Collapse of Cultural Consistency

Minority cultures have always survived as an illusion of a balanced rational-protection extended by the majority. That is, the majority culture has always depicted minor culture as an independent rational entity, portraying its survival as the basis of a modern tolerant society. However, this is fundamentally and factually not true.

I will use Sikhs living in United Kingdom to illustrate the point.

Like the Gurkhas, Sikhs are intrinsically docile, peaceful, caring, thoughtful, hospitable, and accommodating. Their polite tolerance has led them to be used, abused, and taken advantage of. We saw this in India’s promises pre-independence, and we see it today in how they are treated in the UK and other western countries.

In the United Kingdom, Sikhs have repeatedly had their cultural identity and articles of faith downgraded to a point where their kirpan, which for spiritual reasons has to have a 9 inch blade, has systematically been reduced in length to a 6 inch blade. Furthermore, the wearer is refused entry aboard a commercial flight. The equally important instrument that every turban-wearing Sikh carries, namely a five inch blunt needle used to tuck back hair that escapes along the lower edge of the turban, is also not permitted on board commercial flights. By contrast, Indian airlines permit both these article of faith – the kirpan and tucking-needle – as part of the essential grooming kit of every male Sikh.

So, let’s examine some of the reasoning behind the constant abuse and meddling through which the British government denigrates Sikh lifestyle, cultural norms, and religious heritage.

The primary facilitator of these attacks on Sikhs is their own deep capacity for tolerance. They deem it impolite to protest openly and overtly, because they consider the opposition should be culturally civilised. However, if the other side refuses to see the value of the Sikhs’ initial reasoning then Sikhs (like Gurkhas) consider the other side to be emotionally retarded, mentally inadequate, culturally uncivilized, and allow the opposition to ride roughshod over them. Their opponents just think ‘well, that was easy’.

Democracy is founded on the concept that the minority’s wellbeing is an unquestionable right, and a civilisation that protects minority rights is considered enlightened and modern. However, in the United Kingdom, Sikhs have always experienced the opposite of this maxim.

Additionally, Sikhs often create their own problems because their lack of guile, scheming, cunning, and deceit repeatedly short-changes them.

I will share some recent examples to illustrate the point.

During March and April, Sikhs exercise a traditional and fundamental faith-rite of taking the Sri Gurugranthsahibji on a spiritual cleansing and purifying procession, called ‘Nagar Kirtan’, through the streets from one Gurdwara to another of a given town, or indeed circumambulating the local streets of a Gurdwara if it is the only one in the town. Over the past ten and more years, the advent of Sikh-run radio and television stations has given Sikhs a new-found freedom of speech platform. This has led eager, well-intentioned but untrained reporters, and equally well-intentioned but untrained editors to allow utterly thoughtless, ill-informed individuals to express their opinions on the public media platform.

One elderly rotund man who happened not to wear a turban and represented one of the Gurdwaras of Southall stated: ‘The event is not managed professionally, and the free food stalls only serve rich Panjabi fare when they should only serve healthy food’ (from which I assume he meant a Mediterranean diet) ‘as our diet is very unhealthy and our people don’t do any exercise on top of that…’. This idiotic, ill-informed man’s views were broadcast live without any form of correction.

Why?

Because the reporters were all recent settlers in the UK. To not question or challenge a statement is a bedrock of their socialization, such that any mention of a European experience is lapped up verbatim even if it is utter nonsense.

Why were the remarks sheer stupidity?

Well, if we examine the normal Panjabi diet and compare it to the Mediterranean diet, nutritional reasoning would suggest that Mediterraneans outlive Panjabis by dozens of years, and that they die fit and healthy.

Really?

The reality is that one’s genetic makeup determines longevity, while fitness and diet have a smaller part to play in the scheme of things. On top of which a millennia old cultural diet hones a race’s ability to handle that diet, so that if it was fed a fundamentally alien diet to its DNA this would eventually have powerful degenerative effects on the individual. Added to which, diet advice by scientists and nutritionists changes every few weeks in the west. So, their opinion is hardly gospel anyway. Altogether, this renders the elderly man’s opinion groundless; and anyway his own physical shape strongly suggested he diets gleefully on the very rich Panjabi diet that he publicly denounced, and his protruding belly indicates that he rarely exercises if at all.

