Festival of Life & Democracy

Nowadays, both the Festival of Life (a period of spiritual introspection for Sikhs), usually celebrated around the 13th April, and Democracy, are a catastrophe crammed into ubiquitous kitsch-deluded masculine grandiosity, positioning so-called virtue. However, both fall well shy of their own original and exacting standards.

Vasaakh:

Is a period within the cycle of a season of a hemisphere. It is the second month of the traditional earth calendar in the northern hemisphere. The first month began around the 12th /13th of March. Traditionally, there were 13 months in one year cycle, where some months had 32 days, and others less than 28 days. These months approximately correspond to what is now known as the astrological calendar. Indeed the astrological calendar also had 13 divisions, of which one was particularly short in duration.

Vasaakh represents the regeneration of the northern hemisphere, as it emerges from its winter hibernation into new life. It indicates the same, at a different point in the calendar, in the southern hemisphere. Vasaakh happens twice on our planet. Once in the northern, and then in the southern, hemisphere.

For Sikhs of the northern hemisphere, Vasaakh at a very rudimentary level refers to introspection, awakening, deeper consciousness, and overall spiritual repose, lived within full secular responsibility. For Sikhs of the southern hemisphere experience this psychic-spiritual sensation, and inner introspective regeneration, the festival of Vasaakh has to take place at the appropriate point in the seasonal cycle. Regeneration on the cusp of autumn/winter would be nonsensical, obviously.

Given the epithet of soldier-saint, circulating since the time of Guru Arjandevji, it is fitting that Vasaakh should also represent a moment of reaffirmation of our secular responsibilities (as much as of spiritual regeneration). In this regard, we pledge anew to be conscientious, trustworthy, reliable, dependable, and accountable through the five Ks; to protect lives, even those of enemies (and especially at the first time of engagement), and including those of every species occupying our own geographical zone (without becoming pedantic about the unseen life form).

Vasaakh is the second month of the Arya calendar. Remember, Sikhs, when they occupied Europe and especially the northern countries of Europe were then also known as Sikhs, Arya and Khalsa (Khalsa is another very ancient name, which at that time meant merging into the One. It retains the same meaning today but is usually confused with a word derived from the Aryan-influenced region north of Persia).

However, for a Sikh who advances and exalts into the Khalsa, the responsibility is even more exhaustive, meticulous, comprehensive, thorough, detailed, and exacting.

For me, at my own personal level, my white turban including the Five K’s represents that I am duty bound to protect the right of my enemy to take my life.

However, as a Khalsa, protection of life is my basic fundamental duty.

Therefore, while my enemy may want to take my life, protecting my own life takes priority for me as well as safeguarding his life. If he persists, then I must (without flinching) put him to rest, and say a prayer prior throughout. And I must bear no hatred towards him or his community for his actions against me. In fact, I must locate his immediate family and offer my on going assistance for the vacuum left by the slain.

As you can see, being a practicing Sikh, and then evolving into the fully fledged Khalsa is not as easy as many Sikhs seem to think. Simply being born into a Sikh family does not mean that you are a Sikh. The fundamental requirements of being a Sikh are a tad difficult; and elevation into Khalsa is well nigh impossible.

The most telling point of Vasaakhi is that Life has to be celebrated. A celebration steeped not in wanton drunkenness or salacious behaviour, but characterized by an inner audit of the preceding year and setting parameters for the coming year. The idea is to protect Life, thus allowing Life to give life to Life.

Hence, Vasaakh, the second month of the earth (northern hemisphere) calendar is the Festival of Life.

Democracy:

Is control and governance of an organisation or country by the majority of its eligible members.

The original idea was to put aside quarrels that escalated from verbal abuse to physical violence, armed attack, ultimately to death. Thus, wise men (no, not women; remember, women were/are inferior and unclean due to their menstruation) devised a holistic means to conduct their tribal clan’s mechanization. This included the involvement of the soothsayers, medicine person (they were both female and male), and then the formal ritual brigade, some of whom evolved into formal religious heads. Religious heads, ritually excellent, and had an intricate understanding of ancient medicine and alchemy, in tandem with psychic ability: this then allowed them hands-on responsibility and a veto in debates about communal care.

