Scholars from India and abroad deliberated on the twin themes of “Khalsa : The Fulfilment of Guru Nanak’s Mission” and “Khalsa : Its Role in the 21st Century” on 24th and 25th October, 1998 at Chandigarh. The present volume is a record of these two seminars. The 21st century poses a challenge to not only Khalsa but to all religions. At the same time it offers opportunities for the cause of spiritual regeneration of mankind.
Creation of Khalsa in 1699 was the culmination of the Divine Programme commenced by Guru Nanak in 1499. The mission aimed at not only a new revealed, totally scientific religion, free from all myths, but also a new Nation. Dr Hari Ram Gupta rightly concluded that “Guru Nanak aimed at uplifting the individual as well as building a nation. The other Bhakti leaders laid emphasis on individuals alone.” (History of The Sikhs, Vol. I, p. 93.)
The proclaimed agents of the Lord, viz., the Qazis, Brahmins, and Yogis had become corrupt and were using their religious cloaks to hoodwink the masses for their personal greed. Hindu masses believed that the way to Mukti (Deliverance), fulfilment of their earthly desires, and atonement for their sins, was through chanting of mantras by Brahmins on their behalf and a dip in the holy Ganga.
Guru Nanak did not proclaim himself to be a divine incarnation. As a Guru, he taught his Sikhs to live in His Presence through Shabad Guru. Sikhs were to constantly realise His Immanence in the entire creation. Gradually, he brought about a fundamental change in the thinking of his Sikhs, resulting in giving up of a mentality of acquisition and self-aggrandisement, and sharing of one’s earnings with others as social obligation. He also made them realise that a person’s mind, body, and wealth, all belong to Waheguru (Wonderful Lord). The new Nation took shape according to a planned programme. Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed in a unique way that the Khalsa of Waheguru had finally emerged to carry out God’s Will. Khalsa Akal Purakh ki Fauj (Khalsa is the army of the Lord). It is for this reason that the Khalsa was given a distinctive form (or “uniform”) .
It gives me great pleasure to present this book to our readers. I hope the ideas given by the learned authors in their papers will inspire the altruism that marks the spirit of the Khalsa. Patron’s special prize of Rs 1000, is awarded to Sardar Verpal Singh for presenting the best paper in the twin seminar, amongst the young participants.
Some especially thought-provoking papers presented by Sardar Saran Singh, Sardar Harbhajan Singh, Brig Gurdip Singh, Ms Alice Basarke, and Sardar Harjinder Singh deserve careful analysis by all scholars of Sikhi, regarding the direction in which our young Nation has to move in the 21st century.
The Institute of Sikh Studies is grateful to the scholars for their contributions, to participants who joined the discussions, to the organisers who made arrangements for the seminar, and to Gurdwaras, Nadha Sahib and Sector 34, Chandigarh, who provided the langar on the occasion. Financial contributions from Gurdwara Sahib, Sector 34, Chandigarh, Wing Commander S S Gyani (of St. Soldier Divine Public School, Panchkula), Sardar Vikramjit Singh Khuman (of Sector 33, Chandigarh), and Captain Agyapal Singh Khuman (of Bombay), towards cost of printing this volume are gratefully acknowledged.
Thanks are due to Col Amrik Singh, Sardar Harjinder Singh, Dr Birendra Kaur and Sardar Verpal Singh for their valuable suggestions and proof-reading. The credit for finalising the Punjabi part of the book goes to Sardar Inderjit Singh. I also sincerely thank Jaswant Rai, who did all the typing work and setting, working long hours ungrudgingly.
Lastly, the Institute acknowledges its gratitude to Ms Sumit Kaur, who organised and contributed immensely to each step, involved in bringing this book to your hands.
December 1, 1998