Sikhism and Hinduism

Date: 2 Jun 2007 at 1:22 AM

Jit Mazumdar’s proposition is unfortunately based on the same type of lack of in depth knowledge that he seems to be decrying. There are a number of misconceptions and some have been addressed by Gurpreet Samra. I am limiting myself to the following opening text of his message ‘I am chiefly concerned with history. And of course it is historical context that provides us with a frame of reference in times when our identities, culture, religions, and self-definition are under assault from wrong application and usage of words that define our civilizational and cultural identities. So, far from trying to “prove” that Sikhism is part of “Hindus”, with the help of “rhetoric” as you allege on me, I have just pointed out the historically and culturally correct context of the term “Hindu” and its etymological source.

‘So when I say that Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Saivism, Shaktism or Vaishnavism are religions that make up the Hindu/ Indic conglomerate of religious traditions, I hope you can see that far from attempting to erase the individual identity of Sikhism or any other religion, I in fact ‘acknowledge’ the individual and independent uniqueness of each religion.

‘So what I think you are probably having a confusion about is the difference between the terms “religion” (panth) and “dharma” (a civilizational way of being that pervades and defines the integral life of a race or people). So no one, much less myself, is disputing or undermining the

individual identity of Sikhism, no more than I will want to undermine the independent and unique identity of my religion.

‘But to say that acknowledging the common cultural and civilizational roots, the common timeless vedic/ indic traditions of all religions which sprung up from the Indian soil and cultural ethos, is like saying that one has to deny his family or his mother just because he wants to have a separate and “independent” identity.

‘To take a common and simple metaphor, the human body as a whole is one single integrated living organism. But that body is made up of many parts, separate and distinct from each other, in size, shape and function. Each one of these parts have their own speciality, and are not there without any reason. And neither is it that the human bodycan function wholly and properly with the loss of any one part. But does that mean that any part of the body – whether hands, legs, eyes,

ears, fingers, genitals, tongue – can survive ‘independent’ and ‘separated’ from the integrated body? Where will it get its nourishment, its life blood from? Does being “independent” mean

denying one’s roots?’

I would ask Jit ji a couple of questions and offer a comment or two. Firstly he equates Hindu and Indic. The latter is not an accepted term as yet but the concept seems to be mixing boundaries of a contemporary political state and the so-termed civilazational heritage. Would he define what does Indic mean and since his approach is rooted in history could he elaborate upon what kind of historical link and continuity is he referring to. Would he also care to explain historic discontinuities that so evidently have marked this region and if those discontinuities have in any way or shape altered the concept of Hindu as passed down?

Next he has translated Panth as religion and Dharma as civilizational fountainhead of Panth. Now this is his preferred semantics though in Sikh thought dharamkhand refers to initial stage on one’s spiritual journey and the panth [path] leads one to sachkhand. So if semantically, we are coming from an almost opposite end, we will have to see how to proceed with this conversation.

This also should bring realization that words that we use may not quite mean the same to each of us. Would he care to explain this anamolous reality in historical context?

Jit Mazumdar has also used the word ‘my religion’. Please can you name your religion and then explain why do you call it religion? Incidently why is your list limited to Budhhists, Jainas, Sikhs and some others – why have you left out say Ahmadiyas who are a historical outcome from the same socio cultural milieu as are several other ancient traditions among tribals and possibly even the surviving Judaic, Zoroastrian and Christian Indic people?

The example of the body and its parts is rather confusing – the body parts are all in a collective, collaborative, mutually supporting role. Can you explain how all these religious groups become so linked, what binds them together and how they cannot function as a whole independent of one another?

Would you also elaborate if there is a proposal to amend the various references in the Indian constitution to reflect your semantics and various religious identities that arise therefrom?

Next also please explain your affiliation – who do you represent; what are your objectives in this debate – surely you do not wish to engage thousands of members on this forum just to test out your own personal predilections.

Can you also explain your rather worrisome reference to assault – who are these detractors you seem to be worried about?

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