I am extremely grateful to Dr. Bhagat Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala and Dr. Balkar Singh, Head, Department of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, for their very kindly having invited me to deliver the Guru Tegh Bahadur Memorial lectures and I conferred on me the privilege of initiating the series.
In the background of the objectives and activities of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Studies Department, I thought it would be quite appropriate to start the series with two essays, the first, on "The authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir" the Adi Granth (the Sikh Scripture) compiled by Sri Guru Arjan Dev ji, the fifth Guru and scribed by Bhai Gurdas, and the second on the subject of "The Unity And Integrity of Sikhism" i.e. the Sikh doctrines embodied in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. At the same time it is also true that the choice of the subjects have been made because of their basic importance.
Among the scriptures of the world the Ad; Granth is unique in having been authenticated by the fifth Master himself. After the meticulous work of Dr. Jodh Singh incorporating a page by page study of the Kartarpuri Bir in his book "Kartarpuri Bir De Darshan", one thought that the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir stood completely established. But, some subsequent oblique statements, though far from thorough or scientific, do need to be examined to show their reliability or lack of it.
In the preparation of the first essay it was a pre-requisite that the Kartarpuri Bir should have been examined. I therefore take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Sodhi Amarjit Singh, the present custodian of the Bir, who allowed me full and unrestricted facilities to study the Bir and verify twice all the salient features of the Bir and the points on which the various conclusions in the first essay are based. I am grateful to my old colleague and friend S. Kuldip Singh Virk, formerly Chairman Punjab Public Service Commission Patiala, who organized the study and helped me in the examination at Kartarpur. My thanks are also due to the manager of the estate and the two granthis who assisted me during the course of the study.
I am particularly grateful to S. Gurdev Singh formerly Judge Punjab And Haryana High Court, who has very carefully and patiently gone through the draft of the first essay and scrutinized its rationale. Very valuable suggestions made by him have been incorporated in it.
I am also indebted to S. Jagjit Singh and S. Harbhajan Singh, formerly Principal Shahid Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar, for their learned suggestions in the revision of the essay on the Kartarpuri Bir.
Our examination and study of the Bir itself reveals how misplaced and shallow are the various recorded views expressing doubts about its authenticity. The Kartarpuri Bir has scores of features such as simply could not be present, not even one of them in a copy.
It gives me pleasure to express my thanks to my young friend, Dr. Avtar Singh, Head, Department of Philosophy, Punjabi University, Patiala, with whom I discussed the subject of the second essay before structuring it.
The study of the Sri Guru Granth Shaib reveals that the Sikh world view and doctrines are so revolutionary that many of the Indian or foreign scholars conditioned by their own training or tradition find it difficult to comprehend the full scope and direction of the Sikh thesis and its essentials. In laying down their religious doctrines the Gurus made a radical departure from Indian tradition by rejecting ascetism, ahimsa and celibacy and by accepting the reality of the world, life affirmation, social and house-holder's responsibilities, social participation and direction, the equality of men and the sanctity and primacy of moral and godly life. These doctrines were entirely new, for no trace of these bad been present in the Indian religious back-ground which besides recommending celibacy was by and large ascetic, otherworldly, ahimsic and socially heirarchical. The activities, methodology, and the goals of the Sikh Gurus are different from those of the other Indian religious leaders because their ideology is different and their ideology is different because their perceptions about God or the basic reality are different. The second essay, therefore, seeks to bring out the logical and integrated structure and unity of the Sikh religion and its doctrines.
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