Global Sikh Summit: A Dream! A Fervour!: Dr. Major Singh

Dr major singh

Sant Sucha Singh was a versatile personality. He was not only an individual but a full-fledged institution in himself. He was an embodiment of mundane and spiritual knowledge. He had a great cravings for doing his best for the progress of the sikh panth. He could perform easily the seemingly impossible tasks with his firm belief in the Gurbani directives like ‘Keeta Lodiyei kammu Su Hari Peh Aakhiei (Take that task as done which you ask God to do) and ‘Aapna Karaj Aap Savarei’ (Do your work yourself) Before doing anything he would prey to Guru Granth Sahib and take Hukamnama (edict) from the word Guru. ‘Aapi Na Bujha Lok Bujhai Aisa Aagu Hovan’ (An ignorant showing path to others). He was not such type of a leader. On the contrary, he always moved in the society as a humble Sikh and Servant of sikh community. His only objective in life was to disseminate far and wide Guru Nanak’s message of Sarbat Da Bhala (welfare of all). He wanted to realize the Guru’s mission of ‘Ghari Ghari Andar Dharamsal Hovei’ He was a far-sighted man and knew that minorities are going to face several new problems in the 21st century. Therefore the Sikhs must unite to face the impending crisis.

Those who visited Baba Sucha Singh included people from every section of society i.e. commoners, the sorrow-stricken, scholars, intellectuals and thinkers. He listened to everybody, answered their queries did whatever he could for doing the needful, but rather than letting them become his own followers he made them the follower of the Shabad Guru (Word – The Master). He attached everybody to Guru Granth Sahib. He felt greatly delighted to see every seeker, saint or a religious personality. He encouraged everybody to sing praises to the Guru. ‘Mere Hari Pritam Ki Koi Baat Sunavet’ (Let someone talk of my Master, my God). Due to his farsighted vision, he chalked out very unique type of programmes and managed funds for them. But he gave credit for all his doings only to his devotees and scholars. What he did or envisaged doing in future is generally done by the scholars, thinkers, scientists, sociologists or the intellectuals.

He organized seminars on variegated issues at Gurdwara Gur Gyan Parkash beside Gurmat music concerts a series that he launched in 1991 to popularize the Ragas of Guru Granth Sahib. Deviating from the stereo-typed sant-sammelans, he set some new traditions. The seminars held on issues like ‘The concept of Shabad, The Concept of Human Body, The Concept of Panj Pyaras, The Concept of Mind and Contribution of Guru Granth Sahib to the Mankind etc., carried their message across Sikhism to the territories of other religions Not only research-papers were presented in these seminars, some of the scholars were given fellowships also to encourage them further for advanced research. The research work being done in this humble Gurdwara earned the acclaim of one and all. The Baba’s pattern of thinking deserves all praise. Rather than covering the domes of the Gurdwara with gold through ‘Kar Sewa’, he preferred the presentation of Shabad-Guru in its actual hues before the people.

The Baba wanted to intensify this research work being done in Vismaad Naad institution and encouraged the propagation of Sikh values at an international level. Among the Gurmat-promotion programmes, it was also planned to organize Global Sikh Sammelan under the patronage of Guru Granth Sahib. As he made a great contribution by reviving the almost ignored art of Gurmat music based on the Ragas enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib, organization Global Sikh Sammelan too aimed at establishing a separate Sikh identity and solution to various Sikh issue. This was a mega programme but the means were limited. But still the Baba had an irresistible longing to execute it as the well-being of Sikh Panth was an aim of his life. While he wanted to present the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib in right perspective before the world, he wanted every sikh to be well-informed and full of responsibility.

