Dear Editor:

I am writing this letter because I feel compelled to put Mr. Ganga Singh Dhillon’s fears at rest. His article asserting that there is a “virus of disunity” afflicting the Sikh community, fails to recognize Chohan’s role in the fight for Sikh freedom. I know of no individual or organization that is trying to belittle Dr. Chohan’s selfless contribution to the Sikh cause. The plain truth is that the leadership crisis among the Sikhs is merely the product of debate and conflict among self-seeking individuals and their organizations.

As understand Sikh politics at this point in time, it appears that many individuals and some organizations are hesitant in following the lead of the Panthic Committee.

Thus in the true spirit of Sikh individualism, I find many of my brethren indifferent towards the Panthic Committee and its international political arm, the Council of Khalistan. Unfortunately, every prominent Sikh leader cannot be accommodated within the Panthic Committee’s framework. I do not think that this new act of the Panthic Committee has any reflection on any individual per son’s merit.

I am certain that freedom fighters like Dr. Chohan and Mr. Dhillon will support the Panthic Committee and the Council of Khalistan. We, the Sikhs, need their wisdom, experience and historical outlook.

Dr. Gurmit S. Aulakh

President, Council of Khalistan

Washington, D.C.

Dear Editor:

Please refer to Dr. Chan’s article on Ardas in Nov. 20, 1987, World Sikh News page 21: Dr. Chan explains, erroneously, that the word Ardas is derived from the Persian words ARZ and DASHT. Surely, the root words are ARZ and DAST: ARZ mean the “act of making petition”; and DAST  “a” rhymes with “u” as in dust, means hands. In an Oriental prayer, like our Ardas, DAST implies folded hands the gesture of humility, prayer, or imploring for forgiveness.

Dr. Ganda Singh asserts, in his writings, Ardas as being derived from ARZ DAST meaning a supplication made with folded hands. Bhai Khan Singh, in his Mahan Kosh an encyclopedia on Gurbani, explains Ardas to mean a prayer “prarthana”, and not a “reminder” or a memorandum as suggested by Dr. Chan.

Readers when interpreting the Romanized versions of Persian or Punjabi words have two difficulties: (1) Uncertainty as to the correct sound long or short, of vowels such as “a” in DAST, and (2) the practice of European writers to substitute the compound letter “sh” for the sound of “s”. In our case here, the original DAST thus gets transformed into DASHT. The practice totally alters the pronunciation and meaning of the original word! For instance: (1) DASHT, if pronounced with short “a” — “a” rhyming with in just, means jungle or wilderness; and (2) DASHT, if pronounced with long “a” — “a” rhyming with “a” as in fast, means “act of watching” or “act of enquiring into someone’s health’, Thus Dr. Chan’s ARZ DASHT can mean “Petition in wilderness”, etc. To Dr. Chan’s credit, C. Shackle also, in his “A Guru Nanak Glossary”, defines Ardas as derived from ARZ DASHT! This ambiguity can be partially resolved by a transliteration of long vowels, in Persian or Punjabi words, into double vowels in Roman script. Thus the ARDAS of Punjabi should, correctly, be written as Ardaas in Roman script.

I agree, unequivocally, with Dr. Chan that Ardas has been an evolving product of our tradition. ‘The texts of Ardas available in various Gutkas, are almost identical, are now well established, and have tended to become a standard. The texts include: (1) a passage from Var Sri Bhagauti Ki Padshahi 10, (2) words of prayer seeking His grace, (3) words appropriate to the occasion, and (4) a litany of Sikh ideals and struggles. “Sikh maryada” mandates the Var Sri Bhagauti Kias a must in every Ardasia leader in prayer. The Ardasias “apni shardha de mutabaq”, and according to their appreciation of Sikh history, add or delete passage to suit the occasion. The Ardas, in effect, combines prayer and public pledges undertaken “Babe di hazoori wich”, to uphold the Sikh ideals. The traditional Ardas ceremony is a time for introspection. The atmosphere of peace posture of prayer and the sangat in tune with Sacha Padshah, calms the mind. The calm voice of the eloquent ardasia delivered in humble tones, floats ‘over the sangat, soothes and assuages feelings, and stirs emotions and instills immense pride. The words are superbly indoctrinating and remind us of sacrifices and achievements of our ancestors. ~ The same words have inspired Sikh columns to defy death, It is a’ rare Sikh who is not moved by the words like “puthian khallan luhaian”, “mawan ne bachian the tote kar ke galan wich pawaye”, “Sikhi sidaq nahin harya”, “tera bhana mitha kar ke manya”, ….. The text of Ardas reflects our ideals, ambitions, and affirms our resolve to continue the cherished goals nourished by our forefathers.

