Coping with the twentyfirst Century
critical issues confronting the Sikhs
Birthpangs of a Pluralist Polity
We are living through tumultuous times : times of communal conflict and social unrest, times of a head-on collision of minority religions with political power, times of economic advance and moral retreat, times of instantaneous communications and loss of credibility, times of alternating hope and despair. Fifty years after gaining independence, albeit at the cost of vivisection of the subcontinent, we, in India, seem to be wandering in an Augean wilderness.
In order to emerge from the gloom of yesteryears into the sunshine of a happy and united people pursuing the Gurus’ path as Khalsa-Sikhs, it is imperative that we make a conscious and determined effort to tear asunder the veil of myth that obscures the reality concerning our rights and duties as Sikhs, as well as the moral and spiritual values that the ten Gurus perfected through long years of suffering, as their response to grim and ceaseless challenges. Our test today must consist of not only the ability to comprehend our destiny, but to shape it for the future.
In so far as the Indian Constitution guarantees religious freedom, how is it that most minority faiths, including Sikhism, have come under pressure to compromise their religious identity as the price for joining the mainstream of Indianhood ? Why is the definition of patriotism being altered to conform to the straitjacket of the Hindutva code that the state seems to have adopted ostensibly ? Complex manoeuvres of the powers-that-be seem to threaten not only the Sikh way of life but the very basis of a pluralist society in a democratic polity. The essence of the RSS-VHP-BJP axis is the insistence on a single definition of virtue and a uniform code patterned on the traditions of the majority.
In this monograph, a comprehensive treatment of all the issues is neither possible nor intended. Rather, what is being attempted qualifies, at best, as an overview, to arrange the trends into a coherent whole, to bring some analysis and interpretation to trends and events of the past few years, for the future. In so far as India is a country of many religions, which together constitute its glorious heritage, one would like to assess the situation with goodwill towards all and malice towards none, in the true spirit of Gurbani :
nw ko bYrI nhI ibgwnw sgl sµig hm kau bin AweI
None is now our foe, none a stranger,
With all are we in accord.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1299
Need for Better Understanding
There is a distressing ignorance among the Sikhs and the mass of Indian people in particular about Sikh beliefs, history and tradition. Textbooks, mostly by Hindu scholars, are perhaps written on the assumption that since Sikhs constitute a bare two per cent of the population, just that much information about their religion and history might suffice. The media grudge even that. If anything, they have, in recent times, spread a disproportionate degree of misinformation about the Sikh ethos and life style. It is unfortunate that the electronic media — radio and television — are not free and fair, serving mainly the State or big business, while the print media are, by and large, owned and controlled by a wealthy but orthodox section of the majority community. Consequently, what we read in newspapers, whether in English or in Indian languages, has a distinctive slant. All norms of objective reporting appear to have been abandoned. Walls of bias and bigotry have effectively shut out any open-minded dialogue to promote understanding of an essentially simple and uncomplicated faith struggling to assert its distinctive identity :
vrq n rhau n mh rmdwnw ]
iqsu syvI jo rKY indwnw ]
I observe neither fasting,
Nor the ritual of the Ramadan month,
Him I serve who at the last shall save.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1136
Sikhism quintessentially is a viable, practical, moral discipline requiring its adherents to adore and remember God, treat life on earth as a Divine gift, earn an honest living and share it with those in need. The miracle wrought by the ten Gurus consists in how they achieved the celestial heights of spiritual purity in a strife-torn country, while inspiring their followers to make every kind of sacrifice for a life of freedom and righteousness for all humanity.
At the same time, Sikhism is not just an exercise in personal piety nor another olympic test of physical endurance, demanding as it is in the observance of the Khalsa moral code. An important component, perhaps the sine qua non of the Sikh way of life, is social activism and congregational participation embodied in the concepts of sangat and pangat.
sqsµgiq imlY q idVqw AwvY
hir rwm nwim insqwry ]
In the holy company comes firmness of faith,
That the Lord by his Name liberation grants.
Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 981-2
In any discussion of the questions of morality and ethics, different perspectives have been developed about how a person may live a good life. One response is discipline, that is living the moral life by being obedient to a set of rules or laws of ethics. We could superficially term it “legalism” in religion, which can degenerate into fundamentalism, and often becoming sterile as a spiritual exercise. Such shibboleths have been roundly and repeatedly condemned by Guru Nanak in Asa-di-var. In the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib, the key to a moral and spiritual life consists in the ethical principle that emphasises the holiness of life; our body is the temple of God, every human being has the right and duty to strive for self-realisation. It is towards achieving this all- important goal that the Gurus prescribe a specific code of conduct — a code that demands protection, not penance of the body, including its integral part, the kesh, abstinence from tobacco, indeed all deleterious drugs and intoxicants. Pahul or Amrit is meant as the essential benediction to the observance of the afore mentioned code of ethics. It is the spur to the life of loyalty to the basic principle, a bond of love with fellow Sikhs, as well as with humanity at large. In this relationship, all divisions and distinctions of caste, colour, or status dissolve.
In this modern age, while the educated people tend to seek answers to their inner-most questions through science and technology, the unlettered masses cling to superstition and look for supernatural intervention for all their woes. The argument for secularism in this modern age does not admit of transcendentalism. Traditional ways of thinking and speaking about God seem obsolete and meaningless. Most people live their lives as if God did not exist. We think of God only when we are in distress, or when there are questions we cannot answer. Otherwise, for the so-called modernist, God has become irrelevant.
But this is contrary to the teachings of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh who ignited the Divine spirit in every disciple : “Jaagat jot japai nis-basur....” The Gurus affirmed that we are capable of realising and experiencing God, howsoever subtle and beyond comprehension He may be. The imperatives of a truthful and virtuous life are inseparable from the Divine power. For devotees, He is not impersonal nor an abstraction.
Eiq poiq imilE Bgqn kau jn isau prdw lwihE [
Completely with his devotees is He united;
From before His servant has He lifted the veil.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1299
But in colossal ignorance of reality, the majority of people suffers and languishes in pain and misery. So the Guru’s all-encompassing compassion calls to the high heaven for peace :
jgqu jlµdw riK lY AwpxI ikrpw Dwir [[
ijqu duAwrY aubrY iqqY lYhu aubwir [[
Save by Your grace, the world is in flames,
Save it at whatever portal it may be saved.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 853
That is, the world is afire in sin, unable to accomplish its own salvation; only Divine Grace can grant salvation. Guru’s intervention is the last desperate instrumentality for showing the way. Thus, Gurbani is not in conflict with scientific thought or, for that matter, with other religions. In fact, if the age of the Gurus had any scientific thought and temper, it is amply reflected in the holy scripture, be it in reference to the cosmos, the planet earth, the material world, the origin of species, biology, physics or chemistry. The ever-present scientific and logical thought is Gurbani’s chief characteristic. Sikhism, therefore, does not have to defend itself against the expanding realm of science. On the other hand, Gurbani says there are vast and immense spaces of the mind and spirit, which remain a mystery, and it will be many millennia before science can explore every recess of the human spirit.
The conflict is not so much between science and secularism, but in the religious practices that divide and breed hatred and antagonism. The entire Guru Granth Sahib is a repudiation of this false religion :
jIA bDhu su Drmu kir Qwphu ADrmu khhu kq BweI [[
Awps kau muinvr kir Qwphu kw kau khhu ksweI [
Slaughter of animals you dub as religion,
Then brother tell what is irreligion ?
Each other you style as saints,
Then who are to be called butchers ?
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1103
Fanaticism in religion is merely another face of this falsity. It is contagious. It tends to evoke similar response from the adversary, whether Muslim or Hindu. Our experience in India, both pre-partition and post-partition, brings home the fact that nothing is more deadly than the frictions generated by religious passion. Pascal said it more than three centuries ago : “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” Until now, Sikhism has been singularly free from this brand of religious fanaticism. Indeed, the Great Calcutta Killing in August 1946 witnessed the miracle of Sikhs rescuing both Hindus and Muslims from frenzied mobs.
The twin dangers that Sikhism faces today are of apostasy, masquerading as liberalism on the one hand, which seeks to discard the basic discipline, and fundamentalism, which takes us into a blind alley and consequential isolationism on the other. Apostasy in the guise of modernity needs no encouragement to turn its back upon Rehat Maryada, seeing these as reflective of medieval times, rather than the Divinely inspired, timeless message of the great Masters who tested the ingredients in the crucible of life. The Gurus laid down a code that was at once realistic and rewarding, as the guidepost for day- to-day living and carving our character and spirit as close to the Divine spirit as flesh and blood could admit of.
