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  Gur Panth Parkash
Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh




U.B.C. Sikh Chair: Building or Destroying the Sikh Identity?

Dr Jasbir Singh Mann

More than 500 years ago, Guru Nanak established Sikhism with its independent identity and doctrines in contradiction to all earlier Indian traditions. Initial Canadian exposure of the Sikhs Was generated by Sikh troops or by Sikh companies from friends and relatives. During Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee in 1897, Sikh regiments passed through Canada which probably initiated the Sikh migration. Six thousand Sikh pioneers entered Canada between 1903 and 1908 in a comparatively unregulated immigration. 3,000 Sikhs crossed the border of the United States at that time.

“Sikhs worked hard in their fight against racial discrimination and immigration ban for their existence and carried out a liberation struggle for India from Canada and the United States under the serious threat of political surveillance by the Britishers across North America. The pioneer Sikhs in Canada went through the political climate with racial conflicts in British Columbia and also underwent Asiatic riots during a major depression which hit North America in 1907 and 1908. Pioneeer Sikhs underwent isolated pattern of living conditions and did rough outdoor work in sawmills and shingle mills particularly in the lower Fraser Valley - Vancouver region on Vancouver Island. Pioneer Sikhs went through the difficulties of solidarity, but continued to have strong faith in Waheguru and the independent identity of the Sikhs. The Sikhs established the Khalsa Diwan Society in 1907. By 1920 gurdwaras had been erected in Vancouver, New Westminister, Victoria, Nanaimo, Golden, Abbotsford, Fraser Mills, and Paldi. The Sikh migration continued during the First, Second World War, and later on.”l

In order to promote better understanding of Sikhism in Canada, the Sikh Community, under the Federation of Sikh Socities, established a Sikh Chair at UBC with the General Objective: “to initiate, maintain and promote instruction and research undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of Punjabi Language, punjabi Literature, Sikhism {doctrine, religious practice and philosophy), Sikh History and other aspects of Sikh Studies such as Sikhs in Canada.”2 The money for this chair was paid by the Sikhs as well as by the multicultural department from their taxes. UBC in 1987 selected Dr. Harjot Oberoi for this chair. The Sikh community did not have any say on this appointment.

It is very interesting to note that the Sikhs paid the money and signed the contract with UBC in 1985, but the chair was not started until 1987. Sardar Mohinder Singh Gosal, the President of Federation of Sikh Societies of Canada and the signatory to the contract, made a statement on July 22, 1994 “that there is evidence to prove that the 2 year delay to start this chair was intentional under the pressures from anti-Sikh political forces.”3 It seems very clear from his statement that UBC became a part of the plan to defuse the Sikh identity from the inception of this chair. It is possible that UBC waited for 2 years to hire an applicant which was being groomed for anti-Sikh propaganda. As is evident from the objectives of the Sikh chair, the applicant must be qualified for Punjabi language, Literature, and Sikhism (doctrine, religious practice, and philosophy). Dr Oberoi has admitted himself that he is only a student of history, has nothing to do with religion, and his qualifications for Punjabi language and literature remain questionable. Many other applicants with appropriate qualifications were rejected. How the selection process was held to fulfill the special objectives, as outlined in the contract, is a serious matter and needs thorough investigation.

Anyhow, Dr. Oberoi took this assignment with special objectives, but his seven years of published work and various presentations at different universities has clearly shown that he has violated the objectives of the chair. A group of visiting scholars from India, in the month of July 1994, were approached by the Sikh community of North America to review Dr. Oberoi’s academic work in reference to the Endowment Trust Fund Contract between UBC, Government of Canada and the Sikhs. The following material was reviewed by them.

1) The momerandum of agreement between the Federation of Sikh Societies (representing the Sikh Community of Canada), University of British Columbia, and the Government of Canada, dated March 16, 1985 and February 25, 1987.

2) “Construction of Religious Boundaries” by Dr. Harjot Oberoi, published by Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1994.

3) Article, “Popular Saints, Goddesses and Village Sacred Sites: Rereading Sikh Experience in the Nineteenth Century”, read at UC Berkeley, February 1987.

