Sunday, February 26, 2017

ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਨੂੰ ਸਿੱਖ ਬਣਨ ਤੋਂ ਰੋਕਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਬੇਨਕਾਬ

ਸਿੱਖ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ ਨੁੰ ਪੜ੍ਹਦਿਆਂ ਸਭ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਧਿਆਨ ਦੇਣ ਯੋਗ ਉਹ ਭ੍ਰਾਂਤੀਆਂ ਅਤੇ ਛਲਾਵੇ ਹਨ ਜੋ ਮੰਦ ਭਾਵਨਾ ਅਧੀਨ ਵਿਰੋਧੀਆਂ ਵਲੋਂ ਇਸ ਦਾ ਹਿੱਸਾ ਬਣਾਏ ਗਏ ਹਨ। ਜੇ ਪੈਰ ਪੈਰ ਉੱਤੇ ਪੂਰਾ ਧਿਆਨ ਨ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਜਾਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਇਕਸਾਰ ਵਹਿੰਦੇ ਇਤਿਹਾਸਕ ਅਮਲ ਵਿੱਚ ਵੱਡੇ ਵਿਘਨ ਪੈ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ। ਇਹ ਛਲੇਡੇ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਘੁਸਪੈਠੀਆਂ ਵਾਂਗ ਹਨ ਜਿਹੜੇ ਮੁਲਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਨੇਸਤੋਨਾਬੂਦ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ, ਦੁਸ਼ਮਣ ਵਲੋਂ ਘਾਤਕ ਹਥਿਆਰਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਲੈਸ ਕਰਕੇ, ਸਮਾਜਿਕ ਜੀਵਨ ਨੂੰ ਤਹਿਸ ਨਹਿਸ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਮਨਸੂਬੇ ਨਾਲ ਸੋਚ ਸਮਝ ਕੇ ਦਾਖਲ ਕੀਤੇ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ। ਇਹ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ ਨੂੰ ਪੁੱਠਾ ਗੇੜਾ ਦੇਣ ਦੇ ਕਾਬਲ ਹੁੰਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਇਕ ਵਾਰੀ ਅਵੇਸਲੇਪਣ ਵਿੱਚ ਦਾਖਲ ਹੋ ਜਾਣ ਤਾਂ ਗਲਤ ਕਿਟਾਣੂਆਂ ਵਾਂਗ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਨਿਸ਼ਾਨਦੇਹੀ ਕਰਕੇ ਪਛਾੜਨ ਨੂੰ ਸੁਚੇਤ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਵੀ ਕਈ ਕਈ ਦਹਾਕੇ ਲਗ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ। ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਵਰਗੀ ਹਰ ਬੰਦੇ ਉੱਤੇ ਭਰੋਸਾ ਕਰਨ ਵਾਲੀ ਕੌਮ ਦੇ ਘਰ ਵਿੱਚ ਤਾਂ ਇਹ ਭੁਲੇਖੇ ਛੌਣੀਆਂ ਪਾ ਕੇ ਬਹਿ ਜਾਂਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਹਰ ਕੌਮੀ ਪੂਰ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਮਰਾਹ ਕਰਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਵੱਡਾ ਹਿੱਸਾ ਪਾਉਂਦੇ ਹਨ। ਕਈ ਵਾਰੀਂ ਵੱਡੇ ਸੁਹਿਰਦ ਵਿਦਵਾਨ ਵੀ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਪਛਾਣ ਨਹੀਂ ਸਕਦੇ।
ਸਿਰਦਾਰ ਕਪੂਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜਮਾਨੇ ਦਾ ਸਿਰਮੌਰ ਚਿੱੰਤਕ ਅਤੇ ਰੌਸ਼ਨ ਦਿਮਾਗ ਸਿੱਖ ਸੀ ਪਰ ਡੌਕਟਰ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਨ ਬਣ ਸਕਣ ਦੀ ਵਾਰਤਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਰਲਾਏ ਕੋਰੇ ਝੂਠਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਪਛਾੜਣ ਵਿੱਚ ਉਹ ਵੀ ਧੋਖਾ ਖਾ ਗਿਆ। ਇਹ ਘੱਟ ਧਿਆਨ ਦੇਣ ਕਾਰਣ ਨਹੀਂ ਹੋਇਆ ਬਲਕਿ ਸਬੰਧਤ ਜਾਣਕਾਰੀ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤ ਨ ਹੋਣ ਕਾਰਣ ਅਤੇ ਦਲਿਤਾਂ ਵਲੋਂ ਆਪਣੀ ਗਲਤੀ ਨੂੰ ਲੁਕਾਉਣ ਲਈ ਚਲੀਆਂ ਗਈਆਂ ਸ਼ਾਤਰ ਚਾਲਾਂ ਦੇ ਸ਼ਿਕਾਰ ਹੋਣ ਕਾਰਣ ਹੋਇਆ ਸੀ। ਸਰਦਾਰ ਨਰੈਣ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੇ ਮੂਹੋਂ ਅਸਲ ਕਹਾਣੀ ਸੁਣਨ ਵਾਲਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਪਕੜ ਵਿੱਚ ਸੱਚ ਆ ਗਿਆ ਪਰ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਨੂੰ ਦੋਸ਼ਮੁਕਤ ਕਰਨ ਅਤੇ ਇਸ ਅਮਲ ਲਈ ਬੁਰੇ ਦੇ ਘਰ ਤੱਕ ਜਾਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਲਾਹੌਰੀ ਰਾਮ ਬਾਲੀ ਵਰਗੇ ਚੰਦ ਦਲਿਤ ਬੁੱਧੀਜੀਵੀਆਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਟੇਕ ਰੱਖਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਸਾਰੇ ਸਿਰਦਾਰ ਵਾਂਗ ਹੀ ਟਪਲਾ ਖਾ ਗਏ। ਅਸਲੀਅਤ ਨੇ ਆਖਰ ਡੌਕਟਰ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਦੀਆਂ ਲਿਖਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਮਹਾਂਰਾਸ਼ਟਰਾ ਸਰਕਾਰ ਵਲੋਂ ਛਾਪੇ ਜਾਣ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਹੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਘੰਡ ਚੁੱਕ ਕੇ ਨੂਰੀ ਦੀਦਾਰ ਕਰਵਾਏ।
ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਲਿਖਤ ਸੰਗ੍ਰਹਿ ਦੀ 17 ਵੀਂ ਪੋਥੀ, ਜੋ 2003 ਵਿੱਚ ਛਪੀ, ਨੇ ਸਾਰੀ ਹਕੀਕਤ ਖੋਲ੍ਹ ਕੇ ਰੱਖ ਦਿੱਤੀ। ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤ ਜਾਣਕਾਰੀ ਦੀ ਇਸ ਨੇ ਪੁਸ਼ਟੀ ਕੀਤੀ; ਮਸਲਨ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਜਣ ਲਈ ਉਤਾਵਲਾ ਸੀ ਅਤੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਸਮਾਜ ਦੇ ਮਹਾਂ ਰਥੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਉਸਨੇ ਇਹ ਕਦਮ ਚੁੱਕਣ ਲਈ ਸਹਿਮਤ ਕਰ ਲਿਆ ਸੀ। ਉਸਨੂੰ ਵੀ ਕੁਦਰਤ ਵਲੋਂ ਭਰੋਸਾ ਦਾਨ ਦੇ ਖੁਲ੍ਹੇ ਗੱਫੇ ਮਿਲੇ ਹੋਏ ਸਨ ਅਤੇ ਉਹ ਪੇਚਾ ਦੇ ਅੰਦਰਲੇ ਪੇਚਾਂ ਦੀ ਥਾਹ ਨ ਪਾ ਸਕਿਆ। ਸਿਖ ਸਜਣ ਦੇ ਆਖਰੀ ਪੜਾਅ ਵਿੱਚ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਮਹਾਂ ਸਭਾ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਡੌਕਟਰ ਮੂੰਜੇ ਦਾ ਬਿਆਨ ਆਉਣਾਂ ਸੀ ਜਿਸ ਵਿੱਚ ਉਸਨੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਸਮਾਜ ਵਲੋਂ ਸ਼ਰ੍ਹੇਆਮ ਲਿਖਤੀ ਸਹਿਮਤੀ ਦੇਣੀ ਸੀ। ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਨੇ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਤਹਿ ਕੀਤੇ ਘਟਨਾਂਕਰਮ ਵਜੋਂ, 18 ਜੂਨ 1936 ਨੂੰ ਬੰਬਈ ਹੋਈ ਮਿਲਣੀ ਵਿੱਚ, ਮੂੰਜੇ ਵਲੋਂ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਜਾਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਬਿਆਨ ਲਿੱਖ ਕੇ ਉਸਦੇ ਸਪੁਰਦ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ। ਇਹ ਤਹਿ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕਿਆ ਸੀ ਕਿ ਅੇਨ ਸਮਾ ਆਉਣ ਤੱਕ ਇਸਨੂੰ ਗੁਪਤ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਜਾਵੇਗਾ।
ਜਾਪਦਾ ਇਹ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਜੁਗਲ ਕਿਸ਼ੋਰ ਬਿਰਲਾ, ਮਦਨਮੋਹਨ ਮਾਲਵੀਆ ਸਮੇਤ ਸਾਰੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਨਾਇਕਾਂ ਦਾ ਮੰਤਵ ਕੇਵਲ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਇੱਕ ਵਾਰੀ ਇਸਾਈ ਜਾਂ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਬਣਨ ਤੋਂ ਹਟਕੁਣਾਂ ਸੀ। 17 ਵੇਂ ਸੰਸਕਰਣ ਦੀਆਂ ਲਿਖਤਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਇਹ ਵੀ ਜਾਪਦਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਦਲਿਤਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਆਰੀਆ ਸਮਾਜ ਵੱਲ ਪ੍ਰੇਰਨ ਦੀ ਵੀ ਚੇਸ਼ਟਾ ਕੀਤੀ ਗਈ ਸੀ ਜੋ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੇ ਦ੍ਰਿਢਤਾ ਨਾਲ ਰੱਦ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤੀ ਸੀ। ਸ਼ਾਇਦ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਧਾਰਣ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਸਹਿਮਤੀ ਦਾ ਢੋਂਗ ਰਚ ਕੇ ਦਲਿਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਮਨੋਰਥ ਨੂੰ ਇਕੋ ਝਟਕੇ ਨਾਲ ਤਾਰ ਤਾਰ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਮਨਸੂਬਾ ਵੀ ਨਾਲੋ ਨਾਲ ਘੜਿਆ ਜਾ ਚੁੱਕਾ ਸੀ। ਸਦੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਨਫਰਤ ਅਤੇ ਸਦੀਵੀ ਗੁਲਾਮ ਬਣਾਈ ਰੱਖਣ ਦੀ ਲਾਲਸਾ ਨੂੰ ਮਨਜੂਰ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੀ ਕਿ ਸ਼ਸਤ੍ਰਧਾਰੀ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਜ ਕੇ ਦਲਿਤ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਵਾਂਗ ਜਾਤਪਾਤ ਦੀ ਵਲਗਣ ਉਲੰਘ ਜਾਣ ਅਤੇ ਸਮਾਜਿਕ ਬਰਾਬਰੀ ਤੋਂ ਅੱਗੇ ਵਧ ਕੇ ਨਿਆਂ ਹਾਸਲ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਰਾਹ ਪੈ ਜਾਣ। ਉਹ ਤਾਂ ਸਗੋਂ ਸਿਖਾਂ ਦੀ ਵੀ ਬਰਬਾਦੀ ਲਈ ਰੱਸੇ ਪੈੜੇ ਵੱਟ ਰਹੇ ਸਨ।
ਸਾਰੀ ਤਹਿ ਸ਼ੁਦਾ ਸਕੀਮ ਅਧੀਨ ਗੁਪਤ ਰੱਖਣ ਦੇ ਕੌਲ-ਇਕਰਾਰਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਦਰਕਿਨਾਰ ਕਰਕੇ, ਡੌਕਟਰ ਮੂੰਜੇ ਨੇ ਨਾਗਪੁਰ ਪਹੁੰਚਦਿਆਂ ਹੀ 30 ਜੂਨ 1936 ਨੂੰ ਇੱਕ ਚਿੱਠੀ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਦੇ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਵਿਰੋਧੀ ਰਾਏ ਬਹਾਦਰ ਐਮ. ਸੀ. ਰਾਜਾ ਨੂੰ ਲਿੱਖੀ (ਅਪੈਡਕਸ X)।ਉਸਨੂੰ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਵਾਰ ਪਤਾ ਲੱਗਾ ਕਿ ਦਲਿਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਬਣਨ ਦੇ ਮਨਸੂਬੇ ਸਿਰੇ ਚੜ੍ਹਨ ਹੀ ਵਾਲੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਬਤੌਰ ਸਿੱਖ, ਹਿੰਦੂ ਸਮਾਜ ਵਲੋਂ ਮਾਨਤਾ ਦੇਣ ਅਤੇ ਕਾਨੂਨੀ ਆਧਾਰ ਮੁਹੱਈਆ ਕਰਨ ਦੀਆਂ ਮੁਕੰਮਲ ਤਿਆਰੀਆਂ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕੀਆਂ ਹਨ। ਇਹ ਜਾਣਕਾਰੀ ਮੂੰਜੇ ਵਲੋਂ ਦਿੱਤੇ ਜਾਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਬਿਆਨ, ਜਿਸਦੀ ਤਹਿਰੀਰ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਨੇ ਖੁਦ ਲਿੱਖੀ ਸੀ, (ਜਿਲਦ 17 ਸਫੇ 239 ਤੋਂ 243) ਵਿੱਚ ਵੇਰਵੇ ਸਹਿਤ ਦਰਜ ਸਨ। ਜਾਪਦਾ ਇਹ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਰਾਜਾ ਨੇ ਇਸ ਮਨਸੂਬੇ ਨੂੰ ਖਤਮ ਕਰਨ ਦਾ ਮਨ ਬਣਾ ਕੇ ਮ.ਕ. ਗਾਂਧੀ, ਰਾਜਗੋਪਾਲਾਚਾਰੀਆ, ਮਦਨ ਮੋਹਨ ਮਾਲਵੀਆ ਨਾਲ ਸਲਾਹ ਮਸ਼ਵਰਾਂ ਕੀਤਾ। ਇਹ ਸਾਰੇ ਉਸ ਨਾਲ ਸਹਿਮਤ ਹੋ ਗਏ। ਸ਼ਾਇਦ ਉਨੇ ਹੀ ਜੋਸ਼ ਨਾਲ ਜਿੰਨੇ ਜੋਸ਼ ਨਾਲ ਦਲਿਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਬਣਨ ਦੇ ਮਨਸੂਬੇ ਨਾਲ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਸਹਿਮਤ ਹੋਏ ਸਨ। ਇਨ੍ਹੀ ਦਿਨੀਂ ਹੀ ਗਾਂਧੀ ਦਾ ਉਹ ਮਨਹੂਸ ਬਿਆਨ ਆਇਆ ਜਿਸਦਾ ਭਾਵ ਸੀ ਕਿ ਸਿੱਖ ਬਣਨ ਨਾਲੋਂ ਤਾਂ ਚੰਗਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਦਲਿਤ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਜਾਂ ਇਸਾਈ ਹੀ ਬਣ ਜਾਣ।
ਸਾਬੋਤਾਜ ਦਾ ਮੁਕੰਮਲ ਸ਼ੜਯੰਤਰ ਰਚ ਕੇ ਰਾਜਾ ਨੇ ਘੋਰ ਵਿਰੋਧ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਇੱਕ ਖਤ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਜੋ ਉਸਨੇ ਗਾਂਧੀ ਸਮੇਤ ਸਾਰੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਨਾਇਕਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਵੀ ਭੇਜ ਦਿੱਤਾ। ਆਖਰ 8 ਅਗਸਤ 1936  ਨੂੰ The Bombay Chronicle ਵਿੱਚ ਛਾਪ ਦਿੱਤਾ।ਇਹ ਖਤ ਅਤੇ ਇਸਦੀ ਪਿੱਠਭੂਮੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਰਚੇ ਚੱਕ੍ਰਵਿਯੂਹ ਨੇ ਹੀ ਡੌਕਟਰ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਬਣਨ ਦੇ ਪੂਰੇ ਵੇਗ ਨਾਲ ਸੰਪੂਰਣਤਾ ਵੱਲ ਵਧ ਰਹੇ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਨੂੰ ਸਦਾ ਲਈ ਸਮਾਪਤ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ। ਇਸ ਚਿੱਠੀ ਦਾ ਮੂਲ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਲਿੱਖਤ ਸੰਗ੍ਰਹਿ ਦੇ ਪੰਨੇ 477-479 ਉੱਤੇ ਵੇਖਿਆ ਜਾ ਸਕਦਾ ਹੈ। 479 – 483 ਪੰਨਿਆ ਉੱਤੇ ਰਾਜਗੋਪਾਲਾਚਾਰੀਆ, ਪੰਡਤ ਮਦਨਮੋਹਨ ਮਾਲਵੀਆ, ਮ.ਕ.ਗਾਂਧੀ ਅਤੇ ਚੰਡੌਰਕਰ ਦੇ ਪਤਰ ਸੁਨੇਹੇਂ ਆਦਿ ਹਨ ਜੋ ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਨੂੰ ਸਿੱਖ ਬਣਨ ਦੇ ਇਰਾਦੇ ਤੋਂ ਹੋੜਨ ਦਾ ਇਕੋ ਇੱਕ ਵਡਾ ਕਾਰਣ ਬਣੇ।
ਮਹਾਤਮਾ ਬੁੱਧ ਦੇ ਉਪਦੇਸ਼ ਨੂੰ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਨ ਕਰਕੇ ਇੱਕ ਵੇਲੇ ਹਿੰਦ ਦੀ ਗਰਕ ਹੁੰਦੀ ਜਾ ਰਹੀ ਜਮੀਰ ਨੂੰ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਦੇ ਸ੍ਰੇਸ਼ਟ ਧਰਮ ਵਲੋਂ ਉਭਰਨ ਦਾ ਮੌਕਾ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਸੀ ਜੋ ਆਦਿ ਸ਼ੰਕਰਾਚਾਰੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਹਿੰਸਕ ਧਾੜਵੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਅਗਵਾਈ ਕਰਕੇ ਖਤਮ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ। ਸਦੀਆਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦੇ ਲੜ ਲੱਗ ਕੇ ਮਨੁੱਖੀ ਅਧਿਆਤਮਿਕ ਵਿਕਾਸ ਦੀ ਚਰਮ ਸੀਮਾ ਵੱਲ ਵਧ ਰਹੀ ਆਤਮਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਹਿੰਦ ਦੇ ਮਹਾਂਰਥੀ ਆਗੂਆਂ ਨੇ ਇੱਕ ਵਾਰ ਫੇਰ ਪਛਾੜ ਦਿੱਤਾ। ਅੰਬੇਡਕਰ ਨੇ ਖੁੱਦ ਆਉਂਦੀ ਕ੍ਰਾਂਤੀ ਨੂੰ ਖਤਮ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਇਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਆਗੂਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਜ਼ਿਮੇਵਾਰ ਦੱਸਿਆ ਹੈ ਨ ਕਿ ਸਿੱਖ ਆਗੂਆਂ ਨੂੰ।

