In my first article on ‘who runs the Gurdwara’ I discussed Guru’s teaching on ‘Guru Granth – Guru Panth’ and the lack of experience of sangats and prabandhaks with democracy and equality. This time I will try to raise some more practical points.
There are three very important issues that prabandhak committees need to address, the first is our old friend maya, the second getting to grips with the constitution and last but not least working on a new way of doing things, ‘collective raj’ instead of ‘pradhan raj’.
Maya : The money the Gurdwara has in the bank, or that is invested in the bricks & mortar of the Gurdwara belongs to the institution. Regardless of what the constitution says, the institution belongs to the sangat, not just to big donors and members, but to all who use the Gurdwara.
New prabandhaks have to come to grips with the financial situation as soon as possible. They have to realise that the land owned has real value, but that buildings like on the Southall Havelock Road have been costly to build, but have limited money value. These buildings can only be used as Gurdwaré or possibly as a place of worship for people of other religions.
Constitution : I am convinced that within the framework of the existing laws on charities we can write constitutions that include the Guru Granth – Guru Panth principle and panj piaré as mediators. Under the new rules for charities it is not sufficient to be a religious organisation, you actually have to do good works, do seva ! That should be no problem for Sikhs, but might be a problem for some prabandhak types.
Collective Raj : One of the biggest problems that we face is the fact that many of us find it difficult to work as a team, which gives authoritarian pradhans, sant babas, jathedars without jathas and other anti-Sikh forces the chance to run the show for us.
The Guru teaches that there is One Humanity, most Sikhs believe that some are automatically better because of their heritage, education, skin colour or whatever. Guru teaches Guru Granth – Guru Panth, which means that the panth should rule itself following the guidance of the Guru Granth. We are all responsible and we should stop blaming others for our failings.
Finally, having conversations with the sangat only once a year at the AGM is not democracy as I understand it. Through websites, printed material and updates supplied after the divans, the sangat should know what the Prabandhaks plan to do, and should be asked for their opinion. If we do not treat the sangat as our partners, they will not grow in understanding.