Holier-than-thou idiots are very fast to criticise the management of an event, but ask them to take charge and coordinate it themselves, and they soon realise precisely how difficult such a project is to handle.

The ill-conjectured statement broadcast on television failed to understand that the ‘Nagar Kirtan’ ‘langar’ (baptised, sanctified food) has to be in keeping with the customary ‘langar’ consumed during the times of the Sikh Gurus. The entire faith-ritual is about re-enacting several aspects of tradition established since the times of the Gurus.

Consequently, if a Mediterranean diet were foisted on the masses who partake in the spiritual journey of ‘Nagar Kirtan’, it is hardly going to exponentially increase the longevity of their life.

The very idea of ‘langar’ is not that of a free kitchen along with free food. ‘Langar’ intimates that the donors, cooks and servers are partaking in a hands-on spiritual ‘seva’ (selfless service) for their own spiritual improvement, and that those who partake in the ‘parsad’ (blessed and sanctified food) equally feel and sense their own spiritual awakening.

Moving on…

Unfortunately, heath and safety came knocking as soon as the first massive Gurdwara in the western world was constructed, and insisted that the ‘langar’ preparations had to abide by commercial kitchen standards. THEY ARE NOT COMMERCIAL BLOODY KITCHENS. It is not my or my culture’s fault that you Anglo-Saxons are dumb and dim dunces when it comes to advanced spiritual practices and nuances. The leading committee of the Gurdwara readily deferred their own advanced state of mind, and while discarding the Anglo-Saxon representative from London Borough of Ealing Council a dimwit retard, nevertheless accepted the commercial constraints on the ‘langar’ area. It did so to the point that cultural tradition in that Gurdwara has been destroyed, and this has deeply scarred the congregation. Well done London Borough of Ealing’s health and safety.

Sikhs assume that if they keep on accommodating the backwardness of the Anglo-Saxon mindset, Anglo-Saxons will very soon have an epiphany. That is never going to happen. Why? Because race-Europeans lack the quintessential organ for spiritual growth. They lack skin pigment.

The matter has become worse.

The police who marshal such spiritual events now insist that the Gurdwara pay commercial rates to the police for doing so. Sikhs seem unprepared to fight their corner, while deeming the police position to be that of a backward civilisation, to whom it is not worth explaining matters.

Let us examine this further.

A Gurdwara is a charitable institution. It is not a business. And unlike a football club it does not generate commercial income. If the police authority cannot distinguish commerce from cultural spiritual rationale, then it will not be very long before we in this country will have Asian migrant kids policing our towns and cities. After all, if the police is to mirror a commercial enterprise then its personnel expenditure will have to be trimmed to a point that indigenous natives will refuse to get out of bed to work as policemen/women. This then means that either (regardless of Brexit) east Europeans are hired, or Asian migrant personnel are drafted in on an income that would be palatable to them.

Dignity

Conservative governments seem to run this country as if it were a business. No, this country is not a business. It is a country. And if you cannot get your small minds around that simple idea then it is no wonder you are forever cutting welfare and care to the members of our community who need our collective help. We are not all born equal, but we all have dignity. Dignity exists on the principle that those more able should willingly care for those who are unable to care for themselves. There is no law written anywhere in stone, or in any figment of imagination, that allows one human – say for example, Ian Duncan Smith MP – to shrill with his private hair in knots that those who are less well off, or incapable, should be mercilessly pilloried.

And just to hammer home my point: ever tried zero hours, Mr Ian Duncan Smith MP? Sorry, that question was aimed at his dog, and if he does not have one, then please get a dog, and kindly put the question to that dog. Because the dog will have a better appreciation of the question then Mr Ian Duncan Smith MP ever will. Mr Ian Duncan Smith MP is an exact example of the dumb and dim dunce Anglo-Saxon I allude to above. On your death, Mr Ian Duncan Smith MP, please show the rest of humanity how you are going to take your wealth with you. You, like the rest of the motley crew, are going to leave it all behind here on this third-rate iron-rust-bucket planet called mother Earth.

The second example I share of Sikhs successfully scoring an own goal time and again involves myself.