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Implication of the Mahishasur episode for Indian Culture and its relevance to the Sikh ethos

Bahujansmaj may be a new name for those struggling on behalf of the deprived for equality and the preservation of India’s ancient culture. Those comprising this identity have  long been suppressed by the ruthless, remorseless minority, which managed to politically conquer India and stay in control of the social system for centuries. The roots of this phenomena go deep down into antiquity. Throughout history, there are indications that the people who defied the controlling mechanism of the Brahmanical caste system and its inhuman scheme of exploitation, have always existed. The monopolistic control of all social and economic resources, geared only to seve a cruel minority with arrogant superior airs, could hardly have recommended itself to victims who formed the majority. The voices of the oppressed majority have been reverberating through the ‘iron curtain of caste.’ Crass ignorance was imposed upon the overwhelming majority by military might, by  enforcing total denial of education and by the mass manipulation of their psyche through the popularisation of sinister religious myths. The earliest powerful expression of dissent was acknowledged by the Aryans, who grudgingly accommodated Shiva, originally an indigenous deity, as one the gods of the all powerful Brahmanical trinity.
      In due course of time, the Bahujan found an escape route provided by the great Buddha. They loved his preachings that rejected superstition and violence. Just as attractive was his reliance on reason and on a strict moral code. Buddhism preached respect for people organised into sanghas. This was an affirmation of the concept of pluralism. The restoration of human dignity was a very powerful statement that drew the deprived to Buddha. The widespread response to his Dhamma was indication of the peoples’ earnest yearning to escape the petrifying yoke of a dehumanising Brahamanism. The whole of India enthusiastically took refuge in him, loudly proclaiming Buddham sharnam gachhami!.
       Though muted in history, the powerful Bahujan assertion of myriad and varied cultural identities, survived the violent ejection of Buddhism from India by Shankracharya and his armed hordes. The survival of the diverse indigenous cultures of many regions of India is tribute to the resilience of the people who supported them. During good times it was to melt into the religious formulations of inspired peoples, selling dreams of escape from Brahmanism. This phenomena manifested itself at several stages of historical development. In medieval times, the popularity of folk religions propagated by unconnected inspired persons  scattered all over India, is seen almost as one cogent Bhakti movement.
       Guru Nanak (1469-1708CE) organised it into a distinct futuristic phenomena, by welding the best traditions into a culture worthy of emulation by the entire human race. He discerned the common concerns of all such spiritual expressions, and galvanised them into a workable proposition. To preserve and propagate this universal culture, a perpetual philosophical guidance and a perennial spring of a determined and dedicated body of selfless volunteers, for whom working for the goal of liberation of the human spirit would be the highest reward, was required. The Guru provided Guru Granth as the eternal guide -valid from age to age. A self-perpetuating body of inspired individuals was required to uphold the truths of the Guru Granth and to propagate the universal culture it inspired. It had to be an organisation, of which any spiritually developed and altruistic volunteer could become an equal member, as long as s/he observed the basic discipline. The Order of the Khalsa was called into existence to perform that function, while it, in addition, stood out as a model of the cohesive, casteless and coercion free society of highly evolved individuals. The Order of the Khalsa would protect the common ideals at the core of humanity, equated by the Guru Granth with the hukam of the Ultimate Reality, Akalpurakh. This model was to proliferate until a universal brotherhood of happy and autonomous individuals became a reality. This non-sectarian class of guardians was to ensure every individual’s place in the sun through the strictly disciplined exercise of political power as the final solution to the  universal human predicament. Guru Nanak evolved the concept of Akalfateh, in which state, humanity, like the phases of the waxing moon, will increasingly make spiritual progress. It eliminated the possibility of permanent failure and held the promise of a viable solution to every struggle facing humans all over the globe.
       The Ultimate Reality is envisaged by the Guru as the True Sovereign and the ultimate dispenser of justice to all. It is in this context that the Guru Granth preaches, ‘he who fights an incessant battle on behalf of the deprived alone is to be regarded as a conquering hero.’ Indeed, the Guru makes ‘willingness to die for righteousness’ (je tau prem khelan ka chau, sir dhar tali gali mori aao), the precondition for being initiated into the path of spirituality. The epithet of ‘refuge of the shelterless, honour of the lowly, strength of the weak,’ were showered on the Guru. These specific words (nimanian de maan, nitanian de taan, neeotian di ot) form the concluding part of the Sikh supplicatory prayer (ardas), recited at least twice in every Sikh congregation in every gurdwara and by every Sikh who prays at home. Can the Sikhs afford to be double tongued on this fundamental issue? Can they falsify the statement of Bhai Nandlal, who saw the incomparable Tenth Nanak as ‘friend of the powerless’ be-kasan-ra-yaar. More of this later!

II
        For a long, long time, say since Shambhuk was beheaded or since archer Eklavyia’s thumb was demanded as fees for teaching by proxy, a major section of the Indian population has felt the impact of an institutionalised animosity and hatred, that has resulted in its eternal slavery. This has been done in the name of divine law: by creating, exploiting and sustaining certain myths built around Bali, Ravan and Mahishasur. The system of caste, into which all such myths have contributed their powerful impulses, has galvanised into an inexorable instrument of oppression that has lasted up to the present. It appears to have eternal life and has retained its intensity, ruthlessness and vigour up to this day. The caste system works to provide cheap hereditary menial labour to the designated upper castes, comprising of Aryans  from generation to generation.  
       In the beginning of Indian history, the conquering Aryans were facing hard times in subduing the local population. The difficult situation provided the background for the rise of the myth of Durga, Hingla, Pingla, Bhawani, Parvati or the ugar (vigorous) form of the same goddess. In that aggressive form she is known as Mahamai, Mahakaali, Chandi, Durga, Bhawani, Bhagwati etc. In the compilation of Bachittarnatak, now re-christened as dasamgranth, there are four compositions dedicated to this goddess. They are: Chandi Charitar, Chandi Charitar Ukat Bilas, Vaar Sri Bhagauti ji ki and Chandi di Vaar (in Punjabi). All these compositions are attributed to Guru Gobind Singh by a section of ignorant Sikhs under Hindu influence. There is also the equally voluminous Sarabloh Granth, which is also primarily in praise of the goddess. This book is again attributed to the Tenth Guru by Sikhs answering to a similar description. As if this were not enough, a myth has been floated by the goddess worshippers, that before the creation of the Khalsa, the Guru worshipped the devi or caused her to be worshipped, for the success of his venture. This is notwithstanding the fact that the Khalsa ethos is diametrically opposed to that of the worshippers of the devi. Much ‘evidence’ is created to establish Guru Gobind Singh as a worshipper of the devi, somewhat in the fashion of Shivaji Maratha. A personal face to face meeting of the Guru and the devi is also arranged in one of the descriptions.
      Not taking the extreme uncharitable view taken by the Dalits of today, the devi appears to have been relevant to the struggle of the Aryans, when they were in the process of establishing themselves as conquerors in the Indian peninsula. Many verses of the Vedas and other religious literature pertain to the struggle and are prayers to the gods for granting victory over the indigenous population (mool nivasi). Like every clever conqueror, before and after the Aryans, the struggle is portrayed as a war between good and evil. The good are the Aryans of course, and the evil are those who oppose them. In these prayers the Aryans appear to be in mortal fear of the indigenous people. They contemptuously refer to them in language depicting hideousness and beastly appearance. They are called asuras, danavs, rakshashas and so on. It appears that the Devi Chandi is called into existence, after the Aryans, received a crushing defeat at the hands of the indigenous people. The defeat is symbolised as the defeat of the god Indra. She miraculously appears from the skull of one of her milder forms and proceeds to the battlefield riding a rakshasha devouring lion. The narrative represents her as fighting billions strong hordes all on her own. In this battle she kills many millions of demons (rakshashas) before emerging victorious. Thereafter she installs Indra on his throne and retires to her repose in the Vindhyas.
       This is obviously a story of the Aryans emerging victorious with the help of a woman designated as a goddess. It is variously contended whether she obtained the victory purely by her fighting ability or by harnessing her womanly charms. There are sly indications to that effect even in the original texts. Dalits, Other Backward Classes (OBC’s) and moolnivasis believe it is the latter and are strongly resentful. These classes comprise of Yadavs, Kumhars, Nishads, Kushwahas, Kurmis, Manjhis, Rajaks, Ravidasis and so on.
       Now that the expression of moolnivasi identity has become somewhat tolerable, more and more people are swarming to use it for themselves. In the context of the Mahishasurmardini episode, a trendsetting incident first happened on October 25, 2011. Some dalit and moolnivasi students of the Delhi University got together to commemorate the murder of Mahishasur, whom they proclaimed to be their ancestor and their king in remote antiquity, who fell martyr to the machinations of Durga. An asur tribe, numbering about 9000, is still in existence and claims to have descended from (Mahisha+asur = Mahishasur). He thereby becomes the common king and hero of all tribals, OBC’s, dalits and moolnivasis, who jointly and severally opposed her. Together they claim to be more than 80% of India’s population. They are bound by the common thread of being deprived, downgraded and enslaved by the Aryans represented by Indra, whom the goddess is keen to reinstate to the throne (political power) of ancient India.
       The Aryan interpretation of the legend was long contested and is now seriously challenged. Legends and myths are invariably built around core truths. The truth of legends lends itself to several interpretations. The deprived of India have now discovered the historical kernel  of the myth, an interpretation that becomes the bedrock of the revival of their prehistoric eminence and resumption of their own self esteem and rule. Mahishasur is no more a mythical figure, but has emerged as a historical personality who ruled in ancient Mehshasur Mandala (erstwhile Mysore). He is accepted as a Buddhist Bahujan King - a symbol of equality, justice and empowerment of all sections of society. So far, only the victorious Brahmins and their associates have been asserting the  historical character of the myths. The vanquished also are now also presuming them to be real. They seek to place their own interpretation on events of the past. A linguistic study of the name Mahishasur suggests that he was originally regarded as ‘giver of life,’ hence god by his people.
       From the names of villages, cities, towns, temples, road junctions, ghats, rivers, ponds and various other sacred spots, especially in the regions of Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar it has been concluded that Mahishasur was a very influential royal figure in Indian history at one time.
       The commemoration of the martyrdom of Mahishasur, the Mahishasur Habba or Mahishasur Festival was observed at 350 places in Jharkhand alone in 2015. In Mysore by the Dalit Welfare Trust and others, in Bengal it was observed at 182 places in 15 district in 2015. The popular Anand Bazar Patrika, published a detailed report on the festival in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and several other states.
       Ravan is likewise owned as an ancestor by several tribes of Rajasthan, as also by the Santhals of Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Jharkhand. According to the lore of the Bahujan, Ravan, Bali and Mahishasur were demonised and animalised by the Brahmins, who specialise in a ‘cunning and deceptive’ reading of history. In our own times, the remarkable Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwala, the martyr, was so demonised and compared to Bhasmasur by more than one Brahmanical bigwig. Another big proponent of the Brahmanical culture saw Indira Gandhi as Durga. This was a repeat of what they have been used to doing since time immemorial. The deprived of India are struggling to break free from the cultural slavery imposed upon them by the differently read  the myth of Mahishasur.
       [Information in this section has been mostly adapted from Mehishasur A people’s hero, edited by Pramod Ranjan, The Marginalised, Wardha, 2016. ISBN: 978-81-932584-4-4-6 and from Forward Press, December 2015, New Delhi, ISSN 2348-9286]
     
