Sikhs and Studies: A Global Perspective by Jasbir Singh Sethi
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This paper is an attempt “to view the total forest, not just one tree” and takes a dynamic view, looking “Completely Outside the Box”; in broad brush strokes. It gives a sweeping view of Education, in general and specifically Sikh Studies in an historical setting; roadblocks of various prejudices and biases, advent of newer methods, challenges; evolution in the global context, brief summary of how various challenges were met; lessons learnt; current efforts; call of Destiny; and offers a global vision loaded with thrilling and exciting opportunities. In conclusion, it hints at some of the immediate, urgent action items.
To my learned and concerned Readers, I owe an apology that I am neither a scholar nor an academician. I am a Sikh – a student and learner. It was HIS BLESSINGS. My dear friend and modern day hero- Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany asked me to contribute in this marvelous series. I am excited about this series of essays. I always thought that we Sikhs desperately need a “THINK TANK”, which should get benefit of “Brain Storming Sessions” on futuristic topics, from Sikh point of view. Well, Inventor, Dr. Kapany, “Invented” this innovative way to involve thinkers, on a common platform. I think this is a wonderful beginning, in a non- challenging, humble and inoffensive way. I pray and believe it evolves further and further.
MISSION STATEMENT OF SIKHISM
Sikhism is for the whole of humanity. It did originate in Punjab, India, but its reach and application is global. So far, it was confined in the ever-changing borders of Punjab, now it has come out to be able to play its destined role.
Since its belief is firmly founded in ONE UNIVERSAL GOD (Creator), WHO is also present in all HIS Creation, A Sikh, thus, has no choice but to treat all others with love and dignity to restore peace.
Sikhism does not believe in conversion (conversion creates conflicts). However, Sikhism believes in the transformation of a PERSON, coming from within; to see the Almighty in All (Sarab mae pekhe Bhagwan)
Khalsa, the pinnacle of Sikhism, manifested by Almighty, in HIS Exuberance. The Mission for the Khalsa is, “Protecting and uplifting the oppressed and to punish the tyrants – if they don’t change their oppressive ways and attitudes’.
Since conversion is not the aim, but persuasion is the basis of transformation, the only acceptable way, a Sikh is always engaged in “Pursuit of Excellence.”
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON STUDIES
In India, before the advent of the British Raj, there was hardly any structured Education System. We learn of the great Taxila University, Sarnaath University of Buddhist era, but they were mainly to train their Bhikhshu’s (Missionaries). The job of Bhikhshu’s was to spread Buddhism, by conversion. Their method was peaceful persuasion by reasoning.
There is mention of, Maathas (residential colleges), where students were trained in theology and art of debate. The society in general was stratified in the impregnable layers of castes. Higher education thus was a privilege of Brahmin Class. Other form of training for trades and craftsmanship was by apprenticeship. Families passed on their trade secrets within the family. Basic literacy training of reading, writing and arithmetic was at local level, in regional languages and tutors were religious heads (Pandas and Maulvis).
