Sardar Gurtej Singh
I am not a party to those at your University who are carrying on relentless propaganda to denigrate Sikhi, to defame the Sikh Gurus and to detract from the thesis presented in the Guru Granth.
– Sardar Gurtej Singh
Note: Sardar Gurtej Singh (IAS, commission resigned) is the leading Sikh ideologue. He is a prolific author. Sardar Gurtej Singh resigned his commission in the IAS in protest of the genocide of Sikhs in 1984 and thereafter. He is the inheritor of the mantle of Sirdar Kapoor Singh who was the foremost Sikh ideologue and political theorist of the pre-1984 era.
Recently Sardar Gurtej Singh was asked to do research and publish an academic paper by Guru Nanak Dev University for the Journal Of Sikh Studies. The article submitted by Sardar Gurtej Singh was: The Sikh Code Of War. (please click on the article to read it). The Department Head of Guru Nanak Studies refused to publish the article for no ascertainable reason. It was ready to publish the artcle if a long list of changes were made. These changes amounted to a falsification of the research and were politically motivated. The head of the department is a high caste Hindu, which is an utter disgrace given the egalitarian nature of Sikhism. The appointment is of course part of the dispicable control paradigm to maintain the Sikhs in a form of perpetual subjugation until they are absorbed and digested. The politics behind this article exhibit all of the perverse factors which are at work to emasculate the Sikhs and render them no better than eunuchs. In brief, the factors which this affair demonstrate are as follows:
1. Control of the Guru Nanak Sikh Studies Department by a high caste Hindu
2. Refusal to permit a high quality and original piece of research to be published
3. The on-going effort to distort Sikh History and rewrite it within the context of Hinduism
For academicians, this affair proves the urgent need to Sikhs to establish a Sikh University outside india where they can preserve their authentic history and traditions.
Reproduced below is Sardar Gurtej Singh’s analysis of what has transpired:
Sardar Gurtej Singh On Sycophants And The Destruction Of The Sikh Ethos
Recently I was invited to the Guru Nanak Dev University. I was to present my views to the seminarians trying to understand Guru Nanak’s teachings. It was a very gracious invitation by the head of the department that could not have been refused.
Just before the seminar began, some students sang the poem ‘deh shiva bar mohe ihe’. Those who revere it as the composition of the Tenth Guru believe (against all available evidence) that Shiva in the verse alludes to Akalpurakh. Those who know the context and the meaning explicitly assigned to it in the composition know that it is another name of Parbati, the consort of Lord Shiva of Hindu trinity. They who understand this much cannot be seen praying to a mythical being as worship of Akalpurakh alone is permissible in the Sikh faith.
I stood up in the worshipful mode as I did not want to create a scene by walking out or by remaining seated. Had I known that this would be sung, I would have come in a little late and saved myself the embarrassment. Now it became necessary for me to disassociate myself from the homage to Parbati.
Before beginning my presentation I said words to the effect: ‘now that the students have started the proceedings by worship of Parbati, I shall be looking forward also to a cup of hashish (bhang), Shiva’s favourite drink.’ It was natural to expect a stimulating cup as without drinking it no worship of Shiva is complete.
Then I remembered what the department had done to my article. I had written an original article on a hitherto little touched upon theme, namely “Sikh war ethics: spiritual inspiration and impact on history.” I also saw Prof. Shashi Bala Julka, who had been corresponding with me in connection with that article written on her invitation. Initially she had liked the article and had promised several times to publish it. Eventually some change came about in her attitude and it was decided that the article in that form should not be published. Her argument against publishing the article was that it was ‘controversial’. The argument was unacceptable as it is the university’s business to deal with controversies in rational manner.
She had told me that the article had been referred to a ‘Sikh historian’ and that the referee had found it ‘controversial’. She had not named the ‘Sikh historian’ or the sick historian.
My plea was that the article must be published as it was and the ‘sick historian’ may write to point out the nature of controversy it raises. I will try to counter the argument. Thereafter, we must leave it to the scholars to judge who is right and who is wrong. This according to me was the only method of resolving academic controversies.
