Reflections on proposed caste discrimination legislation: or ‘What is this thing called caste?’

The question I put to the British parliament is this; Why is her Majesty and the entire stratum she occupies not included in the proposed caste law, and why is it limited to race and aimed only at South Asians as it is currently tabled?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of caste are as follows:

  • One of the hereditary social classes in Hinduism that restrict the occupation of their members and their association with members of other castes.
  • A division of society based on differences in wealth, inherited rank, or privilege, profession, occupation or race.
  • The position conferred by caste standing.
  • A system of rigid social stratification characterized by hereditary status, endogamy, and social barriers sanctioned by custom, law, or religion.

My argument:

Please read Caste, Class and Community in India: An Ethnography Approach by Balmurli Natrajan (William Paterson University).

The article’s argument supports my view that we are confusing class/economic distinctions with caste, such that the economic status of social groups is being projected onto, and even conflated with, social caste.

The fact is that like-minded social groups gel and function together as they have intimate nuanced understanding that cannot be accessed by other groups. To put it another way: we humans are neither psychologically nor socially identical, and do not share the same life experiences. This does not, at least in various Indian cultures, emerge as prejudice but is rather a form of snobbishness verging at times on hostility.

Precisely because of this, it makes sense therefore that individual social groups practice social endogamy and establish their own kinship clubs – Gurdwaras are a case in point. And they should be encouraged in doing so.

My point is that caste is a paradigm encased in structured cosociality rather than in subjugation and unequal power relations.

(And if we are talking about the latter, it is worth noting that I have repeatedly experienced rejection by well-to-do so-called lower castes – which blows apart the idea that oppression works in one direction only!)

The problem with the proposed legislation against caste discrimination is that it is embedded in the notion that caste is a form of unequal class/economics relations. It simply does not recognise the cosociality of caste as a valid, necessary and comforting form of in-group identity.

But consider this: in playgroups, babies can clearly be seen exhibiting strong likes and dislikes towards each other; they congregate in like-minded groups. Who taught them such prejudice? No-one. We human-animals psychologically attach ourselves to, and associate and intermingle with like minds.

This is not prejudice. What precisely it is, we have yet to sort out.

Now, for those who say caste as practiced today – in the form of class/economic inequality and hostility – is a historical phenomenon within South Asian societies… go learn your history!

Buddhism, Sikhism and Vedism in earlier times – before Bharat lost her substantial lands and succumbed to successive periods of colonization – did not apply caste divisions as we understand them today.

Indeed, caste division is not ‘Indian’ at all. It began in the west as a form of rigid social organisation whereby people were not permitted to work outside the occupational bandwidths set by the state, as happening to trades people in the United States. The Roman Empire relied on this to protect itself from implosion. Thus, caste refers in this sense to established western practices of restricting people to certain occupational domains, which restricted them socially and economically.

Such casteism continues to operate in the west today, as a cursory examination of recent English history illustrates. The cost of moving beyond the barriers of one’s caste was experienced by King Edward VIII when he deigned to marry Wallis Simpson – he had to abdicate. Even Prince Charles was not permitted to marry at will, but was shepherded into a marriage of convenience.

All of this is not to say that caste is not an aspect of Indian cultures. But as I noted earlier, it was certainly not a feature of earlier Buddhist, Sikh or Vedic societies, especially not in the western form of restricting people to particular occupational bandwidths.

Originally, in Bharat, children were given into the care of faith-teachers whose task was to find the appropriate occupation and role of their wards, and to encourage them to fulfil that. So, a farmer’s child with artisan skills would be encouraged in that direction, while the child of unskilled workers would move into farming if they exhibited the abilities for such work. It followed that people did not necessarily follow in their parents’ footsteps; they moved across groupings freely based on their skills-set.

It also follows that parents did not prize financial solvency when looking for life-partners for their children, rather they laid greater store by a prospective son- or daughter-in law’s capacity to manage their affairs responsibly and maturely.

However, older western societies have come to exert a strong influence on the modern construct that is Hinduism, which is itself the product of a socio-political revolution against the perceived rigidities of Vedic practices. Ironically, Hindusim has curated the kind of casteism for which the whole of India has become renowned, and which it erroneously embraces as an inalienable and intrinsic aspect of itself.

Consequently, we forget that caste refers to a bandwidth of in-group intimacies that in fact have been vital in enabling the successful transnational flow of people. Sikhs and others who moved to East Africa or to the United Kingdom were intrepid aspirants, but they were only able to ease the isolation that migration brings by congregating with others who shared their language, diet, rites and rituals, and who could advise them of local mores and provide a network of support.

Against the cosociality that caste traditionally referred to in older Indian societies and cultures, is the highly stratified system of difference which it exhibits in the west and which we forget to call out because we are so busy misunderstanding and denigrating our own eastern cultural heritages and practices.

