By tying Sikhism to the defense of the country and saying that the job of the gurus was to protect the country, Narendra Modi is only underlining today’s politics of his own national insecurity. Savarkar, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been nationalizing Hinduism, in the same way he has been trying to nationalize Sikhism and Buddhism.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is making double use of Sikhism. It is used as a weapon to attack Muslims and as a hoax in the name of Khalistan to intimidate Hindus. This is done simultaneously. The glory of Khalistan was raised by the leaders of BJP all over the country especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar during the farmers movement for the last two years. The media supported him.
The main base of the peasant movement was Punjab. The presence of Sikh farmers was clear and vocal. It was propagated among Hindus by showing that it was actually a movement of Khalistanis and not of farmers. They, along with the Maoists, want to attack the country (as if it belongs to Hindus) under the guise of this movement.
Three decades later, the RSS and BJP made an organized effort to instill suspicion and hatred in the Hindu mind about Sikhism with the help of the media. It was an attempt to make the Sikh farmer look at the ordinary Hindu Khalistani conspirators.
It may be good that the Jats of Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh participated in the movement in large numbers, which did not allow this campaign of BJP to be successful. But the BJP did not give up the effort till the last breath.
On 26 January last year, when someone put the Sikh religious symbol Nishan Sahib on a pillar at the Red Fort, the BJP created a storm by propagating that the flag of Khalistan has been planted to break and humiliate the country, that the conspiracy The Red Fort was captured, that it is clear evidence that Khalistani are working under the guise of farmers.
There was a kind of cultural stupidity in this which could not even understand the meaning of Nishan Sahab. Like it considers every green flag as Pakistani flag. It is the same cultural folly that is promoting sahabzadas as the representative of the child.
We were wrong if we thought that the BJP had realized its mistake due to the return of agricultural laws. Recently, on the way to Ferozepur, when Narendra Modi turned his convoy back and pretended to be in danger of his life, again raised Khalistani pride.
The Prime Minister returned alive, he foiled the conspiracy of Khalistanis and Pakistanis, the BJP started campaigning. danger? Khalistani? On the way ahead, there were farmers opposing the BJP and the government. But was asked whether the Khalistanis were hiding among the farmers to kill Narendra Modi on the way?
As soon as it is called Khalistan, Pakistan is there to add rhyme. Their addition is enough to scare the Hindu mind. BJP has done this in the past and will continue to do so, this one incident shows it.
But there is another use of Sikhism, traditions and religious personalities for the BJP and the Sangh. It is a weapon to attack Muslims and Islam. But Sikh religious organizations and scholars of Sikhism have objected and condemned the use of Sikhism as a weapon for the political purpose of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The most recent reference to this is the announcement by BJP leader Narendra Modi, who is also the Prime Minister of India, that every 26 December from this year will be celebrated as Veer Bal Diwas. On this day the sons of Guru Gobind Singh were martyred. This is yet another pathetic and petty attempt to use names associated with Sikhism for one’s own political and ideological purpose.
This announcement is petty because there is no sense of respect for the Sahabzadas behind it, but the purpose is to obliterate or shorten the already ongoing Children’s Day on November 14. Remember that two years back, BJP leaders have been demanding that 26 December be celebrated as Children’s Day.
He is opposed to calling 14 November as Children’s Day. This is the same kind of pettiness as the government’s announcement of celebrating 25 December as Good Governance Day on the pretext of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday, the holy day of Christians. Not officially but by BJP people asking Hindus to do Tulsi Puja on 25th December.
It is a different matter that Hindu children like to decorate the Christmas tree in spite of that. But this is a small step like the attempt to celebrate the cleanliness day on October 2 and the centenary of Satyagraha as Swachhagraha.
It is evident that instead of respecting the martyrdom of the Sahabzadas, another opportunity has been sought to attack Aurangzeb on his pretext and indirectly to oppose the Muslim. To establish that the main opposition or natural opposition of Sikhism has been with Islam or the Muslims.
The irony is that Sikhs are not ready to accept it. Sikhs do not view the conflicts of their Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh with the Muslim rulers as an enmity between Sikhism and Islam. But we will talk further why this is being done with the aim of further cementing the prejudice already sitting in the minds of Hindus more than Sikhs.
Earlier, an attempt had also been made to make a contemporary use of the names of Aurangzeb, Abdul Shah Abdali etc. with contempt on the pretext of remembering the Gurudwaras of Kutch.
Narendra Modi in his address from Lakhpat Gurdwara in Kutch said that Guru Tegh Bahadur’s valor against Aurangzeb has taught how to fight against terrorism and religious extremism. He also said that the dangers that the gurus warned against still exist today. The country has to be protected even today.
Talking about Guru Nanak, Narendra Modi said that at the time he gave his education, foreign invaders were breaking the confidence of the country. What would have happened to the country if he had not shown the light? The Gurus worked to keep the country safe.
With which foreign invaders was the Sikh Guru fighting? What were the dangers before the country which the Sikh Gurus preached to fight? Was there a conflict of the gurus with Aurangzeb because he was a foreigner or because he was a Muslim? In this case, Sikh religious scholars and institutions consider the propaganda of the RSS to be wrong.