The ‘sick historian’ perhaps refused to shed his veil (burqa) of anonymity and the article remained unpublished—so it remains up to now.
So, seeing Dr. Julka sitting in front of me, I remarked that I may not pursue Parbati issue further as it may erupt into a ‘controversy’ which the learned Doctor disapproves of. According to me, I had settled the five year old issue in a lighthearted and meaningful manner. As an aggrieved party, I had the right to say more, but I did not do so. I found that even this much could not be tolerated in an academic gathering which should have been geared to accommodate all kinds of viewpoints. Dr. Jaswinder Kaur made some sarcastic mention of it in her presentation. I interpreted those as mild though fully and wholly unwarranted but said nothing about it to maintain decorum.
During the recess I discovered that the ‘Sikh historian’ who had given puerile comments about my article being controversial was none other that Dr. Kirpal Singh. I also came to know that the decision to withhold the article was taken by the entire department of Guru Nanak Studies and not by Dr. Shashi Bala Julka alone.
I reproduce the entire correspondence on the subject below and leave it to the scholars and lay people to make what they will of it. A few words about Dr. Kirpal Singh whom I have known and have closely observed for several decades, will be found to be in order by the reader. According to me he is the hatchet man of the forces inimical to Sikh culture, his function is to confuse Sikh point of view, to destroy Sikh ethos and to dismantle the Sikh identity by challenging all expressions of it based on authentic Sikh values. He does not pit a rational opinion against a thesis but an emotional one based on his own warped understanding of patriotism. He hopes that the support of the permanent cultural majority will lend dignity to his feather weight musings. Do we need enemies when we have such friends!
I may also mention here that I wrote to Dr. Jairup Singh, the Vice-Chancellor of the University to bring the matter to his notice. My communication remained unacknowledged. It has often been observed in academic circles that our universities were being controlled by forces that had other interests at heart. They were understood to be operating under the influence of dwarfed and amorphous concept of national interest. Consequently they were making an all out effort to obliterate the Sikh culture and to ascribe new meaning to the Sikh scripture in their quest for uniformity. This perception was based on observation. Now there appears to be even more tangible evidence on the subject.
Next week, I will put the article in question on this blog-spot so that the reader may judge whether it was worth publishing or not.
DEPARTMENT OF GURU NANAK STUDIES
GURU NANAK DEV UNIVERSITY, AMRITSAR-143005
Dr. Shashi Bala Date 30-1-06
Respected Prof. Sahib,
As you are aware, the Department of Guru Nanak Studies has been publishing a bi-annual Journal of Sikh Studies since 1974. It covers a wide range of areas pertaining to Sikhism viz. religion, philosophy, history, sociology, art, music and hermeneutics. The journal has wide circulation and has acquired encouraging recognition not only in India but at the international level also. Besides articles, the journal also includes book reviews relating to Sikhism and other allied fields.
You are an eminent scholar in the field of Sikh studies. Therefore, on behalf of the department of Guru Nanak Studies, I feel honoured to request you to oblige us by contributing an article in your specialization for publication in our journal.
It is requested that the article should be unpublished before, and references should be placed at the end of the manuscript. A brief bio-data may also be enclosed along with your article.
I will feel obliged if you could send your paper through e-mail or floppy/ CD on MS Word, by the end of March,2006.
Tue, 7 Feb 2006 03:16:46 -0800 (PST)
Ref. No. 221-272/DGNS dated 30.1.06
Dear Dr Shashi Bala ji,
Thank you for the invitation to write for your esteemed Journal of Sikh Studies.
I will be sending my article by about the end of March on e-mail as required by you.
Fri, 7 Apr 2006 12:03:17 +0100 (BST)
Sat Siri Akal!
I am waiting for your article for publication in the Journal of Sikh Studies as you have promised earlier.Please send it as early as possible.
With deep regards,
Tue, 11 Apr 2006 05:26:57 -0700 (PDT)
Dear Ms. Shashi Bala Julka,
I am sorry for the delay. I was really very busy.
I hope you will like the article. This subject has not been paid much attention to. It may be of interest to scholars.
