How should we deal with people we disagree with?- By: Manvir Singh

ਸਿੰਘ ਸਿੰਘ ਪਰ ਸ਼ਸਤ੍ਰ ਨ ਕਰੇ | ਜਾਨ ਗੁਰੂ ਖਾਲਸੇ ਤੇ ਡਰੇ |੪੩|
“A Sikh should never attack another Sikh. He should recognise others as the Guru Khalsa and should remain fearful of them.”
(Rehatnama: Bhai Desa Singh Ji)

It is very sad and shameful to hear about the incident at Frankfurt Gurdwara that took place on Sunday 14th May, where a Parchaarik (preacher) was physically attacked and his Dastaar (turban) removed by an angry mob that had come to oppose him, followed by a clash by followers of both parties. Watching the video footage, you can see people opposing the Parchaarik swearing, using obscene language, and quite frankly acting like hooligans, which resulted in the Police entering the Gurdwara Sahib with their shoes on.

On analysis of Rehatnamay (Sikh codes of conduct), Guru Ji clearly and firmly condemns such acts against other Sikhs. The Tankhaahnama of Bhai Chaupa Singh Ji mentions that those who commit such acts, become Thankhaiya (liable for religious disciplinary action, including socio-religious boycott).
1) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ, ਸਿੱਖ ਦੇ ਦਾੜ੍ਹੇ ਹੱਥ ਪਾਏ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ।
"A Sikh who pulls another Sikh's beard is a Thankhaiya."
2) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ, ਸਿੱਖ ਦੇ ਕੇਸਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਹੱਥ ਪਾਏ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ।
"A Sikh who pulls another Sikh's Kes (hair) is a Thankhaiya."
3) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਨਾਲ ਹੱਥੋਂ-ਪਾਈ-ਲੜਾਈ ਕਰੇ, ਸੋ ਭੀ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ ।
"One who gets involved in a physical fight with a Sikh is a Thankhaiya."
4) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਨਾ ਗੰਦ-ਜਬਾਬ ਕਰੈ, ਸੋ ਗੰਦਾ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ |
"One who responds to a Sikh with a filthy mouth, is a filthy Thankhaiya."
5) ਜੋ ਸਿਖ ਜਾਣ ਬੁਝ ਕੇ ਸਿਖ ਨੂੰ ਦੁਖ ਦੇਵੇ, ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ |
"A Sikh who knowingly gives pain to another a Sikh, is a Thankhaiya."

For the above five you can imagine how many Thankhaiye are out there now. How can we talk about the Chardi Kala of the Panth? The following code talks about one who doesn’t stop the fight even if asked by a fellow Sikh is also a Thankhaiya:
6) ਜੋ ਦੁਇ ਸਿਖ ਆਪਸ ਵਿਚ ਲੜਨ, ਸਿੱਖ ਮਨ੍ਹਾ ਕਰਨ ਅਤੇ ਲੜਾਈ ਨਾ ਛਡਣ, ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਈਏ ।
"When two Sikhs are fighting amongst themselves and a Sikh tells them not to but they continue, they are Thankhaiye."
Sikhs across the world felt ashamed that people claiming to be defending Sikhi had actually insulted Sikhi and helped anti-Sikh forces and governments that seek to destroy or damage Sikhi. Such things do not help, when countries like Italy, the same week have declared that a Sikh cannot wear a Kirpan in Italy. Such low level behaviour by a minority of people (many of whom had dishonoured their Guru-given Kes and most likely drink alcohol), will surely give ammunition to those who don't understand us, or oppose us, to shut down our Gurdwaras, ban our Kakkaars, and stop future Nagar Kirtans.

To be frank, I am neither in favour of the Parchaarik, nor in favour of those that came to the Gurdwara to fight, swear, and celebrated afterwards the fact that another Sikh's Dastaar was removed. However, all Sikhs I am sure, will agree that mindless violence, obscene language, and hooliganism has no place in Sikhi or any Gurdwara. This incident highlights a bigger issue of how we should deal with people we disagree with. Do we have to result to violence, obscene language and hooligan behaviour in our Gurdwaras?



Let's reflect on Sikh history. Who did Bhai Ghanaiya Singh Ji give water in the battle-field? To those who had left home with the intention to attack and kill Guru Gobind Singh Ji and his Sikhs. Guru Ji was so impressed, that he gave him a medicine box and instructed him to bandage. And today, there are people in the appearance of Sikhs, taking off the Dastaars of fellow Sikhs and shouting obscenities at them because of differences in interpretation of Maryada and history. Isn't this madness? It is even more strange, that only certain Parchaariks are targeted, and other groups and sections of the Sikh community whom the same people disagree with on matters regarding Maryada are overlooked and instead embraced with brotherly love.

