Articles by Baldev Singh
During the last three months (October to December 2008), I invited scholars via Sikh internet discussion groups, Sikh publications, and direct e-mail to participate in the SikhSpectrum e-Symposium on the Authorship of Dasam Granth.
Guru Nanak’s advent (1469-1539) is an epoch-making singular event in the recorded history. His unique, revolutionary and liberating philosophy of universal humanism – liberty, love, respect, justice and equality, is applicable for all. Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike have written abundantly about him, on his philosophy in Punjabi, English and some other languages.
Plagiarism is quite common in academia, especially in the disciplines of humanities whereas ghostwriting is generally the domain of propagandists. I had heard of ghostwriting by scholars, but I had not actually seen it until I saw a reference to it, in 2004, in Planned Attack on Aad Guru Granth Sahib: Academics or Blasphemy.
In his column “Who is a Hindu? Who is not?” published in the India Tribune (September 28, 2002), Mr. Niranjan Shah made the assertion that like Jains and Buddhists, Sikhs are also Hindus. In my response, I pointed out that Guru Nanak rejected all the essentials of Hinduism; therefore, it is absurd to regard Sikhs as Hindus and Sikhism as a sect or an offshoot of Hinduism.
Gandhi’s biographies, autobiographies and other writings about him are laced with false information, imaginary stories, inconsistencies and contradictions. It is a pity that for almost a century none of the authors, not even academicians, ever bothered to check the veracity of various accounts in Gandhi’s autobiography.
Often times we hear Muslims, Hindus and even Buddhists claim that Guru Nanak belonged to their respective communities. As a Sikh it makes me proud to hear these claims every time they are repeated as they testify to the universality of Guru Nanak’s message, his love of all humankind, and pluralistic foundations of the Sikh religion.
The “Sant tradition” is a combination of Vaishnava and the Nath traditions with possible elements of Sufism as well. Let us now examine the relevance of these so-called traditions to the Nanakian philosophy (Gurmat) and infer from it whether the claim of Guru Nanak belonging to this tradition is valid or not.
According to Sir J. N. Sarkar, “The Sepoy Mutiny was not a fight for freedom; it was in fact, King Cobra Superstition’s last bite before his head was smashed.” J. P. Kriplani says, “It was nothing but an attempt by the old order to get back their kingdoms and principalities.” And R. C. Majumdar was right in saying, “It was neither ‘first’, nor ‘national’ nor ‘a war of independence’.”
Critical Reading of Harjot Oberoi’s The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition
I may add that in addition to McMullen’s analysis of differentiation, and Oberoi’s principles of silence and negation, some historians also use the principles of deception, manipulation and outright lies in writing history. For example, Harjot Oberoi’s The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition is replete with lies, deception and manipulation of historical information, as demonstrated by the following four samples.
Notwithstanding what J.S. Grewal, Sant Singh Sekhon, Pritam Singh, Khushwant Singh, Gurinder Singh Mann, Jeevan Singh Deol, Pashaura Singh, Nikki Guninder Kaur Singh, Harjot Oberoi and I. J. Singh told Tiwana about McLeod, let us examine how W.H. McLeod got his PhD on Sikhism and became “one of the foremost scholars of Sikh studies in the world,” his credentials as a historian and his ethics in McLeod‘s own words.
If Khushwant Singh needs to be applauded for adhering to any degree of consistency, then it is his constant changing views of Sikhism, especially after his stint at the Princeton University in the early 1960s. He is one of the major sources of misinformation on Sikhism. What he has been saying or writing about Sikhism since the 1980s is nothing short of subversion of Nanakian philosophy.
If I can remember correctly from the days when I was a graduate student at a university in the United States (1960s), academic freedom meant total freedom of thought – freedom to express, freedom to write, freedom to read and freedom to pursue any research interest. Censorship of literature in any form or manner was an anathema to academicians.
I have not read all of Lal’s writings on Sikhism. However, I am familiar with his articles, notes and reports published in The Sikh Review and Understanding Sikhism: The Research Journal. I think it is appropriate, reasonable and necessary to critically examine his writings for the benefit of readers, since he has won laurels for his contributions to Sikh studies.
Unlike armchair intellectuals, he was fully conscious of the political scene of contemporary India. Puran Singh was deeply troubled by the machinations of political leaders who were maneuvering to grab power after the departure of the British. He openly expressed his deep concern for the fate of minorities and have-nots after the end of British rule over India, in a letter he wrote to Sir John Simon in 1928.
Relocating Gender in Sikh History: Transformation, Meaning and Identity (Author: Doris Jakobsh) A Critical Analysis
McLeod’s “Western methodology of historical research” on Sikhism is simply a process utilized to distort Sikhism under the cover of “academic research,” and I find that Oberoi has ushered this process a step further to diffuse the “Sikh identity” through a campaign of misinformation. Therefore, it is no surprise that Jakobsh’s “gender research” on Sikhs under Oberoi is beyond the boundary of academic norms, standards and ethics.
The five khands represent five different aspects of God-consciousness (Cosmic-consciousness), not five different stages of spiritual development in ascending order as described in earlier interpretations. Similarly, panch in Dharam Khand means five categories of people divided by the caste system.
