Today in Sikh History – 4th January
|1909||Baba Ratta Singh Ji Nirankari passed away. Barsi celebrations are observed every year.|
==> NIRANKARI: a particular branch of GurSikh faith, established by Bhai Dayal Singh Ji. A Saehajdhari Sikh resident of Peshwar, GurSahai Ji, had a son named RamSahai Ji who married Ladhaki, daughter of Vasakha Singh (treasurer for the tenth Guru). Bhai Dayal Singh was born from this marriage on 15 Vaisakh sunmat 1840 (1783).
At the age of 30, Bhai Dayal Singh’s mother passed away. Since then he moved to live with his Mama ji (mother’s brother) Milkha Singh in Rawalpindi. Milkha Singh successfully instigated the drive for religious preaching in Bhai Dayal Singh Ji.
Bhai Dayal Singh married Mulladae and had three sons: Darbara Singh, Bhara Singh and Ratta Ji. Bhai Dayal Singh was continually absorbed in Nirankar Shabad Jaap and diligently preached against idol worship. For this reason, he and his following came to be known as "Nirankari". This group has actively and successfully lead reforms within GurPanth practices. However, it should be noted that this group is distinct in their beliefs and practices form another group who believes in human Guru and also calls themselves Nirankaris. Bhai Dyal Singh opposed idol worship and preached marriage reforms.
Bhai Dayal Singh Ji passed away on 18th Magh sunmat 1911. Rawalpindi has a beautiful Gurudwara of Nirankaris, where visitors are humbly served with GurSahab kirtan, Katha, Guru’s Langar.
CAUTION:- The SANT NIRANKARIS are a recent phenomenon and they have nothing in common with the Nirankari sect of the Sikhs, except for the name. They are not even a schism split from it, although the founder, Buta Singh (1883-1944), was once a member of the Nirankari Durbar at Rawalpindi. Upon being asked to quit the Durbar for a misdemeanour, he raised a group of his own. He was succeeded by Avtar Singh, who after the partition of India, 1947, migrated to Delhi and set up a centre there. Over the years, he recruited a considerable following from among Sikhs, Hindus and others. He was followed by his son, Gurbachan Singh. Gurbachan Singh’s son, Hardev Singh, is now the leader of the Nirankaris.
These Nirankaris have no affiliation with any of the known religious traditions. In any case, they have nothing in common with Sikh religion and own no connection with it. They welcome to their fold people from all religions. In this way, they form a freemasonry of faiths held together by the person of the leader, who is believed by the faithful to be the incarnation of God. As Gurbachan Singh once proclaimed : "The responsibilities assigned from time to time to prophets like Noah, Rama, Krishna, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, Kabir, Nanak, and Dayal have now been put on shoulders by my predecessor Baba Avtar Singh." In Nirankari writings, he was claimed to be the Deity, the creator of this entire universe, its sustainer and master.
It is not for anyone to controvert such claims. Least of all for Sikhs, who do not regard truth as the monopoly of any single group or faith. Their history and culture are witness to their liberal outlook. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75), Nanak IX, laid down his life to secure the people the liberty of conscience. His martyrdom was for the protection of the right of everyone to practise his religion unhindered. He protested against the State’s interference with the individual’s duty towards his faith. It was a declaration that any attempt to create a unitary, monolithic society must be resisted. It was a reiteration of the Sikh belief in an open and ethical social order and of the Sikh principles of tolerance and acceptance of diversity of faith and practice. This lesson is part of the Sikh experience and teaching and no follower of the faith may contravene it.
The Sikhs would have no quarrel with the Sant Nirankaris about their beliefs or ways of worship, but there are certain aspects of their system which cause abrasion. Although the Sikhs form a small percentage of their following, the Nirankari leaders have always preached their faith through the vocabulary and symbols of Sikhism. But with their native bias, they never cease from attempting to disfigure and distort many of its cherished ideals and institutions. Imitation breeds obliquity. The word Nirankari itself is borrowed from the Sikh chroniclers. The Founder, Guru Nanak, was by them referred to as Nanak Nirankari – believer in God, the Formless. "Nirankari Baba" is the title the Nirankari leader has appropriated unto himself. He retains his Sikh form, as did his predecessors. In imitation of Guru Gobind Singh’s Panj Piare (the Five Beloved of Sikh history), he has created his Sat Sitare (Seven Stars). The names of venerable Sikh personages from history are assigned to members of the leader’s family and his followers. Among them : Mata Sulakkhani (Guru Nanak’s wife), Bibi Nanaki (Guru Nanak’s sister), and Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas, two primal figures of Sikhism, both regarded highly in Sikh piety. Peculiarly Sikh terms, such as Satguru, Sangat and Sachcha Padshah, the title which the Sikh history came to be used for the Gurus, in contrast with Padshah and Badshah representing secular emperors, have been appropriated by the Nirankaris. Their religious book, a collection of Punjabi verse, incipient and elementary in character, by Avtar Singh, with little literary grace and spiritual content, is designated Avtar Bani in the manner of gurbani, i.e. the Sikh Gurus’ utterance. In Nirankari congregations gurbani is frequently and copiously quoted, but with a deliberate slant. The purpose invariably is disapprobation of the Sikh way of life. Sikh Scriptures are quoted and expounded openly to suit the Nirankari bias. In their monthly journal, Sant Nirankari, articles were published on gurbani and its interpretation. These articles appeared under title such as "Vichar Sri Sachche Patshah" (Thoughts of, or Interpretations by, the True Lord, i.e. the Nirankari leader), and "Gurbani ki Hai" (What really is gurbani?). Meanings contrary to Sikh understanding and tradition were propounded.