And if we are in doubt as to the rigid boundaries that caste builds in the modern western world, let’s consider how our kids from North America and England emerge from university with degrees – equipping them to practice some trade or other, but which actively preclude them from switching trade or following another occupational strand. For that, they have to go right back to university and re-train, and get re-certified.

The same restrictions apply ofcourse to trades-people. Since the emphasis is on economic security and socio-economic mobility, very few people get to change occupational track despite showing flair and having accumulated skill-sets that make them ideal for jobs other than those they’ve been certified to do. The moral degeneracy of this situation is that it stratifies people, restricting them ‘to their own kind’. Yet, when they embody such stratification and hierarchy, we call them out and propose anti-caste legislation. When the system itself enforces this, why blame the people for imbibing it?!

And to what degree will anti-caste legislation be enforced? Will Gurdwaras have to provide a register of how many people of other castes (cosocial cultural groupings, as they themselves see it) attend in order to stay on the right side of the law? What counts as discrimination? Will I, as somebody who has repeatedly experienced discrimination from so-called lower castes, be safe-guarded and be able to pursue my case under law?

Will the British monarchy be allowed to continue to exist in its closed forms, while the average person on the street gets vilified for belonging to a group they know intimately and feel a sense of support, security and belonging with?

Clearly, I am missing the point of the anti-caste legislation, because it feels to me very much like a stick with which to beat Indians. And the best thing is, we Indians are culpable in this, because we know nothing of our own history or that of caste as a phenomenon.

Once upon a time my word was my bond

As a new émigré, Bapuji (one of a few titles for ‘father in Panjabi) took me around the usual landmarks of London.

I arrived in the middle of British winter from the heat of the tropics, wrapped up like a doll against the cold, the sweat dripping off me under all those layers. Bapuji could overdo the caring bit sometimes. But in those days one did not question the dictates of one’s elders. This was just as true for English families back then. Now though…sacré bleu, how things have changed! Nowadays, snot-ridden kids are telling their elders right from wrong. All that remains is for a kid to sue his parents for intellectual, aesthetic, and inescapable fear, a confetti of trauma where the penultimate charge would be the fear of being a victim due to the constant and repeated use of the wrong sexual position while the mother was carrying the child in her womb. The future is as blind as it is shrewd.

Reverting…

Among the many places Bapuji and I visited were vast and ornate religious dwellings, the cathedrals of St Pauls and Westminster Abbey. Bapuji showed deference in the vast wombs of these structures. I felt nothing. You may recall that I was born with ESP abilities, so I witness world from an additional spectrum. The large oversized candles adorning the catacombs left me unimpressed. These overbearing structures were not a place of meditation or of communion with ‘god’. They were commercial enterprises. Fagan draped in religious gowns smilingly enticing the entrance tithe from visitors.

Weeks later, Bapuji and I drove to Coventry. In those days, the current motorway network did not exist, and Bapuji, an intrepid adventurer, seldom took the standard route. He would always opt for the scenic route; the longer the drive, the better. Small country lanes were eye-opening. We would stop constantly to visit local shops – remember, in those days commercial enterprise was dominated by the sole trader, whose wares differed from region to region, so visiting them was like taking in the culture of the land.

A turban-wearing Sikh dressed in rather expensive three-piece suits, with a wonderful command of the English language, a humorous twinkle in his eye, a quick wit, and a deep raucous laughter that came from deep in his belly, Bapuji was welcomed wherever we went. Ofcourse, racial abuse was a given, but he would side-step it all with grace and studied indifference, and continue with the matter in hand.

At many villages, Bapuji made a point of visiting the local church. In those days they remained open, vandalism and disrespect for property having not yet crossed the pond from the US of A. Individualism had not as yet descended into ‘destroy whatever lies in your path’…that particular psyche-cancer came along some twenty-five years later.

The churches Bapuji and I visited always had a ready and waiting congregation present – the occupiers of the surrounding graveyard. Some were nice, while others were nasty and vile psyches, and all were draped in their period clothing. It is an interesting fact that the buried dead always wear clothing from their period; they may change their attire when you meet them again, but it will always be from the same period in which they lived and died. Dead tailors must be doing a roaring trade, methinks. Even their original social and class bearing is impeccably observed…how interesting.

Regardless, the local villages’ ‘places of worship’ were enveloped in a far more pure essence of worship than the commercial cathedrals of the city.

Years later, grown up and traveling on my own, I visited places of worship of other religions and dominations.

I found the Moslim Mosques to be always shrouded in a quiet, yet angry and painful, atmosphere. The Jewish Synagogues left me unmoved and I found in them no essence of peace. The African-Caribbean churches were always happy and peaceful places. The Hindu Mandirs were indifferent, their atmosphere contrived and pleasant, but lacking in solemnity and peace. The Sikh Gurdwaras were in the main very peaceful, though nowadays there are exceptions occurring and the atmosphere is on the downward spiral there too. The most consistently elegant, serene, graceful atmosphere I have found and experienced is at the Buddhist places of worship. Well done guys. I hope you do not lose your way.