Global Sikh Sammelan: Need and Aim Sikh religion is life-friendly and is in a position to provide economic, social, political and spiritual leadership to the world from time to time. Today man is getting detached from his religion and culture under the dazzle of lurce. Not only the coming generation of the Punjabi Diaspora abroad but even but even the Punjabis of our own Punjab are drifting farther and farther from their glorious culture. Cultural degeneration is symbolic of slavery only and mental slavery is far more dangerous than the physical slavery. The younger generally is damn crazy of western glamour and is quite ignorant of the greatness of even the background of Sikhism. It is a matter of recent history only that Maharani jindan had wept herself blind due to separation from her son Dalip Singh. When she was made to meet her son, she embraced him. But she burst in to cries of inconsolable agony, the moment she felt with her hands the face and head of her son. She waited in profusely flowing tears that the loss of empire did not pain her as much as the loss of faith (culture). Due to their toil, perseverance and indomitable courage, the Sikhs have made an enviable niche for themselves in the world in economic, social, educational, scientific and political spheres. The Baba thought that if the Sikhs remained firm on their fundamentals they would be in the forefront due to their cosmic basis of ideology. They can rule over the world by following their golden ideals of global brotherhood and solve once for all the regional dispute. The eminent historian Arnold Toyanbee too has supported this view saying: “The Sikhs will be the last dwellers of the world.”

Due to the advancement in science and technology, the world has turned into a global village. Computer and means of communication have brought about a revolution in the life of people. World seems to have shrunken to an incredible extent due to the developed mass media. This is what is called globalization the mass-media, internet and satellite are combinable out to link the entire world with similar information in the interest of trans-national capitalist world. It is giving way to new problems and possibilities. The world has started developing its common identity today. So if Sikh culture has to survive as a cultural and ideological entity and play any constructive role in the development of human culture, it must be have its share in every field of knowledge and ideology. It requires a strong movement in the right direction.

Twentieth century had absolutely no solution to the world wide problems like social injustice, geo-political tensions, exploitation, depletion of natural resources, encroachment upon human right, population boom, unemployment, violence, moral bankruptcy, hatred, communalism, fundamentalism and threat of atomic aggression etc. Modern socio-political, economic and philosophical systems, achievements of destructive technology, education, research, social values etc. have all, exploited woman, nature, labour, spirituality, human capability, minorities, developing countries and the downtrodden. To extricate humanity from this unfortunate state of affairs, it required a progressive outlook which could enable us to deal with the situation with a constructive approach. It is the global viewpoint of Guru Granth Sahib which offers a new message to the man and society of 21st century by replacing ego with sacrifice, lucre with the Word (Shabad), persecution with love, and exploitation with exploitation of qualities.

The need of the day is to project the distinctiveness of Sikhism and its contribution to the world at international level. So it is necessary for us the Sikhs that first of all we ourselves should be familiar with our tenets, our culture. Charity, they say, begins at home. If all Sikhs become aware of their rich heritage, only then we can expect it to reach other faiths. Therefore, need was felt to define the role of Gurmat in developing global culture. It required initation of dialogue with other faiths, cultures and philosophies. In view of this prevailing situation, the outline of Global Sikh Sammelan was prepared after a detailed academic and research-oriented discussion.

There should be no doubt that sikh culture does not belong to any particular region nor it a part of any other culture. It is free from the national boundaries. It cannot be viewed in relation to some particular soil, nationality, race, community or language. By including the poets of various states in Guru Granth Sahib, the Gurus have established the trans-lingual nature of this scripture, Thus sikh culture is beyond every kind of bigotry, fanaticism and barriers. It is a vast river which not only irrigates various lands but takes along their fragrance also as it flows on. So with a diversity of culture, language and ideology, it has its own vastness as well. Therefore, Global Sikh Sammelan is no personal or separatist programme of the Sikhs alone. As a matter of fact, there is nothing bad if a fraternity tries to maintain its distinct identity. But the distinct identity of different units means something only if they join hands together for the all-round development of mankind. If the identity is confined within the boundaries of a single fraternity by severing all dialogue with other cultures, it sets in motion a phase of cultural and moral degeneration. The ideology of Guru Granth Sahib favours a mutual exchange and dialogue among various cultural groups for the welfare of humanity. Therefore, while this Global Sikh Sammelan will make efforts for carrying out an exclusive identity of Sikhs by turning them into an ultramodern and well-informed community, It will also attempt create a common identity of mankind as a whole in its capacity of being a world organization.