4) Article, “From Ritual to Counter-Ritual: Rethinking the Hindu Sikh Question”, Sikh History and Religion in the Twentieth Century, University of Toronto, 1988.

5) Article, “Sikh Fundamentalism: Ways of Turning Things Over?”, Presented at the Annual meeting of the  American Academy of Religion, Anaheim, November 1989.

6) Article, “Sikh Fundamentalism: Translating History into Theory”, Fundamentalisms and the State, University of Chicago Press 1993. Dr Oberoi has made different presentations on the subject of fundamentalism in relation to Sikhism at various universities.

7) Article, “The Wordship of Pir Sakhi Sarvar: Illness, Healing and Poplular Culture in the Punjab,” Studies in History, special number on popular Culture, vol.2, 1987.

8) Article, “Popular Saints, Goddesses and Village Sacred Sites”, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31, 1992, pg. 340-78.

9) UBC Report of Activities of Chair in Punjabi Language, Literature, and Sikh Studies, covering the period 1987-1992..

10) UBC Report on Administrative and technical matters relating to activities of the Sikh Studies Chair,  with a forewording letter dated February 7, 1992, signed by A.J. McClean, Associate Vice President  (Academic).

The following senior scholars of Sikh Studies participated in this review:

1. Dr Balkar Singh, Professor & Head; Dept. of Guru Granth Sahib Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, India
2. Dr Darshan Singh, Professor & Head; Dept. of Guru Nanak Studies, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India
3. Dr. Kehar Singh, Professor; Dept. of Political Science, Punjabi University, Patiala, India
4. Dr. Gurnam Kaur Reader, Dept. of Guru Granth Sahib Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, India.

“They were of the unanimous opinion that the incumbent, Dr. Harjot Oberoi, did not contribute to the fulfillment of the objectives laid down in the agreement concerning the Sikh Chair at UBC.”4 (Formore details, see appendix III)

The pertinent findings of the work done by Dr. Oberoi can be summarized as follows:
Western methodology suffers from two serious handicaps: a) No settled scriptures 300 years after Christ. b)  Christ Ministry, lasted only 2.5 years. But, the Sikh scripture was interpreted and demonstrated by the Gurus for 2.5 centuries. It is ridiculous to apply methodologies relevant to Christian ideology where scrip- ture developed as a result of history and culture to Sikhism, where scripture is revelatory and authenticated by the prophet. Validity of Oberoi’s application in this background by using terms like ‘plurality’, ‘ambiguity’, and ‘fluidity’ becomes meaningless and irrelevant.

2. It is a motiviated attempt to dissolve the Sikh identity and ideology which is new and in contradiction to all earlier Indian traditions. Guru Granth Sahib is a new scripture with new ideology and new religious experience. Sikhism completely denies the authority of Vedas and Upanishads. Guru Nanak even calls  some of their injunctions to be wrong. The Sikh Gurus were so clear and particular about the independent  and separate identity of their religious system, they took very significant steps by compiling and  authenticating the Sikh scripture in 1604 AD with complete repository and fmal authority on the Sikh  ideology. The Shabad has been given the sanction of God. The Tenth Master took two important steps: 1)  Nash Doctrine and 2) made the Sikh scripture, not only an exclusive vehicle of the Gurus message, but also  gave it the status of Guru, Guide, and Teacher of the Sikhs.
3. Most of Dr. Oberoi’s formulations are based on Dr. McLeod’s work, which has already been challenged, exposed, and found to be inadequate. The reader is advised to study the following books on this issue:

i) Perspectives in Sikh Traditions.
ii) Advanced Studies in Sikhism.
iii) Recent Researces in Sikhism.
iv)Fundamental Issues in Sikh Studies.
v) Ernest Trump and Hew McLeod as Scholars of Sikh Religion, History and Culture
vi) Planned Attack on Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib
4. Dr Oberoi does not study Sikh religion as a spiritual experience. He tries to give materialistic interpretation to a non-material phenomena. His understanding of Sikhism is based Upon Sociology and Anthropology. In order to understand Sikhism, one must understand that history and sociology of Sikhism flow out of Guru Granth Sahib. Any study which does not include Guru Granth Sahib and the history of the Guru period as references will be inadequate and will bring wrong results.