People will often justify these angry mob attacks on Parchaariks and promote violence against fellow Sikhs with differing views on social media, by quoting that Guru Gobind Singh Ji punished the Masands (appointed deputies) with death. However, on reading the historical account given in Guru Kian Sakhian, it is clear that Guru Gobind Singh Ji was asked by the wife of Baba Ram Rai Ji, Mata Punjab Kaur, for help. Baba Ram Rai, had already asked for forgiveness from the Guru for his past mistakes. Mata Punjab Kaur complained to Guru Ji at Paonta Sahib that the greedy Masands had burnt alive Baba Ram Rai Ji in order to take over power. At the time, Baba Ram Rai was in deep meditation, and knowing this the Masands burnt him alive and forciby cremated him. Hearing this, the Sikhs gathered these guilty Masands and gave them the same punishment they had inflicted on Baba Ram Rai Ji. Similarly, the murderers of the Sahibzaade were punished to death. But sadly, this account of history has been retold with different intentions and objectives and used to argue we can go around and punish to death whoever we like. If this was the case, then why was this a one-off incident? Why didn't Guru Sahib punish to death every single Sikh who went against him, disagreed with him, became greedy etc. It doesn't add up. There are different versions of the Masands being punished provided by different writers, and for this reason, we have to read history in light of Gurbani.

Historically, from the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Sikhs have disagreed with a number of people and groups. But never, has it resulted in attacking someones place of worship or assembly, swearing at them and their followers, taking off someones dastaar, or pulling someone off stage with disrespect.



Examples from Sikh history of how to deal with people with people holding opposing ideologies and beliefs:



1) Baba Sri Chand Ji and Udaasis
Baba Sri Chand Ji disagreed with Guru Nanak Dev Ji and followed a different path, contrary to Sikh teachings. Gurbani says:
ਪੁਤ੍ਰੀ ਕਉਲੁ ਨ ਪਾਲਿਓ ਕਰਿ ਪੀਰਹੁ ਕੰਨ੍ਹ ਮੁਰਟੀਐ ॥
"The Guru's sons (Baba Sri Chand Ji and Baba Lakhmi Das Ji) did not obey His Word; they turned their backs on Him as Guru."
(Raamkalee Bhai Satta and Balwand Ji, 967)
However, Sikhs never pursued Baba Sri Chand Ji, harassed him, or tried to prevent him from preaching his individual path. Udasis continued to preach their own path, and made their own Deras. J. D. Cunningham writes that Guru Amar Das Ji was "active in preaching and successful in obtaining converts. He found an attentive listener in the tolerant Akbar. He saved the infant church from early death by wholly separating the passive and recluse Udasis from the regular Sikhs" (A History of the Sikhs, p.45).


2) Bhai Datu Ji kicking the Guru
Bhai Datu Ji was the son of Guru Angad Dev Ji. He was angry that his father had appointed Guru Amar Das Ji as his successor, instead of him. When Guru Amar Das Ji was sitting on their throne, Bhai Dattu Ji angrily kicked Guru Sahib. Guru Amar Das Ji did not respond with anger or hate, but rather apologised to him, saying, “Pardon me; my hard bones must have hurt your foot.” Thus reflecting the Guru’s great humility and wisdom. Guru Ji himself, role modeled the behaviour that is needed for the Guru's Darbaar.



3) Baba Prithi Chand Ji and Meene
Baba Prithi Chand Ji, elder brother of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, was a key factor in Guru Arjan Dev Ji's shaheedi (martyrdom). He plotted and planned against the Guru, and actively preached against Guru Arjan Dev Ji. However, the Guru allowed him to get on with what he was doing, and Guru Sahib carried on their Parchaar. Yes, Sikhs were instructed to boycott to the followers of Baba Prithi Chand who started their own lineage of Guruship and attempted to forge Gurbani. But the boycott, did not involve verbal or physical attacks.


4) Baba Dhir Mal and Dheer Maleeye
Baba Dhir Mall was the elder son of Baba Gurditta Ji and grandson of Guru Hargobind Ji. He had in possession the original Pothi Sahib (or Aad Granth Ji) that had been left at Kartarpur at the time Guru Hargobind moved his residence to Kiratpur Sahib. After Guru Har Rai's succession to Guruship, Baba Dhir Mal set himself up as a parallel Guru at Kartarpur and appointed his own deputies. After Guru Har Krishan Ji had left his earthly body, Baba Dhir Mall moved to Bakala in the hope Sikhs would be fooled in accepting him as the Ninth Guru. On the appointment of Guru Teg Bahadar Ji, Baba Dir Mall turned against his uncle and conspired with one of his masands (agents), Shihan, who one day fired a bullet at Guru Tegh Bahadar Ji but missed. His men attacked the Guru's house and ransacked it unchecked, which was recovered by Baba Makhan Shah, but then asked to be given back to Baba Dhir Mall by Guru Teg Bahadar Ji. At no point, did the Guru ask the Sikhs to attack, loot, rob or swear at Baba Dhir Mall or his followers. Even now, his descendants, the Sodhis, are in possession of the Kartarpuri Beerh, however, Sikhs have never felt it appropriate to forcibly take it from them or to shout at them insults like 'Gur Nindaks'.


