BERKELEY, Ca. In spite of the rumors that Sikhs would behave rudely and so all those attending ought to be selective invitees, the Sikh community proved the rumors wrong. They showed tremendous discipline, retraint and sophisticated behavior. They listened to every word uttered for two days and prepared their comments for the appropriate time. No one was out of place in their presentations.

Prof. Mark Juergensmayer kicked off the conference with enthusiasm and hopes for success. He should be congratulated because he and his associate Jane Singh and others did get not only success but a substantive promotion of Sikh Studies that will be remembered for years to come. The role of the Sikh Foundation, indeed, was praiseworthy in lending the appropriate support. The enthusiasm of W.S.O. and its leaders enhanced the whole affair. No doubt the conference was eminently successful.


Both days were utilized fully by presenting a total of six panels on such topics as History, Literature, Religion, Sikhs Abroad, Contemporary issues in Sikh Studies and a round table conference. It is relative to one’s interest as to which panel was most exciting. One could say that the most exciting panels were history, religion, Sikhs abroad and contemporary issue. In the History panel, several original historical sources were brought out by Prof. J.S. Grewal to show how social history is written. The composition of Ranjit Singh’s administration presented by Indu Banga, and commented on by Prof. Metcalf of U.C. Berkeley was extremely informative. They dynamics of history. pointed out by Prof. Metcalf gave a platform for in-depth and sound scholarship. Lots of discussion centered on the “Rhetorical structure of Japji” presented by Prof. Shapiro of University of Washington. Comments led people that real understanding of Gurbani is not necessarily its Rhetorical structure but its meaning which of course, is again loaded with the variety of interpretations. The religious panel centered around Guru Nanak. Prof. Owen Cole’s work, which was inspired by Prof. McLeod was of particular interest to Sikhs. Both the scholars are being questioned as to the accurate conclusions. Prof. Sulakhan Singh

Dhillon pointed out that philosophic methods in studying religion could be used, as it is done in existentialism. The study of Sikhism in drawing conclusions that can pass the logical and critical test is needed. Knowledge claims must be analyzed at all costs. In the sassier’ On contemporary issues, Prof. Stanley Wolpert let the flood gate open to have people speak their mind. Truly, Berkeley liberal tradition, proved to be the true “Athens of the West”. This was the highlight of the Conference. Controversial issues of Punjab and Sikhs came to the surface and people spoke their mind. Scholars, in an international setting, did a very effective job in presenting their carefully done work, it was a time of excitement, learning and good feeling. The controversial political issues were kept under control to be explored at another more appropriate time, which is expected to be. expressed in May 87 at U.C.L.A. at another conference which is to focus on the contemporary situation.

Unless and until Sikh contemporary issues are satisfactorily discussed and resolved, the Sikh community would not rest. People’s hopes are set on U.C.L.A. conference in May, 1987, which ought to be attended by all with enthusiasm.

Though the substance of Sikhism expressed through History, Literature, Religion and the present issues is brought out beautifully but the future of the Sikh community is still not certain. The difficult times are ahead, which not only the scholars but appropriate Sikh leaders would have to control and mould it so that the Sikh community grows in its own right to flourish as free people.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 13, 1987