|Doctrines|| ||This section should be read in parallel with the Sanatan Sikh entry, because each Sabha represents a different world-view, both of which are mutually defined in contradistinctive terms. However a brief description is given here of each. The Sanatan world-view is basically oral, personal, popular, diverse, reliant on past traditions and ahistorical, in nature. The Tat Khalsa world-view is textual, impersonal, elite, homogenous, historical, progressive and modern. In the former there is an acceptance of the Indian tradition and its value over Western tradition and colonialism. In the latter there is a conflation and interaction between Western colonialism and Indian inherited traditions. The basic belief of Tat Khalsa is exclusivity. The Orthodox (Tat Khalsa) view believes that God cannot take any form in particular, for He is both Formless and within all forms.
This allows them to justify their doctrine of the Guru Granth as opposed to the continuation of human Gurus indefinitely, (which the Sanatan world-view upholds). |
Though even orthodox Sikhism accepts many of the pan-Indian and Hindu religious views - like the belief that one reaps what one sows, and one's present life is usually seen as the living out of the consequences of the previous life's deeds (known as karma), the belief that the soul reincarnates many thousands of times (transmigration), the belief in a Guru of some kind and the guru-chela (disciple) relationship - its uniqueness lies in its reinterpretation of these core Indian ideas. This is best exemplified by the fact that the Tat Khalsa hold the Adi Granth as the Guru Granth over and above the Dasam Granth, for the reason that the latter is replete with Hindu mythic lore. Whether this reinterpretation, together with its own insights, constitutes a separate religion is a point of contention between the Sanatan and Tat Khalsa Sikhs.
Tat Khalsa excludes most non-orthodox Singhs; it believes that the only true Sikh is a Singh. It is helpful to show the various degrees in this: An Amritdhari Sikh is the most orthodox having taken Guru Gobind Singh's Khalsa initiation, and one who follows the full rahit maryada (Sikh code of conduct and way of life); then there is the Keshdhari Sikh who keeps his hair uncut but does not take amrit or initiation into the Khalsa, and so does not follow the full rahit; following these is the Sahajdhari Sikh, who cuts his hair and is considered as a slow adopter of the 'Khalsa way of life'. Then there comes those Sikhs that are born into a Sikh family and carry the name Singh as a matter of birthright and not Khalsa initiation, which is open to them as it is to any and all people; finally we have the Patit Sikh or fallen Sikh who once had taken initiation/amrit and since has fallen into laxity. The Tat Khalsa only believes that the Amritdhari Sikh/Singh is a true Sikh.
The orthodox Tat Khalsa, statement of Sikhism today, their identity beliefs, and practices is embodied in the The Sikh Rahit Maryada (the Sikh Code of Conduct). It defines a Sikh as, "any person who believes in God (Akal Purakh); in the ten Gurus (Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh); in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, other writings of the ten Gurus, and their teachings; in the Khalsa initiation ceremony instituted by the tenth Guru; and who does not believe in any other system of religious doctrine."
A Sikh should, "rise early (3 a.m. to 6 a.m.) and having bathed should observe nam japan [repetition of the name] by meditating on God. Each day a Sikh should read or recite the order known as the 'Daily Rule' (nit-nem). The Daily Rule comprises of the following portions of scripture: Early morning (3 a.m. to 6 a.m.): Japji, Jap, and the Ten Savayyas... In the evening at sunset: Sodar Rahiras... At night before retiring: Sohila. At the conclusion of the selections set down for early morning and evening (Sodar Rahiras) the prayer known as Ardas must be recited".
A Sikh should partake of communal meditation and devotional singing; "The influence of the Gurus' words is best experienced in a religious assembly (sangat). Each Sikh should therefore join in sangat worship, visiting gurdwaras and drawing inspiration from the sacred scripture in the sangat's presence."
Though individual meditation is recommended, "A practice to be commended is for each Sikh regularly to read right through the entire contents of the Guru Granth Sahib, planning his daily instalments in such a way that he completes the task in four to eight weeks (or whatever period may be convenient for him)."
Part of the basic creed or doctrine which each Sikh should live and work by are the principles of Gurmat (teaching of the Gurus), some of which are given below:
(a) To worship only the one supreme God (Akal Purakh) spurning all other gods and goddesses.
Sikhs should also follow the rites for birth and naming, marriage, Khalsa initiation and cremation as stated in the Sikh Rahit Maryada.
|History|| ||As the Singh Sabha movement expanded the next main centre of its activity was founded six years after the first Singh Sabha founded in Amritsar in 1873. This was the centre in Lahore (founded in 1879). This Singh Sabha basically consisted of much more radical and progressive thinkers, whom eventually formed the Tat Khalsa view, which was destined to become the main orthodox view of Sikhism today. There arose two trends: the Sanatanist view of the Amritsar Singh Sabha and the Tat Khalsa view of the Lahore Singh Sabha. The resolution of the two was attempted with the foundation of the Chief Khalsa Divan, but this proved only temporary. The Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha gradually gained dominance, creating new, distinctively Sikh rituals for birth, naming, marriage and death, and formed a particular view of Sikh history and religion that reflected the uniqueness of the Sikh faith. This led to the systematic exclusion of all non-Singhs due to the fixing of 'Sikh' as only a signifier of Khalsa a Singh.|
Their main argument was to prove that Sikhs were not Hindus or Muslims and that they had their own revealed religion. Thus the very idea of Sikhism came about through an interaction of the Indian traditions with the new technologies and ideas of British Rule. Hinduism and Sikhism are therefore relatively recent creations of the colonial period, which induced a sense of nationalism, communalism and individualism. The people of the Panjab and elsewhere were learning to see and understand their own history in a distinctively Western way. Thus the following, overtly political developments, were all institutions of the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabha, such as the Central Sikh League (founded in 1919), the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (S.P.G.C. founded in 1920), and the Akali Dal (also founded later in 1920). The S.G.P.C. deleted, edited and modernised all the available early rahit-namas (behavioural injunctions) into one systematic statement.
Various attempts were made (in 1915 and 1931), but none achieved widespread following. However in 1950 the Sikh Rahit Maryada finally secured the Panth's (Sikh people's) general acceptance. It has now become the orthodox standard. (See above).
|Symbols|| ||(See Khalsa Singh entry).|
|Adherents|| ||See entry for Khalsa Singhs. (See also the note at the end of the Explanatory Introduction).|
| ||Akal Takht (The Immortal Throne) and Harimandir Sahib (The Golden Temple), Amritsar. Though they have Gurdwaras cared for by the S.G.P.C. all over the Panjab.|