I held talks with one of the Sikh television stations to broadcast, from a minority viewpoint, the absurd mistreatment by government institutions of minorities. Coming from me it would have been balanced but characteristically also very hard-hitting. My mobile and home phone is under constant surveillance and naturally ‘they’ were aware of the discussions I was having. In a very short space of time, the leader of the London Borough of Ealing Council, Councillor Ian Bell, accompanied by the London Borough of Ealing Police Commander, contacted the television owners and invited themselves to a meeting with the owners.

The Sikh owners – one is a brickie turned self-made multi-millionaire, and the main person is a very pious accountant – were massively ego-massaged. They were left with a strong impression not to rock the boat as it might have a detrimental effect on the television station. Thus, they contacted me to inform me that my idea for the half-hour weekly documentary would not be supported.

Fair enough.

Now here is the best part.

A few months after this meeting the television station was hit by the television authorities with a 30,000.00 pound sterling fine.

No kidding.

Had the owners of that particular television station held their ground and backed me, then the fine would never have been imposed, as I would have hit hard at the appropriate authorities: naming and shaming both the leader of the London Borough of Ealing Council councillor Ian Bell, and the Ealing Borough police commander for intimidation, coercion, and abusing their privilege and position in order to levy unacceptable pressure on the freedom of the media in the United Kingdom.

The future

Minorities are repeatedly told to assimilate and mimic English behaviour. Tony Blair was a great one for pushing that agenda. The ill-conceived concept was designed to propel minorities to become mindless mimickers of the English lifestyle, without adopting the abject rudeness of their ‘speak my mind’ attitude.

I am a product of observed and absorbed English behaviour and attitude. Thus, when needed, I can automatically be as selfish, centered, egotistical and petty as your normal bog-standard English bloke.

Yet, I repeatedly refrain, and it has to be said, I have to consciously urge myself to behave in that retarded fashion and mimic English behaviour.

However, Sikhs of the United Kingdom on the whole refuse to downgrade themselves and mimic English behaviour and attitude. And herein lies the crux of their problem. If they are not prepared to become selfish and self-centered, then they (like the Gurkha) will be used, abused, and discarded except when a government needs their military prowess.

Sikhs are at yet another cross-roads in their history. They intuitively know that they are ready to up sticks and leave their hard-earned wealth here, and re-locate as penniless refugees to another part of the globe where their entrepreneurship will be welcomed – as it once was here in the United Kingdom, just as it once was in east Africa.

But, will Sikhs leave having had their cultural norms weakened? No. I am of the opinion that they will revive them at the new place. And that is the relief that I live with, knowing that my cultural integrity will not be permanently diluted or weakened, regardless of the constant attacks here in the free west on my cultural norms and standards.

Once we minorities have left these shores, the United Kingdom’s indigenous natives can run this country as they see fit. After all, Iceland is going great guns without any input from a minority culture, so why should this Anglo-Saxon island called the United Kingdom not be able to do the same?

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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?

Meditation, Fighters, Warriors, and Khalsa-Warriors

This is an introduction to the next essay… which I promise will be both deep and shocking.

What is a warrior?

According to popular news, media and entertainment programmes, warriors are armed forces personnel who sit in helicopter gun-ships and shoot-to-kill at distant crowds that pose zero personal threat to them. These are the so-called warriors championed in the western media, whose acts are celebrated as brave and heroic.

We, from our background, do not deem such behaviour as warrior-like, at all.

It is worth briefly focusing on the classifications of fighter, warrior and divine warrior that sometimes get jumbled up together using examples most of us know…

The Knights Templar were an immensely wealthy, politically powerful, west European, Christian military order. They were religious rather than spiritual. They were fighters, not warriors.

The Shogun are an example of warriors. As are the original Sufis. Prior to conversion to Islam many centuries after the founding of Mohammedism, Sufism was a spiritual movement and therefore at a higher level than mere religiosity.

The original baptised Sikh – the Khalsa – were, until they diverged from their founding tenets in the 1950s, divine warriors.

Now let me clarify each of the three classifications of fighter, warrior and divine warrior.

Old-fashioned fighters never actually picked a fight. They defended. Trained in armed warfare, they also maintained and continued a tradition of working in the family business. Their readiness to kill or be killed turned on split-second emotions. They reacted to situations, but were proactive in that reaction.

Old-fashioned warriors were thoughtful protectors of life. More often than not, they ate humble pie. Humiliation was not a reason or justification for them to pick up arms or kill. Occasionally, they acted as consultants, intervening to defuse disputes and find face-saving solutions for all concerned parties. With the passage of time, however, the traditional value of responsibility diminished, and these warriors transmuted into mercenaries.