 III

       Apart from honour, justice, equality, right to self rule, right to universal education and political freedom, other moral and ethical concepts that are the very essence of Sikh history and faith, are being reiterated by the Bahujansmaj. A Sikh can see clearly that the issues are the basic concerns of the Guru. The truth we hold to be above everything else, is on the side of the Bahujan. One major concern of Sikhs in history, has been the establishment of justice in human affairs. It is equally important for Sikh theology and polity to emphasise the non-exploitative nature of the state. Can the Sikhs project the Guru as justifying the social and cultural enslavement of the Bahujans by the powerful and manipulating minority, especially when they are also the victims of the tyranny of the same sinister minority?
       The entire purpose of the Guru in his ten forms, was to help humankind regain self-respect, dignity and the right of making ever increasing spiritual, social and mundane progress. “This now is the order of the Merciful One, none shall oppress another” (hun hukam hoa mehervaan da pai koe na kisai ravaandaa) is the recurring theme of the Guru Granth and is the soul of the Sikh faith.
       The ideals of the Brahmin and the Sikh are diametrically opposed on the issue of universal education also. Tulsi Ramayan affirms adham jaat me vidya pai, bhaiuo yatha ahi doodh pilai (educating the low castes is like serving milk to a snake). The tenth Nanak’s belief was baal biradh sabh sodh pathava kou anpadh rehan na pava (I will carefully educate all children as well as adults. None shall remain unlettered). Similarly opposite is the position of the Guru on arming the ‘low castes.’ The benign Guru is comfortable with entrusting political power to the downtrodden. In fact that is the most important promise (birad) of the Guru to humankind. A prominent knight of the Sikh movement, Bir Singh Ranghreta, the sovereign misaldaar is the adornment of the Guru’s thought, as Eklavya with the amputated thumb was the product of the gravely fractured Brahmanical culture.      
       In attributing the propagation of the Mahishasurmardini myth to Guru Gobind Singh against all evidence, a section of the Sikhs distort the entire Sikh faith and history. This interpretation also constitutes the denial of all progress that humankind has made since the dawn of time. The senseless assertion defies not only truth also common sense. In addition to that the sin of pitting a spurious, pornographic book against the eternally reigning Guru Granth, is committed by the ill-informed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our cultural traditions and the dream of cashless economy

One proof of Indian culture being the oldest is that the animal cunningness, capacity to change colours, limitless greed, blood-feuds and devouring by betrayal are some of the original human instincts that are as fresh in our memory as at the beginning of civilisation. Others cultures tried to eliminate them; we focussed on trying to camouflage them while taking care to sharpen their edges as the society progressed. Our progress was confined to concealing them under fancy names and obscurantist practises. Greed for hoarding today is wrapped in gambling as ‘Laxmipuja’  and promiscuity has had various names. Recently it was rechristened by the Supreme Court of India as ‘one night stand.’ Thuggee until yesterday was a part of ‘Kalipuja.’ So it remains. 
       In such a scenario honesty, plain speaking, straight dealing and open diplomacy are regarded as ethics of ‘fool’s paradise.’ Constitution of India and the laws may be quite to the contrary and may strive with all their might to promote ideals acceptable to general run of humankind, we have found ways of sidetracking them when it is in our self interest to do so. Our concept of ‘the other’ is a flexible noose, a derivative of caste system and can be made to fit any neck. When we are duping the other we are celebrating Laxmipuja and are only treating the other with the contempt the other deserves. Thugee, once was and is almost a sacred duty even today. It is indulged in by the highest in the land. The book that solemnly imparts this notion is also the book that has given us the song vande mataram - our alternate national anthem.We have at least two scams to decorate every year of our independent existence.
       The dream of cashless society sold to us by goalpost shifting politicians is a one horned chimera which will never materialise in the sub-continent. Social media is already discussing the why of it. One reason is that it will lead to the gradual transformation of the worth of the currency into commission for those who run the e-wallets. One hundred rupees will passion in toto to the e-wallet portal owners in a certain number of swipes. Every labourer who earns two hundred rupees will be paying a jazyia of five or four rupees to them everyday. It is okay with everybody as a shudra is not to be allowed to amass wealth. It will not benefit the milkman or the depot holder who will be paying commission to the e-wallet portal for depositing his earnings into his own account. So whose baby will cashless transaction be?
        It is easy to imagine that the tribe of fraudsters will multiply daily when their victims increase. On the basis of our everyday experience, let us unfold the travails of a person whose money has been stolen by finger smiths who make defrauding the sole mainstay of their economic activity. Many of the thus looted persons will learn to live with the situation, like those whose pockets are picked or those unfortunate raped ones who know for sure that nothing and none will help them. They will ascribe it to their karma in the previous birth and will try to make up the losses by working harder or by telling none about it, as the case may be. The woes of others will start when they approach the authorities for restoration of their stolen money. The financial institution or the bank in question will show you many sub-clauses in small print that you signed without reading when you opened the account. You will be on your own. 
         Then you will want to register a First Information Report (FIR). You will soon find out that like a bird’s milk it cannot be easily come by. Be patient. For the sake of getting justice or recovering your money you will pay a hefty amount to register the FIR. This will not be too heavy but will become heavier like a wet blanket as it gets wetter. At every stage of investigation you will pay a certain sum to keep the process on track. You will also conduct parallel investigation to know that it is indeed on track. If the other person does not confess to the crime, it will be insinuated that you permitted him to rob you. Like in Australia you have to state that you did not permit the other person to assault you. In India that law is unwritten. 
       Then there will be delays. Philosophically we do not subscribe to concept of linear time. There is no tomorrow that will not repeat itself someday. The charge sheet of attack on Pathankot airforce base took exactly one year to file although the investigation was done by the high profile National Investigation Agency. So be patient, and in the meanwhile, maintain the Investigation Officer in good humour. Devatas are pleased by offerings. It will also involve rendering services of all kinds and running weird errands. The question of custodial interrogation required by law will not come about until you grease a palm or two. Drafting the challan will be the next hurdle. It will have a price tag if it is to be properly worded to pinpoint the crime.
       Forget that prosecution is the duty of the state. Thou shalt depend upon the public prosecutor if you want to dig your own grave. Your case may end up with a ‘siparshi’ junior lawyer who has only a peripheral acquaintance with law. You will hire a lawyer with a ‘face’ (at an exorbitant price) and he will whet both the FIR and the challan. Then he will be present to argue where the public prosecutor falters (accidently?) and to emphasise at appropriate places.     
       Each time you will have to outbid the culprit who has your money in his e-wallet and will be more generous with bribes. He will be hand in glove with the police because he is in business of defrauding and it cannot be carried out without accomplices in crucial places. All our pickpockets know that well. 
       Your persistence has paid off and now you can see the face of the court. If you have done good deeds in your previous birth, you will get a judge who is not a shirker and is diligent. Your woes are not over even if the judge is honest. There will be a dozen ‘bigwigs’ bending over backwards to curry favour with the resourceful culprit.  They will be doctors, lawyers, politicians, bureaucrats and lawmakers - all seemingly milk-washed. Before a judge they will portray him as the mainstay of such and such political party and the very incarnation of financial rectitude. The judge will know everything but will also know that he has to seek political help in his career at some stage or the other. Blindfolded, he will weigh the prospects in a fine balance. To say more will invite contempt of court and can be left unsaid. 
       Such problems will materialise also, in at least, the court of first appeal. If braving all these and several untold difficulties, you manage to get a decree then in the attempt to get it executed you will go over the same again. If your luck is as good as mine is, the chances are that you will be defrauded afresh many times while your first case awaits conclusion.
       Let it be understood plainly that this recreation of what will happen is derived from study of an actual, ongoing case. The details can be substantiated with documents. Satya mev jaiyetai is a wonderful concept and looks beautiful on the official seal.  
       There will, besides be many alternate scenarios to discourage cashless state. My driver knows a vegetable vendor in Chandigarh who owns five houses. That is because he has never issued a bill, never paid income tax and has consistently earned one hundred to two hundred percent profit on every basketful of vegetables and fruits that he has sold for the last forty years. He knows which side of the bread is buttered. No appeal to patriotism will move him to issue bills or receipts. The same goes for the meat seller, the karyana merchant and scores of cloth merchants, tailors and their ilk. No trader will confine himself to legitimate 10% profit as prescribed in many countries. No government will place such legal limit on them. Electronic cash register is an anathema to them and no government will legislate to make it compulsory - it will mean spelling their own political doom. So, who will see that bills are given, cash register is maintained, only legitimate profit is taken and e-money is accepted? 
       Assurances of the government will be empty words. Especially when there is no law so far to deal with criminal violations of property in this regard. I am writing this on the 43rd day of demonetisation when the 60th order modifying the earliest pronouncement has just come from the ‘Reverse’ Bank of India. Rules and law are in this primitive stage even now. Is the ‘organised loot’ intended to become an ‘organised loot in perpetuity?’ 
       If you are in the rural area or the semi-urban area where load shedding is the rule written in stone, these difficulties will be multiplied further. By now it should be plain to all that we are about to start a wild goose chase. It will end in misery and utter ruin of a large many despite the ‘sound’ economic theories promoted by the RBI and allied institutions.
       Is there an escape, is there a remedy to prevent the disaster? Of course there is none. Rhetoric, patriotic verbosity and legendary tolerance of the society will ensure that we march to our doom fully equipped with the knowledge of the gathering storm.  That is how it has been in our mythology. Vidur, Bhisham Pitamah and Sri Krishna knew how the Mahabharat would end. Some Ghauri, some Babur, some Clive is lurking in the thick fog to take command of our destinies. Our duty is to submit to our fate, remember what Kubja said - a slave will be a slave no matter who rules. Moksha requires us to keep doing nishkaamkaram without expecting the fruit of our labour. Ththaastu!

[December 21, 2016]

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ਸਿਆਸੀ ਅਗਵਾਈ ਦੀ ਪੰਥਕ ਸਮੱਸਿਆ ਦਾ ਹੱਲ

(ਇਹ ਲੇਖ 30 ਅਗਸਤ 2014 ਨੂੰ ਫੇਸਬੁੱਕ 'ਤੇ ਛਾਯਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਗਿਆ)

