Sikhism, which evolved into Khalsacentric living, an assertive way of life, attempted to decrease the dichotomy between spiritual life and empirical life. It challenged the initial structure through ‘structural inversion’ and ‘negation of the negations’. In Khalsacentric living, Sikhs reject the unreality of life, withdrawal from life, indulgence in asceticism or sanyas, rejection of varnas, caste systems, ritualism and avtarhood. The Sikh Gurus developed a life affirming system and advised Sikhs to model after life as a venture of love, honesty and assertive living.
Khalsacentrism believes in Universal Consciousness and deep mystical saintliness. Sikhs' concept of God is ‘The Sole One’, The Creator, self-existent, without fear, without enmity, timeless, un-incarnated, gracious enlightener, benevolent, ocean of virtue and inexpressible. “And if you want to play the game of love with Him,” says the Guru, “come to me with your head on your palm.” (‘Head on palm’ in Punjabi means ‘toying with the death’ or ‘to be ready for a sacrifice’). Sikhs internalize these attributes daily by repeating them in prayers. In Khalsacentric living, family life is a must. There is no room for recluses, ascetics, hermits. Rejection of celibacy in Sikhism has made the status of woman equal to the man. Guru Nanak pleads, “Why call a woman inferior when without woman, there would be none, and when it is she who gives birth to kings among men?”
Khalsacentrism believes in the importance of work and production. Work should not be divided through castes. A Sikh strives to break free from the convoluted cycle of caste versus non-caste. Sikhism recommends working and sharing incomes. Sikhism deprecates the amassing of wealth. According to the Sikh Scripture, “riches cannot be gathered without sin and do not keep company after death. God’s bounty belongs to all, but men grab it for themselves.” According to the Gurus, wealthy men have a responsibility of voluntarily sharing their assets.
Khalsacentrism fully accepts the concept of social responsibility. A tyrant, who dehumanizes and hinders in the honest and righteous discharge of a family life, has to be tackled. A Khalsa automatically takes up the role of the protector of people victimized by a tyrant, whether he is a helpless Brahmin from Kashmir or a powerless woman kidnapped by Ghazni for slave trade. A Khalsa undergoes what modern psychologists call ‘positive disintegration’ or ‘cognitive dissonance’, because of his truthful living and reshaping his reality through internalization of the daily prayers. He evolves into a mystic by losing his ego. He starts seeing things clearly because his doors of perception are cleansed.
Guru Arjun, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh, his four children and many followers up to the present time, followed this path of social responsibility and kissing martyrdom with a smile. This is Khalsacentrism in action, as modelled by the Gurus, who challenged the status quo and stayed defiant to the tyrants. Sikhism teaches politeness to friends and defiance to oppressors. Through social partnership and resistance against falsity, the Khalsa becomes 'an instrument of God’s attributive will’ and wants to bring ‘Halemi Raj’ or the ‘Kingdom of God on Earth’. By reciting and repeating ‘Naam’, the Khalsa stops seeing ‘lines’ in his reality. He becomes cosmocentric and the whole pain of the universe becomes his own pain. Egotism, the neurosis of the soul, dies through ‘Naam’.
Remembering God in the company of ‘sadh-sangat’ (congregation) is God's vehicle of evolution. It is not the end of evolution as seen in the other religions born of India. ‘Naam’ is a method of cosmocentric reassuring and removing ‘I-am’ness’, the greatest malady of human beings. ‘Naam’ awakens the Will of God in human beings through love, contentment, truth, humbleness, other-orientedness, self-control and discipline.
‘Naam’ removes anger, lust, greed, envy, attachment and pride. After going through the stages of 'Naam Sinran' (recitation of God), a pure person is formed called ‘Khalsa’, to defend the claims of conscience against oppression, and to side with the good against the evil. He becomes the vanguard of righteousness by defining himself in the image of the Guru. Khalsa belongs to the egalitarian society and joins the cosmocentric universal culture where only the pure will be allowed to rule. Through the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh took Sikhism to the ‘Phoenix Principle of Khalsacentric’ - A Life Affirming System.
Khalsacentrism And Sikh Research, Dr. S. S. Sodhi, Halifax, Canada
It is a known fact that Darwin’s origin of species (1859) gave freedom to the imperialists, colonizers and ‘fitters’ to create the culture of the fitters. Using their linear and colonized mind, Eurocentric historians tried to fit Sikhism into a ