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IOSS note on Dr. Noel King's contributions to Sikh Studies

IOSS and every member of it join those who have already paid rich homage to Prof. King - his qualities of head and heart. He exhibited a rare kind of not only academic integrity but also academic sensitivity and empathy while dealing with issues relating to Sikhism. IOSS owes him gratitude for his very valuable contributions by way of Foreword or Essays in the important IOSS publications in the context of some controversial writings by some Western scholars. We propose to submit a brief note on each of his contributions.

Below is a Note using mainly his own words and based on his Essay: "FUNDAMENTALISM," "MODERNITY" : SIKHISM A TERTIUM QUID (Published in “Recent Researches in Sikhism”)

“Fundamentalism" in its strictest technical use refers to a movement within American Protestant Evangelicalism of fairly recent origin. The word has come to be linked with various literalists, evangelical and charismatic groups and televangelists. Thence it has been applied to religious extremists who claim to be returning to fundamentals

Here it is necessary for our purposes to interject that the word "fundamentalist" has been applied to Sikhism too by both media and scholars especially in the time leading up to and since the tragic Operation Blue Star.

He opined that a religion which used a mool-mantra and was given to mulvad obviously got down to fundamentals, the word "Fundamentalist" could, hardly be used in the same way as it was of American Fundamentalists.

His explanation was that “when some thinkers in great cultures and civilizations, including western culture, see their societies disintegrating, their young being lost to them, their best traditions destroyed, they turn desperately to their religions as a means of hope and a way of working for survival, recovery and resurgence.”… “Broadly and approximately Fundamentalism may be considered such a movement or a manifestation of this tendency.”

“During Guru’s period the Punjab faced yet more of the Muslim invasions which had gone on since the days of Mahmud of Ghazni, and the Europeans arrived and began to weave India into their world web. In the nineteenth century they broke in with full force bringing their world diseases, economics, their philosophical, religious and political ideals and failures. “But the response in Sikhism was not just one of meeting one emergency after another, or the evolution of an overall response by anyone person nor of a committee nor of a group of leaders. Rather at base it was the continued unfolding of the enseeded, encoded nature of Sikhism as originally propounded by the first Mahala and the other nine. After the tenth it was vested in the Book and in the Sangat and the same Spirit told forth the same truths as they applied to that stage of life. Let us give but one brief example. It was not one person, however brilliant, saying Hum Hindu nain hai late in the nineteenth century but the First Teacher coming up from the Three Day Waters saying Hai nain Hindu, Hai nain Mussulman which is basic. The nineteenth century remark is but a working out of the early teaching. in that dichotomy we find posited a third something (the tertium quid of our title): Sikhism.”



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