I quote from two sources, to give a birds eye view of Educational System prior to the British Raj and then new set up under the “Raaj”:
a) “I have no knowledge of either Sanscrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have read translations of the most celebrated Arabic and Sanscrit works. I have conversed both here and at home with men distinguished by their proficiency in the Eastern Tongues. I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European Library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is, indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the Oriental plan of education. It will hardly be disputed, I suppose, that the department of literature in which the Eastern writers stand highest is poetry. ……..But when we pass from works of imagination to works in which are recorded, and general principles investigated, the superiority of the Europeans becomes absolutely immeasurable. It is, I believe no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the paltriest abridgements used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral philosophy, the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.” (See note 1)
b) “I feel it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich.” (See note 2)
A few years back, an American Educationist friend of mine, had remarked, “Jas, I read about Indian Education System. I was surprised; it is designed to produce “Administrators” not “Managers.” At that time, I felt hurt, but after more in-depth reading on the subject it now makes sense. I quote the following excerpts:
a) “ The glimpses into the educational system in Karnataka ( applicable to rest of India), provided in the foregoing chapters show, how the system offered ways of imparting literacy and practical knowledge to the masses (so that they may earn a living) as also specialized training for various strata of the society. This educational system was formulated over centuries through empirical methods, and attempted to fulfill society’s day-to-day needs. It was not borrowed from an alien land, but grew from native soil. The organization of the educational system remained the same among all sects – Buddhist, Jain and Vedic. All sects agreed that self-realization, and not mere wage earning, should be the true aim of higher education. A common curriculum was established, and the study of the Vedas, Upanishads, darshan shastra’s, logic and rhetoric was compulsory. Proficiency in grammar, oration, and debating were given importance. The system laid stress on education through the regional language. Students belonging to the artisan or craftsman castes left school early in life, in order to pursue their family vocation, and students of the Brahmin caste later went to mathasor vedic pathashalas (schools) in order to study higher courses.” (See note 3)
b) “After fifty years of independence, India is unable to formulate the educational policy most suited to the country.” (See note 4)
ADVENT OF THE ENGLISH ERA
The establishment of British Raj, in fact, was beneficial to India. The British developed a master plan, to make Indians their minority partners in exploitation of the vast India – the Jewel in the British Crown. They realized that the native, oriental, regional, elementary system, giving some opportunity to be just literate was too inadequate, and too difficult to develop into a uniting, universal education system, capable of producing the nuts and bolts and wheels and clogs, of the administrative machinery, for the benefit of the Raaj.
It was a well thought out plan to install a nation wide system of education in English and on European lines. Local level schools up to High Schools, Colleges and then the State Universities. The educational curricula, of course had splintering of all the basic modern fields including sciences and higher mathematics. They also started Professional Colleges. But the aim was to produce an army of “Administrators”, not the “Managers”. Management and Decision Making Skills were only with the Ruling Classes. To avoid any uprising, if at all, the package was sweet quoted, as this was the only door opening to lucrative Government Services. It gave birth to a “loyal” middle class. Surprisingly, it provided a great window on the rest of the world, and in fact, became the spark of Indian Nationhood and aspirations for Independence. Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, got their Universities about 100 years before Punjab. Punjab was the last to come under the British Raj. So Punjab had to catch up a 100+ years lag with the rest of India.
Some existing elitist class members were objecting that the Oriental Indian Education system, (though was very rudimentary), would be stifled. To silence this objection, the British lured the opponents to establish their own Universities; to educate their students for the newly established mainstream European education system PLUS have there native education subjects, optionally available. Thus Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University came to existence. British also encouraged the Maharajas, like Mysore, Hyderabad and Baroda etc. to participate in this system.
In Punjab, surprisingly, because of Sikh Religion, the basic literacy was highest, even amongst the sikh women.(8). Further, Lahore became the center of Raj sponsored educational system. Sikh Maharajas also sponsored colleges in their capitals, plus a unique step of formation of Chief Khalsa Diwan. One of the charter activities was Sikh Educational Conference. Khalsa College Amritsar, the Pride of Sikhs, was established in 1890s. The implied promise was to eventually elevate it to Amritsar Khalsa University, at par with Banaras and Aligarh. By then the Nationalist Movement was getting stronger and stronger. The British, thus gave a cold shoulder to the concept of Amritsar Khalsa University.
Sikh Educational Conference did a marvelous job in mobilizing local resources and a chain of Khalsa Schools (High Schools) sprang up all over Punjab. This was a fantastic achievement in a very short time. Early Sikh immigration was to other parts of India and then outside India, mainly to East Africa, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Sikh settlers there quickly duplicated the already successful Model of Khalsa Schools. In some form and shape, the same model is being duplicated now in Canada, Thailand, Singapore and UK. In USA the real immigration wave is only a few decades old. Here the Public School System is being supplemented by starting Sunday Schools in Gurudwaras. Now a wonderful opportunity has arisen in “The Charter School.” USA also supplemented and augmented the needs of Sikh children in teaching Sikh values by organizing, “Sikh Youth Camps.”
