Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Men’s actions are determined by their ideas and not vice versa as fanatical Marxists fondly hope and obstreperously assert. — Sirdar Kapur Singh

Socialists are impressive verbal champions of freedom, but their actions destroy freedom.
- Sirdar Kapur Singh (Social implications of Sikhism)

Dictatorship without popular support, without an independent legal system and without free criticism would seem to be a permanent feature and not a passing phase of the communist society.

- Sirdar Kapur Singh (Social implications of Sikhism).

On Gurbani

"Guru Granth Sahib, that the Sikhs revere as the visible symbol and form of the Light and the Vehicle of the Grace of God, accessible to man in the form of the Guru’s Word and Testament. This Sikh doctrine and faith foretaught by five centuries, the latest modern development in European religious thought and theological dogmatics (Karl Barth, 1886-1968) that recognises distinction between the Word and a religion by accepting that while the former is God’s self-revelation to man, the latter is the product of human culture and aspirations and is not to be identified with saving revelation, for, salvation can come only from God and not from man."

— They Massacre Sikhs, SGPC, 1978.

Foundation in the memory of Sirdar Kapur Singh

Foundation in the memory of Sirdar Kapur Singh

PATIALA: A foundation in memory of name of renowned Sikh intellectual Sirdar Kapur Singh here by a group of Sikhs.The main force behind Anandpur Sahib Resolution the late Sirdar Kapur Singh had became an ardent supporter of the Akali demand for a Punjabi speaking state.

After a brief stint as Professor of Sikhism under the authority of the Akal Takht, he joined active politics.
In 1962, he was elected to the lower house of the Indian Parliament and as a member of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha (State Legislative Assembly) in 1969. He was forthright in speech and an unrelenting critic of the government's policies which discriminated against the Sikhs.
As a Sikh ideologue he was the moving spirit behind the Anandpur Sahib resolution adopted by the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1973, which like several others of his pronouncements became a crucial enunciation of modern Sikh political formula and policy.
Selected into the Indian Civil Service he served in various administrative posts in the cadre. In 1947, he was appointed deputy commissioner of Kangra.
He was particularly irked by the growing narrow politics of the government biased against the Sikhs.
Prof. Harjit Singh Gill, Bibi Baljit Kaur Aklagarh and former bureaucrat Gurtej Singh was among the members of the foundation.
Bibi Akalgarh said has demanded in a release that a chair in the memory of Sirdar Sahib should be established in one of the universities of Punjab. The books and articles written by Sirdar Kapur Singh will be reprinted by the foundation, she added.


Third Sirdar Kapur Singh memorial lecture organised

Third Sirdar Kapur Singh memorial lecture organised

Parvesh Kumar Sharma, TNN Jan 9, 2013, 05.16PM IST

PATIALA: The Third Sirdar Kapur Singh Memorial Lecture was organised by the Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala in collaboration with Sirdar Kapur Singh Foundation, Patiala in the Senate Hall of the University, here today .
It was presided over by Dr. Jaspal Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala. Eminent sociologist Prof. J.P.S. Uberoi (Retd.) of Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi delivered this lecture on Metaphysics of the Indian Modernity: The Theory of the Name"".

In his thought-provoking lecture Prof. J.P.S. Uberoi (Retd. discussed Bhakti and the Indian Modernity, Modern, Western theories of the name, other pre-modern eurasian theories, Nam, Shabad and Bani in the Sukhmani etc. He said that it is everywhere iterated that the name is the quintessence of all worships and prayers, affirming and witnessing the covenant of creations. He mentioned that traditional Indian theories of the name or the world that are to be found before Laxmidhar and the Indian modernity are all classical rather than vernacular. Prof. Oberoi further disclosed that modern western theories of the name, apparently pre-suppose the alternate axiom of no necessary relation between the sound and the sense of speech or language or music. He suggested to distinguish and differentiate the respective semiotic uses of name, the divine name, Shabad and Bani.
Earlier Dr. Jamshid Ali Khan, Dean (Colleges) welcomed Prof. J.P.S. Uberoi. Dr. Balwinderjit Kaur Bhatti, Incharge of the Department introduced the audience about life and achievements of Sirdar Kapur Singh and also gave an introduction about the topic of today's lecture.


First Sirdar Kapur Singh Memorial Lecture held

First Sirdar Kapur Singh Memorial Lecture held

Gagandeep Ahuja
Thursday, 20 January 2011
PATIALA:Punjab Historical Studies Department of Punjabi University Patiala organized the ‘First Sirdar Kapur Singh Memorial Lecture’ with the collaboration of Sirdar Kapur Singh Foundation Patiala here thursday. 

Ex Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar and Ex Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies Shimla Prof. J.S. Grewal spoke on ‘The Contribution of Sirdar Kapur Singh in the Study of Sikhism and Sikh History’. Delivering his lecturer he discussed two books of Sh. Kapur Singh and tried to critically analyze the work done by him. Sh. Kapur Singh reinterpreted the Sikh History in the light of Sikh Ideology. He tried to display his idea of proving Sikhism as the important faith in the world. 

Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University Dr. Jaspal Singh presided the session and spoke on the intellectual depth of Sirdar Kapur Singh who had not only studied Sikhism but other religious as well. Prof. Birinderpal Singh, Head of the Department and Dean Social Sciences welcomed the guests and Dr. K.S. Bajwa introduced the theme. Prof. Harjeet Singh Grewal also spoke few words about the personality of Sirdar Kapur Singh and about the Foundation. 

Prof. of Sikhism and Ex. I.A.S. Sh. Gurtej Singh proposed the vote of Thanks and emphasized that Sirdar Kapur Singh was great scholar of Sikh History and Religion. Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included Ex S.G.P.C. Chief Prof. Kirpal Singh Badungar, Sh. Paramjeet Singh, Bibi Baljeet Kaur Akalgarh, B.S. Sandhu Commissioner Income Tax, Binder Singh G.M Dept. of Industries Patiala, Prof. Jaswant Singh Mann, Dr. Kehar Singh, Gurnam Singh and Heads of various faculties departments


