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Understanding W.H. McLeod and His Work on Sikhism


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McLeod: Is He Really Scholar on Sikhism???

Date: 04/28/2006

News Source: http://www.sikhspectrum.com

Understanding W.H. McLeod and His Work on Sikhism

Baldev Singh












Go to any major library and you will find shelved Dr. McLeod’s books on Sikhs and Sikhism. In all likelihood the new readers on Sikh religion are influenced by these writings. To many educated Sikhs, he is an enigma, and they are baffled all the more when he is portrayed to the world as an authority on the Sikh religion.

To date, McLeod has published extensively on Sikhism and his major works are referenced unhesitatingly.1 He has influenced a handful of Sikh scholars with his views. Nevertheless, a significant number of Sikh scholars have cast serious doubts on McLeod’s scholarship, particularly on the questions he has raised and the radical conclusions he has drawn, which alter the established Sikh traditions.2

Last year McLeod published his latest masterpiece titled, “Discovering the Sikhs: Autobiography of a Historian.”3

This book has opened the door for me to take another close look at him; his history; how he came to be regarded as “Sikh scholar,” and above all to critically examine his credentials.

We know that research in any field is the determination of facts. Obtaining facts and their further analysis to drive home the truth through careful investigation is no easy skill to acquire. The integrity of a scholar is fundamental to objective research. Research done with a bias or motive leads to erroneous and unsustainable results. In other words, a research scholar is the disseminator of truth, and not a propagandist. The words of Guru Nanak are timely:

O Priest (pandey)! Do not tell lies, speak the truth; cure your self-conceit by imbibing the Word.4

One loses credibility by one’s own actions and no one trusts him/her again.5 Nanak, ultimately falsehood is defeated and truth triumphs.6

To understand the nature of this ongoing controversy, let me take you to a recent Internet discussion on McLeod’s “Sikhs of Khalsa” on “Sikh Diaspora Discussion Group”. When someone upset Prof. Cole by quoting the works of Trilochan Singh and Gurdev Singh, he remarked on June 9, 2003 “I wouldn’t recommend the books by Trilochan Singh or Gurdev Singh. They are vitriolic rather than academic. But the main point I wish to make is read McLeod for yourself. Don’t accept the judgement of others¾such is the proper approach.” And earlier on June 8 Prof. Barrier cautioned them to wait until “Hew McLeod deals very specifically with these and other allegations in his autobiography, Discovering the Sikhs. South Asia Books will have the non-India distribution to the book¾an orderly review of facts, misinformation, specific networks of Sikhs who published conference proceedings and individual papers, primarily in the 1980s and early 1990s. I will circulate information on the volume when it appears in September. Those who want to follow the charges, and more than adequate rebuttals by McLeod, probably should wait until a definitive and systematic work is out and then compare the various items referred on the Sikh Diaspora Yahoo Forum that allegedly undermine his research and question his motives.” Prof. Devinder Singh Chahal, editor-in-chief of Understanding Sikhism Research Journal disseminated this same advice to the wider Sikh audience.7, 8

Now that I have read the book, may I say that those who have taken Prof. Cole and Prof. Barrier’s advice seriously would be greatly disappointed because Discovering the Sikhs: Autobiography of a Historian, like all of McLeod’s earlier works, is no exception! This book is misleading as well as confusing. It consists of two parts: Part 1 is biographical and, part 2 is on Sikhism: explanation of his methodology of historical research, discussion of controversial issues, responses to critics, regrets, and accomplishments. Recently Ishwinder Singh pointed out poignantly that McLeod has retracted or modified most of his earlier controversial views, though reluctantly, and is still holding on to others without providing new evidence or sound reasoning.9

As I read the book, I couldn’t help but notice that the most interesting feature is his disclosure of how he got his Ph.D. degree and got himself declared as “being among the foremost scholars of Sikh studies in the world”. This information seems to be crucial in understanding the genesis of his perspectives on Sikhism. Before proceeding further, let me mention some insight as to what transpires inside the academic world where I was awarded a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry. My research supervisor had a research program in the area of my thesis topic before I joined his group, and he was teaching a graduate course in that field. One of my thesis examiners was a leading authority in medicinal chemistry, and he was responsible for evaluating the biological aspects of my work. The other individual was from the chemistry department, an organic chemist who appraised the chemistry aspects of my thesis. I defended my thesis before the thesis committee and the entire department¾both faculty and graduate students. The thesis was transferred to the public domain as soon as the university accepted it.