There is no doubt that due to the inventions of science and technology, world is fast becoming, rather has become a global village while the Sikhs are emerging as a global community. The Sikhs have earned a great name and fame at international level; there have been sikh thinkers also but we have not been able to project their academic excellence and contribution before the people of other religions. The luminaries like professor Puran Singh, Bhai Vir Singh and Professor Sahib Singh deserved greater attention at world level than they received due to our own lethargic attitude. As regards other scholars, Rabinder Nath Tagore the famous Bengali poet and Sir Mohammad iqbal, the great Islamic thinker and poet earned great fame. On the other hand we could not make others much familier with our only object of worship (Isht) viz Guru Granth Sahib. We have miserably failed to propagate the message of global brotherhood delivered by the Shabad-Guru. It had a very negative fall-out in the sense that people found a chance to speak in a very self-willed manner regarding the Granth which is the common preceptor of all tribes, races, castes and regions – ‘Updesu Chahu Varna Kau Sajha’ (Message is common for all the four varnas.) Every other day we read here and there that Sikh religion is an offshoot of such and such religion. Everyday newer problems are staring the Sikhs in the face, be it a problem of maintaining their exclusive identity, or a case relating to disregard of turban or hair, or the protection of Gurdwaras or protecting the rights of minorities. In future many such like problems are still in store for us. Now we cannot afford of their time through introspection. A combination of unity of right direction will be the best situation. God Himself dwells in the pious people.

Even otherwise factionalism and arbitrariness do no good to the community. Gurbani says, “Aapnei Bhaanei Jo Chalei, Bhai Vichhudi Chota Khaavei” (whoever acts according to his own will, gets separated from his brothers and suffers) If we keep wandering at other doors, rather than approaching straight way the Guru’s doorstep, we shall have to undergo a lot of troubles and tribulations. Such a life is worse than death. So much so that divided into different factions, we are straying hither the thither. “Hum Rulte Phirte Koi Baat Na Poochhata” (We are straying badly and nobody bothers to ask us our travails).

The aim of Global Sikh Sammelan was to form a Global Sikh council by taking 2 representatives from each of the 130 countries. It would have been responsible to solve all the problems of the community irrespective of the country or region. Whether economic, social, cultural, lingual or educational. There was the important issues which made the Baba organize Global Sikh Sammalan. as per the directions of Gurbani, ‘Gurmukh Baisahu Safa Vichhai’ (The Guru-oriented Sikhs should sit together on a mat) a blue-print of the Sammelan was prepared. From the sikh view point this was a very important event of the twentieth century. The Baba was sincere to the Panth from the core of his heart and he had dedicated his whole life to the service of the Panth. He had nothing to do with any political party. The leaders of all poltical parties had great regard for him. He felt awfully concerned over the fragmentation of the Sikh community. He was alive to the constraints of politicians. That is why he kept serving the Guru Ghar according to his own thought and means. He had chalked out the organization of such a mammoth conference under the patronage of akal Takht. whatever consciousness emerges out of this sammelan will go a long way in the constructive development of Sikh community because such an introspection will help the community in identifying the challenges before it and find a constructive solution to them.

Global Sikh Summit –An outline
The issues taken up by the Global Sikh Sammelan were of immense importance. It was Baba Sucha Singh’s vision to organize such a mega conference – the first of its kind. He not only asked the intellectuals or other social, economic, political and religious personalities just questions, but wanted to offer answer to different questions himself by leading the Sikhs. He wanted to launch a Gurmat Chetna movement. This movement would not have ended with the conclusion of Global Sikh Sammelan only, it would instead have become a starting point of a long journey.

It was an endeavour to organize many religious congregations, Seminars, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, academic contents, sports and communication programmes for preparing a comprehensive plan of this spirituo-cultural movement of world-peace, global brotherhood human love and cooperation as per the tenets of Sikhism. Here is a brief account of the activities chalked out for the sammelan.

The religious Diwans (congregations) were supposed to have Sarb Dharam Sammelan, Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan, Kavi Durbar, Dhadi Durbar, Katha Durbar, Meditation and Amrit Sanchar (Baptism) as the main highlights. Sarb Dharam Sammelan was to carve out new paths to chalk out the outline of a common programme through discourses by the Chiefs of various faiths and ideologues on trans-communal global consciousness. During the mega event Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan was to be organized on all the five days. In it the Ragis were to Kirtan Gurbani in 31 Shudh Ragas, 30 Mixed Ragas and four folk-tunes. Dhadi Durbar was to reverberate with the rendition of Bhai Gurdas’ Vaars on Sikh life. The interpreters from home and abroad were to deliver talks on Gurmat beside the Mukh Vaak Katha after ‘Asa Di Vaar’ kirtan. ‘The 21st Century Sikh’ was the main topic of kavi Durbar. Beside meditation based on Gurmat for one hour daily, the five beloved ones (Panj Piaras) were scheduled to prepare everyday a Bata (bowl) of Amrit (Nectar).

