First of all, may I take the opportunity of wishing all fellow Sikh vir and bhaina a safe festive end to 2019 and the concluding decade in general. We all survived! Some of us have had pains and setbacks befall us, and some have had euphoric successes. Some births and some deaths. Most have had a bit of everything. But the bottom line is: Waheguru Tera shukar hai. Sabh tere bhanay vich hai. Tera shukar shukar shukar. Gratitude for our health, for our family, for all those who have been our support throughout the decade and especially those who we are grateful for as being part of our lives. There is a lot we need to be grateful for. (My well-wishes and prayers for all for the new year and in fact the 2020 decade are at the end of this short missive.)
I have just one ‘wish’ for our global Sikh Quom for the new year. I try to keep out of ‘quomi‘ squabbles and scholarly debates and issues as I am not qualified or learned enough to chip in, nor am I inclined. But I do have one wish and prayer for ‘us’.
As a Quom, and as a religion, we face multiple challenges from the exterior but more dangerously, from within. Let me firstly express a maxim which I first heard from our living legend – IJ Singh of USA, who needs no introduction: “Let us agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable.”
Besides all the other issues, some big, some small – and some small which blow out of proportions, there is one which was almost settled two decades ago – agreement to accept the Nanakshahi calender globally.
For those who do not know about the issue…
About a century back a Sikh historian S. Karam Singh corrected our (Sikh) prominent dates based on solar calendar and research to supersede the Hindu astrology based (Vikrami) calendar. A few decades ago S. Pal Singh Purewal carried out further in depth research and further corrected the dates of S. Karam Singh Ji.
In brief, S. Purewal, after decades of painstaking research, was able to establish the most important Sikh dates of interest like Gurpurabs, Sangrandh, Shahidhis of Guru Sahibs, Sahibjadays and other prominent Sikhs etc. to the western universally accepted Gregorian calender.
There was general universal acceptance from Sikhs for these calender. A decision to accept this calender called the Nanakshahi calender was accepted by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (SGPC) at the turn of the last century (20 years ago) with some exceptions. Then after pressure from others, who for their own interests preferred the Hindu calender dates, SGPC overturned the decision.
To move into this upcoming decade and beyond, we Sikhs have to work towards our universal identity – as Global Sikhs, wherever we live, whether in Punjab or other parts of India or any other part of the globe. Our numbers beyond Punjab and India are increasing. We are gaining prominence globally not only as a religion but as a global community (Quom) which contributes positively towards life in the countries we live in.
Besides preserving and practising our own religion, ‘way of life’ and our spiritual language Punjabi/Gurmukhi, we need to upgrade to other universal norms. We read, write and speak the languages of the countries we live in. Even in India, most Sikhs with a global outlook do at least read, speak and write the global language English. We have gurdwaras throughout the world! We have langgar throughout the world! We have kirtan throughout the world! And we have Sikhs in leadership roles in politics, industry, science, IT, commerce, other research and even in governments.
We might not agree on all aspects of our religion and ‘way of life’ and that debate will always be ongoing. Changes which some advocate and some try to force, rightly or wrongly, take time and only if the majority agree. For example, there appears to be a strong case for changing our Nishaan Sahibs to dark blue. (Saffron, kesari, is not a Sikh colour. It is a Hindu colour and it represents the Hindu religion on the Indian flag.) There are those who wish to stop the singing of ‘Deh Shiva’ as our National (International?) Anthem. There are those who advocate what is being coined as a ‘Nanakian Philosophy’, which wants to put greater stress on what they believe Nanak stood for and perhaps less for what Guru Gobind Singh Ji advocated. Some believe there is a great deal of hearsay about what Guru Gobind Singh Ji ‘intended’ or ‘advocated’ and some even cast aspersions and doubts about Guru Ji’s bani basically because it is not within the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the eternal Sikh Guru. Some want to change the Ardaas as we know it because the 1st. paudi of the Ardaas comes from a bani credited to Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Some want parkash of Dasam Granth. Some want to do away with it. And so on and so forth.
