Shabad: “Rehni Rehay Soi Sikh Mera” by Bhai Satwinder Singh and Bhai Harvinder Singh
Datuk Sucha Singh, thank you for speaking to us on the serious issues affecting the Sangat in Malaysia. Arising from the issues you raised can you look further into the raging issues and the consequences and implications of MGC’s decision especially the ban of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani in Gurdwaras, MGC’s Membership of Global Sikh Council Inc. and MGC’s implementation of Global Sikh Council Inc.’s Ek Granth Ek Panth concept.
Datuk Sucha Singh
Thank you. Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.
The prohibition and ban on Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani is unprecedented in Malaysia and the Sikh World. This coupled with the MGC’s membership of Global Sikh Council Inc. and the enforcement of Ek Granth Ek Panth concept will have far reaching consequences and implications for the Gurdwaras and Sangat in Malaysia. It affects the very basics and foundations of Sikhi, Gurmat, Khalsa Panth and Sikh Institutions notably the position of our Five Takhats, the highest seats of spiritual and temporal Authority of the Sikhs.
Malaysian Gurdwaras Council is constituted by the Sangat of Malaysia. It is our council and the Sangat must be concerned about the Council and the directions it takes especially in religious matters. I speak as one of the pioneers and Past President and most importantly as a concerned member of the Sangat.
We will examine what the decisions are, who made these decisions, how they were made and the authorities they cite to support these decisions and the effects and implications of the decisions. We will analyse the letters, correspondences, writings, documents and actions of MGC and its partners.
But first I will state the premises, the platform and understanding upon which I will discuss the issues.
Firstly no one questions the sole Satguruship and absolute sovereignty of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. No one claim any other Granth as the Satguru or equal in status to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Secondly no one questions or challenges the Sikh Rehat Maryada. Sikh Rehat Maryada does not prohibit or ban Dasmesh Pita’s Bani, teachings, shabads and hymns.
Thirdly MGC is constituted by the Sangat of Malaysia with lofty Panthic principles and objectives.
And fourthly we owe our allegiance to Guru Panth and the Akaal Takhat and the other four Takhats.
Now the unprecedented decisions relevant to the issues under discussions are:-
- “The Dasam Granth Bani CANNOT be preached or recited in a Gurdwara, other than the 3 Bani that is Jaap, 10 Sawayyas and Benti Chaupai”.
- “The Gurdwaras and Sangat MUST embrace the Ek Granth Ek Panth Ek Maryada”.
- “The MGC should take steps to ensure compliance with the above”.
(hereafter collectively referred to as the decisions)
In the wording they certainly are not advisory in nature. They are directions or hukams so to speak. Note the use of the words “CANNOT” and “MUST”.
Who made these unprecedented decisions and how they were made?
The MGC letter dated 12-07-2016 signed by the President of MGC states that the decisions were made, at a meeting of the representatives of MGC, Khalsa Diwan Malaysia, Sant Sohan Singh Ji Malacca Memorial Society and attended by Sikh Religious scholars, by Resolution dated 21-05-2016. (For easy reference we shall call this the “Group Meeting”). It has been endorsed by Tatt Khalsa Diwan and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia.
The resolution was approved by the MGC Exco on the 28-05-2016 and it is said therefore the Resolution is binding on all Gurdwaras.
The said resolution and titled “Unity of Gurdwaras and Sangat” is part of the MGC’s letter dated 21-07-2016. Let us examine the minutes (if we can call it minutes) of the said meeting and its resolution.
The Group Meeting made the unprecedented decisions and directs that “The MGC should take steps to ensure compliance with the above (decisions).
The minutes are not signed.
There is a handwritten note at the end of the minutes signed by the President on the 24-05-2016 stating that the resolution was passed by all those present at the meeting on the 21-05-2016 and a further handwritten note, also signed by the President of MGC stated that the Resolution was approved by the MGC Exco at its meeting on 28-05-2016 without any amendments.
