A Fresh Perspective On Sikhi: An Interview With Avtar (Interview conducted and compiled by Preeti Kaur)
You are a very cheerful, chic and colourful person, yet a pura Gursikh – that’s a very rare commodity in Sikhi. What is your background?
I was born in Kenya into a Gursikh household. Sant Hari Singh of Kaharpur, District Hoshiarpur, gave me as a blessing to my Bapuji. Upon my birth, Bapuji installed Sri Guru Granth Sahibji in the largest room of our house. From then, until his death, he slept on the floor of the room in which the Saroop was parkash. When he came to England, the first item he brought with him was that same Gurusaroop. Therefore, you see, I have always maintained that before making the decision to take amrit every Sikh household must use the largest upper-storey room for Gurusaroop and must do seva at home. It’s crucial that the children of the house observe and participate in this, and become an integral part of this culture, so they don’t feel isolated or ‘apart’ from their own identity.
The second most important thing Bapuji did was to put me under the tutelage of a very elegant Hindu Svami who, it turned out, was a prince that had left his privileged position. This Svami was master of two of the main nine schools of Hinduism. He also had a double doctorate in medicine and law via a European education system. His first words to me were ‘you are more fortunate than I, because you were born into and retain, whilst living in England, your Sikhi roop; and though I am much senior to you in metaphysics, I have the misfortune of not being born as a Sikh. If you are to learn from me then it is on the absolute agreement that you will never forsake you Sikhi roop’. I never have. I even rejected marriage proposals because the girls’ parents wanted me, their son-in-law, to drink, trim my beard and eat meat. I refused to do any of the three. Therefore, I never married.
In any case, via Svamiji I met and then began to advise leading figures on appropriate topics. I was also pivotal in establishing the Hindu faith’s presence in many European and American cities and towns. In time, this presence will pave the way for the re-introduction of Sikhi back into the mainstream European psyche. My education also meant I had to have in-depth contact with advanced metaphysical personages of all faiths, in order for which dialogue and interaction – and test of progression of my metaphysical abilities – to take place, I had to master in-depth knowledge of the major scriptures.
What were the most telling lessons you learned from this association with advanced metaphysical persons?
Never to quote stanzas from scriptures just to make a point. The stanzas within the scriptures are sacred. They are personal to you and your own development and their meaning will evolve and transform as you grow and develop. To quote scriptural stanzas during discourse is to quote nothing more than what you understand those stanzas to mean at that moment in time, in that specific context. You are crystallizing the sacred, shoehorning it into a definitional cul-de-sac… and by the time you’ve done it, uttered the sacred stanza, its meaning for you will already have changed. The lesson is that your relationship with the sacred is processual, dynamic.
I also learned that those outside Sikhi are truly envious of the unity they perceive as existing among us Sikhs. Now, it’s true that the faithful in all faiths bicker, argue and participate in generational feuds; but sadly, we are undermining our own positive PR and brand reputation. The three (now two) Sikh television channels in the UK portray nothing other than grey-bearded men exchanging angry volleys with anyone who dares to hold an opposing view. I personally wish the Sikhs had never secured the open forum provided by television through which to make fools of themselves. Mind you, I also pray to Waheguru that they learn to hold a civil tongue and leave the vitriol for off-camera discussions.
We are as a community very new to this media format, and it is to be expected that we revel in the opportunities it provides us to air our grievances – even at each other. But it is to be sincerely hoped that once the initial excitement wears off, once we are done with using television as an outlet for that much-vaunted phrase “freedom of expression”, then the calmer elements and individuals of the community can take centre-stage and present Sikhi in its true colours: as a commonwealth of views – within which all opinions are aired with mutual respect – undergirded by one shared mindset.
For my own part, I never engage in debates such as those we witness on the Sikh television channels. My method is to contact the influential person(s) regarding any given matter in a personal, private and humane way – and to express a concern and advocate a way forward. I achieve so much this way that is simply out of reach of those who mire themselves in committee discussions and elaborate debates.
Sikhs have forgotten the simple declaration set in motion by Guru Nanakdevji: a Sikh is an analyser, scrutinizer and improver of whatever is placed before them. So, my assessment of a point differs vastly from the run-of-the-mill Sadh, Sant or Svami. For example, doctorate-holders and professors are primarily information-gatherers unable to disseminate knowledge (beyond exchanging information with their academic counterparts). All my life, I have challenged these ‘experts’ – and successfully so, because their forte is that of information gathering. Therefore, you could say that I see matters very differently from others.
Can you begin by giving me a brief assessment of the status and treatment of Sikhs historically in India, as you see it?
In 1850’s, the British rulers in India stoked public dissent and then went on to forcefully put it down: during June of that year, an estimated 10,000 people were hung from trees, telegraph poles and any other natural or man-made device that appeared fit for the purpose of massacre. More than 97% of them were Sikhs. And the ostensible reason for this erstwhile show of British dominance? An Indian had dared to walk along the shady side of an avenue housing Englishmen! This incident had nothing to do with the Indian Mutiny.
