A Critical Review
Dr Amar Singh Dhaliwal
At the very outset, it needs to be underlined, conspicuously, that this critical review of Dr Oberoi’s book titled “The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition” has been prepared in the light of the following five-pronged criterion; and that its purpose is purely academic:
THE FIVE-PRONGED CRITERION
(i) That whenever and wherever one happens to conduct a critical review of a research-based thesis, then and there it becomes, automatically, obligatory, necessary and essential for the critic to avoid criticism for the sake of criticism.
(ii) That the sole purpose of a rational and genuine criticism of a research-based thesis must be to forestall and obstruct those false and unscientific trends of “research” which are intended, or likely to destroy the very image of the goddess of truth itself; in fact, by definition, research means “seeking after truth”
(iii) That if any scientist or researcher happens to feel affected on becoming cognizant about the untruthful findings being presented as valid discoveries, and in spite of that kind of stimulation he or she fails to forestall such falsehoods, then that type pf silence, on the part of such a scientist, is indicative of not only “intellectual dishonesty” but also of “unpardonable cowardice”.
(iv) That the ultimate goal of research, in all the duly recognized academic disciplines is to seek truth, nay, “Perfectly Pure Truth”.
(v) That because “history” (like all other disciplines, such as, political-science, sociology, psychology, archaeology, etc., covered under the common canopy: “faculty of social sciences” having the fixed interest in understanding the intentions and extension of man’s behavior) aspires to acquire a sound-footing in the galaxy of the duly recognized academic-disciplines, it becomes, automatically obligatory, necessary and essential for all the historians, as researchers, to bring to light “Truths”, and nothing less than “Perfectly Pure Truths”, hidden in the debris of the past.
A bit of concentration on the norms implied in the criterion underlying the critical review embodied in the paper in hand, will reveal that the former three standards are directly concerned with the “Behavior of The Critic Himself’; whereas the fourth and the fifth expectations are applicable to the “Behaviour of the Researcher” whose research work is “going to be evaluated.
Agreed that after having submitted to the self-imposed norms, implied in the above mentioned Criteria, there was hardly any need to further assure that the critic would be neutral and above board in his criticism. Nevertheless, the critic is immensely pleased to put on record that before venturing to write a critical review, it was considered imperative to have a thorough, sincere, honest and diligent reading of the book covering 426 pages plus the “Preface”, “Appendices”, “Maps and Tables”, “Glossary” and “Epigrams” used to introduce all the different chapters and sections of the thesis.
The precise “critical-review”, contained in the paper in hand, forms, broadly speaking, two parts: (i) that carries “the overall impression” of Dr Oberoi’s book, which a sincere and honest reader is bound to form and (ii) that gives a detailed account of those basic and fundamental weaknesses regarding theoretical formulations which did not permit the author to take his thesis to that expected philosophical level, from where he could enlighten the reader with regard to futurism of Sikhism, as a unique and scientifically systematized way of educating the masses groping in the dark.
THE OVER-ALL IMPRESSION
Historically, even the man in the street knows that Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh Tradition or the Sikh Religion, had become so popular, during his short span of time, that both Muslims and Hindus of those days, took him as their “Pir” and Guru, respectively (Khuswant Singh’s History Of Sikhs, 1984, Vol. I). Guru was the symbol of unity.
In fact, it was for the first time, in the history of the civilized world, that the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture, welcomed all those hymns, which took the eternal message of bringing the people, from all the traditionally popular Indian-creeds, to a common forum and plat-form. For example, Kabir-a Muslim saint whose message stands ineorporated in the Adi Granth, the Holy scripture of the Sikh Gurus-says: First, God created His light: and from its power were all men made: From God’s Light came the whole universe: so, whom shall we call good, whom bad? O men! be not misled by doubt, For, the Creator is in the Creation and the creation in the Creator, who pervades everything. The clay is the same, but is fashioned in myriad patterns.
So it avails not to find fault either with the clay-vessels, or with the Potter who moulds them, each in a different way.
The one true God is within all, and it’s He alone who creates all.
And, whosoever realizes His Will, knows the sole one.
And he alone is the servant of God.