The Voice of a Nation

The Voice of a Nation

A Book Review of Sirdar Kapur Singh's PARASARAPRASNA
PARASARAPRASNA, by Kapur Singh. Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, 2001 (3rd ed.). ISBN 81-7770-014-6. 319 pages. Price: Rs. 250.
This book was conceived in 1950, during a period of what the author qualifies as "forced leisure and detention" at Simla, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where he had come on holiday.
In the course of this stay, which was lengthened by circumstances into a semi-permanent one, Sirdar Kapur Singh met an old friend, Sri Sardari Lal Parasara, Principal of Simla's Government School of Arts. For more than a year, the two men made a practice of enjoying long walks and talks together in the rugged woods and snows.
Out of this scholarly intercourse was Parasaraprasna ("The Questions of Parasara") born.
The masterwork of Kapur Singh, National Professor of Sikhism and considered by many to be the faith's outstanding theologian, its every page radiates his amazingly profound erudition and insightful interpretations of various aspects of Sikh identity and institutions.
Indisputably a true "leading light" of Sikhi, he possessed an intellectual arsenal of staggering proportions which he displays most impressively throughout the book, adroitly connecting a mind-blowing array of esoteric and seemingly disparate "dots", in an absolutely awesome comparative study of world religions.
I have not undertaken here to write a formal, comprehensive review of Parasaraprasna; that did not seem appropriate, given it was first published in 1959. The following simply underscores some of the myriad highlights of this work, characterized by its author as "An enquiry into the genesis and unique character of the Order of the Khalsa with an exposition of the Sikh Tenets".
Right from the very first chapter, "The Baisakhi of Guru Gobind Singh", the author puts forth Sikhi as a completely unique religion, utterly at variance with Hinduism, embarking on a lengthy discussion of how the Tenth Master specifically repudiated the latter's four major traditions. In prescribing a new way of life and creating a distinct people owing allegiance to no earthly sovereign or power, the Order of the Khalsa gave rise to a "Third Panth", totally divorced from the Aryan and Semitic religions, "dedicated to the achievement of political ends aimed at the eventual establishment of a universal and egalitarian global community".
Out of the next group of chapters, dealing with even the most arcane aspects of the transformation of a Sikh into a Khalsa, pre-eminent is the one explaining the injunction of keeping long, unshorn hair, the breach of which is viewed more seriously than any other.
Grounding his arguments in "the metaphysical postulates of transcendental aesthetics" (a typical Kapur Singh-like turn of phrase!) and  -  as he does throughout the book  -  lavishly studding them with quotes from Gurbani, the author spares no effort to portray the human body as "nothing less than a microcosm of the entire Cosmos". Furthermore, he integrally identifies the beauty of the body's pristine, complete form with holiness and the Godhead itself.
Equally inspiring sections regarding Guru Granth Sahib and the Rite of Amrit soon follow. In the former, Kapur Singh characterizes the Shabd as "the only authentic portrait of the Guru" and "a perceivable record of revealed transcendental wisdom", the acceptance of which leads to beholding the Guru Himself, attaining comprehension of the Truth, and becoming one with it.
In a chapter intriguingly named "Parthenogenesis" (often likened to virgin birth), he terms Amrit chaknaa "the mystery of baptism of the Pure Steel", a "uniquely regenerative act of communion and union with God", engendering a new creation committed to Truth, and "releasing ever-expanding forces of love and service and strength, to form the basis of a new heaven on Earth".
Kapur Singh's monumental knowledge of mythology, world history and comparative religion is in full evidence throughout the concluding chapters. Securing the balance between Church and State, repudiating the Hindu caste system and extolling the Sikh institution of Ardas, the congregational prayer, are just some of the plethora of topics touched upon here.
Like almost every other issue treated in earlier parts of the book, all of these propel the author into immense, sweeping tangents, multi-page discourses which afford the reader dazzling   -  and often dizzying  -  glimpses of the labyrinthine twists and turns so innate to his convoluted thought processes. I must confess that while in their thrall, it would not be hyperbole to say that I often felt as if I were astride a runaway horse galloping at breakneck speed, while I simply tried to hang on for dear life!
To give but one example: in what other tome could one possibly find an interpretation of the significance of Guru Gobind Singh's "vision-inducing" jeweled aigrette, an analysis of the effects of colors on the mind, and an exegesis of the "extra-psychical perceptions" provided by yogic disciplines and hallucinogenic drugs presented in such rapid-fire succession?
Dear readers, if all of the above sounds just a bit too formidable for your liking, buck up and be brave! Delving into this book need not be done gingerly, as a "walking on quicksand" experience. In the words of the Introduction to its first edition,Parasaraprasna is, indeed, a "tour de force of living adoration of the Master".
Sikhs of all stripes (and not just those who strictly adhere toMaryada) may justifiably glory in the descriptions of the incomparable beauty and true uniqueness of our faith; non-Sikhs will certainly find much that enlights and delights.
While this work is seldom a gaping door, once prized open, there is genuine treasure to be found for those intrepid enough to explore its pages.
December 28, 2007


Kapur Singh: Maker of History

Kapur Singh: Maker of History
by Major Gurmukh Singh

Today - March 2, 2009 - marks the Birth Centenary of Bhai Sahib Sirdar Kapur Singh, a towering figure in both Sikh polity and Letters during much of the Twentieth Century.

Sirdar Kapur Singh (1909-1986) - civilian, parliamentarian and intellectual, was a master of many-sided erudition. Besides Sikh theology, he was vastly learned in philosophy, history and literature.
He was born into a farming family at the village Chakk in Ludhiana district on March 2, 1909. His father's name was Didar Singh.
Kapur Singh attained the rank of "First Class First" when he received his Master's Degree at the prestigious Government College, Lahore. He then went on to Cambridge, England to take his Tripos in Moral Sciences.
He was a distinguished linguist and had mastered several of the languages of the East and the West. Besides English, which he could spin around his fingers with extraordinary finesse and subtlety, he was fluent in Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit.
In addition to these, he had easy acquaintance with such discreet fields as astrology, architecture and space science. But, in spite of his knowledge covering many disparate areas, Kapur Singh's principal focus in his life work remained on Sikh literature and theology.
He was widely known to be a stickler for accuracy of fact and presentation. He stood up foursquare to any misrepresentation or falsification of any shade of Sikh thought and belief. He was most vigilant and unbending in this respect.
He was selected for the elite Indian Civil service, and served in a number of senior administrative posts. In 1947, for example, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner - the top Government bureaucrat of the region - of Kangra.
Shortly after India won independence, while in this role, he became aware of - and irked by - the increasingly narrow policies of the new Indian Government and its bias against Sikhs.
What particularly incensed him was a circular dated October 10, 1947, issued by the Governor of the State, Chandu Lal Trivedi, warning district authorities in the Punjab against what was described as the "criminal tendencies of the Sikh people"!
Deputy Commissioner Kapur Singh immediately filed a strong protest against this wild and mischievous slur, thus inviting the Governor's personal wrath upon himself.
Charges were promptly brought against Kapur Singh for "insubordination" and he was dismissed from the service.
Thereafter, Kapur Singh became an ardent supporter of the Akali demand for a Punjabi-speaking state [along the lines of other Indian states, which had been carved on linguistic lines to accord protection for the respective languages and cultures.]
After a stint as Professor of Sikhism under the aegis of the Akal Takht, he joined active politics.
In 1962, he was elected to the Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament - India's "House of Commons".
In 1969, he ran for and was elected to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha - the State Legislative Assembly.
Kapur Singh made a mark during this period through his forthright speech and as an unrelenting critic of the government's policies, especially in the area of the rights of India's Sikh minority.
As a leading Sikh ideologue, he was the moving spirit behind the Anandpur Resolution, which was adopted by the Shiromani Akali Dal in 1973 and, like several other of his pronouncements, became a crucial enunciation of modern Sikh political policies and aspirations.
A very stirring Sikh document of the modern period was the Presidential Declaration at the Hari Singh Nalva Conference convened at Ludhiana on July 14, 1965.
Although his authorship was nowhere specified - as was the case with all important Sikh political or intrinsically seminal documents of this period - the document clearly bore the imprint of Kapur Singh's penmanship. It said:
1. This Conference, in commemoration of General Hari Singh Nalva of historical fame, reminds all concerned that the Sikh people are makers of history and are conscious of their political destiny in a free India.
2. This Conference recalls that the Sikh people agreed to merge in a common Indian nationality on the explicit understanding of being accorded a constitutional status of co-sharers in the community, which solemn understanding now stands cynically repudiated by the present rulers of India.
Further, the Sikh people have been systematically reduced to a sub-political status in their homeland, the Punjab, and to an insignificant position in their motherland, India.
The Sikh people are in a position to establish before an impartial international tribunal, uninfluenced by the current Indian rulers, that the law, the judicial process, and the executive action of the State of India is consistently and heavily weighted against the Sikhs and is administered with unbandaged eyes against Sikh citizens.
3. This conference, therefore, resolves after careful thought, that there is left no alternative for the Sikhs in the interest of self-preservation but to frame their political demand for securing a self-determined political status within the Republic of Union of India.
The author's name is not mentioned, but it is clearly the handiwork of Kapur Singh. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee's publication at the time of the Nirankari attack on the Sikhs a decade and a half later, is described thus:
A White Paper
The Sikh Religious Parliament (SGPC)