Fundamentalism is founded on the concept that the Rehat Maryada must be interpreted literally and placed on an absolute plane. In some measure, fundamentalism is by-product of the events and trends of the last few decades. The Sikh symbols must be seen as the inspiration to mould the Sikh character, and an aid to internalisation of the spiritual mode.
Since 1947, Sikhism has exhibited its share of radical and startling features. It both reflected and contributed to the activism and turmoil of the period. In the 1980s, the media widely publicized the theological phenomenon, but — tendentiously — projected it as fundamentalism. More deplorable was the onslaught against the established Sikh tradition of Amrit Parchar. Official media gave it a sinister aspect, asking the people to beware of the amritdhari Sikh, as if he was some kind of a dangerous creature perversely determined to subvert the country ! To impute motives of subversion and extremism was calculated to win over the majority community votes and cause confusion among the Sikhs, besides breeding disaffection between Sikhs and other groups in India. Despite change in the ruling coalition, there is yet no evidence to indicate that the said kind of misinformation has been discontinued, or that the media have relented, or tried to understand the true significance of Amrit Parchar and its spiritual importance. Nor have the multifarious Sikh organisations made any attempt to bring home to the intelligentsia what initiation into the Khalsa brotherhood really implies. It is not too late to try and disabuse the minds of all men of goodwill as to the true nature of Sikh initiation (amrit) and to mobilise the masses to prepare for being Guru’s Khalsa in 1999.
The tragic events of 1984 have doubtless left an indelible scar on the Sikh psyche. The effect on our moral and religious fibre is distinguishable largely by the fact of geography, whether we live within the boundaries of Punjab or beyond. The degree of democratic freedom available to us for practising the basic tenets varies, so does our response to the challenge of identity. Whereas thousands of Sikh apostates in Western countries have returned to the purity of classical Sikhism as sabat-soorat and amritdhari Sikhs, in India and particularly in the North, the confusion, and look-alike psychosis, seem to have gripped growing numbers of those rushing into apostasy and wilfully, if foolishly, discarding the symbols in an illusory quest for glamour and acceptance.
These ominous trends seem to stem from our neglect of Punjabi culture and language, and a multipronged media assault on the external Sikh identity as if in a psychological war. The strategy is two-fold : To wean away the younger generation of fledgling Sikhs by suggesting that the terror and brutality of November 1984 could be re-enacted. Secondly, to project the turbaned Sikh as a prototype extremist by means of a sustained manipulation of fashion and dress norms. In the absence of a concerted and determined campaign by Sikh organisations to counteract this strategy, the damage to the cultural entity of Sikhs goes on unabated.
It is necessary to impress upon Sikhs, within and outside Punjab, that our vitality, creativity and vigour are derived from our faith rooted in the Guru’s chosen path, the scripture (Guru) and the discipline. Only the most gullible would believe that there is safety in the “look-alike” anonymity of the Indian mass. It is like feeding the crocodile in the hope that he will eat you last, for eat you he will. The example of Buddhism in India is with us, of how they were brought to the brink of extinction notwithstanding Gautam’s noble message of love and compassion.
The mid 1960s in the Punjab were, in some ways, a time of spectacular economic progress, a trail-blazing in agriculture, marking the advent of the Green Revolution, and later, the White Revolution. It was also the time of boom in emigration to the West, turning into an outward bound tidal wave which seemed to peak when the Green Revolution reached its plateau. This was the time of supreme confidence on the economic plane and a sense of accomplishment. An unprecedented number of youth thronged the threshold of colleges to gain admission, while many more queued up for passports to go abroad to join kinsmen.
It was only in 1982 when the Centre’s indifference to the rising Sikh aspirations, embodied in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, provoked the more radical to issue a threat that the Ninth Asian Games in Delhi, in the autumn of that year, will be disrupted, that brought up an astonishing over-reaction, not so much in Delhi, the venue of the Games, but in neighbouring Haryana. Barricades were raised on the National Highway connecting Punjab with the capital and the high-handed police heckled, harassed and humiliated every turbaned traveller during several weeks preceding the Olympic extravaganza. The roughing up of Sikhs cast a pall of deep apprehension and resentment. The deployment of para-military forces of Punjab dramatically escalated the tension and sense of discrimination. The media’s tendentious publicity to Sant Bhindranwale’s utterances proved a heady mixture, focusing the floodlights on the Taksal that had hitherto been only a seminary of Sikh theology engaged in classical scriptural studies, covering themes of purity of moral life. The surge of popular piety that came in the wake of Sant Bhindranwale’s discourses was largely a socio-cultural phenomenon. Sadly, this was blown out of all proportions by a curious and overzealous press, through most of 1983, as fundamentalism in which the main articles of faith were more political than religious.