I am wholly rid of doubt, now that I have seen the impeccable God in all”. (Adi Granth, P 1349)
As mentioned explicitly in the Preface to the book under review, Dr Oberoi claims that he took sixteen years (that is, from 1978 to 1994) in preparation of the book. But perusal of his thesis leaves the impression that he does not even know the technicalities related to the concept of “Sikh-tradition” itself. However, after the publication of the book, he, in his own right, may be justified to claim that he is an “Authority” on the “Sikh-tradition” and the Sikh way of life emanating from the Gurbani revealed in the Adi Granth. But our evaluation of his hook is that all his efforts remained abortive and in fructified and the book, though voluminous enough, fails to add anything new to the previously existing knowledge in the limited areas (both in History and Religion) traversed by him as a researcher. It will become clear in the subsequent pages of this review paper as to why and in what way Dr Oberoi failed in his efforts as a researcher; and as to how the publication of his book has come to cause obstruction in the way leading to universal- recognition of the “Sikh Way of Life”. But here it seems advisable to say a few words about the basic differences in the mental processes involved in the compilation of the empirical-data and the Mental- Processes needed in deriving from the empirical-data those philosophically meaningful inferences which may be helpful for guiding man’s destiny, on this planet, for centuries.
No doubt, the book under review embodies an enormously big heap of the empirical-data. But the over-all impression, which one appens to gather from its sincere persual, is that he has failed to rise above the sensational and the journalistic levels of human-thinking. In fact, there is nowhere any hint for stimulation for thinking of the philosophical-level, throughout the content-coverage spread over 426 pages of the book.
Psychologically speaking, the mental processes, namely, Industriousness, Diligence, Persistence, Dogmatic-insistence, etc., which are involved in collecting, arranging, piling up the empirical-data and in citing of the so-called relevant literature, are so much primitive that even a Neophyte, having the knowledge of only three R’s - that is, reading, writing and arithmetic - is fit for these jobs which are purely mechanical. Whereas in the case of philosophically meaningful re-search, the mental processes of very high level, such as Creativity, Originality, Novelty, Deviance, and Uniqueness in ideas are involved. Since, according to our evaluation, the purpose of Dr Oberoi’s research was very shallow and shortsighted, in the sense that he Was interested in collecting of provocative and sensational empirical-data fit for publication in the News-papers, he could do his research work with the help of primitive mental-process. Our verdict is that it is the purpose of research which either makes or mars one’s thesis. We will see in the subsequent pages of this paper that Dr Oberoi remained confused about the real purpose of his research and made the things in his area of research Worse confounded.
Now we give a detailed account of those fundamental weaknesses regarding theoretical formulations underlying his thesis and of those technical errors related to Research Methodology which happened to eclipse and cripple his research-work, abridged in the book under review.
This portion of the critical review stands trifurcated as follows:
First, efforts have been made to explain as to what is implied in their respective places, in the uses of the terms “History”, “Religion” and “Researcher’s Undesirable-or-Desirable Theoretical-notions” and, then, to see how the intentions and the extensions of the processes of conceiving a proposal of research, earmarking the time-perspective in history, for collection of the needed empirical data, of interpretation of the empirical data and of drawing inferences from the empirical data.
Secondly, seeking guidance from the disciplines of Philosophy- Science and Methodology of Research, it has been explained as to what is the relative importance of the pivotal questions, raised by the researcher, of the empirical data collected in accordance with the purpose of the study and of the final inferences to be drawn from the data.
Thirdly, it has been detailed as to what are the basic requirements, fulfillment of which is not only necessary but also essential for the researcher, whose intention is to add something new and original to the existing human knowledge in the prospective area of researcher’s specialization.
In our further discussion, these trifurcated portions have been designated, respectively, as Sections A, B, and C.
According to the dictionary meaning (cf. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Vol. 2, 1986, P.1073) the term “History” stands for a systematic written account comprising a chronological record of events, as affecting a city, state, nation, institution, science or art, and usually, including a philosophical explanation of the cause and origin of the events. The sole purpose of giving the precise definition of the concept “History” is to demonstrate that Dr Oberoi was expected to put up a philosophically sound explanation of the cause and origin of the events, mentioned in his historical treatise, under review; and that
at the time of giving the “over-all impression” if we happened to point out that his thesis failed to transcend the levels of sensational- and journalistic-thinking and that it lacked in philosophical footing, then our demand for maintaining high standards was not irrational from any point of view. This standard falls in the orbit of the intentions and extension of the concept of “History” itself.
By definition, religion is a kind of belief system and its purpose is to provide a world-view, so that “man” may determine his position in the total perspective of the universe and may feel adjusted throughout his span of life. In order to have a broad-based and objective understanding of the concept “Sikhism”(or the Sikh Tradition), we use two authoritative sources; (i) a foreign observer and (ii) an Indian scholar, who retired as Professor and Head, Department of Guru Nanak Studies, Punjab University, Chandigarh.