It was not the first time, nor the last, that Sikhs would be used as cannon-fodder by a British empire entering its last century of ill-gotten power. Jawalan Bagh is another state-managed incident of Sikh slaughter that comes immediately to mind. Pre-independence Sikhs made their representations truthfully and honorably but the duplicitous, cunning, deceitful power-brokers of England and representatives of India and Pakistan impressed upon the Sikhs that a minority could not form a ruling government as such a template did not exist anywhere in the world. The Sikhs knew they were being lied to, as Israel was in the process of being declared a sovereign state where the minority ruled the majority, but they aligned themselves to the ‘Hukam’ of Waheguru since ardas at Harmandir Sahib had been done to accept the prevailing resolution and its outcome.
Whether we assess this decision in terms of accepting the inevitable or following ‘Hukam’, the bloodshed that followed the division of our country was once again paid mostly in Sikh blood. It was just another exercise, by a ruling power that had already calculated the likely outcome – massacre of Sikhs – of spreading misinformation and generating as much confusion and mayhem as possible during partition. The British managed this massacre fantastically. Their fear was that if India were not split along religious lines then a unified India incorporating Sikhs, Pathans, Gurkha, and Rajputs would be able, within a few generations, to successfully challenge the dominance of any European power. Their strategy, therefore, was to target India’s most successful and focused ethnic culture during participation in order to strangle the opportunity for unity. The Sikh ethnie was the natural target back then, and became so again in 1984 – an episode that more than any other in our long history of repression reigns supreme in Sikh collective memory.
What lies behind the recurring repression, abuse and massacre of Sikhs?
What is common to the incidents mentioned above is a template for governance whose very success in enabling long-term autocratic rule has caused it to be enacted ad nausuem by rulers throughout history. That template involves a none-too-subtle game of conflict-brokering: whether it be internal ethnic friction or war with supposed foreign oppressors, such conflict draws peoples attention away from the domestic policies of oppression and repression that they might otherwise agitate against, away from the fact of ineffective government that is staring them in the face.
The Sikh Raj is one of only two instances of governance, in recent history, which broke with the traditional template and furthermore was based on neither slavery nor the dictatorship-through-consent that is emblematic of the ‘free’ western world. The other instance, also provided by India, stretches farther back into history and was lauded as far away as Siberia and eastern Europe.
I’d like to explore the link between what you call the ‘dominant governance template’ – and its interplay of manipulation and repression as a means to achieve total State control – and the events of 1984, which remain possibly the single most evocative source of collective Sikh memory and pain.
European readers are quick to cite the prescience of George Orwell’s “1984” when assessing the rise of the autocratic State in modern decades. But what that book laid out was based not on the author’s uncanny ability to see into the future, rather his ability to portray in literary form what governance is and has always been about: namely, sustaining total State control via oppression of its people. The events of 1984 reveal the extent to which the dominant governance template, particularly the linkages between power and oppression, have shaped our Sikh history.
Without detracting from the personal and collective tragedies that are immediately called to mind when we speak of 1984, it is irrefutable that 1984 was a stage-managed event by the then ruling government of India to assert its dominance and use its massacre of Sikhs as its calling card. It did so with the aid of the country’s security apparatus; and of course, with the full knowledge of western powers, which, true to form, provided undercover support and arms to both sides in the conflict.
Look beyond Sikh history and we can find the western powers indulging in the same game of manipulation and hypocrisy in relation to other communities and conflicts – Sri Lanka is one. On one hand the west granted asylum to victims of violence in the Sri Lanka conflict, while on the other it maintained and entertained ties with the Sri Lankan government – meanwhile, it supplied arms to both sides. The result – the west secured and retained the emotional subordinate attachment of both sides in the Sri Lanka conflict. Brilliant!
The outcomes of 1984 followed a blueprint established by the British and other Europeans during the centuries of their rapacious colonizing: create conflict; encourage agitation against the rulers; suppress and demonise the agitators, and remind people that the power of the State is absolute! In 1984, therefore, the State’s choice of armour, the positioning of its troops, and even the type and number of rounds those troops fired in any given town or city was predetermined and followed the blueprint provided by the British.
Thus, 1984 was an example of the time-old, cyclic devices the State uses to cement its power.
In a slightly different configuration of the power-conflict relationship, the State sometimes seeks to generate conflict with foreign states (as the British have done in Iraq and Afghanistan) in order to bind and blind its own people: bind them in support of war and blind them to the need to agitate against their government’s oppression of its own citizens. In yet another configuration, as in the South Pacific archipelago of Fiji, it will incite conflict, even violence, among constituent communities at home, and manage that conflict to suit its own power agenda.
Moreover, if we examine the current 2011 English riots it is blatant how the United Kingdom security apparatus totally manufactured, gave out misinformation about a bullet lodged in a police officer’s radio during the gun attack and murder of an innocent Afro-Caribbean man in Tottenham north London by the police to justify his murder. The first bullet, we are expected to accept, was fired by the black man and lodged itself in one of the police officer’s radios. Hence, another police officer shot the black man dead. It later emerged that the dead man had not in fact fired his gun; and it became necessary to explain that the bullet lodged in one of the police officer’s radios was in fact a result of the other police officer taking aim at the victim, whereupon the bullet went through him and was caught in the radio.
