The Hijacking Exposed

In the 11th of the Hijacking of Sikhi video series, KARMINDER SINGH DHILLON looks at Sikhi awakening pioneers. In the process, Akal Takht excommunicates Bhai Gurmukh Singh. The author deducts 4 lessons from this excommunication. He also takes a deeper look at the advent of the Sikh Reht Maryada.

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By Karminder Singh Dhillon | Opinion |

After almost two centuries of their spirituality being corrupted, distorted, and despoiled; enlightened lay Sikhs began to plod their community to awaken towards the plight of their hijacked status. These ordinary Sikhs argued that there was a need to put an end to the alteration, corruption and deviation that had been inculcated into Sikhi by the Hijacker groups. They called for the freeing of our gurdwaras and institutions from the shackles of the hijackers. They rallied for Sikhs to relook at their tainted “classical texts” and literature that had been the handiwork of the hijacker groups. They called for Sikhs to shed off the Stockholm Syndrome that had set into our psyche, and revert to authentic SGGS based Sikhi that was given to us by Guru Nanak and his nine successor Gurus. In short, they called for massive reforms and an overhaul of the hijacked system that was Sikhi.

Resistance against the reform by the Hijacker groups was anticipated. Opposition from the dera, taksali and clergy groups was predictable. What was not expected, however, was that Sikh Institutions, Organizations, Academics, and Thinkers would show such high levels of resistance towards efforts of reform. This resistance was a clear indication of the depth to which the infiltration of Hijacker influence had occurred. It was also a clear sign of the extent to which the Sikh community was in denial as a result of the Stockholm Syndrome effect. What is equally shocking is that the Sikh masses have shown high levels of indifference and ambivalence in wanting to embrace the true and authentic messages of their Gurus as advocated in the SGGS.

The outcome has thus been in the form of an intense, prolonged and unfinished battle that still continues till date and is expected to take up much of our energy and resouces into the 21* Century.

This chapter provides brief narratives of the leading commoner Sikhs who dedicated their lives towards bringing about an awakening within Sikhs and Sikhi. It narrates the challenges they faced against the onslaught of resistance within the backdrop of a community largely unaware, unconcerned and oblivious to the fact that they were hostages.

THE PIONEERS

Gurmukh Singh (1849-1898), a professor at Oriental College Lahore.

Ditt Singh (1985-1901), a historian, scholar and poet who wrote over 70 books on Sikhism.

Karam Singh, Historian (1884-1903), who exposed the hijacking of Guru Nanak’s birth date from Vaisakh of 1469 to Kathik di puranmashi.

Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha Dhillon (1861-1938), author of Mahan Kosh.

(Refer to the book for more details on the pioneers).

THE OUTCOME

The efforts of the pioneers and the Singh Sabha Reform Movement did show some results. The notable ones were the removal of statutes and deities from the precincts of Darbar Sahib, the freeing of major gurdwaras from the nirmlas and mahants through the Gurdwara Reform Movement, the setting of the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in 1920 to manage historical Sikh gurdwaras, the inauguration of the Shromani Akali Dal as a political party also in 1920 to champion Sikh rights and the passing of the Sikh Gurdwara Act in 1925 which legally allowed the custody of historic Sikh shrines to pass from the nirmlas and mahants to the SGPC.

It would not, however, take long for the Sikh community to discover that a good number of these initiatives would soon fail, primarily on account of most of Sikh institutions having fallen back into the hands of the Hijacker groups and their successors. The nirmlas and mahants vacated control of historical gurdwaras to SGPC and moved over to set up deras and taksals — institutions which grew phenomenally due to the fact that the Sikh masses continued with their patronage. These nirmlas and mahants reinvented themselves as sants and babas. Some of them went to great lengths to fabricate fake lineages to the Gurus or prominent Sikhs. These sants and babas repackaged themselves as true preachers of Sikhi through their rituals, non-stop Akhand Paths, and the promotion of the Hijacked version of Sikhi. To create support amongst the masses they relied on initiation rites into their particular deras in the form of mass khande-di-pahul ceremonies. These initiation rites earned them undivided loyalty amongst their followers.

In short the deras, taksals and their sants and babas became the Rebranded Hijackers of Sikhi in the aftermath of the Singh Sabha led reform initiatives.

They would grow so phenomenally that dera and taksali Sikhs would reach critical mass in just one generation. Historian Harjinder Singh Dilgeer says there are close to 15,000 deras in Punjab alone [Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer, Sikh History Volume 9, Page 177-178] – a figure higher than the total number of villages therein. The critical mass would allow pseudo Sikhs to take effective control of SGPC, the takhats including the Akal Takhat, Gurdwaras, Sikh Institutions and Academia. In just one generation, up to 95 percent of Sikh clergy worldwide — granthis, ragis, parcharaks, kathakars, dhadees etc. would have had their training at deras and taksals. An equally large portion of the management of Sikh institutions too would be those with dera and_ taksali inclinations.

