«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 ...»
I consider it blasphemous to call them the work of the devil, when they are the work of God, and I hold that there is nowhere any belief in God except as the result of a divine revelation, the effect of a divine Spirit working in man. I could not call myself a Christian if I were to believe otherwise; if I were to force myself against all my deepest instincts to believe that the prayers of Christians were the only prayers that God could under-stand.
All religions are mere stammerings, our own as much as that of the Brahmins. They all have to be trans-lated; and I have no doubt that they all will be translated whatever their shortcomings may be.”13 Dr Radhakrishnan has rightly stated: “It is no use studying the world’s religions as archaeologists do the ruins of a vanished past, preserved in a museum of antiquities. For, they represent the aspirations of the human mind after a life which is not of this world, aspirations which are not mere dreams but the most powerful realities in men’s lives. If then there are striking resemblances among the different religions, they may be due to their common origin, or to the fact that when faced by the same phenomenon human intelligence drew similar inferences, and led by common instincts built up similar cults.”14 Throwing all sanity, humanity and wisdom associated with such an approach to the wind, Dr Hew McLeod and his BatalaBerkley group, now active in Toronto, has once more attempted to estrange healthy co-operation and understanding that has hitherto existed in all forums and academic circles in India, U.K.
and U.S.A. amongst Christian and Sikh religious thinkers. They have once more encouraged and provoked bitterness, prejudice, acrimo-nious debates, religious arrogance and all the stupidity 77 associated with such attacks on a religion not their own and the counter-attacks by various organizations of the Sikhs in D.S.A. and Canada.
The subject of the study of this book is to analyse threadbare the damage Dr Hew McLeod has tried to do to Sikh religion, history and culture, and the damage he has done to himself and Christian missionaries who think, act and write like him without caring to study any authentic work on Sikh religion and history.
An eminent scholar has said, “The English speaking Orientalists are distinguished by erudition, but if one penetrates beneath the apparatus of the learned footnotes and the array of sources, one is bound to detect an alarm-ing degree of speculation, guess work and passing of judge-ment for which little or no concrete evidence is produced. It is of course one thing to be skilful in deciphering documents in Arabic or any other Oriental language, and quite another to be able to integrate the material culled there-from into a historical contributions in the accepted pro-fessional sense. History in general is one of the most vul-nerable of disciplines to the invasion of people from out-side, if it is often assumed that anyone who wields a pen can write history.” Out of the two types of Christian scholars of Oriental religions there is a group who have made such deep au-thentic study of Oriental faiths, that their expositions are accepted by all the votaries of these faiths as authentic. Some of the studies are so profound that even the orthodox, scholars and seers of these faiths say that they could not have done better. In the study of Islam we have Gibbs, Raynold Nicholson, Arberry, Annemarie Schimmel, Brown, Goldziher, Martin Lings, Louis Massignon and others. In Buddhism, we have such outstanding scholars as EJ. Thomas, David Neel, Evans Wentz, Edward Conze, and others.
Scores of scholars from Max Muller, Keith, to Mircea Eliade have made an indepth study of Hinduism and various aspects of Yoga and other systems. While serious study of Sikhism is sadly lacking in our own universities in India 78 and also Foundations instituted in the name of Guru Nanak, and Guru Gobind Singh, there is a growing inter-est in Sikh ism in U.K. where we have excellent works by Dr W. Owen Cole and by the eminent linguist Dr Christo-pher Shackle, some of whose essays on the language of Adi Granth surpass anything produced by our universities here. In U.S.A., authentic literature is not so easily avail-able as it is in U.K., to scholars interested in Sikhism but the interest in Sikh religion in various universities where I lectured or visited was deep and profound.
American scholars working in Departments of Philosophy and Com-parative Study of Religions are keenly interested in Ethi-cal and Mystical Doctrines of Sikhism while those working in the Departments of History and political Science are interested in the history of political and cultural move-ments in Sikh history. When they come to India they get little cooperation from Sikh Institutions controlled by either illiterate Jathedars or selfish and idle rich business- men and worthless retired government servants for whom controlling the Executive Boards of these institutions is a mark of their own importance in the eyes of Rulers, serv-ing whose interest is their main task.
There has been no creative work worth the name for the last two decades in these institutions. Entry of foreigners in Punjab was banned since 1984 and that has cut off Punjab from the Enlightened section of the Western world for nearly a whole decade. The Golden Temple, the hub of religious and cultural activities is still under the shadow of guns of Delhi Rulers.
on oldest Janamsakhis, manuscripts and many new original sources and study of local records of places visited by Guru Nanak, His first book appeared two years later in 1968. Almost every chapter Dr McLeod’s book was criticized by Sikh and non-Sikh scholars, but he has remained apathetic and unmoved.
He did not care to answer any criticism, which we will quote in relevant chapters. As his first book was a mere Ph. D. thesis I refrained from criticizing. I thought deeper study of Sikhism will bring some healthy changes in his attitude and thoughts.
But this did not happen.
