«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 ...»
Sikhs have set a unique example in history by strongly resisting any attempts by outsiders to insult, humiliate and denigrate Sikhs and Sikhism without imparing their relations with the enlightened and liberal leaders of the religion to which these hostile critics belong. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century when the Sikhs suffered endlessly at the hands of some Muslim and Hindu fanatics associated with the Ruling class, their relations with the Muslim and Hindu saints and liberal leaders and masses were at their very best. They were given the same respect and affection which they gave to their own saints and leaders. In the early eighteenth century when six Misals attacked the Kasur stronghold of the Afghans to rescue innocent girls abducted by them, they lost ten thousand lives.
On the way back they stopped near the Khanqah of a Muslim saint, whose disciples were alarmed and even advised the Sufi saint to escape to some Muslim territory. Minutes later, all the Sikh leaders took off their shoes, 83 entered the Khanqah one by one, prostrated before the Muslim saint, each making some offering and seeking his blessings and peace. The saint and his disciples were over-whelmed. “O Great Dervish, if there is any danger to you from any side, we will lay down our lives to give you pro-tection and please inform the Muslims of this region, that those who are not helping the tyranny of the Mghan and Mughal invaders are our brothers and sisters. It is our duty to help them and serve them and protect them.” But the Batala-Berkley Group of Christian missionar-ies now active in Toronto have by their false utterances and misconstructions tried to prove that Guru Nanak was not a Founder of a religion or Prophet but a wandering Hindu medieval sant (saint) whose mission was peaceful revival of Hinduism, but whose erratic successors started using the sword and putting on long hair, to win over Jat followers who wore long hair and believed in the cult of the sword. Hindu customs were introduced by Guru Nanak’s successor to prevent it from fading away into extinction. The superficial identity they have maintained is aJat-culture heritage. The irrational monstrosity of these absurdities that have been presented as Sikh religion and history is visible to all who know something about Sikh religion and history. Strip the writings of Dr Hew McLeod and his Group of their journalistic rhetoric, of their tricks of qualifying irrefutable and authenticated facts with “probably, possibly”, and other sceptic suggestions, you find in them nothing but naked antagonism and open malicious hostility. His denials of historical truths without refuting the factual historical evidence are unequalled in their capacity for affirming false facts, distorted ideas based on Conjectured and irresponsible utterances. When he quotes Sikh scriptures he puts even the Devil to shame, because even when a Devil quotes scriptures, he is correct in quoting and translating. He only gives his own interpretation with the freedom of thought, permitted even to him by God Almighty. Thus, Dr Hew McLeod displays a melancholy proclivity towards whatever appears to him ugly 84 and unwholesome to his particular tastes in Sikhism. And when he cannot find anything, he uses his conjectural designs and art of false constructions to cook something which is not found either in Sikh history or doctrines.
After Emergency was clamped in India in 1975, the then communist Education Minister in Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet saw to it that materialists, hedonists, Marxists and atheists wearing beards and turbans were posted as Vice-Chancellors and key figures in Sikh Studies Departments in the Universities.
Some of them put on turban and beard just to capture these posts. Earlier they were clean shaven and even chain smokers.
These were backed and supported by pious looking third rate hack-writers on Sikh themes, who as self-seeking sycophants served as the most servile flatterers and submissive ma-nipulators of anti-Sikh designs of the government which led to utter intellectual chaos in the Universities of Punjab and total moral as well as political degradation, giving rise to a situation amenable for Bluestar operation military attack on the Golden Temple and its aftermath. The atmosphere became congenial for such work as Dr Hew McLeod has been producing. The situation has been deteriorating ever since then.
