Charnjit Singh Bal

Ever since the origins of the institutionalized religions, there have always been conflicting viewpoints between the ultra-orthodox and the rational progressive elements regarding religiosity and spirituality interpretations. The bone of contention has, essentially, been the interpretation of the religious concepts, doctrines and practice. Whereas the ultra-orthodox elements tend to be inclined towards blind faith occultism, the progressive element tends to be rationalism, realism oriented. Often, the former element’s zeal to foster regressive religious dogmas, blind faith rituals and practices has resulted in violent strife in which the orthodoxy’s dissidents are persecuted. To accomplish its ulterior motives the ultra-orthodox religious cliques have often resorted to insidious strategies, i.e. accusing the dissidents of heresy or blasphemy and excommunicated, ostracized and/or burnt them alive at the stakes.

During the primeval and medieval times, since illiteracy and spiritual un-awareness were more prevalent among the religious flocks, it was lot easier for the holy demagogues to foster the occultism i.e. blind faith devotion, prejudices, taboos and superstitions upon the innocent/ignorant people. There were fewer learned and rational minded people who had the gumption to question the authoritarian orthodoxy’s rigmarole of sanctimonious dogmas, myths, heaven/hell, sin/penitence, sacrifices, idolatry and donations/offerings to the self-anointed holy men of dubious credentials.

The orthodox clerics emphatically profess superstitions, myths, stigmas, taboos and prejudices as an integral part of holy gospel to garnish support of the gullible religious flocks. Because of the religious flocks’ gullibility the orthodoxy has always been in control of the seats of power of the religious institutions. In the annals of human history there have been instances of orthodox clerics of every religion persecuting rational minded people who had the spiritual awareness and gumption to challenge formers' occult dogmas and religiosity.

Christian Inquisitions

The Christian inquisitions, tribunals, were set up to discover, repress and punish heresy soon after Christianity became the religion of Roman Empire. The Roman Inquisition was set up in circa 1230 A.D. to guard Christian faith and morals; special ecclesiastic bodies were established to thwart spread of religious sects of Cathari, Waldenses and Albigenses. The dissidents found guilty of heresy and/or blasphemy were handed to the civil courts for punishment. Judicial torture for eliciting evidence was common and no appeals were allowed until 1542 when Pope Paul 3 established Congregation of the Inquisitions/Holy Office.

The Catholic orthodoxy persecuted Galileo Galilee for espousing scientific Copernican theory (i.e. the earth rotates daily on its axis and planets revolve in orbits around the sun). In 1616 the Catholic orthodoxy summoned Galileo Galilee to Rome to defend his views that 'The Copernican theory was consistent with both catholic doctrine and proper biblical interpretation' that he wrote in his letter in 1613. Although cleared of the charge of heresy, he was ordered not to treat the theory as if it were true. In 1632 Galileo published his scientific masterpiece Dialogue concerning the two chief world systems showing the Copernican theory logically superior to the occult 'Platonic-Aristotelian theory (Actual things are copies of transcendent ideas and that these ideas are the objects of true knowledge apprehended by reminiscence). Once again he was summoned to Rome for disobeying, found guilty, forced to recant his statement and sentenced to house-arrest for life. His monumental works were seized and banned.

Spanish Inquisition

King Ferdinand 5 and his Queen Isabella established Spanish Inquisition in circa 1480 A.D. The proceedings of the Spanish Inquisition were often motivated by politics as by religious beliefs and were conducted with great severity through 16th century in Spain as well in the Spanish colonies of America. During the colonization of Latin America the Spanish Inquisitors, with Vatican’s blessings, hauled to Inquisitions, which were nothing more than Kangaroo courts, anyone who challenged their sanctimonious right to invade, colonize the land and Christianize the natives whom they categorized as savages.

Muslim Fatwa

The orthodox Muslim Ayatollahs and Mullahs have been equally harsh if not more so in issuing Fatwas (decrees) against the perceived heretics i.e. those Muslims whose interpretation of Islamic creed differs with the religious authority. In addition to the Quran’s creed that preserves the ancient criminal laws ‘eye for an eye’, ‘tooth for a tooth’ and cutting off of the left hand for theft, the authoritarian Muslim clerics have added more dogmas in the name of Shari’a. On strength of these dogmas they put out Fatwa,-(contract)- to execute any Muslim accused of dissent.

Sikh Orthodoxy

Although a lay religion, Sikhism too hasn’t escaped authoritarian orthodoxy’s Fundamentalism. Like other religions there has been antagonism between the progressive school of thought, i.e. the rational and analytical minded Sikh Scholars and the regressive school of thought i.e. the orthodox or fundamentalist Sikhs who are intrinsically averse to any progressive line of thought.