The Global Sikh Sammelan was a common platform to unite all religions and discuss how to deal with challenges being faced by minorities’ religious all over the world and also how to help them maintain their distinct identities. Keeping this in view five Seminars/ Symposia were scheduled with the following topics:

Sikh Sidhant Ate Dalit Chetna (Sikh Tenets vs. Awareness among the Downtrodden)
Sikh Sidhant Ate Nari Chetna (Sikh Tenets and Awareness among Women)
Paar Sampardayakta Ate Global Chetna (Trans-communalisn and Global consciousness)
Sikh Sidhant Ate Paar Rashtri Chetna (Sikh Tenets and Trans-national Awareness)
on the basis of 4-day long deliberations a common agenda (Semina Report) was to be prepared for submission of the same during the 5th day seminar for approval of the Sangat.

Apart from Seminars there was a programme of convening six conferences with the following topics during the Global Sikh Sammelan:

  1. Language
  2. Communication
  3. Education
  4. Culture
  5. Economic Development
  6. Environmental Awareness

There conferences envisaged formulation of new policy according to the global vision of Guru Granth Sahib in keeping with the needs of 21st century and planning the future. The most important aspect of management was the way conferences were to be organized: independent deliberations in the first phase, interaction of all the conference in the second and formulation of a common policy by convening all the conferences at one venue on the fifth day i.e. the final phase. What a wonderful Choreography!

One thing especially noticeable is this that the mass media have distorted the sikh character in a big way at international level over the last so many years. Be it a film or a T.V. serial, whether in a lead role or side role, the sikh characters are made the butt of ridicule. The Sikh culture and values are exploited incessantly. The film-makers have perhaps forgotton the background of sikh. This is the same community about which the historian Cunningham says – “The Sikhs have courage to challenge the lion in its cavern.” Regarding the sacrifices made by the Sikhs for the freedom of the country, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya had said, “If the freedom struggle has to be won soon, then every hindu family of Punjab should see that one of their sons becomes a sikh.” The Sikhs are a brave nation. It is very shameful that today, media has projected Sikhs only as gun-totting terrorists and kept under wraps every subtlety and beauty associated with them. With this purpose in view, it was proposed to publish ‘International Directory of Sikhism’ to highlight the achievements of Sikhs in the spheres like literature, art, science, technology etc. It was to contain information on the eminent Sikh Scientists, doctors, engineers, scholars, literatures, painters, musicians, economists, Sociologist etc. Besides, it was to include the names of the Gurmat missionaries, Ragis, Dhadis, Balladeers etc. as well.

Another book in the pipeline was ‘An Introduction to The Sikhism’. It was supposed to dwell largely upon the sikh history, Principles of Sikhism, Sikh culture, Sikh ethics, Sikh psyche, Sikh identity, Sikh economy, Sikh spirituality, Sikh aesthetics, Sikh art, Sikh tradition and Sikh Gurus. It also purported to have information regarding all sects of Sikhism, their functions, history, their contribution towards Sikhism and Kursinama (genealogical chart) etc. There was a proposal to publish this book in Hindi, Russian, French, German and Spanish languages also. Translation into some other languages, too, was on cards.

A programme was chalked out to arrange ten exhibitions showcasing the achievements of Sikh in various spheres including history, culture, music, art, spirituality, development, sports etc. The exhibition on Sikh history was to showcase the Sikh thought, philosophy and progressive journey of Sikhs right from Guru Nanak Dev up to the Global Sikh Sammelan with great delicacy. Contact for this purpse had been established with the well-known artists of the country. Exhibition on sikh culture was meant to reflect Sikh life, Sikh festivals, Sikh traditions etc. while Gurmat Sangeet exhibitions would have put on display the traditional stringed instruments, cassettes, records as also the portraits of great kirtanists and musicians. The art-exhibition would have been a venture to exhibit sikh painting and information on Sikh painters.

