During the morchas to liberate the historical Gurdwaras from the mahants, the old Khalsa spirit was still alive. Whether the demonstrators were beaten up or arrested, or even if some of them were killed, the Sikhs remained in chardikala. They controlled their anger and continued with their campaign.
During the late seventies and the eighties there were organisations that claimed to be Guru’s Sant-Sipahis. They were soldiers all right, but many were not motivated to achieve justice for all and they were often ruled by anger.
Of course the period from the Nirankari killings (1978) to the murder of Beant Singh (1995) was very tough and challenging and there was much to be angry about. But the Khalsa principles are not just there to be followed during good times, 10th Guru devised the Khalsa just to face such challenges.
We all know that during the period from1978 to 1995 some of the abuses were committed by RAW controlled ex Naxalites and other agent provocateurs. But if we compare this period with the morchas of the early 20th century there is a huge difference. In the eighties and nineties many so-called Khalsa answered indiscriminate violence with indiscriminate violence of their own.
Indira Gandhi was looking for an excuse to attack the Sikhs, and the Sikhs provided that excuse. Akali Phula Singh, Baba Deep Singh and other true Sant-Sipahis got their strength from God, the strength that enabled them to fight against injustice without anger taking over. The true Sant-Sipahi controls the ‘five thieves’ and stands up for justice for people of all background. The true Sant-Sipahi has the God-given strength to be a winner even if she/he loses her/his life.
We can use our kirpans in self-defence but the aim of the Sant-Sipahi is to serve all. Also during peaceful campaigns, like our struggle against the ban on wearing turbans in schools in Belgium, we must have the wider view.
During the debate in the Flemish parliament about religious head-cover in schools a Belgian Singhani spoke on behalf of the Sikhs. She was asked what her reaction would be if Sikhs were allowed to wear turbans in schools while the híjáb would remain banned. She answered that she would feel very uncomfortable with such an arrangement, and showed that she was a Sikh of the Guru.
When I was part of the UK Sikh community from 2000 to 2010 what struck me was that many Sikhs were angry. They were angry with other Sikhs, angry with Hindus, angry with Muslims, angry with Christians and angry with the Indian government.
Sikhs are strong when they stick to our principles of seeing God in all, of coming up for the rights of all. Group egoism is as bad as individual egoism. Guru Sahib said : I will serve that Khalsa that serves all.
I am also an ordinary human being who struggles to control the ‘five thieves’. But we must all recognise that in order to be Guru’s Khalsa we must seriously try to win this struggle.