Sirdar Kapur Singh, besides being an extraordinarily learned man, was a prolific writer.
In addition to his Parasaraprasna,* in English, which ranks as a classic on Sikh philosophy, his other works include:
Hashish (Punjabi Poems)
Saptasring (Punjabi Biographies)
Bahu Vistaar (Punjabi Essays)
Pundrik (Punjabi Essays on Culture & Religion)
Mansur al-Hallaj (Monograph on a Sufi Saint)
Sacchi Saakhi (Memoirs)
The Sacred Writings of the Sikhs (a UNESCO publication)
Me Judice (English Miscellany)
Sikhism for Modern Man
Contributions of Guru Nanak
The Hour of Sword
Guru Arjan and His Sukhmani
Sirdar Kapur Singh died after a protracted illness at his village home in Jagraon in Ludhiana district on August 13, 1986, at the age of 77.


Sirdar Kapur on gandhi

FOREWORD to 'Gandhi and the Sikhs' by Adv. Gurmit Singh.

I have carefully read the script of this booklet “Gandhi and the Sikhs”. The Author has rendered service to the cause of a scientific and objective understanding of the predicament in which the Sikhs find themselves with their own country. For the last one hundred years or so, the Hindu revivalism has demanded of the Sikhs:

[a] A renunciation of their peculiar religious personality and political identity; and

[b] an undertaking never to aspire for participation in political power when it falls into the hands of the Hindus.

The material that the author has collected well marks out Mahatma Gandhi as the most audacious and out spoken Champion of this basic demand of non-Hinduism of the 20th Century in relation to the naive and helpless Sikhs.

M.A. (Cantab): (Ex-I.C.S.)
M.L.A. (Punjab)

S. Kapur Singh to jawaharlal nehru

“Systematic high level falsification of history and perversion of facts is a peculiarly modern crime highlighted by policies, associated with Stalin. Such governmental trends in relation to the Sikhs constitute false history and reveal bad taste.” 

The above words occur in an open letter dated 28-1-1963 written by S. Kapur Singh, ex-I.C.S., to Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, which was published in “Sikh Herald” weekly dated November 22, 1963. These lines echo the same sentiments which have been expressed by Sardar Hukam Singh in his Founder’s Note, “Sikh Role In Varied Struggles — Need for Bringing Facts to Light,” published in the 26th Annual Number 1977 of the “Spokesman” Weekly.

— Sikh Struggle Against Emergency by Adv Gurmit Singh published in "The “Spokesman Weekly” 7th November, 1977.

Sardar Kapur Singh on Miri Piri

Explaining this concept of double sovereignty, Sardar Kapur Singh, former I. C. S. writes: “The main substance of this doctrine is that any sovereign state, which includes Sikh populations and groups as citizens. must never make the paranoica pretentions of almighty absolutism, entailing the concept to total power, entitled to rule over the bodies and 
minds of men in utter exclusiveness. Any state, which lays such claims, qua the Sikhs, shall automatically forfeit its moral right to demand allegiance of the Sikhs, and there is thus, an eternal antagonism between such a state and the collective community of the Sikhs, represented by the order of the Khalsa, and in this deadly duel the state shall never emerge out as finally victorious, for self-destruction is the fruit of the seed of non-limitation and the status and the prerogatives of the Khalsa are imprescriptible.”

- Failures of Akali Leadership, Dr Gurmit Singh (Adv)

These Havan Kunds

Kapur Singh

The final phase for the struggle for Punjabi Suba was a ten-day fast by Sant Fateh Singh and his threat of self-immolation by burning himself alive if the government of India still refused to concede the demand. During these days of fasting, Sant Fateh Singh lived in a room adjoining a terrace above the Akal-Takht. One the terrace, some kinds of pyres, popularly designated kunds, were built. Mercifully, Sant Fateh Singh did not have to burn himself.
The ten days of agitation and government of India’s acceptance of the Punjabi Suba demand, which followed, were made to invest the Kunds with some kind of mystic association and were sought to be retained in place as memorials by the present management of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. This move provoked intense opposition among many sections of the Sikhs. What transpired thereafter may be read in Sardar Kapur Singh’s ensuing article. The Kunds have stayed in place.
Yet the controversy aroused by them has far from died down. Those opposing the retention of the Kunds feel that the facts surrounding the Kunds expose the whole Sikh people to ridicule and, what is worse, they constitute a perversion and a negation of the Sikhs spiritual doctrine and values. Their point of view finds an extremely competent exposition in Sardar Kapur Singh’s ensuing article.
While deciding upon the publication of this article, The Sikh Review, the only Sikh English monthly magazine and an infant journal at that, was not unmindful of the risks it was taking. Yet in the lives of religions, there come moments when the whole basis of the values promulgated by the particular religion have left. It is in the context of these postulates that The Sikh Review has considered the question of the Kunds. It feels whatever the price The Sikh Review or, for that matter, any other Sikhs individual or institution has to pay for it. And it is, for this reason, necessary that it may once and for all be settled whether the retention of the Kunds as memorials offends against or is in keeping with the Sikh religious doctrine.

