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Baba Santa Singh 1984

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GurFateh !

Here are some very interesting pictures from Corbis.com

The description reads ;

" Sarbat Khalsa Sikh Convention in Amritsar

Baba Santa Singh © attends the Sarbat Khalsa Sikh convention after the Indian Prime Minister sent troops into the Sikh holy temple, The Golden Temple in Amritsar. Baba Santa Singh is leader of the Buddha Dal, a Sikh Veterans group. The Sarbat Khalsa is a meeting of all Sikhs to consider important Panth issues. "

Photographer: Kapoor Baldev

Date Photographed: August 11, 1984

Enjoy the pics ! - Please add your comments or any info you have about the Sarbat Khalsa of 1984.





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Whatever Baba Ji is holding has been taken out of the frames which the other nihang SIngh is holding. it looks like gurmikhi writing maybe its a hukumanama which Budha Dal have preserved. Any ideas? The other Singh may be Baba Bir Bikramjit Singh, one of Baba Ji's closest confidantes.

This sarbat khalsa was condemned by the sgpc and most other panthic jathas. Not even all the nihang singh came to this meeting , most abstainees were from tarna dal and some from budha dal. after this meeting the sgpc issued notices against some other saints and such who were there. Some of them issued apologies for their presence, and some did not. However this meeting only furthered the already growing aleniatenaion between Baba Ji and the SIkhs in general.

It was further reported that Baba Ji declared himself above the Akal Takhat and that its hukumnanas were not binding on him. How much truth there is in this i dont know.

The sgpc held a converntion a month later and condemed the activites of Baba Santa sSingh.Earlier they issued a hukanama declaring no one should perform this sewa at the behest of the govt. But Santa Singh was adamant that he will do it.

The rest i hope you already know.


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Guest Javanmard

Vâhigurûjîkâkhâlsâ Vâhigurûjîkîfateh

If you allow me I would like to add the following.

Given the fact that:

-the panj pyare were not elected by the sangat in 1699

-that none of the panj pyare sent to Panjab by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj in 1708 were elected by the sangat

-given that the leaders of the Khalsa Panth i.e. jathedars of Budha Dal never got eleced by the sangat

-given the fact that "democratic" election has never been used in pre-reformist Sikhism for electing leaders and that it hence constitutes a modern inovation with no link whatsoever with the functioning of the Khalsa since its inception

Akali Baba Santa Singh was fully entitled and justified to refute and refuse any decisions taken by the SGPC given the fact that the SGPC is based on the principle of election which is an inovation without any form of legitimacy. This does by no way mean that he is perfect and infallible as only Guru Gobind Singh is, whose mystical presence in the Khalsa is the only reason for justifying the concept of Guru Panth.

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I dont know why people think democracy is such a good thing, most political researchers and academics would tell you it probabt has more flaws than benefits. Its Liberal Democratic idealism which proposes that democracies are the pinnacle of human being evolution. It seems many Sikhs blindly believe in the theory of democracy and as they like it so much beleive that its what maharaj ould have used.

Whilst there is certainly a degree of acountability within the Khalsa Panth, the existence of a hierarchy within an army (what the Khalsa essentially is) is of the upmost importance for its efficiency. The relationship between Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Sri Guru Panth Sahib Ji must be understood, as well as the important notion of 'Panj Pyarai', the importance of Jathedar and role of the masses. Unfortunately, all of these have been somewhat perverted with the introduction neo-skh paradigms within Sikhi.

In short, democracy is usually pretty sh*t and doesnt really have a role in Sikhi.

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Thats a very interesting post javanmard, and one can look at the consequnces of such as to how inept the sgpc are in these times. The election thing has turned rotten.

However Baba Ji did ultimately present himself at the Akal Bunga many years later. Why the change of stance I dont know. DOes anyone else know? Late last year the Secretary of Budha Dal Baba Uday Singh was hugging Avtar Singh Makar after some agreeement between the two parties. So on one hand they use words of contempt for the sgpc and on the other are hugging them.

