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Open warefare of Jathedars: where will it end ?

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source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20080609/punjab1.htm#1

Takht Hazoor Sahib rejects Akal Takht Gurmatta

Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 8

In a jolt to Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Takht Hazoor Sahib today decided, in principle, to reject the Gurmatta passed by the Sikh clergy at Akal Takht on June 6.

Jathedar, Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh had already rejected the religious resolutions passed at a meeting of Sikh high priests at Akal Takht secretariat. Talking to The Tribune from Abchal Nagar (Maharashtra), Giani Kulwant Singh, Jathedar, Takht Hazoor Sahib, said any decision without the presence of the representatives of all five Takhts had no value.

He said it was a matter of concern that Takht Hazoor Sahib and Takht Patna Sahib were not invited to the meeting of Akal Takht to take arbitrary decisions without opposition.

Takht Hazoor Sahib has deputed senior functionaries to collect facts, including the copy of the controversial Gurmatta. The meeting of Sikh high priests at Akal Takht on June 6 had put undeclared ban on the entry of Giani Iqbal Singh on the pretext that he had been misusing his authority as Jathedar. Takht Hazoor Sahib believes the controversial decisions taken at Akal Takht secretariat, including appeal made to Sikh masses to ignore the decisions of Giani Iqbal Singh, are “most unfortunate†which aim at dividing the Sikh clerics.

Takht Hazoor Sahib has also supported the stand of Giani Iqbal Singh and other Sikh high priests of Takht Patna Sahib on Dasam Granth. Both Takhts believe Dasam Granth was penned by Guru Gobind Singh.

Jathedar Kulwant Singh has also taken a serious view of allowing breakaway group of dera Wadbhag Singh to join Sikhism. He said a formal decision regarding Dera Wadbhag Singh would be taken by Takht Hazoor Sahib shortly.

Coming heavily on Jathedar Vedanti, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht, has said the Sikhs had snapped ties with Baba Wadbhag Singh and his followers during Guru’s period. He said time had come to remove Vedanti as Jathedar, Akal Takht, for his alleged violation of the Maryada.

Bhai Ranjit Singh called upon Sikh masses to reject Giani Vedanti as Jathedar. He alleged it was for the first time Akal Takht has put its official stamp on a religious dera working in violation of the established Sikh Maryada since the period of the Sikh Gurus.

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Patna priests reject Akal Takht Gurmatta

Impeach Vedanti, 4 other high priests

Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 10

The Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib today impeached Jathedars of all three Takhts of Punjab (Akal Takht, Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Kesgarh Sahib), besides the Head Granthi and Granthi of the Golden Temple, debarring them from taking part in any panthic activities.

Takht Patna Sahib has also rejected the Gurmatta passed by Sikh high priests at Akal Takht on June 6. The action of the Takht has created chaos in the panthic circles. Earlier, Takht Patna Sahib had excommunicated Prof Darshan Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takht. His excommunication was rejected through the Gurmatta passed by Akal Takht on June 6.

The Patna Sikh clergy took serious view of the humiliation of Giani Iqbal Singh, who was roughed up and not allowed to attend the Akal Takht meeting held here to mark Ghallughara Divas.

Declaring them “mahan doshi†(guilty of religious misconduct) for rejecting the directives of the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar, Patna Sahib, and other four high priests resolved that the high priests of Punjab had tried to denigrate Takht Patna Sahib.

The Gurmatta of Takht Patna Sahib reiterates that the Takht is the temporal authority of the Sikhs since it is related to the birth of the Tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh.

The Gurmatta further states that Prof Darshan Singh was declared Tankhaya and was cleared of serious charges by Akal Takht under a “deep-rooted†conspiracy.

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Dal Khalsa for forced retirement of Jathedars

Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 11

Even as the Sikh Nation Organisation, headed by Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, has appealed for a truce among Sikh high priests, radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa has urged the authorities concerned for compulsory retirement of all Jathedars.

Secretary-general of the Dal Khalsa Kanwarpal Singh said the warring Jathedars had brought shame to the Sikh community and they had no right to lead the Sikh Panth.

There’s a feeling among Sikhs that all five Jathedars have become a liability, he said, demanding that the Jathedars either resolve their disputes amicably or quit forthwith to put an end to religious controversies, which are a cause of concern for Sikh diaspora the world over.

We don’t think that Jathedar Vedanti will ever be able to restore the dignity of the office he has been holding since long, he said.

Gaini Iqbal Singh’s performance in the capacity of the Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib was too bitter to swallow, the Dal Khalsa leader added.

President of Sikh Nation Organisation maintained that personal ego had no place in the Sikh way of life, which is based on kindness, truthfulness, love and humility. Recent religious controversy was due to clash of egos of the high priests.

He said whatever happened on June 6 in Amritsar during a meeting of the high priests was a “blatant violation†of Sikh Maryada. He maintained that the high priests of all five Takhts were equal in status and powers.

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Community in knots as Takht fights Takht

Jagmohan Singh - World Sikh News

The right-wing enemy is amusedly happy and the Sikhs as a whole are heading towards a divide, similar to the one seen during the times of the Bandhai Khalsa and Tat Khalsa dispute.