Over the past fifty years, political communities in certain cultures have distanced the influence of the religious order, and endeavoured instead to promote an isolationist-secular schema.

Nevertheless, the voting minority still suffers. Seldom was/is a single item of their need addressed. Promises and pledges are seldom kept by those in power.

We have a prime example of the role and fallout of pledges in the blatant lies peddled by politicians in the run-up to Brexit in the United Kingdom. The liars, far from being criminally charged, went on to hold high office, as in the case of Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary.

Interestingly, if a man leads a group of women along a romantic path, while securing large sums of money from them, he is criminally charged. Yet we, the cattle-voting-class, are repeatedly told that politicians cannot be hauled into a criminal court, since they only offered pledges.

Such pledges, to revert again to Brexit in the United Kingdom, included the insistence – nay, assurance – that the monies saved from not being part of Europe would help turn around the failing National Health Service. But neither Boris Jonhson nor Nigel Farage (then leader of UKIP) can be prosecuted for their ‘pledges’ on the matter, because these have since been defended merely as suggestions and not promises to the electorate they deliberately misled.

This, guys, is democracy.

A con-artist who makes pledges to several women, only for the latter to find out they’ve been duped, would feel the full wrath of the law. But in democracy, liars (read: politicians) actually benefit from their lies, amassing financial and political advantage.

Many an English politician is therefore a criminal, as well as a recipient of bribes who then takes full advantage of his political position… as is the standard charge leveled at the average Indian politician. The difference is that in the English political system you ‘donate’ officially in order to buy your MPs support and protection; whereas in the Indian political system the donation is unrecorded. But the same bribery takes place across both systems.

This is democracy.

One example is from the mother of Parliamentary democracy and the other is from the world’s largest democracy.

So, is there a better system?

Yes indeed. And, no, it is not proportional representation.

The first cast-iron surety we need to put in place is that elected officials who lie during election are to be dismissed from office, criminally charged, and their ill-gotten gains confiscated.

Then, to equally reflect the minority racial or a religious group, a consensus of the population establishes in order to attributes a ratio to each voting group. This means that the minority under the ratio formula will have exactly the same power to their vote as the majority. Thus, now we have governance with consent rather than governance of the numerical votes cast. Numerically, the majority will still cast the larger share of the votes cast; however, due to the ratio formula, the minority voter will have an equal say in the actual outcome and politics.

The ratio formula outstrips the dated, inflexible, and unaccountable voting system termed democracy, and the new outcome would in its truer sense be democracy in earnest.

This system would have enormous positive impact globally, especially in many artificially-constructed countries by the Europeans, as in the case of the Ottoman Empire, in Africa, and across each and every country/landmass that came under the race-European empire.

Yes, it is up to us, the voiceless cattle-class-voter, to demand the fairer ratio vote.

And at this junction, just past, namely that of the spring equinox, in alignment with Vasaakh and the ‘Festival of Life’ that is Vasaakhi, why not push for and establish this fair voting system?

Jackals & Tigers

In numerous societies, jackals have betrayed their own kith and kin, allowing outside powers to subjugate their race, culture, language, and heritage.

I am going to use Sikh examples and indicate to others how they may take steps to safeguard their cultural integrity and dignity.

Dr Rami Ranger & Dr Kapoor

Today’s essay endeavours to illustrate the mechanics invoked at a psychic level to hamper the independence of individuals, communities, and societies. I will use two from within the UK Sikh community to make my point. The first person is Dr Rami Ranger and the second Dr S. S. Kapoor.

Backgrounds of the characters

Raminder Singh Ranger, born July 1947, is Chairman and Managing Director of Sea Air and Land Forwarding Ltd, and the winner of a Queens Award for Export. He secured his PhD from the then newly established Khalsa College, Harrow, London, which was run by a Dr S. S. Kapoor, OBE, D.Litt., PhD., M.Comm (Hons), M.A. (Law), FCCA, FCMA CGMA.