As far back as 1909, Max Arther Macauliffe, in his universally known six-volume treatise entitled “The Sikh Religion, its Gurus. Sacred Writings and Authors,” summed the distinctive principles of Sikh religion as follows:
“It prohibits idolatry, hypocrisy, caste exclusiveness, the con-cremation of widows, the immurement of women, the use of wine and other intoxicants, tobacco-smoking, infanticide, slander, pilgrimage to sacred rivers and tanks of Hindus; and it inculcates loyalty, gratitude for all favors received, philanthropy, justice, impartiality, truth, honesty and all the moral and domestic virtues known to the holiest citizens of any country.”
In his article entitled “Sikhism: an Original, Distinct, Revealed And Complete Religion”, Shan, H.S. (1992) professes that:
“The word “Sikh”, as we know, is the Punjabised form of the Sanskrit, word “Shishya” meaning a disciplie or a learner, especially a seeker of truth. It came to be used for the disciples of Guru Nanak and his nine spiritual successors who graced humanity from 1469 to 1708 A.D. in the Indian subcontinent. Thus their religion called Sikhism literally means the path of discipleship and the new way of life taught by them. Their faith is the youngest and the most modern of the world’s religions.”
Here, it needs to be underlined conspicuously that religion, as a belief system, is subject to refinement with the passage of time and its goal is to make man civilized, by becoming a well established system of education. Being the youngest and the most modern among religions all over the world, Sikhism seems to have become a well-established Behavioral Stience, and, therefore, there are very, very rare chances for its disappearance from this global earth, the path of discipleship and civilization are co-twins.
OBEROI’S WRONG THEORETICAL ORIENTATION
Or Oberoi, as a research scholar, from the very beginning of his career, failed in picking up a genuine and scientifically sound theoretical orientation, and due to this single weakness in his mental equipment as researcher, his research efforts remained obortive. By making the “Sikh Tradition”, and that too for a short span of time (1850-1950), the focus of his historical study, he dared to pose a challenge to the latest theoretical trends in the field of ‘History’ itself. As recorded in a ludic manner in Compton’s Encyclopedia, Vol. 23, P.238, Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler, who are considered to be the two major interpreters of Human-history and Human-civilization, in the 20th century, are of the view that:
“The starting point in “A Study Of History” is that proper unit of the Historical Focus is a civilization, not a Nation-state”.
Why did he make the Sikh Tradition as the focus of his historical study, in spite of that kind of warning is the question which will remain an enigma for the critics of his book under review. If he was interested in knowing the contribution of Sikhism in the development of Human Civilization, he was bound to focus on the total perspective created by the religions, all over the world.
Another downright misleading theoretical orientation of Dr Oberoi lies in seeing the point that he, like all the western social scientists, preferred to focus on differences or discrepancies between the personality characteristics of the Sikh as an Ideal Man, on the one hand, and the Sikh as a Neophyte (or novice) on the other. Since an Ideal Man is the symbol of “Idealism” that tends to remain inaccessible empirically, discrepancies or differences are bound to be there. This wrong theoretical orientation made Dr Oberoi prone and susceptible to focus on such differences and discrepancies as had already been condemned, discredited and declared discarded, by the time, he started his research reported in the book. In this context, the obserav-tion made by Marvin Bram in his essay entitled “In the Course of Human Affairs” which stands incorporated in Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, Vol I, pp. 14-31 is very pertinent. He professes that:
“By stretching our imagination, we may see how different everything we see is from everything else; and think of these objects either as being “Distinct” from one another or as being the same as one another. We either differentiate the objects in the world or, in spite of the world’s being full of, separate objects, Fuse, that world.” And continuing further, he points out: That the idea of “fusion” is foreign to us and is difficult to imagine. Indeed, making distinctions among objects is easy. Modern schooling and the media teach almost nothing else. But we are seldom instructed in dissolving distinctions. Fusion, the dissolving of distinctions, was not foreign to our forebears some ten, twenty, forty thousand years ago; however, understanding this millennia-old process of dissolving distinctions is at the heart of explaining “Human Affairs”
Like Marvin Bram, a universally known Historian, the critic is also fully aware of the tentative Truth that there is ample scope for observing Similarities in the Well Grounded, Scientifically Sound and properly Nurtured Religions, the world over, as the Sikh Gurus endeavoured to perceive at the time of establishing the “Sikh Tradition” and preparing the Holy Scriptures, which welcomed revealed banis from all possible directions. But Oberoi ignored both of these latest “theoretical trends” in the field of history, where he aspired to be an authority; and, consequent upon that he happened to destroy the whole game of his research efforts, meaning thereby that neither historically speaking he was justified to single out “The Sikh Tradition” nor to delimit “The Time Perspective” to a century or so. Technically, such vision is known as “Narrow Mindedness”. Not only that, but it is also true that Dr Oberoi was not well-equipped from the side of Research Methodology, being used in “Social Science”. Some of the basic guidelines, borrowed from the disciplines of “Philosophy of Science” and of “Methodology of Research” which, somehow or the other remained brushed aside, in the design of research followed by Dr Oberoi, are mentioned below in