ਹੱਲ ਕੋਈ ਇਕੱਲਾ-ਇਕਹਿਰਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੁਝਾ ਸਕਦਾ ਨਾ ਹੀ ਕਰ ਸਕਦਾ ਹੈ। ਹੱਲ ਤਲਾਸ਼ਣ ਲਈ ਲੋਕ-ਕਚਹਿਰੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਫਰਿਆਦ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਾਣੀ ਚਾਹੀਦੀ ਹੈ। ਸ਼ਾਇਦ ਮਸਲਾ ਸੁਲਝਾਉਣ ਲਈ ਇਹ ਕਦਮ ਚੁੱਕਣੇ ਜ਼ਰੂਰੀ ਹਨ। (1) ਸਰਗਰਮ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਮੰਚ 30-40 ਸਾਲ ਤੋਂ ਘੱਟ ਉਮਰ ਦੇ ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਲਈ ਮੁਕੰਮਲ ਤੌਰ ਉੱਤੇ ਖ਼ਾਲੀ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਜਾਵੇ। (ਤਰੁਣ ਦਲ)। (2) ਨਿਰੋਲ ਪੰਥਕ ਸੋਚ ਰੱਖਣ ਵਾਲੇ 55 ਸਾਲ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਡੀ ਉਮਰ ਦੇ 101 (91, 71, 51) ਸੱਜਣ, ਸਾਰੇ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਤੋਂ ਚੁਣ ਕੇ ਸਾਂਝਾ ਪੰਥਕ ਮੰਚ ਬਣਾ ਲੈਣ। (ਬੁੱਢਾ ਦਲ)।
 ਪੰਥ ਦਾ ਇੱਕ ਨੁਮਾਇੰਦਾ ਇਕੱਠ ਬੁਲਾਇਆ ਜਾਵੇ ਜੋ ਹੇਠਲੇ ਸੁਝਾਅ
 ਦੀ ਤਰਜ਼ ਉੱਤੇ ਮਤਾ ਕਰੇ:
 ਅੱਜ ਏਸ ਨੁਮਾਇੰਦਾ ਇਕੱਠ ਵਿੱਚ ਮਤਾ ਪਕਾਇਆ ਗਿਆ ਕਿ ਪੰਥ ਵਿੱਚ ਨਵ-ਸੁਰਜੀਤੀ ਦਾ ਰਾਹ ਪੱਕਾ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ 100 ਕੁ ਪੰਥ ਦਰਦੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਇੱਕ ਕਾਫ਼ਲਾ ਬਣਾਇਆ ਜਾਵੇਗਾ। ਇਸ ਵਿੱਚ ਉਹ ਸਿੱਖ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਕੀਤੇ ਜਾਣਗੇ ਜਿਹੜੇ ਘੱਟੋ-ਘੱਟ ਮੁੱਢਲੇ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਪੱਕ ਅਸੂਲਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਪਰਨਾਏ ਹੋਣਗੇ। ਮਸਲਨ: ਸ਼ਬਦ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਰੂਪ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਪੰਥ ਗੁਰਗੱਦੀ ਉੱਤੇ ਸਦਾ ਲਈ ਬਿਰਾਜਮਾਨ ਹੈ; ਗੁਰੂ ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ਤੀਸਰ ਸੁਤੰਤਰ ਪੰਥ ਦੇ ਸਿਧਾਂਤ ਦਾ ਰਾਖਾ ਅਤੇ ਧਾਰਨੀ ਹੈ; ਹਰ ਸਿੱਖ ਦਾ ਆਦਰਸ਼ ਸਾਬਤ ਸੂਰਤ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤਧਾਰੀ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖ ਹੈ; ਗੁਰਦ੍ਵਾਰੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਦੀ ਮਾਲਕੀ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਹਰ ਸਥਾਨਕ ਸੰਗਤ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰਦ੍ਵਾਰੇ ਦਾ ਪ੍ਰਬੰਧ ਸੰਭਾਲਣ ਦਾ ਮੁਕੰਮਲ ਅਧਿਕਾਰ ਹੈ; ਗਰੀਬ ਦਾ ਮੂੰਹ ਗੁਰੂ ਦੀ ਗੋਲ੍ਹਕ ਹੈ; ਗੁਰੂ ਫ਼ੁਰਮਾਨ 'ਬਾਲ ਬਿਰਧ ਸਭ ਸੋਧ ਪਠਾਵਾ ਕੋਊ ਅਨਪਢ ਰਹਿਣ ਨ ਪਾਵਾ' ਹਰ ਕਾਲ ਮੰਨਣ ਯੋਗ ਹੈ; ਜਿਸ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਸਥਾਨ ਦੀ ਮਾਲਕੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਦੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਉਸ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰਦ੍ਵਾਰਾ ਨਹੀਂ ਮੰਨਿਆ ਜਾ ਸਕਦਾ; ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਪ੍ਰੰਪਰਾ ਦਾ ਅੰਤ ਸ਼ਬਦ ਗੁਰੂ ਅਵਤਾਰ ਉੱਤੇ ਮੰਨਣ ਯੋਗ ਹੈ; ਗੁਰਦ੍ਵਾਰਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਸ਼ਾਨ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖੀ ਦੀ ਖ਼ੁਸ਼ਬੂ ਅਤੇ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਦਾ ਕਿਰਦਾਰ ਹੈ, ਸੋਨਾ ਸੰਗਮਰਮਰ ਨਹੀਂ; ਕੌਮੀ ਇਤਿਹਾਸ ਸ਼ੁਧ ਰੂਪ ਵਿੱਚ ਸਾਂਭਣ ਯੋਗ ਹੈ; ਕੌਮੀ ਸ਼ਹੀਦਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਯਾਦਗਾਰਾਂ ਬਣਾਉਣਾ ਮਨੁੱਖੀ ਸਮਾਜ ਦੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਹੈ; ਬੇ-ਲੋੜੀ ਕੱਟੜਤਾ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦੇ ਜੀਵਨ ਆਦਰਸ਼ ਦ ਨਿਰੋਧ ਹੈ; ਹਰ ਧਰਮ ਦੀਆਂ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ, ਸਿਆਸੀ, ਸਮਾਜਿਕ ਸੰਸਥਾਵਾਂ ਦੀ ਸੁਤੰਤਰਤਾ ਲੋਕਰਾਜੀ ਕਦਰਾਂ ਕੀਮਤਾਂ ਅਨੁਸਾਰ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦਾ ਮੁਢਲਾ ਅਸੂਲ ਹੈ; ਔਰਤ ਮਰਦ ਬ੍ਰਾਬਰੀ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਦੇ ਮੂਲ ਸਰੋਕਾਰਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਸ਼ਾਮਲ ਹੈ; ਸਭ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਦੀ ਜਾਤ, ਗੋਤ ਕੇਵਲ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖੀ ਹੈ; 'ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਗੁਰਸਿਖੜਾ ਤਿਸੁ ਨਿਵਿ ਨਿਵਿ ਲਾਗਉ ਪਾਇ ਜੀਉ' ਦੀ ਰੀਤ ਪ੍ਰਸਪਰ ਨਿੱਘੇ ਸੰਬੰਧਾਂ ਦੀ ਗੁਰਸਿੱਖੀ ਜੁਗਤ ਸਮਝ ਕੇ ਪਾਲਣਯੋਗ ਹੈ; ਗੁਰੂ ਪ੍ਰਮੇਸ਼ਰ ਦੇ ਗੁਣਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਧਾਰਣ ਕਰਦੇ ਹੋਏ ਅਕਾਲ ਪੁਰਖ ਤੋਂ ਅਭੇਦ ਹੋ ਕੇ ਸਰਬੱਤ ਦੇ ਭਲੇ ਲਈ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਦੇ ਵਿਵਹਾਰ ਦੀ ਜ਼ਿੰਮੇਵਾਰੀ ਲੈਣਾ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਜੀਵਨ ਦਾ ਅੰਤਮ ਨਿਸ਼ਾਨਾ ਹੈ, ਜੀਵਨ-ਮੁਕਤੀ ਹੈ!
 ਪੰਥ ਦਰਦੀਆਂ ਦਾ ਇਹ ਕਾਫ਼ਲਾ ਪੰਥ ਦੀ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ, ਜਥੇਬੰਦਕ, ਆਰਥਿਕ, ਸਮਾਜਿਕ, ਸਿਆਸੀ ਉੱਨਤੀ ਦਾ ਹਰ ਰਾਹ ਪੱਧਰਾ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਸਦਾ ਯਤਨਸ਼ੀਲ ਰਹੇਗਾ!
ਅਗਲਾ ਇੱਕ ਸਾਲ ਦਸੰਬਰ 2015 ਤੱਕ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਮੰਚ ਸਿਰਫ਼ ਦੋ ਕੰਮ ਕਰੇ (ੳ) ਹਰ ਢੁਕਵੀਂ ਸਮਾਜਿਕ ਇਕਾਈ ਵਿੱਚ 11 ਨੌਜਵਾਨਾਂ ਦਾ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਮੰਚ ਜਥੇਬੰਦ ਕਰੇ। ਇਹ ਮੰਚ ਸਮਾਂ ਆਉਣ ਉੱਤੇ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਜਮਾਤ ਵਿੱਚ ਤਬਦੀਲ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਨੀਅਤ ਨਾਲ ਉਸਾਰਿਆ ਜਾਵੇ। ਦਸੰਬਰ 2016 ਤੱਕ ਇਹ ਕੰਮ ਮੁਕਾ ਲਿਆ ਜਾਵੇ। ਏਸ ਦੇ ਕਾਇਦੇ ਕਾਨੂੰਨ (ਸੰਵਿਧਾਨ) ਨਵੇਂ ਨਾ ਬਣਾਏ ਜਾਣ ਬਲਕਿ ਸ਼੍ਰੋਮਣੀ ਅਕਾਲੀ ਦਲ ਵਾਲੇ ਹੀ ਰੱਖੇ ਜਾਣ। (ਅ) ਦੂਸਰਾ ਕੰਮ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਮੰਚ ਇਹ ਕਰੇ ਕਿ ਪੰਥਕ ਮੁੱਦਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਸੋਸ਼ਲ ਮੀਡੀਆ ਸਮੇਤ ਪ੍ਰੈੱਸ ਟੀ.ਵੀ. ਜਾਂ ਹੋਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਰ ਸਾਧਨਾ ਦੇ ਸਹਾਰੇ ਮੁੜ ਕੇ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਪ੍ਰਚਲਤ ਕਰੇ। ਇਸ ਮਕਸਦ ਲਈ 101 ਸੱਜਣ (ਜੇ ਸੱਜਣ ਹੋਏ ਤਾਂ) ਸਹਿਜੇ ਹੀ 15-15, 20-20 ਦੇ ਜਥੇ ਬਣਾ ਲੈਣਗੇ ਜੋ ਮੁੱਦੇ ਨਿਤਾਰਨ, ਜੁਆਬ ਘੜਨ, ਪ੍ਰਸਾਰ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ, ਯੋਗ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਲਈ ਕਮੇਟੀਆਂ, ਜਥੇਬੰਦੀਆਂ ਬਣਾ ਲੈਣਗੇ। ਜ਼ਿਆਦਾ ਵਿਸਤਾਰ ਲਿਖਣ ਦੀ ਲੋੜ ਨਹੀਂ- ਨੇਕ ਨੀਅਤ ਵਾਲੇ ਨੂੰ ਏਸ ਰਾਹ ਚੱਲਦਿਆਂ ਕੋਈ ਔਕੜ ਨਹੀਂ ਆਵੇਗੀ। ਸਭ ਮੁਸ਼ਕਲਾਂ ਹੱਲ ਕਰਨ ਦੇ ਰਾਹ ਮਿਲ ਜਾਣਗੇ। ਜਨਵਰੀ 2016 ਵਿੱਚ ਇਹ ਜੱਥੇਬੰਦੀ ਆਪਣਾ ਵਧੀਆ ਜਿਹਾ ਨਾਂਅ ਰੱਖ ਕੇ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਅਤੇ ਪੰਥ ਦਾ ਹਰ ਮਸਲਾ ਸਿਆਸੀ, ਸਮਾਜਿਕ, ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਆਰਥਿਕ ਹੱਲ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਸਮਰੱਥਾਵਾਨ ਹੋ ਜਾਵੇਗੀ।
ਇਸ ਸਮੁੱਚੀ ਕਾਰਵਾਈ ਵਿੱਚ ਯੋਗਦਾਨ ਪਾਉਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਹਰ ਇੱਕ ਨੂੰ ਗੁਰੂ ਦੀਆਂ ਖੁਸ਼ੀਆਂ ਪ੍ਰਾਪਤ ਹੋਣਗੀਆਂ ਜਿਸ ਤੋਂ ਵੱਧ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਵਿੱਚ ਕੁਝ ਹੈ ਨਹੀਂ।

ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀਆ ਸਵੈਮ ਸੇਵਕ ਸੰਘ ਮੁਖੀ ਮੋਹਨ ਭਾਗਵਤ ਦੇ ਬਿਆਨ ਦਾ ਵਿਸ਼ਲੇਸ਼ਣ

(ਇਹ ਲੇਖ 29 ਅਗਸਤ 2014 ਨੂੰ ਫੇਸਬੁੱਕ 'ਤੇ ਛਾਯਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਗਿਆ)

ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀਆ ਸਵੈਮ ਸੇਵਕ ਸੰਘ ਦੇ ਮੁੱਖੀ ਮੋਹਨ ਭਾਗਵਤ ਦੇ ਬਿਆਨ ਬਾਰੇ ਉਸ ਦੇ ਪੱਖਧਰ ਆਖ ਰਹੇ ਹਨ ਕਿ ਇਹ ਇੱਕ ਇਤਫ਼ਾਕੀਆ ਬਿਆਨ ਹੈ ਜਿਸ ਦੇ ਡੂੰਘੇ ਅਰਥ ਲੱਭਣ ਦੀ ਲੋੜ ਨਹੀਂ। ਐਵੇਂ ਸਰਸਰੀ ਗੱਲ ਕੀਤੀ ਹੈ। ਪਰ ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀਆ ਸਵੈਮ ਸੇਵਕ ਸੰਘ ਦੀਆਂ ਲਿਖਤਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਜਿਹੀਆਂ ਗੱਲਾਂ ਬਾਰ-ਬਾਰ ਦੁਹਰਾਈਆਂ ਜਾਂਦੀਆਂ ਹਨ। 1990 ਦੇ ਕਰੀਬ ਭਾਜਪਾ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਮੁੱਖ ਮੁਰਲੀ ਮਨੋਹਰ ਜੋਸ਼ੀ ਨੇ ਆਖਿਆ ਸੀ, ‘ਅਸੀਂ ਸਾਰੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹਾਂ। ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਅਹਿਮਦੀਆਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹਨ, ਇਸਾਈ ਕ੍ਰਿਸਤੀ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹਨ, ਸਿੱਖ, ਜੈਨੀ ਬੋਧੀ, ਸਭ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹਨ।’ ਮੋਹਨ ਭਾਗਵਾਤ ਦਾ ਆਖਣਾ ਹੈ, ‘ਸਾਰੇ ਭਾਰਤ ਵਾਸੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਸੱਭਿਆਚਾਰਿਕ ਪਛਾਣ ਹਿੰਦੂਤਵ ਹੈ। ਅਜੋਕੇ ਸਭ ਦੇਸ ਵਾਸੀ ਇੱਕ ਮਹਾਨ ਸੱਭਿਆਚਾਰ ਦੀ ਔਲਾਦ ਹਨ’। ਇਹ ਬਿਆਨ ਏਨਾ ਅਟਪਟਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਮਨੁੱਖੀ ਸੂਝ ਸਮਝ ਦੀ ਜੱਦ ਤੋਂ ਬਹਾਰ ਹੈ। ਸ਼ਾਇਦ ਏਸੇ ਲਈ ਕਿਹਾ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਗੰਭੀਰਤਾ ਨਾਲ ਨਾ ਲਿਆ ਜਾਵੇ। ਚੀਰ-ਫਾੜ ਕਰਨ ਲੱਗੀਏ ਤਾਂ ਇਹ ਬਿਆਨ ਅਕਾਸ਼ਵੇਲ ਦੇ ਪੱਤਿਆਂ ਵਾਂਗ ਬਿਖਰ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ। ਪੁਰਾਤਨ ਭਾਰਤ ਵਿੱਚ ਅਜੋਕੇ ਭਾਰਤ ਵਾਂਗ ਹੀ ਇੱਕੋ ਵੇਲੇ ਕਈ ਸੱਭਿਆਤਾਵਾਂ ਪ੍ਰਚੱਲਤ ਰਹੀਆਂ ਹਨ। ਸਿੰਧੂ ਘਾਟੀ, ਆਰੀਅਨ, ਬੋਧੀ, ਆਦੀਵਾਸੀ, ਦਲਿਤ, ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੀ ਅਤੇ ਸ਼੍ਰਮਨਿਕ ਸੱਭਿਆਤਾਵਾਂ ਇਹਨਾਂ ਵਿੱਚੋਂ ਕੁਝ ਹਨ। 712 ਦੇ ਅਰਬ ਹਮਲੇ ਤੱਕ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਲਫਜ਼ ਏਸ ਧਰਤੀ ਉੱਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਚੱਲਤ ਨਹੀਂ ਸੀ। ਹਮਲਾਵਰਾਂ ਨੇ ਏਸ ਲਫਜ਼ ਨੂੰ ਪਹਿਲੋ ਪਹਿਲ ਵਰਤਿਆ। ਕੁਝ ਸਮਾਂ ਇਹ ‘ਸਿੰਧੂ’ ਦਾ ਬਦਲ ਵੀ ਰਿਹਾ ਪਰ ਅੱਗੇ ਜਾ ਕੇ ‘ਡਾਕੂ, ਚੋਰ, ਧਾੜਵੀ’ ਆਦਿ ਦੇ ਬਦਲ ਵਜੋਂ ਪ੍ਰਚੱਲਤ ਹੋਇਆ। ਕਈ ਵਿਚਾਰਵਾਨ ਇਸ ਨੂੰ ਅਪਮਾਨਜਨਕ ਜਾਣਦੇ ਹਨ ਅਤੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਅਖਵਾਉਣ ਨੂੰ ਤਿਆਰ ਨਹੀਂ; ਕੁਝ ਕੁ ‘ਗਰਵ ਸੇ ਕਹੋ ਹਮ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹੈ’ ਦਾ ਨਾਅਰਾ ਬੁਲੰਦ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਨ। ‘ਕੁਛ ਹਕੀਕਤ ਖੁਲਤੀ ਹੀ ਨਹੀਂ ਇਸ ਨਾਮ ਕੀ’। ਏਨੀ ਕੁ ਗੱਲ ਪੱਕੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਹਿੰਦੂਤਵ ਦਾ ਸਿਆਸੀ ਵਿਚਾਰ ‘ਹਿੰਦੂ ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰ’ ਦੇ ਸੰਦਰਭ ਵਿੱਚ 1924-25 ਤੋਂ ਹੋਂਦ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਇਆ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਸੰਘ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਰ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਓਦੋਂ ਤੋਂ ਹੀ ਏਸੇ ਪਰਿਪੇਖ ਵਿੱਚ, ਧਰਮ ਨਿਰਪੱਖ ਹਿੰਦੋਸਤਾਨ ਦੇ ਸੰਕਲਪ ਦੇ ਵਿਰੋਧ ਵਿੱਚ ਵਰਤਿਆ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ। ਸੰਘ ਪ੍ਰਵਾਰ ਨੇ ਏਸ ਦੀ ਮੁਕੰਮਲ ਵਿਆਖਿਆ ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀਆ ਸਵੈਮ ਸੇਵਕ ਸੰਘ ਦੇ ਇੱਕ ਟ੍ਰੇਨਿਂਗ ਕੈਂਪ ਦੌਰਾਨ ਕੀਤੀ। ਸਵਾਲ ਦਾ ਜੁਆਬ ਦਿੰਦਿਆਂ ਯਾਦਵਰਾਓ ਜੋਸ਼ੀ ਨੇ ਆਖਿਆ, ‘ਅਜੇ ਤੱਕ ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀਆ ਸਵੈਮ ਸੇਵਕ ਸੰਘ ਅਤੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਸਮਾਜ ਏਨੇ ਤਕੜੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਕਿ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨਾਂ ਅਤੇ ਇਸਾਈਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਾਫ਼ ਆਖ ਸਕਣ ਕਿ ਜੇ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਨੇ ਹਿੰਦੋਸਤਾਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਰਹਿਣਾ ਹੈ ਤਾਂ ਉਹ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਬਣ ਜਾਣ: ‘ਖ਼ਤਮ ਹੋ ਜਾਉ ਜਾਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹੋ ਜਾਓ’! ਪਰ ਜਦੋਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਸਮਾਜ ਅਤੇ ਰਾਸ਼ਟਰੀਆ ਸਵੈਮ ਸੇਵਕ ਏਨੇ ਤਕੜੇ ਹੋ ਗਏ, ਅਸੀਂ ਇਹਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਆਖਾਂਗੇ ਕਿ, ‘ਜੇ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਏਸ ਮੁਲਕ ਵਿੱਚ ਰਹਿਣਾ ਚਾਹੁੰਦੇ ਹੋ ਜਾਂ ਇਸ ਮੁਲਕ ਨੂੰ ਪਿਆਰ ਕਰਦੇ ਹੋ, ਤਾਂ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਸਵੀਕਾਰ ਕਰੋ ਕਿ ਕੁਝ ਕੁ ਪੀੜ੍ਹੀਆਂ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਤੁਸੀਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਹੀ ਸੀ। ਤੁਸੀਂ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਦਾਇਰੇ ਵਿੱਚ ਪਰਤ ਆਉ।’
ਓਦੋਂ ਤੱਕ ਇਹ ਔਰੰਗਜ਼ੇਬੀ ਫ਼ਰਮਾਨ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ, ਬੋਧੀਆਂ, ਜੈਨੀਆਂ ਉੱਤੇ ਸੁਤੇ ਸਿੱਧ ਹੀ ਲਾਗੂ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕਿਆ ਹੋਵੇਗਾ ਜਾਂ ਇਹਨਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਏਨੇ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਏਜੰਟ ਪੈਦਾ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕੇ ਹੋਣਗੇ ਜੋ ਜ਼ਬਰੀ ਲਾਗੂ ਕਰ ਦੇਣਗੇ ਜਾਂ ਹਿੰਦੋਸਤਾਨ ਦੀ ਅਨੇਕਤਾ ਨੂੰ ਖ਼ਤਮ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ, ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਹਿੰਦੋਸਤਾਨ ਦਾ ਹੀ ਖ਼ਾਤਮਾ ਹੋ ਜਾਵੇਗਾ। ਇਹ ਹੈ ਸਰਬ-ਨਾਸ ਦਾ ਮੰਤਰ ਜਿਸ ਦੀ ਅਜ਼ਮਾਇਸ਼ ਉਮੀਦ ਤੋਂ ਪਹਿਲਾਂ ਹੀ ਸ਼ੁਰੂ ਹੋ ਚੁੱਕੀ ਹੈ ।
28 ਅਗਸਤ 2014 ਨੂੰ ‘ਟਾਈਮਸ ਔਵ ਇੰਡੀਆ’ ਵਿੱਚ ਪਿੰਡ ਅਸਰੋਈ ਅਲੀਗੜ੍ਹ ਤੋਂ ਛਪੀ ਖ਼ਬਰ ਦੱਸਦੀ ਹੈ :
72 ਬਾਲਮੀਕੀ ਜੋ 1995 ਵਿੱਚ ਇਸਾਈ ਬਣ ਗਏ ਸਨ ‘ਘਰ ਵਾਪਸ ਆ ਗਏ ਹਨ। ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਸ਼ੁੱਧੀ ਕਰ ਕੇ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਬਣਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਚੁੱਕਿਆ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਗਿਰਜੇ ਨੂੰ ਸ਼ਿਵ ਮੰਦਰ ਵਿੱਚ ਤਬਦੀਲ ਕਰ ਕੇ ਸਲੀਬ ਨੂੰ ਬਾਹਰ ਸੜਕ ਉੱਤੇ ਰੱਖਿਆ ਜਾ ਚੁੱਕਾ ਹੈ। ਇੱਕ ਮੈਂਬਰ ਪਾਰਲਾਮੈਂਟ ਯੋਗੀ ਅਦਿਤਆ ਨਾਥ ਨੇ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨਾਂ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਬਿਆਨ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ‘ਪ੍ਰੇਮ-ਜਹਾਦ’ ਬੰਦ ਕਰ ਦੇਣ। ਜੇ ਉਹਨਾਂ ਇੱਕ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਔਰਤ ਨੂੰ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨ ਕੀਤਾ ਤਾਂ ਅਸੀ ਇੱਕ ਸੌ ਮੁਸਲਮਾਨੀਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਹਿੰਦੂ ਬਣਾਵਾਂਗੇ।’

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tagore’s view of the faith of a Sikh

[Some who hold Sirdar Kapur Singh in high esteem, got together to institute a commemorative annual lecture in the Punjabi University, Patiala  to revisit his contribution to history, philosophy, theology, politics and literature. Two lectures went very well because the guests were invited in consultation with the Trust. The third one was somewhat tolerable. The one that should have been held last year (2014) was a disaster. The faculty insisted on inviting Amiya Dev, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Vidyasagar University, West Bengal, who knew nothing about the Sirdar, nothing about Sikh history or ethos and very little about Rabinder Nath Tagore’s motivation for venturing into the field of Sikh theology and history. Fortunately someone went through the lecture that had been printed by the concerned department. He found it woven around conjured up ideas and images. An immediate hue and cry was raised just before the lecture was scheduled to be delivered the next morning.

I had also received a copy of the lecture printed by the University I was appalled at the insensitivity of the author and tired to get in touch with the Vice Chancellor. Our high dignitaries maintain their ‘highness’ by remaining inaccessible to ordinary people. I did not succeed.

I did the next best thing within my power. I decided to register my disagreement by appropriate analysis of the talk and Tagore’s understanding of Sikh history and religion. I prepared a short and a comprehensive critique of sorts for the occasion. I was relieved to know the next morning that the talk had been ‘postponed’. My relief was abruptly terminated when I came to know that Amiya Dev was invited to deliver the same lecture to the faculty of Sociology on the same day in the same University.

 Encouraged by the alternate invitation, the author thought that the lecture also deserved publication. Fortunately theMainstream, published its much abridged and partly sanitised version in its issue of October 19, 2014, pp. 10-12. It went unnoticed by scholars. After much weighing of pros and cons, I decided to publish my reaction and the full text of the lecture, for Dev’s article is bound to reappear somewhere again. At least the other point of view will be available to the reader. This will also serve to bring out the insensitivity of our academic institutions, for which mocking the Guru and his celebrated Sikhs is just a matter of putting words and sentences together.  -Author ]




        Many years ago I felt the need to go to the roots of Indian political leaders’ anti Sikh policy.

       I needed to know why there was a palpable strong undercurrent of hostility for the Sikh culture in Indian mind despite the earth-shaking sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadur, and in view of the fact that the Sikhs created the first indigenous empire after about 900 years of abject slavery during which no one else made such a bid. Despite the fact that Hindu India reaped most of the benefit of the Sikh movement, there still existed an enormous amount of prejudice against the Sikhs. The prejudice was so strong that it made them refuse exchange of population suggested by Jinnah in 1947, knowing that the refusal would decimate the Sikh people. Prejudice and contempt for the Sikh religion, the Guru, in particular the Sikh rahit and the Sikh people was displayed vociferously by MK Gandhi in his prayer meetings. In due course it embedded itself into the constitutional document.

       The first clue was that MK Gandhi was promoted as the prophet of non-violence after he swore loyalty to the British empire in writing and published it in the periodical he was editing. The second was that he accepted RN Tagore as gurudev(divine teacher). The third was that both of them had striven hard to prevent (violent) overthrow of the British empire. In common parlance they would be accused of collaborating with imperial power ruling their country. The fourth was that the ‘insights’ provided by Tagore and Gandhi alone were uppermost in the minds of the coterie of Brahmins and Kayasths who framed the constitutional document the authorship of which they would ascribe to Dr.  B. R. Ambedkar to dupe and win over the dalits.

       I went through the Collected Works of MK Gandhi. I went through the so called Sikh writings of Rabinder Nath Tagore. I found that both of them illogically and erroneously, even maliciously ascribed wanton violence to the Sikh movement. Both had strong objection to the acceptance of the Guru Granth as eternal Sikh Guru. Both could not digest the Khalsa rahitprescribed by the Tenth Nanak. Both of them insisted in denying the ‘One spirit ten bodies’ concept of Guruship - a fundamental doctrine of the Sikh faith. Eventually both of them showed a tendency to dismantle the Sikh edifice, presumably to project their own faith in favourable light in comparison.

       MK Gandhi explicitly, and Tagore implicitly, were both against the propagation of Punjabi in the gurmukhi script. From them these cultivated prejudices travelled to certain Bengali historians - prominent among whom were JN Sarkar and IB Banerji.

       In his translation of the small portion of the Sikh scripture, I found Tagore neglecting to use the original. It is almost as if he took translation as a ritual to be performed. I found that he paid more attention to Bhagatbani - many versions of which were current and automatic escape route in case of faulty translation was inbuilt. I found that his interest in the Guru’s word was superficial. Tagore had no idea of Sikh history or any sympathy for it. Then why did he want to write on Sikh themes?

       Then I went to his Sikh poems. I cannot say how they sound in Bangla but in translation they were listless. As listless as hisGeetanjali is. ‘Bandi Bir’ is highly derogatory to the first indigenous sovereign in 800 years: one who created the Peoples’ Republic based on the Sikh idea of polity, almost a century  before the French Revolution.

       He concocts a story contrary to facts to depict Banda as a compulsively violent person, willing to kill his own son just to satisfy his blood letting lust. Banda had defied every Mughal diktat and at that moment in history had an ephemeral existence. He was no more than a small step short of execution. He had no obligation to kill his son on the asking of his enemies: the baseless story defies common sense. It is contrary to Banda’s conduct as a true knight and highly motivated Sikh. Banda had been blinded before being brought a prisoner to Delhi. The story serves only to inspire revulsion and disgust against Banda and the faith for which he became a martyr. It grossly misrepresents the concept of Sikh martyrdom. It appears to be more a poem written by a butcher of Trilokpuri than by a sensitive poet.

       The poem on Taru Singh makes more sense to a degree but none in the context of facts and of Sikh spiritual ethos. Taru Singh had ensured that his tormentor perished before he died. He clung to the divine gift of life even after he was scalped, but RN Tagore depicts him as eager for death. He ascribes ritual death wish to the young, exuberant revolutionary Taru Singh just out of his teens.

       The last days of Taru Singh are well recorded and there is no element of ‘Gift Beyond Prayer’ in his conduct. Taru Singh was a conscious part of insurgency against the Afghan empire that then ruled over the Punjab.