I have to own up to the fact I have not read Dr Rami Ranger’s thesis, nor for that matter Dr Kapoor’s. I do, however, have a copy of the latter’s English translation Sukhmani Sahibji (2007).

Sukhmani Sahibji is an elaborate work by the fifth Sikh Guruji, Guru Arjandevji. If Dr Kapoor’s translation is indeed ‘A Dynamic Look into the Meaning and Philosophy of Sukhmani Sahib’, as boldly claimed on the front of the book, then heaven help us. One of Dr Kapoor’s PhD students presented me with the book. If I had received a pre-publication copy for review, then quite frankly I would have dismissed the author as a simpleton who lacks internal awakening, inner growth, and humility. The work reads as the articulation of ideas cobbled together from the internet, and suffers thereby from a lack of philosophical depth and insight.

Dr Kapoor claims he has published fifty books to date. If his translation of one of the cornerstones of Sikh thought, held in unqualified esteem by Sikhs, is an indicator of his philosophical depth and internal awakening, then I feel embarrassed. Based on that book, I would unflinchingly dismiss his entire published oeuvre as asinine and superficial, unequal to the philosophical heights he has set himself, and that Sukhmani Sahibji demands.

Now, if the principal of the college produces such work of staggering ignorance and a regurgitation of others’ work, then what quality and depth can be ascribed to his students’ productions?

To put this into perspective, one of Dr Kapoor’s students who interacted with me to produce their thesis, was repeatedly questioned about the source of their insights, so advanced were they in comparison with any sources Dr Kapoor used. Ofcourse, the student was under strict instructions not to divulge my input to Dr Kapoor or his cohort, and passed their PhD, but not without some interrogation.

Focus of this essay

Dr Ranger and Dr Kapoor are Chairman and General Secretary of the British Sikh Association respectively. Together, they are in the process of raising one million pounds sterling to fund the creation of a Sikh regiment in the British Army. Furthermore, Dr Ranger has stated that he is against the creation of an independent Sikh state, citing the ‘fact’ that the Sikh Gurus themselves never asked for or advanced the idea of such a state.

It is with this statement on the Sikh state, made by Dr Ranger, that I take issue in this essay titled ‘Jackals and Tigers’.

I do so by way of sharing some basic historical facts as well as the precise meanings of (many an) inaccurately translated words.

Misinformation has led ‘Singh’ to be translated as ‘lion’, when in fact it means tiger. A tiger is larger, bigger, stronger, more intelligent, and exemplifies a thoughtful predator, in comparison to a lion.

(Babbar) ‘Sher’, is the word for lion in the north Indian languages. ‘Singh’ refers to a tiger in the same languages. Thus, it is extremely embarrassing to hear ardent forthright no-nonsense Sikhs laying claim to a higher value by proclaiming themselves as ‘(Babbar) Sikhs’. In doing so, they concede to being weaker, less powerful, and less intelligent than the tigers they really are.

The Sikh confederacy following the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was identical to the confused, contradictory, self-indulgent, and obstinate Sikh groups of today (including across the diaspora).

These fragmented and egotistical groups are very easy to manipulate. Praise and aloofness pay dividends in further dividing such groups and, historically, we can see this in the massive Sikh losses during the two Anglo-Sikh wars.

Tigers became jackals, readily accepting praise, gifts, and promises of glory-rule before the Anglo-Saxons first war against them. After that the second Anglo-Sikh war was a foregone conclusion. In-fighting, self-importance, finger-pointing, and a holier-than-thou attitude meant that regardless of all the prayers offered up the Sikhs got their butt smacked.

For many years now, I have been at pains to amalgamate the various Sikhs groups within the UK, and I feel honoured and privileged to see such a configuration finally taking shape. This began with the dismantlement of the Khalistan movement, and then the formation of the Sikh Consultative Forum (now the Sikh Council). The process of getting the Sikhs to operate under one umbrella is organic, but it is slowly taking shape.