In scientifically sound researches, especially in Social Science, there must be some pin-pointed purpose in the mind of the researcher and the researcher should not forget the following fundamental truths:
(i) That the empirical data - how so ever glamorous and provocative they may appear- are having sheerly an instrumental value, in the sense that they serve the purpose of only a foot-hold to hail that something which has never been hailed by other scientists working in the specific area selected for research;
(ii) That it is only the fmal inference (or inferences), derived from analysis of the empirical data and supported with the help of philosophically sound arguments, which is of Intrinsic value, as a universally meaningful Truth, and
(iii) That the empirical findings are as Valid, Original, Novel, Unique, and Deviant, in relation to the existing Human-Knowledge in the specific area, as are the Basic-Questions put to research, by the scientist himself.
In the above seriation, comprising three fundamental truths, the former two observations solve the problem about the relative importances of the empirical data and the ultimate inference to be derived from the empirical-data used as evidence. Obviously, in science, and in history (which falls in the category of Social Science) specifically, it is the final inference that is to carry a kernel of truth, encapsulated in a sentence or at the most two sentences - which is weightier than the cart-load of empirical data used to work out such- – like inferences. So, logically, it is plausible to say that if any researcher is not dear about the true nature of the final inference to be reached from the research being planned by him, then whole of the empirical data are likely to go waste; and m such a pecuhar case, the entue rocess of the research, howsoever expensive, time-consuming and sacred it may appear in the eyes of the researcher, is bound to become an exercise in futility. Here the truth is that it actually, happened with Dr Oberoi’s research efforts. Because, we shall see, he was not clear about the basic purpose of his research.
The third fundamental truth is much more crucial and decisive, in the sense that it provides true answers to the questions: Why are his research findings not only meaningless but also injurious to the Sikh psyche and downright misleading with regard to their contributions to the existing human knowledge about the Sikh tradition and “Sikhism”. Where did he fail as a researcher? Why did his research fail to attain philosophically meaningful levels? Why did his research efforts remain abortive and fruitless from the view of their contribution to the existing human knowledge in the areas of both history and religion? For the time being our combined answer to all such questions is that the basic questions raised by him in his own research were illconceived, irrelevant, absurd, irrational, and baseless, although very cunningly designed. Whether the purpose of doing so was to destroy the image of “Sikhism”, as a unique and socio-culturally meaningful way of human life or it happened unconsciously and due to ignorance, nothig can be said with confidence. We have thoroughly thrashed out inadequacy, irrelevance and nonsensical nature of the basic and the so-called pivotal questions put to research evidence, Here, it is appropriate to say a few words about the basic requirements which a researcher is supposed, by way of necessity, to fulfil before embarking upon a research project and starting the work of collecting empirical data for his research.
BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO BE FULFILLED BY A
The first and foremost requirement, which a new researcher ought to fulfil is that he must conduct a thorough review of the relevant literature availble in the area of research earmarked by him. There are, broadly speaking, four pin-pointed purposes of conducting review of the relevant literature:
Firstly, the researcher is supposed to get familiarity with the latest theoretical trends of research in his prospective area of specialization.
Secondly, the researcher is expected to follow honestly – in the scheme of his research - all the guidelines bound up with the new theoretical formulations, or, with the help of logically and rationally meaningful arguments, he may reject, discredit and discard the new theoretically meaningful guidelines; and establish superiority of the old, hackneyed theory he intends to use as the foot-hold in research.
Thirdly, the researcher is supposed to prove that the questions going to be raised by him are chaste and barren, .in the sense that nobody has ever tried, prior to him, to seek answers to the questions haunting his mind., and
Fourthly, if thorough scanning of the previous, relevant litera-ture happens to demonstrate that the seemingly new questions, haunt-ing the mind of the researcher has already been answared, there are two ways open to the neophyte scholar: (i) that the “seemingly new questions” may be dropped, and some other new area of research may be taken up, or (ii) that the researcher should have the courage to prove that the answers to the questions, haunting his mind (as discovered by his predecessors) are invalid, distorted and discradable and, then, he may adopt a new method of research and try to reach different findings.
