By R.S. Narula.
The subject of debate in this seminar pre-supposes the existence of a
substantial number of Sikhs inside and outside Punjab. Speaking
far myself I am quite doubtful about these premises. I think there are
indeed very few Sikhs anywhere in the world today and the rest of us
just look like Sikhs or merely profess to be Sikhs.
A true Sikh is never worried about his future—nor should anyone
worry about his future, not only in this world but even beyond.
There can be no difference at all between what such a person thinks,
professes, and practises. Almighty Himself looks after the present and
future of the true Sikhs.
I, therefore, presume that in this Seminar we are not really worried
about or concerned with the future of true Sikhs leading their lives
strictly according as the dictates contained in the universal teachings
of gurbani enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, but the Sikh Nation as
a whole, as referred to by Cunningham in the 1849 edition of his History
of Sikhs—From the Birth of the Nation to the Sutlej Wars. Permit me to
label them as "Political Sikhs" for today's discussion.
This thought leads me to the logical conclusion that if we want to lay
down an ideal machinery for a bright future of the nation, we may
categorise the practical steps necessary to achieve our primary
objective ot having the largest possible number of real Sikhs
committed to and leading the life of a Gursikh.
Before suggesting the requisite infrastructure it appears
to me to be necessary to pinpoint the minimum qualifications
of a real Sikh. These are
- genuine and sincere uneraseable belief that there is one Lord—the Creator
of the entire creation, including mankind—the Creator, who does not
stay out but pervades the creation itself. He is the same for every person
irrespective of his religion, faith, or belief;
- love for Him and a genuinely strong wish to be in tune with Him
(the Infinite). i.e.. his atma must crave to unite with the parmatma(Once
he believes that God is love and pervades and resides in every human
being, he is bound to love every person inespective of any possible
consideration, otherwise he loves God at some places and hates him at
others. That is why it is said: "If you do not see God in all you do not
see him at all" and "If you do not love all. you do not love at all);
- to speak truth and lead a truthful life and he prepared to even
sacrifice one's life for the sake of truth. (A true Sikh never bends
but breaks to maintain truth);
- selfless service to humanity;
- humility, i.e., complete absence and annihilation of ego and being
humble to everybody irrespective of the other person's belief, rank. or
position in life;
- intense concern for welfare of others, e.g., helping anyone in distress. etcetra.
- to be prepared far sacrifice for maintaining peace and well-beirly of others:
- looking into one's own faults and other's good qualities: and
- avoiding the five common enemies of all human-heings, i.e. ego, attachment,
greed, lust, and anger.
Anyone having the above qualities will he adored and worshipped and will
have no fear of the future. We have, unfortunately forgotten Guru Nanak and his universal teachings
and reverted back to symbols and show without any respect for the reality as:
- instead of saying prayers we recite gurbani like parrots without
understanding its meaning and message or moulding out lives in accordance
therewith. Our ears listen to it but not our mind;
- we how before Guru Granth Sahib as a formality without caring for or following
what Guru says;
- we do not avail of amritvela (ambrosial hour) as ordained to us by Guru
Nanak in Japuji Sahib and re-emphasised in various parts of Gurbani
- we do not maintain our prescribed identity
These things remind me of the sayings of Bhai Gurdas giving following
illustrations of what we are doing:
- a pedestrian not knowing the way to his destination stands at crossroads
and goes on asking everyone who passes that way as to the path which leads
to his destination, but does not take one step towards it the whole
Of his life. How will he reach his destination ?
- an ailing person goes to the doctor, gets a prescription for medicine
and directions for its use, but does not take the medicine. How will he
get rid of his illness ?
After giving several other such examples Bhai Gurdas says that similarly
how can we reach God's Place by merely talking (Pritam ke des kaise baton se jaayai) ?
I now suggest the infrastructure to help us get back on the rails from
our present derailed position
our thinking, professing, and practice should be the same;
- Create a cadre of selfless preachers who are themselves leading a pious
- create an institution for preparing such a cadre;
- ensure that such preachers are well paid;
- expose falsehood and misinformation;
- select genuine and good Sikhs as leaders of our religious institutions;
- make genuine moral education compulsory in all Sikh schools, etcetra
I now assume that irrespective of whether we look to the basic aspects referred
to above or not, we want to concern ourselves with the political and economic
future of the community living outside Punjab. In my opinion, there is no
gain in achieving political and economic power without first being gursikhs.
Otherwise the power would not vest in the Gursikhs but in political Sikhs.
Power always corrupts and we will present a picture of corrupt and
characterless Sikhs, which is surely not our aim.
I suggest that the community:
- build more hospitals, old age homes, technical institutions, top schools,
research institutions, etc. instead of building more and more gurdwaras,
in which no useful preaching is being done;
- achieve excellence in every field. particularly technical and professional
- remove the emphasis from agriculture and set up major modern industries;
- follow the example of the Parsis who are at the top of the world without
even caring or asking for political power.
We cannot forget that in Punjah these days true Sikhism is at a very
low ebb, and the fact that by now almost as many Sikhs live outside Punjab
as within it, however, agree that Sikhs living outside Punjab, in India
and overseas, should not be looked at as a mere appendage or offshoot
of their Punjabi counterparts. They have an independent existence so
we must rise and act to set an example for the world
It is a pity that we have not raised our voice strongly
enough against the massacre of Sikhs in November, 1984, and allowed
it to be labelled as "antiSikh riots." I have been an eyewitness to the
one-sided massacre organised by the then ruling party at the Centre.
My slogan is "Sikh intellectuals living outside Punjab-rise and unite think
discuss, and act. Contest misinformation and stand up against injustice."
Keynote address delivered at the seminar in Constitution Club New Delhi,
on November 14, 1998. By Mr. R.S. Narula Chief Justice ( Retd) Punjab & Haryana
High Court. C-215 Defence Colony. New Delhi.