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catanga, these matters are best viewed by forgetting that you are a Sikh or of Indian descent and taking a step back - i.e. forget fancy labels such as "Guru Panth", "Puratan this that", "Neo-Sikh", "Akali Shromani blah blah" and so on...and view it from the perspective of what the 'real' intentions of the key players involved are (which surprise surprise is far from being anything near what they actually say, no matter how much Gurbani they may choose to recite to dress up their arguments) and what stoods to be gained from the actions they are proposing...the truth I think you'll find is hardly black and white and doesn't actually favour any particular side...

...just like democracy, which is indicated to be a "neo" innovation, even titles like "Jathedar" are innovations that begun in the panth post the Guru Period and post the Punj Pyare and have "no link whatsoever with the functioning of the Khalsa since its inception" ...this is simply one example, there are many other such "innovations" present in all sampradhas (be it 'four sanatan orders' or other groups), jathas (be they modern era or hold some well contrived link back in time to key Sikh figures and/or the Gurus themselves), organisations and/or management committees (be it the SGPC or local level Singh Sabha, Ramgarhia Sabha, Ravidasias, Bhat Sampradhaye etc)...

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Do a search for an article by Seva Singh Kalsi on this very topic, it covers various models of leadership which span from elections to 'parchia' (i.e. names out of a box) to Jathedhari (ala Sant Babas and 'sanatani' orders) and the problems inherent in all...

...as I said above, none of these systems are devised by the Guru...however I'm sure each have their own justification of the necessary methods...

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Found this paragarph in an article from this website in 2005. Further to what i stated in one of my ealrlier posts about Budha Dal and sgpc , i want to add this :

The Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa Panth is not, and will never be involved with the SGPC. The reason simply is that, The panth does not even acknowledge their existence. How can the SGPC be a "traditional" group following puratan marayada when they simply came into existence post British Rule. It can be very simply proven to someone that the SGPC is a modern group which is now present because of the British Raj. The SGPC's name in itself has a 'angrez' word in it: shromani gurudwara parbhandak COMMITEE. The Impostors took control in 1922.

As time progressed, the extreme Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhias, founded by one 'Babu' Teja Singh of Bhasaur village, Ludhiana District, Punjab, even began to dress up as an Akali Nihang. These individuals initiated new Khalsa in their own self-concocted and delusioned manner. Teja Singh 'Bhasauria', eventually became labeled as an 'apostate' by the mainstream Sikh faith for a variety of actions he later carried out.

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Sorry. should have added this as well.

'This institution [the S.G.P.C.] is not accepted by all Sikhs, be it elected by votes, or be it established by force, or be it established in law so as now it is forced upon us. The Shromani Panth Budha Dal is defending itself. It keeps it’s distinctive traditions. These false institutions [s.G.P.C.] will one day vanish. They [the Nihangs] will guard the true traditions of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh. The true traditions will be re-established again. These peoples [s.G.P.C.] Panth will die out.’

(Nihang Baba Udey Singh, transcript of interview, 1st March 2001)


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Interesting Chatanga, putting my personal (largely negative views) about the SGPC aside for the moment, I can’t help but ask:

There is the name of several prominent Nihangs in the SGPC from inception to present day, in fact the Buddha Dal to this day, receives monetary support from the SGPC, so I fail to see how “The Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa Panth is not, and will never be involved with the SGPC†and much less “The panth does not even acknowledge their existence†however one wishes to dress this up.

I have never heard of the SGPC claiming to be a ‘traditional group’, they themselves acknowledge their origins from the Gurdwara Reform movement (which again had active involvement of Nihangs). This seems to be a ploy of those groups who hungry for power wish to argue that the SGPC is some sort of fake jatha or sampradha, which is a misnomer, since it is simply a management committee! Perhaps, the intentions behind these assumptions/accusations will reveal quite a bit about those making these criticisms.

