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Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 6/10)

             Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 6/10)

 To  fulfil a certain need of the hour, Guru Govind,Singh
- preached  the gospel of the Khalsa, the pure or the elect.
Those wo joined his group passed through a ceremony known as
pahul, and to emphasize the martial nature of 'their new voca-
tion, they were given the title of Singh or "lion". Thus began a
sect not  based on birth but which drew its recruits from
those who were not Khalsa by birth. It was wholly manned by the

  Military organisation has taken different forms in different
countries at different times.  The Khalsa was one such form
thrown up by a tyrannized people, weak in arms but strong in
determination. This form worked and the people of the Punjab
threw away the Mughal tyranny. But fortunes change; in 1849, the
British took over the Punjab. The old-style Khalsa was no longer
possible and the recruitment to it almost ceased. The Punjab Ad-
ministration Report of 1851-52 observes: "The sacred tank at Am-
ritsur is less thronged than formerly, and the attendance at the
annual festival is diminishing yearly. The initiatory  ceremony
for adult is now rarely performed." Not only did the fresh re-
cruitment stop, but also a new exodus began.  The same Report
says that people leave the Khalsa and "join the ranks of Hinduism
whence they originally came, and bring up their children as

  The phenomenon continued unabted. The Administration Report
of 1854-55 and 1855-56 finds that "now that the Sikh commonwealth
is broken up, people cease to be initiated into Sikhism and re-
vert to Hinduism." At about this time, a census was taken. It
revealed that the Lahore division which included Manjha, the ori-
ginal home of the Sikhs, had only 200,000 Sikhs in a population
of three million. This exodus may account at least partly for
this small number.

  The development raised no question. To those who were in-
volved, this was perfectly in order and natural. Nobody was
conscious of violation of any code. Hindus were Sikhs and Sikhs
were Hindus.  The distinction between. them was functional, not
fundamental. A Sikh was a Hindu in a particular role.  When
under the changed circumstances, he could not play that role, he
reverted to his original status. The Government of the day  ad-
mitted that "modern Sikhism was little more than a political as-
sociation, formed exclusively from among Hindus, which men would
join or quit according to the circumstances of the day."

  This development, perfectly in accord with Indian reality,
was not liked by the British. They considered it as something "to
be deeply deplored, as destroying a bulwark of our rule."

   Imperialism thrives on divisions and it sows them even where
they do not exist.  The British Government invited one Dr. E.
Trumpp, a German Indologist and missionary, to look at Sikh
scriptures and prove that their theology and cosmology were dif-
fernt from those of the Vedas and the Upanishads. But he found
nothing in them to support this view. He found Nanak a "thorough
Hindu," his religion "a pantheism, derived directly from Hindu
sources."  In fact, the influence of Islam on subsequent Sikhism
was, according to him, negative. "It is not improbable that the
Islam had a great share in working silently these changes, which
are directly opposed to the teachings of the Gurus," he says.
However, to  please  his clients, he ,said that the external
marks of the Sikhs separated them from the Hindus and once these
were lost, they relapsed into Hinduism. Hence, Hinduism was a
danger to Sikhism and the external marks must be preserved by
the Sikhs at all costs.  Precisely because there was a fun-
damental unity, the accidental difference had to be  pushed  to
the utmost and made much of. From then onwards, "Sikhism in
danger"  became  the  cry  of  many  British  scholar-

						[To be concluded]
Authored by Shri Ram Swarup. Courtesy: Voice of India

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