In any strife over a controversial religious issue the orthodox or fundamentalist lobby always resorts to occult beliefs and dogmas to counter any rational dialogue from the Sikh intelligentsia and Scholars. In the post Guru-era many a self-serving Sikh illegitimate clergy has invoked sanctimonious dogmas and dicta that the other religious orthodoxies practiced during the primeval and medieval times to wield illicit authority.

Role Reversal

During the Guru-period spiritual aspects of Guru-ship was given precedence over temporal aspect. The last Sikh Guru, to prevent future abuse of Guru’s august position invested Spiritual authority in Guru’s ‘Word’, the Granth, and decreed, ‘all Sikhs to revere Granth as Guru, (Spiritual authority)’. According to tradition, he entrusted management of temporal affairs to cadre of 5 worthy noble Sikhs. Soon after Guru’s demise when the worthy Sikhs were engaged in life or death struggle against Muslim Jihad and imperialism, the pseudo-Sikhs and infiltrators’ usurped control of Sikh Centers and corrupted the Sikh theology, traditions and religiosity with Hindu occultism, cultism, idolatry et cet.

Sikh reform movements, Khalsa Diwan societies and Singh Sabhas in late 19th century and Shromani Gurdwara Perbadhak Committee and Akali Dal in early 20th century, made great sacrifices to regain control and restore Sikhism to its originality. The Sikh renaissance didn’t last long. The erosion of Sikh spirituality and religiosity values started with self-serving Sant Fateh Singh, followed by twin rival s Tohra and Badal at the helm of Sikh leadership since 20th century’s early sixties.

Prof. Gurmukh Singh’s Ex-communication

The ex-communication of a true Sikh, Prof. Gurmukh Singh is an epitome (prime example) of abuse of illicit power by a bunch of self-serving religious leaders. At the time of his ex-communication Prof. Gurmukh Singh, one of pioneer founders of the reformist Sikh movement Singh Sabha, was actively pursuing his goal to found the first ever Khalsa College in Amritsar. The band of pretenders to the Sikh spiritual and temporal authority, not only ex-communicated Prof. Gurmukh Singh, but also incited the Sikh community not to render him financial help to carry out his missionary work and the noble cause of founding the Khalsa College.

In 1883/5 Akal Takht head Granthi Bedi Khem Singh proclaimed himself as the Sikh Guru and sat on a cushion. Aided and abetted by his cohorts, Rajah Bikram Singh of Friedkote, Mahants, Pujaris and other Guru pretenders, he, in 1887, ex-communicated a worthy Sikh scholar and missionary, Prof. Gurmukh Singh who criticized him for the un-Sikh activity. They harassed and hounded Prof. Gurmukh Singh’s companion Giani Ditt Singh to an early grave.

Some of the totally unjust accusations leveled against Prof. Gurmukh Singh who dedicated his life to the noble causes of reforming the Sikhism’s preaching and management system and eradication of wide spread illiteracy among the Sikh community were,

1) He does not revere the Sikh Gurus’ progeny, (pretenders to Sikh Guru-ship).

2) Twenty pictures of Avatars (Hindu Mythical god incarnates) were burned to refute their existence during a convention of Lahore Singh Sabha (Forum).

3) A Hindu convert to Islam was baptized as a Singh by the Lahore Singh Sabha.

4) In an article published in the Khalsa Newspaper he wrote, "Worship of weapons in the Sikh Gurdwaras is copy of Hindu ritual that is against Guru’s edification."

To an intelligent student of Sikh theology it is clear the ex-communication of Prof. Gurmukh Singh was a case of blatant abuse of illicit spiritual and temporal authority and the heretics punishing the pious Sikh. Prof. Manjit Singh revoked this dictatorial edict in 1995 and acclaimed Prof. Gurmukh Singh as a true Sikh.

Giani Bhag Singh’s ex-communication

The ex-communication of Giani Bhag Singh exemplifies how the conniving religious leaders wield the illegitimate authority to destroy those who dare to challenge the theology’s dogmatic interpretation, no matter how detrimental it is to the religion. Giani Bhag Singh published his book ‘Dasam Granth Nirnay’ (critique) in 1976. The book publication caused great deal of controversy amongst the Sikh community. During this period of controversy Giani Bhag Singh and Giani Sant Singh Muskeen were in Indore on lecture tours. As usual at one place when asked, Muskeen told congregation that simultaneous multiple Akhand Paths at one place are compatible with the Guru’s edification while at another he said it is not. And when Giani Bhag Singh mentioned about these contradictions Muskeen was naturally resentful.

