| Opinion | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 22 April 2016 | Asia Samachar |
A mini storm is brewing within the Sikh community in Malaysia with a local Sikh organisation going ahead with a planned kirtan and katha of Dasam Granth in Kuala Lumpur today in the face of objections from some quarters of the community, including the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC).
Asia Samachar speaks to Dr Karminder Singh, a Malaysian Sikh who has been active in Sikh activities for more than three decades, on the issue.
“On matters concerning Dasam Granth, we should allow the scholars, researchers to do their work and for our religious institutions of authority, the Akaal Takhat especially, to give us final direction. Till then, we should avoid taking any steps that will break the unity of our Sanggat, cause divisions, conflict and, God forbid, violence,” he says in the interview.
He was asked to comment on the the three-day Akaal Ustat Semagam programme organised by the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Academy (SGGS Academy) at Gurdwara Sahib Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur, beginning today.
On 7 April, MGC had dispatched a letter to the gurdwara to voice its concerns that a the programme has the ‘potential of splitting the Sanggat and causing disunity’.
SEE ALSO: MGC LETTER TO GURDWARA SAHIB TITIWANGSA
At the time of writing, SGGS Academy and the Titiwangsa gurdwara management committee (GMC) president Paviter Singh had yet to respond to queries from Asia Samachar on the matter.
Dr Karminder Singh, who describes himself as independent Sikh unaffiliated to any Sikh organisation or gurdwara, is a member of the Dhram Parchar Committee of MGC in an advisory capacity. He also works with the Coalition of Malaysian Sikhs Organisation (CMSO) as their guest parcharak on Gurbani matters.
EXCERPTS FROM THE ASIA SAMACHAR INTERVIEW WITH DR KARMINDER SINGH:
What is your take on the MGC letter to the Gurdwara Sahib Titiwangsa on the Akaal Ustat Semagam matter?
I am in support of the letter. The MGC is calling on Titiwangsa Gurdwara commiitee to abide by the stipulations of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM) with regards to what is allowed for kirten and katha in a gurdwara programme.
It is also calling on the committee to be aware of the dangers of dis-regardding the SRM. The constitution of the MGC states that member gurdwaras will abide by the SRM. Titiwangsa Gurdwara is a member of MGC.
Further, Malaysian gurdwaras have by and large adhered to the SRM for as long as they have existed. The SRM ensures panthik unity and peace – two things that Malaysian gurdwaras have enjoyed all along. Why do we want to rock the boat now?
What is wrong with discussing Akaal Ustat?
The issue is not about discussing. Scholars and researchers on both sides of the divide (for and against Akall Ustat) do it all the time.
This semagam at Titiwangsa aims to sing this composition in kirtan form and to do its katha (discourse) in the diwan in the presence of the Sanggat and in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This is not right.
This composition is not in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It is not sanctioned as Kirtan and
Katha in the sangat in the diwan. The SRM is clear – Kirtan and Katha only from SGGS, Bhai Gurdas jji and Bhai Nand Lal Ji.
So the issue is over the contravention of SRM and established maryada of Kirtan and Katha in the sangat. The issue is over an attempt to “smuggle” this controversial composition into the maryada of Kirtan and Katha in the Gurdwara under the disguise of “discussing” it.
How do you view the position of Dasam Granth in the Sikh Panth today?
It stands as the single most controversial issue in the Sikh Panth today. It is a highly emotional issue for many Sikhs on both side of the divide. The potential of this issue to divide previously united sangats, cause conflict and even violence is evident if one does a search on Youtube for instance.
In gurdwaras overseas, Sanggats are beginning to take matters into their own hands. There is video evidence of groups of anti Dasam Granth Sikhs stopping Ragis from singing compositions from Dasam Granth in the Sangat. There is similar evidence of groups stopping parcharaks who have anti Dasam Granth stands from doing their parchaar.
Police have been called into gurdwaras over such ugly incidents. Gurdwras have been ordered closed by the authorities over the breach of peace. This is disgraceful.
We don’t want such to happen in our Malaysian gurdwaras. The potential down the line is certainly there.
How do we move forward on this issue?
1. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib Academy has done a commendable job in teaching and promoting the SGGS to our Sanggat. They should carry on their good work and earn even higher regard from our Sanggat.
2. All Malaysian gurdwaras and Sikhs in their individual capacity should stick to the SRM on matters of Kirtan, Katha and the Nitnem Banees.
3. On matters concerning Dasam Granth, we should allow the scholars, researchers to do their work and for our religious institutions of authority, the Akaal Takhat especially, to give us final direction. Till then, we should avoid taking any steps that will break the unity of our Sanggat, cause divisions, conflict and, God forbid, violence.
4. In the Titiwangsa case, there may be individuals or groups with agendas on their own. I call upon them to act responsibly.
5. I call upon the Gurdwara committee to stand up and do what is right. If the committee is somehow unable to do it, the Sanggat should take a stand and call their committee members to take charge. Please do not allow your gurdwara to gain a reputation for being the gurdwara where the conflict of it all started. You will have to live with that reputation for a long time.
6. It would be best for the Academy, MGC and Gurdwara Titiwangsa to discuss this matter while keeping the interests of the Malaysian Sanggat as a whole in mind.
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