Out of all the places of worship I have visited the Sikh Gurdwara is an interesting one to study. You see, once upon a time, a Sikh’s word stood for truth and honesty. Then they embraced modern governance and commercialism, and they changed.

Why and how?

Generally, a place of worship is a space of calm and peaceful introspection. But it can change, morphing for example into the kind of place that we see in the modern Sikh Gurdwara.

Let us remember that any given place of worship represents its parishioners’ changing psyche. Differences, disputes, arguments, and quarrels are part of the natural evolution of a congregation. They reflect changing social ideas, practices and mobility. But a place of worship is also the one single place where factions and groups could come together and find common ground with each other.

Making the transition into the 20th century Sikhs were subject to a social, commercial and a global awakening – a mobility metamorphosis. Ofcourse there were going to be disputes and disagreements about the relative merits of embracing the future or holding on to the dead wood of the past. The elders refused any dilution of the past, and saw the coming changes as harbingers of a weakened Sikh ethos. The youth wanted a more malleable environment. Quarrels arose, factionalism became entrenched, and the spectre of a large-scale violence loomed. The Sikhs were living under British ignorance and misunderstanding of how non-European social communities evolve, and of course lacking patience the British got themselves involved in Sikh Gurdwara affairs. Sitting in the driving seat, fuelled by the masterful intelligence called ignorance, the British used the barrel of the gun to impose on the Sikhs an utterly unreligious and anti-Sikh-ethos set of practices.

The Brits imposed elections on each Gurdwara. In one single stroke, they threw out the seasoned and the pious, who had ultimately always carried the day, and brought in the failed social politician. The politician-idiot, with mega-ego as his brotherly-advisor, seeking self-importance, and realising that he stood zero chance in the world of real politics, groomed and charmed the parishioners into voting for his brand of Sikhism.

The original Sikh ethos died. A new socio-commercial Sikh ethos was born.

Like cancer, which when it spreads, weakens and lessens the durability of the old original cells, so was the fate of the Sikhs with the introduction of Gurdwara elections.

Such have been the changes accepted by the failed social politicians who are at the helm of the Gurdwaras that the small side-arm kirpan, always carried by the ordained seer-Sikh (Khalsa), has had its defensive effectiveness nullified, having been reduced from nine inches to six inches. On top of which, British interference – eagerly accepted by the elected Gurdwara pseudo-leaders – means that langar, food which is respected for the fact that it is imbued with the Grace of the Divine, is now cooked according to English health and safety regulations.

The political-cowards who comprise the trustees of Sikh gurdwaras actually try to outdo each other in how they jump when asked by their British masters, such is their desperation to be liked and spoken about nicely by the British authorities.

What religious/spiritual stupidity.

I need to explain what is meant by ‘stupid’ when uttered by those of my background. We divide consciousness into three groups: the first group is the 1% of the population who acknowledge their own ignorance about most things. The second group is the 1% who are called the wise, but who rationalise that what they know in the scheme of things amounts to next-to-nothing. The third group is the remaining 98%, who know very little but claim far deeper knowledge, and we call them the stupid. I am going to illustrate my point using the example of the April-May 2014 ‘election’ for the management committee tasked with running a Sikh Gurdwara known locally as Hibernia Gurdwara, Hounslow, UK (its fuller title can be googled).

Where once upon a time a Sikh’s word was his/her bond, now we have a prime example of a regrettable and new global Sikh phenomenon happening at the Hibernia Gurdwara ‘place of worship’.

Let me summarise some of the conditions of elections for this ‘sanctuary of Sikh worship’. The first point is that an outside body will oversee the election. Sikhs, who the world over were known for their honesty and truthfulness now do not even trust each other. This means that not a single Sikh at this place of Sikh worship trusts their fellow Sikh.

How shameful.

Another condition of election is that a clean police criminal check report be presented for scrutiny. Yet another is that non-refundable fees have to be paid by those standing for election. Furthermore, one must be a registered member of the Gurdwara, and provide bio-data documents in support of one’s application to register. Other conditions for elections to this Gurdwara may still be available on their website, and they make for fascinating reading.

The one thing that stands out in all of this is that the Gurdwara is not a place of free Sikh worship. It is a members only organisation. You have to be a listed member of this place of ‘god worship’ or else…

I refuse to sign-up to any type of ‘God card’ carrying members-only club or organisation…clearly I shan’t be welcome in heaven unlike the motley crew.

