In an interesting piece written in “The Hindu”, Madanjeet Singh, himself a Sikh and a former Indian diplomat questions the militant outlook of the Sikhs. He says that the Sikh fundoos (people holding extreme views) have distorted out of all recognition the militant order of Khalsa that Guru Gobind Singh instituted in 1699. He says that it is incomprehensible as to how anyone can project nine years of Khalsa as the rason d’etre of Sikhism and give it precedence over 239 years of the history of the Sikh Gurus.
Sikh tradition has it that Guru Nanak at the age of 30, declined to say anything other than repeating “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim.” Nanak believed that faith was a matter of personal belief and he urged Muslims to be true Muslims and Hindus to be true Hindus. His followers were called Sikhs, and included many Muslims and Hindus. Guru Nanak passed away on September 22, 1539, what he left behind was a great legacy of the three pillars of Sikhism: meditation, earning and honest living, and sharing with others. The institution of langar – common community kitchen, which the Guru established was aimed at breaking the discrimination of the caste system.
The first Khalsa was launched by Guru Gobind Singh on March 30, 1699 at Anandpur Sahib, barely nine years before his death in 1708. The order was formed during a state of emergency to confront the Mughal army in guerilla warfare. The ever-ready equipment of the five Ks – Kesh (uncut hair), Kanga (comb), Kaccha (short trousers), Kara (steel bangle) and Kirpan (sword) – was essential for the militants as they moved from place to place under cover of forest. In fact, following the death of Aurngazeb in 1707, the importance of the purely militant character of the Khalsa organization diminished.
Facts have it that one in three residences of Punjab belongs to the Scheduled Castes – the highest percentage in
It appears that people like Piara Singh Bhaniarawala (a Dalit Sikh spiritual leader) and the Dera Chief are but manifestations of these leaders to whom the lower caste Sikhs have turned to.