It is apparent from the fore going that the very important and unprecedented decisions are not made by MGC General Body. They are not even made by MGC Exco. They are made by a group of people representing some organisations and including some Sikh religious scholars. The meeting directs MGC to ensure compliance. The MGC EXCO approves or shall we say rubber stamps the decisions without any amendment and MGC dutifully proceeds to enforce or force the decisions on the Gurdwaras and the Sangat.
For this reason alone the decisions are flawed and cannot be binding on the Gurdwaras and the Sangat.
Where is the integrity and independence of the Gurdwaras and their Council? Making decisions independently and accepting, approving or rubber stamping the decisions made by others are two different things.
Who are these representatives and the Sikh religious scholars? In particular who were the representatives of MGC at the Meeting? Were they all EXCO members? Has MGC outsourced the decision making especially in the matter of Gurmat and the Panth to the unelected and others? Is there a severe dereliction of duties and obligations to the Gurdwaras and the Sangat?
Now what are the authorities cited to support the decisions?
Firstly the Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib Gurmatta dated 06-06-2008 is cited to support the prohibition and the ban on Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani.
Secondly Sikh Rehat Maryada is cited in support of the prohibition and the ban AND
Thirdly Article 3.2 is cited as requiring MGC to provide services to the Panth by prohibiting and banning Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s bani in accordance with Rehat Maryada.
We will now analyse each of the above authorities and reasons used in furtherance of their design, The Gurmatta of Sri Akaal Takhat, the Sikh Rehat Maryada and the MGC Constitution.
Sri Akaal Takhat
The Akaal Takhat Gurmatta dated 06-06-2008 is deliberately and cleverly distorted and truncated to suit and achieve the objective, plans and agenda.
Parts of the same Gurmatta of Sri Akaal Takhat which specifically states its decision and stand on Dasam Granth Bani continue “the ARGUMENTS raised pertaining to the Dasam Granth are ABSOLUTELY UNECCESSARY. No one has the right to raise arguments against those rachnavas (writings) in the Dasam Granth that have been accepted by the Sikh Panth in the Sikh Rehat Maryada, Nitnem and Amrit Sanchar. The entire Sikh Panth must be aware that the Dasam Granth is an inseparable part of the Sikh literature and history”.
It is abundantly clear that the Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib Ji Gurmatta has been truncated and misrepresented and the Gurdwaras and the Sangat mislead.
If there is any doubt as to Akal Takhat’s stand on Dasam Granth read another Matta dated 27-11-06 whereby Sri Akal Takhat noting that some mischievous miscreants are carrying out misleading parchar pertaining to the Dasam Granth directs those scholars loyal and dedicated to the Guru Panth to respond appropriately to these mischievous, miscreants’ false parchar. Who are the mischievous miscreants in Malaysia in the circumstances?
The Gurmattas, hukumnamas and mattas of Akaal Takhats are binding on all Sikhs around the world.
The decisions stand and the advice of the other Four Takhats are also very clear and unequivocal.
Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib the birth place of the Khalsa
The Takhat has advised that Dasam Granth Bani is Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s compilation (rachna) and for the Khalsa Panth the Katha and Kirtan of Dasam Granth Bani is also necessary.
Takhat Sri Harmandir Ji, Patna Sahib
Sri Dasam Granth Bani is Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s composition (rachna). Sri Dasam Granth Bani is accepted by the Panth (Panth Parvanat) according to the Sikh Rehat Maryada. The Kirtan and Katha of Sri Dasam Granth can be done in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Its Kirtan and Katha has been done in the Guru Ghars and even today Kirtan and Katha is done at the Five Takhats and Guru Ghars. It is the decision of the whole Panth that Kirtan and Katha of Sri Dasam Granth Bani can be conducted. No Organisation has the right to question (kintu prantu) the Dasam Granth Bani.
Takhat Sachkhand Ji. Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Ji
Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji is Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s composition (rachna) and from ancient times Katha and Kirtan of this Bani has been conducted in Sri Harmandir Sahib, all the Takhats and many other historical Gurdwaras. All the Sangat take note that it is useless and meaningless (ਨਿਰਰਥਕ ਹੈ) for any, person or organisation to oppose the Katha and Kirtan of Dasam Granth Bani. Kirtan and katha of Sri Dasam Granth Bani is accepted by the Panth (Panth Parvanat).
Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib Ji
Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib Ji, noting the slander (ninda ਨਿੰਦਾ) of the Dasam Pita, Saheb Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj’s Dasam Granth Bani by the Malaysian Gurdwara Council, has said in writing that slander of this Bani is slander of Dasmesh Pita and has advised to continue to do Path, Kirtan and Katha of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani in Chardi Kalah, ignoring without regards to the slanderers (Nindaks).
The Path and Kirtan of Sri Dasmesh Ji’s holy Bani has been conducted in the central (Kendri) Asthan Sri Harmandir Sahib and the protectors of the dignity and Glory of Khalsa, the Five Takhats and will always be so conducted. The slander by any Malesh Council will have no effect on the Khalsa Panth.
The use of the words malesh council by the Takhat Sahib underlines the seriousness of the wrongdoing of slandering Dasam Pita’s Bani.
The decisions made at the above meeting and enforcing compliance on the Gurdwaras is against the decisions, Gurmattas and advice of All Five Takhats and a direct challenge to their Authority, as the highest seats of spiritual and Temporal Authorities of the Sikh Panth.
I have seen the Punjabi/Gurmukhi copies of all the above Gurmatta, Mattas, decisions and advice and I have translated the same keeping close the Gurmukhi copies.
The Authority of the Five Takhats
The MGC in its letter of 6th January 2017 has written.
- The other Takhats (Patna Sahib, Keshgarh Sahib, Hazur Sahhib and Damdama Sahiib) are subservient to the Akaal Takhat AND CANNOT ISSUE ANY HUKAMNAMA.
- That no hukamnama, Matta, Adesh, opinion can contradict the SRM.
In another letter dated 20th March 2017 it is written that Takhat Patna Sahib is in transgression of the SRM. And this accusation is made at another meeting of representatives of MGC, KDM, SNSM, Tatt Khalsa Diwan Selangor, Sant Sohan Singh Ji Melaka Memorial Society Malaysia and Sikh religious scholars on the 7th August 2016 and echoed by MGC in its letter dated 20th March 2017. Again who are these unnamed people including Sikh religious scholars who can say a Takhat Sahib is in transgression?
These statements render the four Takhat Sahibans irrelevant, toothless and powerless and even Akaal Takhat cannot issue hukamnama, matta, adesh or opinion independently without fear or favour that contradicts SRM, SRM that derives its very acceptance from the Sri Akaal Takhat.
These statements are shocking and open challenge to all the Five Takhats. Unfortunately statements are made by MGC a council of Gurdwaras constituted by the Sangat to uphold the Sikh religion, the teaching of the ten Gurus and the sacred Sikh religious institution most importantly Akal Takhat and the other four Takhats. It shows shocking lack of understanding of the Gurmat Sikh Institutions and the concept of the Takhats. I wish to remind that SRM is accepted only because Akal Takhat says so. SRM derives its very acceptance from the Guru Panth and the Akal Takhat.
In Gurmat according to Mahan Kosh by Kahn Singh Nabha, the most authoritative dictionary and encyclopaedia on Sikhism a Takhat is “the throne of Guru Sahiban especially the four Takhats of Guru Sahib Akaal Bunga, Patna Sahib’s Harmandir Sahib, Keshgarh and Hazur Sahib (Akaal Bunga is now Akaal Takhat. At that time Damdama Sahib was not declared a Takhat yet). Guru Ji held court at these Takhats and in the cause of history Hukumnamas by Guru Ji from these Takhat and by thee Guru Panth since.
