Tradegy of Vienna
Since the tragic events enfolded in Vienna the response of the Sikhs has been all too predictable if not unfortunate. On BBC Asian Network you had Dr Jas Rai, a prominent Sikh activist making the absurd claim ‘that there were no castes in Sikhism.’ Furthermore if you surf the countless Sikh sites and forums the underlying theme seems to be;
Many Sikhs feel offended that the incident has been misreported by the media as Sikh caste conflict, basically because in there words ‘Sikhs don’t do caste’, and more to the point the Ravidassis are not proper Sikhs anyway;
They seem to be of the opinion but provide no proof that the Sant disrespected the GGS.
On cursory examination the above statements are predictable but erroneous to say the least. Firstly no one has seen fit to condemn the cowardly attack carried out in front of women and children and also in the presence of their holy book. Is it right to kill in front of the holy book? So if anyone is guilty of disrespecting the GGS with their actions it is the so called Sikh attackers who murdered in the name of Sikhism. Yet the silence from the Sikh community is almost deafening.
As to regards the claims the Sants disrespected the GGS by allegedly allowing people to touch their feet in the presence of Maharaj ki beed this is a convenient smoke screen and utter fabrication. But if such actions are so deemed inflammatory and go against Sikhi marayada and therefore offensive, why doesn’t the same rule of thumb apply to the countless Sikh Sants? Take Baba Balwant Singh of Sarohay for example?
Currently there is a video of him on YouTube where his followers including Simarjeet Singh Maan, the leader of Akali Dal Maan faction, prostrating to him in the presence of Maharaj di beed, yet nothing is said nor any action taken against him. A case of double standards to say the least, this only goes to reinforce my point earlier that it is merely a pretext to stop Ravidassi assertion of equal rights.
Ironically on the recent protest march in London on 14th June, there was a counter presence of 8 so called Sikhs who tried to distribute leaflets saying that ‘Sikhs have no caste’, and ‘respect our GGS’. According to their website blogs they allege they were manhandled and abused. Yet there is no Police report to back their claims. Anyone who refutes this is most welcomed to contact the police themselves and seek clarification. This begs the question why would anyone want to blatantly lie, what is there agenda? The irony is they profess truth to others but are incapable of speaking it themselves!
As to there claims the Sikhs don’t do caste the proof is irrefutable; all gurdwaras are run along caste lines; villages in Punjab are segregated by caste, Sikh marriages are conducted purely along caste lines with several gurdwaras (Graham St, Soho Rd to name but a few) refusing to conduct weddings if the bride and groom do not have the names Singh and kaur. Too many Sikhs like Dr Jas Rai are therefore in denial. Because to acknowledge caste in Sikhism, (which in itself is a contradiction), requires not only conviction of faith but courage to challenge the status quo.
Sikhism as a faith is becoming more and more intolerant and fanatical. Of late a hukam Nama was issued by SPGC and endorsed by the High Court that stipulated a Sikh is someone who has unshorn hair. Anyone who cuts, trims or even plucks their eyebrows is therefore by definition not a Sikh. How the Ramghararia community will react to this is anyone’s guess.
For the record if the Ravidassias aren’t Sikh then neither is Guru Ravidas and the other Bhagats. Remember the Gurus incorporated their hymns in the Ad Granth to give it prominence. In contrast to the Brhamanical scriptures the Ad Granth was rightly portrayed as being accessible to all. Now the Sikhs have gone full circle and are emulating the Brahmins of yesteryear. Without the writings of the Bhagats the scriptures are incomplete and that is an indisputable fact I challenge anyone to disapprove.
The Gurus taught tolerance and equality for all, culminating in the creation of the Khalsa. It’s rallying call and primary tenet was ‘har manas ki ek jhaat pechanabu.’ Too bad that it has been forgotten by those who claim to be true Sikhs; they today have a choice to stand up and reclaim SIkhi from the pseudo fascists. If they don’t then they shouldn’t be surprised when more and more people turn there backs on the faith.