Almost every Sikh interested in the Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale issue seem to have an opinion as to who is right and who is wrong. Some are supportive of the independent Sikh preacher seen as a beacon of reformist Sikh understanding. Others fault him for his defiant stance against Akal Takht.
If only everything in life was black and white. As in life, there is much grey matter in the Dhadrianwale issue.
On Monday (24 Aug), Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh announced decisions against Ranjit and another popular Sikh preacher Harinder Singh who heads the UK-based Nirvair Khalsa Jatha (NKJ).
He said the panj pyarey team he led had received a report from the sub-committee formed earlier to investigate allegations against Dhadrianwale for allegedly distorting religious and historical facts. Ranjit was found guilty and had been asked to come to the Akal Takht to seek forgiveness, or risks further actions. Harpreet has also asked Sikhs not to listen or share his videos which are widely followed online.
The issue has dominated each and every media channel that has an interest in Sikh matters. And leaders of all shades have put forward their views.
Asia Samachar has also picked up the issue. Our conclusion: There is blame on both sides, and there is a golden opportunity to set the future tone.
In this instance, Akal Takht has not been the shining example of conflict resolution. Right from the jathedar down, they seem to have made numerous missteps. Take the simple matter of setting-up the committee to look into the allegations? Its composition was far from independent. It seemed more an effort designed to fail on purpose or to further inflame the issue. Going further back, the folks at Akal Takht had not been sympathetic on the attacks, some physical and life threatening, mounted on Dhadrianwale and his people. Their silenced had been deafening. All this led to deep suspicion of bias at the Akal Takht, an institution that carries considerable sway on Sikhs globally, though diminishing.
On his part, Dhadrianwale is at fault for engaging head-on the taksals and other influential powers-that-be in the Sikh community. It seems he cannot let go an opportunity to hit out at fellow parcharaks (preachers) who may hold different views. Perhaps he should ignore the attacks. Let them be. If you have a Sikhi message of your own, stick to it and run with it. The confrontational approach has derailed him, and his wider mission. Mind the inflated ego that comes with fame. It can lead to his downfall.
How to move forward? Akal Takht must find a more conciliatory next step, and Dhadrianwale must reciprocate accordingly.
The Akal Takht jathedars cannot press on with red lines in the sand. While the institution established by Guru Hargobind Sahib has considerable sway on the wider Sikh world, some have questioned the credibility and integrity of the individuals wielding powers bestowed by the august institution. We have seen abuse in the past. The excommunication sword, hanging high once again, has been abused for political and other purposes. There is no reason for Akal Takht to draw that card.
So, let us hope sanity prevails all around. If Dhadrianwale is displaying reckless youth exuberance, let us hope that the Akal Takht will shine as a beacon of conflict resolution.
PS: As always, we welcome views. You can comment at our website or on our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram). You can also email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Whatsapp (+607-3351399).
Dhadrianwale slams Akal Takht acting jathedar (Asia Samachar, 27 June 2020)
Resolving disputes in Sikh community through mediation (Asia Samachar, 17 July 2020)
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