'Gurdwara' or Party Hall?
Article by Jagdeesh Singh of Slough UK.
"I did not reveal this sacred vision of Khaalsa life, for you to turn into a
Guru Gobind Singh jee
What do you do, when confronted with such obstinate abuse and obscenity like this? Do we launch an inspiring morcha like our forefathers did in the 1920s, to liberate and cleanse our sacred institutions from the clutches of the anti-Sikh mahants?
This is, indeed, something to consider in England.
Our gurdwaras are going down the drain, into the muck and mire of man-made whims and desires - "wedding machines", party-ing, commercialisation. They are being drained of their gurmat purpose and beauty. There is no regard for the vital principles and endless sacrifices that, have gone into initiating and sustaining Sikh practises and institutions. The gurdwara has been reduced to a convenient venue for free food, for weddings and all those things people do when they gather in large masses.
This situation described below [refer to thread on this forum titled 'Ramgharia Gurdwara Reject Guru Ji'] is not unique to the said Ramgarhia gurdwara. Indeed, it is commonplace across all so-called 'Ramgarhia gurdwaras' ('ramgarhia' is a title hijacked from Sikh history). For example, according to reports, in one such Ramgarhia gurdwara, surplus langar is being actually sold to sangat. Yes, SOLD for money!
Equally, many other mainstream gurdwara committees are indulging in many other forms of unprincipled behaviour. The jat run gurdwaras are, only, a little better. They commit pretty much the same obscenities as the darkaans and other sectarian groups within the Sikh world. Indeed, all gurdwara committees are the same in their duplicity, manipulation and gross lack of principles. For the committed Sikhs, this is not an issue of jats, darkans, etc. It is first and foremost an issue of SIKH ETHICS. It is about rescuing these powerful Sikh institutions from the hands of these poisonous oppressors - committing self-destruction and contamination in the heart of the Sikh world.
Gurdwaras are a bastion of Sikh spirit, Sikh ideals, Sikh practises, Sikh examples. They are a positive and benevolent FORTRESS of Sikhi. Take for example, "Kes-Garh Sahib" - the Fort of Natural Hair! GURDWARAS were set up by the Gurus to be the POWER-HOUSE of Sikh life and living - to inspire, to activate, to unite and take forward human society.
The opponents of the Sikhs throughout history, were always deeply distrustful and hostile to the activity and moral strength of the gurdwaras. Like the Mughals, the British sought to contain and constrict the power of the Akal Takht and Darbar Sahib and all Sikh gurdwaras. A quote from a British minister in the late 1800s refers to gurdwaras as a 'dangerous places', as places of 'resistance and rebellion', as a 'state within a state'. He stresses the need to contain and pacify these places. Indeed, the Indian state wholescale attack on the SIKH NATION in 1984 began with a destructive attack on the primary Sikh gurdwaras (Darbar Sahib, Akaal Takht and 80 other significant historic Gurdwaras across Panjaab). India and British rulers are today happy to see Sikh gurdwaras in a state of chaos and mis-direction. The potential powerhouse of Sikhi have been neutralised and emasculated! No conscious parchar, means no inspiration, which means no activity, which means no campaigns or morchas, which means no threat from the gurdwaras and the Sikh community. Gurmat and active minded Sikhs are excluded from the gurdwaras, as 'trouble-makers' and 'fundamentalists'; as the uncommitted and uncaring 'Sikhs' secure their fiefdoms. The power-houses of Sikh spirit and action are pacified and tamed.
Gurdwaras are not passive centres for individual private prayers - paying £2-300.00 to bribe god to give a named individual or a family a private and personalised form of escapist 'peace' or 'shanti'. Today, gurdwaras up and down Britain have been turned into wholescale commercial operations. As the Sikh writer highlights below, they are "marriage machines". Gurdwaras are rented out on weekends for a jamboree and circus of vane materialism. This shows an open contempt for the Guru, the Gurus precious principles, the sacrifices that went into sustaining Sikh principles and practises and everything to do with the ideals and spirit of an ethical Sikh way of life.
Every gurdwara committee is happy to rent out the gurdwara premises for marriage shows to any and every person whoh is prepared to pay £600.00 plus to the gurdwara coffers.
Sikhi is not about money - never was and never will be! You don't have to pay to go to the gurdwara. You don't have to pay to partake of langar. You don't have to pay to embrace Sikh principles. You don't have to pay for God's benevolent guidance. You don't have to pay to become a member of the Khaalsa Panth, through the baptism of death & life (khande-da-amrit). Why then do you have to have to pay to conduct an Anand Karaj or any other activity in a gurdwara? Why do you have to pay for a Paath in the Gurdwara? Indeed, there is no such thing as a personalised or private prayer in Sikhi. A true Sikh never prayers for private wealth or private gain. Instead, a Sikh always prayers for "sarbat da bhalla" (no less, no more) - abiding fully with god's global hukam (earthquakes, tsunamis, life, death, bliss, sadness, or whatever is ordained). A Sikh accepts that, graceful participation in the entire journey of life - as given and shaped by god -is a fulfilling and purposeful experience.
A Sikh does not seek escapism to some private 'shanti' or private callings for gods 'blessings' for a new car, a new shop or a new businesses. "When my life comes to its end, May I die in the thick of struggle." (Khaalsa National Anthem) Like the Sikhs of old (e.g. Baba Deep Singh) and present (e.g. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale); a committed believeing Sikh prayers for a glorious death to complete their life on earth. Such a death is one of struggle, torture, painful punishment in the pursuit of a idealistic world - 'halemi raaj'. A Sikh is saint-warrior for a benevolent, just and holistic global world.
Sikhi is a vision for a global 'dharamsaal' (as stated in Japji Sahib). Sikhi is not a private personalised 'religion'; or something that ones does to find private solace or 'shanti'. For that, there are plenty of private gurus and sects across the world. And, indeed, many nervous and fragile minds join these passive 'guru'-worship groups, to address their individual fears, phobias and desires. The Khaalsa is a global vision. The Khaalsa warrior is a global mind, a global citizen. The Khaalsa warrior is a buoyant and free mind (chard-i-kala). As Sukha and Jinda said
in their letters to India: "You can imprison our bodies, but you cannot imprison our minds".
The challenge for us now is, do we respond to this stage of history, by asserting Khalsa sovereignty and freedom over our stolen and hijacked gurdwaras; or do we passively let the current tide of dismantling and destruction take its course?
Do we launch a peaceful morcha of non-violent intervention, like our inspiring forefathers in the historic Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar of the 1920s?
If we stand by, and let someone else take the responsibility it will never get done.
We have to make the moves.