I believe “Baba Udey Singh†is the ‘secretary’ of the Budha Dal, please don’t tell me that you consider the word “secretary†to be a Punjabi word or Hindustani!!! It’s also “angrezâ€â€¦woah, thing about the implications of that for the Budha Dal, using the logic of the author in the quotation Chatanga provided!!!

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Guest Javanmard

Vâhigurûjîkâkhâlsâ Vâhigurûjîkîfateh

Dear Niranjana I appreciate your perspective on things because of their lucidity. Let me touch on the issue of innovation first or what I am forced to call bida' (Arabic for innovation). The issue of innovation is one of tremendous importance and a source of polemy in many communities be it Sikh, Muslim or Christian.

I would like to look at it from the strict point of view of jurisprudence. When looking at an innovation the first and most fondamental thing one has to keep in mind is its usul or principle. What is the usul or principle of an innovation? Then there is the issue of the nature or the innovation. Keeping these two things in mind one has to differentiate between different cases of innovations i.e. those that go against the very fundamentals of sacred revelation and those that are purely administrative or functional in nature. Let me present to you a few examples.


One of the points of contention between Orthodox and Catholics has been the issue of hair. According to the Epistles of St. Paul the Christian man HAS to have a beard and long hair, preferable trimmed at shoulder length in order to immitate Jesus Christ. The Epistles being part of the New Testament and hence authority canno be doubted or infringed against. Catholics, by stating that this particular passage was not be practised created an innovation that went againt sacred scripture itself. It principle was to adapt Christianity to Rome's beardless culture and in it's nature it was contradictory to sacred scripture.


After the occutation (ghayba) of Imam Mahdi (fa) the hadiths clearly specifiy that there cannot be any any such thing as an Islamic state before the return of Imam Mahdi (fa). Nevertheless Ayatullah Khomeini took it upon himself to change that by introducing the idea of vilayat e faqih (government of the jurisconsult), meaning the idea that in the absence of Imam Mahdi (fa) the Islamic government could be in the hands of an expert of law. The problem with that is that in Shi'ism, the Imam is teh Face of God, or wajhullah and hence infallible, sinless and perfect. Only he can hold spiritual and tempora power together. Khomeini's concept implies that a simple, learned yet fallible sinful mortal could hold the same authority. This is the reason why 80 percent of the clergy in Iran opposed this innovation even though it's now sold as orthodox Shi'ism which of course it isn't. For a critique of velayat e faqih see www.kadivar.com: excellent deconstruction of the concept by this excellent mujtahid who has been at the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights and democracy in Iran.

On the other hand there is a whole range of practises that do not derive from the time of the Imams (as) but which yet do not contradict the fundamentals of their teachings. Let us take the practise of having Ashura processions which change from country to country. Each country has its own traditions in this regard. Iranians will organise plays re-enacting the events of Karbala whereas Indo-Pakistanis prefer to have a jhuloos only. These are innovations yes BUT their nature is functional only and do NOT contradict the usul e din, the principles of the faith.


Having looked at these different concepts and given a few examples I now wish to get into the issue of innovation in Sikhi with keeping in mind the differences in nature and usul of innovations. Niranjana has pointed out that the titles “jathedar” etc only came AFTER 1708. This is indeed correct. But just like issues we have mentioned above we need to look at the nature and principle of these innovations. Due to the changes of the political situation and the expansion of the Sikh community there was a need for a clear organisation of Khalsa. The Khalsa remained the Khalsa but in its organisation it had to be more flexible and adapted to the situation. This was a functional innovation that did NOT go against the theological fundamentals of our faith. On the other hand the process of electing the highest religious authority cannot be equalled to the innovation I just mentioned because as a matter of principle the highest authority has always been nominated. Functional innovations that are used for better efficiency are totally acceptable as long one keeps in mind that they are changeable and NOT equal to revealed tradition. It is totally imaginable to have a nominated head of a religious institution heading a locally elected body of representatives. That’s what Catholics do and it works well. The priest is nominated by the bishop and has the last word but he is assisted on daily matters by elected lay people. The problem with gurdware is that they only have elected members and no religious authority, trained and sent by a central authority. In fact the ideal for the Panth would be to have Budha Dal as constant head of the Panth assisted in its practical tasks by an elected committee with Budha Dal having the ultimate authority in theological matters.