I believe and feel, that it is perfectly justified and proper — in obligation to our tradition and ancestors, to include in Ardas appropriate references to our contemporary predicaments. In fact, I would hazard to propose that the ardasias, besides asking for such books as “chaukian, jhandhe, bunge, jugo jug atal dharam ka jaikar”, “prosperity and health”, “Sikh nation”, “tere bhane sarbat ka bhala”, etc., should also seek His guidance and grace for a harmony amongst the warringSikhs. Whereas religious tolerance has been a hallmark of the Sikhs, tolerance for political differences is something to be desired. When conflicts arise — “because some dummy doesn’t appreciate our viewpoint”, let us heed Bhai Gurdas’ advice: “durmat dekh dayal hoye”. Sukhbir Singh

Indianapolis, IN

Dear Editor:

I have read with great interest, “The Significant of Ardas in Sikhism” by an amateur, Miss Prabhleena Kaur Sangha of age 14 (WSN, Nov. 24, 1987). I congratulate her on taking such a bold step. This is a very good trend that our younger generation has come forward to research what lies hidden in Sikhism. I myself do some research on Sikhism and encourage other Sikhs and non-Sikhs to do so. I have put my personal library at the disposal of such researchers.

I was very much reluctant to start any research or discussion on, Ardas considering it the touchiest subject. However, Miss Sangha has given mean impetus to do so and J am very thankful to her.

On the same page of WSN beside the article of Miss Sangha, Dr. Chanan Singh Chan, an expert on Sikhism, also writes, “All about Ardas”.

I noticed that Miss Sangha is not clear about “Ardas” and “prayer” when she says “The Ardas” helps to point out the fundamentals of Sikhism daily. It is usually followed at the end of a prayer. Moreover, so far as I understand Ardas doesn’t point out fundamentals of Sikhism, Similar is the case with the expert, Dr. Chan, when he says, “Guru Amar Das Ji made the term Ardas a part of Sikh prayer … Guru Arjan brought Ardas to the daily prayer.”

Discussion on the most important part of the Ardas was committed by both the writers including, the responder of these articles, Satwant Singh (WSN, Dec. 4, 1987 — Letters to the Editor). It may be because that portion of Ardas could be most touchy. The maybe touchy part of the Ardas starts from “Pritham Bhagauti……… to Sabh Thain Hoe Sahae”. Itis composed of six verses.

Dr. Chan believes that the first nine (actually 6) verses of Ardas were composed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji according to Bhai Daya Singh (one of the Panj Piaras) who. used the introductory invocation Var Sri Bhagauti Ki Patshahi 10. It indicates that Dr. Chan is not sure (he used the word “perhaps”) if this portion was written by Guru Gobind Singh. Then what is the truth?

Who wrote these six verses starting from “Pritham Bhagaut……. to sab thain hoe sahe”?

Do these verses conform to the philosophy of Sikhism given in the Guru Granth Sahib, the final words for the Sikhs?

Dr. Chan mentions, “Guru Amar Das Jimade the term Ardas a part of Sikh prayer. It was the first text sent to 22 seats of spiritual authorities in Sikh religion by the Guru. If so, what type of Ardas was it which was sent to 22 seats? Dr. Chan is silent on this issue.

Let us do some “vichar” (thinking/research) on Ardas. Guru Nanak has directed the Sikhs todo “shabad vichar” (thinking/research about the words—Gurbani) to understand the Gurbani and consequently the real Sikhism to become good citizens of the uni” versal brotherhood,

I would highly appreciate if the Sikh intelligentsia could come forward to explain the philosophy of these six verses of the Ardas starting from “Pritham Bhagauti….. To sabh thain hoe sahae” keeping in view the philosophy given in the Guru Granth Sahib. Appropriate references with their authenticity to support the arguments are absolutely necessary. Please contact me on the following address so that the discussion could be printed in the forthcoming issue of THE TRUTH.

I hope this would start real “vichar” and not the controversy.

Dr. D.S. Chahal, Editor in Chief

THE TRUTH — An International

Magazine on Sikhism.

Laval, Quebec, Canat


Article extracted from this publication >> January 8, 1988