Home » , » SIKHISM : A THREATENED IDENTITY

SIKHISM : A THREATENED IDENTITY

SIKHISM : A THREATENED IDENTITY

Said Guru Nanak, "Hukme ander sabh koe," i.e. everything is happening within the will of God. This includes the growth of hair on the human body. The Sikhs therefore don't cut them and present a unique and distinct look, with a beard and turban. Confronted with the wave of fashion coupled with the absorbent nature of the Hinduism their identity stands threatened. According to recent census returns the growth rate of Sikhs has come down. Even Delhi has marked a negative growth rate in Sikhs. The successive Congress Govts. have done little to curb this downward trend rather there are allegations that they have supported such saints or gurus who in appearance are like Sikhs and attract Sikhs but preach the Hinduism. Similarly, the present trend has discouraged army and police soldiers to keep hair. KHUSWANT SINGH, the World renowned writer and columnist has voiced this concern some years ago and the same are reproduced here.

 A student of Sikhism may indulge in speculation on the future course of the two movements viz. Sikh resistance to being absorbed bY Hinduism and the movement of a Sikh state. The two are more intimately related to each other than is generally realised or admitted.  
 The relapse into Hinduism forms a recognisable pattern and is more evident among the rich and educational classes of Sikhs. ln this the younger generation has begun to' give up the practice of wearing their hair and beards unshorn. They try to retain a sense of i$entity with the community by sporting other symbols - notably the 'Kara'- and are often more punctilious in religious observance. This does not prevent their being rejected by the orthodox Khalsa as 'patits' (renegades). Being too few to form a social group of their own, they soon find themselves in the accommodating embrace of Hinduism. lt proves that the sense of beloNging to the Sikh community requires both the belief in the teachings of the 'Adi Granth' and the observance of the Khalsa tradition initiated by Guru Gobind Singh, and that there is no such things as a clean-shaven Sikh - he is simply a Hindu believing in Sikhism.  
 The absorption of the 'sahajdhari' Sikhs into the Hindu folds adds weight to the argument that there  o such thing as a clean shaven Sikh. At one time sahajdhari' Sikhism was - as the meaning of the word signified, "those-who-take-time" - the halfway house to the hirsute form of Khalsa.   Sikhism. Nowthe process is reversed, and it has become a halfway house to Hinduism. The case of the sahajdhari' Hindus of Sindh is illustrative. Till independence, when they were living in their home province, they were distinctly more Sikhs than Fiindus. Today, dispersed over the lndian subcontinent, most of them have gone back to Hinduism. Even where they form compact communities as in Bombay, the altars of their temples display Hindu gods along side the 'Granth', and Hindu ritual is fast displacing the Sikh. There are strong indications that with the passing of the present generation Sikhism will also pass out of the people of Sindh.
 No statistics have been compiled to prove that the practice of taking 'pahul' and wearing the hair and beard unshorn is on the decline; but that it is so is now admitted by most of the Sikh leaders and will be apparent to any shrewd observer. A closer study of the incidence of apostasy yields the following conclusions.  
 Firstly, wherever Sikhs are scattered among other people, the attachment to tradition declines and the rate of apostasy rises. This is most evident in the Sikh communities in foreign lands. ln the United States, Canada, and England the number of 'kesdhari' Sikhs is extremely small and ever-diminishing. On the other hand, in countries such as Malaya or in East Africa, where Sikhs live in comPact groups, incidence of apostasy is lower. . The same phenomenon can be observed in lndia. ln the Sikh districts of East Punjab, the Khalsa traditions flourish while among smaller Sikh  communities in other parts of lndia, they are on the decline.  
 Secondly, the abolition of communal considerations by the Indian Government, e. g. separate electorates, weight age in services, and above all the non-forcement of rules regarding 'pahul' in the armed forces, have taken a heavy toll of the khalsa. This was amply proven by the attitude of the untouchable castes of Sikhs. By the Scheduled Castes Order 1950-1951, while all Hindu untouchable castes were given special privileges, only four sub-castes of untouchable Sikhs were included in the list. The sub-castes excluded from the schedule showed little reluctance in abandoning the Khalsa tradition and declaring themselves Hindus in order to claim the benefits. lt proved more than ever that religious sentiment is a poor argument against economic benefit.  
 Thirdly, there is a close connection between the Punjabi language and Sikhism. ln families where Punjabi has been replaced by other languages - English among rich and the anglicised, Hindi amongst those desirous of getting the best in a Hindu-dominated lndia - the study of the Granth, the observance of Sikh rituals and Khalsa traditions have had a short lease of life.  
 Fourthly, with the resurgence of Hinduism, the official commitment to secularism is being reduced to a meaningless clause in the constitution. The emphasis on Sanskrit and Hindi, study of the Aryan classics, insertion of cow-protection as a directive clause of the constitution, the increase in the number of cow-protection socities, the growth of Hindu political groups such as the Bhratiya Jan Singh and the militant R.S.S.S., now BJP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Shiv Sena, Vishav Hindu Parishad and the suspicion with which other minorities have come to be regarded are but sonne indications of the way the wind is blowing. Hindus, who form 80 percent of the population, will in due course make Hinduism the state religion of lndia.  
 The four conclusions listed above lead to the fifth: the only chance of survival of the Sikhs as a separate community is to create a state (within lndia) in which they form a compact group, where the teaching of Gurmukhi and the Sikh religion is compulsory, and where there is an atmosphere of respect for the traditions of their Khalsa forefathers. (source- A History of Sikhs Princeton University)
Share this article :

No comments:

Post a comment

 

Punjab Monitor