Sikh Guru Sahibaan took an exponential step in catapulting human beings to unconceived heights. Guru Ji said, “Jin Manas te Devte Kea,” (Who transformed humans to spiritual beings,)
Guru Ji broke all barriers to the evolution of human mind. First and foremost Guru Ji declared that “Man tu jot saroop hae, aapna mool pachhan” (You are a spiritual being, recognize your true nature). In fact this amazing statement needed a complete “Paradigm Shift.” Because we are used to thinking from “human angle” and our vision and imagination is extremely limited. Guru Ji wants us to see this global drama from top down, view it from the “Creators Side.” To convey this Divine message to humanity, consider the revolutionary methodology adopted by Guru Ji.
METHODOLOGY USED BY GURU JI
Initially, all the spiritual knowledge, all over the world, was confined to classical and obscure languages, with the result, it became privileged knowledge and only a few had access. They usurped the right to interpret. They usually mis-interpreted, to gain advantages of poor unsuspecting people. Guru Ji took upon himself to use the common persons language. Please note, it is not just Punjabi. Let us not be blinded in our thinking and Box the Divine Message in Punjabi only. Guru Nanak Dev Ji traveled all over the world, you think that he first taught them Punjabi and then could give His message? He used all the local languages and dialects. The Sikh Scripture and Gurbani use Punjabi, Sindhi, Multani, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic and numerous dialects.
In all honesty, if you know only Punjabi, you are not qualified to understand Gurbani. If that was the case, then All the Sikhs in Punjab should have been Gyanis by now. On the other hand, I have seen our youngsters (my direct experience with Sunday school in Houston and Sikh Youth Camps) get fed up with our current thinking and approach to teach them Punjabi first, so that they can understand Gurbani, to become better Sikhs. I have observed a great desire in most students to understand Sikhi. They get frustrated because, their parents think that taking them to Sunday School and let teachers teach Punjabi, is the panacea.
If you think that the Sikh message is confined in Punjabi, then how can you take it to the rest of humanity? Yes, Punjabi is essential, but over emphasis is misplaced. This assumption, that Sikhi can be learnt only thru Punjabi, is misplaced. Yes Punjabi is a very good language. Punjabi is supposedly the language of the region, we call Punjab – The land of Five Rivers. Sanskrit also evolved in this very region (Punjab). The Sanskrit Grammar, by Rishi Pananni was developed in Punjab. All the Hindu Sacred Vedas came to existence in this Region. This means, Sanskrit is Punjabi of that era. In fact both the other Hindu classics –Ramayana and Mahabharata belong to Punjab. Balmeeki Ramayana was written on the banks of River Ravi near Lahore. (Traditional belief is that Sita Mata’s two sons – Luv and Kush founded respectively the cities of Lahore and Kasur (Punjab). Similarly, the Epic of Mahabharata was also born in the battlefield of Kurekshetra, (Punjab now Haryana). Revered GEETA is a chapter in this Epic.
In Buddhist era, the world famous University of Taxila is also in Punjab. This was the time when language of this era was called “Pali”. Even the most ancient civilization of the World left its mark in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa are in Punjab. Punjab is culturally the most enriched area in the world. It absorbed the richness of the whole of the world starting from even Greek Civilization (Through Alexander the Great). With this kind of ingredients in the soil of Punjab, this is probably a unique region in the whole of the world.
