«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 ...»
There is am pIe historical.evidence which conclusively proves that Kabir, Ravidas and Sena were Gur-bhais, brother, disciples of the same Guru, Ramananda. But Hew McLeod is in the habit of arrogantly denouncing and rejecting historical truths by merely,stating The tradi-tion that he was a disciple of Raman and must be rejected.” Why must it be rejected in the face of over-whelming evidence, he does not explain. But Hew McLeod believes that his readers will reject whatever he
says must be rejected. Towards the end of the book also he says:
“Having rejected the janam-Sakhi accounts we are once again reduced to assumptions and conjecture.” He rejects because he does not believe in honest academically sound historical research work arid an honest use of historical facts but he must lean on conjecture and assumption to built up his mumo-jumbo theories, of Nirgun Sant tradition of North India 139 with which Sikhism is not even remotely connected at all. All the leading authorities and scholars have accepted the historical fact that Ravidas, Kabir and Sena were disciples of Ramanand.
Bhaktamals of Nabhadas, Priyadas all Kabir Panthi Sampardayas and Ramanadi Sampardaya literature clearly state that Ramananda was Guru of Ravidas, Kabir and Sena.
The testimony of Bhai Gurdas who was sent by Guru Amar Das to Agra and Benaras during his life time, and probably had the opportunity to meet the direct disciples of Kabir, has.this to say about the spiritual relations of Ramananda, Kabir’and Senaand Ravidas.
Bhai Guidas says:
1. Ramananda the recluse and sarinyasi (Goswami)25 was living in Benaras the life of a devout hermit;
2. He rose up early every morning, and went to take his bath in the Ganges
3. Kabir lay prostrate on the steps of the river where the saint ‘was to come back after bathing.
4. When Ramanand’s feet touched young and tender Kabir
The saint lifted him, embraced him and said:
Repeat and recite “Ram Ram” : Say “Ram, Ram,” Thus he initiated Kabir,into the Name of God.
And accepted him, thereafter, as his disciple.
5. Just as a Philosopher’s stone which touches iron changes: it and transmutes it, into gold.
And sandalwood, tree by its touch makes the biger neem tree fragrant.
6. ‘So the Perfect Guru can transfigure human beings with animal and evil passions into illuminedangels with their touch.
7. A wondrous revelation enlightens the soul with wonderment.
The Sublime illumines and blends with the sublime.
8. Kabir’s soul thus blended with the Spirit of God.
Bhai Gurdas, Var 10, Pauri 15
to perform his court duties so perfectly that the ruler was immensely pleased. When Sena went to the court, instead of being reprimanded the ruler honoured him. “26 Bhai Gurdas adds: “It is only after Sena was accepted as a disciple, Ravidas the cobbler, who considered himself the lowliest of low in Benaras, approached Ramananda in utter humility and was accepted as his disciple. Ravidas and Dhanna were the youngest contemporaries of Kabir.” Hew McLeod considers Kabir “a complicated phase of’Sant tradition’ of his fantasy conception.
He does not accept Ramananda as his Guru. As usual he completely ignores the following eminent scholars of Kabir who have conclu-sively proved Ramananda to be the Guru of Kabir.
(1) Nabha Das : Bhaktmal, (2) Anantdas : Parichai, (3) Maulvi Ghulam Sarvar’s Khafinat-ul-Asfiyii, (4) Zulfiqar
Ardistani’s Dabistan-i-Mazahib (5) Maulvi Nasiruddin :
Tazkirul-Fukra (6) Priyadas : Bhaktirasbodhani, (7) Dr Hazari Prashad Dwedi, (8) Dr Ram Kumar Verma, (9) Dr Shyamsunder
Das, (10) Dr Barthwal, (11) P. Chaturvedi, (12) Dr Ramji Lall :
Kabir Darshan. Dr Vaudeville in her very scholarly introduction to her work on Kabir rightly says “Raman and appears as the sole ‘historical’ link be-tween Kabir and traditional Hinduism.
Dr Ram Kumar Verma, who had studied over 80 manuscripts of Kabir’s hymns rightly concludes that the hymns of Kabir in Guru Granth are the most authentic and oldest.27 Hew McLeod completely disregards these authorities. He accepts the theory that he belonged to the tantric caste and class; although he distances him from Nath yogis, he brings him closer to Tantric - Vaishnava-cults. The Sikh Gurus and all the saints including Kabir were strong opponents of Tantric cults, which they call Sakat Mat.