       Both these poems show that RN Tagore never understood the Sikh concept of martyrdom. Source material for studying it was ample and available at arm’s length. He had no will no inclination and may be even, no intention to study it. He was just eager grab an opportunity to denigrate the Sikh movement. In retrospect, we know that he was writing at a time when the Bengal was in ferment from the leaven provided by the Sikh Ghadarites. He was under an obligation to shield the British Empire from being overthrown by the Bengali and Punjabi revolutionaries.

       In his poem on Guru Gobind Singh and his essay, translation of which was published in 1911, RN Tagore has depicted him as fully out of tune with the Sikh movement. That constitutes a blasphemy in theological terms. The Sikhs recognise only one Guru who is Nanak, he is Hargobind, and is also Gobind Singh. The sensitive poet thought nothing of slighting the faith of a large number of his countrymen. In this exercise can be discerned the complete blueprint for destroying the Sikh faith. The act appears to have been performed on behalf of a culture likely to inherit the British political power when and if it decided to fold up in India.

     RN Tagore’s ‘Nishphal Uphaar,’ though essentially barren as he puts it, is once again somewhat tolerable but ‘Shesh Shikhsha’ is atrocious and makes no sense to a rational being. It is also contrary to facts as known to history. The Pathan who killed the Guru was a hired assassin, commissioned by Wazir Khan the governor of Sarhind who apprehended danger to his political existence from the rapprochement between Guru and the emperor. Universal human welfare was Guru’s concern and not personal political power. The Guru was not a failure, his life was not a waste, but paved the path of spiritual and political liberation of humankind for ever. According to some chronicles, the Pathan who assassinated the Guru was the grandson of Painda Khan. The Guru never struck a blow in anger as Tagore alleges. He was always conscious of his role as instructor of humankind. Mohsan Fani, a contemporary, had  known him and testifies to it. The Pathan general challenged him to a duel on the field of battle. The Guru accepted his challenge. He warded off Painda Khan’s sword blow and before striking him a fatal one, said in the Guru mode, ‘like this must you wield the sword.’ He then dismounted to perform his divine function of showering Akalpurakh’s mercy on all beings. Taking the dying Khan’s head on his lap, he screened his face from the burning sun with his battle shield and said lovingly, ‘Khan the end is near; repeat the Kalima.’ The overwhelmed Khan’s last words were, ‘O! Merciful! your sword is now my kalima.’ The Guru had no enmity. Being a conscious part of the Akalpurakh he worshipped, he was nivair, just as He was. ‘Shesh Shikhsa' is simply deplorable.

       It is clear as daylight that RN Tagore has written every word of his so called Sikh writings to malign the Sikh faith and to evoke abhorrence in the minds of his readers. It is not the authentic function of an honest intellectual. A prostitute misuses the body and writers like him misuse their intellect to serve illegitimate purposes.

       I have written a critique of Tagore’s essay on Maratha and Sikh history. It was published at least a decade and a half earlier. After agreeing to publish it in toto, and in a breach of trust, The Sikh Review of Calcutta also published about two-thirds of it about five years ago. In that essay I tried to understand how the Nobel Prize for literature has been dispensed in recent times. It is a sordid tale. That the Prize was probably procured for RN Tagore by his colonial masters to serve imperial purposes is the possible conclusion. The distress of patriotic Bengali writers over conferment of the Prize upon him is known to history. Tagore was not the only undeserving recipient. There is a long line of such authors extending to the present times.

       Immediately after receiving it, he was despatched to California to convince our Ghadrites that loyalty to the British was the best policy for them to pursue. They spurned him effectively, were arrested for attempt to murder him and had to undergo incarceration. Like Gandhi before him he also made an exhibition of his loyalty to the colonial power ruling his country by composing the Jan Gan Man eulogising the colonial head as master of India’s destiny. The song is now the national anthem of India. He also obliged the British by running the California errand for them. That it did not have the desired effect is quite another matter.

       Some of us would have driven down from Chandigarh to participate in the annual Sirdar Kapur Singh Memorial Lecture, had it been held. We hoped to hear a word about the Sirdar, or a discussion about his major concerns, his patriotic fervour, his love of philosophy, his monumental contribution to both history and theology with which he grappled all his life. His unique lifelong struggle to restore the glory of his faith is a saga that needed telling. Of all that we would not have heard a word. We would have been terribly disappointed.

       On the morning of the scheduled lecture, the Guru’s Vaak from the Gurdarbar at Amritsar was enlightening as always. The Third Nanak said: ‘reading, studying remains a worldly chore undertaken for mere material benefits if lust and corruption dwell within one. For it to become liberating and ennobling force, you must contemplate serenely on the divine virtues and must pursue the Truth.’ [M3; p.650] That is the job of a seeker, a true poet, a genuine intellectual or a free thinker. Presumably RN Tagore like his acolyte MK Gandhi, was neither one nor the other, nor anything significant. In the final analysis, his saintly beard and full length hair notwithstanding, he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing out to devour an ameliorating faith for imagined partisan gains. He appears to have garnered the Nobel Prize by selling his soul, by conniving to prolong the misery of enslaved India and thereby betraying millions of his countrymen.

       In the Punjab we despise such persons. When a commemorative train to celebrate the 150th year of Tagore’s birth (flagged off from Kolkata on May 9, 2010) reached Amritsar on March 2, 2011, virtually no one turned up to see the exhibition it brought. Fakes are discovered more readily here. There is no use of dinning their hollow, sectarian propaganda into our ears. We are pledged to eternity to love Nanak, his blue war horse, his resplendent aigrette and his liberating, clean sweeping sword that cuts as precisely as his pure elevating doctrine. We love and admire Taru Singh, Banda Singh Bahadur and all those who love the Guru.

(Another article on Tagore by Gurtej Singh is also on the blog archives of September 2010)

[TAGORE AND SIKHISM
AMIYA DEV
Emeritus Professor of 
Comparative Literature
Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

The fourth Sirdar Kapoor Singh Memorial Lecture, 2014.
Sirdar Kapoor Singh Foundation
Punjabi University, Patiala.

                  FOREWORD
In TAGORE AND SIKHISM, Professor Amiya Dev, a distinguished scholar of comparative literature, delineates the discursive features of Indian theological and literary tradition with special reference to the reaction and response of one of the most eminent poet-scholar of the Indian subcontinent. In this essay, we encounter the extremely lucid commentary on the inter-religious and inter-philosophical undercurrents which have been the hallmark of our humanity and our quest for the universal Truth that goes beyond the usual boundaries of never ending theological disputes. In Tagore, there is sublime incision and perception of Truth and Transcendence of the Sikh Gurus which brought about a philosophical revolution in the centuries old tradition of our country.

Jaspal Singh
Vice-Chancellor,
Punjabi University, Patiala.

TAGORE AND SIKHISM
Amiya Dev
When I was at school a poem I would often recite at a gathering was Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Bandī Bīr’ (Prisoner Hero) celebrating Sikh heroism and martyrdom.  Some of its lines I still remember, especially the ones at the beginning: ‘pañcanadīr tīre / benī pākāiyā śire / dekhite dekhite gurur mantre / jāgiyā utheche Sikh-- / nirmam nirbhīk’ (By banks of five rivers / with hair tied in braids / in no time did Sikhs wake up / in Guru’s name-- / unrelenting and fearless).  Their wake-up slogans were ‘Alakh Niranjan’ and ‘Victory to the Guru’.  And

A day came 
when millions knew no fear
nor had debts to any.
Life and death were mere footmen,
and heart free of worries.
By the ten banks of five rivers
such a day did come.
With this awakening in the background, the poem goes on into the Mughal offensive out of envy and fear, and the heroic battle put up by the Sikhs until their fort at Gurudaspur falls with the leader Banda [Bahadur] taken prisoner.  Carnage follows.  In seven days seven hundred Sikhs are beheaded their spirit of martyrdom contesting for places of priority in the beheading.  Then the worst comes.  One of Banda’s infant sons is thrown into his lap with the express order of killing him.  This involves both father and son in martyrdom.  The poem narrates how Banda quells his son’s fear by whispering the magic spell of martyrdom to his ears, ‘Victory to the Guru’. Yes, it is with ‘Victory to the Guru’ on his lips that the young martyr readies himself for his martyr father’s dagger.  The act of most dastardly infanticide is most lovingly done throwing waves of silence and shock through the executioners’ court.  Banda follows suit with hot pincers tearing his body apart.  Across these sixty-five years I still remember the emotion in my voice in spelling out the last words of the poem: ‘darśakjan mudilo nayan, / sabhā holo nistabdha’ (The spectators shut their eyes, and the court / went dead silent).

     The date these fourteen lyric stanzas comprising the narrative poem ‘Bandī Bīr’ were composed, was November 1899.  The poem was part of a book of poems called Kathā (Tales: 1899) containing narrative poems on ancient and medieval Indian material.  Its prefatory note was: ‘The Buddhist tales narrated in this book are taken from Rajendralal Mitra’s collection in English of Buddhist literature of Nepal.  The Rajput stories have been found in Todd’s Rajasthan and the Sikh narratives in one or two English Sikh histories.  I have got the Vaishnava tales from Bhaktamāl.  Some difference from the original sources will be noted in these poems—I hope in accordance with common literary practice I shall not be held punishable for such change.’  In other words, in a mild way Tagore is saying that his narratives are not versified history but depiction of experience derived from history.  And the purpose is not edification but appreciation.  

     There are two other ‘Sikh’ poems in Kathā, one on Bhai Taru Singh’s martyrdom, ‘Prārthanātīta Dān’ (Gift beyond Prayer), and the other ‘Śesh Śikshā’ (Last Lesson) on Guru Gobind Singh’s self-sought retribution cum death.  This second I shall take up with the two other Guru Gobind Singh poems he had written earlier in 1888.  ‘Prārthanātīta Dān’ is short enough to be quoted whole: 

Gift beyond Prayer (Prārthanātīta Dān)
For a Sikh cutting his braided hair is as bad as giving up religion.
When the Pathans brought 
the Sikh prisoners in chains
Suhridganj’s soil
went blood-red.
Nawab said, ‘Listen, Toru Singh,
I wish to pardon you.’
Toru Singh said, ‘why 
this dishonour to me?’
Nawab replied, ‘You are a great warrior,
I am not angry with you,
all I ask for is that you
cut your braid for me.’
Toru Singh said, ‘Your kindness
is imprinted on my heart
I shall give you more than you have asked,
my head with the braid.’

This came in close heels of ‘Bandī Bīr’ (only a Rajput poem intervening) in November 1899.  Its history is scanty, may even be inexact, yet it bears the essence of Sikh martyrdom.  It concerns the first of the five K’s of Khalsa Panth, keś which being a gift of God is inseparable from the head.  To cut it is to disown the head.  Indeed Toru Singh’s repartee hits the bull’s eye.  And surely the Nawab knew it.  In apparent innocence he is asking a Sikh to give up his faith.  Is he testing him, to see if he sells his faith in order to save his head?  But isn’t there a contradiction in terms here in the Khalsa perspective—how can you save your head by sacrificing what grows on it?  (It may be an idle comparison with Hebrew Samson, yet it strikes one.  Sikh religious historians may tell us better.)  So martyrs are those that offer to die to defend the purity of their faith, to save it from any doubts or innuendos.  The Nawab’s ‘request’ conceals a call to heresy, or contrarily, without his knowing it, to martyrdom.  Fallen among vengeful enemies a Sikh leader is by definition a martyr.  The Nawab is only a factor. 

    There are in all three Guru Gobind Singh poems, two written earlier and the third within a few days of the Taru Singh poem.  The earlier poems occur in Tagore’s first major book of poems containing a whole variety of themes, Mānasī (Lady of the Mind: 1890).  Written on consecutive days, in 1888, they are built around Guru Gobind Singh’s sādhanā.  The first one, named ‘Guru Gobinda’, is a long dialogue Guru Gobind Singh has with his disciples—he speaking and they listening.  They have come to take him back to the land of the five rivers from his seclusion (‘ “Friends, go back, / it is not time yet”—/ night ending, on Jamuna’s banks / of low hills, and a dense forest; / Guru Gobinda said aloud / to his six disciples.’)  Laid out in twenty-five lyric stanzas, it is a narrative poem of the kind Tagore would later develop in Kathā.  Guru Gobind Singh is fully aware of the pull—the many tasks awaiting his leadership—in fact he has a full vision of them.  The poet is doing justice to history but in his own way, through a set of dreams as it were.  But Guru Gobind Singh wakes up, for his sādhanā is not yet over.  

I must still be in the world of imagination,
and have my seat in the forest
still I need only quiet contemplation,
lonely meditation without action,
night and day to listen sedentarily
to my soul’s voice. …

Twelve years have thus passed,
how longer do I have to go
by acquiring eternal life 
drop by drop from all sides 
when in myself shall I see
my Self in all fullness?

When I shall open my heart and say
‘I have attained my end.
You all follow me,
The Guru is calling you …’

     The second Guru Gobind Singh poem, ‘Nishphal Upahār’ (Fruitless Gift), is complementary to the first, depicting the Guru’s composure in the midst of his sādhanā not swayed by any nostalgic dreams of the future.  His portrait is perfect: no eddies in his heart as in the river below where the scene is laid for the poem.  It is Jamuna as in the first, and its banks are as hilly and full of shingles. A classical motif for such sādhanā to be tested out is temptation, which often comes in the form of some greed-evoking possession, whether a nymph or riches.  Tagore seemed so touched by its theme that he wrote the poem twice on the same day, with slight variations in the metre, the rhyme scheme remaining the same, aabb.  Here are some lines from its twelve stanzas (I am quoting from the second version):
   
When Raghunah arrived
the Sikh Guru was reading a life of the Lord. 
Touching his feet Raghu said,
‘master, the servant has brought you a small gift.’ …

Two golden bangles inlaid with gems
Raghu placed at the Guru’s feet with folded hands.

Picking them up from the ground
the master looked them over with moving fingers. …

Smiling a little the Guru put them aside,
and went back to the book he was reading.
Suddenly one bangle from the rock it was on
rolled down into Jamuna’s stream.

Raghunath with shouts of ‘alas oh alas’
jumped into the water with outstretched hands, …

Not once did the Guru raise his face,
so intense was his joy of reading. …

Daylight faded out with the day,
nothing was found scuttling up Jamuna.
In wet clothes, empty hands, tired with bent head 
Raghunath came back to the Guru.

‘I can still retrieve it,’ he begged with folded hands,
‘if you show me where it is lying.’
By flinging the second bangle into water 
the Guru said, ‘there it is on the riverbed.’ 