Tue, 11 Apr 2006 05:57:45 -0700 (PDT)
Please ignore the earlier attachment as it contains the rough draft which was inadvertently attached due to operational error.
Thu, 11 May 2006 11:26:29 +0100 (BST)
I am sorry I could not reply you earlier due to internet problem at my home as well as at office. Now I have seen and download the attachment. I am very grateful to you for your positive response to my letter and hope to get the similar cooperation from you in future also. Your valuable research paper is preserved for the next issue of the journal i.e in Aug as the previous one has already been sent in the press. I deeply regret for the delay due to the failure of internet system
Thanks and with profound regards. Shashi, Dept of Guru Nanak Studies, GNDU, Asr
Wed, 10 Jan 2007 19:04:47 -0800 (PST)
Dear Dr. Shashi Bala ji,
I am interested in knowing whether you could publish my article on Sikh War Ethics. If it is published, could you please let me know the details of the publication?
Thu, 18 Jan 2007 00:14:15 +0000 (GMT)
I am sorry to say that your article on Sikh War Ethics is still in the process of publication. I could not include it in the second volume of the Journal of Sikh Studies as this volume was special issue relating to the life and martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev.
I would like to seek your permission for publishing it in the next issue i.e. 2007.
With Profound Regards,
Shashi Bala, G.N.D.U.
Fri, 9 Feb 2007 01:37:44 +0000 (GMT)
I replied to your e-mail earlier but got no reply from your side. Regarding your article, I may submit that it is in the process and I was waiting for your reply and consent to include it in the Journal of Sikh Studies, 2007.
With due apology, I already replied that in the first issue of the journal, we could not include it as the jounal was already sent to the press. The second issue was special issue on Guru Arjan Dev’ Life and Martyrdom and another Journal Perspectives on Guru Granth Sahib includes articles relating to the themes of The Scripture.
Due to the above stated reasons, the article could not be published so far. As the theme of your article is most relevant, I would like to seek your permission to include it in the next issue, if you have not sent it for publication anywhere. I used to read your articles in the Sikh Review.
Hoping to get your cooperation for the dissemination of Sikh perspective of philosophy and religion, and waiting for your consent.
With deep regards,
Shashi Bala, G.N.D.U.Amritsar.
Fri, 9 Feb 2007 01:54:01 -0800 (PST)
Dear Dr. Shashi Bala ji,
The article was written for your journal. It has not been sent to anyone else.The Sikh Review is publishing my translation of Panth Parkash.
You may publish the article sent to you in the Journal.
DEPARTMENT OF GURU NANAK STUDIES
GURU NANAK DEV UNIVERSITY,AMRITSAR-143005
Dr. Shashi Bala Date 9-4-07
As you know, the Journal of Sikh Studies is a referred
Journal. Your article entitled ‘Sikh War Codes: Spiritual Inspiration and Impact on history’ was sent to the referee approved by the Vice Chancellor and the details for modification as suggested are attached herewith. I hope you won’t mind to change the article accordingly.
DEPARTMENT OF GURU NANAK STUDIES
GURU NANAK DEV UNIVERSITY, AMRITSAR
Report of referee regarding publication of research paper in the Journal Journal of Sikh Studies
1. Name of the Paper : SIKH WAR CODES: SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION AND IMPACT ON HISTORY
2. Whether accepted/rejected/revised: SHOULD BE REVISED BEFORE PUBLICATION
3. If accepted:
a) to be published in original form: NO
b) to be published in modified form: YES
c) Details for the modification: SEPERAE SHEET ATTACHED
(attach sheet if necessary)
d) Broad comment about the paper: SEPERAE SHEET ATTACHED
(attach sheet if necessary)
1. DETAILS FOR THE MODIFICATION
The first para of the article as cited above either be deleted or reconstructed. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism inculcated in his followers the spirit of fight against tyranny and injustice and defend the weak and downtrodden. He is considered Prophet of Peace who wanted reconciliation between the warring Hindus and Muslims. It would be inadvisable to associate Guru Nanak with War Code whatsoever. Similarly, Guru Arjan’s hymn quoted in the first para referred to above, is a description of struggle against five evils in our body viz Kaam, Krodh, Lobh etc. He does not refer to any external enemy because he saysn ‘Sagal Sang Humko Ban Ayee…’. Association of war code with his hymns is not proper.
