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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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News & Views

Institute Of Sikh Studies Participated In Warp Summit, Seoul, South Korea

Heavenly Culture, World Peace Restoration of Light (HWPL) Seoul, South Korea invited our Institute for the World Alliance of Religions for Peace (WARP) Summit scheduled for 17-18 September 2014. Our Institute was represented by our member Dr. Rajindar Jit Kaur, along with the Institute's Introductory literature, and its quarterly journal ‘Abstracts of Sikh Studies’.

We feel proud to announce that she participated in this Summit and introduced the Institute of Sikh Studies through our literature. Also she distributed messages of Sri Guru Granth Sahib among the delegates on Peace, Human Rights and Sikh Way of Life, duly printed.  

Dr. Rajindar Jit Kaur signed ‘The Unity of Religion Agreement’. Jathedar Gurbachan Singh (Sri Akal Takhat Sahib) and Bibi Kiranjot Kaur Member SGPC also attended and signed the document.                                      

Our representative also signed ‘The International Women’s Peace Agreement’ (IWPG) during this Summit.

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An Australian Film Makers’ Team at IOSS

Mr. Bill Bennet, an Australian Film Maker along with his team visited the Institute of Sikh Studies (IOSS) on 18-9-2014 for a pre-arranged meeting with Bhai Ashok Singh, Vice-President, Institute of Sikh Studies to discuss the role of Intuition in Religion and Spirituality for his documentary film.   He was happy to exchange views with  Bhai Ashok Singh who was accompanied by Sardar Sadhu Singh, Secretary, Institute of Sikh Studies. After an hour long parleys and exchange of views, he returned completely satisfacted.

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A Bid to Resolve Contemporary Sikh Legal Issues

International Sikh Confederation and Institute of Sikh Studies are planning to hold series of Conferences from time to time by Prominent Legal Luminaries and Sikh scholars to delve deep into pertinent legal issues of the day facing the Panth, titled:

‘Contemporary Sikh Legal Issues’

Some such issues that need our urgent attention/ assessment/ re-evaluation are: Article 25; Registration of Sikh Marriages; Sikh Personal law; Independent Sikh Identity; Uniform Civil Code; Voting Rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs; All India Gurdawars Act; Anandpur Sahib Resolution; Farmers’ Issues; and so on. As all these issues deserve detailed discussions, it is proposed to take up only one issue at a time.

Sri Akal Takht Sahib is an apex Institution gifted to us by our Guru which binds us all as a religious community. But, unfortunately, over the years, the edicts issued under its authority have divided us, because these did not appear to be impartial. Aspersions were cast on some of these on account of the fact that the Institution of the Panth was under the influence of regional rulers/ masters of the times. It is imperative, therefore, that the towering Institution of Sri Akal Takht Sahib be rid of any political affiliation/ influence, so we may all unite, once again, under the umbrella of Sri Akal Takht Sahib to ensure a glorious future for our Community. The subject matter of the first of this series of Conferences, therefore, is:

How to Ensure Sovereign Functioning of Sri Akal Takht Sahib

A Line of Thought: The word ‘Jathedar’ does not find mention in the entire text of the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925. The ‘Head Minister’ mentioned therein can remain as such; this ‘Post’ neither is, nor has to be inferred to be, that of the Jathedar, Sri Akal Takht. As such, it should be possible, even now, for the Sikh Panth to create an Independent Body with an Independent Constitution of its own for Sri Akal Takht Sahib and its Jathedar. The Jathedar, Sri Akal Takht, in such a scenario, could thus be completely freed from any localized/ regional political influences.

To give concrete shape to such an Ideal Body, a lot of thinking, planning, drafting, execution would be needed regarding various aspects, like, Authority, Jurisdiction, Sovereignty of this Body, Funding and Functioning, Formation of a Panel to appoint the Jathedar, Outlining the criteria for applicants to this highest office, Group of Advisers/ Secretariat to Jathedar, and so on. Sikh thinkers and legal experts need to put their heads together, as legal aspects of our Ideas as well as our Ideals have to go hand in hand.

We, hereby, invite your expert views on this issue and seek your participation in the significant exercise.

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Annual Seminar 2014, Call for Papers

Dear Readers,

The annual seminar of the Institute of Sikh Studies is scheduled to be held on November 22-23, 2014. The Topic of the Seminar this year is:

Peaceful Co-Existence & Role of Sikhs

We live in a complex world today. A variety of political ideologies exist, which govern the various States of our planet. Further, on account of migrations across borders, their demographics are in a flux and have come to comprise multi races, multi nations, multi religions, multi cultures, and so on. Apart from this, even theocratic States house various sects of the same religion. India, the largest democracy, not only houses various religious minorities but even the majority religion in India is itself sub-divided into various castes. Even a family nowadays may comprise members from different faiths.