Innovations that go against the revealed scriptural authority exist in the Sikh community. Here are a few:

a. Stating that the Gurus were only simple humans

b. Playing shabad kirtan with vaja and not playing the ragas indicated by our Gurus

c. Prohibiting meat and shahidi degh

d. Declaring Ragmala or Dasam Bani not to be gurbani

These are mainly Neo-Sikh innovations and heresies. They all are in clear contradiction with revealed divine scriptural authority. These innovations, because of their inherent disobedience to the divine word make those who believe in them automatically heretics. They exclude themselves from the Guru’s fold automatically by believing in these false doctrines. Unfortunately it is the lack of doctrinal rigour and the importance of the tribalism over faith that has enabled these people to remain in the Sikh Panth and spread their poison. Budha Dal has in many ways remained loyal to the tenets of the Guru even though recent events have led me to question the theological authority of certain gurmatas that are in clear contradiction with gurbani. For reasons you will all understand I shall not discuss these issues as they are internal to Budha Dal only. What is important here is to notice the following. As much as one HAS to acknowledge the veracity and authority of the jathedar of Budha Dal as the legitimate authority over all of the Sikh Panth, the fact remains that he remains fallible and hence not perfect and that certain of his decisions can be questioned. A sign of health in a community is when its leader’s decisions can be questioned and where he admits his error. Unfortunately this isn’t the case in the Sikh community which hasn’t been able to reach the equivalent intellectual and cultural greatness as other communities due to this very stagnation. Far too many people rely on simple santhia of a text in order to give an interpretation when in fact it demands a serious mastery of different subjects and languages to give a decisive opinion on a matter. To make decisions for the whole Panth without knowing Persian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Braj, Sadhu Bhasha, the 6 darshanas, literary criticism, rhetorics and irfan is in and of itself a parody and applies to all be it SGPC, or Budha Dal.

The popes of the past made mistakes, so did great Muslim scholars and the jathedars of any Sikh organisation are not exempt from error and sin. To see them making the mistake of presenting themselves in front Akal Takht is hence not surprising. My experience of different religious clergy throughout the world has proven to me that the motives behind such actions are often far from very spiritual.

What paralyses us Sikhs is the wrong interpretation of Guru Panth. Because of it we consider its leaders to be sinless and perfect like the Gurus. How many times don’t we hear:”Don’t question what X said, he’s a brahmgiani, otherwise he wouldn’t be the jathedar!”? That tautological argument just doesn’t make sense. First of all because of its inherent fallacy: he’s jathedar hence brahmgiani and vice versa! Where is the proof? And even then brahmagianis of the pas have made mistakes even though our respect for them is unchanged e.g. Sant Attar Singh Mastuanavale said rag kirtan was not important. Declaring Panthic leaders perfect and sinless is in and of itself heresy because ONLY the Satguru is infallible, perfect and pure. To say that all the individuals of the Guru Panth share these qualities is pure madness. So if the mortals constituting the Guru Panth are not sinless, perfect and pure then why call it Guru Panth? Because of the anonymous and mystical presence of Guru Gobind Singh among his beloved fauj. Anyone one familiar with the traditions of Hazur Sahib knows that Guru Gobind Singh didn’t die in 1708, that he disappeared and that he remains with his beloved fauj. We mortals are not worthy of being called Guru Panth, only our beloved Hazir Satguru Guru Gobind Singh is the way, the Panth. All else is a pure lie.