Simply adding a word to what is simply a members club in order to denote it a place of worship does not make it a place of worship any more than the ‘Muslim Parliament of the UK’ is a parliament in any way, shape or form, or calling 400m sq shop a superstore makes it a superstore.

The point that the failed politicians who grasp for power in Gurdwaras cannot recognise is that, unlike them, the general public is clued up about what passes for an acceptable religious functionary. The community has always been well up to date on who has a criminal record, and what type of crime it refers to. But what the congregation did was choose their own representative based on that person’s religious and seva credentials.

Seva is the cornerstone of Sikh ethics and ethos. This selfless service is prized higher than my type of ability, where one has the capacity to speak in minute detail about any given religious or dharmic text. And I, in my position have to humble myself in the presence of one who is engaged in seva. So, until the British government’s interference in matters in which they had zero understanding, the Gurdwaras were managed by the devout, and at times by the sternly devout. But the common thread connecting these devotees was their desire and ambition to engage in humble selfless service (seva) on behalf of the Gurdwara establishment. This automatically included washing and cleaning the toilets; and hand-washing the used food trays, glasses, cups and utensils. The humblest and most prized of the many duties involved cleaning the footwear of the congregation.

But the modern elected-committee peacocks, chests puffed, are never seen doing these chores until elections are around the corner. These peacocks wear the full English dress of suit, boot and tie. What the elected rulers of the tiny fiefdoms to this day do not realise is that the tie stands as a symbol of the cross of Jesus of Nazareth, and it announces the wearer as a devout Christian (read more on this in my essay ‘The crucifixion tie’). Then these very peacocks denounce Sikh children who embrace Englishness or a European life-style, and they wonder what transpired to make their children turn away from Sikhism. Meanwhile, these every peacocks, themselves wearing emblems of Christianity, make sure their wives wear full Panjabi suit when attending Gurdwara. At home the man rules the roost, wearing European clothing and mimicking European behaviour, while their wives follow meekly and more often than not wear Asian clothing. Watching all of this, their children assume that Europeanism is power and freedom, and they defect as soon as they are able to Europeanism.

In Bapuji’s time, they had no choice but to wear European clothing, but nowadays no one is forced.

The only thing missing from further progression into European modernity is that Sikh men have not as yet moved to wearing the skull cap instead of their turban, and Sikh women have not yet fully argued the point that if leg skin must remain covered then tights and stockings do that job adequately, or that a wig, such as Jewish women wear when they leave the house, suffices to cover their hair at the Gurdwara.

After all, Sikhism is the most modern and flexible faith currently trading its wares. So why should Sikh women not be allowed to wear a wig if their husbands can wear European dress to the same religious function and facility?

The modern Sikh has forgotten that even after the seer-Sikh (Khalsa) has passed a resolution an ordinary Sikh woman can veto their decision and ask them to reconsider and come up with an alternative decision.

The modern Sikh has forgotten that in other faiths a woman is given rights, and at times even given equal rights to a man. This is not true in Sikhism. No rights, let alone equal rights, have been given to Sikh women. In Sikhism of old, something that has been forgotten, it is Sikh women who conferred equal status on men; men were powerless to confer equality on those who are superior to them.

Lest Sikh men forget, it is women who give us life, and mother us. How on earth can we be superior or even equal to that which gives life to Life?

This basic principle, lost in all other faiths, is the first truth of Sikhism.

So, if Sikh women attend Gurdwara in their cultural clothing, why do Sikh men wear clothing of another culture to attend the same religious function?

Inferiority complex!

If Sikh men had an ounce of Sikh integrity they would never again enter or attend a Gurdwara in anything other then their cultural attire.

Will I see it happen?

Nope.

Why?

Because Sikh men lack the confidence, integrity, honesty and pride in their own culture, save for wearing the glamorous turban.

In the process, Gurdwaras are fast losing the essence of purity they once exuded so abundantly. Places of worship are becoming commercial worship centers. Seva is seldom done by the elected politicians, who walk with an air of arrogance, accompanied by a personal mantra of rudeness. If approached they dismissively wave you away in the direction of another who manages a portfolio catering to your needs. This person listens but knows his decision will be over-ruled by the head-peacock, the same one who waved you away in the first place.

And in all of this aren’t I the lucky one – that even if I wanted to run for pseudo-important elections, I have misplaced all my bio-paperwork, without which the initial form to become a member of the Gurdwara club cannot be rubber-stamped.

Oh well, I’ll just have to remain a nobody.

I cannot even shed a tear at this sad poignant moment. I wonder if it is because I need to be registered as a member of a pseudo-gurdwara-club to shed a tear?!

Well, I could always approach the head-peacock for clarification, but I don’t think a portfolio exists for crocodile tears…

How not to conduct elections in places of worship

(This is a letter sent to Southall Gurdwara UK, regarding their 2014 elections)

This letter applies to persons associated with, standing for, and campaigning until 28th September 2014 at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Committee elections in Southall.

