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Are Sikhs Hindus? Article by Dr. Baldev Singh, PA


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For the sake of historical truth and communal harmony, please allow me to respond to Mr. Niranjan Shah’s column that was published in India Tribune of September 28, 2002. Let us not poison the minds of our young children with ignorance, communal hatred and historical myths. Let them grow to be honest, upright and truthful human beings, which the world needs the most, especially, a country like India.

I am glad that he admitted at the outset that the word ‘Hindu’ is not found in Hindu Scriptures and this label was given to the Indian people by outsiders. However, for some reason he failed to inform the readers about the meaning of ‘Hindu’ and gave an absurd explanation that ‘Hindu’ is the Persian equivalent of the Vedic term ‘Sindhu’ used for a river. It is difficult to imagine that a knowledgeable person like Mr. Shah does not know the meaning of ‘Hindu’.Let me explain what the word ‘Hindu’ means.

In Persian and Arabic ‘Hindu’ means black, slave and thief. Muslim conquerors used these words for the subjugated Indians. It is ironic and shameful that Mr. Shah now wants to assign that derogatory label ‘Hindu’ to Sikhs, Jains and Budhists. Did Mr. Shah ask any Sikh or Jain or Budhists about how do they feel when someone calls them Hindu? As a Sikh I would feel highly insulted if some body called me a Hindu. Mr. Shah won’t understand what I am saying because he is totally ignorant about Sikhism as is evident from his column.

Mr. Shah, our Hindu ancestors accepted whatever was dished out to them by outside invaders because the clever and devious Brahmin kept them ignorant like dumb driven cattle. The Brahmin took away all their human dignity and self-respect by using the most cruel and tyrannical ‘caste system’ ever devised by man for the exploitation of man.

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The final authority on Sikhs and Sikhism is Aad Guru Granth Sahib, Holy Scripture of the Sikhs. This Scripture is unique because unlike other world Scriptures, Sikh Gurus wrote it themselves. Aad Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh Gurus and those who have made in depth studies of Sikihism, confirm unequivocally that Sikhs are not Hindus.

“We are neither Hindus nor Muslims. Our bodies and breaths belong to the Almighty God, Whom people call Allah or Ram.â€

Aad Guru Granth Sahib, P 1136.

When Shaikh Braham asked Guru Nanank, “Are you a Hindu or a Muslim?†“I will be telling a lie if I say that I am a Hindu but I am also not a Muslim,†averred Guru Nanak.

Sangat Singh. Sikhs in History, p 14. ( 1st ed.1995)

The Sikh Gurus rejected all the essentials of Hinduism and the moral authority of Hindu Scriptures.

Sangat Singh. The Sikhs in History, p 15.

Hindus have created a myth that Sikh Gurus were Hindu reformers and that the Hindus supported their movement wholeheartedly.

First, only the first four Gurus were born in Hindu families, the later six Gurus were the descendents of the fourth Guru, Ram Das. Guru Nanak rejected Hinduism the very day he refused to wear the sacred thread (Janeu), which was essential for a Hindu of Khatri caste. The other three Gurus, Angad Dev, Amar Das and Ram Das rejected Hinduism when they became followers of Guru Nanak.

Second, how could Sikh Gurus be considered Hindu reformers if they rejected all the essentials of Hinduism and the moral authority of Hindu Scriptures?

Third, contrary to the myth that Hindus supported the Sikh movement wholeheartedly, high caste section of the Hindu society (Brahmins, Rajputs and Khatris) opposed it vehemently from the very beginning.

Let me highlight the attitude of the high caste Hindus towards the Sikh movement from the time of Guru Nanak.

Guru Nanak rejected the sacred thread, befriended a low caste Muslim Mirasi named Mardana and called him Bhai (brother) Mardana. Bhai Mardana accompanied Guru Nanak during his odysseys and remained his devoted friend and follower till his death. Guru Nanak stayed in the homes of Shudras partaking their food and traveled to Muslim countries to preach his message of universal love and equality under One and only God. He proclaimed his solidarity loudly with the downtrodden.

“I will stand by lowest of the lowest caste rather than with the arrogant and rich of the high caste. Societies which take care of their downtrodden enjoy the blessing of merciful God.†Aad Guru Granth Sahib, p 15 .

Guru Nanak also repudiated the caste system by introducing the concept of Sangat and Pangat among his follwers. Sangat means a congregation where all irrespective of their caste, creed and gender participate in divine Kirtan (recitals) and religious discourses. Pangat means sharing of community meal where all irrespective of their caste, creed and gender sit together in a row to partake food. Sangat Singh, The Sikhs in History, p 18.

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Hinduism is altogether different from Sikhism theologically. Let me illustrate this point by citing two passages from Aad Guru Granth Sahib, one by Guru Nanak Dev and the other by Bhagat Nam Dev addressed to a Brahmin priest.

“The gods and goddesses whom you worship and to whom you pray, what can they give? You wash them yourselves; left to themselves, they will sink in the water. There is no merit in the worship of statues.†Aad Guru Granth Sahib, p 637.

Bhagat Nam Dev was tormented and not allowed entry into the temple due to his low caste. He expressed his anguish in a hymn addressed to a Brahmin priest.

“Listen o Pandey, I meditate on the Almighty God and I have found Him. O ignorant one, what have you gained from your holy mantras and gods? I have heard that your gyatri was a cow in previous life. When she strayed into the crop of a farmer, named Loda, he broke her leg with a club and she became lame. I have heard about your god Shiv Ji, the rider of white bull. He went to the house of a generous person for a feast. He didn’t like the food, so he killed that man’s son with a curse. I have also heard about your god Ram Chandar Ji. He fought with Ravan, who took away his wife. Hindu is blind to God due to his worship of idols of gods and goddesses and practice of caste system whereas a Muslim who worships God is partially blind to God due to his bigotry. Wiser than both is he who sees God in all. Temples are sacred to the Hindus whereas mosques are sacred to the Muslims. However, Nam Dev focuses his mind on the One and only, who is not restricted either to the temple or the mosque.†Aad Guru Granth Sahib, p 875.

Most of the Sikhs are ethnically and culturally related to Punjabi Hindus and Muslims, as the ancestors of Sikhs were either Hindus or Muslims. The overwhelming majority of ancestors of Indian Muslims were also Hindus as pointed out by Mr. Shah. However, after 1947 the high caste Punjabi Hindus disowned the Punjabi language and culture of their ancestors thus severing their cultural ties with Sikhs.

Baldev Singh, 316 R Glad Way, Collegeville, PA 19426

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