To help maintain a constructive and purposeful discussion, The Sikh Review will welcome articles or letters expounding other points of view. It will, of course, publish only letters and articles as embody a completely impersonal, dispassionate academic and well-reasoned exposition of the subject and scrupulously avoid recrimination. The object of The Sikh Review is to establish not who is right but what is right.
Truth and, even above that, truthful living are the highest Sikh values. No belief, however, cherished, no symbol, however dear, no institution, however prestigious should command our loyalty when it is found to conflict with truth or truthful living, as expounded, in matters spiritual, by the Sikh doctrine, the validity of which has been tested through centuries of travail and suffering. Editors

Within the history rich and numinous precincts of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, a number of brick and cement ugly structures, resembling baking ovens, have been raised for the last many years. On them are inscribed the names and praises of the present leader and controller of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, Sant Fateh Singh. This inscription is prominently visible to all who enter the holy and hallowed precincts of the Golden temple, and these anti-aesthetic structures have been raised in such a manner as to make them vie in status and dignity with the Akal Takht, The Throne of Immortal God.
2. These structures are loosely called, havan kunds or agni kunds, nobody knowing how to designate them properly in the context of their origin and significance. It is claimed by the creators of these monstrosities and the present controllers of the S.G.P.C that these structures have been set up as a memorial to those who claim to have passed through the Valley of Death to achieve a unilingual Punjabi State and that for this reason these memorials can justly be erected and maintained within the divine precincts of the Golden Temple and in rude rivalry to the holy Akal Takht.
Simultaneously, it is asserted that a unilingual Punjabi State never was a demand of the Sikh panth, the mystic Collectivity of the Sikh People, and that the present Punjabi-speaking State has nothing whatever to do with Sikhism or the Sikh people as such and that is entirely a State carved out on the wholly secular basis of a language, meant to satisfy the aspirations of those, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, residing in the new Punjab.
How can a purely administrative and political and secular demarcation of State be memorialized in the numinous precincts of the Harimandir and in audacious rivalry to the Holy Akal Takht is a matter which does not seem to worry the present controllers of the S.G.P.C.

3. Sometime ago, when Sikh feelings rose in crescendo against the hypocrisy and sham that these structures perpetuate, the President of the S.G.P.C. stage-managed, what he called, a World Sikh Convention. An objective enquiry into the religious and social backgrounds of the “delegates” of this Convention, the countries of their origin and from where they were actually picked up by the President of the S.G.P.C., who has, since, formally claimed for himself the status and prerogatives of a sovereign, infallible Pope, thus rendering any such future World Sikh Convention unnecessary, of not altogether superfluous, will furnish most interesting material to those interested in study of typologies of modern decadent political communities. This Convention passed a unanimous resolution favouring retention and maintenance of these structures in perpetuity, while one of the delegates, the current Chief Minister of the Punjab, a retired Judge of a High Court, offered to have these structures encased in marble and covered with gold plates at State expense. This, the present controllers of the Sikh gurdwaras, say, is their sanction for perpetuating these structures.

4. Two questions arise before inquisitive minds in connection with these structures:
(1) what are the roots, in the context of Sikh history and doctrine and the Indian cultural traditions, out of which these structures have grown?
(2) what is the validity of the sanction, being accorded to them through the tamasha of a World Sikh Convention?

5. Let us take the second question first. It is certain, that there is no precedent whatsoever for a World Sikh Convention of this kind in the Sikh historical tradition. There is the doctrine of the Sarbatt Khalsa, the Collectivity of the Sikh People, and there is the doctrine of the gurmata. The latter of these doctrines, originates from two distinct cultural traditions, the one, Aryan and the other, Semitic. The Aryan doctrine it embodies in the concept of the pancas which goes back to the Veda. On this is based the Aryan concept of democracy. Its essence is that contingent matters of common interest and secular nature must be decided by the ‘representative will’ of the people.
It is to be emphasized that this doctrine of the pancas, as adumbrated in the Veda, is operative not in the domain of things spiritual nor of postulates and principles of things secular but apples only to matters of day to day implementation of the principles. The point is that no panchayat can pronounce on matters of religious doctrine or postulates of politics or social organization, that it may only apply the accepted practices and postulates to a given situation.
Then there is the Islamic doctrine of ‘ijma’, i.e. universal consensus. This ‘ijma’ is a source of Muslim jurisprudence along with certain other sources. The principle of ‘ijma’ is that in matters not covered by the other sources of Muslim jurisprudence, such as Koran or hadith, ulema, the pious intellectuals of the community, who are competent to judge the matter in a given age, may pronounce upon the matter in a given age, may pronounce upon them through consensus. It is the essence of ijma that only those acknowledged as competent to judge to make the pronouncement, and its also the essence of ijma that such a pronouncement cannot be made in an ad-hoc assembly, and certainly not by demagogy followed by votes; it must be made naturally, freely and in response to an urge of the Muslim people and not as result of a formally convened process.
The Sikh gurmata is an amalgam of these two traditions and doctrines, that of pancas and that of ijma. A Sikh gurmata cannot pronounce on matters of fundamentals, or on doctrine or on postulates. It is to operate as a representative of the entire Sikh people, and not to function as an ad-hoc hand picked assembly of special invitees convened by a party of party or a faction or a self-styled Pope. Its decisions are not to be made by counting of votes and they must represent the general consensus of those intellectual and pious Sikhs who are competent to judge the matters under reference. This is the true nature of a gurmata of which a farcical and crude display was made by the magnates of the S.G.P.C., recently, in the form of a Sikh World Convention, to pronounce upon the validity of erection and maintenance of these structures within the precincts of the Heat of Sikhdom, the Golden Temple.

6. Fortunately and unfortunately, both the proceedings of this World Sikh Convention have been preserved in the official publications of the S.G.P.C. Any person who has come respect for logical reasoning and who has some acquaintance with the Sikh doctrines and traditions can see for himself how trivial, and cussed have been the reason advanced in favour of the creation and maintenance of this insult to the Sikh dignity, called, the havan kunds. Unfortunately, the posterity will have authentic material to feel ashamed at the low level of intelligence and the low moral sensitivity to which many Sikhs have sunk during the second half of the twentieth century. There is not a single serious or plausible argument advanced on the subject matter before this, so called, World Gathering of representative Sikhs, and the entire proceedings consist of pervert demagogy and foolish irrelevancies.
So much for this All World Sikh Convention.

7. Now, coming to the first point, it is seen that there are at least five distinct and heterogeneous elements of Hindu cultural tradition and Sikh historical practices that lie at the back of the melodrama which certain Sikh leaders have played recently, of going on a fast unto death and the easing out of it on some pretext or other. It is to commemorate the last of such acts that the structures under discussion have been raised.

8. Why are they called havan kunds or agni kunds and why has not a definitive name been given to them? The answer is that those who have raised them up have neither any educational background, nor the intellectual equipment to name correctly their confused antics, which they sub-consciously and vaguely wish to relate to some great tradition of the hoary past.

9. The five strains which have gone into this overstrained, silly and sentimental drama are the following:
(i) Students of the Mahabharata will recall that on the eleventh day of the battle, Kaurvas formulated a strategy of capturing Yudhistra alive, and Drona, the Commander of the Day, undertook to do so. The chief of the Pandavas, Arjuna, frustrated all attempts of the enemy to capture Yudhistra alive, and thus, on the twelfth day of the battle, Karna told Duryodhana that Yudhistra could not be captured alive as long as Arjuna was by his side. It was at his stage that the chief of Trigartas, the modern Himachal Pradesh and Jammu people, along with some of his chosen followers constituted themselves into a suicide squad. In the ancient Indian tradition, going farther back than Mahabharata, people who joined such a suicide squad through certain well-established ceremonies, were called, samsaptaks, i.e., those under a solemn vow. The Mahabharata tells us that these dogras, for so they were, put on garments of matted grass and sat around the sacrificial fire, i.e., an agni kund. This is the ancestry of the agni kunds of the Akalis presently in control of the gurudwaras. These dogras then calling upon the Fire-god as a witness vowed that they would either kill Arjuna or die in the attempt, adding, “If we flee in fear or otherwise remain alive but unsuccessful may the penalties of the seven deadly sins visit us.” Thereafter, these samsaptaks, performed their own obsequies or funeral rites. Then these samsaptaks got up and slowly walked towards the South, which is the direction of the Yamloka, i.e., the Abode of Death. Having done this, these samsaptaks ran towards the battlefield, crying, “Arjuna, Arjuna,” O, Arjuna, O, Arjuna.” It is recorded in the Mahabharata that when Krishna drove the chariot of Arjuna towards these samsaptaks, the latter remarked: “There, Krishna, see the Trigartas standing, cheerful under the high intoxication of their solemn oath, knowing that they go to certain death. Indeed, they are full of high exaltation of the swarga at hand.” Not a single samsaptak flinched or fled from the battle field and not a single one of them returned alive to claim public acclaim and votes in his capacity as a zindah shahid, living martyr.