Sag e Shah-e Shahan Shah Nur-e Jahan-ha Guru Gobind Singh

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Guest Javanmard

I didn't quote it John, I wrote it even though one of the titles is known form the Ganjnameh of Bhai Nand Lal Goya. Sag e Shah-e Shahan Shah Nur-e Jahan-ha Guru Gobind Singh means: the dog of the King of King of Kings and Light of the Worlds Guru Gobind Singh, the dog being of couse Javanmard. maalum ast ke man zuban-i farsi pasand mikonam.

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Ustad Ji, you are a true scholar, while I like to think of myself as a fool with a dictionary! However, with the greatest humility I have to disagree with portions of the above.

'Innovations that go against the revealed scriptural authority exist in the Sikh community. Here are a few:


c. Prohibiting meat and shahidi degh'

My gurdev has just become a 'heretic'! Are you sure for 'the Sikh comunity' and not just for the Khalsa Dals?

My own humblest 2 pennies...it is not 'revealed' scriptural authority that dictates innovation/practice and heresy, but the experiential authority as mediated through the Satiguru (and thus founded upon the active presence of scripture).

In a sense this reflects the age old semitic clash between the differing priorities of the mystic and the jurist using (interpretation of) scriptural authority, for one the truth as they have experienced it, for the other the logic of their dogmatic interpretation. Scriptural authority as a means to define heretics in all honesty sounds like a very shariat way of approaching what I always took to be at its fundamental level (and thus as its highest authority) a mystical tradition. It may work for a fauj, the Khalsa as Budha Dal (and thus a different kettle of fish), not so the 'Sikh community', in my humblest of opinions. Alike Shaams-i-Tabriz's whose preference of the model of the Prophet over the Qur'an awoke the same mystical love in learned scholar Rumi, or Bhai Adhan Shah's free usage of the term Satiguru, not as a static dualism, but a fluid duality-non-duality, that is merely how I feel it.

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Guest Javanmard

Dear TSingh

thank you for bringing the point up. There are institutions within the Khalsa Panth who chose to prohibit meat and shahidi degh not as a matter of principle but rather out of practicle reasons. Thos practical reaons being linked to a certain life style. Damdami Taksal for example prohibits meat in its practical maryada yet it doesn't outlaw jhatka as a religious principle. One may be vegetarian as an option be it as an individual or an institution yet still remain within the fold of the Khalsa whilst not prohibiting jhatka as a matter of principle. This is the flexibility that makes the Khalsa quite unique. This isn't the case of AKJ who have outlawed meat as a matter of principle hence contradicting the revealed word.

Agreed the way of chivalry goes beyond shariati attitudes yet there needs to be rigour in defining what is a permissible innovation and what isn't, otherwise we will just see our tradition crumbling down, which to be honest is already the case. The Khalsa is indeed a batini tariqa BUT the fact remains that even as such it has principles that have to be respected. The only problem is who or what is the source of those principles? The Guru or fallible human beings? And there I think my choice is clear. Shams ul Tabrize's preference for the model of Rasulallah (saws) derives from him being Ismaili and Ismailism's emphacis on the existence of a Hazir (manifested) Imam. In occultation though it is the silent Imam i.e. The Qur'an, the Ginans and the Pandiyyat e Javanmardi that takes precedence. Given the fact that Hazir Satguru Gobind Singh dissapeared in 1708 and that he has given authority to Guru Granth Sahib the same principle applies. In this case scriptural authority lies within the three Granths as Guru and the writings of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal Goya. The principle of researching those to establish certainty in faith as been established by:




I would like to underline the term KHOJ (to search, to research) which is to be done both though scholarly and mystical means. The scholarly means just ensure that the mystic doesn't head in the wrong way i.e. establishing the map before travelling. Of course the most important remains to meet the Beloved.

I thank you TSingh for bringing this up and allowing me to bring some clarifications.

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