Now is the payback to the world – Sikhism – the only Faith with global vision, and universal application. The Sikhs probably have done marvelous job to preserve Punjabi. But over zealousness and even politicalization of this extremely rich mine of world culture, created doubts and unfounded fears, in the mind of others. Let us not forget that Punjabi as a language also belongs to All Punjabis, whether they are in West Punjab, or are non-Sikhs. Sikhs, by their very nature, are guardsmen – they have been protecting the western border. And with the same protective zeal, they protected Punjabi. Wikipedia considers that of all the regional areas – called Province, or Suba, the combined Punjab has the highest population. Thus Punjabi as a Regional language has the largest number of users.
Gurmukhi is phonetically versatile script. It of course is revered by Sikhs, because of its origin, adoption and its use in preserving Gurbani. However, even now, Punjabi as a language is written and read in both Devnagri and Shahmukhi scripts. Currently, Sikhs themselves are feverishly evolving Roman Version of this script. The effort is praise worthy. This tool was needed, to make Sikh Scripture and other literature and books on Sikhism available to our own children, firstly in the Diaspora. Now it has found application even back home – India.
It is obvious that resources needed to rewrite the entire treasure in Gurmukhi in Roman Script probably are not available and so is not feasible. It is just a Band Aid approach. If you can read Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Whether in Gurmukhi, or Roman and now even Devnagri), but the Rich messages so vividly but metaphorically in the form of poetry, encompasses a vast back ground of cultural, mythological incidents, and almost global scope of languages, will still be incomprehensible; how can any person gain all that knowledge instantly? Simply reading turns off. It frustrates even a serious student. Don’t we need authentic translations?. Yes, for Scholars, who want to do research in comparative studies of religions, learning Punjabi is a must. They must learn the language to access the writings in their original form. In fact, there is a requirement for a Ph.D. (in many fields), to know at least two world class languages.
Guru Ji discarded the prevalent culture in India. The real message is that you should be free from shackles of culture. But this hard nut has not yet cracked, even in 500 years. Let us consider just two basic and extremely degrading factors: Gender equality and Castelessness. Probably Sikhs are worst offenders in both. It is true that Cultural Traits last many generations (5). Come on, 500 years, and Sikhs in Punjab still the worst offenders?
Guru Ji broke all taboos on crossing vast seas, snow laden mountains and endless deserts. By setting example to travel anywhere and every where, Guru Ji Himself spread the sublime message to the
To reach the maximum number of humans, Guru Ji used the best means available. He picked up times of Holy days when there was maximum number of pilgrims. Guru Ji goes to Hindu Holy Places when there are big celebrations, like Kumbh Mela, not that He endorsed the practice, but to avail himself of the opportunity, to reach maximum number of people. Now we have modern tools like radio, television, newspapers, magazines, and internet. Audio visual tools are most effective.
Show and Tell
I was a member of Toastmasters Club. I learnt that “Show and Tell” is one of the most effective tools of communication. In, Hardwar, Guru Ji, started throwing water to the West, when Pandas were throwing it to Sun in the East. What a brilliant example of Show and Tell. Guru Ji broke even very sensitive barriers, to drive His message across. Then again, in Mecca, he sleeps with his feet towards Kaaba? You know the story, Mecca turned. Guru Ji was using “Show and Tell”, to drive home the futility of rituals and superstitious beliefs. Now, Companies use Power Point Slide Presentations, websites and webinars, to drive across their sales pitches and make use of “Show and Tell.”
Reasoning and Logic
Guru Ji used another effective technique of “Questions and Answer”. Sidh Ghosht is an excellent example. Unless there is discussions and your innermost doubts are not put to rest, you will never ever follow the teaching zestfully, faithfully and rigorously. It is not just Sidh Ghosht, even Japji, raises Questions and then answers them. (Can you relate it with the most modern practice of “Frequently Asked Questions”?) This technique is used repeatedly throughout Gurbani. How else Guru Ji could have reach people far and wide, mostly intellectuals of the time, unless He could not reasonably convince them. He did not carry a sword or Bank Drafts to subdue them or buy them out. Guru Ji called his congregational place, “Dharmsala” derivative of “Pathshala” – a school where virtue and ultimate Truth is taught. Unless the doubts are cleared and questions answered, you have not taught any thing. In your own life, you most respectfully remember those teachers, who addressed your doubts, lovingly. We have converted “Dharamsalas” to “Gurudwaras”, where, no questions are allowed.