Given that background, let’s take a closer appraisal of McLeod’s Ph.D. thesis: Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion at the University of London. Prof. A.L. Basham, his supervisor, knew hardly anything about Guru Nanak and very little about the Punjabi language. Apparently, and as expected he made only three minor changes to the thesis; one of which was his insistence on the use of the plural form “appendices” instead of “appendixes.”10 McLeod couldn’t have expressed the situation better:

Once a month I was required to appear before him and report progress and difficulties. I would outline the difficulties and at each of them he would nod his head wisely and make some such comment as “Yes, that is a problem”, or “That is a difficulty we all have.” After the interview was over I would ask myself what have I gained from it and the answer would be that I had derived nothing. Professor Basham was, however, an experienced supervisor and even if I received no direct guidance concerning my thesis topic I did at least get the understanding noises which at that time I needed.10

Amazingly, McLeod had very little interaction with the two examiners who did not even read the complete thesis before approving it.11 Again in the words of McLeod:

When I presented myself for the viva on July 13th Dr. Allchin, one of the examiners whom I had not previously met, opened the questioning by frowning very severely at me. “Mr. McLeod,” he said, “We have a serious criticism to make of this thesis.” This, needless to say, is just what the nervous candidate does not want to hear. Dr. Allchin paused and then went on: “You did not allow us sufficient time to read it.” It was a joke and he and the other examiner Professor Parrinder, together with Professor Basham, joined in the jolly laughter. It soon became clear, however, that neither examiner had in fact managed to read the complete thesis, and after a single question from each I was dismissed. Fortunately they both agreed to sustain the thesis.11

It should be no greater surprise to us that Prof. Parrinder knew nothing of Guru Nanak and the Sikh religion except what he learned from McLeod’s thesis.12 In other words, McLeod himself was the supervisor as well as the examiner of his thesis. Then who determined the veracity of the contents of the thesis? And who ascertained its adequacy for the award of a Ph.D. degree? After all, the thesis was not about English literature; it was about Guru Nanak’s authentic teachings enshrined in Aad Guru Granth Sahib (AGGS) as pointed out by McLeod himself:

The Adi Granth contains a substantial number of works by Guru Nanak. These can all be accepted as authentic. It is clear that Guru Arjan compiled the Adi Granth with considerable care and the principal source, which he used, was a collection, which had been recorded at the instance of the third Guru, Amar Das, who was only ten years younger than Guru Nanak.13

One may ask McLeod why he didn’t choose a thesis supervisor or examiners with expertise in Sikhism. One may even question the University of London for falling short on the standards. Was Fauja Singh, “an honest and honorable historian of Punjab”14 or Ganda Singh, “certainly an eminent Sikh historian”15 or any other Indian scholar not good enough to be his thesis examiner? Besides, why were the contents of the thesis kept out of view until November 196816,17 while the University of London conferred the degree after accepting the thesis in July 1965?18 Why were even his friends, Ganda Singh and Harbans Singh, who had offered assistance in his work, kept in the dark until 1968 when “Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion” was released¾upon which McLeod was hailed as being “widely known as being among the foremost scholars of Sikh studies in the world?”17

Generally, scholars spend many years and sometimes their entire research career before being recognized as “being among the foremost scholars in their field” by their peers. But here McLeod was awarded this distinction by R.C. Zaehner (1913-74), Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at the University of Oxford,17,19 who reviewed Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion in the Times Literary Supplement in 1968.20 In other words, McLeod became “one of the foremost scholars of Sikhism” simply through the publication of his Ph.D. thesis which bypassed all the rigors of academic reviews.20 Did Zaehner who was an alcoholic19 know anything about Guru Nanak’s teachings? After the publication of Zaehner’s review, McLeod rightly expressed his jubilation: “Professor Zaehner could never have known what joy he created!”17 From thereon, our McLeod has never missed an opportunity to self-promote himself. Given this historical background, one wouldn’t be wrong to question his academic credentials¾his Ph.D.degree. While at the same time one would not be wide off the mark to understand why McLeod manipulated himself into position with the mantra: “one of the foremost scholars of Sikhism.” This in all probability led him to believe that whatever he would write about Sikhism would be considered unique and a profound form of scholarship. In the years that followed since 1968, many Sikh scholars have attacked his works and oddly enough, McLeod in response used a five-pronged strategy to defend himself and deflect the criticism.

