Tuesday, March 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Row over Savarkar’s portrait

THERE has been considerable resentment over the installation of Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament. Ms Sonia Gandhi as the self-imposed spokesperson of all opposition parties of India appealed to the President to refrain from the unveiling of the portrait of Savarkar. A question arises: is the Central Hall of Parliament the private property of the Congress that portraits of only those persons liked by the Congress should be installed there?

The Congress and its leaders are guilty of converting the Central Hall of Parliament into a graveyard of Indian politicians. Is there any other country in the world where Parliament House is littered with portraits of dead politicians?

The Congress claims to be the singular protagonist of democracy and secularism and partriotism in India. And practically it compells the nation to worship dead politicians. Every year their “shradh” is performed on their death anniversary by offering them oblations of rose petals. Every year their birth anniversary is celebrated by worshipping and paying them homage.

All portraits should be removed from the Central Hall of Parliament and in their place a single piece national flag covering all the walls of the Central Hall of Parliament should be installed. That will reflect the true democracy, secularism, partiotism and nationalism practised by India.

R. KAUNDINYA, Ambala Cantt.


Protect value system

The letter by Prof Virendra Kumar entitled “Protecting our own value system” is note worthy. The role of the teacher is of great importance in moulding the disposition of an individual. A common man’s aberration is understandable and can be corrected, but deviation on the part of a teacher will prove disastrous.

I remember my childhood. A relation well-versed in Ramayana recitation used to come to our house after sunset and help us recite the epic with correct pronounciation. He also used to explain the essence of the portion we recited with an emphasis on the moral lesson it contained. This process has left an indelible mark in my mind that telling lies, stealing things of others, indulging in immoral activities, etc are wrong.

Some have questioned as to what is wrong with the Western ways. Well, the same newspaper brings out a rather terrifying news from Great Britain that there the teachers advise their teen-aged students to adopt unnatural methods with a view to bringing down the number of unwed mothers! Can we imagine such a situation? Can we afford to be like that?

Already things are in bad shape. While travelling in CTU buses during the peak hours, you may have observed students indulging in discussions totally irrelevant to their academic pursuit. They pass comments on girls travelling alongside. The noise they produce pierces ears. They would jump into the bus to catch hold of seats for themselves and friends. No concern for the elderly, for ladies even when they carry a child. The boys and girls would try to glue themselves further to their seats, although the charges they pay may be rupee one against Rs 8 paid by others. As Professor Kumar has advocated, it is better to protect and maintain our own value system.

ARVIND, Chandigarh.

Allow Sikh women to do seva

THE Sikh forum and the Delhi Chapter of the Sikh Core Group members are distressed that Sikh women are not being permitted to perform kirtan and seva at Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar. This step is against the tenets of Gurmat as in Sikh religion as there is total equality between men and women.

When this issue was raised earlier, then the Dharmik Advisory Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee had accepted this equality and decried the step in refusing women to perform kirtan and seva. This decision of the Dharmik Advisory Committee was taken as back as 9.3.1940 and was accepted by the SGPC.

Again on 9.2.1996 on the request of the sangat, the Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib and the four other Singh Sahibans had directed the SGPC that the Sikh women be allowed to do kirtan and seva in Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar.

Again in 2002 the Sikh sangat requested the SGPC and the Jathedar of Akal Takht that the direction given on 9.2.1996 be implemented.

It is a matter of immense regret that in spite of these decisions, on 13.2.2003 two Amritdhari women from the United Kingdom were debarred from joining the Sukhasan Sahib Chauki (that is the routine daily closing seva) at Harmandir Sahib.

The Sikh Forum strongly condemns this unilateral action. Such a decision concerns the whole Panth, Sikh Maryada, Gurbani and religious thought, and as such is beyond the scope of any gurdwara parbandhak committee.

The Sikh Forum appeals to the SGPC that Sikh women be welcome to perform kirtan and seva at Harmandir Sahib. Further, before discarding any of the various decisions taken earlier with regard to kirtan and seva in Harmandir Sahib, it should obtain the approval of the Panth, various panthak organisations and Sikh religious intellectuals.

