«AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION O thou that buttest the high mountain, seeking to dislodge it with thy horns, take pity, not on the mountain but on thy head ...»
Sikhism is not disguised Hindu sect, but an independent revelation of the one Truth of all sects; it is no variant of Mus-lim teachings, save in that, it too proclaims the love of God and the need for men to hold Him always in their heart. It too is distinct religion like the other great religions of the world. “
HEW McLEOD’S IRRATIONAL METHODOLOGY
AND OFFENSIVE UNHISTORICAL CRITICISM
His name was Sir William Jones.
In order to learn Sanskrit he paid Pundit Ram Lochan Rs. 500 per month. He had to take bath, put on a dhoti before he could sit reverently to learn Sanskrit, and no doubt, within a few years he became the Nestor of Sanskrit Studies. He died in 1794, when six volumes of his Work were already published.
During this period the Sikhs Were still struggling against Afghan invaders. The Western world was virtually ignorant about the Sikhs.
Only some travellers and observers like the Swiss Engineer Col Polier and George Forster recorded their observations as unbiased and serious enquirers. They had as Forster says “no 70 tendency to discolour or misrepresent truth”, and were guided by no view of interest, nor impressed by any frown of power”.
With a remarkable foresight he predicted the emergence of a Sikh state under a Monarchy: “In the defence and recovery of their country, the Sikhs (Sicques) displayed a courage of the most obstinate kind and manifested a preservance, under the pressure of calamaties, when the common danger roused them to action, and gave but one impulse to their spirit. Should any future cause call forth the combined efforts of the Sikhs to main-tain the existence of empire and religion, we may see some ambitious chief led on by his genius and success, and absorbing the power of his associates, display from the ruins of their commonwealth, the standard of monarchy.’” Three types of scholars of Sikh ism emerged. The Imperialist of the Raj who could not tolerate the truth about the social, cultural and political aspirations of the Sikhs. The Christian Missionaries who took indecent de-light in running down Sikh religion, history and Scrip-tures. There were some isolated voices of Christian Mis-sionaries who had the moral courage to admire and present factual study of Sikhism.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century there arose some scholars who knew Persian and some Indian languages. They were able to peep into Sikh historical documents and Scriptures and wrote learned essays on various aspects of Sikhism, which were neither relished by the British Imperialists, nor ap-preciated by Brahmanical cultural imperialists (Hindu writers who looked down upon Sikh ism as a petty religious sect of low caste and rustic people and have patronizingly included Guru Nanak in the history of Nirgun School of Poetry in Hindi literature). Out of these emerged courageous self-sacrificing learned scholars like Max Arthur Macauliffe.
CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY APPROACHCharles Grant who took active steps of Christiananize 71 this country described India as a land of moral darkness and idolatory. He did not expect Indians to suffer British rule indefinitely unless they were Christianized. In his opinion, those who opposed Christian missionaries were trampling on the Cross.
In India Christian missionary centres were established in Ludhiana, Amritsar and Lahore, but the backward ar-eas where they were getting the maximum of converts were Batala, the rural city in which they established a school and subsequently a college (where Dr W.H. McLeod and other colleagues of his group worked for some years), and Moga in Ludhiana district. From the Moga region emerged a saint, Sadhu Sunder Singh, who was inspired more by the spiritual and mystical personality of Christ than by Christian theology. The author’s father met Sadhu Sunder Singh in the summer capital of Burma in Shan states long before his birth.2 However, in Punjab the Chris-tian Missionaries did not meet the type of success which they achieved in Bengal. In Calcutta Dr Alexander Duff succeeded in converting Kalicharan Banerjee who was Registrar of Calcutta University and the founder of In-dian National Congress. Some of the new converts rev-elled in shocking prejudices of the orthodox Hindus by throwing beef into Hindu houses and eating from the hands of the Muslims.
Young poet Michael Madhusudan Datta loved classical Sanskrit literature but hated Hinduism. He wrote, “Though as a jolly Christian youth, I don’t care a pin’s head for Hinduism, I love the grand mythol-ogy of our ancestors.” His Meghnadbadh, an episode from Ramayana reproduced in Bengali blank verse, became a masterpiece of Bengali literature. Rabindranath Tagore criticized the Sanskritized Bengali used by the poet. 3 Rabindranath’s father Debendranath Tagore was greatly upset by the Christian conversion. Everyday he went on his horse carriage to all the leading families of Calcutta to persuade them not to send their children to Christian Missionary schools and colleges.4 Brahmo Samaj Schools Were opened as an alternative in which nonidolatorous and Monotheist religious literature including selections from Guru Granth were taught. Gifted scholars lilke Keshav Chander Sen, Ishwar Chander Vidyasagar did a lot to stem the tide of mass conversion.5 But in Punjab Swami Dayananda and fanatical Mus-lims introduced acrimonious debates, which concentrated on senseless and malicious attacks on other religions. In Lahore Giani Dit Singh, a low caste Hindu convert to Sikhism, and a Sanskrit scholar gave a stunning defeat to Swami Dayanand in one of these open debates, which resembled free style verbal wrestling in method, and in-cluded attacks and counter attacks, offence and counter offence in public, recorded by him in his ‘’Mera Swami Dayanand nal sambad.” (My Debate and Discussion with Swami Dayanand). But close to the Batala Christian mis-sionary centre, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, leader of the Ahmadiya movement stationed at Qadian challenged the works of Christ, and in reply to Christian missionary criti-cism of Islam, he wrote a whole book raising the following allegations against the founder of Christianity: (1) That He exceeded all bounds of vulgar abuse of the Jews, (2) That He was given to drunkenness, (3) That He was dis-respectful to His mother, (4) That He was friendly with women of questionable character, (5) That His teachings were too idealistic and impracticable, (6) That He grew angry and lost His temper, (7) That He was provincial and that his message was only for the few, (8) That He was weak and helpless and His mission was a failure, (9) Such miracles as turning of water to wine, the cursing of the fig tree, destruction of the herd of swine are cited as Jesus’ lack of moral judgement.”6 This was the Islamic response to Batala Christian Missionary activities during the years 1878-1889 A.D. Such attacks on religions virtually died down during 1930-1960 and the relations between Sikhs and Christians were at their best.