First: He insists that his critics are traditionalists or conservative or fundamentalists who do not appreciate and understand his methodology of historical research.

Second: He neglects to respond to criticism of his work as far as long as possible and when he does he uses surrogates to attack his critics.21

Third: He singles out non-academic critics for vehement attack, while keeping silent about academic critics.

Fourth: He points out that it is not only him, but even the Sikh scholars of repute have been harassed and vilified.

Fifth: He claims that younger Sikhs especially those living in the Diaspora understand and appreciate his works. Here are two quotes of his:

The pattern that I have devised was never to represent the teachings of Guru Nanak in the form in which they had been delivered in the early decades of the sixteenth century. It was, however, a pattern that could be understandable to readers educated in the Western manner.22

I am a Western historian, trained in the Western methods of historical research and adhering to Western notions of historiography. No attempt has ever been made to conceal this fact. I have always maintained that I am a Western historian and if that status deprives me of reasonable understanding of Sikhism then so be it. … My primary objective has been to communicate an understanding of the Sikh people and their religion to educated Western readers and that consequently it is important that I speak to their mode of understanding. At least as far as the religion of Sikhs is concerned the object of my research has certainly not been to tell Sikhs what they should believe. It is to tell inquisitive Westerners what Sikhism apparently means in terms they can understand. This, it should be noted, does not apply to this book, which is primarily for Sikhs. My previous works have, however, been directed at Westerners or at others who have been educated by Western methods and who think in a Western mode.23

Does the Western education system or Western methodology of historical research permit the teaching of a distorted version of Sikhism to “inquisitive educated Western readers?” The objective of research in any field is to find the truth for the benefit of all! Only commercial, political and biased writings are targeted to a particular segment of the population. Moreover, where did McLeod learn the rigors required for implementing “Western methodology of historical research”, for his training was in the field of Christian theology as a Christian missionary¾a profession riddled with blind faith, which carries barely a hint of “Western methodology of historical research.” McLeod makes it clear that Discovering the Sikhs: Autobiography of a Historian is primarily for the Sikhs:

This means that the book is primarily for the Sikhs. To them can be added the small number of Western scholars who regard Sikh history and religions their chief concern. …It should be remembered, however, that basically this book is a work in which I seek to explain my method to the Sikhs. I endeavor to spell it out clearly and to define for them what features lie behind the various books and articles I have published.24

This is in contrast to his earlier claims that his writings are for “the inquisitive Western readers” or others who have been “educated by Western methods and who think in a Western mode”.23 What amazes me is that all along he expected Sikhs to support him financially to propagate his version of Sikhism. Some examples should suffice: (1) He complained that in September 1969 an invitation by the Punjabi University for the international seminar in honor of Guru Nanak’s five hundredth birthday celebration did not include travel expenses, which made it impossible for him to attend. Besides, he was very much disappointed to find out that the book display section at the seminar included a wide selection of manuscripts and seemingly every book published on Guru Nanak except for Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion and Archer’s The Sikhs, and for two days there was absolutely no reference made to his work.25

He did not reflect for a momemt why was his book missing in the book display and why was there no reference to it at the symposium? He was fully aware that his friends Prof. Ganda Singh and Prof. Harbans Singh arranged the seminar and it was about academic appraisal of Guru Nanak. It does not cross his mind that his book is unacademic, as its main agenda is to undermine the originality and uniqueness of Nanakian philosophy (Gurmat). Another person would have taken a hint and tried to find out the flaws of his work, but not McLeod, he kept producing more absurd publications on Sikhism based on spurious literature.