On pages 4, 7and 8 there are references to Operation Blue Star and Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala. His role in the Operation Blue Star is controversial so it would be better to avoid it.
On page 7, it has been stated that Indian Govt. claimed that they have burnt the Sikh reference Library which is not correct. The Govt. has never claimed to have burnt the library. There is no question of deliberate burning of the library. The library was burnt no doubt but why—is not known. It would thus be better to delete all these references from the article.
Wed, 18 Apr 2007 05:07:46 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gurtej Singh,
# 742 Sector 8,
To: Dr. Shashi Bala
Department of Guru Nanak Studies,
Guru Nanak Dev University , Amritsar.
April 18, 2007
Dear Dr. Shashi Bala ji,
Many thanks for your letter No. 361/GNS dated April 9, 2007. I am very glad that you have finally decided to spell out your objections to my article written on your kind invitation.
I am not sure the objections raised by the anonymous referee whose opinion you sought, are valid or precise. I propose to deal with them as follows:
1A). The referee says, ‘Guru Nanak was a prophet of peace and he cannot be said to have had political concerns.’ Politics is very much a part of human life and the situation has been that way since the dawn of civilization. Humankind is moved through politics and for that reason many momentous social and economic changes have come about through the instrumentality of politics. Destinies of nations have been profoundly affected by politics. Every prophet and incarnation including our own Buddha, Ram and Krishna have been preoccupied with politics. The same is true of Sumerian, Semitic and Graeco-Roman gods, prophets and figures of eminence all over the world. If any change has to be brought about in the ways of humans and if an attempt to establish permanent peace has to be made, it has to be done through politics. A prophet who wishes to establish ‘Ramrajya’ has of necessity to resort to war. Sri Ram, the incarnation of Vishnu had started fighting wars in his childhood and continued doing so till the very end of his human existence. The same is true of Sri Krishna. The same is true of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga and Indra. They are known to be armed (some to the teeth), they promoted conflict, took sides in the battles and adorned battlefields as warriors. All the time they had the idea of establishing peace nearest to their hearts. Prophet Muhammad’s religion is all about peace as the very name Islam suggests; yet he fought wars and made Jihad compulsory for believers. Moses not only led his flock in war but is on record as claiming that God Himself fought for his army. All the time he was leading the Jews to peace and prosperity. Jesus Christ the ‘prince of peace’ as his followers call him, had deep-rooted social and political concerns. The scholars are now piercing the wall of propaganda built around him by twenty centuries of all out effort by the Church, to discover that he was perhaps the leader of a local sect engaged in resisting the Roman Empire by violent means (see the Dead Sea Scrolls). It is recorded that he overturned the tables of the money changers thus resorting to reform by violence. All his companions at the Last Supper were armed and one is reported to have cut off the earlobe of the governor’s minion with his sword. His statement that he had come to promote conflict and to bring about warlike conditions in every family he came in contact with, is a part of the New Bible. His authentic image takes care of his social concerns which are reconcilable with his image as a prince of peace as in the case of almost every other prophet or incarnation in human history.
Why does your University think that such reconciliation, in the case of Guru Nanak, is impossible?
1B). By pretending to promote Guru Nanak exclusively as prophet of peace, your University is trying to defame his successors who organized the Sikhs to resist tyranny. The Sikhs, the Guru Granth, and all Sikh theologians believe that all the Gurus were one and preached the same doctrine. To this school of thought all the Gurus remain ‘princes of peace’ and their resistance to violence remains till today the only method of establishing peace. Bertrand Russell and M. K. Gandhi had no peaceful answer to the violence unleashed by Hitler. Gandhi even contemplated suicide on seeing that his hollow notions about non-violence were not adequate to meet everyday problems arising in the world. Lord Wavell has recorded that he was for establishing peace in Kashmir by sending in the Indian army to counter occupation by forces loyal to Pakistan . He also did not care if human blood flowed in rivers provided the British made an immediate retreat from India. Anyone who does not believe that superior violence is required to meet aggression and assault on human dignity, would be running the risk of being called ‘intellectually challenged.’ This is the lesson of all history.