Guru Ji knew that the motivating force comes from MIND. “Man Jeetae Jagjit”. If you can conquer the mind, you can be master of all you survey. How to reach the mind so that the seeds of intended transformation are firmly planted? Most effective tool is music to reach the depths of mind. Guru Ji used real classical music unlimited.. Then Guru Ji did not put any limits on it too. He innovated too. See how many types of RAAG GAURI you can find in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji? Why for Asa-Di-War, Guru Ji even mentioned “Tunde Asrraje Ki Dhuni”? That was the then prevalent locally folk and popular tune. It is understood that Guru Jis selection of Raagas is most appropriate. That has to be preserved. But Guru ji evidently encourages innovation? Also using appropriate popular tunes are not proscribed. The goal is to take the message to the heart and mind.
Musical Instrument is another interesting story. Guru Ji started with RABAB, a stringed instrument of Iranian/M.E origin. There were Indian instruments like Sitar, Veena etc. but Guru Ji’s message was well beyond India or Punjab (Globe is the playing field). Guru ji even invented new instruments. It is an encouragement to younger Sikhs to use Guitar, Keyboards. Music transcends language. S. Dya Singh could rock thousands in Woodstock to “Satnam Waheguru”. Bibi Sanatam Kaur Khalsa, Grammy Award Winner, does the same in slitist musical concerts.
Scriptures of all other religions basically document folk history bordering on mythology. Guru Granth Sahib is pure “Longing for My Beloved – THE ONE AND ONLY ONE UNIVERSAL GOD.” It is a manual to transform humans to godly creatures which is the eternal quest of mankind. All others keep the simple minds of children occupied by telling story after story, assuming some spiritual message will ooze out and drench them. They don’t even claim to transformation. The professed goal in most religions is “Heaven” with varying descriptions. This goal is coached in the terminology of “Happiness for ever”.
Sikhism, a path of LOVE, starts with, “Jae Toe Prem Khelan Ka Chao, Sir dhar Tali, gali mori aao.” (If you like to play the game of Love, then only come hither, with your head on the palm of your hand).
Where will it lead you to? The Goal? “Mun Preet Charan Kamlarae.” (The BLISS, of ALMIGHTY’s LAP (Oneness with Almighty). All other petty goals are left way behind.
At worldly level, “Sarab Mae Pekhe Bhagwan” (To see Almighty, the Creator, Omni present in His Creation); thus Sikh has no choice but to , LOVE ALL.
What about the path? “Sire deejae Kanh Na Kejae”. (The ultimate sacrifice of your own head on the block.)
Sikhism is not a path for chicken hearted. It is for the fearless. That is one reason, Sikhism does not believe in conversion, but in volunteerism. What is guaranteed is COMPLETE TRANSFORMATION. Sikhs as a whole have fallen in the trap of “Numbers Game”. They have completely lost their way. They have been waylaid. Sikhism, right from the beginning, stressed Quality and Commitment; not the head count.
Is it Scientific? Well, even the Atheists have not been able to find any inconsistency. The Great Anti- Religion Guru – Bertrand Russell, British Philosopher, also could not find, in Sikhism, any inconsistency with scientific thinking and logic. His only lament is why it is not being disseminated to the world. Sikhism is the beautiful confluence of science and spiritual world. Rather is much ahead of science. Science is “search of truth” , approaching from worldly side. Sikhism gives the “top down” view. It in fact, instead of ground vehicles, gives you access to supersonic plane, to reach the destination, way ahead. Just for example, the origin of universe, its functioning, extent etc. was described hundreds of years ahead of current explosive space discoveries. Skepticism of scientists, if any, is because their own research is lagging way behind. So far they have not come up with even one contradiction. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, reaches Mind for transformation. Scientists have barely taken their first baby steps in this area.( See notes 6,7,12)
The day is not far when scientists will be lining at Guru Ji’s Doorstep, seeking answers for their dead ends. Can you even guess at the potential challenges and enormous opportunities for Sikh Scholars?
