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Welcome to the Sikh Vichar Manch-Thought Provoking Forum for Justice


Sikhs Are More Liberal and Secular

 Balbir Singh Sooch, Advocate,

The present scenario is age of liberalism and logic based on tolerance for attaining peace and justice. The principle, ‘well beings of humanity’ i.e. Sarbat Da Bhala is already enshrined in ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’.  

"The people involved in clash against each other in the name of religion, may be Sikhs are disobeying the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib openly. The true Sikhs should always believe in casteless and classless society including the one that there cannot be a living guru. The problem is more political than religious and the fault lies with the politicians. The immoral politicians are supporting such mean characters.  

As we say and which is also true that Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s teachings are meant for well being of humanity, not only for Sikhs. Though, the teachings were being followed more in violation than obeying.

“All are called partners in thy grace. Thou art seen alien to none.”

To our exceptional claim of ‘oneness’ of humanity and the objection to the claim by anyone irrespective his religion, style of living, that varies in each family and person to person has always to be irrelevant in the context of human norms and values enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Similarly, but wrongly, the Hindu scholars started justifying the Manu discriminatory system under the garb of the theory of division of labour and distribution of work permanently. They also started claiming now that the situation is changed and gradually the Hindu society is taking turn for the best. To avoid their fundamentalist face, in present International scenario, they stepped further saying that Hindus have no religion but only have a system of working order.

Now, they can go to any extent to prove themselves as secular though that term of secularism is nowhere better explained except in ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib’ that is meant for Sarbat Da Bhala,  well beings of humanity. 

The Hindu scholar, latest to my knowledge, Dr. Paras Dewan, a renowned legal figure and former Professor and Head of Department of Laws, Panjab University, Chandigarh used to explain that despite the discriminatory Hindu religious scriptures, Hinduism survived because of its liberalism.

In his words, Hindu liberalism means that Hinduism does not disown on any ground of misconduct of immorality etc may be of any nature to any extent unless an individual converts permanently to Christianity or Islam.

The scholar never offended the feelings of his students while teaching subject of family law in the context in class.

Though, the interpretation of words does change as per the situation, circumstances, time i.e. according to the behaviour of society, ruler etc and by way of utterance, while changing to different group from the common group(s) and after the lapse of particular period, but it also finally depends upon the nature of person as to how he twists the interpretation and what is he willing to extract out of it? Moreover, each word in English language conveys more meanings comparing to other languages. 

Legally speaking, to my mind, here in the Article 25-The Constitution of India- Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion- Explanation-I do recognize Sikhs separate identity and religion. The Explanation II of the Article does not put any shadow so far the separate identity and religion are concerned.

The Explanation II of the Article does include the persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion to ‘all classes and sections of Hindus’ for the purpose of providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.

The Explanation II of the Article does not mean to adversely affect the persons professing the Sikh, Jaina or Buddhist religion. It only talks of equality only, may be subject to the misconception.

The interpretation of mine in the context of ‘Sikh religion’ is purely literally legal nothing to do with politics.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and Deepak Verma explained the proviso to Article 25 to allay the misconception:.

The Bench agreed with the counsel that immigration authorities in Middle-East countries were stubborn but counselled the petitioner to move the appropriate authority in government for a solution rather than approaching the court. In view the observation by the Supreme Court of India, I did comment as under:

“As it appears the relief was sought in the petition as it looks, only to allay the misconception or the ignorance of the immigration authorities in Middle-East countries.

So, in this case by counseling the petitioner to move the appropriate authority in government for a solution rather than approaching the court, there did not seem any question of axing Sikh identity petition.

To my mind, the misconception about Sikh identity can be removed by a simple administrative order by an addition, ‘the bride and bridegroom are Sikh by religion or words to that effect’ in the marriage registration rules. Thereafter, the endorsement should be made to that effect in the certificate issued after the registration of marriage of Sikhs. Isn’t?”

In response to the observation made by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that “the term “Hindu” is used only for the purpose of grouping and to implementation of the laws”, Dr. Harminder Singh from Bangalore has said,   “If this is the case, then why other religions such as Christians, Muslims etc are not included under the term “Hindu”, because they are eating cow’s meat? When Sikhs have their separate religion and identities such as 1) Holy Granth, 2) Gurmukhi/ Punjabi Scriptures, 3) Identity, 4) Religious Flag, 5) Separate culture etc., then why the Sikhism is not recognized as a separate religion? Whether the law makers have any reply of this question?

Actually, the Sikhs are included under the term “Hindu” only to say or claim that, the Sikhs are Hindus and to humiliate them and nothing else. When the Sikhs having their separate “Anand Marriage Act” which was enacted in 1909, then why they were forced to take marriage certificate under the Hindu Marriage Act? However, it’s my personal view that, until the Indian Sikhs are not going to consume cow’s meat, till then they will be consider as Hindus. Once they will start consuming cow’s meat automatically they will be recognized as Sikhs and the day is not far.”

After due consideration and applying my mind in the present scenario i.e. age of liberalism and logic and the Hindu’s philosophical approach, I preferred to express my views in similar language of Learned Dr. Harminder Singh as under:

“So far, I understand Hindu’s philosophical approach being a student of law, it will never disown Sikhs, Janis, Buddhists, and Dalits along with their separate identity in any manner as long as they are submissive to Hinduism.

Whenever, someone challenged the approach collectively or individually, the Hindu fundamentalists will do every non-sense to denigrate their institutions and martyrs.

The fundamentalists will never change their mentality of supremacy and shall also question separate identity of others especially targeting Sikhs as was experienced openly and rest is the history.

The approach of fundamentalists only was of not tolerating Sikhs, Janis, Buddhists, Dalits and their true independent and separate identity.

The nasty approach and the reaction planned would further help to disintegrate India speedily.

Now the parties are not only playing with the sentiments of Indians, but also working for disintegration of India i.e. India to become confederation of the independent of states.”

After Elevation of Adi Granth to Guru Granth Sahib:The Adi Granth was conferred the title of "Guru of the Sikhs" by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in October, 1708, and thereafter rest everything is secondary and optional for Sikhs. 

Guru  Gobind Singh Guru (1666-1708), the tenth Guru in Sikh tradition, affirmed the sacred text Adi Granth as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus, and elevating the text to Guru Granth Sahib. From that point on, the text remained not only the holy scripture of the Sikhs, but is also regarded by them as the living embodiment of the Ten Gurus.  

The role of Guru Granth Sahib, as a source for all purposes including the ‘Sikh definition’ and the ‘Sikh Rehat Maryada’ or guide of prayer, is pivotal in worship in Sikhism.   Guru Gobind Singh officially ordained Guru Granth Sahib as the final and perpetual Guru of Sikhs. 

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is being accepted as the universal spiritual leader of Sikhs and also for its all followers keeping in mind the secular nature of Sikh faith.   

The ‘Sikh definition’ the ‘Sikh Rehat Maryada’ etc have to be defined within and subject to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib only and any contradictory thoughts have to be and must be kept apart as being personal, suiting to any individual or group or organisation who is free to adopt his own way of living i.e. secondary and optional so long it does not violate the secular nature of Sikh faith. But rest all is politics. 

The misconception or the ignorance about identity etc could be only removed by truly following Sri Guru Granth Sahib and by way of the administrative remedy at all levels without bothering as to how others were or are grouping Sikhs in order to implementation of the laws nationally and internationally. Sikhs have to be more liberal and secular in the world.
Emailed for circulation on February 12, 2010 4:02 PM (IST)

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Copyright © Balbir Singh Sooch, Chief and Spokesperson, Sikh Vichar Manch, Ludhana, Punjab (India)