(2) He also complained about the cancellation of his lecture at the University of Hull to mark the 500th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s birthday because Sikh sources refused to donate the funds.26 (3) He talks bitterly about the withdrawal of financial support by the Sikhs for his teaching position at the University of Toronto:

“Pressured by a small but vocal minority the local Sikhs had ceased to give money for a Sikh Studies position, leaving me without an invitation to return after 1992.”27

“The ambiguous attitude of some members of the University’s administration coupled with the determination of certain Sikhs wrecked the program.”28

(4) Moreover, he laments that the universities in Punjab have never invited him to give lectures or that he was not invited to participate in festschrifts (collection of essays in honor of someone) especially the one Sikhism and Secularism, a volume of essays issued in honor of Professor Harbans Singh.29 (5) He is also disappointed that Sikhs do not read his works as their minds are poisoned by the vigorous propaganda against his work.30 He blames the conservatives, who he thinks emerged as defenders of Sikhism after the tragic events of 1984 for attacks on his work.31 This line of defense is exemplified by the comments of Prof. Barrier who wrote the foreword to Discovering the Sikhs: Autobiography of a Historian.

“The themes that were to appear again and again in Sikh reviews of Hew’s work—missionary bias, cultural insensitivity, political motives, and the like—became commonplace as academics and politicians characterized his research as a threat to the community and Sikh understanding of tradition and practice.”32

To impress this point further to the readers he goes on to say:

Sikh scholars themselves experienced even more serious attacks that threatened their teaching positions and sometimes lives—good men and good scholars such as Fauja Singh and J.S. Grewal, among others, and in a later generation Piar Singh and those associated with Hew, such as Harjot Oberoi and Pashaura Singh. But Hew remained the designated lightning rod for attack.33

Prof. Barrier seems to be giving us the impression that the Sikhs treated Fauja Singh, Grewal, and Piar Singh similar to what the Christian Church did to Bruno and Galileo, the famous astronomers. To set the record straight, let me say that Fauja Singh retired as Head of the history department from Punjabi University Patiala; Grewal retired as Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University; and Piar Singh retired as Head of Sikh studies at Guru Nanak Dev University. Moreover, I believe Barrier couldn’t understand the very nature of scholarship in the making: critical appraisal of someone’s research work is by no means to be equated with personal attacks or persecution or life threats. Research work often generates controversies, more so in the humanities than in the hard sciences. Scholars generally do not regard criticism of their work as personal attack or persecution; rather, they regard it as an honor when someone pays attention to their work! It was the fraudulent research of Harjot Oberoi and Pashaura Singh on Sikhism that was criticized, not their personal characters, as both of them are teaching in Western universities.

Continuing with his campaign of misinformation against the Sikhs, Barrier says:

Just as American politics, metaphor, and public discourse were altered by attacks on September 11, 2001, so the growing militancy and turmoil that culminated in the attack on Golden Temple and the Delhi riots in 1984 reshaped the relationship between religion and politics among Sikhs. Academic research and authors quickly became enmeshed in the ensuing debate over controversial elements in Sikh public life. No individual, Sikh or Westerner has been more pivotal in the resulting wars over scholarship and Sikhism than Professor W.H. (‘Hew’) McLeod.34

It is difficult to understand why Barrier who is actively involved in Sikh studies characterizes the government sponsored murder of thousands of innocent Sikhs all over India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi as “riots.”35 Perhaps Politics of Genocide and Reduced to Ashes: The Insurgency and Human Rights in Punjab escaped his notice!

McLeod carries Barrier’s argument much further by claiming that he himself is the victim of the Khalistan movement.

One must remember that behind this personal experience lies the traumatic period in the history of the Sikhs. This is marked, above all, by the campaign waged by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and by Operation Blue Star, that wholly mistaken and disastrous attack launched by the Government of India on the Golden Temple in June 1984. Since that time many Sikhs have been involved in the bitter struggle for Khalistan. … After 1984 these conferences and publications that accompany them became much larger and more frequent, particularly in North America.36

It is ironic that McLeod expresses no opinion about the Khalistan movement, which he claims intensified the attacks on his scholarship. Wouldn’t a “skeptic historian” who has spent most of his life studying Sikhism be curious about Khalistanis? Why didn’t he investigate the “bitter struggle” for Khalistan or advance any theory about it, since at the drop of a hat, he comes up with an opinion to explain every facet of Sikhism? Besides, he does not mention the name of any Khalistani who criticized his work! Why is he silent on the “bitter struggle” for Khalistan?37 Today the leaders of the “bitter struggle” for Khalistan like Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sohan Singh Boparai, and others are back in India living on a government pension. Boparai was given a special award for a job well done. His son, Swararn Singh Boparai has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University. The appointment of Boaprai, an IAS officer with no academic experience as the top administrator of a university lends credence to Sangat Singh’s assertion: RAW--the Indian intelligence agency--had a hand in the appointment of two vice chancellors at Guru Nanak Dev University.38 One of the Vice Chancellors was J.S. Grewal, a man whom McLeod regards as an elder brother and has dedicated to him his Exploring Sikhism and The B-40 Janam-sakhi. Grewal was instrumental in getting the Punjabi translation of Guru Nanak’s Teachings39 and The B-40 Janam-sakhi 40 published by Guru Nanak Dev University. In 1994, McLeod spent his last sabbatical leave at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Simla where Grewal was its director.41