Now, we are in a position to seewhat were the pivotal questions which Dr Oberoi had planned to answer through the research reported in the book, and as to how these questions were repetitive, sterile, baseless, irrelevant, absurd and theoretically irrational, hence invalid.
THE STERILE AND IMPOTENT PIVOTAL
As underlined conspicuously, in the openning paragraph of the Preface to the book under review, the real purpose of Dr Oberoi’s research efforts, spreading over sixteen years, was to seek answers to two closely related questions:
(i) How are Indian religions to be conceptualized?
(ii) What did it mean to be a Sikh in the nineteenth century? (CF. P. XI)
Though the author asserts that both these pivotal questions closely related, yet it is reasonable to discuss as to in what way these are closely related, yet it is reasonable to discuss as to in what way these two question were, in their respective places, non-researchable, sterile, impotent, repetitive, hence invalid.
With regard to our critical reaction to the former question, it may be said without fear of contradiction that: Indian religions are to conceptualized and perceived as the social scientists have conceptualized and perceived the “other-than-Indian-religions”. Obviously, this condition is not only necessary but also essential. This is so because unless and until the processes of concept-formation of perceiving the phenomena implied in the concepts of like nature are identical, the final result will never be comparable and objective.
Here, the truth is that by using the word “Indian” as an adjectivefor qualifying the concept of “Religion”, Dr Oberoi has posed achallenge to both Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler who profess that: the starting point in a study of history is that the proper unit of historical focus is a civilization, not a nation- state. In fact, the theory which enjoins upon the researchers, working in the area of history, to see, conceive and perceive the relative importance of any “religious institution” (or the Sikh Tradition, in the present context) by placing it in the total perspective emanating from contributions of all sister institutions, constituting our contemporary civilization, as a whole, is not only psychologically, sodo-culturally, democratically meaningful but also humanisticalIy purposeful for ensuring universal peace.
Similarly, when Marvin Bram, as cited above, condemns that theoretical notion which permits researchers to hail discrepancies or differences in different objects or religions; and dares to suggest to adopt the attitude of seeing “Similarities” in different objects of interest, or religions as cultural heritages of the Human Species, as a whole then, ill fact, the purpose of that novel theoretical approach also happens to be the same as that of propounded by Arnold Toynbee and Oswald Spengler.
Here, our question of questions is as to why Dr Oberoi did not try to seek guidance from these two new theories hailed by the historians, as philosopher-thinkers of the twentieth century; and as to why he did not make efforts to pursue the former question: How are Indian religions to be conceptualized? In fact, Dr Oberoi was not having the acumen needed to deal with the concept of religion; and, secondly, if he had dared to confront the problems and the issues bound up with the above-mentioned two new theoretical orientations, then, it would have become, mvanably, necessary, nay essential to redesign his forme question to read as: How are world religions to be conceptualized?” So, he thought it proper to let the sleeping dogs lie, even in the area of history, where he claims to have become an authority after Publication of the book under review.
Not only that, but “the question regarding conceptualization of religions” had been so nicely thrashed out, at the national, as well as at the international level, that if Or Oberoi had ventured to conduct a thorough review of the findings reached in very well designed hundreds of studies, in this specific area, then he would have come to know in what way his former pivotal question was sterile, impotent, repetitive, non- sensical, empty, and hence irrelevant.
The findings reached in relation to the question: How are Indian (rather, world) Religions to be conceptualized? Tend to fall into, broadly speaking, four categories:
(i) Marx and his followers hailed the observaions which made “Religion” as “Opium for the Masses” of a “Mental Disease” known as “Organized Hallucination”.
(ii) As far back as 1940, a psychologist of the calibre of Brown dared to pronounce that man’s cognitive development: (a) has its roots and origin in: “Magic”; (b) it got its nourishment from “Religion”, and (c) presently, it has been becoming more and more scrt1l-tific in its orientation, with the passage of time. According to him, the influence of “Magic”, “Witchcraft”, “Sorcery” and of “religious beliefs” are so strong that even the thinking-processes, ideologies and behavioural-patterns of highly qualified scientists tend to remain tinged by the influences of such irrational-forces, throughout their lives, and he claims that the rope of man’s thinking process comprises the fabrics of black, red and white colours, rep-resenting, respectively, magic, religion and science; and that how-so ever hard we may try, the influences of magic, witchcraft and sorcery cannot be completely eradicated from man’s behaviour.,
(iii) Krishna, murti is the supporter of that philosophical view-point, according to which the contents of religious literature, as the carriers of “World-Views”, go on changing and getting refined with the passage of time; according to him, the “Vedantas” were indicative of “The End of Vedas” and he also is brave enough to pronounce that God as a concept is referring to a hypothetical entity.
iv) Erich Fromm.(1~91, p. 233) is of the view that the religious- (humanistic pnnclples were also the basIs for proposals for a ‘better society.