This is the first element in the melodrama, which the Akalis presently in control of gurdwaras, have taken up as their own, but only after suitably modifying it to suit their personal convenience, retaining the word agni kunds and the element of a ‘vow’ only.

(ii) Then there is the ancient and hoary tradition of the Hindu priests, the Brahmins, that of spiritual blackmail by threatening to commit suicide unless a specific demand is met by the other party, Throughout the Indian history, and up to the middle ages, a large number of instances are on record, where a Brahmin made some demand of the another, and threatened to die by burning himself alive or by starvation or some other means, unless this demand was met. In the event of the demand not being met, the Brahmin would invariably commit suicide as threatened and then the person responsible for causing the Brahmin to do so would be guilty of the most deadly sin, the brahmahatiya. No Hindu dare commit the brahmahatiya and thus the Brahmin would, almost always, succeed in his demands.

As late as the concluding decades of the 18th century, a brahmin from a village near Kasur, threatened to burn himself alive on a wooden pyre, unless the Sikhs assembled at the Akal Takht, invested Kasur to rescue the brahmin’s daughter abducted by the Pathan price there. As students of Sikh history know, the Khalsa yielded before this threat, and against heavy odds attacked Kasur and sacrificed over two thousand Sikhs to satisfy the brahmin’s bidding, but the brahmin had his way and the Khalsa avoided brahmahatiya and in the bargain, upheld its royal titles and pretentions of being the Protector of the poor, garib nivaj, the friend of the underdog, nima-nian-da-man, and the Upholder of Righteousness, dharam-rakhayik.

Out of this ancient Hindu practice, Gyani Fateh Singh concocted his special brand of fast-unto-death, and realising the basically selfish character of it, yoked it to satyagraha postulating truth and altruism as a necessary prerequisite of the practice. Whatever its form, however, it rests on the assumption that the social relations and their ethical foundation constitute a common ground between the parties, and, in any case, undertones of coercion and blackmail can never be eliminated from such practices. Out of this tradition comes the second element of the drama certain Akali leaders have played in the recent past.

(iii) The third strain has been picked out by these Akali leaders from out the recent practice of certain devout Buddhists to burn themselves alive, at various places in South East Asia, to pin-point certain fundamental political controversies or issues. In these acts of self-immolation, there is never a prior proclamation of their intention to immolate and it is only after the gruesome deed is over that the public become aware that thereby the person sacrificing himself has pin-pointed a certain political controversy or issue asserting through a cheerfully accepted death that the other party stands in immediate need of rethinking its position on the issue. The operative ideas behind this type of self-immolations are two: one, that the self-immolating person, through his death declares that he refused to co-exist with that which is basically evil, namely, the stand taken up by the other party. The other, that he, by laying down his life, makes a moral exhortation to the other party to, reconsider his erroneous stand. It is this third strain, and the high publicity that it necessarily causes which the present Akali leasers have incorporated in the antics of making loud noises about their determination to immolate themselves unless this or that condition is fulfilled.

(iv) The fourth strain in this affair comes out of the Sikh history itself. There is a firm tradition in the Sikh history of individuals and groups of Sikhs making a resolve to die fighting against a tyrant who interferes in their religion or way of life, Baba Deep Singh, Shaheed, and Baba Gurbax Singh, Shaheed, are the instances in point. The essence of this Sikh tradition is that is meant to assert the fundamental Sikh right to tyrannicide at the cost of their own lives. In this Sikh tradition, there is no vow taken except a simple and impersonal declaration of the aim, accompanied by a humble prayer to the God Almighty, “to help His humble servant preserve Sikh integrity with the last sacred hair of his head in tact and till his last breath” — sikhi tod nibhaiye Kesan Sang vas. There is no turning back, in this Sikh tradition; on any pretext whatsoever, and there is no desire for self-publicity or public acclaim. It is an irrevocable covenant between the Sikhs and his Lord, the Akalpurakh. Both, the principle and the methodology of this purely Sikh practice and tradition derive from the guide line and testament given by Guru Gobind Singh himself and it is not a derivative of or based on any previous Hindu or Semitic doctrine or tradition. The Sikh fundamental right to tyrannicide is explicit in the divinely sanctioned target of the Khalsa: “to destroy root and branch, injustice and tyranny along with those who practice them from the face of the earth.” (dust sabhan kau mul ukkharan). The methodology is laid down in the Guru’s injunction, “to die fighting on the battle field, when the final issue is joined against the forces of evil,” (jab avi ki avadhi nidan banai ran main att hi tab jujh maran.)

Out of this Sikh tradition, the present mimics have extracted their practice of performing, ardas with solemn vows, within the Golden Temple and before the Akal Takht, which vows were never intended to be kept from the very beginning and which vows are invariably made with come unbecoming mental reservation.

(v) To these four strains extracted out of ancient Hindu cultural traditions and the history of the Sikhs, these neo-Akalis have grafted a fifth strain, to provide a base to the other four, this fifth strain comes out of basic atheism, agnosticism and nihilism of these Sikhs who know little of and care less for Sikhism or what it stands for. Their basic creed is that this earth, and the senses through which they perceive it, is the only ultimate reality. It is their unshakable conviction that there is no intrinsic difference between truth and falsehood except that gullible people accept the first and reject the second. They are firmly persuaded that as long as they can get away with it, everything is possible. It is out of this total perversion of the Sikh creed that the utter lack of shame is born of those who have been indulging in these melodramatic antics, consisting of sacramental ardas, a religious vow, leading to building of agni kunds and then seeking to perpetuate them as integral parts of the Golden temple and the holy Akal Takht.

10. Being basically village rustics, without educational background or intellectual equipment, and being godless materialists, they lack the capacity to describe their antics and deeds in proper phraseology. They have heard the word, havan kund, in which their neighbours, the Arya Sama-jists, throw good ghi and other sweet-smelling substances, and they are persuaded that havan kund is something good and respectable. They have called theses structures as, havan kunds in addition to agni kunds.

11. During the last three decades or so, the Sikh leadership has fallen into hands of such people that it is difficult to say whether, in their words and deeds, it is buffoonery which predominates or baseness.

