Gurmukh Singh’s weekly column in the Panjab Times UK
All are welcome in the gurdwara. The Sangat is fairly representative of all shades of Sikhs and non-Sikhs, who have come to the Guru’s Darbar with faith in the Guru’s universal Message in their hearts, as they bow before the Jagat Guru. However, few have ever argued that the management of gurdwaras should not be in the hands of those who, ideally, are Amritdhari Gursikhs.
Two types of seva (service with humility) is required of those who run Gurdwaras. First and foremost, it is the seva of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji: the recitation of Gurbani and the seva of Kirtan and Katha. That means, the singing of Gurbani and, as necessary, explaining the Message of the Shabad to the Sangat. Only a practising Gursikh scholar is capable of doing that while visibly projecting the Guru given Sikh identity.
The second type of seva is the management of the Gurdwara, which, for reasons to do with Khalsa (miri-piri) ideology, institutions and Panthic identity must remain in Gursikh hands.
However, the Sikhi miri-piri ideal is not confined to gurdwaras only. It is also very much an extrovert twin track concept which has been practised by the Khalsa Panth for centuries. It is interpreted into Khalsa socio-political activism extended from the gurdwara as the local focal point of Sikh life, to outside local, national and international activities and forums.
Gurdwara management in Gursikh hands is extended to participation in Panthic forums for the achievement of Panthic jathebandi (corporate) aims and objectives for promoting a just and tolerant society.
To my mind, Sikh Council UK is an expression of Sangat representation extended from local to national level. It is the first next step to international level Sikh representation and revival of the Sarbat Khalsa tradition. Recent challenges to Sikh identity also pose a challenge to gurdwara managements to revive the spirit of Sarbat Khalsa. To quote from own article in the August 2012 issue of The Sikh Review, “Sarbat Khalsa is an expression of Panthic solidarity” which is translated into a decision making process at global Panthic level.
Due to the dedicated voluntary seva of some very able individuals, Sangat (grassroots) based organisations have achieved much over the years. However, recent events have shown that these organisations, no matter how ably led, cannot resolve the issues, concerns and challenges faced by independent Sikh ideology and identity. Only gurdwaras, represented on a national level platform can make an impact on governments and agencies. UK Sikhs have the critical mass to provide a lead.
The only way to ensure that all viewpoints are represented on the Sikh Council UK and the constitution of the General Assembly and the Executive Committe, is to join in and not remain outside. Sikh Council UK is the business of every gurwara and Sikh organisations in the UK. (Continued next week)
Gurmukh Singh, Norwood, UK