 5. He totally ignores ample historical evidence which gives a distinctive character to Sikhism including Sikh scripture, martyrdom of the Gurus and thousands of Sikhs. If it were not a distinctive religion, then what was the need to defend it by courting martyr-dom? Dr. Oberoi has quoted that “Sikh Study needs to be fully open to the gauge of history” on page 35; but on the contrary, he has knowingly and willfully   suppressed thefollowing academic facts:

- History of Guru Period (Sri Chand, Mohan, Prithi, and Ram Rai transgresed Sikh beliefs in early Sikh  history and were isolated)
- Sikh Scripture delineating independent Sikh identity
- Martyrdom of the 5th and 9th Guru to uphold religious freedom
- Testimony of Mohsan Fani (Muslim Chronicle, 1645)
- Execution of Banda and 740 Sikhs in New Delhi (not even one desereted while given the choice to do so, 1715-16)
- Kazi Nur Mohammed (Historian of 18th Century)
- Why prices on Sikh heads were fixed by Mughals? - Misal
- History of Maharaha Ranjit Singh period(His government was know as Sarkar-i-Khalsa; he issued coins in the name of the Guru and all his princes were adressed as Khalsa. He was made to appear at Akal Takhat and was granted Tankhah. )
- Work of Bute Shah is suppressed
- Sikh Theologians like Kavi Santokh Singh, Giani Gian Singh, Khushwakat Rai, Sohan Lal Suri, and Ahmad Shah, were completely ignored

6 His use of concepts like ‘multiple identities in Sikhism’, ‘several competing definitions of a Sikh’  ‘religious diversity in Sikhism’, ‘religious fluidity in Sikh traditions’, ‘religious pluralism in Sikhism’,  ‘amorphous growth of religion’, etc., are not sustainable in the face of 18th century Sikh History of persecution. Ample Mogul State identifIcation of Sikhs is ignored. “The Mughals, the Afghans, and many Hindu scribes of Mughal courts called Guru Nanak and all his successors, Nanak Panthis. Historical Mughal court records and writings of Non-Sikh scholars clearly prove that the appelation Nanak Panthi was attached not only to Guru Nanak and his immediate successors, but even to Guru Hargobind, Guru Gobind Singh, and Banda.”5

7. He makes vague and irrelevant observations regarding Sakhi Sarvar, Guga, Settela, and Ancestor worship among the Sikhs. “He clearly suppresses H.A. Rose’s clear observation (whom he otherwise quotes) that in the Sikh villages, there was known enmity between the Sikhs who did not worship Sakhi  Sarvar and the Hindus who believed in Sakhi Sarvar.”6

8. Oberoi suppresses the details of the mainstream Singh Sabha movement and totally ignores the great role  played by them with the strength of Sikh ideology. Every student of Sikh history knows that the Singh  Sabha movement was wholly a revivalist movement “working strictly within the parameters of the Sikh religion and its tradition. In fact, the very reasons that it invoked the authority of the Gurus and the Guru  Granth Sahib and public examples of Sikh martyrs who suffered and sacrificed themselves for the principle  of the Sikh religion, account for the Success of the Singh Sabha leaders in safely steering the Sikh  community towards its goal in the lean period of Sikh history after the fall of the Sikh kingdom. Dr. Oberoi  is only promoting Singh Sabhas with vested interest (Rawalpindi, Faridkot, Amritsar) which stressed the  need for human Gurus and wanted to promote that Bedis, Bhallas, Trehans and Sodhis deserve special  patronage due to their descent from families of Sikh Gurus; which is contrary to the Sikh ideology. He is  promoting Raja of Faridkot; Baba Khem Singh Bedi; and Bhai Avtar Singh Vahiria, whose books ‘Khalsa Dharam Shastar,’ ‘Sikh Dharam Tat Darshan,’ and ‘Gurdarshan Shastar’ clearly promoted anti-Sikh  ideologies e.g.,
 – Sikh Gurus didn’t prohibit the worship of Gods and Godesses
– It was wrong to remove caste distinctions