For all intents and purposes then, Sikhi was headed back to its Hijacked state. The deras and taksals had become the New Hijackers — vitalised and emboldened by the support from the Sikh masses. The Sikh community was back in a state of slumber — fast asleep in the comfort that their spirituality was in the hands of our own hijackers.

THE SIKH REHAT MARYADA

From the Sikh Spirituality point of view however, the efforts to create a uniform code of conduct or Maryada for Sikhs, of Sikh ceremonies and practices for Sikh institutions would stand out. The SGPC appointed a group of 28 eminent Sikhs on 15 March 1927 to undertake the task. [Factual data in this para is derived from Gurbax Singh Gulshan Darpan Sikh Rehat Maryada (Punjabi), UK: Khalsa Parcharak Jatha, 2005, p35 – 54.] The task was completed in April of 1931 and it was discussed with various other groups and individuals throughout 1932. The first draft was put before a panthik seminar on 30 December 1933 attended by 170 individuals. One of the resolutions at this seminar was to send the draft for comments to 50 Sikh individuals and institutions across the globe; of which less than half – 21 to be exact – responded with a variety of suggestions. The resulting draft was then approved on 12 October 1936 and kept in storage. After an unexplained hiatus of 8 years, the Dharmik Advisory Committee comprising of just 8 individuals decided to make a total of 17 changes on 7 January 1945. The final version was released in February of 1945.

THE QUESTIONS THAT RAISED QUESTIONS

First, why was there a hiatus of 8 years? Why was the draft kept in storage for this long?

Second, and more importantly what was added or removed to the draft during these 8 years?

Third, which persons had access to the document while it lay in storage during the 8 years?

Fourth, why did just 8 individuals make 17 changes just prior to its final approval and release? Who were they and who authorized them to make the changes?

Fifth, were these 17 the only changes or were there more alterations done surreptitiously during the 8-years that it lay in storage? Sixth, did the first group of 28 eminent Sikhs know of the changes by the 8 persons? Eight years is a long time, many of the 28 would have moved geographically, passed on or simply moved on in their lives and professions.

Principal Satbir Singh has said _ that the documentation pertaining to the SRM process was more than one ton in weight. Former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra is on record for agreeing, and adding — most tragically – that not a single sheet of the records remained after the June 1984 attack on the Darbar Sahib and Akal Takhat by the Indian Army [62 Gurbax Singh Gulshan, op cit., p. 51-52. 379]. The Sikh Reference Library, where the material was all kept was razed to the ground as collateral damage according to official versions.

The six questions above will therefore remain unanswered and continue to raise more questions.

THE HIJACKERS AND THE SRM

There is no doubt that the group of Sikhs who were tasked with drafting the SRM suffered deep divisions amongst themselves. The initiative was purely borne out of the Singh Sabha Reform Movement’s efforts to cleanse the psyche of Sikhi of the Snatan, Vedic and Yogic distortion and corruption that had been inculcated into our spirituality on account of the udasis, nirmlas, sants, deras, babas etc – termed as Hijackers of Sikhi in this book.

The Singh Sabha was thus represented in the SRM drafting group in the likes of enlightened mind that was Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha. The Panchkhand group was represented by the highly principled Teja Singh who was unequivocal in his demand for the total and complete exorcism of Hijacker influence from the SRM. There were a fair number of intellectuals such as Professor Teja Singh, Professor Jodh Singh, Principal Harkrishen Singh and Professor Ganga Singh.

But the nirmla, dera, taksali groups had their members as well; in the likes of the very influential nirmla Bhai Veer Singh, Sant Maan Singh nirmla, Sant Sangat Singh, Sant Gulab Singh, Pandit Basant Singh, Pandit Kartar Singh Dakha, and Sant Randhir Singh. Its ironical that an endeavor aimed at removing nirmla influence from Sikhi was participated in by nirmlas and individuals with nirmla mind-sets. For reasons unknown, at some point during the deliberations, two representatives from the antiSikh sect ~ the Shromani Radha Soami Mutt Vicharak Sabha -Harcharan Singh and Bhagat Singh – were included.

Given the interest of the colonial government in the affairs of Sikhs, it can be safely concluded that the British had a hand in the inclusion of some members into this committee.

In the absence of records of the deliberations (they having been reduced to ashes in June 1984 as mentioned above), one can only speculate as to the heated debates that may have gone on between the nirmla, dera and taksali groups on the one hand, the Singh Sabha Reformers on the other and the role played by the British sympathizers.

What is clear however is that the resultant SRM is a compromise document. In order to come into existence, the only way out perhaps, was to RETAIN a certain amount of the Snatan, Vedic and Yogic distortions that the Hijacker groups had smuggled into Sikhi for some 200 years.