Sikhs have resented the continuing denigration by the Nirankaris of the their faith and of their belief in the Guru Granth as the Person Visible of the Gurus. They have protested against it. This is what they attempted to do – peacefully – at the time of the huge Nirankari congregation in Amritsar on April 13, 1978, coinciding with Baisakhi celebrations by the Sikhs. The Sikh group which went to the site had no violent intent. They were unarmed, except for their religiously sanctioned regalia. They were neither Nihangs nor Akalis, though most of the Sikhs are of Akali persuasion – politically. The bulk of the protesters in fact belonged to Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh’s jatha, whose primary concern is with kirtan or chanting of the holy hymns. Their other colleagues were from the jatha of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who devote themselves exclusively to the study and expounding of the bani of the Guru Granth.
The protesting Sikhs were met with a shower of bullets from the Nirankaris. Thirteen of them were killed, and many more wounded. The congregation, under the aegis of the Nirankari leader, Gurbachan Singh, continued for more than three hours after the gruesome tragedy. No one – none from among the Nirankaris who profess love and human fellowship to be the fundamental value in their creed – had a thought to spare for the dead bodies that lay scattered outside.
-Taken from "Retrospect" section, on page 26 of the June 1994, Volume 42:6, No. 486, issue of The Sikh Review.
SANT NIRANKARIS & AKALIS —
|1982||Gurbachan Singh (Nirankari) and 64 associates accused in the case of the murder of 13 Sikhs on April 13, 1978 were acquited. Mr. Gupta, the session-Judge of Karnal, said in his judgement "The case of the prosecution was intrinsically wrong. It was all frame-up and after thought." On the other hand the Sikhs alleged that the Nirankaris had bribed the Judge for the acquittal of the criminals. It was disclosed that the Judge received one million Rupees as a bribe. As a result of this judgement, the Sikh community lost its faith in the Indian Judicial system.|
-Ref. THE SIKHS’ STRUGGLE FOR SOVEREIGNTY, An Historical Perspective By Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer and Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon Edited By: A.T. Kerr Page 110-119
==> WHO WERE THE MURDERED GURSIKHS?
Further, the Nirankaris were hurling grave and malicious insults against the GurSikhism religion, beliefs, and sentiments. Oblivious to the GurSikhs, the Nirankaris had other plans, including a para-military platoon armed with lethal weapons, guns, revolvers, acid-filled bottles and mechanical propellants for shooting poison-tipped arrows, all well positioned behind a row of trucks. The GurSikh protestors were persuaded by the police officers on duty into believing that steps were being taken to stop further provocations of GurSikhism sentiments. Then the voice of Gurbachan Singh. Nirankari chief, was heard over the sound system, saying "these sikhs think they can stop us from freely carrying out our program. Let them know today, how mistaken they are. Time has come to be active for those, who have come here for this job". Suddenly the para-military platoon briskly advanced toward the GurSikh protestors. The police on duty hurled tear-gas bombs against the unarmed GurSikhs, converting them into sitting ducks for their hunters. Even some Hindu police officials like O.D. Joshi joined the Nirankaris attacks on the protesting GurSikhs. When it was all over 13 lay dead and over 50 were seriously injured. The batch of protesting GurSikhs were from Akhand Kirtan Jatha and Bhindranwale jatha, led by Bhai Fuaja Singh, included the following 13 who layed their lives:
The irony of the Sikh situation was this that Punjab was being ruled by a so-called Sikh Party; Amritsar was one of the holiest cities of the Sikhs; one minister, Mr Jiwan Singh was also present in the city; the city was the headquarters of the Akali Party and the Sikh Parliament (SGPC) and the Nirankaris had long been attacking the Sikh religion and this was known in the Government. Furthermore all the killers of the Sikhs escaped from the Punjab safely, even with the help of officials of the Punjab Government (including Niranjan Singh, an official of the Punjab and, allegedly, the Chief Minister of the Punjab).
Throughout the world the Sikhs exhibited their fury. However, the Akali ministers of Punjab province bowed before the Central (Hindu) Government and refused to ban the activities of this gang of bohemians. Meanwhile these ministers addressed various Sikh congregations and spoke against the Nirankaris so that the Sikh masses should not become furious against them for their indifferent (or pro-Nirankari) attitude.
Thus this became the starting point of the new phase of the struggle of the Sikh nation. The lead was given by the Sikh Youth under the guidance of the Sikh intelligentsia. They had to fight various platforms: the Hindus, the Communists and some of the pseudo-Akalis, who loved their office more than their nation.
This Amritsar massacre was one of the most significant incidents of this century for GurSikhs. It led to the murder of Lala Jagat Narain, the rise of the Khalistan demand, attack on the Golden Temple and Sri Akal Takhat, and enormous destruction of lives and properties in Punjab, Delhi, and other locals of GurSikh population. It should be noted that although Gurbachan Singh’s movement call themselves Nirankaris, they do not have anything in common with the original Nirankari movement that made enormous sacrifices and significant contributions for GurPanth’s reform.
On October 6, 1978, a Hukumnama bearing the seal of Sri Akal Takhat (by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat, Amritsar) was issued, calling upon GurSikhs all over the world to socially boycott these fake "Nirankaris" and not allow their faith and creed to grow or flourish in the society. This Hukumnama was prepared by a committee comprising of the following:
Through this Hukumnama, all GurSikhs were asked to stop "roti beti di sanjh", food and marital relations, with the fake nirankaris. Gurbachan Singh was subsequently killed by the GurSikhs on Apr. 24, 1980. However, the repercussion of the initial event continue to persist.
-Ref. The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78), by Gur Rattan Pal Singh THE SIKHS’ STRUGGLE FOR SOVEREIGNTY, An Historical Perspective By Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer and Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon Edited By: A.T. Kerr Page 110-119