The real Singh Sabhas which promoted Sikh doctrines as enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib have been downplayed by Dr. Oberoi. The Lahore Group, which represented the entire community of 118 Singh Sabhas, were in fact successful to project the correct image of Sikhism. The Lahore Group writers and their published work is listed below:

WRITERS: Prof. Gurmukh Singh, Giani Ditt Singh, Mayya Singh, Bhai Jawahar Singh, Bhai Kahan Singh,  Giani Gian Singh, Naurang Singh, and Jodh Singh.

BOOKS: ‘Ham Hindu Nahin,’ ‘Panth Prakash,’ ‘Sacha Dharmi,’ ‘Gurmat Prabhakar,’ ‘Gurmat Sudhakar’ and ‘Durga Parbodh.’

9. He talks of undefined religious boundaries in India, although nearly 900 million of its population have concentrated itself to Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism. He writers on page 1 that “It  is very well for the historians of religion to think, speak, and write about Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism; but they rarely pause to consider if such clear cut categories actually found expression in the consciousness,  actions and cultural performances of the human actors they describe. There simply wasn’t any one-to-one correspondence between the categories that were supposed to govern social and religious behavior on the one hand, and the way people actually experienced their everyday lives on the other hand.” It seems to be a  concoted story that before 19th century there were no religious boundaries like Buddhism, Hinduism,  Islam, Chris-tianity, and Sikhism. He has clearly suppressed the scholarly narratives which show defined boundaries before the 19th century.

10. Dr. Oberoi has suppressed the work of Sikh academicians the last decade, for example, Drs. Hari Ram Gupta, Ganda Singh, Harbans Singh, Madanjit Kaur, Darshan Singh, Balkar Singh, Gurnam Kaur, Nirbhai Singh, Sardar Daljeet Singh, Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Tarlochan Singh, and Dr. Avtar Singh. It is very interesting to note that Dr. Oberoi is quoting the unpublished thesis of Dr. Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon and is completely silent about his published work, which was submitted to him as well as to UBC. Thorough investigation is needed to why UBC failed to ask Dr. Oberoi to comment on such work.

11. He has suppressed the great historical evidence of succession of Guru Granth as the living Guru, as recorded in Sikh, Persian, Muslim, Hindu, and European sources. “Historical Sources of Sanctification of Guru Granth Sahib are as follows :” 7&8

* Sainapat, Gur Sobha (1711AD) Bhai Nandlal, Bhai Prahlad, Bhai Chaupa Singh, Rehat Namas
* Koer Singh, Gurlas Patshahi 10 (17S1AD)
* Kesar Singh Chibbar, Bansavalinama (1770 AD)
* Mahima Prakash (1808 AD)
* Munshi Sant Singh, account of Bedi family of the Una
* Unpublished records, Bhatt Vahis

* Mirza Muhammed, Harisi-Ibrat Nameh (170S-19AD)
* Sayad Muhammed Qasirt, Ibrat Nama (1722AD)
* Hussain Lahauri, Ibrat Maqal (1731AD)
* Royal Court News of Mughals, Akhbarat-i-Darbar-i-Mualla (1708)

* Khushwant Rai, Tarikh-i-Sikhan (1811)
* Sohan Lal Suri
* Ghulam Muhy-ud-din
* Mufti Ali-ud-din
* Kanhaiya Lal (Historian of Ranjit Singh Period)

* John MalcoIm
* WG Osborne
* WLM Greger
* Joseph David Cunningham
*and even Ernest Trumpp

E. Dr McLeod, who is Dr Oberoi’s mentor, has confessed in his personal communication in May 1989 by saying: “On the sanctification of GGS, I am accused of attributing the Succession of GGS as Guru to a later need for cohesion rather than to an explicit pronouncement of Guru Gobind Singh. It was another question and not a positive statement. I am bound to acknowledge that I have received no support for raising this issue. The result is that other scholars are apparently unanimous in their decision that their is no question of concern with this particular pointing

