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Darshan Singh Ragi: No Voting Rights for Unorthodox Sikhs


The Tribune, Dec. 18, 2002

Photo: Darshan Singh Ragi

Prof. Darshan Singh, a former jathedar [head-priest] of Akal Takht in a hard-hitting letter to Giani [priest] Joginder Singh Vedanti, jathedar of Akal Takht, today expressed his serious concern over certain vital Panthic issues, including the sahaj-dharis [unorthodox Sikhs] and the Nanakshahi calendar which have been pending for a long time. The former jathedar said jathedar Vedanti should exhibit guts to resolve the Panthic [Sikh community] issues and there was no need to seek permission from the government. Instead these issues should be resolved as per Panthic traditions. In the four-page letter, faxed to jathedar Vedanti, Prof. Darshan Singh said indecisiveness on the part of the Akal Takht on the Nanakshahi calendar had created an unsavoury situation in Panthic circles. He alleged that the implementation of the calendar was stopped under a 'deep rooted conspiracy' about three years ago.

Coming down heavily on the claim of sahaj-dhari Sikhs regarding voting rights during the S.G.P.C. poll, Prof. Darshan Singh said such a move would harm the Sikh Panth in the long run. 'An attempt to give the voting rights to sahaj-dharis would give a certificate to those who don't want to keep their hair unshorn. Kes-dhari [orthodoxy] is a must for getting voting rights,' he asserted. Under the garb of sahaj-dharis a large number of non-Sikhs would intrude into the S.G.P.C., he feared.'

He lamented that voting rights to sahaj-dharis was first given by the Shiromani Akali Dal [S.A.D.] with a view to wrest the control of S.G.P.C. He asked as to why Sikh clergy did not act to stop such 'anti-Panthic' activities. The former jathedar of the Akal Takht also criticised anti-Panthic activities of certain senior Akali leaders and studied silence of the Sikh clergy. He also criticised those who have been shielding Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, the former chief minister of Punjab who had participated in a 'havan' in gross violation of the Sikh maryada [code of conduct]. He concluded that the organising of paaths [recitations] of the Ramayana by S.G.P.C. members could not be justified. Prof. Darshan Singh said that as per the certified 'Sikh maryada' no Sikh could recite any granth [book] other than the Guru Granth Sahib [the Sikh holy book].