Published By The Himalayan Institute of Yoga and Philosophy of the Honesdale, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
A dishonest intellectual is more dangerous than a dishonest politician. Curiously no Hindu has ever written an honest book about Sikh religion or Sikh Gurus. Perhaps no. Hindu is honest enough to write truthfully and dispassionately about Sikhism. Celestial song is no exception. In it Mr. Rama purports to imaginatively recreate in verse the famous dialogue between Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur but his true intent is to project Sikhism as merely another stream within the spectrum of pedantic commonwealth. In the preface itself, parrot like, he repeats that “the Sikh philosophy originally sprang from the source of Vedas and the sayings of the sages, as did also Buddhism and jainism”. The equating of Sikhism with Buddhism and Jainism has insidious purpose. It is to create the impression that Sikhism will also in due course get absorbed in the Hindu mainstream and the current struggle in Punjab is, therefore, pointless and ill-advised.
In eulogizing Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, Mr. Rama exhausts all the superlatives at his command and he even grows lyrical in describing the transformation of a pacifist recluse into a valiant soldier. But the generous encomiums are actually to sugarcoat the recurrent argument that Sikh Gurus merely “proclaimed” and “reaffirmed” what is contained in the Vedas.
Mr. Rama only marginally departs from Dayanand’s malevolent description of Guru Nanak as an “ignorant hypocrite” when he says:
“He (Guru Nanak) actually in fact, professed little new, but he brought ancient ideals into clear view.
He proclaimed the Vedas in living, practical terms, their intent in his discourses he reaffirms.”
and he goes on to say that the Sikh Gurus:
did rightly espouse The wisdom of India in Vedanta And then simplified in the Sri Adi Granth”.
Mr. Rama does not mince words in saying that Guru Nanak had nothing original to offer and Guru Granth Sahib is only a “simplified” version of the wisdom enshrined in the Vedas. He is not prepared to accept the irrefutable reality of Sikhism as a divinely revealed religion flowing directly from the Original Source as a perennial fountain of light dispelling every conceivable doubt.
The scope of this review does not permit detailed rebuttal of Mr. Rama’s scurrilous observations. It would, however, be pertinent to mention that Sikhism regards this world as real and its goal is God centered activity and not salvation. It does not recommend seeking release from life, instead it inspires to strive for a moral and spiritual living. It’s emphasis is on the primacy of the householder’s life and his obligations in facing sociopolitical challenges. On the other hand, Vedantic concept treats this world as an “empty dream” and preaches renunciation for the attainment of Moksha (salvation). The Sikh belief in the instant redemption of even a sinner through the Grace of God is at sharp variance with the inexorable Kar ma theory of Vedanta. Besides, reincarnation of God in human or in any other physical form is repugnant to Sikh perception of God as self-illumined, unborn, supratranscendental sans fear and sans enmity.
Upanishads being a medley of vague expositions and a prior hypotheses compiled over a period of centuries, embracing even conflicting and contradictory schools of thought, there is a tendency with the Hindu scholars to regard Sikhism as just another offshoot of the orthodox cultural complex. But the essentials of Sikhism are so exceptional that it has hardly anything common with the traditional Indian religious streams. The misconception about the supposed affinity between Sikhism and Hinduism broadly flows from the fact that Sikh Gurus were born in Hindu families and used old Indian religious idiom and terminology to drive home their divine message.
Mr. Rama has introduced yet another sinister dimension. Instead of describing Sikh Gurus as divinely ordained prophets with a message that transcends political and geographical frontiers and embraces the mankind as a whole, he makes a labored attempt to project them as national heroes with an overflowing sense of patriotism, thus compromising their sublimity with such pedestrians names as Arjan, Janak, etc. He makes Guru Gobind Singh say:
“For what occurs between us today Athemit’s hut will hold great sway for history and for our nation”.
Through such distortions, Mr. Rama seems to have succeeded in duping Western scholars like Prof. Murray Leaf of the University of Texas and Dr. Rudolph Ballentine, Director, Center for Holistic Medicine, New York. He makes them look at Sikh religion through his own eyes. For proper perception of Sikhism, they need to study it more extensively and objectively.
Mr. Rama’s beguiling of the Western minds is understandable. But what confounds one is the way Sikhs like Prof. H.S. Gill, Justice R.S. Narual (Retired), Dr. Mohinder Singh and Mr. MS. Gill, 1.A\S. have paid tributes to a work that is patently designed to deface and devalue Sikh religion. May be these gentlemen do not understand simple English or may be their minds are too insufferably infected with the fungus of slavery to express themselves freely. A word for Hindus of Mr. Rama’s genre and mentality: if write you must about Sikh religion or Sikh Gurus, be honest and courageous enough to write truthfully.