I met Dr Ram Kumar Verma twice in the sixties. Uptil then he was of the opinion that the hymns of Kabir in Guru Granth are the oldest and most authentic. I pointed out to him that many shlokas of Guru Nanak in which there was no signature line have been taken up as Kabir’s work.28 141 From all these irrelevant, self-contradictory and un-authenticated statements Hew McLeod jumps to his pre-conceived theory that Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas were Nirgun Sant and not Bhagats (Bhaktas), and Guru Nanak and his successors also were Nirgun Sants (saints) and not founders of Sikhism. He gives no evidence to prove this hypothesis either in this book or in his subsequent books where he goes on repeating his statements without ever proving any of his contentions. In his subsequent books he goes further in merely passing perversely insulting re-marks about successors of Guru Nanak by saying that the “teachings of Guru Nanak’s successors were not in accord with those of the founder of Sikhism.” His
repetitive state-ments are:
“Of these three contributors to Sant doctrines the least familiar is the Nath tradition. The stress on Nath antecedents should not imply that the Sants were mere imitators of Nath belief and practice. An outline of Guru Nanak’s system will show how closely its funda-mental features match the insistent emphasis of the Sant”.
pilgrimages.” Hew McLeod : Who is a Sikh, p. 7-8.
Not only Hew McLeod but his Batala-Berkley associates have made repetition of these unproved assertions as a matter of their organized campaign, like the Communists who hold a number of seminars along with their sympathisers only to loudly repeat their Marxist jargon. A number of papers read in a seminar organized in Berkley were published by this group.
Only members of this group and a few sympathisers were invited. The papers were published under the name “Sikh.Studies”. Dr Mark Juergensmeyer and Dr N. Gerald Barrier are strong activ-ists of this group. Without defining the word “tradition and Hinduism” they make a glib statement”. “If Sikhism is accepted as a religion vastly from, but similar to the Hindu tradition, then Sikhism vastly complicates our understand-ing of the traditions. The Sikh problem, then, becomes the Hindu problem; and rather than facing that the au-thors of text books dismiss Sikhism as syncreticism.,” Like Hew McLeod they try to fix it in Sant tradition.
Many eminents western scholars of Kabir have made notable contribution to Kabir”studies but without study- ing other monotheistic saints like Jayadeva, Ravidas, Namdev, sena, Pipa. They have been projecting their per-ceptions, ideas and notions about Kabir to other saints also. They have been applying terms and ideas to them which are not applicable.
No one in Bengal calls Jayadeva Sant Jayadeva. Even when Kabir refers to jayadeya and Namdev he does not address them as ‘Sant’ but calls them Bhakta (Bhagat) jayadeva and Bhagat Namdev.
Bharat excluding Bengal. He includes in his list Namdev of South India but not Sena, Trilochan from Maharashtra and Pipa from Central IndIa. But even a glance at Sikh scriptures presents complete refutation of Hew McLeod’s imaginary Santtradition which places Bhaktas and Bhakti tradition at a much lower level.
Throughout the Guru Granth, Guru Arjan gives cap-tions to the hymns of Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, Dhanna and others. He uses the word “Bhagat (Bhakta)” as an appellation of their spiritual status throughout the Guru Granth.
Nowehere is the word “Sant” used for them. Even when these saints refer to their predecessors, they address them as Bhagats and not as Sants. Nowhere in the writings of these Saints is the word Sant-mat used for their doc-trines. They call their discipline Bhakti (Bhagati) and con-sider the Bhagats far above ordinary Sants (saints).
In the beginning of the Raga from where Bhagat Bani begins,
a collective caption is generally given in Guru Granth :
1. Rag Asa Bani Bhagatait ki Kabir jio, Namdev jio, Ravidas jio.
Hymns of the Bhagats in Rag Asa Kabirji, Namdevji, Ravidasji 2. (a) Dhanasan Bani Bhagat Kabir ji ki Bani of Bhagat Kabir in Rag Dhanasari
Sholkas of Sheikh Farid The Bhatts did not belong to the Bhakti tradition. They were professional court-poets. They are addressed as Bhatts.
The Minstrels like Satta and Balwand were minsterls and singers of the durbar of the Gurus. They are addressed as Dooms (minstrels).
The theory of Hew McLeod and his Christian mis-sionary associates of Batala-Berkley that the Bhagats were idol worshippers and avatar worshippers while those who are known as Sants were worshippers of Absolute God becomes preposterous and ridiculous on the face of these glaring facts which conclusively prove that these medieval saints were addressed only as Bhagats and never as Sants. Ravidas pays homage to his predecessors: Jayadev, Namdev, Kabir and Sena and calls them Bhagats and never addresses them Sants.