12. The Sikh masses have become altogether unconcerned to matters of quality or standards in public affairs. The present condition of the Sikhs is not that of a people who have gone to sleep, which would be a tragedy anyhow, but which tragedy could be redeemed by sincere and earnest leaders. The tragedy of the Sikhs, at the moment, is that they are a people who have gone completely pervert and cussed.

Now, only a miracle can save them.

Reprinted from The Sikh Review Vol. XVII October ’68 No. 183

Dr Trilochan Singh on Sirdar Kapur Singh - 3

Amongst like-minded people, Kapur Singh was always gentle and polite; amongst the learned he was always humble and eager to openly share his views; amongst friends he was always bubbling with humour and jocular outbursts, but among Akali politicians and pseudo-intellectuals he reacted as an intolerant and angry man. When I asked him the reason, he said once, “I cannot tolerate intellectual fools and political scoundrels. They pretend to know everything but know nothing about anything of importance. I have no patience with them.” Thus his impatience and intolerance became proverbial in many circles.

— "Kapur Singh as a friend" by Dr Trilochan Singh



A German intellectual, Dr. Victor Muckjet-Jun, of Dusseldorf, Germany, sent the following two questions to the SGPC, Amritsar, sometime in the first half of the year 1959.

Answers by Sirdar Kapur Singh[1959].

Question: Is Sikhism only good for India and the Hindus, or good for all peoples, for we Germans also?

Answer: The question may mean two different things and maybe split up in two parts accordingly:
The first , is Sikhism ex-hypothesis, that is, on the basis of its own initial claims, only intended for a particular people or country, or does it claim to be oecumenical, for the whole mankind?
The second, is Sikhism the religion that fulfils the highest aspirations and meets with the requirements of modern man, irrespective of his history, race and geography?
The first part of the question can be clearly answered, without recourse to dogma while the answer to the second part has to be based upon an opinion, which, in the case of every intelligent and unbiased man, should only be arrived at after proper study and thought.
The claim of the founders of the Sikh religion is that it is eminently suitable for the modern man, irrespective of his race or the clime in which he lives. Its basic propositions are of universal import, namely:

The order of Reality revealed by the properly cultivated religious experience is the only true Reality.

A vision and unitive experience of this Reality is the only true activity fit for serious and mature minds.

Man is capable os pursuing this activity consistently with making his own livelihood in the context of his socio-political activities and without denial and renunciation of the world around him.

The most efficacious way to this transformation is the psychological-cum-ethical discipline, which is the heart of the Sikh religion, the way of the Name, or Noumenon. The Sikh Prophets, The Gurus, declare again and again in the Sikh doctrine the following strain:
Hail, hail the Light of God, which has manifested through the Guru, for, these truths shall transform the whole of mankind.
so sat(i)gur(u) pura dhann(u) dhann(u) hai jin(i) har(i) updes(u) de sabh sist(i) savaaree.
(Vaar Vadhans M4, SGGS, 586)
Whosoever shall hear and follow the Nanaks, the Sikh Prophets, shall transcend the limits which at present circumscribe the human personality.
jo jo saran(i) pario gur naanak, abhai daan(u) sukh paai.
(Bilaaval M5, SGGS 820)
Sikhism further claims the brotherhood of all men and the fatherhood of a Personal God, and it does not countenance the assertion that any one people or person is chosen by God for a unique and final revelation of Truth, and it thus asserts the fundamental unity of all religions.
The second part of the question must be answered by every man for himself, after study and unbiased inquiry. Sikhism discourages imposition in any shape or form, in this respect.

Answer: The question conceals a postulate which Sikhism does not accept as self-evident or demonstrably true. The postulate is that the Truth of Religion is beyond the reach of human perception unless a unique and final revelation of it is vouchsafed by God to mankind through a specially appointed individual. It is the basic postulate of the judaic religious tradition, of the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that the truths of reigions have been exclusively and finally revealed in a unique and final act and at a single point in Space-Time. From this it follows that any new religion or even a new interpretation of reigion must be authorised by the evidence already contained in this final and unique act; otherwise, it is a priori errant, a heresy. Sikhism, on the other hand, teaches that the Truth of Religion is ab initio embedded in the heart of man and that its ultimate validity is to be discerned in human experience itself, and not in anything extraneous, though Sikhism admits that there have been, and shall be, extraordinarily gifted persons in whom the Truth of Religion has assumed unusual vividness and thus their revelations and teachings are of immense help to mankind, such as the ten Sikh Prophets, the Gurus.
The Pentateuch, the Bible and the Quran are the documents of a single historical tradition and movement, the Judaic, and these books, therefore, lay claims for the validity of their revelations on the basis of the aforementioned postulate. The postulate had become the cornerstone of all classical thought, not only the religious, in the ancient world, the Semitic, the Greek and the Hindu, and it was assumed that whatever was truly ture had already been known, and that, therefore, the only legitimate inquiry for man was to search for a true exegesis, and not for a new discovery.
The modern age of mankind was made possible only when this postulate was dropped and discarded qua every field of human inquiry, and now to retain it in the matter of the Truth of Religion cannot be acceptable to any truly enlightened mind.
It is precisely for this reason, for refusing to come out of the prison of this unwarranted postulate, that the old world religions, the Semitic and the Aryan, have become outdated for the true needs of mankind today. Do not the exclusionary claims of the Pentateuch, the Bible and the Quran that the final and unique revelation of God's Truth is deposited in their respective texts alone, contradict and cancel one another, and thus reduce all such claims absurdum?
Vedic texts do not by themselves make any such claims of being the depository of the only true, final and exclusive revelation, though a claim of this nature has been made in respect of these texts by their exponents. It is asserted that the Veda is eternal and all-true, not on account of its unique revelation in a single point of Space-Time, but a corollary of certain logical postulates, too intricate and obscure to be expunded here, given in the Mimamsa School texts f the Hindus. The Veda text does not pretend to contain the prophecies of the kind contemplated in the question under answer, and besides, it is highly cryptic and obscure as necessitated by the logic of its own argument, which is that, while approaching the Truth, human comprehension fails at the final stages. Therefore, the gods have a partiality for the obscure and the doublethink; prokshakama hi devah, declares the Nirukta (7.1). If, therefore, attempts can be made to discover the secrets of atomic fission in the Veda-texts, it should not be an impossible task, given the necessary ingenuity, to find authority in the texts, for the advent of Guru Nanak.
But Sikhism does not stand in need of any such evidence to establish its validity.
A text of the post-Vedic Hindu canon, called, the Bhavishyapurana,to which the Hindu scholars assign the pre-Christian centuries as the date of its compilation, contains, in a summary form, the substance of the Book of Genesis from Adam to Abraham. (Pragiter, Dynasties of Kali Age, p. xviii). This text also contains the following prognostications concerning the advent of Guru Nanak in the modern age:
advai lokrakshaartham malechhaanu naash hetve
pashchameshu shubhe deshe vedeevamshe cha Naanakah.