I listened in to the radio interview between various party members.

Each and every one of you should be congratulated on your earnest expressions, heartfelt pleas and emotionally charged accusations in a perfect, well-illustrated exposé: on mature men who are nothing more than spoilt little children throwing temper tantrums in order to make their point.

And on top of that, with haughty pride it was claimed that ex-Prime Minister Blair adjudicated between warring parties and that the gurdwara had paid this mass murderer £100,000. This beggars belief.

Sevadarjis, understand one thing. Not a single one of you or your families has an iota of a chance of getting into nor even realising in which direction lies the much sought after ‘suvaarg’. Petty, angry, spoilt, egotistical people do not even get to a point from which directions can be given for their onward purity process.

Last time, I was saddened during the ongoing debacle and infighting during the elections at Shepherds Bush Gurdwara, London, UK. The rest is history.

Please, I implore you that in future all involved conduct the election with mutual appreciation, as all concerned want the best for this institution and its congregation. We all have a common concern, regardless where a Sikh resides globally. We all want a smooth transition of sevadars willing to spend time doing the thankless and routine tasks of running such establishments.

Yes, it is all too easy to mock, find faults and belittle the sevadars who put in voluntary hours in all global religious institutions. However, that is not an excuse to behave like irrational, accusation-throwing, spoilt little children, now, is it?

Furthermore, I am sure none of you behaved in that manner when you were in fact little children. I am also sure all of you were dutiful and well-behaved kids. So what happened once you grew up and learned to wipe your own nose?

I hope all of you are equally ashamed for your behaviour. Rest assured, I certainly was, listening to the broadcast. We are humans. We have a difference of opinions. That does not permit us to accuse each other of actual or (mis)perceived transgressions in a vile and degrading manner.

What, in fact, you are saying is that you are a better judge of the activities of your opponent than Akal-Purkh, who created that Being to behave in that manner and ordained from birth.

Please do seva.

Do not accuse.

No one is a thief.

No one amongst you is a saint either.

Count yourself lucky that you are moved enough and have the time to be involved in seva at a gurdwara.

Remember, for whom-so-ever wins: we are all winners.

Satsiriakaalji

Avtar

Seva

In this post, I seek to explain how the human world divides into distinct bio-structural groups and what this means for nishkam seva (selfless activity).

One group, mature advanced consciousness (MAC), has a fully-developed and active organ-mechanism to permit inner awakening. The other, egocentric consciousness (ECC) has a hibernating organ-mechanism which acts to inhibit attunement with advanced awareness.

Mechanically, both bio-structural groups can engage in selfless activity. However, having lived in the UK for fifty years, I can attest to the fact that in the ECC group this manifests as a passing fad – albeit committedly undertaken – that doesn’t endure over the longue duree and is not saturated with selfless-consciousness.

There is, for the ECC, instead a wariness about being pushed beyond one’s limits of selflessness – a self-preservation consciousness that draws the line in order not to be taken advantage of – and it’s there to see in the eyes and body language of European converts to Sikhism and Hinduism.

Among the MAC group, selflessness is not conditional. It is intuitive, innate, natural, humble service. Whereas the ECC regards parents as birthing pods to be discarded or farmed out when they hit old age and infirmity, deference to parents and elders is part-and-parcel of the MAC bio-signature. The selflessness that European converts undertake with all manner of caveats is, for the Sikhs and Hindus a privilege.

Nishkam seva used to be relished by the Indians of Britain. Lately, though, I’ve noticed a soiling, a weakening, a creeping impurification of this purest of activities in the minds of those doing selfless service.

MACs are becoming ECCs.Why?

Well, one reason is the proliferation of a media culture, bulwarked by right-wing devotees, and entombed in right-wing discourse that fosters and projects a form of thought graffiti that creates factional high-mindedness. Hence, supreme truth is sacrificed at the altar of cultural hierarchy, incarcerated by rigidly demarcated and authorised versions of reality that invite scepticism about the apparently unattainable and outdated dreams of our elders.

So accelerated is the contamination of nishkam seva among Sikhs that they now conduct it with fear, serving gur-langar (blessed food) – in the Gurdwara kitchens, to anybody who wishes to partake of the wholesome free food – as if those they serve have a contagious disease.

Where once valiant Sikhs stood fearless in the face of physical violence or black-magic operators, such fear is unbelievable. Where once, anybody who came to the langar hall was served with openheartedness, nowadays I witness gur-langar being served with selective openness, rather than with the abiding consciousness that all are equal in the eyes of God – and it is cowardly.

