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Political Aspect of Sikh Dharam

Raghbir Singh*

Politics without Dharma is a fertile field for corruption breeding and Dharmik life without political power cannot sustain. Both are essential complements of each other. So long as Sikhs were loyal to the Sikh tenets and lived as per teachings of the gurbani, they had glorious days. Victory and success in war and peace always greeted them everywhere. But as soon as they distanced themselves from gurbani i.e., Guru shabad, and started living life differently, their downfall started. It was because of this that they could not assert their rights at the time of Partition of India, carving of Punjabi state, division of river waters and control over their headworks, getting due status for the Punjabi language, attack on Darbar Sahib, ’84 anti-Sikh riots and enquiry into these and compensation to riot-affected families. This is in spite of the fact that some of them were in ruling Congress and some others had their own government either alone or with active participation with BJP, both in the State and at the Center. It is a well-known fact that Sikh leaders, especially when in power, have never bothered about the future of their nation and have never anticipated its problems and formulated any plans well in advance to deal with them. Before partition, Sikhi was surviving only in West Punjab and that too mostly around Pothohar area where the Sikhs, as compared to those in the Eastern part of Punjab, were more literate, intelligent, in services and more prosperous. They were mostly in business. But they had no people who could afford to court arrests in case they were to agitate for more rights for the Sikhs. They were content as managers of gurdwaras and with reservation in government services for their literate members. Sikhs in the Eastern part, on the other hand, were mostly illiterate ruralites dependent on agriculture, simple, not very clever, and not very much conversant with Sikh ethos. Being without much work, they were always ready to face bullets and fill jails in large numbers at the call of their leaders. Before Partition, Sikhs on both sides generally felt content with the right to manage their gurdwaras through the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee that they got after many hurdles and sacrifices.

After Partition with the coming together of both segments in tile Eastern part of Punjab, Sikh intelligentsia, scholars of Sikhism and large population became available to the Sikh leaders for agitations. But they could not properly channelise these forces intelligently enough. Mediocres became leaders. Two big challenges faced them. One basically related to the clash of business interests of both Hindu and Sikh business classes coming from across the border. This was exploited on religious basis by the language papers of Jalandher. The Hindu community rallied around their leaders in Congress and Jan Sangh to disown Punjabi language as their mother tongue and started opposing the formation of Punjabi State and teaching of Punjabi language in schools just to get ascendancy over the Sikhs in their business and industrial ventures. These issues, after a lapse of more than fifty years, are still pestering both the communities in one form and the other.

The second challenge relates to the lack of adequate intelligence and foresight in the traditional Sikh leaders who did not allow the educated youth to come forward. Earlier also, though Sikh leaders were not intelligent enough, but they were men of character and never faltered from the Sikh principles for their personal gains as they do these days. The present-day leadership came into power by merely exploiting the religious sentiments of mostly illiterate Sikh voters who were neither religiously nor politically conscious of their problems. The result is that such people grabbed important positions whereas they betrayed their ignorance of Sikh traditions, history and politics. To serve their own ends they continue to beguile the innocent people to fill jails in the name of religion. Without understanding the importance of various Sikh episodes and without any knowledge as to how to make their celebrations effective, they manage to hold the Sikh tercentenaries with pomp and show to advance their own interests.