This means that:
At this period of Time, for the upliftment of mankind, for the destruction of its sickness and inpurities, Nanak shall take birth in the blessed western region of India in the tribe of the high-caste Veda-knowers.
[Courtesy: Reproduced from the Sikh Review, June 1959, pp. 26-29]




By Sirdar Kapur Singh

There is an apocryphal hadith, a saying of Prophet Mohammed, that five kinds of men go to hell without being asked any previous reckoning : the rulers because of their injustice; the Arabs because of their racial fanaticism; the peasants because of their arrogance; the merchants because of their lies; and scholars because of their mental confusion and envy. It is, therefore, prudent to define one’s terms before attempting to say something on them.
Herein, what follows, the term “founder” means not a follower, exegetist, syncretist, a metaphysician or a philosopher, but one who, while in direct contact with what Otto Rudolph in his Idea of the Holy calls “Numenon”, and compulsively impelled by it proclaims, formulates and preaches a way to such a contact by others. A ‘religion’ is neither ethics, nor metaphysics, neither mystical awareness nor magic, neither theism nor worship of a deity or even the Deity; it is that which moves man to the depth of his being and yet has not its origin in the depths of human soul but moves it from outside. Just as the central concept in art is ‘beauty’, in ethics ‘goodness’, so in religion it is ‘holiness’, an intimate contact or union with which is felt as utterly necessary for complete satisfaction and wholeness of man. A ‘world religion’ is that way of life on which all mankind may walk without the apartheid of race, color, sex, age, caste, class, country and clan.
It is intended here to give, first, a briefest possible life-sketch of the historical man Nanak, who became Guru Nanak, the World Teacher, a short account of the nature of his prophetic claim and a bare outline of his teachings and their relevance to the modern human situation. Nanak was born on 15th April, A.D. 1469 in the North-West of India in a village, now called Nankana Sahib—the Holy Birthplace of Nanak—situated in Pakistan from where the Sikhs, his followers, were expelled, almost to a man, in 1947, when the outgoing Britishers divided India into the two separate countries by drawing a pencil line on the map of an indivisible India. As might be expected, Nanak, the son of a petty high caste revenue official, was, from the beginning, of an unworldly turn of mind, and many attempts of his parents to engage him in some gainful occupation, each time, ended in disaster, till he was persuaded to accept the gainful and important post of the Chief Supplies Master of a nearby Muslim Principality. The turning point in his life came when he was twentyseven years old. During these days, he would, while performing his duties, pass out into reveries, frequently becoming trances. On one such occasion, while supervising weighment of grain stores, he stopped dead at the count of measure thirteen, which in Punjabi language is the word tera, also meaning, “I am thine’', and he went on counting tera, tera, while measure after measure of stores was being passed out. As was to be expected, the government took a serious notice of it and an enquiry into his gross negligence was ordered against him. While the enquiry was still in progress, Nanak, as was his routine, went one early morning for his dip in the neighboring stream and disappeared into the bed of the river for full three days, when he was presumed drowned and a search for his body proved fruitless. All these days, he had sat, what in ancient texts on Yoga is called jalastambhasamadhi ‘trance-in-water’, a skill acquirable through prescribed techniques and practices and also available to gifted individuals from birth. There are many who possess this skill in India even today. On the fourth day he emerged from the depths of the waters and uttered the following words: “There is no Hindu, no Mussalman”. [1] Whether he meant that deep down in the substratum of Aryan and Semitic religions there is an identity of base or whether he intended to convey that the truth of both had been obscured and lost to practitioners of both these faiths on account of verbal formulae and empty rituals, it was a fit formula for the commencement of his divine mission that demands acceptance of genuine dialogue rather than conversion as the goal of transcending particularisms or contending cultures and feuding religions, with a view to discover a universal concept, not synthesis or synthetic amalgam, but deeper penetration of one’s own religion in thought, devotion and action, and thus to arrive at the realisation that in every living religion there is a point at which the religion itself loses its importance and that to which it points, breaks through its particularity elevating it to spiritual freedom and with it to a vision of spiritual presence in other expressions of the ultimate meanings of human existence. This is not the doctrine of the so-called ‘fundamental unity of all religions’, for such a claim has its limitations. Given fundamental differences in conceptions of Reality and attitudes towards the world, no real synthesis can be expected, there being incompatible elements in the cores of various religions. None of these religions can draw closer to the others, for each must claim itself to be the way and the truth for its own believers, even if not for all men. No world religion can seriously consider abandoning its own absolutistic claim, for if it did, it would scarcely have the right to call itself a religion, much less a world religion. But a sort of reconciliation, mutual understanding and respect is possible, generating civilised tolerance and growing co-operation. It seems more likely that this is the true intent and meaning of what Nanak uttered on this occasion.
The genre of pious Sikh literature called Janamsakhis, “The Testaments of the Life of Nanak”, almost unanimously describe the experience of Nanak during his ‘trance-in-water’:
"As God willed, Nanak, His devotee, was escorted to His Presence. Then a cup filled with Liquid of Immortality was given accompanied by the command : ‘Nanak, pay attention ! This is the cup of Holy Adoration of My Name. Drink it . . . I am with thee and thee do I bless and exalt. Go, rejoice in My Name and preach to others to do the same . . . Let this be thy calling." [2]
Nanak himself refers to this assignment with deep gratitude: “I, a jobless minstrel, was assigned a rewarding task”. [3]
Nanak, now, had been exalted as the Guru Nanak, Nanak the World Teacher, and after resigning his government post, he set out upon four long and arduous missionary journeys on foot into the four corners of the then accessible parts of the world to him, India, Inner Himalayas, Ceylon, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Middle East, Eastern Turkey and Arabia, which lasted from the year 1497 to the year 1521, when he permanently returned to India to found a religious commune-town, Kartarpur, where he passed away on September 22,1539. These journeys have been held and described in Sikh pious literature as having been undertaken to purify and divinise the entire mankind on all parts of the globe. [4]
Guru Nanak had nine successor World Teachers who, through precept and practice, fulfilled and applied the teachings of Nanak, the First Guru, to the changing and growing politico-social situations of the day, and in their own independent revelations and testaments explained and exegetised the contents’ implications of Guru Nanak’s revelations which they themselves compiled and recorded as the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth. The Tenth Nanak, Guru Gobind (1666-1708) was the last manifestation of Nanak who passed on the preaching and practice of Sikhism as world religion to the Collective corpus of all the believers inspired and guided by the Word, as revealed and recorded in the Sikh scripture. Ever since, the central focus of all Sikh congregations and the body of the non-institutional Sikh Church is comprised of the collectivity of all the believers in Sikhism, and is called the Panth, ‘the Way of Life’. Nanak the Tenth further ordained (1699) the Order of the Khalsa to establish, to perpetuate and to legitimatise the social pattern amongst governments, societies and states of the world, wherein the Sikh values of life— truthfulness, honesty, mutual trust and loyalty, productive labour and communal sharing, gratitude and integrity of conduct, authentic living, and, above all, spiritual transformations that raise man to what St. Teresa of Avila, the Christian mystic, refers to as “spiritual marriage”—prevail and wherein a God filled man returns to society for its service and edification. [5] These are the Sikhs whom one might meet in all parts of the world, bearded, unshorn and turbaned, symbolising natural, spontaneous, unmanufactured or fashioned pristine integrity of man. It is to this Order of the Khalsa that Arnold Toynbee, in his History points as the true prototype of the elan of the Communist party of Lenin, while rejecting the latter’s claim that his Communist Party was a unique phenomenon in the history of the societies of mankind. [6]