1C). Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in return for his help in curbing the Punjabi and Bengali violent resistance to the British rule in India. He travelled all the way to San Francisco to tell the Ghadarites to stop violence against the British colonial power. He was severely and effectively chastised by the freedom fighters. It was in an attempt to deflect the Sikh movement from its true moorings that he invented the theory of one or two Gurus having broken off from the peaceful path of Nanak. True patriots (though I disapprove of earth bound patriotism) and genuine scholars have all along considered this to be no more than a lap dog performance by an imperialist stooge. It constitutes a low grade attack on another culture. Gandhi adopted Tagore’s thesis and went ahead to preach hatred of the Sikhs and their Gurus. To the best of my knowledge, this is not the ideology that the Guru Nanak University was founded to preach.
1D). Guru’s faith is not about ‘interiority,’ in spite of what McLeod and his anthropologist followers have to say on the subject. There are many scholars, including historians and theologians whose books your university and other universities have published, who are clear that Guru Nanak had deep-rooted social, economic and political concerns. Some of them got together to propound the ‘Guru’s Miri-piri system’ as Daljit Singh called it. Noel Q. King is asking ‘how did interiority lead to the promulgation of the Order of the Khalsa and how did their teachings inspire people to become the makers of history?’ This is the position today and the Sikhs are making history even at present. Dr. J. S. Grewal (your own erstwhile head of the History Department and the ex-Vice Chancellor) is aware that the Kabipanthis, Ravidasis, followers of Mirabai and host of other sects and denominations never intervened in history and remain confined to their ‘interiority’ and oblivion. Guru Arjan was not talking about enemies inside the self alone. He was also preparing his people to challenge the tyrant in the mundane world. His asking his followers to get familiar with horses was not about ‘interiority,’ but had something to do with cavalry. His asking his son and the successor Gurus to maintain a permanent force of 2200 horse was not about muttering the name of God but was about meeting the tyrant on the field of battle. It is preposterous to hold that social and political concerns were not an integral part of Guru Nanak’s thought. The Department of Guru Nanak Studies is distorting Sikhi if it is teaching such stuff. My own formulation on the subject (“Political ideas of Guru Nanak,” pp.61-72) is a part of a book published by the Punjabi University (Recent Researches in Sikhism, (Ed. Jasbir Singh Mann et. al, 1992).
1E). Your referee’s interpretation of the hymn of Guru Arjan is by no means final. For one, Jehangir did not accept it and the Guru faced martyrdom. That should be proof enough of its true nature. The historian Ganda Singh and the theologian Teja Singh in their A Short History of the Sikhs also differ with your referee. There are others too, some of whom are mentioned in the previous paragraph. Recently, I read a keynote address at the Punjabi University where some scholars from your university were also present. It was regarding the martyrdom of Guru Arjan and I propounded my thesis more cogently. It has been deemed worth a consideration by several eminent historians and interpreters of the scripture.
2A). I hope your referee is talking about Sant Jarnail Singh in his second paragraph. Sant Jarnail Singh is a well known personality and a person accepted as one of the greatest martyrs of the Sikh faith, by many Sikh and non-Sikh scholars. It is not proper to use his name without the epithet ‘Sant.’ Your referee should get it clear that he was not the only Sant in human history to have defied the might of an empire on the battlefield. I have been watching the recent happenings in the Punjab from close quarters. I have enough inside knowledge about what transpired. For the sake of truth, I must write what I have witnessed and known through eyewitnesses. There is nothing controversial about what I have written about the Sant. It is an eye witness account that has to be recorded for posterity. If, however, someone considers it ‘controversial’ let him present what s/he considers to be his or her side of the controversy. That will provide the future historians with material to formulate their own views. Why should a university want to avoid mention of recent events and why should it dub them as controversial? Contemporary history is a very respectable discipline and countless books appear on the subject every day in today’s world. The Iraq war has been discussed in hundreds of books all over though it is still happening. Besides, the thesis I am proposing in my article, must of necessity mention the Sant to show that a certain ancient tradition is current in the contemporary Sikhs society. It is an integral part of my thesis.