F Dr Oberoi, in his book “Construction of Religious Boundaries” (1994), completely ignores the above  historical evidence of the sanctification of Guru Manyo Granth, when he quoted, “When in 1708, at the  death of Gobind Singh, there was no one to succeed him as Guru, the Panth turned into his collective successor. This was to be an abiding belief of Khalsa Sikhs, one that came in handy when waging battles for collective survival and political sovereignity over the course of the 18th century”. On personal questioning, Dr Oberoi says that he meant that the concept of Guru Panth came in the 18th century, which  is again another misrepresentation, as the concept of Guru Panth came during the earlier Guru period.

12. In 1988, Dr Oberoi quoted and blamed Or Kahn Singh Nabha for bringing almost four centuries of Indian tradition to an end, by writing his book, “We Are Not Hindus”. In June 1994 (VOICE), Dr Oberoi himself writes that “CRB does not suggest that do not have an independent identity. He is suggesting that in the 19th, there was a decline which does not mean that there were other periods when Sikh identity peaked (e.g. 16th, 17th, 18thCenturies).” What new sources has he found about established Sikh identity in this period of 5 years? Dr Oberoi has clearly suppressed the remarks made by Dr Kahn Singh Nabha that the primary purpose of his book was to clear the misinterpretation of Sikhism by few ignorant people, which he quoted in the preface of his book: “these days there are many among us who inspite of being Singhs consider themselves to be of Hindu Dharma. The reason for this is that they never study and discuss their scriptures and neither study the history. They spend their life on reading the books of other religions and listen to the advice of the self-interested people, who go about in various garbs.”10

13. Vancouver Sun, July 8, 1994- Oberoi says, “A silent majority of the BC Sikhs do not have trouble with his scholarship, including his argument that Sikhism is a blend of Hinduism and Islam.” What material methods has he used to base this argument?

14. Oberoi’s research is based on Eurocentric methodology, which is inapplicable to Sikh Studies. Please   see Dr. Sodhi’s article for details.

15. On page 49, or. Oberoi feels, “although in the present state of research, it is hard to specify the factors that prompted the fifth Guru of the Sikhs to collate an anthology of devotional literature.” If Dr. Oberoi studies the Sikh literature and history thoroughly, he would clearly understand the preparation of Adi  Granth by the fifth Guru as follows:

a) The Bani in the Adi Granth is the only true Bani of the Gurus (Concept of Kachi vs. Paki Bani)
b) No Bani of the Gurus has been left outside the Adi Granth, by him

c) Any clamied existence of Bani could not be true, since the same would have been scrutinized and tested  by the fifth Guru himself.

d) To preserve the revealed compositions of the Gurus from adulteration

e) To establish new scripture, distinct Sikh religion and its independent identity

16. The motives of Dr. Oberoi becomes clear that he has joined the Christian missionary conspiracy and anti-Sikh propaganda when, in the preface (pg. xii) of the book, he writes his gratitude. “The field of modern Sikh studies has for long been nurtured by the writings of Prof. McLeod: the numerous citations from his work will attest to that. I have been fortunate in having his association of this book, almost from its inception and read several early drafts, unfailingly responded with extensive Comments and saved me from many errors.” Sikh scholars from different Universities throughout the world have exposed the conspiracy as headed by Dr. McLeod and many books have been published and are available for scrutiny. It is now high time for Dr. Oberoi to answer those discussions, otherwise he will continue to make more errors in the future.