     The third Guru Gobind Singh poem, ‘Śesh Śikshā’ (Last Lesson), is a narrative of a different order.  The Guru is at the end of his career and is not fully sure that his dreams have come true. The Bhārat he had looked forward to is now ‘narrow, split-up, doubt-ridden’.  ‘Has he been wrong then, / his life a failure?’ The poem begins with a pensive Guru in the throes of despair.  The turn of events that follows—the Pathan from whom he had bought a horse claiming payment, he deferring, the Pathan calling him names, he in a fit of rage beheading the Pathan—despairs him further: ‘I can see / my time is up.  My sinful sword / has belied its ideals / by shedding blood for nothing.  In my arm / I have no more any faith. / I must wash up this sin and shame--/ from today let that be my life’s last task.’ Expiation begins.  He raises the Pathan’s son as his own, showers on him love and care, instructs him in both scriptures and arms—all to the amazement and apprehension of his followers.  ‘What is this, master, what are you doing? / We fear the consequence.’  But his expiation has given him back his self-confidence: he has become the ‘Bīr (Heroic) Guru’ again.  He knows what he is doing, raising a worthy avenger of his father.  As to the Pathan boy, he becomes a son to him, ‘loves him / like life—is ever by his side, / as if he is his right hand.’  All his own sons having died in battle, this boy fills up the vacuum in his heart.  Tagore uses an image here.  The Guru is like a thunder-struck banyan that has had a seed brought by wind from outside into its hollow, growing into a tree itself that covers the old banyan with its own branches. 

     Once the Pathan boy’s instruction is over, he begs leave of his foster father to go out into the world to prove his worth.  The Guru tells him that there is one more lesson left. It is the lesson that he has been all these years waiting to give his foster son, the retribution that he owes for his utterly mindless and bloody act committed years ago.  The son must avenge his father.  One evening he takes the boy with him leaving behind his followers, to the spot where he had killed the father.  It is by a river.  ‘The fading day’s burnt-out crimson light / casting a long shadow like a bat’s wings / is flying to the western wilderness / in the silent sky.’  The Guru tells the boy to dig in the sand.  A reddened stone is found the red of which is identified as the boy’s father’s blood.  ‘The day is come … by killing your father’s killer / in hot blood quench / his thirsty soul.’  The boy has an instantaneous reaction, but the next moment he throws himself at the Guru’s feet saying, ‘do not play / this devilish game.  God knows / I have forgotten my father’s murder; you / I have known as father, guru and friend / all this time.  Let that love fill up the mind, / and let rage wither under it.’  Since then the Pathan boy avoids the Guru’s intimate company, until at a chess game he is confronted with him.  The boy keeps losing and the game lingers into the night.  They are alone now and with his head bent the boy thinks up moves.  Suddenly the Guru flings a chessman at him and roaring with laughter says, ‘How can such a coward win / who plays with his father’s killer?’  Provoked into murderous rage the boy instantly unsheathes his dagger and plunges it into the Guru’s breast, and the Guru says smilingly, ‘At last you have learnt / to avenge injustice. / This was your last lesson—the last time today / I bless you, my son.’ 

     The three Guru Gobind Singh poems are of three different tempers.  The first shows him eager to finish his gestation and become the Guru he is to be.  That future seems to be pulling him though he does not mean any compromise with his remaining sādhanā.  But it surely lacks the unruffledness of the second poem.  There the sādhanā is as it were in its essence while in the first it is put in perspective.  The third is expiatory.  And as in all expiations it is preceded by a fall and ends on a rise.  But it is an expiation that his followers cannot quite comprehend.  At the end of his life Guru Gobind Singh also proves to be an ideal individual.  Perhaps in advance this answers some of the doubt Tagore is going to raise in an essay on him in 1910 in contradistinction with Shivaji and, especially, in the background of the Nanak Panth. 

     Tagore has a sixth ‘Sikh’ poem, but written much later, in 1935. A variation on ‘Bandī Bīr’ it reiterates his admiration for Sikh heroism and martyrdom.   And by being an utterance in the last decade of his life it has an abiding significance.  But before getting to it let us recall his series of three historical essays written as early as 1885 for Bālak (Boy), a magazine meant for the younger members of the Jorasanko household.  They were ‘Kājer Lok Ke’ (Who is a Worthy Person?), ‘Bīr Guru’ (Heroic Guru) and ‘Sikh-Svādhinatā’ (Sikh Independence).  They deal respectively with Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind Singh, and Banda Bahadur and later.  His main source was J.D. Cunningham’s A History of the Sikhs (1849).  He might have also looked at W.L. M’Gregor’s The History of the Sikhs (1846)—might have, for there is no evidence as such though he did hint at more than one English Sikh history in his preface to Kathā from which we quoted three poems.  The first essay is about the two worlds of Nanak’s father and Nanak.  Nanak’s father was materially minded and wanted his son to have equal materiality.  But Nanak had immaterial longings.  Tagore quoted the khara sauda episode that proved their difference of values.  The Sultanpur episode didn’t mean a tilt, for though he worked at the granaries his mind was elsewhere.  And then he had that epiphany in the Muslim fakir admonishing him upon which he left home.  His udasi is taken up in some detail: ‘… Nanak travelled to many places and countries, doing as much good as he could to people and preaching the religious truth to all.  He loved both Hindus and Muslims. But he pointed out whatever was wrong with Hinduism.  He also pointed out whatever was wrong with Islam.  Yet both Hindus and Muslims were devoted to him.’  Back home he gave spiritual advice to everyone.  ‘He told them to worship one God, be religious, forgive others’ sins, and love all.’  Tagore ends his essay with a lesson for his juvenile readers:  ‘Now judge if it was Kalu [Bedi] or Kalu’s son Nanak who was worthier.  The Sikhs you see today whose handsome built, noble countenance, great strength and unlimited courage astonish you, this people are Nanak’s śishya.  There were no Sikhs before Nanak.  Such a noble race has been born out of Nanak’s noble thought and religiosity. … The money made by Kalu had filled up his own stomach, and the religious riches earned by Nanak have been feeding men for four hundred years.  Who then was worthier?’

     The very title of the second essay, ‘Heroic Guru’, implies its subject, Guru Gobind Singh.  ‘The nobleness with which Nanak was born did not extinguish with his death.  The religious hymns he sang, the songs of joy and hope, went on reverberating.  Newer and newer Gurus came up to lead the Sikhs to greatness.’  Tagore raises the curtain on Mughal hostility to the Sikhs and tells his juvenile readers of the Ninth Guru Tegbahadur’s sacrifice at Aurangzeb’s court to keep the secrecy of the Sikh doctrine.  His son Gobind, the Tenth Guru, pledged Sikh consolidation, but he went through a twenty-year intense sādhanā for that (the subject of the first Mānasī poem we quoted). He abolished caste among Sikhs and conferred a common surname, Singh, on the males.  To illustrate his utter disregard for riches, Tagore tells the story of Guru Gobind’s refusal to accept a pair of expensive bangles from a rich disciple (the subject of the second Mānasī poem).  His continuous struggles to establish Sikh supremacy and battles against Muslims are given in some detail.  A correspondence with Aurangzeb is quoted in which he accused the Mughals of atrocities against the Sikhs and added: ‘My sons have been killed; all my ties to the world are snapped; I am waiting for death; I don’t fear anyone, I only fear the sole emperor of the world, the king of all kings.  The prayer of the poor to God does not go unanswered; one day you shall have to account for all your oppression and cruelties.’  Anyway his worth was finally recognized in the Mughal court.  But Guru Gobind Singh died under strange circumstances, at the hands of a Pathan whose father he had impetuously killed, and whom he had raised as his son giving all training so that he could one day avenge his father’s death on him.  It is this that Tagore later develops into the poem ‘Last Lesson’.  Tagore’s conclusion on the ‘Heroic Guru’ for his juvenile readers is: ‘Though Guru Gobind did not succeed in fulfilling the resolution to which he had dedicated his life, yet it was chiefly he who turned the Sikhs into a martial people.  After his death the Sikhs one day attained their independence; but it was he who had opened the door to that independence.’

     Tagore’s third essay picks up the thread from the second and deals with the eventual fulfilment of Guru Gobind Singh’s pledge of ‘freeing his people from the foreign oppressors’.  The crucial role was played here by Guru Gobind’s immediate successor, Banda [Bahadur].  Some of his exploits are quoted taking the region by storm. Finally the decisive battle of Gurudaspur is narrated around which gravitate those resonant stanzas of ‘Bandī Bīr’.  The Sikhs lost and the Mughals won.  But the history was like a seesaw, defeats were followed by victories.  Again some defeats were as ghastly as that of Gurudaspur demanding martyrdom.  The tale of Torusingh comes in here, lying at Suhidganj, Lahore who had refused to cut his long hair (forbidden in Sikhism) and instead offered his head with it—subject of the short poem we quoted.  Seesawing further, history rolls on.  And Tagore ends the essay with—‘After all that long the Sikhs were fully independent.  Guru Gobind’s purpose was partly attained.  Then rose Ranjit Singh.  Afterward roared the British lion.  And after that gradually all India went red.  Ranjit Singh’s famous prophecy came true.’ 

                                 II

These three instructive essays and five narrative poems presuppose an admiration for Sikhism which goes back to Tagore’s visit to Amritsar at eleven in 1873.  He had just had his sacred thread ceremony and was on his way to the Himalayas with his father, Maharshi Debendranath, at the latter’s instance.  They stopped at Amritsar for a month.  His father had been to Amritsar before and stayed there for a couple of months, in fact before the poet’s birth, and was immersed in the Nanak Panth like his contemporaries in the Bengal Brahmo circles.  In Jībansmriti (1912: My Reminiscences) Tagore recalls the boy Rabindranath’s sense of wonder at the Golden Temple:

I remember the Gurudarbar at Amritsar like a dream.  Many days with father I walked to that Sikh temple in the middle of a lake.  Prayers were being said there all the time.  My father would sit among those Sikh worshippers and would suddenly join in the prayer singing; on hearing these songs of devotion from an outsider they would be impressed and honour him.  … Once he had a singer from the Gurudarbar come to our house and sing bhajans for him. 

But Debendranath had gone through all this before, especially the joining in the Sikh prayer singing at the Gurudarbar, when he had been at Amritsar some years ago.  In fact it was then that he had collected the famous sabad of Nanak’s  

gagan mai thālu ravi-candu dīpak bane  
tārikāmandal janak motī 
dhūpu malaānlo pavanu cavaro kare 
sagal banarāi phūlanta jotī 
kaisī āratī hai  
bhavakhandanā terī āratī  
anahatā sabad bājanta bherī  


He had it printed in the periodical Dharmatattva in 1872. Its Bengali translation, presumably by Debendranath himself, was repeatedly printed in Tattvabodhinī Patrikā in 1873 and 1875.  Whoever had set that translation to music, whether Debendranath himself or his son Jyotirindranath, one of Rabindranath’s elder brothers, it was Jyotirindranath who set itotirindranathdranath to score.  Rabindranath must have sung it in Brahmo festivals—it did appear in his book of songs.  Anyway, the Bengali text isy him:

gaganer thāle ravi chandra dīpak jvale,
tārakāmandal camake motī  re.
dhūp malayānil,    pavan cāmar kare,
sakal banarāji phulanta jyoti  re.
keman ārati, he bhavakhandana, tava ārati
anāhata śabda bājanta bherī  re.  

     The ‘ārati’ motif in this bhajan may remind us of a song Tagore was going to write in 1884, ‘tānhāre ārati kare candra tapan’:



Him the moon and sun do ārati,    to His feet bow gods and men,
seated is that refuge of universe    in His worldly shrine.
Time without beginning and skies without end are filled with that boundless splendour
where waves rise from the depths    what joy oh joy  
while bearing the six seasons in hand    the earth pours flowers at His feet,
of many colours, of much fragrance    of many tunes and rhythms.
The sky fills up with birds’ singing—sing clouds sings ocean—                                                                          
big winds go rushing in mirth,    tune up in mountain caves.
How many hundreds of devotees    are gazing joyously, and singing songs—
in holy light blooms love, and all illusions shatter. 

(Vivekananda was said to have been fond of this song.)  Some of Tagore’s songs of the time, the so-called brahma-samgit, might not have been out of tune with Guru Nanak’s songs.  Let me quote two samples from the two successive years, 1885 and 1886:

How go on with this sojourn here!
Live through such doubt and heartache and mourning!
Who will save us in sorrow-fear-and-anxiety
there is none so dear, alas, in this wilderness. 
(1885)885he boy Rabindranath sining)

Give light to the blind, give life to the dead
you are kindness-nectar’s ocean, give a drop of your kindness.
Dry is my heart    like a hard stone,
water my dried-up eyes in love’s shower.
Him who doesn’t call out to you, you keep calling in.
Him who goes away from you, you keep pulling in.
The thirsty that goes about your ambrosia-ocean’s shores
you soothe in sprays of affection, and feed ambrosia.
I had once found you, but then lost you in neglect,
I fell asleep, and see darkness around my eyes.
Whom do I tell my viraha, who will console me,
year passes after year, your loving face I don’t see
show me your self, oh show me, my dying heart is crying out. 
(1886)

The second song might have had a special power of sustenance to the poet, for some thirty-six years later he was once heard humming it all through a late night.  The witness was young Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, a close associate (later famed as the founder director of Indian Statistical Institute) who had arrived late on a festive eve at Santiniketan and was given for lack of accommodation a cot in Tagore’s room only a few feet from Tagore’s own cot.

     We recall that it was in 1885 that he wrote those three instructive ‘Sikh’ essays.  1888 and 1899 were again dates for his five ‘Sikh’ poems.  The next dates were 1909, 1910 and 1914—the first for the translation of a Sikh bhajan, the second for a critique of Guru Gobind Singh, and the third for the translation of a second Sikh bhajan.  The first Sikh bhajan is:

bādoi bādoi ramyabīnā bādoi.  
amal kamal bic
ujal rajanī bic
kājar ghana bic
niśa ādhiyārā bic
bīna ranan sunāye. 
bādoi bādoi ramyabīnā bādoi.

Tagore’s Bengali is:

bāje bāje ramyabīnā bāje
amalkamalmājhe,   jyotsnārajanīmājhe,
kājalghana-mājhe,   niśi-āndhār-mājhe,
kusumsurabhi-mājhe    bināranan śuni je
preme preme    bāje. 