3A). Your referee has not understood the relevant paragraph on page 7 of my article in proper perspective or I have not been able to make myself very clear to him. There are two views about the Sikh Reference Library, one is that it was burnt up and the second is that it was carried away by the invading forces. The government claims that it was burnt. There is no doubt about that. I have discussed the matter with more than one Prime Ministers of India. I know the official government position as well as the factual. Mr. Chandra Shekhar offered to return to the Sikhs the contents carried away by the army. The remark quoted by your referee is to be read in that context.
3B). There is little doubt that the portion of the Sikh Reference Library that was burnt by the invading army. It was burnt much after neutralizing resistance from the Darbar Complex. There was an army man in every square inch of the Darbar Complex when it was burnt. The library was in the ground occupied by the Indian army and anyone who has been to a field of battle knows how the occupying forces behave in such a situation. That the invader’s desire to destroy the culture of the (temporarily) disadvantaged people, is also well known. You know what Shankracharya did to Buddhist universities, libraries and shrines. You also know what Aurangzeb and his kind do to Hindu cultural monuments when their turn came. The lies that such people later invent to cover up their brutality and barbarity are also well known. In the case of attack on the Darbar, such behaviour has been well documented and analysed. Many lies have been nailed by other departments of the government itself. What I have written in this context is based on facts as I best know them.
Lastly, for many weighty doctrinal stances of universal validity connected with the Sikh faith and for many reasons rooted in the most considered philosophical premises known to all societies, I do not subscribe to the theory that your referee is asking me to comply with. Universities all over the world constitute forums where thought flows free and unchecked. Your University wants me to subscribe to a thought that all reason and understanding beckon me to repel with all the force at my command. I am not a party to those at your University who are carrying on relentless propaganda to denigrate Sikhi, to defame the Sikh Gurus and to detract from the thesis presented in the Guru Granth. I resisted, Piar Singh, the earlier spokesman of such evil forces and a stooge of the Euro-centric foreign scholars. I write only to share the truth as I have known it and not to take sides with a people forming this or that gang constituted with the intention of imposing its views on others. How on earth, can I change my views, just to suit the requirements of your Journal; just to see my name in print?
The people of the Punjab are paying through their nose to sustain the University you teach at. They are also paying for the Journal that you publish. They do so in the hope that you will promote their culture and not undermine it at the behest of long dead perverted poets and political leaders completely disoriented from reality. The people’s interest and that of the truth is best served if many differing thoughts interact allowing the student to examine the worth of each and to support either one or more of them. That interest is paramount. I therefore request you to publish the article as it is and let others, who wish to do so, contest its formulations. I will defend my thesis on the basis of the truth as I perceive it. It is not a matter of using this or that word here or of replacing a sentence with another more palatable to the referee appointed by you. Much more is involved.
I must also remind you that I wrote the article for you on your very graciously worded invitation. I would not have sent it for publication in the Journal of Sikh Studies but for you asking me to do so. My views are well known in the small circle of my friends. No one has ever asked me to change them to suit the designs of a rival culture and the political needs of a ruthless group of neo-imperialists.
With kindest regards and all good wishes
Copy to the Vice chancellor Guru Nanak Dev University with a request to intervene and to see that the professor does not intimidate scholars in future in the manner she is doing now.
Thu, 21 Jun 2007 07:23:12 +0100 (BST)
The copy of the Journal of Sikh Studies Vol.xxxi,2007 is ready for publication in the press. As I mentioned earlier, your article needs a little modification as suggested by the external referee who himself is a Sikh historian and retired Prof of Sikh History. Your article is really appreciative being a detailed exposition of Sikh War Code and its spiritual inspiration and its impact on History. I sincerely wish to include it in the Journal but with due apology, again request you to allow a minor modification in the article as we cannot ignore the suggestions of the refree.
Hope to get a positive reply from your side.
With profound regards,
Prof. & Head,
Deptt of Guru Nanak Studies