United We Stand, Divided We Fall

There are no victors or losers in religious disputes, misunderstanding or misinterpretation. It leads to frustrations and further divisions. Panthic unity must take precedence and must be the top agenda for all Sikh organisations, says JAGINDER SINGH

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Opinion | Malaysia | 4 June 2017 | Asia Samachar |

By Jaginder Singh

Of late, there has been a heated debate on DG and both sides of the divide have been posting their views strongly on the social media.

From the onset, I wish to stress that I am no expert on the religion. However, by virtue of being born into a Sikh family, and for practising Sikhism my entire life, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on this explosive and divisive issue.

To begin with, I am, just like the vast majority of Sikhs nationwide and worldwide, an ordinary Sikh who follows most, if not all the teachings of our SGGS, and practise the religion according to what is prescribed in the SRM.

The best teachers in our lives are unarguably our parents, our family members, our relatives and the local priest. They were also our early preachers of the Sikh religion. They were our role models and we modelled our practices of the Sikh faith according to how we observed them and how they taught us. They may not be as highly educated as most of the Sikhs today, but their beliefs were unshakeable, their loyalty never to be questioned towards our SGGS and the teachings. We did not have concrete structures for the Darbar Sahib, but the faith was as concrete as steel. They learnt these practices from their forefathers, and their forefathers from theirs. It has been passed on from one generation to another. Surely, they were not deviant practices.

We were taught to lead a disciplined life through recitation of Bani and the donning of the Bana. We also recited our prayers through daily recitations of Bani, the chanting of Mool Mantar and Simran. We were trained to do Sewa, be it to serve Degh, sweep the floor, clean the footwear, serve Langgar, wash the dishes and so on. We were told to put into practice what the Sikh religion preached.

We saw Sikhism as a religion which taught us about values, which we needed to instill in our lives. Values such as Naam Japna, Dharam Di Kirt Karna and Vand Chhakna were our daily Mantra, which our elders practised with unrivalled loyalty. Besides, we were always reminded about the 5 evils namely Kaam, Krodh, Lobh, Moh and Ahankar, which we were asked to subdue and control. A vast majority of Sikhs were loyal disciples.

The scenario today is no different. Many of us are Sikhs by virtue of birth. Although we may not have the five K’s, we still have faith in our SGGS, as our spiritual guide in our lives. We go to the Darbar Sahib to pay our respects to our SGGS and engage in Sewa, and recite our daily prayers.

However, unlike the past, there are numerous issues afflicting our community today– cigarette and drug addiction, consumption of alcohol, the shaving of hair, conversion to other religions, inter-racial marriages etc which need urgent attention and action. Our youths are drifting away. In other words, there is a lot that our Sikh organisations can and should do to address these issues

Of late, Sikhs worldwide have gained recognition and earned praise for their contribution towards humanity and mankind. In Canada, the Sikh community is revered for their devotion to God and service to mankind. Not surprisingly, many Sikhs have found their way to Parliament and are today significant members of the House who contribute towards nation building. Similarly, Sikhs in Manchester demonstrated their noble values by extending their hands to the victims and families of the recent terrorist attack by offering food, shelter and support services for which they have earned accolades from people worldwide.

Sad to say, Sikhs have had few positives in Malaysia and the DG issue is putting us in the limelight for a wrong reason.  It is being turned into an explosive and divisive one. Worse, the social media is used as a medium to put forward various opinions, most of which are unaccounted for, unverified and unauthenticated. This simply puts us in bad light.

Remember, there are neither victors nor losers in any religious dispute, misunderstanding or misinterpretation. If the dispute is settled amicably and leads to reconciliation, then we are all victors. On the contrary, if it leads to frustrations and further divisions, then we are all losers. Panthic unity must take precedence and must be the top agenda for all Sikh organisations.

Leaders of Sikh organisations nationwide must put aside their differences and give dialogue a chance. Let the teachings of our SGGS be our spiritual guide in all our undertakings. Do not let the five evils, which our Guruji told us to subdue, to control our emotions and actions.

Steer clear from controversies which will only lead to the path of destruction and disunity. If a Sikh organisation wishes to invite a ‘controversial’ speaker, then it is better to use any other premise but the Gurdwara. Such a venue would not create any problems for anybody who wishes to attend or abstain.

Sikhism is a simple religion which has a universal appeal. We simply cannot let individuals change the course or direction, or tenets of the religion. The SRM is our legitimate document on Sikh practices and will continue to be. If we abide by the teachings of SGGS and the SRM, there will be no necessity to engage in unnecessary squabbles.

Unity is strength. Rather than highlighting our differences, we should dwell on our similarities to keep the faith strong. United we stand, divided we fall.

Jaginder Singh, who hails from Batu Gajah, works as an English Language Coach at the District Education Office in Kampar in Perak, Malaysia.

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Stay united is a farce given that there are those out there who are bent on installing the BN@DG on par with the SGGS Ji, or for that matter 4 inches lower etc etc. These same people think that they are ‘smarter and wiser’ than our Dasmesh Pita, Guru Gobind Singh Ji who himself bowed to Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji when passing on the Gurgadhi in 1708 and issuing his final COMMAND….”Sab Sikhan Ko Hukam Hare Guru Maniyo Granth”.
    Unless these renegades tow the line there can be no unity.

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