17. Anybody who even tries to discuss the philosophy of the Sikh religion, is being dubbed as fundamentalist. Dr. Oberoi writes about Sikh fudamentalism as, “While ideologies of the Sikh fundamentalism are still in the process of formulating Sikh ‘fundamentals’, their firm advocacy of spiritual  inerrancy makes them quickly attack anyone who proposes a critical textual analysis of Sikh sacred  writingss.”11 He is also promoting “The Text and Meaning of Adi Granth” on page 49. Thirty international Sikh scholars have reviewed this study and have compiled their observations in the book “Planned Attack on Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib: Academics or Blasphemy.” Justice Ram Singh Bindra has praised this book on the back cover by saying that “this book has exposed the ugly and sinister design of the group ending in the PhD thesis aimed at eroding the authenticity of the Guru Granth Sahib. It is intriguing to know how an unreliable manuscript (No history beyond 1987, No date of compilation, No author, and internal consistency proves to be a Minas literature) was suddenly adopted to form the shaky basis of a University thesis. Equally intriguing is the unexplained fact how a dead scholar was resurrected to contribute a new article to the Sikh Review which has been used as a justification for the choice of the subject of the thesis.”12 As Dr. Oberoi is being the head of a chair, funded by the Sikhs, it now becomes his moral responsibility to comment on this international conspiracy which is trying to diffuse the independent Sikh identity.

18. Dr. Oberoi feels that his book, “Construction of Religious Boundaries,” is a post-structural theory of Sikhism and in the following pages, 49, 50, 51, 59, 61, 64, 66, 190, and 422. He has tried to clarify about early Sikh identity. Sikh scholars are of the opinion that ideologically and historically, post-structural theory of Sikhism as proposed by Dr. Oberoi is a clear distortion, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and only an anti-Sikh propaganda.

* On page 49, Oberoi states that “the death of Guru Nanak provided significant access to embryonic Sikh panth, which is followed by other narrations.” The entire statement is a deliberate distortion. The 10 Gurus did not create an embryonic Sikh Panth. After a period of about two and a half centuries, including over a hundred years of militancy and martyrdoms in confrontation with the mighty state, they created a mature Panth, powerful enough to once and for all, throw back a thousand year wave of invaders, who had trampled under their heels. The so-called Sanatanist society is certainly not a Sikh Guru tradition, but was a post-Sikh tradition. It was not without reason that the Gurus wielded the sword for more than a hundred years and gave that sword as an essential rehat to every Sikh who bowed before the scripture and its defined ideology. But Oberoi scrupulously avoids quoting it in order to define the Sikh religion. It was not an embryonic, but an ideologically mature Sikh Panth which the Gurus left, despite the repeated orders of the Mughal state that every Nanak Panthi should be destroyed. The Sanatan Sikhs were only fair weather friends who crept into the Sikh fold during Khalsa Raj.

* Dr Oberoi, on pages 50, 51, 59, “tries to grapple with implicit and explicit nature of Sikh identity” which is again a simple distortion of contrary established data. Sikhism is defined and has to be understood, not by any (ancillary) sources like the Janamsakhis or Sausakhis. It is defined in the Guru Granth. It is Guru Nanak who says that a Gurmukh is he who follows the will of God. It is he who again says that God is the destroyer of evil. It is this definition of the Sikh which the 10 Gurus demonstrated by their sword and martyrdom. Evil is a fact of life and the Sikh system being a whole-life system, it is the duty of the Gurmukh to oppose the oppression and injustice. Again, it is Guru Nanak who says that life is a game of love and to practice it, you have to lay down your life for it. Oberoi has wrongly defined Gurmukh. It is not ritualistic practices that define a Sikh, but it is his deeds that do it. Oberoi fails to quote the first Var and
Pauri 37 of Bhai Gurdas, where he clearly records that Guru Nanak, by his system, demonstrated the other two systems to be of a lower category; hence, even Bhai Gurdas leaves no room for confusion of an amorphous Sikhism. It is wrong to state that Bahi Gurdas’ Sikhism was implicit The Janamsakhis made it explicit. There are only two facts that define Sikhism and demonstrate its thesis or make it explicit. The definition is in Guru Granth and 240 years of Sikh history of Guru Period with the final outcome of the Panth of Guru Nanak. Bhai Gurdas in Var 42 clearly defines the Sikh Panth as the one which denies all allegiance to other scriptures, including the Vedas. But, Oberoi has dehberately avoided quoting the above sources which clearly indicate creation of the Sikh Panth and no plural or sanatanist Panth.