Mr. Justice Gurdev Singh, who was the first to note these destructive trends initiated by Hew McLeod and his likeminded friends occupying prestigious chairs says: “He (McLeod) has been emboldened by the fact that in our universities even the scholars who are working in the Department of Sikh Studies have not cared to rebut or even examine his thesis and place before the people the correct picture and real facts. This neglect has already resulted in considerable harm as even uncommitted scholars and researchers, without proper examination of the issues involved, are prone to accept the word of McLeod, in the absence of any challenge by the Sikhs themselves or availability of the other point of view. “16 Sikh Studies Department of Punjabi University under the able Chairmanship of the distinguished scholars 85 Professor KL. Seshagiri Rao and his learned colleagues like Dr L.M. Joshi was humming with enlightened and authentic research activities in 1970. The International Sikh Seminar organised by them in 1970 was one of the most successful efforts to highlight Sikh ism for which the credit goes to Professor KL. Seshagiri Rao and Vice-Chancellor Prof. Kirpal Singh, a learned historian. There was some severe criticism of Hew McLeod’s book in this Semi-nar by Bhai Jodh Singh, first ViceChancellor of the University, who is thanked by McLeod in the Preface for helping him. McLeod’s criticism became irrelevant because he had not been invited to the Seminar and he had not submitted any paper.
Hew McLeod pinpoints his criticism on Janamsakhis, hagiographic biographies, of Guru Nanak which were never considered “sacred cows” in Sikh history. He picks up passages from some other corrupted Janamsiikhis in the eighteenth century records, and he never hesitates to introduce utterly vulgar street gossip and cheap jokes which are not found even in corrupted historical documents of eighteenth century.
Dr Noel Q. King, Professor of Religion, University of California, Santa Cruz (U.S.A.), calls these “Sardarji”jokes and adds that “this genus of story invented by people wishing to show Sikhs are stupid or obstinate as their own waterbuffaloes. “17 Dr Hew McLeod knows some Punjabi, but as he wrote to me just sufficient to read simple prose like that of janamsakhis, Sakhi Pothis and Rehitnamas, which can be understood even by Punjabi housewives with elementary knowledge of Punjabi.
For studying Sikh Scriptures like Adi Granth, Dasm Granth, Vars and Kabits of Bhai Gurdas and the Persian works of Bhai Nand Lall, one requires a good working knowledge of Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa,Braj, Avdhi and other medieval languages and dialects, besides, of course, the various dialects of Punjabi.
This is the equipment which Ernest Trumpp lacked and this is what Hew McLeod lacks and tempts him to lean heavily 86 on conjectures and street-gossip. Dr Noel Q. Kings pin-points this short-coming when he says, “Even when Punjabi had been mastered, it did not mean a scholar could be confident that he or she understood the varied languages and dialects used in the scriptures and related literature. Again till recently efficient instruments for the study of Punjabi were not available abroad.
The study of Sikhism demanded years of residence. While pointing out the difficulties, it is important to emphasize that Sikhism is one of the most open religions in the world. Outsiders who conform to a few reasonable requirements of good taste and custom are made welcome, everything is put before them without reserve.”18 I have been personally intimately in touch with all the Sikh saints, scholars, theologians, and Punjabi writers (religious, socialists, communists) living during the years 1944 to 1992.
Apart from their political views which ranged from conservative ideas to radical and revolutionary think-ing, the Sikh saints and scholars were, so far as religious studies were concerned, very liberal and open-minded. They expressed their views in the humblest manner. Even when affluent living was open to them, they led a very simple life of saints and enlightened scholars, committed to the highest ideals of Sikh ism in thoughts, words and deeds.