Similarly, exhibition on Sikh spirituality was to show the portraits of Sikh Gurus, other poets of Guru Granth Sahib, the lovers of Guru Ghar and great-saints. The sikh literatureexhibition was supposed to exhibit the portraits of Sikh scholars, historians, writer and poets along with their works. The institution exhibition included sikh architecture while industry, agriculture, economy etc. were to form a part of the Development Exhibition. The great achievement made by the Sikhs in the playground were to be displayed in the sports Exhibition. Besides, there was a proposal of putting up a special exhibition to show the contribution of Sikh women.

The Baba was quite alive to the challenges being faced by women and younger generation in this modern materialistic age. Random imitation of the west, fashion-mania, unbridled youths, violence, eve-teasing, drug-addicted youth and the alienation of sikh youths from sikh value-system etc. had motivated the Baba towards such big programs. Keeping in view the enhanced contribution of women in the times to come. he wanted to launch a Nari Chetna (Women’s awareness) movement. That is why Nari Chetna movement was chosen to be the main part of this sammelan. What should be the role of a sikh mother to ensure that she produced a pious soul, great, generous and exalted Sikh? He wanted to tell entire womankind that every woman should get inspiration from the life of Mata Khiwi, Mata Gujri had meditated hard along with Guru Tegh Bahadur for about 28-29 years and got a son as great as Guru Gobind Singh. That is why Guru Gobind Singh has said about his parents, ‘Keeni Anik Bhaant Tan Rachha. Deeni Bhaant Bhaant Ki Sichha.’ (They protected my body in several ways and enriched me with a variety of education).

The children are a wealth of the present and future of a country or nation. Every child, born in a Gursikh family, inherits a very rich heritage. The sikh prayer which sums up the sikh history mentioning the names of the ten Gurus, the five beloved ones (Panj Pyaras), four sons of the 10th guru (Sahibzadas), forty muktas (the liberated ones), the ha……… (the men of tenacity), meditators who worshipped God, partook with others what they had, wielded sword in the battle field, introduced the tradition of Degh (cauldron of food for all), ignored the vices of others, the Singhs (valiant sikhs) and Singhanis (female singh) who laid down their lives for the protection of faith, were hacked bit by bit, whose skulls were removed, were, saw-sawn, who made sacrifices in the service of Gurdwaras but did not let go their faith and remained loyal the sikh values till their last breath…… is what constitutes the rich heritage of every new-born sikh child. It is the responsibility of the parents to make the child familiar with this heritage. For making the children, good Sikhs we should equip them with the sikh values by acting ourselves as role models for them. It is very unfortunate that under the glamour and dazzle of the electronic media, the youth of Punjab is drifting away from its glorious historical heritage. For youths the Baba used to say, “If the parents have to get themselves looked-after by their children, they should cultivate in them a love for religion because only a man of religious nature can imbibe a spirit of service.”

Not to suffice here, Global Sikh Sammelan was to witness many kinds of competitions e.g. Painting competition, Declamation contest, kirtan contest and sports competition etc. In nut shell, It was the dream of the Baba Sucha Singh to launch an integrated campaign to propagate sikh ideology and culture at international level within the limited means. He did not plan Global Sikh Sammelan just casually it requires a lot of preliminary arrangement for organizing such a huge Sammelan including 5 seminars, 6 conferences, 10 exhibitions, various competitions and all running parallel to each other, cannot be a child’s play. Moreover participants from about 130 countries were to attend the Sammelan. Inviting the representatives of different religion and intellectuals for mutual exchange of views and making boarding/ lodging arrangements for such a massive gathering requires a lot of planning. We see how the members of a family, where a marriage is going to be solmnised, have to undergo lot of tension. Or before the actual day of a national-level seminar arrives, how the staff have to spend sleepless nights making a good variety of arrangements, can be anybody’s guess. But the Baba was fully enthusiastic about the Sammelan.