It’s curious, is it not, that in order to cover up the initial lie which so angered the victim’s family and his community and people across the country, the police presented an alternative scenario that flouts completely a cardinal police rule: not to discharge your weapon unless you have a clean line of sight, certainly not if the bullet may go clean through the intended victim and into a colleague or anybody else. In reality, the bullet was already lodged in the police officer’s radio before the standoff with, and premeditated murder of, Mark Duggan took place.
And what of the subsequent riots themselves? Let us remember that the threatened police cuts had not yet taken place, and that the riots began not on the busy weekend but early in the week – both of which give the lie to the police statement that the force was short on numbers to deal with the riots. Repeatedly, we witnessed footage of police drawing back from the rioters, giving them space and time to carry out their attacks on homes and businesses, and ultimately to kill three men who stood to protect their community.
This is not the action of a police force threatened by a large group of hooded youths; it is the action of a police force with footholds in the criminal world contriving to escalate the rioting. They even aided and abetted the rioters: standing back and grinning at each other, and providing a protective cordon around the youths who set fire to a white Dhillons catering van in the middle of a road in West Bromwich. The footage, filmed by a Sikh television channel, illustrated for all to see how the state’s security apparatus aided and abetted rioting.
The primary reason for this violence illustrates the extent the United Kingdom police force is prepared to go in conniving from the Treasury and the Home Secretary to effect only negligible reduction in the police force’s budget.
The security apparatus of every country sets the parameters within which its governance operates. For example, the police of an isolated state like Britain have the power to put an end to drugs in this country. But they won’t. If it were to do so, it loses its own lucrative funding and generous pension package. Thus, it works in tandem with the criminal element to oil the machinery to maintain its own financial package. Fractures within the criminal fraternity provide a police force with scope for ongoing arrests and prosecutions to maintain its fictitious role as protector of the state.
Although, if for reasons relating to its own PR, the police finds it efficacious to disassemble any given criminal fraternity it can and does so, in a manner befitting any well-coordinated state security apparatus. Hence, there is a tried-and-tested governance template that can be applied to any country. It is European and often Anglo-Saxon in origin and features, and is designed to maintain a system of law and order advantageous to the state’s security apparatus rather than to the citizen.
Despite the totality of state power, in the form of the unassailable power of a state’s security apparatus, is the energy and anger of those who fight against, as the Sikhs did in 1984, not a positive thing?
Close to three decades after the event, it is claimed that Sikh individuals involved in 1984 continue to languish in prison. In the UK, Sardaar K. S, Chahal – enthused by firebrands during a visit to India, where he was subsequently a victim of torture, was thrown into a British prison for six years without charge, immediately following his return to this county. The firebrands behind Chahal’s eventual imprisonment, and that of many others, spoke forcefully from stages in the US and UK about the need to fight. Their passion and anger was taken up by any number of Sikhs who went willingly to join the fight in India, bulwarked by promises of financial assistance in their efforts to create an independent media in India, to implement grassroots education, and to agitate for separate Statehood.
Reality, as experienced by Sardaar Chahal, was that those with financial clout – never mind the community at large – never delivered on the promise of assistance: the sad fact is that Chahal’s wife received nothing more than lip service in the way of assistance during the first few months of his imprisonment, and thereafter, not even that. Only one person was dedicated to Chahals release throughout and they almost lost the family business through their dedication.
Fast forward to August 2011, and the insults extended to the Sri Guru Granth Sahibji in Panjab. This is not, as some would have it, an internal community-rooted problem. Rather, it is the latest instalment of the Government of India and its security forces partners’ plans to ignite a Sikh conflict which it can then smash, in order to drive home the old message – yes, among Sikhs, but really to all constituent communities in India that want self-rule – that you had better bow down and tow the government’s line. As ever, the lesson to be imparted is that of peoples’ subjugation.
If I understand correctly, you’re heading towards the statement that in order for the cycle of Sikh repression – and let’s be brutal about it, our eventual annihilation – to stop, we need to rethink how we Sikhs set about defining and enacting our role as warriors vis-à-vis totalitarian State power?
Indeed, the stage is set for a new generation to participate in the cycle of government incitement to conflict, community anger, and bloodshed of innocents of which 1984 was a part… the questions facing us are: How shall we Sikhs play out our role as the eternal ‘cannon-fodder’ this time around? Do we have alternative methods of articulating ourselves and therefore avenging State repression? Is there a better way to achieve our aims, without accepting that bloodshed is a necessary component of that?
What are our options? How can Sikhs achieve freedom from the cycle of repression and massacre, once and for all?
There are three options, all of them grounded in three very different types of intelligence. Which option do we choose this time around: The one that advocates commonsense? The one rooted in a certain low-level educational intelligence? Or shall we plump for the role shaped by refined academic intelligence?