Seva has historically been linked with karamjôg (jôg in Panjabi is a higher state than Sankrit’s yôgā); karamjôg denoting an interaction wherein one’s humility and selfless service provide a mental opportunity to remain actively egoless for a certain period of time, and to thereby help lose the egotistical weight gained in one’s everyday interactions with others

This type of activity was sought after and actively enjoyed, and people had to await their chance to cleanse their own negativity. The more demeaning an activity one engaged with egoless attention during seva, the greater the burden of negativity one was able to neutralise and cancel.

Unfortunately, the Europeanised Asians, now well into their retirement, are steeped in fear of the same unknown that Sikhs used to tackle with ease and fearlessness. Lacking practical guidance from seasoned ESP-able Beings has created an argument in their minds against the rightfulness and deep sincerity of seva. How sad.

Those who are ESP-able, like myself, are hounded on a daily basis and viewed with suspicion, aided and abetted by the cowardly occupiers of positions of power within the Sikh faith – who lay claim to advanced awareness (Sant), yet cannot dig deeper than the regurgitated Gur-stories in their claim to fame.

Ask them for deeper clarity about ESP and the higher layers of consciousness and they are left floundering for answers. Having said that they are doing a sterling job in containing and guiding the masses, teaching them the rituals and rites fundamental to gaining entry into the advanced realms, and which must be mastered faithfully decade after decade before one can be inducted into deeper thought and teaching.

Until that happens, deeply sincere and humble selfless seva have to be engaged in as often as possible, week in and week out. Doing seva while also passing judgement on those about whom you hear salacious stories being passed around the community is to effectively relinquish your opportunity of inner cleansing, and the egotistical weight piles back on.

And additionally, something which is not explained widely enough, is that in judging another person you secure a connection whereby you suck their negativity of their psyche into your own psyche, which as you interact with your nearest and dearest becomes shared amongst your dearly beloved.

Any place of worship is an opportunity to cleanse one’s negativity by focusing on your own faults without sitting in judgement over whoever enters your eyesight or your wandering mind.

Non-judgement. That is the first type of seva.

The second type of seva is active participation in the operation of your chosen place of worship, without seeking the limelight or applause. Simply go and help. Let others, who are stupid enough to seek adulation and status and power, hand out orders.

The opportunity for sincere humble service is theirs too, and if they choose to ignore or discard that opportunity, so be it. For your part, just be grateful that you have an opportunity to step back from day’s hard toil and to reenergize your battery of purity and positivity.

As for the ECCs – I am determined to help the race Europeans (for that is whom the ECC references primarily) seek and find the trigger point for activating their participation in inner awakening. I know that I will fail. But I shall never give up trying or hoping that I will succeed in this endeavour.

To the MACs – well, please do not give up hope. You are on the right track. The journey is very long indeed, but it has an end. And you will be surprised what awaits you at the end… and they say God does not have a sense of humour?! Just you wait and see.

 

January 2013. Cultism in Sikhi (to Bhai Mohinder Singhji)

Bhai Mohinder Singhji, Gurdwara Nishkam Sewak Jatha (Soho Road, Birmingham)

Revisiting our Interactions 

I hope this communication finds you physically well and emotionally healthy.

(Please note, some of my thoughts below are directly from my books and if they are repeated then kindly reference them to me. The quotes are in italics followed by an *).

The Communiqué: 

Each generation, adhering to nature’s set template, brings forth characters upon whom responsibility is conferred for taking their caste, race, culture, heritage, languages, religion, dharma, morality and ethics forward. Of course ‘forward’ here does not mean positive progression, but indicates movement – and movements can be retrograde.*

I have always kept a low profile and I seldom interact with the general public. This has caused problems, in tandem with state security victimisation. The general public likes intrigue, masala and listening to stories, in order to deflect attention from themselves. Out of self-protectionist need they point fingers at others while ensuring that they are seen to be as pious as can be. This is a standard human self-preservation reaction, and a biological historical phenomenon.* Thus, I am a victim of fanciful stories that are further fuelled by state security; yet, not a single advocate of these stories has to date confronted me about anything. Cowards and story-tellers have one thing in common: imagination.

My role in bringing you to power

It was I who insisted that you must be given the formal head position in an attempt to bring cohesive collective cooperation among UK-based Sikhs. If I had not insisted on that manoeuvre, the UK Sikhs would have endeavored as usual to represent the entire Sikh community, seemingly with one voice, but regrettably with separate outlooks. Interestingly, I was being cajoled into accepting the helm. I would have accepted if I had never tasted positions of immense influence in the global political arena. Personally, with my experience, I would have engaged a different set of skills from within the community, leading to low-key, potent yet effective influence as opposed to the merry-go-round in which the Europeans have you embroiled.

I had a choice between Sant Baba Jaswant Singhji, Clifton Road, Southall; Sant Amar Singh, of Guru Nanak Sikh College, Hayes, Middlesex; and yourself. Sant Amar Singh lacks je ne sais quoi. Sant Jaswant Singhji is advanced and way above this type of nonsense. Which left you.