Paramvir Singh, chairman of the Sikh Encyclopedia Department at Punjabi University, told the Telegraph newspaper that ‘we feel that the martyrdom of the Sahabzade is being limited to nationalism. The nation is not above humanity. The Gurus worked to save humanity from the autocracy of the rulers. Sikh history needs to be read in the right perspective.
During the war between Aurangzeb and Guru Gobind Singh, the Nawab of Malerkotla Sher Mohammad Khan gave ‘Ha Da Nara’ (Call for Right) on behalf of the Sahabzadas when he was being ordered to get elected in the wall. Gurdwara Ha Da Nara is a memorial to this call for rights in Malerkotla.
Guru Gobind Singh himself was helped by two Pathans of Machhiwada, Ludhiana. Gurdwara Shri Ghani Khan Nabi Khan still stands in his honor at that place. He was taken to the nearby princely state Raikot. There Nawab Rai Kalha gave him shelter. In 2017, his picture was placed next to the picture of Guru Gobind Singh at the Central Museum in Amritsar. This is a special kind of historical relationship between Muslims and Sikhs. Trying to break it is a diabolical act.
The same thing was said by the Sikhs of Gurgaon when they invited Muslims to offer prayers at their gurdwara when Hindu groups were attacking their Friday prayers. These invading Hindu groups then entered the gurdwara and started telling the Sikhs how they could be friends with Muslims when Guru Tegh Bahadur was killed by a Muslim ruler.
Even at that time, the Sikhs said that the Guru’s struggle was with the tyranny of the ruler, not his Islam. But Hindu groups and the RSS are not ready to understand that Sikhs do not want their religion to be used for anti-Muslims and narrow Hindu nationalism.
By tying Sikhism to the defense of the country and saying that the job of the gurus was to protect the country, Narendra Modi is only underlining today’s politics of his own national insecurity.
Savarkar, like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has been nationalizing Hinduism, in the same way he has been trying to nationalize Sikhism and Buddhism. That’s why they have been denying the independent existence of these religions as well and have been treating them as sub-religion within Hinduism.
This imperialist and protectionist attitude of Hinduism is not liked by the Sikhs and they are not ready to erase their independent existence in the name of any nationalism.
Its basis is the belief in the minds of Hindus that Sikhism was born to protect Hinduism. We had been hearing since childhood that Sikhs are the protectors of Hinduism.
That is, Sikhism has no independent purpose of its own, it came into existence only to protect and serve Hinduism. That is why the people of RSS prefer to call Sikhism a sect instead of a religion. It is a sect of Hinduism such as Buddhism or Jainism.
In the program of Kashi last month, Narendra Modi released a campaign letter of the Uttar Pradesh government. Its title is ‘Glorious History of Kashi Vishwanath Dham.’ It is written in this pamphlet that ‘Sikh faith in Punjab was established to protect Sanatan Dharma from the Mughals.’
The book further tells that Guru Gobind Singh had sent the Panj Piars to Kashi so that they could protect it by getting complete knowledge of Sanatan Dharma. Paramvir Singh also denied this. One, the Panj Piars were not sent to Kashi. They were some other 5 Sikhs.
Secondly, he was sent not for the knowledge of Sanatan Dharma but for the study of Sanskrit and Indian traditions. Khalsa was also established not to protect Sanatan Dharma but to protect humanity from the priestly class and ruling classes.
He said that the Sikhs have now become wary of the antics (of the Sangh) distorting their history. The Sangh and the BJP do not care about how Sikhs look and address their ancestors and their gurus.
For example, Sahabzade is called Baba respectfully and not a Sikh child. They cannot be symbols of children. But in the greed of Nehru and Children’s Day shortening and using the Sikh tradition against Muslims, the BJP has insulted him in a way. Rightly he is being criticized by Sikh groups.
The violent way in which the BJP is defining bravery is also dangerous. We are seeing that small Hindu children are also getting involved in violent propaganda and physical violence against Muslims.
Right now, 18 to 21 years old boys and girls are also involved in the obscene act of online auction of Muslim women. People are surprised by their age, but when child valor is being defined only in the context of anti-Muslim, then why wonder Hindu teenagers and adolescent girls are involved in these crimes?
The BJP and the Sangh are also angry with the Sikhs because, despite the medieval history and in spite of the fierce bloodshed of 1946 and 1947, the Sikhs are not anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan.
The Shaheen Bagh movement got the support of the Sikhs and the Kisan movement gave the message of not only Sikh-Muslim unity but Hindu-Muslim unity. Sikhs took part in the Shaheen Bagh movement in Malerkotla, a Muslim majority in Punjab.
BJP uses all these things to instill fear among Hindus. To tell what will happen if the Sikhs merge with the Muslims. The BJP and the Sangh also get the benefit of the requests already sitting in the mind of the Hindus and their acquaintance with other religions.
That is why whenever this government makes any announcement related to Sikhism, we should understand that it is addressing more Hindus than Sikhs. If Sikhs oppose this, then Hindus will be angry with them because they consider them as their protectors and servants. A Sikh who does something different from this will become Khalistani and anti-national.
Be that as it may, these petty acts of BJP will only increase bitterness, tension and violence in Indian society.
(The author teaches at Delhi University.)
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