There is quite a confusion and myth about the devotion of Hindus towards the Sikh Gurus. A large number of Hindus have claimed that they have the highest respect for the Sikh Gurus and the Sikh friends based on their personal experiences.
Since Sikhism was born in Punjab, its impact on contemporary Punjab Hindus had to be immense specially since Sikh gurus and Sikhs stood for the downtrodden and the oppressed and stood against the tyrant rulers the majority of who were Moghul Kings. Yet there were pockets of Hindu opposition of Sikhs and Sikh Gurus. This was the result of criticism of rituals and_ superstitions which had taken roots in Hinduism and had corrupted the religion and the society at the hand of Brahmins who were the custodians of the Hindu religion. The majority of Hindus, though, felt great affinity towards Sikhs as they saw in them dependable guardians and protectors.
During the reign of Moghul King Shahjahan there was a dramatic extension in the Sikh philosophy and Guru Hargobind showed Sikhs the new direction which favored armed resistance to unjust authority. He founded the AKAL TAKHAT and started issuing religious and political orders for the Sikh nation. The second spark to this philosophy was provided by the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur who laid down his life to uphold the principle of religious freedom.
Guru Gobind Singh has probably been the most misunderstood Guru among Sikhs and Hindus alike. He infused new concept of self-respect, dignity, bravery and martial values for the defense of the weak and oppressed against tyranny and unjust rule. His fight was not directed against any one person or any one religion but against the oppressor. He fought more battles with Hindu mountain Kings of Punjab than with the Moghul Kings. This was due to the powerful Brahmin lobby working hand in hand with the Hindu Kings who fought against the Guru many times and with active assistance from the Mughal Kings. Ni after Guru Gobind Singh, Sikhs were the hunted tribe and had to take refuge in the jungles but continued their struggle to help the needy and the oppressed. The Hindus were indeed grateful to the Sikhs and were indebted to them for their safety. Shivaji who was a contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh had immense respect for the Sikh philosophy and was a great admirer of the Guru. He was another parallel force fighting the Moghul Kings. But there was one BIG difference. Shivaji did not have to fight Hindu Kings and his fight was aimed at ending the Moghul rule rather than ending the oppression and the injustice. Moreover Shivaji used every method, right or wrong, in the pursuit of his goals. Nevertheless, Guru Gobind is held in high esteem in the land of Shivaji. The Hindus of Punjab today have alienated themselves from the Sikh Gurus and the Sikhs to a great degree although they are not prepared to admit this. There is no question that their respect for the first 9 gurus is far greater than their respect for Guru Gobind Singh. All because Guru Gobind Singh created Khalsa and gave them a separate identity. Hindus who still respect the Gurus and the Gurbani have little respect for the Sikhs as a matter of concept. In the back of their mind they still contribute to the Brahministic opposition of the Sikh religion and have not accepted the separate identity of this fellow community. They fell in love with Sikhism but could not abandon any of the rituals and superstitions which were prohibited in Sikhism. This has resulted in the dilution of Sikh which is very today.
The birth of Arya Samaj in the 19th century was the turning point in the attitude of Hindus towards Sikhism. A wall was erected between the two communities by the Arya Samaj which has been gaining strength in Punjab and rest of the country.
HOW MODERN HINDUS VIEW SIKH RELIGION
There are still a larger number of Hindus who draw inspiration from the teachings of the Sikh Gurus but even they have not been able to insulate themselves from the influence of Arya Samaj. One of the Sikh fundamentals is that the ten gurus were ONE SOUL (JOT) in 10 bodies. Yet it is not easily acceptable to Hindus who fail to accept Guru Gobind Singh with the same devotion they show to other gurus.
Sindhi’s are probably the best example to quote. Dada Chella Ram founded a number of ashrams and spread the message of the gurus and became the biggest non Sikh spokesman of Sikhism. But these ashrams today are quite selective of what they want religion obvious from Gurbani. They take special note of some passages from Gurbani which have typical Hindu flavor and which have references to Hindu Gods Rama or Krishna. I cannot but relate an amusing experience encountered at their Solan ashram. Asa di Var is sung at the ashram in the traditional style of reciting each couplet once but you have to wait till you reach the couplet “paar jaat gopi lai aya brindaban mein rang kiya” a couplet pointing reference to Krishna. This couplet will be read over and over and over as if this were the only thing they really relate to and the rest of the Asa di War is only a means to reach this point.
HOW SIKHS VIEW SIKHISM
SIKHS come in different styles and flavors and it is very painful to see the degradation of Sikhism because of the influence of the Hindu society which cannot live with any other religion without either destroying it or at least damaging it.
There are Sikhs today who profess that Sikhs should limit themselves to taking Amrit and living a religious life. They also profess that politics should be left to politicians and should not be discussed in the Gurudwaras. To them peace and nonviolence is most important and they would leave it to GOD to punish the oppressor because everything happens in the will of GOD. These Sikhs are no different from those Brahmins who would sit inside the Som Nath temple and pray to their Gods to come to protect them from the attacking Mahmood Gazni. These Sikhs have not understood the philosophy of Guru Gobind Singh. Khalsa was created neither to bow his head in front of the tyrant nor to tolerate injustice or oppression. According to Guru Gobind Singh it would be a sin not to stand up against tyranny and oppression and he professed that when all peaceful means of ending the injustice are exhausted, it is justified to raise the sword and fight the tyranny.
There are other Sikhs who consider themselves intellectuals and sophisticated enough not to risk their present positions in government or society and feel comfortable to look the other way. Some of them actually go the extent of playing second fiddle to the ruling class in order to impress them with their loyalty for some forthcoming personal gains. These people conveniently forget the systematic discrimination which Sikhs as a community have been going through. These Sikhs are generally rich and have reaped advantages from the society they live in and are too timid to recognize that their community is not as lucky and continues to suffer at the hands of the ruling class. These Sikhs will not be rich if they stood up against the government on any issue let alone the issue of their community. Strictly speaking nobody expects them to stand up and fight the government but the least expected of them is to keep silent. IF THEY CANNOT SPEAK FOR THE SIKHS, THEY SHOULD AT LEAST NOT SPEAK AGAINST THE SIKHS.
THESE ARE THE SARKARI SIKHS. EXTREMIST SIKHS
There are Sikhs who form the core of Sikh masses in Punjab who are crude, rustic, simple, honest, trusting, hardworking, and love to follow anyone for the cause of Sikh Panth. They have the highest respect for the GURUS but do not show the same respect for their teachings. They cut/trim their hair, some of them even take drugs and majority of them have never given serious thought to what Gurbani is about. They will fill up jails and lay down their lives for the cause of the PANTH. These were the people who were attracted towards the spiritual fundamentalist leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who brought the wandering young Sikhs of Punjab back to the Sikh religion and rid them of drugs and other bad habits. NEXT TIME YOU MEET A SIKH — BELIEVE ME IT WILL NOT TAKE MORE THAN A MINUTE TO FIND OUT WHERE HE FITS IN THE ABOVE CATEGORIES.
Article extracted from this publication >> September 20, 1985