Thursday, June 28, 2007

The curious things about the Dera Sacha Sauda and Sikhism affair

I read this news in the morning, and it seemed incredible. The Punjab Government of the Akali Party and BJP has given permission for the prosecution of the head of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

On Wednesday, the Punjab government, acting on a court directive, gave the formal go-ahead for the arrest and prosecution of the Dera Chief, who had invited the ire of the Sikh community for allegedly attiring like Guru Gobind Singh. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal gave his Government's firm commitment to maintain law and order in the wake of Wednesday night's developments.

This was extremely strange. For those who have forgotten as to what criminal activity was committed by the leader of the sect, here is the answer. He had committed the sin of dressing like the 10th and last guru of the Guru Gobind Singh and distributing 'amrit' (nectar) like the Guru used to do.
For this activity of the head of the sect, there was violence and large-scale tension in the air. The coalition partner, BJP, had actually called on the government to ensure law and order, and peace at all costs. In between, there was escalation when Sikh hardliners pushed hard on the Akal takht to take some action. There was involvement from other religious and social leaders like Swami Agnivesh to try and cool tensions, but there does not seem to be anything that can be done to reverse what has been done.
The Government seems to have buckled down to the hardliners; and there is actually a sub-story. There have been numerous reports of how the younger generation of sikhs have refused to follow all the traditions, including not cutting hair. There is a feeling that the separate culture of Sikhism is getting lost, with numerous sects also coming up and being patronised in rural areas, especially by the section who are not well-off or looked upto.
In such cases, the current issue gives a good way to exploit the situation for hardliners with 2 benefits; get a name of being the true defender of the faith, as well as cut to size a very popular sect. However, this is going against the ethos of this majestic religion as well as the country.
To imagine that dressing up like the last Guru could cause any harm to the religion, or be dis-respectful to the last Guru. We are not like Saudi Arabia, or Iran or Pakistan, where showing disrespect to the religion or prophet is punishable by death. In fact, in this case, just by dressing up like the guru does not make it a crime of showing dis-respect. That is normally the case when you vilify the religion through deeds or words. If you want to see how to cause disrespect to a religion, there is no need to look too far away. One look at Hinduism, where countless people have shown immense disrespect to the religion, and yet it thrives. There is a current dispute about the painter M.F.Hussain painting nude images of Hindu goddesses, and there are numerous people ready to spring to his defense.
In this entire dispute about the Sikhism versus the Dera Sacha Sauda, I have not seen similar defense of the sect head. He is entitled to wear what he wants, to give amrit to whoever he wants. Take action if he does something that shows up Sikhism to ridicule or says something against the Gurus, but the current dispute is for no reason.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

If you like these writings, you can subscribe to this feed to get new postsSite Feed Site Feed

posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:27 PM