In Man in Blue column 494 I wrote about Guru Granth – Guru Panth, explaining my view on other ‘granths’, and on for instance the Bible or Al Quran. In this column I will write about the Guru Granth as our leader.
On the 20th of November I was in London’s Shepherds Bush (Khalsa Jatha) Gurdwara where a Sikh Channel reporter was asking people’s views on the leadership of the panth.
The Tenth Guru told us that the Guru Granth is our eternal Guru and that the Guru Panth (those on Guru’s path) is to act under the Guru Granth’s guidance.
Jathedars without jathas are not the Guru Panth, 5 amritdhari Sikhs are not the Guru Panth and the general house of the SGPC is also not the Guru Panth.
The only time that Guru Granth – Guru Panth was practiced was during the misl period in the 18th century. The Sarbat Khalsa of those days was not perfect, but it was closer to Guru’s teachings than the present rule by the Badal Dal.
The meeting of the Sarbat Khalsa was mainly a meeting of the misl leaders. They were not Jathedars without jathas as we have today, and the misl members could try to influence their leaders or switch to another Misl if they were not happy with the leadership.
In the Sarbat Khalsa the decisions were not taken by a simple majority, serious efforts were made to get the misls as near as possible to consensus. When an agreement was reached it was called Gurmatta and it became a Hukamnama when it was proclaimed from the Akal Takhat by the Jathedar of the Budha Dal.
If we were to apply this to the UK we should have regional open forums where Sikh individuals and representatives of organisations and Gurdwaras come together to discuss Panthic issues. Decisions should be made through trying to find consensus. If there are serious conflicts, the opposing groups should constitute mutually agreed Panj Piaré to mediate between them.
The regional forums would send delegates to an UK forum, and the UK forum would send delegates to a global forum that could meet anywhere where it is free from political interference. This rules out India as it is now.
In countries with fewer Sikhs you could have just one national forum, or you could have for instance a Scandinavian or a Benelux forum. These forums acting under the guidance of the Guru Granth can only ‘rule’ those that accept their authority.
Guru Nanak wrote: ‘Truth is high, and higher still is truthful living’. People taking part in these forums should follow the Guru’s teachings of truthfulness, compassion and humility. Me, me, me should not be on the agenda.