The savage violence against the Sikhs in Delhi and entire North India in the wake of the tragic assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984, left an impact of cataclysmic proportions on the people’s psyche. The year was a time of national trauma marking the point of no return for an alienated community. To cite only one example, no one has really cared to explain how, even on the most favourable assumptions about operation Bluestar, the gallantry awards to army personnel could be justified.
In his book Why Men Rebel, the American sociologist, T Robert Gurr, has argued that political violence is the consequence of a significant gap developing between the expectations of a given group and the willingness of the authorities to concede them. This sense of aspirational deprivation and cumulative frustration, in case of Punjab, eventually brought to the surface the phenomenon of terrorism, initially manifest in the violence of reprisals. Yet not all youth were in the vanguard of this cult of violence and fewer still were protagonists of secessionism. Some no less disenchanted with the state of affairs chose to turn their backs on the country of their birth and walked away from it in search of safer sanctuaries.
To complicate matters, the working of certain Commissions pursuant to the Rajiv Gandhi – Longowal accord of 1985 also contributed to the mood of desperation. In January 1986, the Mathew Commission resorted to a wholly unnecessary head count in Abohar and Fazilka which stalled the primary objective of restoration of Chandigarh to Punjab on the stipulated date January 26, 1986. The Ranganath Misra Commission turned out to be an elaborate whitewash job to bail out the government and exonerate the ruling party bigwigs, not to punish those guilty of the savagery that had rendered thousands of women and children as widows and orphans.
The Eradi Tribunal award on river waters submitted on January 30, 1987, was held back for 108 days before being made public on the eve of election in Haryana, after Punjab had been placed under Central rule. The award actually reduced Punjab’s share from 5.406 million acre-feet to 5 millon acre-feet and augmented Haryana’s share by 240 per cent. It is another matter that the Centre’s strategy completely backfired in Haryana. But the loss of faith both in the Centre’s bonafides and the wisdom of the Commissions of enquiry, presided over by the ageing ‘sages’ from India’s highest judiciary, was total.
As these developments continued to flood upon the Sikhs into 1990’s, we seemed to be overwhelmed with the inequity and even to lose our confidence, resulting in the boycott of 1991 elections and the installation of the Congress government under Beant Singh in Punjab that unleashed a reign of terror and gave K P S Gill the licence to kill innocent Sikhs in an orgy that lasted up to the daring assassination of the Chief Minister in August 1995. The intervention of a pro-active judiciary, on the one hand, and the SGPC’s Global Convention of the Sikhs in September 1995, turned the tide in favour of human rights, and towards resurgence.
Gurmat Chetna Lehar
The problem with an evaluation is that history is all mixed up. Each year seems to be a little stranger than the one before. We are naturally frustrated — frustrated with the government, with our leaders and jathedars, indeed with ourselves. We turn to one another and ask, “Who is responsible ?” Are we at the mercy of some undefined fate ? We conveniently skirt the crucial message of the Gurus, the wisdom of God manifested through the holy Scripture enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. We forget that God might be working through these traumatic events to accomplish the Divine Will in order to draw us closer to Him. To my mind, this message of Gurmat offers the only certainty in this uncertain world. As we reflect on the times in which we live, experience the rapidity of mind-boggling change, we seek an anchor to provide the moorings in this raging tempest. God is our refuge in these perilous times, as we stand on the threshold of a new century :
qUµ myrw rwKw sBnI QweI
qw Bau kyhw kwVw jIE ]
In all places You are my protector.
Then why should I feel fear and anxiety ?
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 103
The foregoing thoughts may sound simplistic but it is the quintessence of the Sikh doctrine that can anchor the ship of Sikh faith and enable us to face the odds with confidence and trust. There is a great psychological security in being able to stand on so firm a foundation, steeled in the furnace of martyrdom, and sustained by the Amrit of 1699. Here, let us examine just one precept laid down by Guru Gobind Singh :
jb ieh ghy' ibprn kI rIq [
mYˆ nw krO' ien kI pRqIq
When Khalsa indulges in Brahminical practises,
I shall not support him.