Change takes time (decades) and debate – rational debate, otherwise the ‘status quo’ should exist.
Apparently, to switch from ‘oil-divas’ to electricity at the Darbar Sahib, took 11 (eleven) years of debate, arguments and disagreements! That should give us an indication of the ‘time’ needed to bring about change – responsible change, hopefully.
BUT I DO BELIEVE, THAT WE SIKHS HAVE SPENT ENOUGH TIME WRANGLING OVER THE NANAKSHAHI CALENDER. 20 YEARS!
We need this change simply because it is the right thing to do. Our auspicious dates need to be aligned to the western globally accepted calender. Mainly, we need this so that every year (Gregorian year) we should know our dates in advance.
If due to very strong (self-interests) and pressure from certain quarters we are unable to fix our beloved founder, Baba Nanak Ji’s Gurpurab to Vesakhi, on 15 April, as has been authenticated, it does not matter. But let us at least fix it to one date in November. (Gurbani does teach us that every day is auspicious if we spend it in Naam!) So, if the majority Sikh World wishes to celebrate Baba Ji’s Gurpurab in November, so be it, but let us, at least have a fixed date in November.
I read a story written by one S. Ajit Singh which makes a great point.
About 25 years ago World Sikh News from California published his article about “Monthly Sangrand celebrations” in his village in the foothills of Shivalik. In old days all the people in the village were illiterate and each month they used to refer to the village Pandit about the “Sangrand” day. The Pandit was their calender so to speak.
Pandit ji kept a goat in his courtyard for milk. Each day Pandit Ji would deposit one ‘maingan‘ (goat droppings pellet) in a ‘kujja‘ (a small earthen pot). When the villagers come to him closer to the day, to ask about the Sangrand Day, Pandit Ji would count the number of ‘maingan’ to tell the villagers the correct day (according to him). One day the goat’s tether rope broke and it started roaming about in the pandit’s courtyard. She inevitably overturned the ‘kujja’ resulting in the spilling of the ‘maingans’.
When the villagers came to Pandit Ji to ask about the Sangrand date, the pandit was in a fix. But, true to his wily nature, he cleverly maneuvered the illiterate villagers that there had been a bad luck eclipse during the night. So, he needed to focus his rituals etc. on that for the day. He asked them to come back the next day for the Sangrand date. That evening Pandit ji slipped away and went to the Pandit in the next village to get the date of Sangrand.
Even today, we as an international ‘quom’ are dependent on some ‘pandits’ to give us ‘OUR’ correct dates! We need our dates fixed and not at the beck, call and whim of some pandits either in Banares or even in Jalandhar.
I urge all Sikhs to get hold of the Nanakshahi calender and let us start following fixed dates as per the Gregorian Calender. Nanakshahi calenders are now available on internet.
I wish and pray for a fulfilling new year to all my brothers and sisters. I also wish and pray that all of us, and collectively the global Sikh Quom wherever we live on the planet will have a 2020 vision in the upcoming decade.
Guru dhi meher & Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki fateh.
[Hard Copies of Nanakshahi calender will be available for distribution into the new year. Any one who wants to receive a copy may email S. Ajit Singh Ji at firstname.lastname@example.org OR S. Irwin Preet Singh at email@example.com]
This short article is inspired by S.Ajit Singh Ji’s emails. I have difficulty in sharing the exact wordings he uses especially what he thinks of our dharam-dhe-thekedar, the Brahminic-minded Sikhs, Sikh political leaders especially in Punjab, and the pandits who still control Sikh affairs. But I salute his general views!
Malaysian-born Dya Singh, who now resides in Australia, is an accomplished musician and a roving Sikh preacher. The Dya Singh World Music Group performs full-scale concerts on ‘music for the soul’ based on North Indian classical and semi-classical styles of music with hymns from mainly the Sikh, Hindu and Sufi ‘faiths’. He is also the author of SIKH-ING: Success and Happiness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
* This is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Let us work on our Sikh-based 5-year personal plan (Asia Samachar, 4 Dec 2019)
550th: A global phenomena! (Asia Samachar, 1 Nov 2019)