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 Sikh versus Voting Right to a Sikh within community 

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the followers, Sikhs and the definition of a Sikh

Balbir Singh Sooch* 

The definition of a Sikh is purely based on the Sikh Maryada i.e. rules, regulations, instructions framed and issued with the change of time without violating and in accordance with the teachings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. According to the definition, the Sikhs are in reduced minority now and Sikhs are further reducing their minority status day by day.  But Sri Guru Granth Sahib is being accepted as the universal spiritual leader of Sikhs and also for its all followers. Though, all the followers of Sri Guru Granth Sahib may not be the Sikhs as defined in the Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1925 and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Act 1971. 

Sikh were overjoyed and are proud of when in the past Mr. Barack Obama, now the President- elect of the United States of America had extended his greetings to the Sikh community in America on the tercentenary celebrations of consecration of the Guru Granth Sahib sent a message and wrote, “Sri Guru Granth Sahib is considered the universal spiritual leader and guiding light for the Sikh community. In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh officially ordained Guru Granth Sahib as the final and perpetual Guru of Sikhs. 

The secular nature of Sikh faith can not be denied and it was seen in the tercentenary celebrations of Gurta Gaddi, as descendants of some of the Bhagats from different religions and communities whose compositions were included in the Guru Granth Sahib were seen participating with much enthusiasm. Among the ones who had attended the celebrations there were the descendants of Sant Namdev, Bhagat Pramanandji and Baba Sheikh Farid, the famous Sufi Saint. Thus Sikhs have to be more liberal in that sense also. 

All the followers and Sikhs can be identified as followers but all the followers are not Sikhs presently within the definition of a Sikh. 

The position is emerging at the present that the followers of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib are likely to increase day by day but the day may come when the Sikhs as per the definition of a Sikh would be tiny as the trend and change is being seen and experienced. Is it not so? 

The followers of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib shall be supreme being moderate and in majority with a changed identity. And in case the trend and change continued within the present Sikh Maryada or the definition of a Sikh, the Sikhs are very likely to disappear from the scene or would be tiny but they would definitely exist with a different identity so long as the teaching of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is being accepted as the universal spiritual leader of Sikhs and also for its all followers keeping in mind the secular nature of Sikh faith.  

Who is responsible for the trend and change in identity of Sikhs and the undesirable situation? Whether the rigidity of the definition and Maryada which is not being framed again according to the changed circumstances without violating and in accordance with the teachings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is responsible for the trend and change or SGPC, its Head Ministers, Gurduara Parbandhaks, Deravaad and other Jathebandees have become ineffective except performing various rituals for the sake of money and power!


Is there any contradiction between the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the Sikh Maryada and for the reasons, these days in congregations in world-wide Gurduaras, about 70-80% followers fall in the category of Patits and Sehajdhari, which shows decline in Sikhie? Or Are the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib being followed in violation instead of obedience and if we say yes then why and if we say no then how? All these questions must be agitating the minds of Sikh scholars and thinkers and some solution is very much expected from them. 

Can’t we accept everyone (Sikh, who is born to Sikh families and who is born in non-Sikh families, but follows the tenets of Sikhism) as a Sikh whoever believes in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib unless the individual converts or following to any other religion? It is the only liberal view could be taken for simultaneously considering the followers and the Sikhs as one and the same identity in view of the principle of equality and equity and the Sikhs could prevent the sorry state of affairs permanently!!!

Submission by
*Chief and Spokesperson,
Sikh Vichar Manch

December 5, 2008 (Updated)

Sikh versus Voting Right to a Sikh within community

Balbir Singh Sooch* 

Some Sikhs who feel privileged and benefited in the name of ‘definition of a Sikh’ and the ‘voting right of a Sikh for a few’ within the community are always in favour of a tight partition to permanently isolate the others from Sikhism for the reasons best known to them. 

Has a Sikh a guarantee of equality and equity in view of the voting right and the definition as well as for fixing his eligibility for 'Sikh quota' in the SGPC-run educational institutes, including medical and engineering colleges what to talk of and the support of others for the guarantee of equality and equity in the context of the discriminatory treatments being meted out on the questions of the eligibility for 'Sikh quota', the definition of a Sikh and the voting right to a Sikh within Sikh community? 

Are the Sikh politicians, religious men of the present day within the community be entitled or eligible to differentiate Sikhs as Sehajdhari, patit (apostate) and a Gursikh (baptised Sikh) in the context of a warrior, political, historical and philosophic perspectives under the different situations and circumstances passed and may very likely to take place anytime?  

Could the majority of the Sikh politicians and religious men presently in the community not be identified following the Sikhi according to Bhai Daya Singh's Rehatnamas as Dhande Di Sikhi (those who become Sikhs for commercial motives) and Bhekh Di Sikhi (those who accept Sikhism formally to imitate Sikhs for material gains and to exploit Sikhism for their ignoble ends) as the question already raised for finalization of the definition of a Sikh?

Are those not eligible for 'Sikh quota', and do not fit for the voting right as a Sikh within the Sikh community should permanently to be considered as non-Sikhs for casting their votes to the Sikh politicians and be debarred from performing the religious ceremonies as already proposed though acceptance or negation is awaited in the context of the definition of a Sikh.

The followers of Dhande Di Sikhi and Bhekh Di Sikhi are free to say so without defining and dividing the Sikhs on caste lines like Sehajdhari, patit (apostate) and a Gursikh (baptised Sikh) to have a tight partition permanently within the community to isolate the others for their privileges and benefits as experienced and being closely seen in practice daily in running the Sikh affairs.  

For the reasons, some are strongly in favour of sending a strong note demanding that such meaningless debate should end once and for all with a strong directive from the Sikh Parliament (SGPC). 

Sikh Vichar Manch submits before all right thinking Sikhs and others concerned residing in India and elsewhere not to further reduce the Sikh community to minority status and let the ‘Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’ be always remain and considered the only test stone to judge the quality of a Sikh and the Sikhi! 

*Chief and Spokesperson,
Sikh Vichar Manch, Ludhiana

November 28, 2008

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