All Five Takhats are equal in Sanctity with Akaal Takhat being of foremost significance and importance by reasons of circumstances and location in Amritsar. The Akaal Takhat is the Central Authority of the Sikh and enjoys a special status. Its Hukamnamas, Gurmattas and Mattas are binding on all Sikhs around the world. However, all Takhats have full powers and authority to issue Hukamnamas, independently without fear or favour and over the ages they have done so and will continue to do so. One example is the Hukamnama issued by Takhat Patna Sahib against the ex-communicated Ragi Darshan Singh. Even Kings and Chief Ministers have submitted to Hukamnamas and Gurmattas decisions and punishment of the Takhats.
The shortcoming or indiscretions of the Jathedars or that they may sometimes be politically motivated is no justification to disobey oppose or challenge the authority of the Akaal Takhat or the other Takhats. The sanctity and authority of the Takhats is not diminished. The Jathedars are not the Takhats. Takhat is a concept enshrined in ‘the hearts of the Khalsa’. The decision and Gurmattas are made by Panj Piarey in the light (roshni) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and in the Panj Piarey resides Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
What a stand and position the MGC has taken? The Council was not constituted to challenge and oppose and be belligerent and hostile to the Five Takhats, the Highest seats of spiritual and temporal seats of Authority of the Sikhs. The Gurdwaras and the Council owe their allegiance to the Akaal Takhat and the other four Takhats.
Council was not constituted to enforce compliance with decisions and direction of Groups especially those that are not in line with Gurmat Guru Panth and the Takhats. MGC is required by its Constitution to respect, maintain and implement the independence of the Gurdwaras. The MGC of old was independent of all groups or organisations and so were the Gurdwaras whom it represents. No one else made decisions for MGC to enforce on the Gurdwaras.
In conclusion the decisions and their enforcement on the Gurdwaras are against Gurmat and against and defiance of the Akaal Takhat and all the other four Takhats. Kirtan and Katha of Dasmesh Pita’s Bani has been conducted and is being conducted in Harmandir Sahib, the Five Takhats and historical Gurdwaras and Gurdwaras around the world. No group or council national or international have the religious moral or ethical power to prohibit and ban Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani.
We have seen that the decisions are against and in defiance of the Five Takhats. Now let us see if the Sikh Rehat Maryada and MGC’s constitution supports, prohibits and bans Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani.
The Sikh Rehat Maryada
The particular provision of Sikh Rehat Maryada cited to justify the prohibition and ban also define bani to include Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s hymns.
“I quote the Sikh Rehat Maryada (English version) chapter V Article VI (C) Kirtan (Devotional Hymn singing by a group or individual)”
“In the congregation Kirtan, only of Gurbani (Guru Granths or Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s hymns) and for its elaboration the Composition of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal Ji may be performed”. The English translation done in 1994 for the SGPC under the auspices Akaal Takhat (reprints 2000 and 2006) is the authentic translation of the original Punjabi/Gurmukhi accepted and approved 1st October 1932.
Therefore without doubt Guru Gobind Singh’s hymns can be sung and recited according to SRM as prescribed in Chapter V Article VI Kirtan.
Chapter IX Article III (C) has been conveniently omitted. With regards to Exposition of Gurbani. This provision substantiates the above position. It states that the exposition can only be of the Ten Gurus, teachings and utterances (Das Guru Sahiban di Bani). Can you exclude Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani or is Guru Gobind Singh Ji not one of our Ten Gurus?
Further the Sikh Rehat Maryada in the definition of a Sikh defines Bani as that of Sri Guru Granth Sahib AND that of the Ten Gurus and SIKHIA (teaching). Can it get any clearer than that?
To further substantiate and confirm this position of the SRM, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha in Mahan Kosh explicitly states the Akaali Gurbani is the writing of all the ten Gurus including Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s which means Dasam Granth Bani.
Meaning of Gurbani in Mahan Kosh
“Guru Nanak ate ohna dey roop Satguruan di Bani, Akali Bani, Jo Guru dwara sanu prapat hoyee hai. “Gurbani is jag mahey chaanan”, Gurbani harnaam smaya”.