So, why did I honour you with that post?

Because, in our two meetings you struck me as a very egocentric person, albeit feigning humbleness.

And in the clash with government egos, like needed like.

Yet, in the duty to retain and contain the egos involved in the Sikh Consultative Forum you failed miserably. Nevertheless, I have to thank you for stepping up to the mark. And since I chose you for the task, your failure is my failure. However, only you can measure if you have learned any lessons for your subsequent births.

An observation: not all University Deans make good Professors; not all Professors can teach secondary school; not all secondary school teachers can tend to children in kindergarten. It is not my position to be in your place, and you are not entitled to operate in mine.

Although all of this is in the past, yet the past teaches us the form of the future.

Alien Conquest:

Buddhaji said, ‘An insincere evil friend is to be feared more than a wild beast: a wild beast may wound you today, but an evil friend will wound your mind’.

In a speech I added this: ‘Where ignorance reigns, peace slaves’.* Both the above statements are true for the following.

The British and Europeans did not conquer Bharat by outright brutal force. They conquered it via smiles, gentle words, never-ending compliments and ego-massage. They wooed and admired the egos of the Rajas and the Maharajas, and above all else they beguiled the dharmic and the adhyatmic sectors with unbridled compliments about how the west has so much to learn from the east. In the process, the western powers invited the chosen influential few to on-going seminars organised by one world-famous philosophical society after another. Given prestige to speak and present an article at such societies the innocent egos waxed lyrical, becoming ever-pliant puppets. The seduction paid dividends.* 

The eastern target-ego had admirers from his own race and culture who latched on to the ‘open mind’ of the western thought process. These admirers of the target-ego spoke to their own catchment audiences. And in time an entire state became compliant to western propaganda. Like today, a war was arranged between a slightly more powerful opponent and the impressionable state. The impressionable state was given support, at a cost. Aryadesh fought Aryadesh. The British picked up the spoils.* 

So what has all this got to do with you?

I was called forward by, and took amrit from the hand of Sant Baba Puran Singhji at Makindo, Kenya. And I can assure you, you were not in that initial contingent. So, I am well within my responsibility to tell you off resoundingly. And after almost thirty years of being a recipient of mocking derision from you and your ‘cult followers’ telling you off is precisely what I am going to do…

1. Selling out your prestige & position

My observation is that you obviously have zero appreciation of what precisely a Sikh is, let alone what it is to qualify as Khalsa. If you did, it would have and should have been you presenting to the Christian Church a fake ego-massaging medal, an honour of merit, with the prospect of eventually influencing their followers into Sikhi and Indianisation. But instead you were the recipient, they the overlords,

Do you realise how much of a public relations coup d’etat this event is for the west and for the Christian faith’s propaganda machine? Subliminally you have created and substantiated a reality wherein a Sikh and Khalsa’s own inherent value is trumped by deriving value from securing an order of merit or some other such award from the Christian faith. How utterly despicably low and ignorant an act could you have allowed yourself to become a puppet of?

Shame on you for selling out your prestige and position.

Are all of your companions in fact enemies who have zero respect for you, unprepared to warn you of the consequences of your action? If they are naive and gullible then at least you should have enough commonsense not to accept such western propaganda awards. Or are you really that hungry for western public applause?

2. Withholding Deg through your acolytes (sorry, “sevadars”)

It took Gursharan Kaur and me nine years to finish our respective sets of 108 Sahaj Paaths. Every month we’d drive a 250 mile round trip to pay homage at Soho Road Gurdwara. Every month after the first few months you ordered your ‘staff’ not to serve us langar or water. I wrote to you about the matter. The next month they served us. I wrote again thanking you. But things reverted back. On top of that, two of your ‘staff’ (they cannot be called sevadars) steadfastly refused to serve me Deg every time they were on duty. That elderly man with the red braces who used to clean sangat’s footwear – he used to pick up both our pairs of footwear and put them beside by the door for the sangat to trample on. What humbleness.

3. Cult of personality: or cutting off your nose to spite your face

And here is the best part. I introduced to you a young girl who was about to start her PhD and I informed you that this girl was going to, if given the right input, rewrite India’s constitution, thereby changing all non-European constitutions globally for the better. And your advice was that she should get herself a job and then consider the PhD. Now where does the point that you claim clairvoyance fall apart?

The reason why you told her to get a job and leave post-graduate research was because she was not part of your ‘cult’. Shame on you.

4. The cosy club of arrogance & primeval judgement

Two weeks ago I rang your office at Soho Road Nishkam Sevak Gurdwara to be told that you were abroad. I sought information about Mandiwale Babaji, to be told that in all honesty XXX would be the best person to ask. XXX, the living hypocrite, spoke harshly, claiming that only you can give out such information. To put him in his place I shared with him that the photograph of Mandiwale Babaji was taken by the younger brother of Pritam Singh Sandhu of Walthamstow, East London, and that my family and I had been present there at the time. This threw him and abruptly he told me he was busy and put the phone down on me. How very magnanimous.