The Khalsa – referring to a state beyond divinity – were warriors with a difference. They had awakened perception. They were a movement comprising advanced Sadhus who were ordered to immerse themselves in family, business and secular life while simultaneously maintaining their divine ethos. Similar to the Shogun and Sufi strata, they were protectors of life; what set them apart from that strata of warrior was the fact that they had to protect another’s right to kill them. In war, they sought not to kill their foe, but to disarm them and thereby allow them to return to their families. If foes persisted, after at least three times of such magnanimous behaviour, they were killed.

Only those steeped in meditation can fully comprehend the ramifications of death and killing.

So, you see, unlike the poster-boys of the contemporary so-called warrior-class described at the beginning of this essay, a divine warrior would never deign to press buttons from a distance, raining death upon whoever happened to be there.

This is a prelude and companion to next week’s essay about Sikhism, Vaisaski and Khalsa….

Sikh Mystic

Sikhs are caught in a strange paradox. A paradox without parallel in their history. They are hurtling towards a pattern of behaviour inimical to their very being; where once they lived not merely in alignment with, but expansively beyond, the samurai code which Takaharo Kitamura defines thus:

“The samurai must maintain his faith in his beliefs, even as the social or political climate shifts and alters. He must be patient, must act in a manner that may at times seem irrational or illogical, must resist the temptation of instant gratification, and must work towards fulfilling what may seem to be an impossible idea. As a result, the samurai is often sometimes an outsider, a rebellious figure because he refuses to conform to the habits of the day.”

Whence the stupendous fall from grace of the Sikh mystic? Why are Sikhs going, not into the mystic, but resolutely away from it? To answer this question, we need to explore the death of Sikh humanity – that quality of being humane and benevolent, of eschewing judgement in favour of empathy. Okay, ‘death’ may be a tad overwrought – but certainly Sikh humanity defined in this way has entered a period of ruination equally ruinous to the existence of the Sikh mystic.

Now, I have absolute empathy with that age when PhDs were conferred only once a student had accomplished mastery of, and successfully defended their theses on, no fewer than eight subjects. An age when PhDs were attained well beyond the age of 40. Today of course, entry into just one PhD programme is difficult enough, and mastering just the one subject is a life-consuming venture for four years or more. – but to master eight subjects?! I’ve nothing but admiration for that kind of feat – a norm among PhD students in a long-ago age, and one in which the Indian universities excelled, welcoming students from across the world.

What the Sikh mystic did however, was to extend the scholarly curriculum, to revolutionise the armchair-debating speciality of Aryadesh’s scholars and the subject-focused study of their research students. Sikh mysticism deepened the scope of education and expertise, integrated this to extend to body as well as mind. Thus, while an erstwhile research subject included mastery of war – Sikh mysticism required that this have a physical component, a practical counterpart to learning about strategy and tactics. It was a radical departure from a theory-only curriculum, and from the kind of mystic enquiry that limited itself to fathoming the unseen – Sikh mysticism brought to the table a pragmatic imperative; knowledge for the sake of dealing with life’s everyday problems.

If pragmatics had been valued enough, it’s possible that the morning on which the Mohammedans (the original name of followers of Islam) conquered north-west Aryadesh for the umpteenth time might never have come to pass. Indeed, one young mystic – following a householder’s lifestyle rather than that of a recluse or ivory-tower theoretician – pleaded with his senior mystics that they take a physical role in defending and repulsing the invading army. The response was along the lines of “We will sit and meditate, and materialise a sheet of mirror to confront and blind the invading army as it marches across the desert along the north-western frontier.” Meditation did not transform sand into a mirror with blinding properties. North-west Aryadesh was conquered.

And the young mystic? He is now known universally as Guru Nanakdevji. The founder and first guru of the Sikhs. (I’ll write more about what a guru is in a future post).

Guru Nanakdevji was a reformer. He jettisoned reliance on subjective and ethereal knowledge alone. He believed that the human world would be governed by those who master technology – which is where this sentence ends from the European (including American) perspective – and harness it for the benefit of people, animals and the environment. This is written into the Sri Guru Granth Sahibji, along with other of his observations, such as the imperative of strenuously tackling, confronting and improving circumstances to effect a more balanced state rather than meekly accepting karma.