* On page 61, Oberoi makes a misstatement as Sainapat (was not a biographer but a chronicler) to that it was the wish of the Tenth Master that all Sikhs turn Khalsa. The Guru only laid down the test as to who was a good Sikh so that the waverers are eliminated and this is Sainapat who says that Dellii Sikhs, could not abide by his criteria and drifted apart. Hence, the Tenth Guru created the famous Nash Doctrine of Sikhism (Dharam Nash, Bharam Nash, Karam Nash, Kul Nash and Krit Nash).

* In tracing distinctive Khalsa, Dr. Oberoi is misleading when he talks about externals, taboos, and life- cycle rituals. Sikh identity is ideologically always to be tested by the deed of the Sikh because the Gurus clearly emphasized that it is the deed that is dear to Him and not the form alone. Merely externals or out- ward look does not make a person Gurmukh or Khalsa. At-tempts are being made to confuse these terms by  partisan observers and critics, the ideal of the Gurmukh, the true Khalsa is very clear in hundreds of hymns  in the Guru Granth .

* On page 64 and 66, Dr. Oberoi constructs an autonomous identity with his post structural theory which is inadequate. There is only a single construction of the Sikh autonomus identity which was produced by Guru Nanak. No new step or stage was developed thereafter. It was only his thesis which was demonstrated and a mature Panth was created by Guru Gobind Singh. The system of Pahul was there. The prescription of fighting evil with force if necessary, was also laid down by Guru Nanak being in accordance with the will of God. The Ten Master gave the symbol of Kirpan to the Sikhs so that they should not forget the essential doctrine of Guru Nanak that evil has to be confronted. Externals alone or sociology cannot define Sikhism as ideologically defined in Sikh scripture. Hence,rituals as defined by Oberoi has no place to define Sikh identity.

* On page 190, Oberoi has given too much emphasis on Sanatan Sikhs by his post structural theory which  has nothing to do with Sikhism, as those Sanatani Sikhs were a fair wheather develop-ment who had no  place or identity in the earlier 400 years of Sikhism, Sausakhi nor in doctrinal literature. Like the Messianic literature of the Jews and the Christians, it only appeared in the 19th century.

* On page 422, Dr. Oberoi’s motive of diffusing Sikh identity becomes clear when he suggests that Rehat Namas or the Gurblases could be used for the creation of Sikh doctrinal identity. He forgets that Sikh identity is strictly defined in Guru Granth Sahib and two and a half centuries of Guru Period including the martyrdom of the 5th and 9th Guru and not by mundane writings. It is very clear that neither later Sikh litera-ture nor Tat Khalsa could create a new identity which was already clearly defined by the Gurus and the sanctification of Guru Granth Sahib as the living Guru of the Sikhs.

The published work of Dr. Oberoi and his presentations at different universities have shown that he has failed to fulfill the objectives of the chair for which he was hired. It is recommended that independent investigation is needed to find out the real truth. The questions that arise are spelt out in Appendix VIII. The Sikh community of North America and the Government of Canada must obtain the answers from UBC.
In conclusion, Dr Oberoi as the occupant of the Sikh Chair,did not follow the objectives, his work is incompatible to the objectives, and only a simple exercise of historiography to suit his personal ego or the reward to pay the master who got him qualified for this chair. As the discussion done by his writings is on the alien subjects are associated with Sikhism and Sikh subjects,their real impact constitutes anti-Sikhism propaganda. The Sikh academicians who have reviewed the work of Dr Oberoi are of the unanimous opinion that the conclusions are preconceived and his data is concoted to comply with the desired results.  The materials and methods applied by Dr Oberoi to construct his post-structural theory are wrong and that is why he was unable to find the independent Sikh identity in the early Sikh tradition. His poststructural theory seems to be a planned design to conceal crucial historical records and unethical study to diffuse the Sikh identity. Dr. Oberoi should not forget the history of the Sikhs of British Columbia who worked very hard to promote the Sikh identity and concept of freedom as defined in Guru Granth Sahib. “The list of such names is not hidden from any Canadian Sikhs e.g. Bhais Mewa Singh, Bhag Singh, Balwant Singh, Kapur Singh, Kartar Singh, Piara Singh, Rattan Singh, Uttam Singh, Harnam Singh, Udham Singh, Hardit  Singh, Ram Singh, and Karam Singh. Equally the Canadian Sikhs also do not forget the names of the villains of the Sikh community e.g. Bela Singh, Baboo Singh, and Partap Singh Tajoke.”13 Nobody is  immortal and in that sense, in the history of the Sikhs of British Columbia, Dr. Oberoi has a choice to fall  into one of the above two categories.