Most of us apply the Khalsa ideal only at the level of the physical attributes, in the five Ks. We seldom go beyond the symbolism, of the cultural, moral and spirtual planes that guide us to a life of truth, purity, service and continence which the Tenth Master defined in his bani. He asked that we use Gyaneh-ki-badhni or the sword of knowledge, to tear apart ignorance and superstition. To be armed with knowledge, we must know Punjabi in Gurmukhi script, and understand the language of Guru Granth Sahib.
If today’s Khalsa cannot recapture the sacrificial spirit of the Scripture, it will lose its authenticity even if it observes the externalised code. Unless we imbibe the essential spirit, we have no right to expect the Guru’s Grace, for which we daily pray. The contemporary generation will acknowledge and accept the postulates of Gurmat only when the symbolism is matched by the practice of purity of character, social equality, readiness to do good deeds, and a total absence of fear. Guru Gobind Singh turned his tragedy into a triumph when he wrote his letter of victory to Emperor Aurangzeb. The most significant feature of Zafar Nama of Guru Gobind Singh is its transparent honesty and noble courage. It remains, to this day, the most lucid and moving explanation of the lifelong struggle of the Tenth Master and of resort to sword when all other means had failed:
cu kwr Az hmh hIlqy dr guzSq [
hlwl Asq burdn b SmSIr dsq [ - Zafarnama
When all other means fail,
To raise the sword is pious and just.
Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the performance of their parents, gurdwara priests and Sikh politicians has turned into outright disgust. The current spate of apostasy and setback to Sikhism and Sikh institutions must inspire in us the faith that the Righteous, defeated for the time being, is stronger than the Evil triumphant, for ultimately the Truth must prevail. I have no doubt about the outcome of our struggle even if our motives are at present misunderstood, and our methods mismatch the times.
Time for Introspection
The media in the past — more from ignorance, less from malice — promoted the fiction that anyone who is initiated with amrit, to become an amritdhari is intrinsically a fundamentalist. In Sikhism, the amritdhari is the norm, not the exception. His qualities must not only be beneficent, but appear to be so. He must think and act right. Tolerance is his watch-word. Some of the so-called fundamentalists hold that if liberalism was allowed free rein, not only would the Sikh identity be jeopardized, but Sikhism itself would be imperilled. One has only to remind oneself of the universality of the Gurmat to perceive how fragile this argument is. Sikhism is an inclusive religion, not an exclusive social club. In fact that is how it still functions. The greatest merit of Gurmat spirit can be seen at the langar in any Sikh shrine. The controversy about whether langar should be taken sitting on the floor or on benches is unwarranted. Whereas the Bipran ki reet forbids a non-Hindu, even a Harijan, to enter the holy shrines at Tirupathy for a glimpse of Lord Venkateshwara’s image, or at Guruvayur in the south, the only condition for entry into a gurdwara anywhere in the world is that no intoxicants be carried inside, shoes be removed and the head covered as a mark of respect. Sinner or saint, Hindu or Muslim, white or black, all are free to enter and partake of the parsad — the Guru’s benediction.
Exclusiveness takes the pernicious form of divisiveness, striking at the very root of our unity. Its manifestations are many : The Jat / non-Jat syndrome, the reappearance of casteism, the matrimonial barriers and other social evils. The treatment of Mazhbi Sikhs in rural Punjab is a perverse example of the Brahminical inroads in our socio-cultural fabric, still practised because we regard them as people at the lower end of the socio-spiritual scale. You cannot accept one principle of Gurmat, while violating another principle, and still call the organisation the Khalsa Panth. If the media have done a great disservice by giving currency to the idea that Sikhs are a sect of Hinduism, we as Sikhs, have done greater disservice by clinging to the divisive practices that are the very antithesis of Sikhism.