Bhagat Dhanna tells us about his predecessor saints, Kabir, the low caste weaver, the down trodden Ravidas, the cobbler.
Sena, the barber, on hearing about whose achievements Dhanna the Jat took up Bhagati (Bhakti) “eh bidhi sunkai jatro uth Bhagati laga. (Bhagat Dhanna : Adi Guru Granth, Rag Asa, p. 488).
The word “Sant-mat” is not found in the hymns of Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas or any other Bhakta. Sheikh Farid was religious preceptor, a Pir of Chistiya silsila. It would have been incorrect to call him either a Sant or Bhakta, although present day Hindu scholars address him as Sant Farid, using the word in the sense of the English word “saint”.
Kabir called his sadhana (discipline and practice) Bhakti :
Kahu Kabir bhagati kar paya Bhole bhae mile raghu raya.
Kabir addresses in his hymns, holymen, seekers of God
and Truth as Sant : Keh kabir suno re santo, Says Kabir:
“Listen O Sants” Popular pious devotees are called Sant Jan Ravidas uses the word Sant for religious men who are holymen, and in the same verse addresses unholy and wicked men as asant. Kabir also uses the word Sant (holy- saintly)
and asant (unholy, sinner) in the following verse:
Sant milai kichh suniai kahiai miliai asant mast kar rahiai
On meeting the sant (saint) one shouid talk to him and hear him, 146
If one meets an asant, sinner and unholyman One should remain silent.
A.G. Kabir, Gond, I In the face of all these clearly visible facts to call the Sikh Gurus “Sant” is an absurdity of the extreme type. The following are the additional facts which makes this theory of Hew McLeod dubbing Guru Nanak and his successors “Sant”, as he interprets the word, fantastic and ludicrous.
In all their hundreds of hymns Guru Nanak and Guru Amar Das have used the word sant only twice or thrice. Guru Nanak uses the word “Sant-sabha” only for a gathering of saints, twice, so far as I know. When Guru Nank uses the word “Sant sabha” for an assembly of Nath-panthi yogis with whom he held his dialogue recorded by him in “SiddhaGosht”, the yogis in turn call Guru Nanak an “Avadhut”.
The words Sant here stands for Nathpanthi holyman.
The word Sant-mat or Sant-parampara (sant tradition) are not used by any Guru in Guru Granth. The fourth, fifth and ninth Gurus addressed “Saints” of Sikh history as “Sadh” or Sant, and the character of a Sadh or Sant in Sikh tradition is described in many hymns.
Many words are used for “Saints” of different creeds in north India such as sheikh, dervish, bhagauti, aparas, sadh, giani, swami, mahapurush. All these words are re-defined in the light of Sikh doctrines by the Sikh Gurus in Guru Granth.
In the same way many attributive Names of Deities like Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva like Madu Sudhan, Shiva, Vasudeva are reinterpreted and redefined as attributive names of Ultimate Reality, God. The consciously calculated and academically organized campaign to upgrade the “Sants” and downgrade the Bhagats, and identify “Sants” with Sikh Prophets is based only on fantasy whims and conjectural assumptions of Hew McLeod and his group. He has made these unsubstantiated ‘clumsy theories a weapon to demean Sikhism, Sikh Prophets and distort Sikh doctrines and history. But such campaigns 147 based entirely on malicious missionary prejudices, hostile and malafide intention can no doubt attract the enemies and vile critics of Sikhs and Sikhism, and perhaps some for-eigners who are completely ignorant of Sikhism, but their glamorous structure based on falsehood and mischievous distortions cannot last long. It will completely collapse in the face of irrefutable facts and truth of Sikhism.
Sikhism is proud of the fact that it shares many mys-tical experiences with the highest spiritual achievements of orthodox Muslims and Sufi dervishes like Sheikh Farid and the great achievements in this field of Ramanand, Jayadev, Kabir, Ravidas, Namdev and other mystics, but Sikhism does not accept their earlier religious practices and modes of worship.
But Guru Nanak and his successors go far beyond these great saints. These saints were neither able to pre-serve the authentic core of their mystical experiences and teachings, nor find a successor of their own spiritual sta-tus; nor were they able to organize their followers into a religious organization which could uphold and systemtize their teachings. Most of their disciples have preserved their earlier teachings against which they had virtually turned their back.