Gurdwaras, SGPC and Shri Akal Takht are the three main institutions from where Sikhs draw their religious and political inspirations. Kirtan of gurbani, shabad vichar and discourses about Sikh history in gurdwaras help the Sikhs to lead a clean and pious life and keep them in an upbeat mood for resisting any injustice to any part of the society. It goads them to establish an egoless society, free from any bias and exploitation of human rights and their labour. Shri Akal Takht is to ensure that politics does not transgress the limits of religious behaviour and if anybody does so, Takht is competent to admonish and punish him. This is not acceptable to the capitalist classes including some Sikh families also as they cannot flourish in such a society of Sikh thought. Political parties representing capital interests have always connived whenever the occasion came their way to take control of these institutions to dilute and ultimately efface the effect of Sikh ethos on Sikh psyche. So far, much against the ethos of Sikhism, the Sikh leaders for their own ulterior motives and to widen the influence of other capitalist forces, have made them subservient to politics so as to exploit the innocent Sikhs in the name of Sikh Panth. Instead of building character of the Sikh youth, they are busy in corrupting them and in creating a class of neo-Sikhs with the help of deras, etc., votes of whose disciples ensure their success in elections to continue exploitation of the poor. While Guru Tegh Bahadur sacrificed his life for independence of all religions, the present-day Sikh leaders, for their personal interests, kept quiet when the BJP government in Gujrat was massacring thousands of Muslims.

All the poor, including Sikhs, who believe in gurbani should understand that all the political parties including those of Sikhs are not their well-wishers. They have proved so by their past actions. Deras under the tutelage of Sikh leaders misinterpret, for their ulterior motives, the religion and social values as preached by the Sikh Gurus and they use it as opium for the masses. Similarly, the Marxists who condemn religion as opium have made Marxism also an opium for their poor followers by dogmatic approach to this cult with the result that after remaining in power in Russia for about seven decades their cult has gone into hibernation in barren land of atheism with poor hope of germination unless it is fertilized with Dharma nutrient and genuine interest for the poor. Sikh religion which is a whole life religion condemns exploitation of any kind. It stands for the poor and downtrodden people irrespective of any caste and creed.2 The poor of all hues should wake up and, discarding their leaders who have done nothing for them, should rally round the gurbani teachings, ignoring this or that leader, to improve their lot in a socialist way. Sikhism cannot survive without the power of downtrodden people.3. The aim of Sikhism is to replace the present capitalist ruling classes with the genuine representatives of the Sikh masses without any distinction of caste and creed.4

Many well meaning persons of socialist leanings left Sikh fold for the reason that Sikh leaders, being of narrow vision, could not convincingly put forth Gurbani’s message of Kirt karo, Vand chhako and Nam Japo. They also failed to impress the role of religion for creating contentment in the persons yearning for material gains. People like late Com Hardit Singh Bhattal of CPM and Bhai Jaita who felt impressed with Guru Nanak’s thought, irrespective of their affiliation with Congress, Communist or BSP parties, should come forward to preach the human, social and dignity aspect of labour in Sikhism, Dalit leaders too have grabbed all the privileges to enjoy for generations together like capitalists. They have built palatial bungalows in cities enabling their children to get good education and become engineers, doctors, and administrative civil and police officers. They become legislators and ministers too. But their poor sections are still poor as before like the other poor of the society. They should demand that privileges should cease to the beneficiary after his two generations and thus make room for others. Both Sikhism and Marxism are for the poor. If the believers in these two cults are sincere they should forget minor differences of approach and work together with the sincere Dalits to ameliorate the lot of the poor sections.

Going to gurdwaras and reciting gurbani without living by it and without helping those in need do not make one a good Sikh. There is lot of difference in believing a religion and living by it. The poor and not the capitalists are the pillars of Sikhism.



1. jb lg Kwlsw rhY inAwrw, qb lg qyj dIau mYN swrw ]
jb ieh ghY ibprn kI rIq, mYN n krhUM ien kI pRqIq ]
(gurU goibMd isMG)
2. nIcw AMdir nIc jwiq nIcI hU Aiq nIcu ]
nwnku iqn kY sMig swiQ vifAw isau ikAw rIs ] (gurU gRMQ swihb, pMnw 15)

3. ienhI kI ikrpw ky sjy hm hYN, nhIN moh sy grIb kror pVy (gurU goibMd isMG)
4. ienhI sy rwjy aupjwayuN [ rwj krn kI rIq isKwauN [
ienhI ko srdwr bnwauN [ qbY goibMd isMG nwm khwauN ] (gurU goibMd isMG)


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