Chandigarh, June 15: Forces seem to have been unleashed as part of some nefarious design through the otherwise much venerated Damdami Taksal to divide the Sikhs on such issues like the religious code of conduct (rehat maryada) that was settled by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee after long deliberations before the partition of the country. It is a different matter that several Sikh sects and some deras including Damdami Taksal don’t adhere to it. This violation can be seen in the Sant Bhindranwale memorial in the Golden Temple itself that is managed by the Taksal people.
These are the people who are responsible for turning this religion with its universal approach for the creation of ideal man and ideal society into ritualistic one without understanding its doctrine. The classic example is that of 101 Akhand paths going on simultaneously at such deras sometimes that end up more as a noise. The people who head these deras don’t even follow the basic doctrine of this religion as preached by Guru Nanak who, during his last years at Kartarpur, now in Pakistan, used to cultivate his fields himself.
These deras are now money minting factories that are digressions from the humanistic philosophy going to the extent of distortion. The Damdami Taksal is considered to be a Brahmanical set up among the Sikh deras. The move to question the settled Rehat Maryada has been taken up by the people who have otherwise no constructive role to play in the Sikh society at large. The effort is to drag the community back to the 400 years.
The SGPC in early 1930s decided to bring about uniformity in the religious code of conduct to be observed in the shrines and by the Sikhs. Prof Piara Singh Padam in his book Rehatname has referred to 15 different Rehatnamas by different authors starting with that of Bhai Nand Lal, one of the most eminent poets with Guru Gobind Singh.
The SGPC set up a 25-member committee headed by Prof Teja Singh. This committee had wider consultations. The meetings were held on October 4 and 5, 1931, January 3, 1932 and January 31, 1932 at Akal Takht.
The draft submitted by this committee was further deliberated upon at meetings on May 8, 1932 and September 26, 1932. The draft was finalized and submitted to the SGPC.
This draft was approved by the All India Sikh Mission Board at its meeting on August 1, 1936 and the SGPC on October 12, 1936. The Dharmak Salahkar Committee of the SGPC at its meeting on January 7, 1945 proposed further amendments that were ratified on February 3, 1945.
Of course, the DGPC at its general body meeting on December 30, 1933 had postponed discussion on the draft following differences. Representatives of several Sikh organisations too had been invited to this meeting.
The final Rehat Maryada published by the SGPC gives all the details about various meetings and the final approval by this body at its general body meeting.
However, despite these norms, Sikh bodies continue to differ as the emphasis is more on ritualism rather than the doctrine. The Sikh religion is progressive but the forces that continue to raise such issues are regressive.
The issues that should be taken up by these so called self-styled champions of the Sikh faith include closing down of gurdwaras on caste lines. In villages, the caste division has percolated down to the cremation grounds. Has Damdami Taksal or the derawalas who attended the meeting where this issue of Maryada was raised ever tried to educate people against it? Never.
Punjab continues to suffer the after effects of more than a decade long period of militancy during which thousands of people were killed. Punjab has missed the bus of progress. Punjabi boys go abroad to work as drivers and labourers while those from the South are mostly in high paid jobs in the IT sector in USA. This is the loss that Punjab has suffered but these forces refuse to learn any lesson. The problem of drugs too is one of the after effects of that period.
Punjab needs religio-political leadership with modern outlook to take the state forward. Such forces would get isolated if the state is put back on the path of progress. It is for the people in the state to make right choice in February 2017 elections.