Aims of Sikh Studies
Since now Sikhs have a global presence, and have come to realize their, “Destiny”, it behoves to clearly define the AIMS of Sikh Studies.
To help assist in producing a cadre of such “Ideal Persons”, both professionally and in Guru’s Message; capable of being a living example and to take the Universal Message to the rest of the World.
To take the message of Universal Love, Dignity, Peace and Equality to the whole world.
The initial responsibility is with the Sikhs in the West. The role of a “Nursery” performed by Punjab in taking care of the sapling of Sikhi, with blood and sweat in extremely trying times, is admirable and deserves highest respect. Now, it is the responsibility of the Sikhs in the West, to develop the Global Garden of Matchless Beauty.
Educationists acknowledge that knowledge is transferred to the next generation :
From Environments (Cultural, Social, Political,)
Brief explanatory notes on at least first two items are attempted.
From Mother: It is true, “The first teacher is mother”. In fact starts the teaching process right in her womb. We have a great opportunity to have a head start. Guru Ji has over and over stated, not just equality of genders, but even imposes major duty to mothers for proper upbringing of children. Let us not delay in giving the revered status accorded to women by Guru Ji. (8)
PRESHOOL: is extremely loaded with potential for future. We have most of infrastructure already in place. Only thing lacking is Will. (9). Also needed here is highly effective modern tool of “Audio Visuals”.
HIGH SCHOOL: Khalsa Schools, Sunday Schools, Sikh Youth Camps; also keeping an eye on the teaching curriculum and text books in the secular system.
DEVELOPMENTS: Development of Teaching Material, Teachers Training and Manuals, extensive development of modern media tools.
ROLE OF PARENTS: Effective Parent Participation models.
CONCENTRATED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: Intensely concentrated learning environment, even including compulsory Hostels and Boarding Houses are well known. The Sikh Foundation has on its Drawing Boards, one such proto-type proposal, for a “Top of the line Khalsa School” with aim of nurturing and producing, “World Class Leaders.” It needs to be brought on the front burners and implemented fast. Recently, the achievements of SEED Foundation have been the National Headlines. Even President Obama visited and endorsed their miraculous results. They have chosen similar model and applied to inner city destitute environments. Imagine what can be accomplished with the top rung students. (13)
SIKH STUDIES CHAIRS: This movement is now off the ground. There are numerous chairs and even Universities in India. Have no hopes on them. Dr. Himadari Bannerji’s brilliant essay in this series is an eye opener. (Also see note 4).
There are EIGHT Chairs in North America. Let us fully support these nascent plants, and help them to full fruition fast.
There are revolutionary changes going on in US Universities. Let us avail of these opportunities and be part that revolution (9a)
Immediate Action Needed:
Sikhs all over the world, particularly who have experienced the world at large have to realize that it is their paramount duty to whole heartedly support and accelerate the process to bring the message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib before the rest of the world. This is the Destiny of Sikhism for the deliverance of humanity. They should get involved and show Sikhi in action, and support whole heartedly in projects like:
Give the women their honorable status; this one step will make the Sikh value system, acceptable and admirable to MORE than 50% of humankind all over the world. Let scholars start a campaign of importance of just one this item, which has the potential of great stride forward. The time is ripe.(8)
Next Support The Most Formative Years – Pre School of kids. (9)
Support Development of Resources for Teachers and Students, whether in Khalsa High Schools or in Sunday Schools. (10)
“Sikhitothemax”; “Sikhnet”; “Sikhchic” and countless other websites are doing excellent service. Immediate effort is needed to have an internet data base system to link hundreds of excellent individuals making tireless efforts. Let there be a SIKH CYBER LIBRARY – (Equivalent of Library of Congress) to direct enquirers to proper links or resource tanks.