But Dr Hew McLeod and his associates in Baring Christian College, Batala, formed a society called “Institute of Christian Approach to Sikhism” and out of this group 73 have emerged extremely vulgar attacks on Sikh history, religion and culture, spearheaded by a number of books written with the same intellectual arrogance of scientific analytical methods with which Ernest Trumpp criticized Sikhism and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad criticized Christ and Christianity.
HISTORICAL METHODOLOGY AND RATIONAL CRITICISM“To be an historian”, says Professor Toynbee, “means trying to jump clear of the particular time and place at which one happens to have been born and brought up. It means trying to look at History from some standpoint that is one’s own, and that is more central, and therefore, more objective than one’s own is likely to be. This is the first, the most important and the most difficult piece of business on the historical agenda. Owing to the temporary predominance of the West over the rest of the world, there has been a tendency, in the rest of the world to take over this western view of history uncritically together with the dominant western civilization’s other manners and customs.”7 “History”, says the French Philosopher Jacques Maritain, “can neither be rationally explained nor reconstructed according to necessitating laws. But history can be characterized;
interpreted or disciplined in a certain measure and as to certain general aspects - to the extents to which we succeeded in disclosing its meaning or intel-ligible directions and laws which enlighten events, with-out necessitating them.”8 Professor Graham in his essay “Some Considerations of Historical Research” says, “A historian is not a mere digger of documents, a drudge and pedant. There should be illumination of concepts and ideas. Some historians put everything upside down like the zealous architects in Gulliver’s travels who tried to construct a building starting with the roof first and then the walls and then the foundation. This is what some historians do with their fine conjectures, pre-supposition and half-truths and 74 patent misconstructions. To doubt established facts and spin distorted history shows naivette lack of sincerity and original thought.” “This is the age of scientific methods as applied to historical research; our grandfathers did not have the tools and techniques that we have developed in the twentieth century. But that is no reason for ignoring the old histo-rians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who could think and write with a breadth and generosity of spirit that sometimes eludes us today.
Historical research is not a game or a mechanical efficiency test; the object is to bring the past to life as accurately as possible and that means more than squeezing a few documents, and adding the paraphernalia of references. It is possible for an im-mature student or one with a particular bent or bias to have correct documentary references and yet write com-pletely unreliable history.’’9 Prof. Graham adds, “The footnote reference is not necessarily the sign of a scholar and apart entirely from pretentious padding (e.g. in some Ph. D. thesis), the reference simply indicates a source which mayor may not have been explored and tested with scholarly care and acumen. The key to scholarship is not then to be found in accumulation of formidable reference which denote breadth and depth of documentary toil; it is not simply a question of methods or techniques. Indeed the danger of strictly historical method, courses, is that they may en-courage parochialism and a pedantary. With all the photostats and microfilms and card catalogues and statistical machines, history is not a product of established routines. History is essentially a handicraft;
mechanical devices and techniques of research are an aid, but they are not substi-tute for scholarly learning, disciplined imagination, judge-ment and instinct.”10 Pope Puis XI while appointing Cardinal Facchinnetta as Apostolic Delegate to Libya said in confidence to him, “Do not think that you are going among infidels. Muslims attain to salvation. The ways of Providence are infinite.” 75 But missionary scholars like Ernest Trumpp and Hew McLeod have not learnt this lesson. For them Christianity is a Western religion, scientific, and rational while all other Oriental religions are Eastern, backward, unscientific and primitive and with the means of publication available to them they can take the liberty to comdemn and prove worthless even such religions as Sikhism. With all the Western techniques of discursive criticism they think that it is easy to expose to ridicule it as a “Forgotten tradi-tion”,11 by creating confusion about Sikh historical achievements and doctrines and painting Sikh Society as a hotch-potch of low caste Hindus like the Jats, carpenters, Smiths, petty shopkeepers, Cobblers and distillers of wine.
This false and utterly ridiculous assumption of moral superiority over all oriental religions runs through every page of works of Dr Hew McLeod and his Batala-Berkley Group.