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The Dark Side of Sikh Orthodoxy

Edited excerpts from comments posted on January 1 and 4, 2003.

Sikh-Diaspora (Yahoo! Groups), Jan. 4, 2003

Photo: Jodh Singh Arora

Kes-dhari [observant] and amrit-dhari [initiated] Sikhs often imply that sahaj-dhari [unorthodox] and patit Sikhs are betraying the religion. My rebutal to their allegations is to list how kes-dhari and amrit-dhari Sikhs or sabot soorat Sikhs (S.S.S.) are betraying their religion. The greatest con artist of Indian origin outside India is a S.S.S. A notorious absconder from India is a S.S.S. The Rashtria Sikh Sangat (R.S.S.), which is doing its best to absorb Sikhs into Hindutva, has as its president a S.S.S. Sikhs allow him to speak at gurdwaras. S.S.S. have banned clean shaven Sikhs (C.S.S.) from speaking at some gurdwaras. S.S.S. in gurdwaras abuse, insult and openly disrespect C.S.S. and deny them membership in gurdwaras (for example, the Sikh Cultural Society gurdwara in Richmond Hill, Queens, N.Y.). A S.S.S. president of a gurdwara has a second woman as his common-law wife.

In 1967, on Guru Nanak's 300th birth anniversary, Session Judge Bhagat Singh wrote that long hair on the heads of S.S.S. work like antennas. In my opinion, the biggest enemies of the Sikhs are their own illiteracy, abhorrence of reading, our illiterate clergy, our corrupt, greedy and selfish political leadership, and a lack of credible Sikh think tanks.

A Sikh youth camp was organized (by one of the people recently mentioned on this forum) in N.J. about 15 years ago. There were half a dozen C.S.S. kids in attendance who were rebuked and insulted. Three of the C.S.S. kids left before the end of the camp. My kids stayed because I was serving in the camp. There were several competitions, one of which involved measuring the length of hair on one's head. The kid with the longest hair would get the prize. While this was going on, the C.S.S. kids were forced to stay inside the tents. Many derogatory words were used and C.S.S. kids were humiliated. Even though some C.S.S. kids exhibited execellent examples of service, they were left out, faced humiliation, and received no awards.

My kids (ages 8 and 10 at the time) told me that they would not be interested in attending any further camps given that the situation was this bad even though I (as their parent) was present at the camp serving and observing [i.e. implying that the situation would be much worse in the absence of C.S.S. parents]. My kids are as good Sikhs as they can possibly be. However, since this incident, I do not dare to send them to Sikh youth camps. I did speak with the organizer of the Sikh youth camp. He was sorry that I felt the way I did but was adamant nevertheless. The organizers of these camps have such a narrow world view that they forget that there are other virtues in Sikhism besides outer form.