5,5 eyes black etc

  8. i want to give u another example there is one L G bullet and i hold in my hand and through at you how much it hurts to you apparently not much if same bullet i insert in gun and shoot you it could kill you same time,bullet is same when it come through chamber it become so much powerful that you cant even imagine ,is that same bullet.god s word or Naam is the same since aad jug but it is working only when it come through a true saint or prophet.thanx brother give me chance to use blog if you allow me next time definatly we can share to each other thanx again but remember onething our religion never teach to anyone to go against someone i discoverd from holy gurbani

  9. Singh is king

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