He neither received any help from the government nor any political party extended any cooperation to him. He depended entirely on his faith in the Guru Nanak’s abode. He was determined to execute the whole sammelan in an excellent manner as he was experienced enough to have executed such a big sammelan in 1991. He was really a man of rare managerial qualities.
It is extremely unfortunate that some egocentric people and so-called intellectuals started opposing the Baba’s move just to gratify their own ego. they launched a negative publicity drive against the Baba. The Jathedar Akal Takht was pressurized to withdraw his patronage from the sammelan and issue statements to the effect that Global Sikh Sammelan can be held only under the stewardship of Akal Takht, no other institutions has the right to do so. The politicians too played their politics over this issue. But being a true sikh, the Baba wanted to unite the whole Sikh Community rather than create divisions in it. He neither liked any antagonism. He heartily accepted the leadership of Akal Takht – the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs. Therefore, Global Sikh Sammelan which was being organized by Baba Sucha Singh under the patronage of Akal Takht through ‘Vismaad Naad’ institution was entrusted entirely to the Takht vide a letter written to the then Jathedar Akal Takht dated 19-05-1994. The following are some excerpts from the said letter which make the whole picture.

“Singh Sahib! This servant of yours is a humble sikh of the Guru Ghar. I love service and simran. Ennui and fatigue have no place in my life. I have never moved in the sangat with a worldly or political ambition. I am simply keen to see the grandeur of Sikhism spread in every nook and corner of the world. Therefore, I have dedicated all my life to the Guru. But some current developments now-a-days have hurt badly my feelings as well as those of my associates. It has rendered me utterly unable to carry on with the services regarding the organization of Global Sikh Sammelan. Thus I have decided to stop all academic activities relating to Global Sikh Sammelan-94 with immediate effect. Besides, international institute of Gurmat Studies, too has been closed down. I feel immensely anguished in winding up these services related to Guru Ghar.

I was so fervently eager to carry out this great task under the sagacious guidance of the Akal Takht and deemed myself lucky to be availing this opportunity. But the unsavoury bitterness caused by the controversy over this issuehas forced me to withdraw myself. It will always remain etched in my mind as a sad memory. I very humbly request your good-self to quell this controversy and hand over the organization of this sammelan to any other institution like under the control of the Akal Takht. My cooperation will be fullest extent to the organizers.” We know well that this Global Sikh Sammelan was organized at the Akal Takht in 1995. It was a very high profile function, deserving no comment never moved in the sangat with a worldly or political ambition. I am simply keen to see the grandeur of Sikhism spread in every nook and corner of the world. Therefore, I have dedicated all my life to the Guru. But some current developments now-a-days have hurt badly my feelings as well as those of my associates. It has rendered me utterly unable to carry on with the services regarding the organization of Global Sikh Sammelan. Thus I have decided to stop all academic activities relating to Global Sikh Sammelan-94 with immediate effect. Besides, international institute of Gurmat Studies, too has been closed down. I feel immensely anguished in winding up these services related to Guru Ghar.

I was so fervently eager to carry out this great task under the sagacious guidance of the Akal Takht and deemed myself lucky to be availing this opportunity. But the unsavoury bitterness caused by the controversy over this issuehas forced me to withdraw myself. It will always remain etched in my mind as a sad memory. I very humbly request your good-self to quell this controversy and hand over the organization of this sammelan to any other institution like under the control of the Akal Takht. My cooperation will be fullest extent to the organizers.” We know well that this Global Sikh Sammelan was organized at the Akal Takht in 1995. It was a very high profile function, deserving no comment .

From a humble sikh like me during this Sammelan, Baba Sucha Singh had organized one-day Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan based on the specified Ragas as directed by the Jathedar Akal Takht in the Manji Hall. On this occasion the Baba was honoured also for his services to the Panth. The whole programme was done very gracefully but vis-à-vis the programme chalked out by the Baba, it much shorter of his dream.

Today we are struggling for the solution of Sikh issues, our rights, our existential identity etc. Not only international level but in our own country also. We don’t have any joint council of committee at international level which may lead the Sikhs. Anyway, The Baba had no resentment in his mind. There was no artificiality and no ego in his personality. He showered his love and affection indiscriminately on all. Whether we recognize his contribution or not, it does not effect the great souls. The pious souls like Baba Sucha Singh come on this earth with great missions and dissolve into the supreme after their fulfillment it is for us to join together and carry forward the Panthak tasks initiated by him.