Sikhism is radical Hindusim
SIKHISM IS RADICAL HINDUISM: Beant Singh
The Hindustan Times, April 25, 1994
Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who reiterated in Delhi last week his stand
that the Sikhs are a part of the Hindu society, has developed cogent views on
the contentious issue. Unexpectedly, he debated the issue threadbare to drive
home the point that his remarks were not just those casual observations meant
to make up some lost points in a speach or to fill in certain gaps.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: What exactly do you mean when you say that the Sikhs are a part of a larger
Hindu society and not a separate nation.
A: When Guru Nanak launched Sikhism more than 500 years back, he was bringing
some basic reforms, you can call these radical reforms. He was against idola-
tory and some brahiminical evils that had crept into Hindu religion as in the
15th century. His preaching was aimed at establishing a good society, transcend
ing the narrow walls of a dogmatic religion, he believed in one God and explain
ed it clearly in the "Mulmantra". Later, the last Guru Gobind Singh, in launch-
ing the Khalsa in 1699, only created a more militant group out of the Hindu
society to protect it. Kashmiri brahmins came and sought protection. Guru Teg
Bahadur sacrified himself in an order to save Hindu society and became Hind
Dee Chadar - protector of Hindustan and Hindu society. This is all known and
accepted by all. So how come the Sikhs suddenly became a separate nation?
Q: But do you admit that Sihkism is a separate religion?
A: To some extent it is true. Sikhism does not accept polytheism and believes
in only one omniscient God. The dress is different, there are five mandatory
accessories - kesh, kara, kirpan, kaccha and kanga. Marriage is performed in a
different way and is called Anand Karaj. But it is around a holy book if not
around the agni, the holy one, and lanwas (pheres for Hindus) are there. There
are other points which make Sikhism a more militant and radical religion. It is
against casteism. But Sikhs were created from the Hindu society and even today,
many Hindu families make their eldest son or daughter a Sikh. There are inter-
religion marriages and joint ceremonies which emphasise the common thread.
Q: It seems that the whole trouble started with two different words. Punjabis
normally speak of kaum, which also means caste, like jat kaum, khatri kaum.
But nationality and nationhood are modern political concepts. So how do you
reconcile the two concepts?
A: Well, India consists of many religions and many kaums. But India is one
nation. It is the nation in making for some, but I believe strongly that India
is already one nation... I do not believe religion-based nationality. Sikhism
is a modern and more scientific religion and it should not be confined to the
narrow walls. Already much damage has been done to Sikhism by these narrow-
minded people. Akalis started calling Sikhs as a separate nation only with the
rise of the Punjabi Suba movement. It was purely a political stunt to gain
power. Now they are repenting on having a truncated Punjab...
Q: You too, were Akali at one time. Did you hold these views at that time?
A: I was an Akali very briefly. I had won my first Assembly election as an
independent with the support of the Akalis. But I never subscribed to these
theories and hated communal or parochial politics.
I am an ardent SIkh, but my great grandfather, like many others, was a Hindu,
had a Hindu name. If you look into revenue records, you would find it so.
There is sure mischief behind the move. Only a small section of the Sikh
believe that they are separate kaum as entered in revenue records or we can say
Sikhism is more reformed and more radical Hindu society. Do not forget that the
10th Guru Govind Singh worshipped Hindu Goddess Chandi and sang in her praise.
Also, he talks about various Gods. The difference is that the Sikh Gurus belie-
ved in one God and he is clearly defined in the Japji Sahib.
Q: You do not accept the contention that since Sikhism is a separate religion,
so Sikhs are a separate nation with distinct customs and culture. Is this so?
A: Yes, I do not at all consider the Sikhs to be a separate nation. Their
religion is different, but then they share their culture, customs and language
with non-Sikhs in the country. You must have seen a large number of Sikhs
particularly from the Malwa going to Hindu temples and Hindu festivals and even
worshipping Hindu Goddesses. How can you differentiate? I see a sinister game
by some ambitious politicians who want to sow the seeds of discord. They talk
about Sikh rights and not human rights. How could the rights of the Punjabis
or others be different? Also, some people are bent upon making Sikhism more
ritualistic and rigid.