Here, it may just be imagined that if all the four answers to the former pivotal question would have been rejected and proved erroneous before designing his research, and then, and only then, he could say something new, novel and unique in the area circumscribed by the first question raised by him. Virtually, when Or Oberoi set his feet in this area in 1978, as a researcher, the knowledge about his first pivotal question had already entered into the text-books used in schools, colleges and Universities. However, to prove the known and the obvious is an exercise in futility. In this context, Wolman (1965, P.3) professes that:
“Sciences do not deal with the “Known” and the “Obvious”. No one builds telescopes to check the contents of a Show-Window in a department store. Science seeks to produce new knowledge and en-deavours to discover precise and valid information hitherto unknown.”
The truth is that whatever Brown, cited above, had included in the text-book entitled: “Phycho-dynamics of Abnormal Behaviour”, as far back as 1940, has been repeated by Or Oberoi is his book, and fails to give anything new. It may be pointed out, conspicuously, that scientists and researchers, as well as supervisors of research works, like ordinary human beings, have tendencies to fall into ruts, to enjoy stagnations and to develop the abnormalities of compulsion in their actions and attitudes of obsessions in their thinking- processes; and that it is only the courageous, risk-taking, deviant and original thinkers who would seek pleasure in adopting new and thorny paths. Because in a repetitive research, one is sure about the final results, even a failure- threatended individual will like to join the class of researchers and of academicians. There is only a very, very subtle difference between repetition, and memorization of others’ works, on the one hand, and plagiarism on the other. Last year, when one professor in the department of technology, at the Concordia University, shot dead three other professor colleagues, then, as reported in the media, the attacker’s allegations were that his research findings were being stolen within the department. Since Brown’s work had become dusty enough, it was easier for Or Oberoi to induldge in Plagiarism. As an honestre-searcher, if he had conducted a thorough review of the relevant letera-ture, he would never have raised the first, the so-called pivotal question in his research.
Now, let us see as to in what way the second question: “What did it mean to be a Sikh in the nineteenth century?” fails to pass the Test Of Adequacy, Genuineness, Suitability, Validity, Potency, and Legitimacy or being a tool in research.
The fundamental weakness of this question, as the tool for research, lies in seeing the point that it remains tied up with that theoretical assumption, which stresses that the concept “Sikh” refers to something which is transient, mercurial, subject to change, like the moods of joy and sorrow. But, contrarily, the concept of “Sikh” refers to a particular type of “Conditioning-of Man’s Mind”. Psychologically, it is true that the processes of “Conditioning” and of “Deconditioning” of Human-Mind both are very, very time-consuming; meaning thereby that man neither abandons his previous conditioning-of-mind, with the touch of a magic- rod, nor man happens to adopt a new conditioning of mind, so easily.
As cited above, Brown is perfectly right when he claims that man’s cognitive-development is such that his behavior can never be perfectly free even from the irrational influences of Magic, Sorcery, Witch-craft, Idolatry, myths and delusions and hallucinations, etc., even during the age of enlightenment. With regard to the religious (or spiritual) conditioning-of-man’s-mind, three more psychologically- wellestablished, truths need to be kept in mind:
(i) That nearly 10% to 15% individuals, out of the normal human-population, are very, very slow in adopting the religiously meaningful “New Ways of Life”, howsoever socio-cuIturaIly purposeful, such ways of life may be.
(ii) That about 10 to 15% individuals, among the normal human population, are very quick, and also zealot for adopting the new ways of life.
(iii) That nearly 70% individuls are normal and average in adopting the new ways of human life; in the sense that they feel comfortable in retaining some aspects of the old social habits, whereas they also happen to adopt some of the new ways of human life.
More technically speaking, these three types of groups of people are known as: abnormal, normal and super-normal and they are qualitatively different in adopting or learning of the new ways of life. Because of such natural, but qualitative differences in adoption of changes in mental orientations, a researcher may report differences even if the total population is a perfectly homogeneous community, with regard to its religious affiliation.
