The Institute of Sikh Studies organised a two-day seminar to celebrate the concept of Khalsa and the tercentenary of its unveiling to the world on the Vaisakhi of 1699. The seminar was held on the 24-25th October, 1998, at Gurdwara Sahib Kanthala, Chandigarh. The theme for the 24th was :
Khalsa : The Fulfilment Of Guru Nanak’s Mission
And, keeping in view the aim of charting the future course of action, the theme chosen for the 25th was :
Khalsa : Its Role In The 21st Century
Based on the concept that all the Gurus were one in spirit, the speakers for the first day concluded that the mission of Guru Nanak was indeed fulfilled when Guru Gobind Singh unveiled the Khalsa. But it was also emphasised that merely coming into being of the Khalsa, though of immense importance, does not mean that the task is finished. Khalsa is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Being a Khalsa means constant activity in pursuit of establishing a just society which acts in harmony with His Hukam. And the means to this end is to be found in the concepts of Naam (Godhead), Akal Purakh ki Fauj (God’s Army), sant-sipahi (saint-soldier), and sarbat da bhala (welfare of all).
All the speakers covered some common ground as also exploring some unique aspects of the theme. At the end of the day, the unanimous verdict was that all the Gurus shared the same ideology and that the Khalsa signifies living this ideology in daily life. All the confusion about the so-called differences between the ideology of the first nine Gurus and that of Guru Gobind Singh was exposed as imaginary and without any basis in reality. It was, as the reader will realise while going through the pages of this book, made clear that all the Gurus shared the same spirit and preached the same ideology.
The clearing of the cobwebs of confusion about this imagined dichotomy between the Gurus’ ideologies, set the mood for the second day’s deliberations, so that the outlook about the role of the Khalsa in the 21st century was very upbeat. The importance of projecting Khalsa in its true image, i.e., the outer form matching one’s actions, as the best way of showing the world that the Sikh Faith has the cures for the ills plaguing mankind, was stressed.
Appeal was made to pay more attention to the miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) aspect, education in rural areas as an urgent need, professionals as gursikhs, Punjabi culture as distinct from Sikhism, and last, but not the least, truth and honesty being the root of the Sikh ideology.
Listening to the views expressed on the role of the Khalsa in the 21st century, it was heartening to notice that despite all the hard times that the Panth has gone through for the last so many years, the mood about the future is still upbeat, that of charhdi kala. As the reader goes through the second part of the book, it will be noticed that no limit has been put by any of the participants on what the Khalsa can achieve in the next century. The ideas given in these papers provide valuable tips for a blueprint for future Panthic agenda.
Looking back at the deliberations of both the days, and going through all the papers again, for the purpose of compilation in this book, it is highly gratifying that the seminar broke some new ground which will be of immense help to the Panth in its future endeavours.
What needs to be emphasised again and again is that our practice must match our theory; our deeds must match our words. If we restrict ourselves to only talking and preaching to others and do not act upon what we say and preach, then we will not be able to get out of this quagmire in which we find ourselves. We must stop looking to the existing leadership alone. We must figure out for ourselves what we can do, to achieve the Panthic well-being. Then alone, can we realise the goal for which Khalsa came into being — sarbat da bhala.
So let our motto in the 21st century be :
Truth Is Higher Than Everything
Higher Still Is Truthful Living
Let us live it. And project to the world the true Khalsa of Guru Nanak. This will inspire many more to join Akal Purkh ki Fauj — God’s Army.
February 14, 1999