I always have to remind myself that Sikhs are not born hypocrites. They are born honest, sincere, and truthful, even when being so is to their own detriment. Thus, diplomacy does not come to them naturally. However, diplomacy is what is needed immediately and urgently.

In the 1970s, when Sikhs sought their own country, I stood on the sidelines and realised that lions were once again about to be betrayed by jackals. Each group within the Khalistani movement was back-biting the other. Each uttered phrases from the Sri Guru Granthsahibji (Sikhism’s living Guru [their holy scriptures]) parrot-fashion, and tried to out-manoeuvre the others. Standing on the sidelines, I could see how easily they were going to be broken apart from within, and betray others.

Ignorance led the movement, arrogance dug the graves, and the naive became the corpses.

As a Sikh, standing on the outside looking at the massacre the Khalistani movement triggered on its own defenseless people in Panjab, there is an immovable pain seated deep in my psyche.

A self-trained army that out-manoeuvred the raider Abdali Shah after he almost decimated them is the legend heard and spoken about as far as Vietnam – whose own forces took sustenance from Sikh valour, and who deployed similar small-group attack tactics in their success against the Americans.

But what happens when Sikhs have to work together as a large unified group?

During the setup of the Sikh Consultative Forum I strenuously indicated that the formula I supported and advocated was one in which there was a formal head (at the time it was my nomination Bhai Mohinder Singhji of Soho Road Gurdwara,) and a figurehead, to whom the former would be answerable. Albeit that the figurehead of the organisation would hold no power within the constitution, the formal head would not be able to deliver the agreed consensus of the Forum without the prior approval of the figurehead.

Sadly, the position of figurehead was never established. But, just as I imagined, and as is the norm with such things, the Forum underwent – and will continue to undergo – reformation and realignment, and of course renaming, I also indicated at the time the Sikh Consultative Forum was established – and still do – that each Sikh who wishes to interact with government must lodge an agenda with the Sikh Consultative Forum and share the outcome of the meeting with it.The Forum must then distribute this information, and all such updates, to each constituent gurdwara. Did this ever happen? Like hell it did. But I live in hope.

If my indications had been followed through with, and such a structure established, then today I would not need to reprimand Dr Ranger and Dr Kapoor.

Admonishment

The United Nations’ definition of a country stipulates that it must have its own currency, language, law, and defence, amongst other things. Twice, once during the time of Guru Arjandevji (the 5th Guruji) and then again during the time of Guru Tegbahadurji (the 9th Guruji), the exact emblems of an independent country were established and flourished for the time.

So, for Dr Rami Ranger to state on his webpage that he does not support a Sikh independent state and that the Sikh Gurus never had or argued for an independent state amounts to rank ignorance masquerading as self-indulgent importance. This is the same Dr Ranger who has a doctorate from Khalsa College, Harrow, under the aegis of Dr Kapoor’s. And let’s not forget that this is the same Dr Kapoor who is the general secretary of the organisation Dr Ranger set up. One does not need an ‘ology’ to evaluate the veracity of the doctorate in question.

If either of the two gentlemen feels I am wrong, then they are welcome to take me to court, and we’ll examine their literature using current anti-plagiarizing software to determine the veracity of their work.

I humbly suggest that Dr Rami Singh Ranger remove the ignorant remarks attributed to the Sikh Gurus and Sikhism’s desire to enjoy self-determination.

And let’s not lose sight of the fact that Indian states are, and to date function as, independent sovereign countries within a federal framework called India.

Dr Rami Singh Ranger’s remarks on his website are more to do with selling himself as a poodle of the British government via whom he receives plaudits and accolades.

Why is it that I as a Sikh do not need a British Empire honour to make me feel a sense of self-worth?

If both gentlemen’s self-worth is only measured by how many accolades they can secure from the British then my best wishes are with them.

However, can they please be kind and considerate enough not to make factually inaccurate statements in order to curry favour with their British masters?