Let Sikh Foundation, grow with worldwide presence. Sikh Foundation, besides the monumental lead it has given in the areas of establishment of Sikh Studies Chair, Quality Publishing and supporting Quality Print Material, and probably the only Sikh organization with remarkable achievements in preserving, presenting and encouragement in the Sikh Arts area. The next step that Sikh Foundation should be requested is to take initiative in providing fruitful channels for huge resources available all over and start establishing Chapters.
After having established EIGHT Sikh Studies Chairs, we have to work towards providing resources to not only these chairs, but other numerous saplings like, even though are not occupants of these chairs, but can do marvelous Academic Work. Let us start a TRUST FUND, open to all well wishers of Sikhi and thereby Mankind. This TRUST FUND must have the sole objective of sponsoring Research on Specific Subjects, bringing Sikh teachings for the benefit of mankind. These Scholarly Studies may be funded all over the world.
Another Sikh Foundation Project, lying on back burners, need to get immediate attention – Establishment of a TOP CLASS SIKH SCHOOL, The objective being to produce a train WORLD LEADERS.
Excellent beginning has been made by entering the Audio- Visual, the most powerful communication channels. The birth of these efforts, no doubt, is the Sikh Genocide of 1984. See every tragedy has a great catapulting effect. Now let us take the reigns of these efforts and encourage propagation of Sikh Message for the Dignity peace and love of humanity. Universities have tremendous such programs. Our Sikh Studies Chair can team up with Audio Visual Departments and can do tremendous constructive effort (11)
In all that has been covered in “broad brush strokes,” there are seeds and hints for limitless scope and opportunities for Sikh Scholars and Academicians. They also need to have a “paradigm Shift” too. Hammering on “History” alone is not very fruitful (see note 14). They should also develop a “Futuristic Vision” and realize that they have to provide not only the lead, but also aggressively create the tools for the “Destiny of Sikhism” – to serve the whole humanity, in love, dignity, equality and for peace. I humbly as a student, am presenting, “a kind of abstract of a thesis” to be critiqued. I would be thankful for any meaningful suggestions. I offer myself for “Defence”, even though it is not yet a full fledged thesis.
I cannot resist expressing my wish that I was a scholar, and could participate in vast variety of thrilling opportunities to assist in extremely innovative projects with credibility assigned to scholars.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, “Minutes of 2 February 1835 on Indian Education”; selected by G.M.Young (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1957)
Kamat Research Group Database – “Education in Karnataka through the ages” by Jyotsna Kamat – “The Ups and Downs of the Indian Education System”.
“OUTLIERS” (The Story of Success) by Malcolm Gladwell; Little Brown Company-2008. (NYT-Best Seller)
“Power vs Force” by David R. Hawkins; Hay House – 2002 (NYT- Best Seller).
“Shri Guru Granth Sahib is a source book, an expression of man’s loneliness, his aspirations, his longings, his cry to God (Sunee Pukar Datar Prabh, Guru Nanak Jag Mae Pathaya – Bhai Gurdas Ji), and his hunger for communication with that Being. I have studies the scriptures of other great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind, as I find it here (these volumes- Refering to English Translation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib – 4 Volumes by Dr. Gopal Singh). They are compact in spite of their length and are a revelation of the vast reach of human heart, varying from the noblest concept of God, to the recognition and indeed the insistence upon the practical needs of the human body. There is something strangely modern about these scriptures and this puzzled me until I learned that they are in fact comparatively modern, compiled as late as 16th century, when explorers were beginning to discover that the globe upon which we all live is a single entity divided only by arbitrary lines of our own making” Mrs. Pearl S. Buck, American Author and Nobel Laureate.
