It was once said, by a wise saint, that you should stay away from controversy at any cost, even if the controversy involved differences in religious beliefs. He said something to this effect, in simpler terms, but it still resonates to us all these decades later.
There’s trouble brewing in paradise and I really don’t have any inkling as to how it’s going to affect our community within this country, my family and me personally. But, like in any crisis, there are the ones screaming to save the day and save future generations, and there are ones who don’t really think there’s anything to get upset about. History tells us that we’re mostly in the middle of both these camps.
Sabha is, again, at its crossroads.
Sabha’s leadership is going through some Machiavellian episode, where a group of wise elders and previous leaders have taken to exception the current Jathedar’s direction on leading. Harking back to those wise words of the Saint that I mention above, I’ve tried to personally stay away from the developments of this episode, and thus lack the details as to how we’ve come to this tipping point. But what’s sorely obvious is that the Jathedar has lost the confidence votes of these elders. I suspect this revolves around the interpretation and authenticity of texts of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s writing. That is the root, from my observation, the branches and leafs are made of arguments and other symptoms that are apparently plaguing Sabha [Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia, SNSM) today.
This root has been the raging debate, going on for the past couple of years within the inner circles of the our community, between the orthodox conservatives and the intellectual liberals. And truth be told, the moderates that form our majority are in the middle, suffering with fatigue, exhausted from just trying to maintain the peace between both camps.
Our youth, from the teens to the young adults, are trying their best to be practicing Sikhs, spiritual and learning, but pragmatic and want to stay relevant with the times. Much like the moderates above. They want real solutions to real life problems, like drug abuse, alcoholism, affordable education. They have to endure many facets of cultural stigmas as they find themselves. We, as a community, are very punishing when it comes to our youth and sexual orientations, fighting sexual abuse, all the while trying to identify themselves to the spiritual teachings of our Gurus. It ain’t easy being young these days, even when the more basic materialistic needs have been met.
Do you think they have the time and resources to then be part of this debate? Perhaps they do, but my bet is those youth involved is just a small portion.
This tornado of debates and arguments won’t dissipate anytime soon. Both camps will plow through these philosophical debates while trying to establish stakes in the ground under the name of protecting our beliefs and the beliefs of our next generations. They’re doing this on our behalf. And while I should be appreciative, I only question the priority that these debates and arguments have taken on their agendas.
Whatever the outcome is from this latest episode, Sabha and her sewadars have much more work to focus on, to help our youth, to give them the empowerment that they need, to assure them that being Sikhs and listening to the Guru’s teachings can help them navigate through life. And while they’re navigating, stay away from the danger zones that we call controversy. Just as the great wise old saint had said to the youth decades ago.
Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Trojan Horse in Sabha (Asia Samachar, 24 Feb 2019)
Disgruntled members threaten to oust SNSM jathedar (Asia Samachar, 22 Feb 2019)
Hawkish fatwa (Asia Samachar, 23 July 2018)
Time for vacation, Sabha? (Asia Samachar, 22 July 2018)