The ‘knowledge-and-action’ based humanity of Guru Nanakdevji thrived through the other nine progressive Sikh Gurus. Hence, pragmatics – Guru Ramdassji (the fourth Guru) encouraged horsemanship as well as the mastering and carrying of arms, in a legal environment forbidding this – shared the limelight with scholarly pursuit.

Consequently, Sikhs were not exactly flavour of the day. Challenging ages-old traditions of Vedantic and Vedic philosophy, with their mass following and off-the-mark translations of Sanskrit scriptures (before Hinduism came to encompass everything in a hazy amorphous mass), was – and this is too often understated if explored at all –unpalatable to the mystical elite.

Yet, as with all reformist movements, the earliest adherents to Sikh mysticism comprised disaffected scholars and elites from within the ruling but increasingly defunct system – the rationality of their argument in favour of Guru Nanakdevji attracting more followers in turn. Yet, Guru Nanakdevji’s wasn’t Aryadesh’s first reformist movement by any stretch of the imagination – Bhagat Kabir and several others before him had tried and failed. What marked Guru Nanakdevji out was his born-enlightenment quality – that advanced divine awareness of his that came from birth, and gave him absolute abilities in exposing weak arguments and won him acclaim within the highest echelons of the Divine community of his age.

To put this into context, Gautaum Buddha was a self-enlightened; while Jesus of Nazareth and Mohammed of Makkah were taught-enlightened. At a pedestrian level, these strata of enlightenment are unseen, exchangeable with and inextricable from each other – what is necessary is to extrapolate the individuals involved; at an advanced spiritual level, the enlightenment forms are distinguishable but understood to more importantly comprise part of a cosmic continuum in which the bio-signatures of the individual are irrelevant categorizations.

So, we have a born-enlightened reformer espousing knowledge-action based humanity that integrates mental acuity, physical prowess, and pragmatic action – a figure in the form of Guru Nanakdevji who is a superior dialectician, unraveling the confusions of the Vedic norms and the ambiguities of the Mohammedan edicts, and joined by many an interlocutor won over by the rationality of his equal and balanced lifestyle argument.

And while this followership expanded to the masses, the source of Sikh mysticism’s initial attraction was the elites – the educated. (This social constructivist basis of group identity is well-documented within anthropological research – including the role of elites in setting the agenda, and articulating the symbols and ideology that attract the masses into believing, or in this instance cleaving to reform).

To a huge degree, however, Sikh mysticism was its own PR. It’s access to, and explanatory value and practical importance for Aryadesh’s lay population, came at the moment of its unveiling on the global stage – when Guru Gobind Raiji presented the Mystic-Warrior Sikhs formally at Vaisakhi at Anandpur Sahib and thence was baptised under their auspices as Guru Gobind Singhji.

But it also came in response to the Sikh mystics’ successes in battle – those demonstrations of power and prowess that speak volumes to a mass population excluded from the exercise of esoteric knowledge that is the elite’s domain. Mohammedan warriors sought out Sikh mystics in battle in order to die at their hands, such was the blessing and aura connoted with being a Sikh mystic.

Together, these attainments combined to attract many fame-seekers, excited by the prospect of the adrenalin of battleground victories and of becoming Sikhs – Singhs – in the process. At its apex Sikh mysticism was venerated as itself being at the apex of all dharmas and religions; and the achievements of the Sikh mystics, ordinary householders who mesmerised the population, were legendary. With the passing of the tenth Guruji, crucial adjustments leveled out the equally crucial distinctions between dharma and religion, and the criteria for becoming a Mystic-Warrior Sikh – the triadic cornerstone of mental acuity, physical prowess, and pragmatics in the service and advancement of humaneness and humanity – were relaxed to an unprecedented level.

Consequently, the baptism ceremony to become a Singh resembles a ‘conversion job-lot’ and I am unyielding in my opposition to this. For me, Singh and Kaur denote, for men and women respectively, “a Sikh mystic who is deeply and thoroughly educated but has chosen a hands-on, warrior-secular lifestyle, committed in their refusal to let truth be humiliated – even if they have to stand alone and must give up their own life in protecting truth” (Avtar).

