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?

April 2013. Sikh novelty act @ 10 Downing St; “All humanity is One” (sent to To Bhai Mohinder Singhji, Sikh Consultative Forum)

Sikh Consultative Forum – Bhai Mohinder Singhji

Gurdwara Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Soho Road, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Satsiriakalji,

Re:  Feedback – UK Parliament

Please decide exactly what role you as the lead chair of Sikh Consultative Forum are trying to fulfil. Either you are a common-garden religious personality cult or you are the head of a dharmic organisation (albeit overladen with cultish behaviour).

For the cult leader, the hunger for notching up photo opportunities is an indication of that individual’s starved sense of self-worth – and of a cheap, tawdry, ego.

For the figurehead of the Sikh Consultative Forum, participating as a novelty act in the kirtan performance at 10 Downing Street last year is absolutely unacceptable.

Why did you participate as a novelty act @ 10 Downing Street?????

And having done so, insult is added to injury by the fact that this year your representative at 10 Downing Street read a message from you containing words he couldn’t pronounce, and whose meanings were lost on both him and a majority of the attendees.

Why such a horrendous spectacle in place of a dignified presentation? The message was off the mark, the delivery embarrassingly out of sequence, and inappropriate for the setting.

Who advises you?

Experts in public relation disasters?!

Or, delusional speech writers who chose on a thesaurus but lack the nuance to understand the impact of the words therein?

Either way, blame cannot be laid at the door of these advisors, whoever they are – until and unless you decide what role you are trying to fulfill.

I brought to your attention many years ago the very impasse of such a situation – and the fact that you need to re-evaluate precisely what image you are trying to project. For, I have yet to see an archbishop, let alone the Pope, visiting the Indian Parliament or Prime Minister’s office and sitting on the floor to lead a gospel choir. So why on earth did you do?

Have you lost your senses or are you that hungry for popularity as a gimmicky stage-act. Is it that you in fact are trying to create a niche act to perform on a public stage similar to the Queen’s Buckingham garden celebrations?

Please stop embarrassing your position, begin taking your responsibility seriously, and act with the decorum your position demands.

You have no idea the role that has been entrusted to you. That lack of awareness is no excuse for you to behave in the manner you have been of late.

Yes, for the ordinary servile Desi whatever you utter has meaning. No one challenges you, corrects you, or has a sufficient enough grasp on things to tell you honestly and frankly that you are talking ‘jackanory’. But you should be sensitive enough not to get caught examining and explaining terms and words about which you really have very little depth of knowledge.

You are simply regurgitating another’s unchallenged written word as if that explanation is sacrosanct. Please, leave that type of banal simpleton’s explanation to the carousel gianis.

You are a figurehead. Please have the maturity and sensibility to remain in that domain only. Let the pseudo-hypereducated who have more information than common sense at their disposal knot themselves in explanations where they are left chasing their own tails.

Here, I will give an example I have often heard you and most other Sikh ‘orators’ vocalise. You state that ‘All humanity is One’. Really? If that is the case then why do your contingent and Sikhs in general complain about Sikh girls marrying Islamic men and becoming Mohammedan in their faith practice?

Reality is that you lot have a heart failure if your children wed out of caste. So much for your ‘All humanity is One’ nonsense. If your ‘sevadars’ did proper research of the actual root meaning of the words contained in that quotation you and they would realise that the quote embodies recognition that ‘in creation and non-creation the same essence presides and resides in all’.

“All humanity is One” refers, therefore, to the essence; it fundamentally does not refer to classification, division and manifestation in matter.

Thus, you are the same as the sea of oil that runs deep in the earth just as you are the same as the spark that escapes the sun allowing earth to manifest ‘life’. You as a human are the same in essence as a cow or any other meat. Thus, eating meat makes you a cannibal.

If the quote “All humanity is One” referred only to humans then you cannot complain when children leave the Sikh faith to embrace another. Rather, the quote, read in this way, impels you to rejoice in the fact. But do you? No, you have knee-jerk tears to compensate your ‘loss of face’.

Ignorance is bliss.

However, as in my previous correspondence, I am going to leave the choices you make on your shoulders.

Satsiriakalji,

Avtar