“Sikhism on Women” by Jasbir Singh Sethi, (A small booklet – See Reviews in The Sikh Review, April 2010)
“Universal Preschool” by Jasbir Singh Sethi, The Sikh Review, May, 2010
(9a) “Revolutionary Changes in US Universities, An Opportunity for Sikhs” (A modern opportunity) – “VIEWS AND REVIEWS” by Jasbir Singh Sethi.
“Sojhi” Program of Sikh Research Institute, San Antonio, or similar other efforts. Excellent work was done in Singapore, and may be other parts of the world.
Late Dr. Joseph Campbell, the famous US Philosopher was the Chief Advisor for “Star Wars” – An audio visual landmark that influenced a whole generation and started anew era in Hollywood Movie Making. Our scholars have unbelievable opportunities, which could be envy of others. The community should also team up with such projects and provide the needed extra funds etc.
Personal Conversation with Dr. Avtar Singh, a celebrated Scientist and author many books, “I find that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji gives me leads and insights for clearing roadblock in Physics.” Also See “On Identity” by Dr. Avtar Singh, Sikh Review February, 2010.
A note on History for attention of Sikh Studies Chairs:
“So far Sikh Scholars have been living in the past. Most of the areas of their intellectual investment have been on “History”. Consider the following elements for changing the course:
Sri Guru Granth Sahib does not stress History (Mythology) like other scriptures. It is source scripture that expresses human longings for God (7). I understand that it needs tremendous personal effort for each individual academician to first understand the sublime message of Guru Granth Sahib and then interpret it in most logical ways in the modern context. But this is great job cut out for them.
They need a paradigm shift themselves and to leave the “comfort zone” of living in the past and keep squabbling about non-issues belonging to history.
History is good field of knowledge but it has inherent flaws and in fact is misused to hide the truth. You cannot find one secondary historical source that is dependable.
History is always manipulated, by those in power, sometimes in very subtle way.
The recorders of history do have motives, and mainly to gain favor of those in power or victors. Vanquished and victims of tyranny don’t have recorders. How many recorders of Hitler’s Holocaust we have? Or as recent as “Blue Star” or even Sikh Genocides in Delhi and all over India in 1984? Those in power spend tons of money and get “False and Colored” documents generated, created and planted.
Even today, such recorders, if any do so at peril to their lives. Even recorders of facts
And must now start thinking as the leaders and visionaries for Sikhism around the world. They must start thinking in the context of a “Virtual Sikh Nation.”
Even if by recreating and reinterpreting the evidence, labors of scholars, remains a futile exercise, only in the confines of a few other researchers. The authenticity is seldom given any credence? I personally know of cases of some scholars in the most freedom loving country like USA, chicken out to come out to speak the truth. They are either bought out or just scared to death. I am familiar with the real brave souls like Dr. Cynthia Mahmood, who with all the personal perils and extreme indignities dumped on her, pursued truth. Is she getting any support?. In fact, most such “Pursuer of Truth” tread a “Road Less Travelled”. They are even shunned in their own professional circles “as high risk”.
Not only that, history is subtly manipulated even after centuries. The way it is being done in Texas just now. The School Curricula Board is out right deleting references to unpalatable personality. The whole sordid chapter of “Slave Trade” is being camouflaged by burying it under the name of “Triangular Trade”. What an irony, the President of the country is the first Black. In India, no wonder you cannot get evidence to convict the guilty of 1984, even when the Prime Minister is the First Sikh.
The Sikh Scholars are LUCKY LOT; they have a vast field of creative positivity which can immensely benefit the mankind.
I was a student under the great scholar of Sikhism, Dr. Prof. Sahib Singh, in Khalsa College, Amritsar. One basic thing, he clearly and logically convinced us that Guru Granth Sahib is the only authentic scripture with the mankind. All other sources on Sikhism, practices, other literature and particularly history, must always be tested on the value system of Guru Granth Sahib; else they can never be taken as authentic or true.