The Sikh landscape has long been eclipsed by dark and heavy clouds. Prof. Darshan Singh’s appointment as the Jathedar of the Akal Takht provides abundant sunshine.

Akal Takht is the symbol of Sikh sovereignty and by destroying it, the communal government of India was reaching for the collective Sikh strangulation. Sikhs are a fiercely and independent minded and proud people. By speaking courageously and openly against the longstanding policy of the government of India to assimilate Sikhism, by choosing Panth’s honor over his own life and by his ability to look death in the eye and not blink, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale aroused the slumbering Sikh spirit. Prof. Darshan Singh echoed Bhindranwale’s message and using similar methods of Katha and Kirtan, he too sang about the Sikh predicament. Bhindranwale’s main clientele was from the Sikhs in the Punjab country side. Prof. Darshan Singh’s was the Sikh elite in the cities. Together, they touched every Sikh nerve.

Prof. Darshan Singh’s appointment by the S.G.P.C. as the Jathedar of Akal Takht is a move over which all Sikhs rejoice and celebrate. He combines in himself very sharp intellect, a superb ability to do Kirtan and a level of fearlessness which can only emanate from complete subservience to Guru’s teachings. He is like Prof. Puran Singh, a mystic and a scholar. He constitutes a new breed of Jathedars enlightened, able to project a positive image of Sikhism and self-sacrificing. It is a sagacious move by the S.G.P.C. It not only pointed a Sikh hero on the immortal throne (Akal Takht), it accepts the government’s challenge to subjugate Sikhs through repression and by scrubbing the countryside of its produce. S. Gurcharan Singh Tohra owed it to the Sikh community to undo the earlier and grievous wrong, his unwillingness to defend the Akal Takht in June 1984 and his surrender to the army. Also, his earlier blunder of not naming Bhindranwale as the Akal Takht Jathedar is belated by redressed. Today, the entire Sikh nation congratulates S.G.P.C. and endorses this splendid move. It is obvious that a basically religious community is beginning to match the political skill of its adversaries.

Why do we rejoice over Prof. Darshan Singh’s appointment? Basically for three reasons:

  1. His being a unique personal transformation. He performed good Kirtan, made good money

And lived a comfortable and affluent life. But then the army’s attack on the Darbar Sahib changed it all. His kirtan and his Katha took a new and a very inspiring tone. Through Guru’s hymns, he began challenging the perfidy of the government of India. His kirtan tapes became the Sikh folklore both in India and abroad. They became “‘collectors’ items”. Also like Sant Bhindranwale before him, he started very forcefully and poignantly to interpret and to emphasize the inseparable relationship of religion and politics in Sikhism and he provided political commentary on the religious bi go try of the Hindu Raj and the . Significance of the Sikh creed.

“I will not frighten anyone; nor will I be frightened by anyone”. With passion in his soul and a powerful thy them in his words, he sang fearlessly and openly of the Sikh historical experience of sacrifice, chivalry, standing up against oppression no matter what the price be. His kirtan “still ring in Sikh psyche. Also, it was he who pointed out again through the method of Kirtan and Katha as to how the rulers of Delhi forcibly stopped the singing of “If you put a dog on the throne, it will still lick the stone” Bhai Gurdas’ shabad from the Golden Temple.

  1. He has already been tested and he was willingly and cheerfully paid the price aplenty for his convictions. His is a voice of fearlessness and truth. Like Bhindranwale and countless other Sikhs before him. The government used the age-old method to still his voice too. He was arrested by Haryana police in Dec. 1984 from Punjab soil, a move even the turn coat Barnala complained against though meekly and characteristically without any follow up action. Prof. Darshan Singh was tortured and as a diabetic, he suffered greatly, yet with complete acceptance of Guru’s Hukam. He knew that iron becomes steel only when seasoned in fire. He will obviously henceforth be the true messenger of Guru Hargobind by being the Jathedar of his immortal the one.
  2. It is a lesson to those pseudo leaders and so-called Jathedars of the Sikh Panth who barter away Sikh interests and refuse to be counted when the chips are down. Kirpal Singh disgraced the honor of the Sikh nation through his cowardice on June 8, 1984 by declaring deceitfully on the government controlled television, the Doordarshan, that there was no damage to the Darbar Sahib, that Akal Takht was only slightly damaged and the Sikh treasury. the Tosha Khana were safe and that in essence all was well; when his eyes could see and deep down he knew that under fierce attack from the Indian army the Sikhs had lost, albeit temporarily, both the outward symbol of their temporal power and their pride. He had become a slave, he admitted later that he was forced to read the “announcement” against his will by the Government agents. And yet he would not resign from his lofty position which he no longer deserved.

And look at the perfidy of the Granthi of Darbar Sahib. He files a false and a sworn affidavit to the Chandigarh authorities to the effect that he is a permanent resident of Chandigarh. It was obviously a trap by the government; it obliged by allotting him a large flat in Chandigarh out of tum and then conveniently leaked his false affidavit. Like Kirpal Singh, he too was forced to admit that he lied but his defense was that everyone. Lies for this sort of a thing. No, Sahib Singh, not the Sikhs let alone the Granthi of their most lofty symbol of truth and courage, the Darbar Sahib.

This is why were rejoice: In one wise, move the Sikhs have got rid of self-seekers, Kirpal Singh and Sahib Singh, and have appointed a valiant saint soldier (soldier because he fought with a weapon even sharper than the sword the medium of Kirtan and Katha to inspire Sikhs to stand up and speak out) as a keeper, the Jathedar, of their temporal throne, and send a clear message to the rulers of Delhi that the Sikhs have never in the past and will not in the future as long as the earth revolves around the sun, roll down and play dead no matter how ruthless the oppression, speak out they must. One thing their Guru never taught them Is a life of subservience. Sikhs are by nature a peace loving people. Their religion does not condone violence. They protect the innocent rather than kill them. They have been grievously maltreated and maligned as President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote in a letter to National Association for Advancement of Colored People on June 25, 1938 “No democracy can ever Survive which does not accept as fundamental to its very existence the recognition of the rights of minorities”. Alternately, the history of India is a testimony to the fact that a minority that cannot defend itself will cease to exist. Budhism is a case in point. What other way is there for the Sikhs to preserve their identity than to fight the oppression forced on them. Overcome they must and they will for the Khalsa is of the Waheguru and the victory is of the Waheguru. Let us all pray for divine guidance to Jathedar Darshan Singh as he picks up the mantle of Sikh leadership.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 9, 1987