With the successful completion of the obligatory requirements for the establishment of a Sikh Studies Chair at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, the process of having such Chairs at major universities all over North America has begun to take a very concrete shape. The plan to set up a Sikh Studies Chair at the University of Michigan is also at a fairly advanced stage. Washington D.C. and Berkely are next on the list.

Sikh Studies Chairs will primarily serve as research centers and endeavor to present in proper perspective Sikh religion, history and literature to the North American students particularly to the new crop of Sikh generation that was born and brought up here. These centers are expected to remove barriers of distortion and disinformation that anti-Sikh forces have been trying to perpetuate. Research being essentially a creative activity must conform to an immaculate pattern of sincerity and truthfulness. No extraneous considerations or personal prospects can be allowed to cloud the perceptions or twist the truth.

It is, therefore, imperative that only scholars with impeccable integrity should be appointed to occupy these Chairs. Integrity must be valued more than scholarship because loyalty to truth under all temptations is the intellectual conscience of the man of learning. It is all the more important in a climate where intellectuals frequently turn peddlers prostituting their scholarship for petty gains. Typically in the manner of a devil quoting scriptures, the well-known Sikh scholar Gopal Singh Dardi, ever since his appointment as Lt. Governor of Goa, has been pouring out execrably dishonest trash to misrepresent Sikh religion and history. He claims to be a historian and a theologian but instead of faithfully and imaginatively reconstructing the facts of history and mystic experiences of the spirit, like a spider he goes on in excreting cobwebs of filth and falsehood. He has been trying to subvert the conceptual and inalienable unity of Miri (temporal) and Piri (spiritual) in Sikhism to please his masters in Delhi.

Similarly Khushwant Singh has exhibited adolescent inconsistency in reacting to the current turbulence in Sikh affairs. Some of the Sikh scholars who recently attended Sikh Studies Conferences in Toronto and Berkely lacked courage of conviction and left behind poor impression of their intellectual integrity. One scholar, for instance, came up with a farfetched interpretation of the word “Sword” as meaning “Spirit” in Guru Gobind Singh’s famous lines from Zafarnama which literally translated mean “when all means to secure justice fail, then, it is righteous to resort to sword”. It was a painfully clumsy and dishonest attempt to portray Sikhism as a pacifist religion opposed to the use of sword in any situation.

The yearly purpose of establishing Sikh Studies Chairs will be defeated if such scholars were to lord over them. Integrity needs to be paramount consideration in selecting the incumbents to ensure proper dissemination of Sikh religion, history and literature. Just as a communist economist, whatever his merit, is not considered a desirable person here for teaching the young students of impressionable age, similarly the task of guiding research work should not be entrusted to a person of questionable antecedents and shifting loyalties, Otherwise the fabulous amounts collected to institute these Chairs will prove counterproductive and serve to destroy the true essence of Sikhism rather than constructively disseminate it.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 17, 1987