5) Baba Ram Rai Ji and Ramraiye
Baba Ram Rai Ji, the eldest son of Guru Har Rai Ji, disobeyed his father and changed Gurbani. He was turned away by the Guru and his followers were boycotted. However, at no point did Sikhs decide to attack his Dera (dwelling) or stop him from speaking etc. Sikhs carried on with their Parchaar, and Ramraiye carried on with theirs. Yes, Sikhs do not keep social relations with them, do not visit their homes or places of worship, marry into their families, or eat from their hands. However, again there is no verbal or physical abuse involved.


6) Naamdhari
Namdharis are a break away group from Sikhs who claim that after Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Baba Balak Singh was given guruship, and not Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the Khalsa Panth. To this day, Naamdharis have a human lineage of Gurus. They do not accept Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Guru, they are against wearing blue, get married around a fire instead of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and do not wear a Kirpan (but miniature symbol embedded in the Kangha). Now, has anyone heard that Sikhs have decided to attack all Namdhari places of worship, stop their Parchaariks and shout and scream at them? No. They get on with their own religion, and Sikhs get on with their Parchaar.


Within, Sikhs there are differing opinions and practises on some issues. However, at the end of the day, if we believe Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is our Guru, have taken Khande-Di-Pahul from the Panj Pyaare, wear the Panj Kakkaar, and accept the supremacy of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, we are all Sikhs.

If our Nihang Singh brothers in their Dals sacrifice goats, eat meat, and do Parkaash of three Granths together, and another Sikh disagrees with that, does that give them the right to swear at them, or prevent them from speaking at their Dals? No. They have the right to do what they genuinely believe is Sikhi, and the other Sikh has the right to put forward his view to the Sangat in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and educate the Sangat, whilst promoting brotherly love for all Sikhs regardless.

If our Nanaksar brothers in their Deras do not allow married people to sit on the Tabiyaa to do seva, recite from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, do Keertan, or they don't believe in flying a Nishaan Sahib, making Degh, saying "Raj Karega Khalsa" or making Langar at their Gurdwaras, then does that give another Sikh the right to attack them, swear at them with obsenties, or try to remove their Dastaars? No. They have the right to do what they genuinely believe is Sikhi, and the other Sikh has the right to put forward his view to the Sangat in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and educate the Sangat, whilst promoting brotherly love for all Sikhs regardless.

Similarly, if some of our Missionary College brothers do not believe in the necessity of doing Vahiguru Simran for long periods of time, don't believe in reincarnation, and believe having a bath in a holy Sarovar has only social benefits, rather than spiritual, then does that give another Sikh the right to attack them, swear at them with obscenities, or try to remove their Dastaars? No. They have the right to do what they genuinely believe is Sikhi, and the other Sikh has the right to put forward his view to the Sangat in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and educate the Sangat, whilst promoting brotherly love for all Sikhs regardless.

To counteract wrong Parchaar, the best response would be to do positive parchaar. Get the message of the Guru across in a positive manner, and let the Sangat decide what they accept. If we preach the message of Gurbani and Rehat Maryada in a sincere and loving manner, I am sure the Sangat will be able to see through Parchaar done with the intention of creating doubts, stirring needless controversies on Dasam Granth, Raagmala, Mool Mantar etc, undermining Rehat Maryada, and questioning of Sikh history. It is natural, that if the Parchaariks preaching Gurmat in truest form are doing their job well, Gurdwara committees would book them. If we put our point across with love, dignity, and respect, even the opposition would listen one day, and we can only hope that with Guru's Grace they would see the light.

Let's not play into the hands of anti-Sikh forces. Let's stay united, keep our Gurdwaras free from violence, and stop using bad language against fellow Sikhs we disagree with.
ਸਿੰਘ ਸਿੰਘ ਸੋ ਨੇਹੁ ਸੁ ਕਰਨੋ | ਬੈਰ ਭਾਵ ਮਨ ਤੇ ਪਰਿਹਰਨੋ |
“One should always show love towards other Sikhs. Enmity should be removed from the mind.”
(Rehatnama: Bhai Desa Singh Ji)

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Comment by Amarpreet Singh on May 23, 2017 at 12:21

beautiful Share Armaan Singhji

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