Nanak is the first born in India who claims that the religion he preaches is a revealed religion. “I am completely dumb as I am and I speak as I am made to, by God.” “I utter and preach the Word just as it comes to me.” [7] Our knowledge of the psychological character of the religious experience and its matrix is so minimal that it is not possible for us to make positive statements about divine revelation. Quranic revelation is not a living experience between God and man, a happening into which God Himself enters, but it is a book. The first word of Mohammad’s revelation is, “read” and the page of a book is shown to him, the book that the angel has brought down from heaven. Islam was a book-religion from the first moment on. Jesus left no written word to his followers and is merely reported as having claimed full authority of his Father, God, for what he was preaching. Moses, like a much earlier Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, received a material, an inscribed tablet of laws, through the agency of a burning bush and from the sun-god on high, shams, respectively. The seers, rishis of Vedas, grasped, without necessarily comprehending, eternal sounds, sruti, and then passed them on to future generations in mnemonic formulae and, therefore, the text of Vedas are apauruseya and eternal, co-existent with the beginning of existence, anadi. The “voices” heard by extraordinary men, throughout the ages, such as Socrates and Joan of Arc in the West, have been known to be of obscure origin, proven unreliability and dubious authenticity. Mysticism is a variety of human experience that might be interpreted, but in itself is non-sensory, non-intellectual and altogether non-verbal and ineffable. Guru Nanak claims direct contact with suprasensuous Truth and the Divine Person which is sensory, intellectual and verbal, experienced with an immediacy and simultaneity that carries with it its own authenticity and which is, sui generis, fashioned into a mould of poetry and song. Bergson has well pointed out that “before intellection, properly so-called, there is the perception of structure and rhythm.” The nature of Guru Nanak’s revelation is, thus, shown as unique and mysterious in character and origin.
Prophets of religion, like other men, are also rooted in time and place. The teachings of a prophet may amount to unique contributions of enduring value to the thought of their age and they may say that it is a class by itself, without a precursor, without a successor, logically untraceable to antecedents, yet thereby a prophet does not cease to belong to his age; just as he is arising most above it, he is truly rooted in it. This is true of Guru Nanak also.
The central teachings of Guru Nanak may be briefly summed up as follows:
1. He teaches that it is not the intellectual formula or verbal assent to it that liberates man, but the deed and his quality of living. “Truth is higher than everything but higher still is truthful living.” [8]
2. Self-alienation is the most profound affliction, not only of the modern man but it has been so ever since man began to look within. In the most ancient recorded thought of man—the Veda— this self-alienation, kilvis, the primal fission where the One became many, is pinpointed as the basic problem of the human psyche, and the ritual technique of yajna is recommended for re-gaining this lost unity, and this is the beginning of the prestigious Hindu contribution of the techniques and systems of Yoga to the insights into the psychologies and religious practices of mankind. Religion always proceeds from an existential dichotomy between man and the world, between man and God, and man longs to overcome this dichotomy to achieve a wholeness which appears to him as necessary for a satisfying and authentic living. Pascal describes the point well by observing that “all man’s troubles stem from the fact that he cannot bear to stay in a room alone with himself”. Each one of us, more or less, encounters a sense of despair, when he is forced to compromise his inner vision with the realities of a world he must share with others. It is one of the terms of a social being as it is the predicament of a lonely person and, therefore, part of adult life, particularly of the intellectual, whom Albert Camus describes as “someone whose mind watches itself”, and in whom this disease of self-alienation is apt to run rampant. In the whole of the Sikh scripture, as in the revelations of Guru Nanak himself, there are repeated references to this great wrench in human psyche and the cure is declared as a spiritual system and discipline based on the fundamental psychological insights of the Yoga and its adaptation to a secular, social life, thus discarding the necessity of turning one’s back on the world, and full social participation in it in search for annulment of man’s self-alienation. This system and way of life is the Nam-Yoga of Sikhism that constitutes the greatest contribution of Guru Nanak to the Religion wherein the secular and the spiritual are indissolubly married. This Yoga of the Name is the core of the ‘Religion of the Name’ which Sikhism is and which God commanded Guru Nanak to practise and preach to the world.
3. The third Central teaching of Guru Nanak is that the fully integrated person, the liberated individual, the deified man, must revert to the world and society to participate in its activities to guide and assist it in striving for achieving a situation in which human mind is free, hymn psyche is made whole, authentic living is facilitated and individuals may evolve into “deified men.” When Guru Nanak travelled deep into the Inner Himalayas crossing Nepal and some portions of Western Tibet, reaching the legendary Kailash Mountain and the celestial Mansarovar lake, the snowy and inaccessible abode of the perfected yogis who were amazed to see a mere mortal reach there, “How does the news go with the world of the mortals?,” they asked Guru Nanak. “The society is rotten to its core”, replied Guru Nanak, and then raised an accusing finger at these yogis adding, “And sires, you are guilty ones, for, it is men of high culture and sensitivity who alone can guide and sustain society, but you have chosen to be self-indulgent escapees ?” [9]
4. When asked as to what power and competence there was for lifting society out of its incurable morass, Guru Nanak has gone on record as saying: “The two levers, that of organised confrontation with and opposition to evil and the right idea that must inspire it.”
Thus, this fourth teaching of Guru Nanak furnishes the Sikh reply to the questions: “Must the carriers of grace rise like lions or die like lambs? What is the relation of exemplary violence to exemplary martyrdom ? Whether one person stands for all or all for one or a small pioneering elite act as stand-ins for the rest ? Whether the elite withdraw into an enclave or into a wilderness to bear witness or act as leaven to the lump ? How is a balance to be struck between ‘being’ and ‘doing’, ‘wisdom’ and ‘inner certitude’?”

Paper read in a Seminar of Asian and Slavonic Studies, Faculty of British Columbia University, Vancouver, Canada, on October 17,1974. It was later published in the Journal of Sikh Studies (Vol.II.1) of Guru Nanak Dev University in February 1975, and also in Sikh Review's February-March 1975 issue.

[1] Puratan Janamsakhi (ed.Bhai Vir Singh), 4th ed. p. 15.
[2] Puratan Janamsakhi (ed.Bhai Vir Singh), 4th ed. p.14.
[3] Hau(n) dhadhi vekar(u) karai laia. --Majh (Var), M 1, SGGS, p.150.
[4] Charia sodhan(i) dhart(i) lukai. --Bhai Gurdas, 1 (24/8)   
[5] The Interior Castle.
[6] See A Study of History (Abridged) p. 187-88.
[7] Hau(n) apahu(n) bol(i) na janda, mai(n) kahia sabh(u) hukmao jiu. --Suhi, M 1, SGGS, p. 763.
[8] Sach(ch)o(n) orai sabh(u) ko, upar(i) sach(ch)u achar(u) --Sri Rag, M. 1, SGGS, 62.
[9] Bhai Gurdas 1(29/6).