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Gurtej, Gurcharanjit Debate Kala Afghana's Writings: Part II
By ISHWINDER SINGH CHADHA
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.'
Sikh-Diaspora (Yahoo! Groups), Chandigarh, May 20, 2003
"This is a review of today's airing of the much-awaited sequel to the Apr. 30 debate between Gurtej Singh (G.S.) and Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba (G.S.L.) on Alpha Punjabi television's Khabarsar program. The subject of both debates: Kala Afghana's (K.A.) controvertial writings."
"G.S.L., who had a difficult time in the first episode (he spent most of his time looking for quotations), seemed to be ready and raring to go. He started by emphasizing that the definition of Sikh as per the Sikh rahit maryada [code of conduct] requires 'faith in the banis [sacred hymns] of the ten Gurus.' He said that since K.A. has doubted the banis of the Dasam Granth he is not a Sikh. He went on to add that K.A. has ridiculed the institution of amrit [nectar used for baptism] by doubting the story of 40 muktey which even G.S. has accepted in his book. G.S. retorted by clarifying that K.A. implies that the Guru's words should not be taken literally and that we should search for deeper meanings."
"G.S.L. commented that since G.S. regarded Kapur Singh as his mentor and Kapur Singh accepted Bachittar Natak [from the Dasam Granth] as the bani [sacred hymns] of Guru Gobind Singh, it is contradictory of G.S. to support K.A., who doesn't regard Bachittar Natak as Guru Gobind Singh's work. To this G.S. responded by pointing out that everybody is entitled to their opinion and it is not necessary that he [G.S.] must agree with every belief attributed to Kapur Singh."
"Continuing his attack, G.S.L. claimed that K.A. has hurt Sikh sentiments by terming Vaar Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki in the ardas [daily prayer] as koor kabaar [garbage]. To this G.S. responded by noting that K.A. writes in a sarcastic manner and that his sarcasm should not be taken literally. G.S. also added that K.A. is a staunch amrit-dhari [orthodox] Sikh and that he is promoting the institution of amrit through his writings. He further added that K.A.'s quotes should not be interpreted out of context. G.S. said that in reply to the eleven sentences contained within G.S.L.'s chargesheet against K.S., G.S. had been able to extract 14 pages from K.A.'s books which stated precisely the opposite. To this G.S.L. retorted that G.S.'s logic was akin to that of a thief who, on being informed of a witness willing to testify that he witnessed the burglary, states that he can present a witness who would testify that he did not witness the burglary!"
"G.S.L. pointed out that the ardas is a part of the Sikh rahit maryada and that K.A. has ridiculed it. The host then asked G.S. whether he thinks Sikh sentiments have been hurt by K.A.'s views on the ardas. G.S. responded that ardas is a man-made institution and is subject to change. To this G.S.L. observed that G.S. has written in one of his books that those who want to revise the Sikh rahit maryada are enemies of the Panth [Sikh community]."
"Finally G.S.L. reminded G.S. that some years ago Bhag Singh Ambalavi was excommunicated for expressing views on ardas and Benti Chaupai that were similar to those being articulated by K.A. today. He commented that 'this group' is trying to circulate the views of Bhag Singh Ambalavi under another name. G.S. asked G.S.L. to clarify whom he was referring to by 'this group' since the publisher of K.A.'s books also publishes all of the titles put out by the highly regarded Singh Brothers."
"The host eventually had to cut the discussion short due to shortage of time. Both participants seemed as if they wanted to continue the discussion into eternity."
"Without going into the intricacies of the issues, I would only like to state that both the participants seemed to be well prepared. This is no surprise since both of them have been the main players from opposite ends in this episode. During this discussion, G.S.L. seemed to be quite excited and often interrupted while G.S. was speaking. Additionally, on occasion G.S.L. seemed somewhat flustered in that he used G.S.'s name when he actually meant to use K.A.'s name. This was in contrast to G.S. who consistently gave G.S.L. a patient hearing. In one instance, G.S.L. made so much noise that G.S. had to remark that it was not possible to conduct a discussion in such an environment. My grandmother, who was watching the discussion along with me, made the following remark after taking in the fish market scene, 'We Sikhs haven't yet matured enough to discuss things in public.' "