The above questions must be answered and practices reversed; at least the related issues must be brought out in the open and not swept under the carpet. Sikhism will lose half its charm if it were to revert to exclusivism. As it is, we have allowed sections of the Indian people to drift away from communion with Sikhs; many who used to visit gurdwaras regularly and listen to the Divine kirtan, now keep away. A bizarre provision in one version of the Maryada forbids a sehajdhari from singing Gurbani hymns in the gurdwara. The sooner we shed our intolerance, the better for us. Attendance in gurdwara (and I am not talking of the queues at the historical shrines in the capital) has sharply declined. Inter-community contact has become scarce, breeding suspicion and mistrust. Urban or rural, the Sikhs are cheerfully reverting to alcoholism and rank materialism. In Punjab, the consumption of liquor is said to have risen 750% over the decade 1985-95 if the excise statistics are any guide. One of the first acts of the Akali-BJP government in Punjab in 1997 was to auction the liquor vends for a record revenue. Forgotten was Sant Bhindranwale’s purification campaign, as the Sikh Students’ Federation squabbled and the intellectuals looked on. This deadly trend towards intoxicants must be reversed:
gur qy muhu Pyry jy koeI gur kw kihAw n iciq DrY [[
kir Awcwr bhu sµpau sµcY jo ikC krY su nrik prY [
One who from the Master turns his face away,
And to His teaching is indifferent;
Performs ritual acts, yet hoards much wealth,
Despite all his acts, shall fall into hell. -
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1334
One of the basic doctrines of the Khalsa is to resist injustice and tyranny. Where the oppressor is unrepentant and incorrigible, retribution is permissible. Guru Gobind Singh deputed Banda Singh Bahadur to continue the fight against tyranny and oppression rather than to avenge the death of his two younger sons, as is touted by some history books. Likewise, it would be wrong to place an absolutist interpretation on the Tenth Guru’s worship of weaponry. Beyond the apparent extolling of the armoury, the Master meant to instil chivalry and heroism in the face of heavy odds, not the installation of another set of idols made of steel. Let us acknowledge the psychological and cultural conditioning of historic events in all fairness to the Guru. The use of weaponry against the innocent, the unwary and unarmed is clearly a repudiation of the spirit of the Khalsa.
Religion and State
No discussion on the subject of the current crisis can be complete without dealing with the relationship of religion with State. The term ‘secular’ in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, read with Art. 30 on freedom of religion, does not mean just that government may not show favouritism to only one religion but may respect all equally; rather it means that government must be neutral in the matter of religion, neither aiding nor hindering religion. It means that a person may be religious in any way that he or she wants without government interference. Freedom means that not only may a person believe as he or she chooses, but that such beliefs must be put into action. This is all that the Sikhs want from government; no interference, no hindrance, only neutrality. Those who accuse us of mixing religion with politics will be well advised to disengage themselves from the construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.
As for the laws of the state, in principle all laws must be obeyed. There are, however, ‘just laws’ and ‘unjust laws’. A just law is that which is consistent with moral law — it enhances and uplifts society. A law is unjust when it does not measure up to ethical principles of justice, when it discriminates, and degrades the human personality, and when it is applied to one territory, or community, and not to all. TADA was one such law enacted in 1985 solely against Sikhs. Struggle against unjust laws has to be peaceful but unceasing. Detention without due process of law and fake encounters are immoral acts. Popular support must be mobilized to restore the rule of law.
Gurmat, or Guru’s path, tells us that in spite of the chaos, and repression by unjust laws, God is in charge of the universe, not the God of the Sikhs, or Hindus, but God of all humanity. That is the most reassuring fact of life. Not only does it provide confidence but engenders optimism — Charhdi Kala — which is the lifeblood of Gurmat. To be God-accepted, God-realised is our best reason for living the righteous, compassionate and dedicated life demonstrated and demanded by the galaxy of Gurus from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh. Only such life can be meaningful for the individual, the family, the society, the country and the human race. We may be passing through the age of gene mutation, of space exploration, of computer miracles, of energy crisis, and environmental pollution, but nothing surpasses the humane principals enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. Hope springs from the Sikhs’ capacity for sacrifice and suffering for God and the ethical values, which is legendary. Our faith in truth and divine justice must be rekindled. Such faith is an essential ingredient of cultural and psychological rehabilitation :
hohu swvDwn Apny gur isau
To the Master be devotedly attentive.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 895
Preparedness to face the harsh realities, and the courage to uphold the true character of Sikhism in all its glory are the imperative needs of the new times as we step across the 1999 threshold into the next century.
Let us give up pettifogging interest in pursuit of selfish gains and let us extend the Gurus’ love to all the disciples and win over all denominations. Let us make unity, amity and goodwill the cornerstones of our relationship with other communities, in the true spirit of humanity as one race. Let us stand firm in our resolve to achieve our goals in the 21st Century, for these goals intersect with practically every aspect of the future of the Sikhs.