Eight years after this, when I was on three years tour of U.K. and U.S.A., Dr Hew McLeod published his “Evolution of the Sikh Community” (104 pages). The first to criticize it was the late Dr Fauja Singh, Head of the His-tory Department, Punjabi University, who died a prema-ture death. Besides other things, Dr Fauja Singh took strong objection to the very title of the book, particularly the word “Sikh Community” and he calls the title misleading. Dr Fauja Singh further states: (1) Dr McLeod’s view that Guru Nanak had only religious and no social con-cern is difficult to accept in its entirety. (2) that Guru Amar Dass - deviated from the teachings of Guru Nanak is unacceptable, (3) Dr Fauja Singh himself a Jat, rejects that the predominance of Jat culture compelled Guru Hargobind to become militant. The seeds of a militant response to the challenges were inherent in the system of Guru Nanak, (4) He criticizes Dr McLeod’s opinion that Guru Gobind Singh did not abolish the personal line of the Gurus. It is a subsequent theory that has emerged out of Jat culture. McLeod ignores all contemporary and near Contemporary historical records, (5) Dr Fauja Singh further points out that “Dasm Granth”, though of such high importance, has been disposed in a page and a half by McLeod. As his overall assessment of the work McLeod says that “as expression of the Shivalik impact upon the Jat culture of the Punjab plains, the Dasm Granth is a historical source of critical importance for any analysis.” 80 (6) Dr Fauja Singh concludes, that Dr McLeod’s essays are mostly based on conjecturing and some of them may not even serve as good hypothesis. There is substantial ground to regard them as illfounded and known histori-cal evidence contradicts them. 15 As all his elementary theories about janamsakhis published in his first book stood refuted and rejected by Sikh scholars, Dr McLeod tried to present expanded versions of his theories by giving impressive charts and tables, in his Early Sikh Tradition: A Study of janamsakhis (1980). He ignored many authentic and older janamsakhis and did not even care to see very old MSS lying with the historian Baba Prem Singh Hoti Mardan’s family and the Bagrian family. We are devoting a whole chapter to janamsakhis. Then suddenly he published two books: ‘The Sikhs’ and ‘Who is a Sikh?’ The themes are repeated. The arguments are repeated. More often than not, Dr Hew McLeod quotes his own previous books. He avoids quot-ing Sikh scriptures, canonized works of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lall, except in one or two places where he presents a distorted translation in order to hurt and damage the image of the Sikh Gurus. As these books were not easily available in India I read them only recently. A storm has broken in the West against their contents. On the other hand Hew McLeod’s handful of colleagues and one or two students are propagating his theories as the communists propagate their highly outdated repulsive theories by holding seminars in their own circles. On the other hand, Sikhs of all shades, established scholars, intellectuals and semi-intellectuals have raised their voice exactly as they did against Dr Ernest Trumpp. After years of silence I have decided to give a comprehensive answer to all the clap-trap methods and theories of Dr McLeod on Sikh religion and history based on scepticism and conjecture. The truth about Sikh historical development and Sikh doctrines is concealed only from the eyes of the ignorant or those serious students of religion who do not have access either to original sources or authentic 81 published works in English which though out of print are available in U.K. libraries easily but not in U.S.A.
Dr Hew McLeod’s arguments in support of his fan-tastic and demeaning theories are loaded with the soph-istry of solecism. He says one thing in a part and then contradicts it on the same page qualifying his self-contra-diction with “possibly, probably”. Through this method of a chain of assaults, he spreads a net work of conjectural theories based on false premises leading to what Shakespeare might call, “lame and impotent conclusions” based on “a network of empty words”. Like all hostile critics who pretend to be serious scholars of a subject, he is expert in the art of subterfuge and evasion. Anyone who approaches the study of Sikh religion with pre-con-ception and an ingrained religious or idological bias, and analyses it with just a pedestrian knowledge of the lan-guages of the scriptures and historical literature, commits the same type of blunder which Dr Ernest Trumpp com-mitted in the last three decades of nineteenth century and Dr Hew McLeod has committed in the last three decades of the twentieth century.
Both Trumpp and McLeod start spilling their cynical and contemptuous remarks about Sikh prophets, their doctrines and scriptures from the very Prefaces of their books and continue to do so to the conclusions. Their Prefaces and conclusions alone reveal their nefarious designs behind what they call scientific and rational study of Sikhism. This ‘is ‘the reason why they have been bracketed together. “ Dr Hew McLeod’s chief claim to speak is his erudite ignorance, assumed or real. He relentlessly assails the moral and spiritual status and achievements of the Sikh Gurus. He ignores all the sublime philosophical and mystical doctrines of Sikh ism and picks some street gossip as basis of his theories and false constructions. He leaves no stone unturned to distort and create confusion about distinctive religious ideals of Sikhism. His crude attacks on Sikh history, and doctrines are always based on 82 preconceived perverted notions of Sikhism as a sect of Hindu-ism, which are refuted time and again by Sikh and nonSikh knowledgeable scholars which he cynically ignores as if they did not exist. We will give some examples during the course of our study.
Neither Christian missionary scholars like Trumpp in the last century nor Hew McLeod and his Group in this century have been able to prove the inferiority of Sikhism by their arrogant and contemptuous remarks and attitudes, nor have they succeeded in their attempt to indicate that Sikhism must humiliate itself before the artificial glamour of such Christian thinkers who stoop to debase a religion, other than their own, by insulting and belittling it.
The deeper and fraternal spirit of Sikhism is very close and intimate in its interfaith relations with the spiritual and moral currents of Christianity. To this I have been an eye witness throughout my persona1 contacts with many eminent Christian thinkers in Europe, U.S.A. and U.K. and associations with International Inter-religious or ganizations.