To give our choice some historical mooring, let us consider that the fall of the Sikh Raj was predicated on the application of commonsense; and that 1984 was the child of redactive commonsense and education intelligence. Times are different now, and the tools at our disposal are too: consider that in 2011 we have an independent, user-driven, electronic media with a massive potential for emotional outreach that although embryonic (in terms of human potential for technology) is nevertheless a rather impressive powerhouse.
Is the media, and social media particularly, really the way forward? I can see how it replicates (in a peculiarly twenty-first century way), the success the Muslims have had in creating the notion of ‘ummah’ (pan-Islamic unity), but will this stop the desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahibji in an isolated village in India?
You have anticipated what I was going on to say: which is, that before we embrace twenty-first century technology as the medium through which to break Sikh shackles, we would do well to remember that the State has already assessed its uses, and will already be devising strategies to utilize this medium of communication for its own end and to defeat freedom-fighters like the Sikhs.
The State has already anticipated the internet and social media’s influence in aiding mass mobilisation; it has already tested the capabilities and limitations of the ‘free’ Sikh media that is the basis for our modern-day outreach to diasporic Sikh communities across the globe; and by tactically playing out the removal of a Sikh’s turban on the global media stage, it has been able to analyse the Sikh community’s response to this as well and that of global media. Knowledge like this is priceless. So, my point is that we need to be intelligent about how we use twenty-first century resources, because you can be sure that our oppressors are using them too!
Can you expand on the options you defined above as being based on commonsense, limited educational intelligence and refined academic intelligence?
The recent insult to the Sri Guru Granth Sahibji has to be understood as an event engineered by the State to incite armed Sikh agitation, which it will allow to forment before crushing the Sikhs once again. It is nothing more than an exercise for the State, one more act in its stage-managed play that will result in our very own ‘final solution’.
Supposing that this time we accept that we are being manipulated in the tried-and-tested way, then unlike the fall of the Sikh Raj and 1984 perhaps this time we ought to resort to using our third gambit: that of refined academic intelligence, in order to counter or circumvent the insults so readily being extended to us.
Whereas the commonsense and limited education intelligence approaches tell us respectively to shrug and bow down to the inevitable, and to take an impassioned, brawn-over-brain stance, refined academic intelligence seeks a third way.
It demands that we improvise upon the format and medium favoured by our oppressors to articulate and stage our own fight. What’s the format and medium that our oppressors favour? Deceit. Cunning. Manipulation. All cloaked by a veil of innocent paternalism. I’m not advocating that we resort to those tactics or sink as low as the State does. But we do need to understand the full arsenal of tactics used by our oppressors, and based on that holistic-political understanding emerges a holistic-political approach to ending the role of Sikhs as pawns in the game of domination that government is intent on playing.
What precisely does this holistic-political – refined academic intelligence – approach entail?
I pleaded from 1981 onwards that we, the Sikhs, should engage all the states of India in a shared aspiration for self-rule while maintaining federal fiscal, defence and foreign policy and establishing a common national language (Sanskrit or Hindi) that once and for all displaces the continuing dominance of a colonial language. Within this federal system, all states would be empowered to enshrine their own culture, language, history and heritage.
I was the sole voice insisting that we need to unify ‘our’ Aryadesh (noble land), the original name of Bharat before it was renamed India, given that we Sikhs are a part of the original Arya (Noble) people, by bringing both Pakistan and Bangladesh back into our fold. And that following this, the governance of Bharat should be chaired by all its ethnic states in a revolving eight-month duration. This is not as difficult as it sounds.
If the pre- independence map of Bharat is superimposed on Europe it would stretch from Iceland to Moscow and from north of Scandinavia to the north of Africa. This shows how large-scale a problem we have in the multitude of races, languages, cultures, heritages, history, morality and ethics – a complexity far greater than that of present-day Europe and its flailing attempt to cobble together the unity requisite to be a major economic power, and a diversity that we can make work and have made work before.
Consider for instance that Aryadesh, as it once was, included Afghanistan as well as Burma, and was the imperial power as far as Vietnam and most of the Pacific. It was the power bloc that most of Eastern Europe looked to for guidance also. In ancient literature ranging from eastern Siberia and Scandinavia to ancient oral traditions of Africa, Aryadesh is acknowledged and lauded.
Don’t forget in all of this that the combined populations of North America, Europe, the former USSR, Australia and New Zealand are less than the population of present India. Thus, we are a major power and await only the combination of our energies with those of Pakistan and Bangladesh to resume the absolute – and peaceful – authority over the globe we once had.
Ofcourse, I wasn’t listened to back then. However, mark my words: one day that unity will come. And our land and people will once again be called the Noble people from the Noble land. It was Aryadesh that devised Sanskrit and disseminated it globally: Sanskrit names abound in the names of rivers, valleys, mountain ranges, and towns all over the world. Even the word ‘Sikh’ is found in many of the north European languages, just as the words ‘Avatar’ and ‘kaka’ exist in both European and oriental languages. Though in most cases the meaning has changed, the words themselves continue to be spoken and pronounced in line with the rules laid down by Sanskrit.