Lt-Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, (retd), Justice R.S. Narula, (retd), Dr J.S. Neki, Dr Maheep Singh, Anup Singh, Maj-Gen M.S. Chadha (retd), Pushpinder Singh Chopra, Col Manohar Singh (retd), Wg-Cdr. R.S. Chhatwal (retd), New Delhi.



Clash at Amritsar

Apropos of the news item “19 hurt as Khalsa Panchayat men, SGPC staff clash” (Feb 23), the incident has moved me so much that it has forced me to write first time in my life to any newspaper. The gory incident is both unfortunate and shocking. Peaceful demonstrators of Khalsa Panchayat were attacked by SGPC task force, Federation (Mehta) and SAD (Badal) men with swords and lathis.

The irony of the incident is that the three-four injured men of the Federation (Mehta), were taken to Guru Ram Dass Hospital, but SKP men, who were seriously injured, were taken to a police station. Sikh organisations should desist from such activities and channel their energy for the betterment of the Panth.

Er P. S. SANGHA, Patiala.

A casteless religion

Mr Aridaman Singh Jhubal in his letter (Feb 26) has written that Sikhism is not a casteless religion and in his support he has used the names of Bhai Gurdas and Dasam Granth. He has very conveniently ignored the most important event in the Sikh history i.e. creation of the Khalsa in 1699 at Anandpur by Guru Gobind Singh. Prof Indu Bhushan Banerjee in his book “Evolution of the Khalsa,” Vol II, page 115, writes: “The newswriter of the period the Guru is reported to have said: Let all embrace one creed and obliterate differences of religion. Let the four Hindu castes, who have different rules for their guidance, abandon them all, adopt the one form of adoration and become brothers. Let no one deem himself superior to another. Let men of the four castes receive my baptism, eat out of one dish, and feel no disgust or contempt for one another. It thus appears that the Guru’s object was to obliterate all distinctions of caste and creed and weld his followers into one homogeneous whole”.

Bhai Gurdas did not live to see the culmination of Guru Nanak’s Sikhism into Khalsa (Khalsa) by the Tenth Guru. The Guru himself was transformed from Gobind Rai to Gobind Singh and the Guru himself ordered all Sikhs to “Guru maneo Granth”. A Sikh historian, Dr Ganda Singh, in his article,” Curse of casteism in Sikhism” has said: “Guru Nanak had condemned casteism as Phakkar or nonsense”.

The learned historian further writes: The so-called intelligentsia are, perhaps, the worst offenders in this respect. At times they are not only adding the caste, the sub-caste and other sectional tails to their names, but are also dropping the Guru given common surname of Singh and Kaur.”

Some castes amongst the Sikhs have a grievances that why none from them was named a Guru, but then there are over 6,000 castes and sub-castes. Therefore, it needed a guru from each caste to please all of them.

About Dasam Granth I refrain from any comments because the Akal Takht Jathedar has stopped all Sikhs from making any comments about it.


A rejoinder

As a rejoinder to Bhai Aridaman Singh Jhubal’s letter (Feb 26), I wish to state that I still stand by my views expressed in my letter and would negate his arguments being the result of negative research and distorted scholarship, promoted by some vested interests who are trying to dilute the very basic values of Sikh religion. Scholarship doesn’t necessarily mean enlightenment, and certainly not when it hits at the vitals of a religious belief.

There are innumerable examples in sacred Gurbani where the caste system has been emphatically denounced. None of the Gurus or their devout Sikhs ever suffixed their names with their caste.

When Guru Gobind Singh ordained suffixes of “Singh” ansd “Kaur” to Sikh male and female names, respectively, he forbade the mentioning of caste and hence the caste system.

Therefore no Sikh leader or Raja Maharaja ever suffixed/suffixes caste to his/her name, name of place one belongs to or Khalsa is generally used to distinguish oneself from the namesakes.

Lt-Col BHAGWANT SINGH (retd), Mohali

One rank, one pension

During the recent HP election campaign, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, MP, announced that the issue of one rank, one pension for ex-serviceman would soon the resolved. The MP further stated that the recommendations of his Committee had been accepted by the Finance and Defence Minister. Let us hope this announcement does not prove another hoax or cruel joke.

M.L. BATURA, Karnal

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