Intricate complexity, thus, marks the current scenario at the macro as well as the micro level. But Nations/ States/ Communities/ Castes/ Races/ Individuals appear to have failed to co-exist peacefully, as wars, communal riots, massacres, genocides, hate crimes, family disputes, and so on, plague our world today. Tendencies, such as, lust for power, desire to dominate, race for armaments, intolerance to others, self-centredness, assertion of superiority, egoism, lack of empathy, etc., have become huge barriers to harmonious co-existence.

The Sikh Gurus addressed the issue of co-existence over five hundred years ago, and stressed on accepting, respecting and protecting the rights of people, irrespective of their nation/ race/ religion/ caste/ gender. Their aim was to lead mankind to higher levels of existence. This lofty Ideal is the need of the hour, and needs not only to be disseminated to the world but also practised by us. As such, we need to  deliberate and debate on the Guru’s concept of harmonious co-existence as well as derive doable ideas whereby we can practically demonstrate the same to the world.

We invite you to contribute a paper on any aspect of this subject, at any level of co-existence. We shall be grateful, if you kindly confirm your participation, and intimate the Title of your paper. The paper in the final form may kindly be sent by 30th October, 2014.

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Wanted: Gurdwara Act for modern Times

As battle lines are drawn over the control of the historic Sikh shrines in Haryana, the need for an All India Gurdwaras Act is once again being debated

ALTHOUGH the management and control of Sikh gurdwaras has been a contentious issue for more than a century, it is for the first time since the enactment of the Sikh Gurdwara Act in 1925 that the issue is once again heading towards a tipping point. This time the battle lines are drawn over the control of the historic Sikh shrines in Haryana.

The present impasse could have been avoided had the Sikh community leaders moved towards the avowed goal of having an All India Sikh Gurdwaras Act and under it an overarching All India Board to manage the historic gurdwaras in the country.