Bigotry and fanaticism was introduced first in Punjabi literature by Marxists and Communist-party intellectuals. With the support of British Govt. in World War 11 they had become aggressively overweening and intolerant of everything religious, sensible and enlightened in litera-ture. As two-thirds of Punjabi literature is Gurmat litera-ture and Sufi literature these Marxist and atheists who behaved like adopted sons of Stalin were poised to pull Sikh religion to the ground. When I wrote about 19 articles in 1946 in the only Punjabi Daily Akali Patrika they sued for peace personally asking me not to carry the campaign further. Most of the anti-Sikh intellectuals recruited by our Universities either belong to the category of extreme loyalists or extreme Marxists on one side and Hindu fundamentalists on the other - who have as yet not entered the Punjabi literary field. There is no such thing as Dogmatic theology in Sikhism and whenever a fanatic group raises its head in Punjab the open-minded liberal saints and scholars put it down. Dr Noel Q. King asks a pertinent question: “It is still a puzzle why so few foreign scholars have devoted themselves to a study of Sikhism?” I will answer this question in the last Chapter of this book. Briefly stated, our religious leadership which controls religious and cultural institutions are not religious in any sense of the word. They are worst than the medieval Ab-bots of Europe who created a revolutionary situation like that of French Revolution. As politicians some of whom are excommunist card holders; both the illiterate and the rich buy prestige and popularity. They are the greatest enemies of intellectual activities who even obstruct publication of good Sikh religious literature.
Unfortunately Dr Hew McLeod is neither honest nor rational, nor reasonable and logical in his analysis of his-torical events, nor does he anywhere, in any of his books follow the minimum rules of academic ethics. He dismisses proven historical facts without refuting them. He com-pletely ignores the well-known facts and events and achieve-ments of the Sikhs in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Persian, Punjabi, Marathi and English docu-ments and goes to some later Janamsiikhi manuscripts of which we have over sixty different versions in our libraries. These are being analysed and published by young scholars. Some quite old manuscripts have already been published and they are conveniently ignored by Dr Hew McLeod. He looks for eighteenth century history not in piles of historical records available in many prestigious libraries and archives but in crude and colourfully designed Janamsakhis which is like preparing a conjectural Biography of Queen Victoria and political and cultural history of Victorian period from a seventeenth century manuscript of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”. This is exactly what he does in every book. Even the common read-ers see through his game and is disgusted with this game. He calls Janamsakhi, sacred scriptures. They are neither sacred, nor have they any place in scriptures. They are hagiographic documents, which have never been totally accepted by any scholar in the last four centuries.
Ninety-nine per cent of the Sikhs never read Janamsakhis because the most authentic material has been incorporated in early and present day Biographies of Guru Nanak. Professor Noel Q. King rightly comments: “Whatever Dr McLeod intended, many readers will ask his books the wrong questions and get the wrong answers. The books to an uninitiated reader seems to reiterate the notion that a great amount of such belief appears to be based on uncritical religiosity. The reader seeking the well-springs of what Sikhism will not be assisted. Nowhere in these books is there an attempt to tell what it is. The reader wishing to know about the heart of Sikhism will turn to these books and be offered a meticulously and exhaus-tively carried out drills in certain methods of Western criticism. Such reader’s desires and the purpose of the book differs. The reader will hardly be able to understand the true import of what is being said unless he or she possesses a background knowledge of the history of criti-cism.”19 In England all old and new publications on Sikhism printed in England or India are available in British Museum Library and other well maintained libraries. It is but natural that British or American scholars who do not go very deep into Sikh studies, have failed to study some of the most remarkable books on Sikhism by Puran Singh in the late twenties; and such books as Plato and the True Enlightener of the Soul (of Lugac and Co., 1912): a very scholarly comparative study between Platonism and Sikhism by Dharam Anant Singh who studied Greek philosophy in. Original Greek.5 Prof. Puran Singh’s works have been partly published by Punjabi University. It is Professor Puran Singh who made Whitman as popular in Punjabi 89 literature as he is in American literature. In his book “Wait Whitman and the Sikh Inspiration” he identifies the spiritual aestheticism of Wait Whitman with that of Guru Nanak-Guru Gobind Singh and admires, their attitude of :wonder, reverence, acceptance and love”, which keeps the eternal Light burning in the temple of their hearts.
“The poverty of American scholarship on Sikhism”, says Professor James R. Lewis, “is a self-perpetuating situ-ation that prevents an American school of studies from e,nerging.