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Prof. Puran Singh: Genesis of Hindu-Sikh Divide

This article is based on excerpts from the Spirit of the Sikh written by Professor Puran Singh in 1920's and publis...

This article is based on excerpts from the Spirit of the Sikh written by Professor Puran Singh in 1920's and published by Punjabi University Patiala in two volumes during 1982. Puran Singh was a great scientist, mystic poet, and a visionary and interpreter of the Sikh cultural consciousness. This article reflects the personal views of the great Sikh scholar which seem to be relevant for understanding Sikhism and the geopolitical aspirations of the Sikhs.

To read earlier ones, follow:
Part I

Part II
Part III

4. Genesis of Hindu-Sikh Divide

It might seem that owing to the hostility of an environment, and the not unoften deliberate attempts of the Hindu society to obliterate the Sikh ideals, Sikhs tend to deny any relationship with Hindu society. The Sikh may deny him or not, the Hindu has already denied the Sikh. The great Hindu culture and its innate influence on Sikh culture, however, cannot be denied. It would be to deny one's parentage. Such denials add nothing to the stature of the Sikh. All that is lofty and noble must be and is fully reflected in the soul of Sikhism, for matter of that, not Hindu culture alone, but all human culture itself. The Sikh is rather spiritualistic in his consciousness than metaphysical [13].

The songs of the Ten Gurus and the lives of unparalleled martyrdom have created a new race-emotion in the Punjab; the Sikhs are a new nation in its inspiration and its remarkable cohesion of the masses. The brief Sikh history and tradition inspire the Punjab peasants as no manner of religious fervour did before, which goes to show that the Sikh has a tradition and culture of his own which the Hindu has been unwilling to receive, though he wishes at times to pat him on the back as a kind of off-spring. It is unfair of the Hindus to condemn the Sikhs for their attempts to cut themselves away from the mass of Hindudom. They make it a grievance that the Sikhs wish to make their church stand apart [14].

In view of the political solidarity of India it is mischievous for any one to suggest that we are not of the Hindu and not equally of the Muslims. It is mischievous to multiply the point of difference with the Hindu which are not fundamental. [15]

The Gurus have shown to Hindus the way to freedom of mind and soul and also to political freedom. The Hindus, out of the spirit of vain intellectual pride have withheld themselves from the resurgence that Sikhism would bring. For the Hindus, the way to survival and freedom is the Guru's way. Unless they accept Guru Granth as their new Gita, the old scriptures and the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata can no longer inspire new life into the mass of people whose backbone has been crushed by systematic metaphysical and theological burdens. Political slavery has been the result of their metaphysical mentality [16].

The Hindus in the Punjab have much to answer for. They find more in Bhagavad Gita and the old Veda than in Guru Granth. They love Hindi more than their mother-tongue. They relate themselves to the bards of Vedas more than the Gurus [17].

The Hindus failed Guru Gobind Singh: but Guru Gobind Singh has not failed them. They have not understood him; he understood them. As they have grown so apathetic, almost antagonistic to the message of the Gurus, it is essential that the basic unique character of Sikh culture should now be expressed [18].


Prof. Hardev Singh Virk
Department of Physics, Guru Nanak Dev University
Amritsar - 143005, India.
E-mail: [email protected]

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References:

13.Ibid, Vol. I, p. 28.
14.Ibid, Vol. II, p. 327.
15.Ibid, Vol. I, p. 34.
16.Ibid, Vol. I, p. 31.
17.Ibid, Vol. I, p. 58.
18.Ibid, Vol. I, p. 33.

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