The North American Sikhs have to understand that they are not living in a Colonial Raj anymore. We are living in a democratic society and are paying our taxes regularly. Every Sikh institution, university, or any government who takes your money must be held responsible and accountable. Seven years is enough time’ for Dr. Oberoi to prove his responsibility and accountability; which he completely failed. In the above context, it is for the readers to judge whether the UBC Sikh chair is building or destroying the Sikh identity.

The real issue is that Dr. Oberoi failed to fulfill the objectives of the Sikh Chair as outlined in the agreement between UBC and the Sikh Community. But, he is conveniently sidetracking it by making it an issue of Academic Freedom, which is not true. “Academic freedom is never unlimited and the general social law, including that of libel, applies equally well to it. Under Academic freedom, individuals and groups have the right to protest against research which can produce psychological pain, suffering and misinterpretation of doctrines.” Academic Freedom always demands Academic humility, honesty, in- tegrity, and ethics. The height of Dr. Oberoi’s ignorance about Sikhism becomes very clear when he writes about Amrit ceremony on page 64, “All this was done to the recitation of five quatrains from the writing of Guru Gobind Singh.” While every Sikh knows that the five banis recited during the preparation of Amrit are: Jap Ji (Guru Nanak): Anand Sahib (Guru Amar Das), Jaap Sahib, Swayas, and Chopai (Guru Gobind Singh). Hope Waheguru will give strength to Dr Oberoi to propagate Sikh doctrines, religious practice, and philosophy in an accurate manner as written in the requirement in the General Objectives of the Agreement under which he has been contracted.

1. Singh, Narinder. ‘Canadian Sikhs’; 1993

2. Memorandum of understanding between UBC and Sikh Community (see appendix I)
3. Remarks made by Sardar Mohinder Singh Gosal at a special meeting held at UBC on July 22, 1994
4. A special deputation of Sikh scholars accompanied Jathedar Akal Takhat, Amritsar, Bhai Prof. Manjit Singh during his visit to North America in July/ August of 1994. Accompained Sikh Academicans were requested by Sikh Community to submit their report on UBC Sikh Chair activities. (see report in detail inappendix III)
5. Singh, Trilochan. ‘Ernest Trumpp & W.H. McLeod: As Scholars of Sikh History, Religion, and Culture’; 1994
6. Dhillon, Gurdarshan Singh (Chapter 14) ‘Advanced Studies in Sikhism’; 1988
7. Singh, Dr. Ganda. (Chater 9) ‘Perspectives on the Sikh Tradition’; 1986
8. Kaur, Dr. Madanjit. (Chapter 8) ‘Advanced Studies in Sikhism’; 1988
9. Personal written communication between Dr. Jasbir Singh Mann and Dr McLeod
10. Nabha, Kahn Singh. ‘Sikh... We are Not Hindu’, Nanakshahi 429, translated in English by Dr. Jarnail Singh; 1984
11. Oberoi, Harjot (Chapter 12) ‘Fundamentalisms and the State’; 1993
12. Bindra, Justice Ram Singh. (back cover) ‘Planned Attack on Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib’; 1994
13. Singh, Kesar. ‘Canadian Sikhs and Komagata Maru Massacre’; 1989
14. Collier’s Encyclopedia. See “Academic Freedom”





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