Therefore, when a Hindu announces that Sanskrit is his ancient language he is lying. It is my ancestral language. Hindu came from me and my ancestral race, not the other way around. My race’s name may indeed be Sikh now but I am a very ancient race and I emanate from the Noble land. Thus, India belongs to me first, then to the Hindu. In fact, Hindu is not even a religion or a race. Hindu is a ‘tag’ only. A tag that has gained respectability for sure, but a tag nonetheless. I challenge any Hindu to prove that Hindu is a religion and indeed a race.
Ethnicity is a force de majeur in the post-colonial world, often traced back (a little lazily, it must be said) to the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. When ethnicity is such a potent and viable means of organisation and identity, how then can the ethnies of almost an entire continent be refused right to organize and regulate themselves along ethnic lines on the basis of their shared language, territory, culture and origins.
Of course, all my arguments fell on deaf ears back then. In 1984, the firebrands carried the day, and understandably so given that mass mobilization on the basis of shared self-identity fires up the emotions in a powerful way. Perversely, though – and this too is characteristic of the rules of the mass mobilization game – the firebrands fired everybody else up and then returned to the luxury of their western lives. They and their families emerged from 1984 unscathed, while innocents in India lost their lives and their families continue to suffer to this day.
Mobilising people to agitate in the streets and take up arms will not work for us, in India. I agree that it has a very visual impact – think of the demonstrations in the UK against the war in Iraq and more recently against government cuts, but neither of these demonstrations resulted in policy reversal. We had a voice, we used it, and politics carried on without a second’s thought for what we had to say.
We need a different approach, much like the one that I advocated some thirty years ago, and which was used by the Sikh Gurujis as their primary tool of engagement. Yes, we need a fully armed, officially trained corp that can impart its knowledge to the masses as ongoing information for the community’s safety and protection; but this must be developed alongside the use of refined academic intelligence.
So what is a refined academic intelligence and what are its advantages? As I stated earlier, refined academic intelligence recognizes that the rules of the game, the game itself, are defined by one’s opponents and are stacked up in their favour. The trick is to rearrange those rules to suit one’s own strengths. In this instance, it would work in several panzer style, double-pronged attacks and relate to (i) fighting for independent, culturally nuanced constitutions that make sense to the lives and ethos of the people they’re developed for; and (ii) fighting fire with water…
Why is it so important to focus our attention on constitution-building? How will this assist us in ending the cycle of Sikh oppression?
Firstly, I propose that in every Gurdwara we should have a copy of the constitutions of India, Sweden, France, Israel, Japan and the USA, since 99% of countries around the world use the European template constitutions as the basis for their own. How many of us know the tangible aspects of each of these documents, which essentially control our lives? Very few of us, if any at all; we have no knowledge of their content other than what we are told by experts, whom we trust on faith.
The conundrum for we Sikhs, like so many non-western civilizations maintaining their cultural heritage whilst living in the West, is how to anchor that distinct cultural heritage to an alien Western ethos. And therein lies the crux of the problem: the imperative to make two irreconcilable things coexist. We are constantly mired in the need to present ourselves as having a good balance of East and West… ever hear a European struggling with the need to maintain a balanced West-East lifestyle? No, because it is the non-Europeans who are bullied to ‘civilise’ themselves and prove themselves and manage a contradictory and confusing balance of lifestyles as a test of their humanness.
If we follow in Gurujis’ steps, we the Sikhs are capable of freeing not just ourselves, but the pan-non-European community and all non-European states from constitutions that are utterly redundant in the face of their cultural norms (and, it must be said, their cultural ‘flux’)…. We the Sikhs can bring much needed peace to the citizens of non-European states: Sikh-led freedom for all the states of Africa from the slavery of an irrelevant, meaningless, alien document is within our grasp.
The challenge – and it’s no small one – is that we must continue to operate within the laws of the land as they stand. And in the context of the recent abuse of Sri Guru Granth Sahibji in Panjab, this means that we have to make representations to the current powers-that-be in India. The key difference from 1984 is that we refrain from taking the bait and leading ourselves and plenty of innocents into an unwinnable physical war, as we did almost thirty years ago, and avoid our role in reproducing the same conflict – albeit slightly reconfigured for the times – generation after generation after generation.
Let’s use our western freedoms and our position here to launch the freedom of ethnic groups globally. Let’s lead the war on behalf of the silent majority of the dispossessed through academia, where state security apparatus’ are by-and-large powerless to intervene.
We will achieve a bloodless victory globally.
I have witnessed many a killing in my life: in East Africa; in the wars between China, India and Pakistan; in Eastern Europe. The wars were cultural but were fought over alien constitutions that applied in no good measure to either of the warring sides.
If we develop an Indian constitution that is free of all European imprints, then we safeguard the wealth that is India’s mind and spiritual psyche. How on earth is the Indian security apparatus going to silence Sikh input into human history then?