Since, as referred to above, under the influence of the old, hackneyed theory condemned by Marvin Bram, Dr Oberoi intended to see discrepancies in the religious-orientations of the individuals identified as Sikhs in the Panjab of the ninteenth-century, he picked up individuals from among the above said three types of groups and happened to prove the obvious and something which was already known. For example, at page 150-151, he writes:
“The text of one of the miracle stories, which according to its collector became current in the early nineteenth century, represents Sikh devotion to the saint. Dani, the wife of a Sidhu peasant, lived in Landeke in the Moga tahsil of Ferozepur district. When after twelve years of childless marriage she prayed to Sakhi Sarvar, he blessed her with a son. Her wish having been granted, Dani undertook a pilgrimage to the shrine of the saint at Nagaha. In the course of the pilgrimage she broke her original vow and suffered retribution, her newly born son died. Then, she pleaded for forgiveness; and Sakhi Sarvar took pity on her state and revived the child.”
Again at page 3, an episode recorded by Henry Martyn Clark reads as follows:
“The doli (palanquin)-bearers on the Dalhousie road, though they seemed to be Sikhs, yet used Tabacco freely; when I asked the reason they told me they found it very hard work to carry dolis without refreshing themselves with the huqqa, so when they left their homes to come up to the summer work, they had their hair cut, and so gave up Sikhism. On their return home for the winter they paid a few annas and were reinitiated.”
Both these examples, cited by Dr Oberoi, represented the above mentioned groups of abnormal individuals, who are, invariably, present in all civilized socities and relgious sects. In research, however, no Importance is given to such cases, unless and until our purpose is to blame and to tarnish the image of a particular religious sect.
By the way, what is the statistical significance of Dani’s case as representative of the Sikh tradition? As a salitary individual she, in fact, belonged to the abnormal group, referred to above. Obviously, if the total population of the followers of the Sikh tradition in that particular village, went up to one thousand, as Dani's contemporaries, then what is the statistical significance of such an abnormal behaviour? No significance at all.
The text-books available in the fields of social and abnormal psychology and those pertaining to ‘Psychology Of Religion’ stand testimony to the irrefutable truth that individuals, as human beings, diffe with regard to that mental-capacity (or, more technically speaking, social-intelligence) which is needed in understanding, learning and adopting that type of world-view, which the Holy Scriptures, pertaining to different religions, happen to offer. Here, it needs to be stressed that that kind of evidence confirms that it is not only that the followers of a particular religion (in present context, Sikhism) have quantitative individual differences in the said mental capacity, but they also have qualitative individual-differences, meaning thereby, that if Dani and professor Sahni’s father were having the same levels of the quantifiable mental- ability needed in grasping the religious instructions, then these two individuals could be quantitatively different from the view of catching or skipping over the contents (or subjects matters) of religious education. If both recite Gurbani, whole heartedly, both are Sikhs. But if one of them always tells the truth in social interactions and also smokes, whereas the other is always untruthful and deceptive and uses his overtly perceivable symbols as the “Persona” then both are non- Sikhs. So keeping this single most truthful evidence in view, it may be judged as to in what way the definitions of the concepts of “Sikh”, Sikhi” and “Sikhya” happen to change from person to person, from individual to individual and turn out to be mercurial and transient. Actually, the methodology of research employed by Dr Oberoi, in answering the latter pivotal question, is absolutely invalid and irrational; and therefore, it is not surprising that the so- called empirical discoveries reported in the book are downright misleading and false.
Not only that, the empirical findings reported in his book could be predicted in a perfectly valid manner without conducting any kind of research. Even today, not to speak of the nineteenth century, it may be said with confidence that nobody is a perfect Christian, a perfect Hindu, a perfect Muslman and a perfect Sikh. Psychology of religion says that the gap between one’s “Ideal-Self” and one’s “Real- Self’ is bound to remain unbridgeable. Because by definition, one’s “Ideal- Self’ is the image of God Himself and one’s “Real-self’ is just an empirical-self, that is “Self’ put into practice in every day life.
In a nutshell Dr. Oberoi committed an irreconcilable blunder in following that “Research-Method” which permits, unnecessarily, to Just compare one’s empirical “Self(or “Personality”) with the ‘ideal self’ of the ‘Sikh’, incorporated in the Holy Scripture Prepared by the Gurus and then to prove that all the Sikh are hupocrites. Hence, the findings are injurious for the Sikh psyche.
