By HB SINGH | OPINION |
A pretty well-known Sikh parcharak from a high-sounding outfit was recently forced to eat his words. He apologised for suggesting that Guru Gobind Singh himself had somehow engineered the 1984 incident.
Giani Thakur Singh, a Sikh preacher who attaches himself to Damdami Taksal, was reading what seemed like a prepared text in his climb down from the preposterous claim. We can learn a few things from this incident.
To begin with, Giani Thakur is not a person that I’ve followed before (his lectures or talks or whatever). When the apology video clip began making its rounds, I decided to check him out. To my delight, there were more than enough videos on Youtube to make a fairly decent assessment of his brand of parchaar (preaching).
His content didn’t resonate with me, but he sure gave me a few chuckles. I will come to that shortly.
But first, let us see how he got the ‘inside scoop’ from no less than Guru Gobind Singh.
It seemed that the ‘enlightened’ people get visitations from ‘top’ souls. Gurus and long-gone ‘babas’ visit them. These people only appear before ‘sadhu sants’ of a certain level. So, there must be some kind of a checklist before they make an appearance.
In one lecture, this roving parcharak claims he has seen some ‘babas’ maintaining extra bedding for the supposedly celestial visitors.
In another talk, he tells about his encounter with a ‘baba’. That baba apparently told him that Guru Gobind Singh made an appearance before him. Standing at his doorway, Guru Gobind Singh, it seemed, showed him his blistered tongue. Why? The sevadar had done the ‘kirpan bheth’ while the degh was piping hot.
Utter nonsense shared in the name of Sikhi parchaar. Talk about livid imagination!
But that is not the worst part. Even more baffling is the fact that so many lap it up. “He has thousands of ‘likes’ for his video. It’s not easy to get that kind of numbers,” a Sikh involved in Sikhi parchaar in Malaysia told me. Ignorance and fear is certainly at play here. Ignorance of what Sikhi is all about, and fear of calling out the dastard lies of such parcharaks.
In the case of the 1984 story, I suppose, he must have ruffled too many feathers. Hence the apology.
‘GUPPY’ THAKUR’S ANTICS
Some people have labelled him as a ‘guppy’ (wild story teller, but this does not do justice to the Punjabi word. Let me know if you can translate it better). He has himself mentioned how people have thrown that label at him, but he is not perturbed as he believes he’s doing Guru’s work.
Let me just share a few of his wild stories. Hold back the laughter.
In one lecture, he talks about a supposedly special paath (prayer) called Brahm Kavach that he recommends to one and all. You won’t find this in the Guru Granth. He gives very specific instructions. You wake up early in the morning, do keshi ishnan (take a head bath), prepare degh, place it on a clean cloth. And the list goes on. And then you start the recitation of the prayer.
This paath, he claims, has helped so many. Miracles are supposed to have taken place.
In one incident, he talked about how people who had resolved to do the path but stopped half way. One Singh who had asked for the boon of waking up early to that path started hearing jaikaras at dawn. He must have heard in stereo because it came from ‘many Singhs’.
One ‘sant’ apparently told him in person: “Thakur Sia, there was a time when we didn’t have even half a slice of bread. They only get food on the third day. But he never asked for food. All he asked from God was that he is able to do his 151 Japji Sahibs, Panj Granthi, Sahej paath, 5 banis, Raheras, Kirtan Sohela, Ardas. Please don’t take these away from me. By all means, take away food, cloths; but don’t deny me the nitnem.”
Yes, you read correctly: one hundred and fifty one Jap (ji) in the morning! Seriously?
In another talk, Thakur tells the story of how a baba makes you eat soil, and wallah, you get not 1 but 5 boys! A perfect solution for all those parents who want to have a male for their next offspring.
These parcharaks drop names like nobody’s business. Big names. Thakur peppers his talks with the names of Baba Jarnail Singh Bindranwale and Baba Kartar Singh Khalsa (‘whom I know’, he says), both of the Damdami Taksal fame.
And if you listen carefully, many of these parcharaks would place themselves, unashamedly, in the ‘enlightened’ category. If not directly, then the followers would happily do it for them. Why not? An elevated ‘baba’ would immediately elevate their standing, too!
SAT BACHAN SIKHS
In his lectures, Giani Thakur keeps drumming on the importance of being a ‘sat bachan’ type of Sikh. What is that? When given an instruction, embrace it whole heartedly, without question.
To impress on its importance, he illustrates with stories of how Bhai Lehna does all the bidding of Guru Nanak, never questioning, never trying to reason. But, wait a minute? That’s Guru Nanak giving out the instructions. He wants to equate it to today’s living, breathing, talking ‘babas’? And we go ‘sat bachan’? He must be joking.
Guru Nanak wants us to question everything that we do. Guru Nanak wants us to be crystal clear as to why we do what we do. But these baba types want us to be like sheep. They want us to follow blindly. Good luck to those who submit to their silly whims and fancies.
The ‘bachan’ today is the Shabad as enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib. Surely not the fallible uttering of a baba, however exalted one may deem him (or her) to be.
They are merely twisting and turning things for their benefit. They want people to submit unquestioningly to their dictates and whims. They deploy fear. They make use of our ignorance.
Do check out the likes of Thakur Singh and others. But I do hope people turn to them for entertainment and not for serious, authentic Sikhi instruction.
Hb Singh is a Kuala Lumpur-based journalist with some experience in dealing with Sikh organisations, both from within and outside.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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