Future is an organic entity. In changing history, we shape the future. Future demands a ‘thinking outside the box’ attitude. Look at simple things like football. We can evolve its rules to suit today’s market and mental attitude. The list below is one we could introduce to the game through our gurdwara teams label as Gurdwara Football Association Rules:
- Remove the offside rule
- If a foul is committed in the defending half by the defence, then only one defender plus the goalkeeper faces three attackers until a goal is scored or the play results in a dead ball
- Winning a fourth corner automatically converts into a penalty
- When a corner is won the only players allowed to be involved are three defenders and the goalkeeper against up to eight members of the attacking team
- Committing a foul results in that player and another from the same team (nominated by the opposing team, and excluding the goalkeeper) being sent off the field of play for ten minutes
- A red card results in the offending player being sent off permanently and another of his teammates (as nominated by the opposing team) being sent off for fifteen minutes
What I propose will bring the fun back into football… and probably a lot more than the measly 1 -3 goals that we watch being scored in an average match, as well as a return of more technically advanced play. For, we must remember that football is basically a cardiovascular exercise for the players, and a channel of relaxation for spectators. The English attitude to football is – curiously – one of war. They call it a “man’s game” – meaning it is inherently connected with violence and intimidation. No. Football is a game to exercise the heart, lungs, mind and various groups of other muscles of the body. It is not war.
But reverting to the matter at hand.
Abdali Shah silenced the Sikhs for a while but he could not silence the written Sikh ethos. The sword can kill the writer but not the Word. Living in a free country as we do, we must accept its advantages as a gift from the Gurujis and utilize these to produce work that will be replicated globally for the benefit of all humanity.
And what do you mean by fighting fire with water – which is the second in your proposed two-pronged offensive against Sikh repression?
The second in the double-pronged attack that I advocate is this: if one Sikh’s turban is forcefully removed, I want five Sikhs to adopt the full image of the Sikh here in the ‘free’ west. If five Gurusaroops are desecrated, I want ten handwritten copies to replace them. That’s why I call it fighting fire with water. Fighting fire with fire is easy but achieves nothing: you enter a cycle of repression, retaliation, greater repression, increased retaliation. But think about this: It’s water that gives me sustenance in a desert, it’s water that allows things to grow and multiply. If we are abused or insulted, we multiply the sheer number of us that there are to abuse and insult. It really is as elegantly simple as that.
The holistic-political approach you talk about as the path to ending Sikh repression is seemingly simple and elegant, as you say. But why aren’t you speaking in terms of values that resonate more easily with people like me who were born and live in the west, such as democracy?
The problem we all face, and I’m talking about all non-European residents of the European world, is that western parameters have come to define the sole terms of our existence and value. We are brainwashed into supporting a contrived, constrained, and confusing ‘ideology’ called democracy. Marketed as something that grants freedom, equality and a voice for all, democracy is nothing more than a commercial behemoth that beguiles the masses, through unfulfilled and unfulfulling promises of freedom and equality – and more importantly, through controlled financial independence – to collude in amassing untold wealth for the small minority: power-wielders, which in the modern world, means the heads of multinational conglomerates.
The vanguards of the so-called democratic enterprise have successfully created a gulf that pits ethics and morality against personal selfish interest, to the glory of the latter. The individual gets dispensation to exist so long as (s)he does so within the straitjacketed parameters set and regulated by a partnership of the State and conglomerates.
Today, more than ever, the citizen is a prisoner of the State-Conglomerate. Your every movement is traced. You are no longer a name, nor even a number. You’re just a cog, a part of the machinery engineered to produce ever-increasing profits for the State-Conglomerate. This is western democracy. So, when you talk about democracy as a value that resonates with we non-Europeans resident in the west, you’re really talking about a machine that eats you up and spits you out. You’re talking about a tactic, a device, a mechanism that beguiles us with sweet-talking nonsense into prostituting ourselves for the enjoyment and ultimate gain of the State-Conglomerate.
Holistic-political Politics is a different proposition altogether. It takes the ethos of Dharma, a realisation too far advanced for the European psyche to understand, and evolves this into a political system that harmonises with both the natural environment and evolving human awareness. Thus, the individual is the cornerstone of the community. The pace of commercial growth occurs in tandem with the needs of the collective as long as it does not transgress against nature. Inner wellbeing takes precedence over the accruement of material glitter. Disease is limited and containable. Wealth is measured in terms of achieving balance between one’s physical prowess and inner sublimity.
Technology, likewise, is of a constitutively different order, advancing beyond anything that the European psyche can grasp and humanely deal with, and it does so without poisoning the natural or human environments: for example, a wealth of knowledge of advanced space travel is detailed in our ancient scriptures, as is information about fuel systems that will propel a craft to our nearest star within an hour or so. Share even an iota of this knowledge with the western world, and technology is wrenched from the imperative of harmonious development and aligned to the goal of wielding power through subjugation of our people; hence, missiles, warheads and germ warfare.
This is a far cry from Dharmic technology whereby we travel out into the cosmic worlds peacefully. All non-European races are equipped to live in this style. The problem is that nobody has thus far come forward to rewrite the communal template that draws out and celebrates the inner self instead of greed and selfishness. So, you see, western democracy is the antithesis of a balanced, aligned, harmonious and dharmic holistic-political-political way of being.