Sikhism has been distorted in literature largely because of the influence of Vedantic philosophy to represent it as part of Hinduism. Now some Christian theologians are using this flawed literature to compare Christianity with Sikhism despite the fact that Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) is the only authentic source to understand Nanakian Philosophy
Since 1947 Hindu intellectuals have started rewriting Indian history. They blame the British and Muslim rulers for the ills and the division of Indian society. However, they forget that their ancestors, the so-called Aryans, were also invaders / conquerors who destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization of the native Indians known as Dravidians.
Professor W. H. McLeod has claimed that Guru Nanak accepted the theory of karma and transmigration, but Aad Guru Granth Sahib, which is the only authentic source of Guru Nanak’s teachings, rejects these beliefs unequivocally. Misinterpretation of the bani (sacred hymns) of Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) and the misrepresentation of Sikhism is not a new thing.
I am fascinated by the Ardas approved by the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) not only for its language, which flows in poetic rhythm, but for the way it encapsulates Sikh history and philosophy in such a pithy composition with a beautiful ending reflecting the universality of Nanakian philosophy (Gurmat). However, I am do not find the second and third lines and Pritham Bhgauti consistent with Gurmat.
To date, McLeod has published extensively on Sikhism and his major works are referenced unhesitatingly.1 He has influenced a handful of Sikh scholars with his views. Nevertheless, a significant number of Sikh scholars have cast serious doubts on McLeod’s scholarship, particularly on the questions he has raised and the radical conclusions he has drawn, which alter the established Sikh traditions.
SGPC’s relationship to Sikhism is the same as that of a land revenue collector with farming. Their sole agenda is to control the golak (moneybox for offerings). Moreover, it has become a tool in the hands of amoral, corrupt and criminal politicians, who use it for their personal benefits. So it is foolhardy to expect any guidance from SGPC as far as research on Sikhism is concerned.
This article is prompted by a statement by Jaswant Singh Neki at a seminar sponsored by the Institute of Sikh Studies held in Chandigarh, September 2003, that those who question the authorship of the Dasam Granth should first read it. Hence, this article analyzes the central theme of BN in light of AGGS and Guru Gobind Singh’s nash doctrine.
I am aware that many people respect Bhai Randhir Singh. I would like to understand his writings in light of Gurbani, which does not lay emphasis on supernatural acts or foretelling the future.
Nanakian philosophy differs with other religions in the basic premise – the concept of God. Surely, the concept of one God was known long before Guru Nanak.
Later that year when the Queen of England visited India, she expressed her desire to pay homage at Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) and the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial. But Gujral tried his best to persuade her to cancel the visit. Jallianwalla Bagh Memorial was built in honor of all Punjabis who were massacred by Genral Dyer on the day of Baisakhi, April 13, 1919.
Joginder Singh, a retired principal from Chandigarh, in his article Gurbani’s Correct Interpretation published in the Abstacts of Sikh Studies (January – March 2003, p. 34-38), has accused Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana and I of damaging Sikhism. This short article is poorly written out of anger, and it is full of errors and misinterpretations.
Gandhi’s satyagrah was for better treatment of Indians in South Africa who, according to Gandhi, were treated the same way as savage kaffirs (native Black people). In his stay of twenty years in South Africa, Gandhi had no social contacts with the kaffirs, as he did not see any common ground with them in the daily affairs of life. He was horrified when he was lodged with “natives” in the same prison. He disliked wearing clothes with “N” (natives) printed on it.
However, when his work was subjected to in-depth scrutiny, he took it as a personal attack on him. Instead of responding to the criticism of his work in a professional manner — through publications or defending his work at conferences and seminars — he started attacking his critics through decoys- his students and supporters.
Professor Hazara Singh sent a point-by-point rebuttal to Khushwant Singh. Khushwant Singh acknowledged his mistakes, however, refused to publish the rebuttal on the pretext that his was a casual write-up. Fortunately, Professor Hazara Singh published both Khushwant Singh’s article and his rejoinder in the October issue of the Sikh Review of 1979.
A journalist searches for truth and stand for truth and justice, whereas a businessman’s goal is to expand his business to increase profits. Journalistic ethics are not compatible with business ethics, as in business it is the bottom line which matters, whereas in journalism truth is the bottom line.
True intellectuals are expected to guard truth, justice and human rights. They suffer hardships and while upholding these principles, many times, sacrifice their lives. Great writers represent the conscience of their times and the voice of the masses.
You have further asserted that the commission will make recommendations to improve the Constitution, which will usher a golden era of “unite and rule.” I think it represents wishful thinking on you part. Are you familiar with the history of commissions in India?
Let us not poison the minds of our young children with ignorance, communal hatred and historical myths. Let them grow to be honest, upright and truthful human beings, which the world needs the most, especially, a country like India.
The languages in which the holy writings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Budhism, Parsi religion and Confucianism are enshrined, though all difficult, are for the most part homogenous, but not so the medieval Indian dialects in which the sacred writings of the Sikh Gurus and Saints were composed. Hymns are found in Persian, mediaeval Prakrit, Hindi, Marathi, old Punjabi, Multani and several local dialects. In several hymns the Sanskrit and Arabic vocabularies are freely drawn upon. Moreover, there are words in the Sikh sacred writings which are peculiar to them, and cannot be traced to any known language.