Lt. Col Sohan Singh (Rtd)

Whenever any well-wisher of Sikhs or Sikhism meets, the discussion always veers around to one subject and that is the apathy the younger generation towards religion. It usually ends up. by cursing Western influence and the general disregard of the old culture and values by our present day youngsters and then washing our hands of these things by saying that it is beyond our control and that we have to accept this situation in its present form. I strongly feel that we are by and large, not tackling the problem in the right way.

First of all when it is said that our youngsters are going away from religion, religion must be properly defined. Sometimes one gets a feeling that if by the help of a time machine, Guru Nanak could be made to see the present day Sikhs and Sikhism as it is being practiced, he would probably feel that his Sikhs are doing exactly opposite to what he preached. He had preached about the universality of mankind. We have Jat Sikhs, Khatri Sikhs, Ramgarhia Sikhs, Namdhari Sikhs and Ramdasia Sikhs, etc. etc. We are further divided into castes and subcastes, and we try to live in water tight compartments.

The second major teaching of Guru Nanak was the avoidance of superstitions, unnecessary rituals and showmanship. What do we see today? Most Sikhs still believe. in good and bad days for performing particular tasks. They still per form arti with flowers and Dias when there is a beautiful verbal ‘one composed by Guru Nanak in the praise of the cosmos. They take pleasure when their names are announces for donations for which they vie with each other in order to show off. The same person who gives or announced donations worth thousands of rupees in a Gurdwara will not give a single paisa to a destitute because he sees no publicity in that. Why this hypocrisy? Thousands are fed in our /angars. But I have personally seen our sewadars debarring the entry of poor beggars who ultimately lick the thrown away petals. Don’t we remember what the Guru told to Bhai Budhu whose ava(Klin) did not fire properly because Bhai Budhu did not allow a destitute to take part in the Guru ka langar. The curse of that destitute was not removed by even the Guru.

So one sees that there is vast difference in what is preached and what is practiced. These preaching are repeated day in and day out but what is actually practised is quite different. How does one expect a child of today who has better thinking and reasoning power to accept these double standards?

Do any of us ever consider that by keeping all outward acceptances or going to gurdwara every day or by giving big donations should one be considered religious? To this question there is a very emphatic ‘No’ in our scriptures. It has clearly been told that truthful living is highest of all. Now the question arises as to what truthful living, is. For answer to this, it is recommended that one should attend the daily congregation in a gurdwara, Here again one is faced with a similar question. Can one get this type of guidance from our present day average Gurdwara? The answer is ‘No’, for the ugly faces of party politics; greed and showmanship of the highest order are to be seen in the Guru’s house. One is not sure which way to look for guidance.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 9, 1988