It seems that Sangat Singh’s statement touched a sensitive nerve and McLeod protested loudly: “I could point out that I certainly was not a tool of the Government of India.”42 However, the dead silence of the “skeptic historian” raises many eyebrows. Here are a number of questions which are crying for answers from him: Why was Maharaja Dalip Singh, a ten year old boy was snatched from his mother, put in the custody of missionaries, and converted to Christianity? Why did the British authorities immediately after the annexation of Punjab take control of gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) whereas not a single Hindu temple or mosque was touched in the entire British Indian Empire? Why did the British rulers and Christian missionaries distort Sikhism? Why were the Sikhs declared Hindus in the Constitution of India and the Hindu Code Bill imposed on them? What was he speaking about when he traveled around India visiting universities on a grant from the Government of India in 198543 when Sikhs were facing one of the darkest periods in their modern history: The Punjab was turned into a “Gulag Archipelago” by the military, paramilitary, and police forces. Sikhs were left with no venue of justice under black laws: National Security Act Ordinance, Terrorist Affected Areas Ordinance, and the draconian Terrorist and Disaffected Area Act (TADA). These “Black Laws” gave free hand to the police to exterminate Sikhs in the name of “law and order” and to deny them justice in the judicial system. Wouldn’t a scholar like McLeod who spent most of his life doing research on Sikhs and Sikhism be curious or concerned about what was happening to the Sikhs?

Barrier, who never misses the opportunity to align himself with McLeod, blames the Sikhs for involving politics with religion in academic affairs and showing a lack of appreciation for scholarship and intolerance for scholars. He goes on to protect McLeod’s integrity.

Hew is very direct in terms of his presentation of facts, quick to give others the benefit of doubt, and careful in reaching broad conclusions. Underlying the narrative is concern with academic honesty combined with amazement at the degree of ferocity in many of the seminar papers, books and articles launched to protect Sikhism from its perceived mortal enemy. … Reviews, essays in cyber chat-rooms or organized forums (i.e. Sikh Diaspora and Sikhe.com), and debate over identity, historical facts and interpretation, woman, ritual¾any number of problems daily confronting Sikhs¾all use Hew’s work either to support arguments or to serve as pawn which can be denounced and shown to be illegitimate (along with any who might side with his opinion).… More and more Sikhs have begun to read Hew’s articles and books, and, while disagreeing with points or theses, appreciate what he has done, and take his word, namely, that his method is a historical approach to tradition and that he respects Sikhism and would do nothing to injure the sensitivities of Sikhs or cause discomfort.44

What Barrier refuses to understand is that there are serious ethical problems here. From McLeod’s autobiography it is clear he had doubts about Christianity when he was a student. But he opted for not informing the Overseas Mission Committee of the Presbyterian Church at the time of his hiring of him being a non-believer?45 At no time during his tenure with the mission did he tell the faculty colleagues or Sikh friends that he and his wife are non-believers?46 Apparently, he started having doubts about Christianity when he was a student.

At the beginning of 1955 I began my theological course and at once doubts began to trouble me, threatening to create a situation of some difficulty. Two reasons held these doubt in check. One was the argument I silently had with myself that I could not and should not give up now that I had been admitted to the Theological Hall and had publicly committed to joining the ranks of the clergy. One other Hall student was clearly having similar doubts, but he was secure enough to let him express these openly, I certainly was not secure and so I preferred to keep quiet.47

And he elaborates about his shaky faith in Christianity further.