The Hijackers of Sikhi thus managed to keep their foot firmly and squarely in the parameters of the SRM. Given the range and depth of their influence, they managed to circumvent a process that that was originally aimed at doing just the reverse.

THE COMPROMISE THAT WAS STILL BORN.

All the nirmla, dera, taksali, sant, baba groups openly declared — the moment the SRM was launched – that they will NOT abide by it. They have all continued to implement their own individual maryadas that contain almost all the stipulations that the Hijackers of Sikhi loaded upon the Sikh psyche over a two century period.

In this regard then, and as argued in the first part of this book, the dera, taksali, sant and baba groups are the present day Hijackers of Sikhi.

The Singh Sabha, Panchkandi, Intellectual, Missionary Parcharak groups accepted the SRM on the justification that its acceptance would bring about panthik unity. Their acceptance was also on the premise that since the SRM had achieved some level of cleansing of Snatan, Vedic and Yogic influences, it will be revisited by the Panth at some point down the line for further cleansing. These groups thus stood in solidarity with the SRM, propagated it, defended it and educated the Sikh masses of its contents. They have accepted the SRM as Panth Parvanit (Panth Ordained) and Akal Takhat sanctioned maryada.

In their REJECTION of the SRM, the dera, taksali and sant samaj groups are also aiming for a revision and a rewrite of the document. Their method is however to infiltrate all Sikh institutions of authority – the SGPC, the takhats, the Akal Takhat, Academia and Gurdwaras — with persons who are aligned with their beliefs. This will ensure that if and when the SRM is revisited — it will be in total and complete compliance with the Snatan, Vedic and Yogic beliefs of the Hijackers of Sikhi.

That the dera, taksali and sant samaj groups have reached such their goal of infiltration of Sikh institutions is clear for all. That the takhats have been fully infiltrated is proven by the fact that none of them follow the SRM. In complete violation of the SRM, two takhats have installed the Bachitar Natak (Dasam granth) side by side the SGGS within their Darbar. One takhat slaughters a goat in full public view on a daily basis. It’s the height of irony that jathedars of these two takhats – themselves violators of the SRM, sit in judgement of those who are alleged to violate the SRM. The jathedars of Akal Takhat (the guardians of the SRM) frequently visit these dera, taksali and sant samaj locations and occasions to be received as guests of honor and garlanded — and never have they once reprimanded them for not following the SRM. These same jathedars have elected to ex-communicate a number of enlightened and awakened Sikhs who have sought to expose the hypocrisy of the situation. Dera and taksali groups go beyond just the parkash of the DG. Some have resorted to Akhand Paths of the Dasam granth; albeit at twice the payment for an Akhand Path of the SGGS. One wonders as to when these deras and taksals would initiate akhand Ramayan and akhand Mahabharat within their precints.

The Singh Sabha, Panchkandi, Intellectual, Missionary Parcharak groups thus fear that the achievements that were obtained through the SRM are in serious danger. These groups thus dedicated their parchar towards bringing about an awakening within Sikhs and Sikhi — the awakening that was initiated by the Pioneers in the form of Professor Gurmukh Singh, Giani Ditt Singh, Karam Singh Historian and Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha.

In short, these Sikhs have decided to pick up where the pioneers of the Singh Sabha Reform Movement left off. Many of them face daunting and unnerving challenges such as excommunication; violence and threats of violence; intimidation; and attempts to prevent their messages from reaching the Sikhs in general — either through Gurdwara stages or the social media.

(Extracted from the writer’s book The Hijacking of Sikhi, published in 2020]

Sikh thinker, writer and parcharak Karminder Singh Dhillon, PhD (Boston), is a retired Malaysian civil servant. He is the joint-editor of The Sikh Bulletin and author of The Hijacking of SikhiHe can be contacted at dhillon99@gmail.com. 

LINKS TO VIDEOS AND LECTURE NOTES FOR ‘THE HIJACKING OF SIKHI’

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 1 (The Plot): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 2 (Udasis): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 3 (Udasis): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 4 (Nirmlas): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 5 (Nirmlas): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 6 (Nirmlas – Sooraj Parkash): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 7 (Distorting Gurbani: The Nirmalas): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 8 (Dera Sants & Taksali Babas): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 9 (The Hijacked Turn into Hijackers / Stockholm Syndrome): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 10 (Dasam Granth: The weapon of mass control): Video | Notes

Hijacking of Sikhi – Part 11 (Freeing Sikhi from the Hijackers: The SRM): Video | Notes

RELATED STORY:

Hijacking Sikhi (Asia Samachar, 19 Dec 2020)

Sikhi Concepts: Complete links to videos and lecture notes (Asia Samachar, 3 July 2021)

The Hijacking of Sikhi: After releasing book, Dr Karminder starts 12-part video series (Asia Samachar, 18 July 2021)

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