Just look at how western democracy has invaded our places of worship. We’re obliged to hold commercial elections rather than nominating selfless persons to act as out stalwarts. Health and safety regulations are commanding how and where we prepare and cook our GurKaLangar. Deg, the embodiment of Guru’s essence, is regulated by health and safety protocol. What next? Will the Europeans rewrite our Guru Granth Sahibji for us? Will our fear of the health detriments of certain foodstuffs, as prescribed by the Europeans, lead us to bow to the Guruji whose essence we implore to invest our Deg, and then turn our back on the grace that is proffered by Guruji in the form of Deg by accepting only the merest morsel because we fear contagion? Such are the blindness’s we have already begun embracing as our future Sikhi. Yet, woe betide the stranger who desecrates our scriptures?!
The irony and sheer hypocrisy is painful. We have become collective assailants of our own Dharma, demoting it to merely a religion. Which begs the question: what gives us the right to rise in anger when somebody throws our scriptures into water along with alcohol?
We know we have the right to feel anger, inside ourselves, at such desecration. But we sabotage our right to express it, to counter it through action. A case in point is presented by the issues of the dastaar and kirpaan: we complain about our dastaars being removed by airport security personnel, but we failed to stand steadfast in our representation to Britain and later the United Nations about why our kirpaans must have nine-inch long blades… The progressive chipping away of our faith is par for the course among European powers, but why do we have to collude in it? Because, we have come to blindly cherish the spectre of democracy – with its lure of small-time wealth, passing media fame (and infamy), and the carte blanche it gives us and our children to blow small fortunes on irresponsible commercial ventures and divorce settlements.
Today, a Sikh never acknowledges a fellow Sikh on the road unless they belong to the same caste/Gurdwara. And it is we, the Sikhs, who seek an independent state – why? How are we going to treat each other any differently, any better in our own independent state than we already do? The illusion of freedom is always sweeter than reality. Actual freedom entails acting responsibly for, and towards, others before yourself; it’s when somebody takes care of you without being asked; how many Sikhs among us have gone to assist a fellow Sikh at our own cost, upon hearing their problem? Not many. So, what really is the use of an independent state – so that we can continue to abuse our own people but in the luxury of a place that we can call our own and in which we can wield unyielding power; so that we can go on to oppress our own people the way our current oppressors do?
Sikho, it is not an independent State that will alleviate your suffering at the hands of the current State powers. It is you looking after another Sikh’s interest that will go some way towards alleviating your suffering. Living in this ‘free’ west we gleefully celebrate fellow Sikhs’ misfortunes – what makes you think that having gained independence you are going to care for each other any more than you do now? Panjab is governed by elected Panjabi Sikh… what boons have they given to the disenfranchised Sikhs of Panjab? None whatsoever. That too will be the reality of your own independent state. Self-interest will reign supreme, and everybody else can go to hell… but, hey, at least it will be an independent Sikh hell.
Many will have a negative reaction to what I’ve just said, but we all know it’s true. We all know that we’re adept, in the way of the western world, of talking about supporting each other, but turning our backs at the very moment we need to deliver on that promise. Of course there are instances when mutual support is provided, but it’s not the norm; and quite frankly, securing an independent Sikh state will not magically transform us all into model co-responsible citizens.
It is time for we Sikhs to act like a nation, to make ourselves worthy of being a nation and of having a state of our own: we must transform ourselves now; we must start living our current lives in the ‘free’ west on the basis of our own precepts, and central to these must be the joyful imperative of supporting one another without judgement or precondition.
We can’t sit on the fence anymore, take our ‘blending’ of east and west to inexplicable degrees of confusion: on one hand we are quick to condemn an act and assign responsibility, on the other hand we announce that everything that happens in predestined. Which is it? On one hand lies self-power, on the other is Hukam. Do you want to dream of a utopian state, or do you accept Hukam as a totality? Judgement begets evil, while reflection on the totality of all things sees humanity as one and opens the eyes to different ways of attaining your desired end.
You’ve raised a really interesting point about the different ways in which we can view the recent desecration of Sri Guru Granth Sahibji, and how these offer us crucially distinct ways of dealing with this latest installment of violence and oppression against Sikhs. If I understand you correctly: by focusing on assigning blame and responsibility we’re perpetuating a cycle of judgement, anger and impotence; but if we reflect and accept the way of things, then actually that gives us the power to effect the change we want to see?
Absolutely. We can either point the finger at our aggressors and dream of being free from them in our own independent Sikh state, our utopia, our heaven on earth. Or, we can reflect, and accept that we are but slaves of the Hindus and that such is our destiny for the time being.
It may not seem like it, but the power for change and attainment of our own independent state lies in taking the second path…
It comprises two equally controversial aspects. The first is that of an independent Panjab – attainable only if we are regarded as natural warrior-statesmen by the west. Consider that the two decades of war against Muslim countries has become financially untenable for the west, added to which it is forced to accept asylum-seekers from the communities of the same regimes it is fighting. This asylum element is gathering momentum and will, in the lifetimes of its western-born children and grandchildren explode like a time bomb and wreak havoc on the same streets that sheltered their parents’ generations earlier.