The person who needed that information is writing a book on past Sikh Sants and holds you and your ‘cult’ in low opinion. XXX behaviour adds to, and underlines the hypocrisy of, white clothes hiding dark minds. Interestingly, XXX – who was forced to apologise when I challenged him for saying very derogatory things about me – now faces a dilemma. His close, high-profile, married-with-grown-kids female relative has her sex movies and photos on the internet. Now is he going to run her and her husband down as he did me? Both of you have forgotten, the moment you take amrit you no longer judge or condemn people at all. In fact you support them through thick and thin. You protect them from public vilification*. But what do you lot do after amrit? You create a holier than thou cosy club of arrogance and primeval judgement. 

I have yet to come across a group of Sikhs who are as frightened as your ‘cult’ is. Yes, there are the odd things your ‘cult’ does correctly, but just the odd thing.

Narcissistic, cliché-ridden, floating on faux modesty via self-promotion, unable to separate the pseudo from the primordial rigidity, caught in fetish ritual, with hallowed attachment to opaque religiosity, and losing dharma’s gentle optimism.* Your cult summed up in a nutshell. Congratulations.

I gave a talk about twenty years ago to balance the inflated image-integrity of Sikhs. I stated that western-based Sikhs would form cults. That they would take and retain passport photographs of those who took amrit at their cult-quarters, and claim responsibility to the European authorities for only those persons.

You have done precisely that.

Once upon a time one Sikh stood for all Sikhs. It was the case ‘one for all – all for one’. But you, the Europeanised ‘cult’ Sikh leaders are a creed apart.  What Guru Gobind Singhji harmonised, you the Europeanised ‘cult’ Sikh leaders are ripping apart.

Please pat yourself on your back for dividing the Khalsa.

The enemy is always within. Never without.

5. Yet again with the cultish behaviour

Here is another example of your ‘cult’ mentality A young girl started Sikh Sports Car Mela. I joined that Mela as I have two sports cars, and as soon as you heard I was a participant you froze her out totally. Very mature of you.

6. Plagiarising my insights as your own

Secondly, it was I who wrote to you several decades ago about how Rabindranath Tagore removed Guru Nanakdevji’s name from Japuji  Sahibji replacing it with Kabir. Harbans Singh Doabia plagiarized his translation in his now famous translations.

You took my insight and passed it on to a Panjab based university who carried out their study of the matter. They concluded what I had said. You and that university took all the credit for this ‘information’ and ignored to neither mention nor applaud me for my insight.

You will publicly and in written format acknowledge that it was my letter to you that instigated that study.

Accolades bring responsibility:

Now, using your new accolade, please correct the following:

There are five mistakes on each page of Sri Guru Granth Sahibji. There are eighteen types of mistakes recurring in the entire work. The British have imposed these mistakes on Sikhs. These mistakes were not placed into the original work by either the Hindus nor the Muslims.*  

Yes, it does, does it not, compromise your new accolade!

Accolades are easy to accept if you do not understand the ongoing cultural ramification of the accolade. A budding poet asked a known writer to appraise his poetry. The established writer replied there was nothing wrong, adding. ‘although I have not read this and as a rule do not read poetry’.

As a budding newbie straddling religion and political you will distaste the art of manipulation and a sense of ‘being used’ by your new masters.

In conclusion: 

  1. You will forward to me by post all details about Mandiwale Babaji forthwith.
  2. You will return the merit order nonsense with due respect, stating that Guru Nanakdevji is not answerable to Jesus of Nazareth.

And if they want clarification regarding upon whose authority you are returning the said order, tell them it is upon my direct and explicit instructions. They know me well enough not to take the issue up with me.

The only reason you will not return the order of merit? Your ego.

I was brought up, and you were not, to deal with the European manipulations to which you have fallen victim. Thus, you fail to see the traps of their long-game.

Bhai Mohinder Singhji, time has shown that the following is just: That I am an unaffiliated speaker and original, independent thinker on theology, philosophy, psychology, dharma and spiritual matters. I am coming out into the open slowly and you have a choice. Support me, by not speaking out against me or manipulating others to do your dirty work. You and I will never get along at a personal level. But at a dharmic level henceforth you will support me totally, unless your ego gets in the way.

Buddhaji reminds us: ‘Prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you cannot help them, at least do not hurt them either’.

I wish you and your cult every success for the future and please accept from a Sikh of Guru Nanakdevji and a Singh of Guru Gobind Singhji a respectfully extended – to you and your followers – heartfelt Bhole Sohne Haal Sat Siri Akaal.

Avtar