During his lectures at Rajauri Gardens’ Gurdwara, Delhi, Muskeen quoted some verses from the Dasam Granth. Some young Sikhs argued with Muskeen and told him that the verses he had quoted were not that of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. Although the young Sikhs were absolutely right, Muskeen adamantly refused to concede that he was wrong. Next day they had some verses from Dasam Granth printed and asked Muskeen to preach the same to the Sikh congregation. Muskeen refused and wrongly accused Giani Bhag Singh of sending the thugs (young Sikhs) to insult him.

Muskeen approached his friend, Golden Temple Head Granthi, Giani Chet Singh. Both Muskeen and Chet Singh instigated Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Sadhu Singh Bhaura (from my village Bhaura) to issue Hokum-nama (edict) to ex-communicate Giani Bhag Singh. However in view of the controversy amongst Sikh community the S. G. P. C. decided to call an ad-hoc advisory committee meeting that was chaired by Giani Sadhu Singh. At this meeting when the Sikh Historian Shamsher Singh Ashok who had also written a critical review on Dasam Granth tried to express his views, he was shouted down by the vocal prejudiced members.

When Prin. Harbhajan Singh Hamraz asked all the 15 members at the meeting, 'if anyone had studied the Dasam Granth analytically' their silence conveyed the negative reply. And he asked them, (1) if the Dasam Granth’s authenticity controversy wasn’t as old as the Granth itself? (2) Didn’t the Akal Takht Jathedar and Granthi Singh Sahibs’ reply in June 1973 to Santokh Singh of Kasauli that Chritro Pakhyan is not Guru Gobind Singh’s work? (3) Aren’t we, the high-ranking Sikh personalities, too eager to condemn a pious person without his representation?

Note- In a reply No. 36672 dated 3rd August 1973 to S Santokh Singh of Kasauli the Asst. Sec., religious preaching sub-Committee of S. G. P .C. S. Gurbakhsh Singh wrote,

"In regard to your inquiry of 6th July 1973 the views of Singh Sahibs of Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht Jathedar are being sent to you. "Chritro Pakhyan in the Dasam Granth is not Guru Gobind Singh’s Scriptures. These are copies of the primitive Hindu mythical tales from Purans."

Signed, Gurbakhsh Singh, Assistant Secretary,

Dharma Perchar Committee, S. G. P. C. Amritsar

Prin. Harbhajan Singh’s wisdom prevailed in drafting and passing two resolutions unanimously, (1) Giani Bhag Singh should have presented his side of the case in detail to the Panth instead of two-line comment. (2) Since, with time the issue is getting serious, this committee humbly requests the S. G .P. C. to institute a sub-committee of prominent Sikh Scholars to authenticate the Dasam Granth’s scripts that are compatible with the Guru Granth Sahib’s philosophy and Guru’s Ideals. No punishment was considered appropriate for Giani Bhag Singh.

Despite the unanimous consensus reached at the meeting Giani Bhag Singh was ex-communicated on 5th July 1977 in a mysterious manner. The same bunch of Singh-Sahibs (Giani Sadhu Singh Bhaura, Giani Chet Singh and Giani Kirpal Singh) who said that Chritro Pakhyan wasn’t Guru Gobind Singh’s Work, were also star participants at the meeting to adjudge Giani Bhag Singh, ex-communicated him.

The concerned Sikh Scholars Prin. Harbhajan Singh, Giani Surjit Singh, Bhai Milap Singh and Amar Singh conferred through tele-conference with each other to have the edict issue redressed. Bhai Amar Singh Aligarh, who knew Jathedar Bhaura when he was a Granthi, convinced him of his misjudgment, Jathedar Bhaura agreed to rescind the edict. Bhai Amar Singh, Giani Surjit Singh and S. Milap Singh were to accompany Giani Bhag Singh to Akal Takht to have the edict rescinded.

Muskeen, who came to know about this journey to Amritsar, cunningly took Giani Bhag Singh to Akal Takht himself at his own expense. Jathedar Bhaura had a passage, ‘Giani Bhag Singh has apologized regarding Ardas (Sikh Litany) and Chaupie’ written on a plain paper, without Akal Takht’s letterhead. When it was given to old and feeble Giani Bhag Singh to sign, he accidentally dropped his reading glasses. Both Bhaura and Muskeen said, 'Giani Jee leave the glasses; don’t you trust us?' They practically tricked Giani Bhag Singh into signing the apology that he deeply regretted rest of his life. He told Giani Surjit Singh with tears in his eyes that Muskeen had deceived him.

S. Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana's Excommunication

In June 1998 when he was employed as a Granthi of Harimandar Sahib, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Dr. Amarjit Singh, Professor, Shaheed Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar edited 'Gurbilas Patshahi 6' and got it published by S. G. P. C. printed by its Golden Offset Press and dedicated it on Miri-Piri's author Guru Hargobind Sahib's fourth birth centenary, ‘to all those who got martyrdoms to keep Gur- Sikhi's tree flourishing’. So-called contemporary Sikh luminaries, Bh. Ranjit Singh, Jathedar Tohra, Jathedar Manjit Singh, Jathedar Kewal Singh, Bhai. Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, S. Manjit Singh Kalkatta, Gyani. Sant Singh Maskeen, Gyani. Jaswant Singh. Bhai. Dalip Singh Mallunagal, Gyani Joginder Singh Talwara, S. Narinder Singh Soach and Gyani Balwant Singh were the knowing or un-knowing promoters.

S. Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana who is about the same age as Giani Bhag Singh, when he was persecuted by the Sikh orthodoxy and fundamentalist lobby wrote a critical review of Gurbilas Patshshi 6. The ensuing controversy forced the S. G. P. C. to withdraw the deleterious publication. Naturally, Gyani Joginder Singh Vedanti, who in the meantime got by fluke the coveted job of Akal Takht Jathedar, was incensed. In a typical sanctimonious dogmatists' modus operandi, he and his ilk contrived, to excommunicate Kala Afghana. This time around Advocate Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba, G. Joginder Singh Talwara, Ratinder Singh, et al played role of Gyani Sant Singh Maskeen, Gyani Chet Singh, who were in the vanguard of the lobby that instigated G. Bhag Singh's excommunication.

Excommunication of S. Joginder Singh, Editor Spokesman

S. Joginder Singh who had the gumption to controvert the un-Sikh modus operandi and activities of the illicit Sikh clerics and challenge their authority to excommunicate Sikh scholars, was excommunicated in retaliation for lending support to S. Kala Afghana. S. Joginder Singh filed a suit against the excommunicators including Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti who has refused to accept summons by the Chandigarh high court asserting, "as the pope of the Sikh community he is above the law of the land and hence he won't appear before any court." He is said to have called a meeting of the Sikh clergy on 19th or 20th of June 2004 to discuss the issue.

Sad Irony

In the theocratic systems and religious institutions, too often the very people, who ought to be ostracized or excommunicated, manipulate their way to the vanguard of the ecclesiastical echelon and abuse their positions to reward their accomplices and persecute the righteous people who criticize them. Unfortunately for the Sikhs and Sikhism, during the five-century old history of Sikhism, except for the two-century Guru period, the controlling power has been in hands of quasi-literate Sikh clergy. Most of the so-called Singh Sahibs and Jathedars of today are products of sectarian enclaves, Deras, of the Sikh Gurus-pretenders and spurious Sants who distort the philosophy, creed and practice of Sikhism and exploit the gullible Sikhs.

Since Vedanti literally means scholar/follower of Vedanta (Veda+end), Vedas' end creed, the present Akal Takht Jathedar, who calls himself Vedanti, has no legitimacy to occupy a position propertied to be seat of Sikh spiritual and temporal authority. His predecessor Ranjit Singh (s/o Banta Singh, C 68 Jagat-pura, P.O. Krishna-nagar, New Delhi) was charged for stealing tires on 23 April 1978 as per F. I. R # 1053. His only qualification to be appointed the Akal Takht Jathedar was that he had murdered the Nirankari cult’s Guru Gurbachan Singh.

If anyone deserves to be excommunicated, it is the likes of Vedanti (accused of favoritism); Ranjit Singh convicted felon; embezzlers Manjit Singh, Puran Singh; perverted Sadhs, Amar Singh Burundi, Baba Daljit Singh, Dhanwant Singh (of Pallian notoriety) who are accused of enticement and rape; convicted mass murderer Inderjit Singh Reyat and their accomplices.

Rationalism, liberalism and pluralism are the main pillars of Sikhism. Had rational minded Guru Nanak, who was a Hindu by birth, not rejected Hinduism’s occult dogmas that fostered, blind faith devotion, myths, taboos, superstitions, pagan human/animal sacrifices, Idolatry, etc, Sikhism would never have been born. It is a religion to which people, who were persecuted, shunned and ostracized by other religions, were inspired to join of their free will, not coerced. Surely it would have never occurred to (Nanak Shah Fakir, Hindus’ Guru, Muslims’ Pir’), who founded universal, liberal and pluralistic Faith that prides itself on all inclusiveness, that one day the so-called Singh Sahibs and Jathedars would be excommunicating the rational minded Sikh Scholars for analyzing and writing critical reviews of quasi-Granths like Dasam Granth, Gurbilas, Jannam Sakhi, etc that are being erroneously promoted and propagated as the Sikh Scriptures and history.

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