The west needs another ‘Israel’ only this time on the western border of India. This nation will stretch from Kashmir to Karachi and from west Panjab to few miles outside Delhi. The west would arm it totally, finance its survival and develop its education, health and general infrastructure. The Chinese would use the same nation to target Islamist problems on its western borders. The Russians would use the same nation to tackle an uprising in the Muslim states along its southeastern border and the west has two nations at opposite ends of the main Muslim countries it can use to subdue any danger it feels coming from the Muslim states. India would be protected along the very border that has seen her raped time and again. A Sikh state of Panjab is in everybody’s interest as it will be the local police in the very same manner Israel is presently. Being an economic power will also give it a mandate to dominate the locality in tandem with India. Nevertheless, the reality of such a situation begs the question: are you prepared to live in a constant war zone for generation to come?
If that is controversial then the second element is even more so, and it goes like this…
I, the Sikh, am a slave of the Hindu. Let the Hindu hate me. Let the Hindu kill me. He will succeed in killing me if it is so destined. But, let there be no mistake, that I – the most humble and ardent of all the Hindu’s slaves – will empower and free the rest of the non-European world from slavery. How, let me elaborate.
Let us, the Panjabi slaves of the Hindu, present an annual commemorative plaque to India, received by or delivered to the Prime Minister of India, that celebrates our ardent slavery. Let that annual celebration seep into the annals of tradition and rewrite Indian history, acknowledging that it was a Hindu slave rather than a Sikh who fought bravely and won freedom from the ruling Islamists; that it was Hindus – and their slaves – rather than Sikhs who fought and gave their lives in the wars of Europe.
Let us invite every Hindu to look their slaves in the eyes, and remove our dastaars with their own hands, and cut our keis-dhaari with their own scissors, and celebrate our life of slavery in the full glare of the media. For we are slaves of the Hindus, and we must rejoice in this. After all, Hindu India’s self-esteem is wrapped up in the hatred it has for the prestige of the Sikh dastaar and we ought to honour that. So, let us proclaim 1st August as World Slaves’ Day.
Right now, people – Sikhs – are asking how it’s possible for me to say these things. I say to them: we are Sikhs. We are not frightened of the truth. We are born to celebrate the truth. We know that the truth sets us free, that it is not to be feared. And the present truth is that we are slaves of Hindu India. If Hindu India can be proud of its continuing legacy in maintaining the slave state of Panjab, then it will rejoice in World Slave Day with us.
If Hindu India feels capable of being as strong in practice as it is in the quiet of its mind, then alternatively it will give Sikhs their own independent state, aligned to the collective Union of India. Otherwise, we must accept gracefully, as Hindu India itself must, that we are slaves of a greater cowardly slave mentality… Hindu India itself.
The path to freedom from oppression lies in bowing one’s head to the truth of one’s oppressed status; to the truth that circumscribing our oppression is the cowardice of our oppressors, who cannot countenance giving us our freedom, for fear of losing their power. The greater authority and legitimacy comes, however, precisely from willingness to abdicate one’s power over somebody else and granting them their freedom.
So, unless and until Hindu India emerges from the carapace of its cowardice, we must live by the truth of its fear and cowardice, and by the truth of our slave existence. The far sadder and deeper truth is that in desecrating our scriptures and colluding in our denigration on the world stage, Hindu India desecrates its own scriptural teaching.
But if it is so, then as slaves we must bend to the will of Hindu India: if it seeks to denigrate us and itself in one fell swoop, we must as its slaves do its bidding: so, let us take a Saroop of Guru Sahibji to the Raj Sabha weekly and ask them to nominate a Hindu to desecrate the same in our presence. Let us celebrate our slavery with happy smiling faces, each time an article of our faith is desecrated by Hindu India. Let us call India by its true and full name: Hindu India
Just as slaves of the Europeans were branded with marks of their ownership, so we are branded by the same: our dastaar and keis-dhaari are emblems of our slave identity as far as the cowardly Hindu is concerned. If we live in truth, then let’s celebrate those brandings: henceforth, every Sikh must wear the full faith artifacts of Sikhi, in celebration of these symbols of our ownership by Hindu India, and proclaim themselves as true, abiding slaves of Hindu India.
If Hindu India kills one of us, then let us form a line ten deep and five across, our hands folded and our faces shining with smiles, and beseech Hindu India’s embassies across the world to kill us all, so that we can help it secure an ever greater sense of pride and self-esteem.
Come all ye Sikhs, stand beside me and proclaim your celebration of being a Gursikh and a slave of Hindu India, proclaim your gladdened heart that Hindu India gains so much from humiliating and killing me. I, who as a powerful, peaceful, warrior-saint present it with the most formidable obstacle it will face and fight: that of smiling, passive, non-resistance.
Bhole Sone Haal
Sat Siri Akal.