But I must be honest. Even to Margaret [McLeod’s wife] I did not completely disclose my doubts, which ever attended my three years in the Theological Hall. She certainly knew that I was not entirely happy with the way things were turning out, yet because I was less than honest in revealing myself she believed that my position was still basically firm.48

McLeod likes to nourish his ego by blaming others, in this case the teachers for not prodding him to bring his doubts into the open: “The staff should not have assumed, as they commonly did, that students would unaided bring their problems into the open where they could be discussed.”49 Let it not be supposed that the staff were uncaring or anything but good men. I can in retrospect appreciate that any attempt to bring my difficulties out into the open would almost certainly have provoked a decision to leave the Theological Hall before the three-year course was finished. Such are life’s mysteries. Had this happened I might never have gone to India? And the Sikhs might never have heard the name of McLeod. Many Sikhs, it is true, might fervently wish that the hall staff had been more forthright, with the result that I could well have ended up as a schoolteacher in New Zealand. Other Sikhs, I should hope, are glad that that things turned as they did.50

He disclosed the secret of being a non-believer to the public only when he felt irritated by the dated references to him as a missionary or Reverend by his critics.

I now realize that I may owe these Sikhs an apology, at least those Sikhs who until 1990 assumed that I should be properly identified as a Christian missionary. My status may have been appreciated by those who knew me personally, but I have never made it known publicly until Inderjit Singh persuaded me to write an article “Where it all started” for the Sikh Review.51

May I ask: Does McLeod feel any regret or guilt for what he did? Of course not! He justifies everything he did.

Did we ever feel regret? Certainly there has been none. What about guilt? No one ever asked us whether we felt any guilt leaving the Christian faith, but it is a question, which has occasionally drifted past me. In a sense there has been absolutely no guilt. … Should I not have repaid some thing of the cost of my training and employment? This I have been able to discard because we spent, after all, a total of eleven years in the Church’s service. What, then, about the three years of concealment at Baring College? The answer, which has satisfied us, was that I was performing a job to which I had been appointed and that I was doing so without making our change in allegiance public except to a few close friends. Moreover, a sudden change of direction in 1966 would, we feared, have had an unsettling effect on the children.52

McLeod’s defense of his actions reminds me of a story of a woman who worked for some period as a prostitute before her marriage. When her husband found out about her past and confronted her, she asserted, “Haven’t I performed all the duties of a housewife and given you two sons.” “That is not the point my dear, had you told me about your past, I would not have married you,” quipped her husband. This story is relevant to McLeod: Had McLeod told his interviewers that he is a non-believer, he would not have been hired and if he had made his secret public while employed, he would have been fired. From his student days he never disclosed his doubts about Christianity because he didn’t want to jeopardize his education (degree). He accepted a missionary position in India to escape parish life in New Zealand. In other words, he has no qualms when he pursues his agenda to achieve his goal and the evidence shows McLeod kept hiding his secrets for a long time. Should we entertain the question: Could his declaration of being a non-believer be a ploy to deflect criticism against his work? For example, he defended the Biblical God by distorting the meaning of Katebi.53 Guru Nanak proclaimed:

Neither the Vedas nor the Semitic texts know the mystery of the Creator.

AGGS, M 1, p. 1021.

After an immense and tiring search the authors of the Vedas concluded that there are hundreds of thousands of netherworlds under nether worlds and skies above skies. The Semitic texts say there are eighteen thousand worlds, but their creator is One. However, the universe is so vast that it is beyond the scope of counting¾one would run out of numbers if one were to undertake the counting. Nanak salutes the Great One, Who alone knows the vastness of the universe.

AGGS M 1, p. 3.

Here Guru Nanak talks about the four Vedas and the four Semitic texts: Torah, Zabur (Psalms), Inzil (Gospel) and Quran.

For a specific reference to Quran the word Quran is used in AGGS.

Commenting about the time of creation of the cosmos Guru Nanak says:

The Pandits did know the time otherwise they would have recorded it in the Puranas. Neither did the Qaziz know it otherwise they would have written in the Quran.

AGGS, M 1, p 4.

The Merciful One is the only Emancipator (maula), not the holy men (pir and Sheikh), or Prophets. The Master of every heart, Who delivers justice, is beyond the description of the Quran and other Semitic texts.

AGGS, M 5, p 897.