AMRITSAR / PATNA: AT a time of extreme crisis within the Sikh community, here is the snap shot from the battle front in the year of Guru’ta Gaddi celebrations: Takht is arraigned against Takht with all the might possible, one jathedar is calling the others ‘Mahadoshi’, two Takhts have joined forces against other three, a Supreme temporal leader is pushed, shoved, jostled, hassled and kept out of the meeting of Panth’s top clergy, and allegations have come down to issues of number of marriages a Jathedar has had.

In the battle of the Takhts, even Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji is being sought to be arraigned against another Granth that some believe in fiercely and others detest the idea of seeing it as a competing scripture.

The Dialogue is dead, and an all out war has been declared. The simple Akal Purakh-fearing hardworking kirti Sikh men and women are helplessly watching the scenario unfold.

Compromising the highest ideals of the Sikh religion, the religious leadership occupying the highest seats of the religion has reached the nadir of its working style and management of a crises situation. While everyone saw this coming, including the dramatis personae themselves, a resolution has not even been attempted seriously. The insensitivity and upmanship of the Jathedars is winning the day, the community is losing by the day.

Jathedar Iqbal Singh of Takht Patna Sahib was forcibly and physically prevented from attending a meeting of the Takhts, his hukumnamas rejected; he, in turn, reached Patna and rejected the entire exercise.

Every devout Sikh is upset; the common Sikh has become immune to the routine infighting; ‘Spokesman’ continues to play dirty teasing the whole community; the Indian media is lapping up fodder against the Sikhs and their religious institutions; the Badals are pursuing the sinister agenda of undermining the Jathedars; the right-wing enemy is amusedly happy and the community as a whole is heading towards a divide, similar to the one seen during the times of the Bandhai Khalsa and Tat Khalsa dispute.

On Tuesday, when Giani Iqbal Singh, the senior-vice-Granthi of Takht Harmandir Sahib Patna, in cohorts with his team rebuked the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Amritsar and his team, he set the ball rolling for another inglorious chapter in the year when they should have been preaching to the Sikhs and the world the significance of Shabd Guru as part of the Tercentenary Celebrations of Guruship of Guru Granth Sahib.

In recent times, Takht Patna Sahib had never issued a hukamnama. The Jathedar of Patna Sahib, known for his bitter tongue, planned his way into meetings at Akal Takht, threatened action against the present chief of SGPC and obtained rights to issue diktats. This happened sometime back. Since then, he has been plotting one move after another –supremacy and equality of Takhts, the Nanakshahi calendar, the Dasam Granth controversy, excommunication of Jathedar Darshan Singh and others, adding ambiguity to the meaning and ethos of Hukamnama and Gurmata and many other smaller moves.

Not to be outdone, the Jathedars in Punjab continue to play the game of either “wait and watch†or “sending emissaries to tide over the temporary crisis situations†or “willy-nilly continue to play their own shots†till the situation reached such an impasse. Both are playing political games and as Jathedar Kulwant Singh of Takht Hazur Sahib has said, “they invariably resort to road-roller undemocratic methods, which hinders unity, though we are all for unity of the Panth.â€

So far, Kulwant Singh, the Jathedar of Takht Hazur Sahib has refrained from being part of the name-calling game and it is hoped that he will continue to remain incommunicado for such purposes to the media and the Sikh leadership. He may have made it known his and the Takht’s opinion about Dasam Granth, but it is not expected that he would join Giani Iqbal Singh in fostering a vertical divide in the community.

No one will buy the argument of Jathedar Vedanti that neither he nor the SGPC leadership were aware that Giani Iqbal Singh would come to participate in the Jathedars meeting on June 6 at Amritsar. They knew it. They simply bungled the situation and allowed the nasty SGPC task force to up the ante and physically humiliate Giani Iqbal Singh and disallow him to attend the meet. If the Akal Takht Jathedars and others wanted to discredit Giani Iqbal Singh for upstaging his authority, they should have done it earlier and not waited so long.

Furthermore, if the Dera Wadbhag Singh people have to be brought back within the fold of Sikhism, it is a welcome sign, but the community should be taken into confidence and all social, religious and political groups should be involved in the decision-making as is the tradition.

Using intemperate and unparliamentary language and tactics, both the sides have saddened the Sikhs. Calling each other “culprits†they have demeaned the sanctity of the august body. In the coming days, weeks and months, we will see dirty linen being washed in public in the name of “White Paper†from both the sides.

The Badal Dal, which covertly calls the tune, both in Amritsar and Patna, cannot absolve itself of the blame of being narcissistic. Avtar Singh Makkad in Amritsar and Mohinder Singh Romana are their men and they have miserably failed.

Personal misgivings and allegations against the Jathedars apart, virtually the entire Sikh religious leadership has put the Sikhs to shame.

Bhai Gurdas in his ballads narrates the journey of Guru Nanak to Mecca. When the Maulvis there asked Guru Nanak, “Who is superior, the Hindu or the Muslim?†Guru Nanak’s reply was apt and prompt, “without good deeds, both are in the wrongâ€. The same can easily be said about “our Jathedarsâ€.

Jagmohan Singh is a commentator based in Ludhiana. He may be contacted at jsbigideas@gmail.com

11 June, 2008

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