This is substantiated further both in SGGS Ji and Dasam Granth that the writings are from God. See the two quotes, one from SGGS JI and the other from Dasam Granth below:-
- a) “Jaisi Main aweh khasam ki bani tehsrra kari gian vey Lalo” (SGGS 722 M:1 Tilang)
As the word of my Husband God comes to me, so do I express it, Oh Lalo
- b) “Jo nij prab mo so kaha so keho jag mahey” Dasam Granth Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Whatever my Lord said to me, I say the same to the world.
Without doubt our Gurus including Guru Gobind Singh Ji explicitly say that Bani in SGGS Ji and Dasam Granth is from God that is it is Akali Bani.
In respect of Sikh Rehat Maryada also MGC has deliberately mislead the Sangat.
If all that is not enough ask Gurbani what it says of itself. For those imbued with Gurbani, Gurbani is “Sab Naad Bed Gurbani” SGGS. SGGS Raag Ramkali Mahala 1 . Don’t define Gurbani with your limited manmat . See it through Gurmat, Gurbani is alive. The Gurbani in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani dwells and manifests in the Gurmukhs’ hearts (hirda). Bani is the ocean, limitless, beyond time and space and is all pervading.
“Sukhmani Sukh Amrit Prabh Naam Bhagat Jnaa Ke Man Bisram” The Rahao verse of Sukhmani Sahib.
The Constitution of MGC
In support of their decisions, MGC has evoked Article 3.2 of MGC Constitution and said that Gurdwaras are bound by the MGC Constitution to conduct their affairs in compliance with SRM. We have already seen that SRM does not prohibit and ban Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani.
On the contrary in the statement of resolve in the Preamble itself MGC is duty bound to preserve, promote the principles of the Sikh religion as ordained by the Ten Gurus and enunciated by the Guru Panth and to conduct its business in a manner in keeping with the Sikh practices and traditions. And kirtan and katha of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani is a long established Sikh practice since the time of Guru Ji and our forefathers.
And again by Article 3.7 the MGC is duty bound to preserve, propagate, uphold and practice the Sikh religion in accordance with established Sikh practices and Rehat Maryada.
Further the Authority to enunciate the Principles of the Sikh Religion as ordained by the Ten Gurus lies with the Guru Panth and not with any Council national or international.
It is not for the council to enunciate the principle affecting Gurmat, the Guru Panth and the Takhats and enforce on the Gurdwaras who owe their allegiance to Akaal Takhat and the other four Takhats .
Since the constitution is evoked in support of the decisions and since the decisions are unprecedented and far reaching in effects and implications we need to ask all pertinent questions. Are the decisions constitutionally made?
First we have seen earlier the decisions are not even made by MGC or its EXCO. It is made by others, accepted by Exco and enforced by MGC. For this reason alone the decisions are not made in accordance with the constitutions. More important are such important decision on matters of Gurmat and Panth made by person elected in compliance of the constitution. At the time the decisions were made and enforced on the Gurdwaras and the Sangat, were the President and all the four vice-presidents Amritdhari as is MANDATORY under the constitution? And were all the EXCO members who approved the decisions to be enforced on all Gurdwaras, Amritdhari, Nitnemi and Sikhs, keshadri as is also required by the constitution. If the answer is in the negative then the election were unconstitutional, not in compliance of the constitution and the decision were unconstitutional and cannot stand. The MGC Constitutions expressly states that the PRESIDENT and ALL FOUR Vice Presidents must be knowledgeable in Sikh History and religion and MUST be Amritdharis (Baptised) and that ALL office bearers of MGC shall be keshadharis.
Not only the decisions are against and in defiance of the Five Takhats, they are also against the letter and spirit of the SRM and the MGC constitution. The decision therefore cannot stand. The Akaal Takhat, SRM and the constitution gives no authority or power to MGC to issue directions, edicts or decrees on the Gurdwaras especially those that are inconsistent with Gurmat and the Takhats.
The ban is incomprehensible. I can understand doubts and differences of opinion on certain parts of the Dasam Granth. But embarking on a jihad to demolish and remove Dasam Granth all together and making it appear as if Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s survival as the sole sovereign Satguru depends on demolition and removal of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Bani and Dasam Granth is incomprehensible.
….. to be continued in Part 2.