He has departed a little by adding ‘kusumsurabhi-mājhe’ (in the fragrance of flowers) and changing the last line’s ‘ramyabīnā’ into ‘preme preme’ (in love).  However, in his Bengali song developed from this he has two more stanzas, one beginning ‘nāce nāce ramyatāle nāce’ (dances in a lovely beat) and the other, ‘sāje sāje ramyabeśe sāje’ (dresses in a lovely attire).  In his final classification of songs this one comes under ‘Pūjā: Ānanda’ (Devotion: Joy).  The second Sikh bhajan which he translated and published in 1914 comes under general devotion and prayer.  The original text is:


e Hari sundar    e Hari sundar
tero caranpar    sir nāveñ.
sevak janke     seva seva par
premī janāñke    prem prem par
duhkī janāñke     bedan bedan
sukhī janāñke     ānanda e.
banā-banāmeñ    sāñval sāñval
giri-girimeñ      unnita unnita
salitā-salitā     cañcal cañcal
sāgar-sāgar gambhīr e.
candra sūraj baroi    niramal dīpā
tero jagamandir     ujār e.

The Bengali is very close, beginning exactly as the original (‘e Hari sundar, e Hari sundar’), only the ‘mastak nami taba caran-’pare’ (‘tero caranpar    sir nāveñ’) is added three additional times as the refrain. As to how these two Sikh bhajans reached Tagore, the first must have come from the famous Santiniketan medievalist Kshitimohan Sen’s collection (whose Kabir he would soon use for his translations) even if his niece, Indira Devi might have acted as some kind of a catalyst. The path of the second one has not yet been traced.  Did his other niece, elder sister’s daughter, Sarala Devi who was in the Punjab by marriage, get it for him?  For lack of evidence we can only conjecture.  All we know is that its translation by Tagore was published in the periodical Prabāsi in 1914 with the note that this ‘ārati’ had come from Amritsar’s Gurudarbar. 

     If we take a look at the songs he was composing at the time of ‘bāje bāje ramyabīnā bāje’, we are struck by their closeness to it.  Not that they are all of the same temper: there is variation on the joy or wonder, or that again is taken over by doubt or even anxiety.  The song that immediately precedes it is:

Look, how beautifully this joyous evening is spread!
In a gentle breeze in the upper air
floats a melancholy and expectant sweetness.
In silenced skies the planets and stars 
quietly pour the nectar of light-rays’ music.
My heart and mind fill slowly up with relish,
and body thrilled with unbound pleasure, look.   


And the song that comes one song after is:

From where rings this love’s sensation!
Is it my beloved friend stepping 
to my heart’s darkened yard?
Throw out all your pettiness, you,
and wake up happy, Oh life. 
Light all your lamps, light all
and in an eager voice call, ‘come my dearest’.

In other words, what I am saying is that the Sikh bhajan, as rewritten by Tagore, fits in with the songs he was writing at the time.  And though the second bhajan, ‘e Hari sundar    e Hari sundar’, has the temper of a brahma-samgit, it does not seem utterly out of place among the songs that precede and follow it.  The one immediately preceding is non-ceremonial but not un-Nanak-like:

It is for you and me to crown our love that light fills up the sky.
It is for you and me to crown our love that the green earth bursts into blooms.     
It is for you and me to crown our love
that night wakes with the world in lap,
and dawn comes to open the eastern door full of voices.
The love-hope-boat has been floating on eternal streams.
Endless time’s flowers overflow their baskets.
It is for you and me to crown our love
that age after age in this universe
my heart goes in bride’s dress self-seeking its consort.

But the one before two songs may keep our bhajan better company:

I shall sing your tune    give me that vīnā,
I shall hear your words    give me that undying spell.
I shall serve you    give me that great strength,
I shall gaze at your face    give me that firm devotion.
I shall bear your blows    give me that immense patience,
I shall carry your flag    give me that unflinching steadiness.
I shall claim all earth    give me that roaring life,
I shall make myself pauper    give me that love’s gift.
I shall go with you    give me that right hand,
I shall fight in your battle    give me that weapon of yours,
I shall wake up in your truth    give me that call.
I shall give up happiness’ slavery    give Oh give me goodness.  

     1909 to 1914, in fact somewhat earlier than 1909 to somewhat later than 1914, was a period in Tagore’s career as a composer when the spirit of Nanak, and Kabir, and of a number of other Sants from medieval India seemed to have fit into his creative psyche.  We recall that in 1914 he brought out, with assistance from Evelyn Underhill, One Hundred Poems of Kabir.  Notwithstanding the scholarly doubt about the full authenticity of his Kabir sources, his regard for Kabir cannot be denied.  But some of his western admirers’ putting Kabir and him on the same scale and preferring Kabir to him was misjudgement, for Kabir was primarily a Sant whose poetry, oral, was only an effective medium.  Tagore on the other hand was primarily a poet and composer (Sant Tagore would indeed be a travesty) fully conscious of his craft, though experiencing a degree of devotion in the period we are talking of.  Obviously the same distinction applies to Guru Nanak and Tagore, Sant and poet.  (Perhaps we would understand this distinction better if we place Tagore by someone nearer home, Ramakrishna whose words were as full of faith as wisdom and who by all means was a saint.)  To Tagore Kabir and Nanak were true propagators of what he meant by dharma; and what he meant by it would perhaps be clear from the following excerpts from his essay, ‘The Simple Ideals of Dharma’ in 1903:         

If I have to light a lamp at home, I have to make much effort—I have to depend on so many people.  I have to keep track of where mustard is sown, where oil is pressed from it, the whereabouts of the oil market, and then there is all the going about dressing up a lamp—after such elaborations what meagre light do I get?  My immediate purpose may be served, but it only doubles the dense darkness outside.
     To get the world-revealing morning light I don’t have to depend on anyone—don’t have to manufacture it; all I have to do is wake up.  As I open my eyes and unbar my door that light floods in which no one can stop. …
     As this great light is, so is dharma.  It too is immense, it too is simple.  It is God gifting Himself—it is timeless, it is boundless; by surrounding us, by overlapping our inner and outer selves, it holds itself up.  To have it, we only need to ask for it, to open our hearts.  As getting a sky-full of daylight by making an extra effort is not getting it, so finding our eternal life’s refuge, dharma by making special arrangements would never materialize. 
     What we get to manufacture ourselves becomes complicated.  Our society is complicated, our corporate life is complicated, and our everyday living is complicated. This complication, by its show of many-sided variety and by pretending to be big and mighty, often overpowers our confused self.  Our unknowing mind ascribes great scholarship to the philosophical treatise that is most roundabout, and is struck with wonder.  The civilization whose processes are difficult and confusing, whose factories and arrangements cum materials are far-flung, overwhelms our unsophisticated mind.  But the philosopher who can present philosophy in simple clarity is truly worthy and intelligent; the civilization that can put its system in simple order and is in every way amenable is truly advanced.  Whatever the outward look, complication as such is hollowness, proof of failure; fullness is simplicity.  Dharma is the most perfect instance of that fullness, hence of simplicity.  …
     Let me give an example.  Home is necessary to us, our habitation.  The open sky is not habitable to us like that.  But to keep this open sky open is absolutely necessary to us.  By maintaining an untrammelled link between the open sky and the spaces inside our home is how we can save our home from being our prison or our grave.  But if we say, ‘we shall make the sky our own like our home’, if we keep raising walls into the sky, then our home alone has its extension, the open sky moves further and further away.

     It is in the above perspective that we may now look up his essay ‘Shivaji o Guru Gobindasingha’ written in 1910 as the preface to Sarat Kumar Roy’s (a teacher at his school at Santiniketan) book Sikh Guru o Sikh Jāti.  Unlike his three earlier essays it was not addressed to juvenile readers; he was not instructing, he was trying to make a serious reflection on the Sikh Panth as moulded away from Guru Nanak’s message of universal love.  He opens by distinguishing Maratha history under Shivaji which was political, committed to setting up a Hindu kingdom throughout India.  On the other hand, Sikh history at the outset was religious.  ‘The freedom that Baba Nanak had felt was not political freedom; his sense of dharma was not constricted by the worship of deities that was limited to a certain country’s or people’s imagination and habit, and did not accommodate the universal human heart, on the contrary restrained it; his heart was free from the bonds of these narrow mythological religions and he dedicated his life to preaching that freedom to all.’  ‘But come to be oppressed by the Mughals the disciples of Nanak turned into a community of their own, and for that reason their prime effort became defending themselves from harassment and surviving, rather than preaching religion all around.  Thus from outside pressure the Sikhs became a closely knit race.  Their last Guru was especially devoted to this task. … It really was not a religious preacher’s task; it was mainly an army general and politician’s task.  Guru Gobind had that quality.  He was a warrior that could muster his followers with a singular determination and overpower the enemy. … Guru Gobind wavered in keeping to the sense of freedom that Guru Nanak had taken to be greater than everything else.’  This is the thrust of Tagore’s argument.  He sums it up in the following words.  ‘Nanak gave a call to his disciples to be free from selfishness, religious bigotry and spiritual inertia—he wanted their humanness to have a great success.  Guru Gobind bound the Sikhs to a particular necessity, and so that they are never forgetful of it he imprinted it in their hearts by name, attire, ritual and several other means.’  Tagore does take up Maharaja Ranjit Singh but as the very opposite of Guru Nanak, as a flaming comet that burned only for a while.  He bemoans the outcome of Sikh history.  Like a river it had issued from a snowy mountain top. But instead of making its way towards the ocean it is meandering in the sand.  

     Tagore does make a difference between Guru Gobind and Shivaji’s aims, but cannot ignore the eventual failure of Maratha history as well, the reasons not simply being Shivaji’s incompetent successors but also Shivaji’s own disregard of the leaks in Hindu society without mending which no salvage was possible.  In conclusion he says: ‘Anyway, by comparing the rise and fall of Marathas and Sikhs it can be said, that the Sikhs were once united by the call of a great thought—they had heard the message of a truth that was not confined to the perpetual practice at a certain place and did not rise from the excitement of a certain time—that belonged to all time and all men, that broadened the scope of both the small and the big, released the mind, and accepting which was for everyone to realize the fullest glory of humanness.  Answering this call of Nanak’s generous religion, the Sikhs through centuries grew up while bearing many hardships.  By the glory of this religiosity and hardships the Sikhs had an invisible unity founded among them.’  Guru Gobind reoriented this unity from thought to action and achieved a temporary goal, but at the cost of permanence.  Nanak was confined to a book. 

     We know that this reading of Sikh history did not go down well with intellectuals and historians, Sikh or non-Sikh, except for Jadunath Sarkar whose appreciation even made him publish an English translation of the piece in The Modern Review in 1911.  But what is of more immediate interest is what caused Tagore’s shift from his earlier admiration of Guru Gobind Singh.  How did he wake up to the bloody character of his karma, and to its limiting outcome?  Or was he apprehensive of karma as such carried out at a national scale feeding on hatred?  Yet as late as 1904 he had celebrated Shivaji in an encomium for the impending Shivaji Festival.  His disillusion with karma bereft of dharma must have come from the excesses and the communally exclusive nature of the Swadeshi and Boycott movements keeping the Bengal Muslims at bay and causing Hindu-Muslim riots.  He had initially been part of these novements but soon withdrew.  The ground was getting ready for his first political novel Ghare-Bāire (1916: The Home and the World) which would draw no less fleck perhaps than the essay on Sikh history.  It was a coincidence, yet perhaps no coincidence, that he would write his Nationalism lectures the same year in Japan that were not without any bearing on nationalism or nationalisms in India.

                                III

Jallianwala Bagh might have been anywhere in India and Tagore would have protested, but its being in Amritsar might have had a special association for him.  Similarly, a friend reminds me, the second line of janaganamana to begin with Panjab (‘Panjab Sindhu Gujarat Maratha Dravid Utkal Banga’) may be suggestive of special affection.  Yet the estrangement caused by the essay we just discussed went on for over two decades.  Eventually during his visit to Lahore in early 1935 things cleared up: Tagore addressed the Fifth Punjabi Students’ Conference, read his poetry at the Y.M.C.A, and had a warm reception from the local Sikh leaders.  On return he wrote a poem, his sixth ‘Sikh’ poem.  It was included as Poem 33 in Śesh Saptak (Last Septet), a book of prose poems printed in 1935.  The same year a slightly different version of the poem came out in the periodical Prabāsi under the title ‘Sikh’. Here is Śesh Saptak 33:   

Emperor’s order—
with forces came Afrasayeb Khan, Muzaffar Khan,
Muhammad Amin Khan,
and with them came King Gopal Singh Bhadauria,
Uidat Singh Bundela.

The Mughal army laid a siege to Gurudaspur.
The Sikhs were inside the fort,
Banda Singh their leader.
Supplies have been cut off,
All outside exits shut.
Cannon balls come pelting from time to time
bounding over the walls,
to the horizon on four sides
the night sky is red with flaming torches.

No wheat is left in the stores, no rye,
no maize either;
the firewood too has exhausted.
In unbearable hunger they are eating raw meat,
some even eat slices cut from their own thighs.
Grounding barks and branches from trees,
they dough their bread.

Eight months passed in this hellish suffering,
then to Mughals fell
the Gurudaspur fort.
Death’s court fills up to neck with blood,
the prisoners cry out
‘Wahi Guru, Wahi Guru’,
and Sikhs’ heads keep rolling
day after day.

Boy Nehal Singh;
in his clear young and gentle face
blooms an inner light.
In his eyes seems held
the morning pilgrims’ song.
A lissome bright body,
the divine sculptor has fashioned out
with lightning’s chisel.
Age eighteen or nineteen.
a sal tree’s sapling,
risen straight up,
can still sway in the southern breeze.
Life’s abundance is
in body and mind
full to the brim. 

He was brought in chains.
All court’s eyes
gazed at his face in wonder and pity.
For an instant 
the executioner’s sword seemed reluctant.
At that moment a messenger came from the capital,
with the release-order in hand
signed by Syed Abdulla Khan.

When his hand-clasps were untied,
the boy asked, ‘Why this special judgement to me?’ 
Was told, his widowed mother had informed
her son was not Sikh by religion,
that, the Sikhs had by force
kept him captive.

In anger and shame went red
the boy’s face.
He shouted out, ‘I don’t want life by a lie,
in truth is my final liberation,
I am Sikh.’

Is Nehal Singh grown up from Banda’s infant son, a martyr in the making?  And have I come full circle to ‘Bandī Bīr’?

 __________________          

All translations above are mine.  

Acknowledgements: Himadri Banerjee, Gautam Bhattacharya, Pranab Biswas, Ranjit Dev Goswami, Arun Dey, Sankha Ghosh, Sujit Kumar Mondal, Bijay Mukherjee.]