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"No Clergy-Like Role for Jathedars"

Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana retired in 1981 as inspector of police. In 1984, while he was visiting Canada, India cancelled his passport and confiscated his property. Now based in Canada, the Sikh author's books Biparan Kii Riit Ton Sach Daa Maarag and Bachittar Natak: Gurbani Di Kasvuti Te contend that the Dasam Granth was not entirely authored by Guru Gobind Singh. Renowned Sikh scholar Gurtej Singh, jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Giani Kewal Singh, and many others have stoutly defended Kala Afghana's writings. Sikh scholar Giani Bhag Singh Ambalavi had to apologise in the late 1970s for having questioned the validity of the Dasam Granth. Gurbakhsh has questioned the commonly held belief that Guru Tegh Bahadur died for Hindus. He has written, 'the only complaint before the emperor was that Guru Tegh Bahadur was fanning insurgency against the government. Thus those claiming that the Guru sacrificed his life for Hinduism are sullying the principles of Sikhism.'

The Tribune, Chandigarh, May 14, 2003

"Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, a well-known Sikh scholar and former vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, said today that there was no clergy-like role of Takht jathedars [high priests] in Sikhism."
"In a statement issued here, he observed that after the fierce debate in 1994 about the authority of Akal Takht's jathedar - documented in the book Sri Akal Takht co-edited by Prof. H.S. Dilgeer and Dr. Ahluwalia - the controversy had again erupted, now, in relation to the case of Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana's book on Sikhism. Leaving aside the pros and cons of the book, the basic issues needed to be re-stressed. Dr. Ahluwalia said, 'One of the revolutionary aspects of Sikhism is its rejection of clergy, of priestly class, there being a direct, non-mediatory, relationship between a Sikh and his Guru and God. In particular the following four traditional roles of clergy have been discarded doctrinally in Sikh religion: ex-communications; imposition of religious punishment; prescription of all-time, unchangeable code of conduct, and pontification, that is, the exclusive right to interpretation of Sikh doctrine and traditions."