In spite of being an alleged non-believer in the Bible in 1955, he goes out of his way in 1968 to defend the Biblical God and the Bible by saying that Katebi only means Quran. It must be noted that Guru Nanak used Katebi and Kateba, which are the plural of Kateb. This calls into question how much we can rely on McLeod’s word: According to his autobiography (2004), he had doubts about Christianity in 1955 and then in 1968 Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion was published in which he distorted Guru Nanak’s composition simply for the sake of defending the Biblical God! In other words, by intentionally changing the meaning of Guru Nanak’s hymn, McLeod protected the Biblical God by plucking him out of the incisive insight of Guru Nanak. By this action alone one can cast doubt on whether McLeod was a non-believer as he now alleges.

It makes no difference to me whether he is a Christian or not, but could someone, who concealed this pivotal fact for so long while accepting a position as missionary, be trusted? This raises doubts about his credibility and integrity as a scholar. My extensive study of his works has persuaded me to raise serious doubts underlying his “methodology of historical research” and his academic ethics. His research is flawed because he ignores facts and strong evidence that goes against his thesis but accepts flimsy evidence and discredited sources to support his argument as demonstrated by the examples that you will read shortly. To help the reader in understanding this long complicated paper, I have organized the rest of this paper in the following seven chapters:

1. Discrediting the Evidence that Guru Nanak Visited Baghdad

2. Questioning the Authenticity of Kartarpuri Bir (Adi Granth)

3. Caste in the Sikh Panth

4. Attempts to Malign the Institute of Sikh Studies

a. Guru Gobind Singh did not appoint the Granth Sahib as Guru of Sikhs

b. Jats changed the course of Sikh movement

c. Gurus did not preach one religious doctrine

d. Guru Nanak and the Sant Tradition

5. Unwilling to Face the Truth

6. Manipulation and deception

7. Guru Nanak and the Sikh Religion

Please Discuss !!!

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Guest Javanmard

Vâhigurûjpikâkhâlsa Vpahigurûjîkîfateh

For having met McLeod myself and knowing his work very well I would like to add the following:

1. There is no doubt a great problem in terms of methodology in his works. There is first of all the fact that he, and other Western scholars, totally ignore the writings and the traditions of the Sikh sampradayas. It is as if between 1708 and Kahn Singh Nabha there had been no Sikh literature at all!!! This can be explained by Western scholars inability and unwillingness to engage with real people as it might shatter their nicely constructed Orientalist and Protestant views of things. McLeod himself admits to have poor Panjabi and to rely practically exclusively on Singh Sabhia literature. As a self professed atheist he disregards the notion of transcendence in his work. His work and that of so many other Western scholars can be resumed in the following attitude: Sikhs as a tribe. Then again we shouldn't complain when we ourselves as a community behave as such, over-emphacising identity (an Anglo-Saxon obsession) over the very soul of Sikhi.

2. The following points by McLeod can clearly be proven wrong:

a. That Guru Nanak did not visit Baghdad. Local Shi'a sources clearly confirm Guru Nanak's passage to Baghdad even though McLeod does have a point when it comes to the Turkish inscription on Shaikh Bahlol's shrine. It does NOT refer to Guru Nanak. Yet strangely enough Shi'as of the area have reserved a space in the shrine for Guru Nanak. I wonder why?

b. Guru Nanak was part of the Sant movement. The doctrine of metemphotosis in Sikhi as well as the central role of the Guru as theophany clearly disproves that claim assuming that the Sants were a "movement".

c. The militarisation of Sikhi came only under Guru Harigobind, until then the Sikhs were pacifists. From the teachings of Guru Nanak himself we can clearly see that the ideal of javanmardi or chivalry is very important. After all who are the great knights he mentions in karam khand? The fact that sampradaic literature mentions that Guru Nanak was armed when traveling in his Udasis is another proof. The fact that Guru Arjan had bodyguards is another. McLeod's assumptions are based on Western ideas of the privatisation of religion i.e. true religion should be private and pacifist and should NOT intervene in the public domain. McLeod projects this scheme of thought on Sikhi.

d. The article mentioned discredits itself by using the whole conspiracy theory argument. Personal attacks against the man won't help either. The only way to prove him wrong is on the academic field, and by academic field I mean proper universities not some Sunday scholars' wannabe centers.

I hope it helps

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b. Guru Nanak was part of the Sant movement. The doctrine of metemphotosis in Sikhi as well as the central role of the Guru as theophany clearly disproves that claim assuming that the Sants were a "movement".

Bro, can you shed more light on this subject? never knew sri guru nanak dev ji was part of sant movement?

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