But what I witness is angry people unable to command their own emotions being encouraged into baptism as Singhs, as if there is a contest to see who can secure the most conversions. And they take place several times a year, year in, year out – across the globe. It’s an absolute nonsense. I would even support the conversion of these manipulated innocents if they were, at the very least, entered into a stream of education that would result in their inner awakening. But they’re not and, so, I shan’t.

Think about it, the criteria for becoming a Singh are: a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, a promise to wake up early and do two sets of prayers, one in the morning and one in the evening, not cutting their hair and wearing the five kakkars.

You may as well put out a call inviting everybody who’s ever been told by their doctor that for the sake of their health they need to eat a vegetarian diet and give up alcohol, smoking and recreational drugs; and who, on top of that, don’t get around to trimming their hair… convert to being a Singh, you tick most of the boxes already.

If only it were that easy to become a Sikh mystic!

Vegetarianism has always been a mainstay of the Indian diet; keeping hair untrimmed has always been the choice of those seeking inner awareness…these are hardly edicts of an advanced dharma, then, but merely extrapolations of long-held local practices, and not a whole lot to crow about, after all.

Sikh mysticism is a tad more complicated, and yes, I would revert to some strictness about who may take the next step in their inner development with respect to initiating them into Sikh mysticism. Remember the prescriptions of mental acuity (to the level of scholarship), physical prowess, and pragmatic resolution of life’s everyday problems? Entwined with the qualities of humanity – truth, protection, empathy?

In all of this, there is no place for arrogance; and I would strip that out of any wannabe Singh by asking them to précis their knowledge of current scientific and philosophical research; prepare and formally defend doctoral theses on four subjects of their choice; demonstrate recall of all the world scriptures, and be able to extrapolate the theological differences between them. Fail in any, and you fail totally. Please pass “Go”, you don’t have what it takes. You cannot become the Khalsa.

What you actually see happening, however, is open baptism season, accompanied by a lot of venom and anger and utilization of media platforms to see who can shout loudest. Of the oft-quoted Kahlil Gibran phrase “Rest in reason; move with passion”, only the second half seems to resonate and even then without qualification or balance or temperance. And the newly baptised then fragment into social cult groupings, their fealty occurring at the cost almost of Sikh unity.

One inspirational Sikh took a more outlandish path to inner awakening and gained mystical status as a result, only for this acolytes to follow the method without achieving what he had; it was a case of ignoring the interplay between an individual’s bio-signature and the method of self-awareness suited thereto, and thinking that fervently rocking and atonally and loudly repeating a mantra would allow you to reach the heady heights of enlightenment though your bio-signature requires a different method altogether. Ask the acolytes, however, and they will, to a man, deny that they haven’t advanced spiritually.

The mesmerised are never taught the simplest truth of all: which is that you must find what works for you. I can’t emphasise this enough – focus on your aim not on the individual who appears to have reached it.

Few can become mystics. Weakening the pool through mass, emotionally-charged conversion doesn’t help anyone. While there is nothing to fault in the initial fervour of the newly converted, eventually the veneer peels off and they come to see the ultimate aim/objective with the naked and dispassionate eye, and in all its unattainable reality.

For example, almost everybody misses the point of being a warrior: it is to find every conceivable way to get out of a fight. A Mystic-Warrior must first try to create an environment which allows both sides to save face. Only when all attempts at this are rejected does the Mystic-Warrior move into the phase of shielding the weak, protecting the vulnerable, and disarming the aggressor. If the latter raises arms and takes aim, then it is permissible to put them to peaceful rest. A Mystic-Warrior does not sit in judgement, but accepts human frailty and ignores ambition.

Yet, to see the veins practically popping out on the foreheads of the baptised Sikhs, who huddle together on the Sikh television channels here in the West, creating a frenzy of argument and anger, clenching their fists in demand of their wants, substituting freedom of speech for the freedom of thought that is already theirs by right… well, Mystic-Warrior Sikh is not the first description that comes to mind; nor is Sikh, let alone Singh.

There is genuineness in their desire to see justice fulfilled as they regard it, but while admirable, they remain demeaning examples – all too widely emulated – of that which fully and truthfully is the Sikh Mystic-Warrior. As Rumi writes: “It is not thunder that grows flowers, but water.” 

It is nigh on impossible to be a Sikh Mystic – but for all that, it is neither unattainable nor unlivable as a lifestyle.