However, very recently, Dr. (Mrs.) Sethi (1986) employed scientifically sound research-methods, at all stages of development of her research-project, and happened to prove in unequivocal terms that the Hindus, as Hindus, are much more prone and susceptible in comparison to the Sikhs, as Sikhs, fro being idol-worshippers, superstitious, ritualistic and irrational believers in magic. Similarly Dr K.S. Kahlon (1990) Happened to prove that there is ample scope for ensuring universally meaningful social cohesion and universal peace on having designed the future systems of education along the guidelines emanating from the educational philosophy enunciated by Guru Nanak. Dr. Gurmail Singh (1975) proves in unequivocal terms that Punjabi, like all other languages of the civilized communities, is pregnant with all sorts of possibilities for making the students “Creative” in their thinking-processes, to be used by prospective citizens of the present civilization. The present critic has had the privilege to supervise all these three theses, leading to the awards of Ph. D. degrees in their inspiration from the theoretical assumption which is bound up with the postulate that the Sikh Gurus intended to set up that type of well-designed and universally and humanistic-ally oriented system oriented system of education which, on its honest and faithful implementation, would be highly capable of chiseling out those promising personalities, who would be competent and bold enough to face the exigencies of bad weather during the times to come.
Nevertheless, Dr Obeioi’s, started his research with the postulate that Sikhism, as a unique way of life had lost all sorts of graces, charms and magnetic-attractions and by the advent of the nineteenth century, the Sikh traditions was on the run-way. As already underlined elsewhere in the paper in hand, the basic difficulty with history and the other academic disciplines covered in the Faculty of Socml Science, is that a researcher may see what he ihtends to see. Dr Oberoi’s intention was to see the negative and dark sides in the behavioral-patterns of the disciples (or followers) of the Sikh Gurus. With good intention. He could obtain Ph. D. by writing a biographical sketch of Sant Attar Singh the total Population of the followers of the Sikh tradition, in that particular village, went up to one thousand, as Dam’s contemporaries then what is the statistical ignificance of such an abnormal behaviour? No significance at all. inspiration from the theoretical asiumption which’is bound up the Postulilte tliat the Sikh Ourus’ intended to’ set up that type of well-designed and tinivetsally and liumanistically orierited system of education, which” on its honest. and faithfulimp1e’ mentation, would be highly capable of chiselling out those promising peronalities, whowou’ld be competent and bold enough ito face the exigencies of bad weather during the times to come. Mastuana, who, as the’ Sikh educationist, was identified to lay the foundation-stone of Hindu University, Benares, in 1919. The negative sides in the behaviours of the individuals belonging to the extreme-group named abnormal and supernormal groups - in relation to those falling in the normal group - are naturally, very much exaggerated inflated and hence conspicious, The wrong method of research, he used, was helpful to present these distorted images of the Sikhs.
In contravention to Dr Oberoi’s postulate, we are of the view that the ‘Historical Truth is that Sikhism’ as the systematic way of educating the masses, has never been tried honestly and wholeheartedly; otherwise, it has that full, inexhaustible potential which may change the whole of the world for the betterment of man, as a rational, biped animal. Had Dr Oberoi been sensitive enough about this kind of unfortunate historical truth about the vacuum saused through non-implementation of the Sikh philosophy of education, and had adopted the hypothesis pertaining to the inexhaustible potential of Sikhism as the well designed system of education, he would have, invariably, reached those very highly positive, commendable observations, about Sikhism, which some foreign, but unbiased, researchers had already arrived at before he embarked on his research project. For examples Mansukhani (1993, pp 20-21) refers to two foreign observers of world fame: (i) According to him Professor Arnold Toynbee, the great historian of the present age, observed that:
The Guru Granth Sahib is a part of Mankinds’s spiritual treasure. It is important that it should be brought within the direct reach of as many people as possible. In the coming religious debate, Guru Nanak’s Sikh religion and its scripture - Guru Granth Sahib - will have something of special value, to say to the rest of the world”
Similarly, Pearl Buck, the Nobel prize-winner, who wrote in introduction to an English translation of Guru Granth Sahib, expressed her appreciation in the following terms:
“The hymns in Sri Guru Granth are an expression of man’s loneliness, his aspirations, his longings, his cry to God and his hunger for Communication with that Being. I have studied the scripture of other great religions, but I do not fmd elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind, as I find in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It speaks to me of life and death; of time and eternity, of the temporal human-body and it’s needs, of the mystic human soul and it’s longings, of God and the indissoluble bond between them”.
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