Guest Punjabi Nationalist Posted November 7, 2003 Report Share Posted November 7, 2003 Interesting article. Agree with some points, disagree with others. ________________________________________________________ Hindu-Sikh relations â€” I Independence changed equations by Khushwant Singh GURU Nanak proclaimed his faith around 1500 AD in one God who was Nirankar (without bodily manifestations) and a caste-free society. Those who accepted his creed described themselves as Sikhs or his disciples. They remained a part of the Hindu social system. Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru, declared: â€œWe are neither Hindus nor Muslims.â€ Nevertheless, in the Adi Granth he compiled around 1600 AD a little over 11,000 names of God that appear over 95 per cent are of Hindu origin: Hari, Rama, Gopal, Govind, Madhav, Vithal and others. Some like Allah, Rab, Malik are Muslim. The exclusively Sikh word for God, Wahguru, appears only 16 times. Guru Gobind Singh, the last Sikh Guru who founded the Khalsa Panth in 1699 AD, invoked the names of Shiva, Sri and Chandi. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had slokas from Granth Sahib recited to him every morning and had the holy book in a palki mounted on an elephant when leading his troops in battles. He also had Brahmins perform havans, regarded cows as sacred, punished cow-killing with death, went to Hardwar to bathe in the Ganga and expressed the wish that on his death the diamond and Koh-i-Noor should be gifted to the temple of Jagannath at Puri. Till then relations between the Hindus and the Sikhs were of naunh-maas â€” as the nail to the flesh out of which it grows. Inter-marriages between Hindus and Sikhs of same castes were common. Many Hindu families brought up their eldest sons as Khalsas, whom they regarded as Kesha Dhaaree Hindus (Hindus who did not cut their hair or beards). Seeds of Hindu-Sikh separatism were sown by the British after they annexed Punjab in 1839 AD. They made reservations for Khalsa Sikhs in the Army, Civil Services and legislatures. Thus an economic incentive was given to Khalsa separateness. The feeling was eagerly nurtured by leaders of both communities. The lead was taken by Swami Dayanand Saraswati of the Arya Samaj. He visited Punjab and in his intemperate speeches described Guru Nanak as a semi-literate imposter (Dambhi). Sikhs picked up the gauntlet and made Swamiji or mahasha a synonym for a bigoted Hindu. Sikh separatism was boosted by the Singh Sabha movement started in the 1880s. It found expression in a booklet by Sikh scholar Bhai Kahan Singh of Nabha entitled â€œHum Hindu Naheen Hainâ€ â€” we are not Hindus. Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs started treading different paths. The Hindus opened DAV and Sanatan Dharm schools and colleges. The Sikhs opened Khalsa schools and colleges. They closed ranks to face Muslim dominance and later against the demand for Pakistan. Though Muslims conceded that Sikhs were Ahl-e-Kitaab (people of the Book) as were the Jews and the Christians, they regarded them too close to the Hindus to be accommodated in Pakistan. When Partition came, Punjabi Muslims drove both Hindus and Sikhs out of their country. Independence brought about a radical change in Hindu-Sikh equations. Sikhs were the worst sufferers of Partition. From being the biggest land-owners in West Punjab, they were levelled to comparative poverty; they became an aggrieved people: â€œWith Partition, Hindus got Hindustan, Muslims got Pakistan, we Sikhs got nothing.â€ The notion of a Sikh State gained credence. Their last Guru had promised them Raj Kareyga Khalsa â€” the Khalsa shall rule. They felt it was time to change the promise into a reality. In the exchange of populations the Sikhs found themselves in majority in a few districts of Punjab. If Haryana and Himachal could be separated they could have a Punjab in which they could form a majority of 60 per cent against the Hindus being 40 per cent. The Hindus sensed what the Sikhs had in mind. They, supported by the Hindu newspapers from Jalandhar, exhorted Punjabi Hindus to declare Hindi as their â€œmother tongueâ€ instead of Punjabi in the censuses that took place, so that the Sikhs could be deprived of the argument that they were only asking for a Punjabi-speaking Suba. The Boundary Commission, which granted states to all regional languages listed in the Constitution, denied it to only one, Punjabi. This gross injustice gave the demand for a Punjabi Suba its rationale. After a prolonged agitation in which thousands were jailed, Indira Gandhi conceded the demand in 1966 but only after the Sikhs had proved their loyalty to their country by actively assisting the Indian Army in the Indo-Pak war of 1965. The Punjabi Suba was where all the Sikhs would legitimately expect a state of their own in a democratic India. It did not turn out that way. With the affluence that came with the Green Revolution, the younger generation of Sikhs in increasing numbers began to give up the Khalsa tradition of keeping their beards and hair unshorn. They became clean-shaven (mona) Sikhs. The dividing line between the two communities became blurred because a mona Sikh was no different from a Hindu believing in Sikhism, no different from millions of Punjabi and Sindhi Hindus who revered Granth Sahib and frequented gurdwaras. The Sikh identity being separate from the Hindu was challenged. Sikh leaders changed the emphasis from the Sikh to Khalsa. A man whose role in the identity crisis has not been fully highlighted was Kapur Singh of the ICS. He had been dismissed from service on charges of corruption. He tried to portray himself as a martyr. In a pamphlet he published he alleged that Prime Minister Nehru through Governor Chandu Lal Trivedi had issued a directive in 1947 to all the Commissioners in Punjab to the effect that the â€œSikhs in general must be treated as a criminal tribe. Harsh treatment must be meted out to them to the extent of shooting them so that they wake up to political realities.â€ He concluded: â€œMughal King Bahadur Shah ordered followers of Nanak to be executed on sight. I, being a declared Sikh, fell victim to this Mughal firman.â€ There was no truth whatsoever in Nehru ever having sent out such a directive, nor was Kapur Singh a victim of any firman. His case was scrutinised by his own colleagues in the Service before he was dismissed. Nevertheless, he won the favour of Akali leader Master Tara Singh who helped him win an election to the Punjab legislature and then to the Lok Sabha. Kapur Singh was the brain behind the drafting of the Anandpur Sahib resolution demanding a dominant role for the Sikhs â€” Khalsa ji da bol bala. Another so-called intellectual was Pritam Singh Gill, a retired Principal of Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar. He talked of â€œthe Hindu conspiracy to destroy Sikhs; kill the language, kill the culture, kill the community.â€ They found takers for this hate propaganda in Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Simranjit Singh Mann, (a police officer who was cruelly tortured in jail and later became an Akali leader and Member of the Lok Sabha), Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Ganga Singh Dhillon, Gurmit Singh Aulakh and a few others among the ranks and leaders of different factions of the Akalis. (To be concluded) Tribune - Chandigarh, Punjab 0 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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