The Golden Temple: Its Theo-political Status was the heading of a long essay by Sirdar Kapur Singh, first published in The Sikh Review of August 1984. The essay summarised Sikh history and tradition in the context of the Sikh doctrine of Double Sovereignty asserting Sikh independence in temporal and spiritual (Miri-Piri) matters.
We are reminded of this doctrine when we look at the current and future relationship between the Sikhs and India as a Hindu Rashtra (nation). Many current global Sikh issues can be traced back to this inherent conflict between the Sikh doctrine of Double Sovereignty and the ultimate objective of Hindutva politics which is the creation of a Hindu nation state.
The real intentions of the Indian ‘Brahmanic’ leaders acting for the Hindu communities were revealed soon after the first few sessions of the Indian National Congress founded in 1885. Introduction of Vedic word-concepts like Bharat Mata (for India) and patriotic songs using Hindi idiom were reminders to the minorities of what lay ahead for them.
We need to remind ourselves that the vast majority of Hindu Indians trapped in the caste hierarchical divisions are as much victims of the system as the religious minorities. All Hindus cannot be lumped together. Caution is needed when referring to the Brahmanic domination of the Indian society.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded in 1925. The declared objective was to promote the ideals of upholding Indian culture and the values of a civil society and propagating the ideology of Hindutva, to strengthen the majority Hindu community.
The first minority to rebel against these moves and motives were the Muslims of India. The Sikhs were the only other significant Indian minority with an independent ideology and institutions, and a tradition of self-rule. To begin with, the cautious Sikh reaction was the publication Hum Hindu Nahi by Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha.
For the Sikh leaders, the realization came too late. Following the Punjabi language based Suba agitation, the Sikh unrest continued due to a combination of religious, economic and political grievances. It led to the Sikh genocide which started in June 1984 and continued over a period of ten years. A timely realisation on the part of Sikh leaders of the extremes to which the Hindutva politics would go could have at least made them look for some sort of Constitutional safeguards for the Sikhs. Instead, they relied on just verbal promises by the crafty Congress leaders of the time.
As India heads towards becoming a Hindu Rashtra (Nation), so the Sikh resistance is growing. The Hindutva leaders are aware of this and corruption of Sikh ideology, tradition and history has been high on their agenda. Opposed to this takeover bid by the Hindutva forces is the next generation Sikh scholars in the diaspora. They are rebelling against the Vedic influence on Sikh thought through sants in deras preaching Nirmala literature.
Sikh political successes in the diaspora and the growing demand for justice for the Sikhs in India are seen as serious challenges by the present Indian administration. With the above background, we look at some specific current issues next.
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Gurmukh Singh OBE, a retired UK senior civil servant, chairs the Advisory Board of The Sikh Missionary Society UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The article first appeared at The Panjab Times, UK
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