Earlier this month, after much dithering, the Congress Government in Haryana led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda, set in motion the process of having a separate body called the Haryana Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (HSGPC) to manage the Sikh shrines in that state. Although the timing of the move on the eve of Vidhan Sabha polls is questionable, Hooda asserts that he is fulfilling the longstanding demand of the Sikhs in Haryana. He claims that Haryana's Sikhs feel ignored by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), which has its headquarters at Amritsar in Punjab. (Courtesy: The Tribune, July 16, 2014)

~~~

Fighting for Gurdwaras
– Efforts should be Made to Avoid Confrontation –

The Akali leadership needs to deal cautiously with the situation arising out of the move to form a separate committee for managing gurdwaras in Haryana. It should not allow emotions to drown the voice of reason. If the Union Home Ministry and the Punjab Chief Minister think that the Haryana Act authorising a separate gurdwara management committee is illegal, then the right forum to undo the damage is a court of law. Besides, since the law has been passed and notified, it can be either amended/withdrawn by the Haryana government, which seems unlikely, or overruled by Central legislation in the form of an all-India Gurdwara Act. The Akali leadership, however, is not talking about having such an Act. Ways and means should be found to defuse the volatile situation.

Some recent developments, however, have hardened the positions on both sides. The main supporters of the demand for the Haryana Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee have been excommunicated by Akal Takht. The Punjab Assembly has passed a resolution asking the Centre to somehow get the Haryana Act nullified. The Akali Dal has called a Sikh conclave at Amritsar on July 27 to decide on the future course of action. The over-all approach is not conciliatory, as is evident from the provocative act of sending SGPC/Akali workers, some of them armed, to resist the takeover of gurdwaras in Haryana. Any confrontation or violence would tarnish the community’s image, especially after the recent clash at Akal Takht. However, Haryana Finance Minister H.S. Chattha has given the welcome assurance that the government would not use force to take possession of gurdwaras.

When the Haryana Chief Minister responded to the demand of the state’s Sikhs for a separate gurdwara management committee, he was obviously playing politics. After the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, he tried to placate the Sikhs. The Sikhs outside Punjab have their legitimate concerns and democratic rights which should be respected. The SGPC and Akali leaders should dispassionately think over all this and take decisions which are in the larger interest of the Sikh community. (Courtesy: The Tribune, July 23, 2014)

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Harmony Flourishes in Srinagar Gurdwara

BURZULLA (SRINAGAR): Twelveyear-old Javed’s house in Chaanapura, Srinagar, is still submerged. In order to survive, the family has enrolled at the Shahid Bunga gurdwara in Burzulla to get some rations.

They are among the 1,500 people — Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus — who have registered at the gurdwara to get food, shelter and medicines.

Perhaps the most admirable thing about the gurdwara’s commitment to help is the fact that they have shifted the Guru Granth Sahib to a smaller room and have opened up the larger hall to provide help to those rescued.

A local transporter has been enrolled to take people to the airport and also bring back food, medicines.

Two doctors have set up a small clinics within the gurdwara’s library to tend to the patients. “The first day, we had just 250 patients. Now we are catering to nearly 800 to 1,000 a day, providing them insulin injections, medicines for diarrhoea, hypertension and gastroenteritis,” said Dr Pritam Singh, a volunteer at the gurdwara.

They get their medicines from the many volunteers who are transporting free aid to the camps set up.

The langar now has to be prepared and served in batches because of the sheer number of people who have come seeking help to the gurdwara. (Courtesy: Hindustan Times, September 14, 2014)

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SGPC to Send Team of Medicos to Flood Affected Areas of J&K

FATEHGARH SAHIB: After sending food and dispatching a langar (community kitchen) the Shriomani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee on Monday decided to send a team of doctors and paramedics from Guru Ram Das Medical College, Amritsar, to flood-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

The first camp will be set up on Tuesday after which doctors will be sent in turns.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar, while flagging off the relief material at Sri Guru Granth Sahib World Sikh University here, said that the first camp will be set up at Gurdwara Shaheed Bunga in Srinagar.

He said seriously-ill patients from J&K would be treated free at SGPC-run hospitals in Punjab.

Makkar said that 16 out 18 gurdwaras in J&K had suffered extensive damage due to floods. Gurdwara Shaheed Bunga and Gurdwara Chhati Patshahi were not as damaged as the others. The former was being used to provide shelter and food to the victims.

Makkar further said SGPC had requested the Indian Air Force to provide additional helicopters so that more victims can be evacuated. He also said the SGPC would provide free tickets to migrant labour from Bihar, UP and other states after being brought to Amritsar from J&K.

Makkar said that SGPC would also give Rs. 5,000 per month to students from J&K studying courses run by the community, to meet monthly expenses till the situation improved in the neighboring state.

World University vice - chancellor Gurmohan Singh Walia said staff members from the university and other colleges run by the SGPC in the district have decided to contribute two days' salary to the cause. He said students were also contributing funds to the cause. (Courtesy: Hindustan Times, September 16, 2014)

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Feuding has hurt Akal Takht dignity

July 6, 2014 Akal Takht, the supreme Sikh temporal seat, has also been swept up in the HSGPC row.

SIKH scholar Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian, while claiming he speaks neither for nor against a separate HSGPC, says the clash has turned political, which is harming the Sikhs as a community. Sikhs living in Haryana demanding an HSGPC and those in Punjab opposing it are playing into the hands of politicians in either state.

It is natural that the Sikhs in Haryana will have greater affinity for the ruling party there. Then why should the SGPC accuse the Congress of meddling in the affairs of the Sikhs. Did the Punjab Government not interfere in the affairs of the Sikhs by establishing a Blue Star memorial in the Golden Temple complex? The Punjab Government is not a Sikh government; it is a coalition government with an Akali majority, he says.

Bagrian goes on to say that the entire episode, in which Akal Takht has also got involved, has significantly lowered the status of the highest Sikh temporal authority. Akal Takht succumbed to the pressure from Sikh leaders in Haryana and sent a team to meet the leaders there after they refused to come to Akal Takht. He feels there is an immediate need to de-politicise the issue to restore the sanctity of the highest temporal and spiritual seat of the Sikhs.

He said the 10-member committee of the SGPC formed to speak with Sikh leaders in Haryana included several Dera heads. As Deras followed their own maryada, which was not in consonance with the accepted Panthic code of conduct, this act did not augur well for the dignity of Akal Takht. (Courtesy: The Tribune July 6, 2014)

~~~

Letter  To  The  Editor

Dear Editor,
The year was 1982. S. Parkash Singh Badal had set fire to a copy of the constitution of India, against saner advice, as a protest against its Article 25 which includes Sikhs under Hindus as a sub sect.

Now that we have a Prime Minister of his choice, his bed partners in power and the party has a majority in the Parliament, all eyes are on him to fulfill his promises. Sikhs all over the world are watching the real progress, if any he is able to achieve, on these core Sikh issues:

   1. Amendment to article 25 to exclude Sikhs from the article 25, like Muslims and Christians. Granting Sikhism a distinct identity as a religion.

   2. Enactment of a Sikh Personal Law, encompassing all aspects (marriage, its registration, divorce, inheritance etc etc)

   3. Repelling the ordinance/law which fixed a quota for entry into armed forces based on the population of the province. Under this trick, young men of Punjab got less than 1.5% of national intake. Quite a reduction from 33% in 1947( 20% in undivided India) to 1.5 % in 1987. Merit should be the only criteria like all other civil services.

   4. The progress he is able to achieve on the elimination of drug menace in Punjab and rehabilitation of those now affected.

S. Parkash Singh Badal does not have much time. The Assembly elections are not far away and his survival solely depends on his sincerity and the progress he is able to show on the above issues. All men cannot be fooled all the time.

Thanks and regards.
Col Avtar Singh (retd)
Toronto. (1-416-290-0818
)

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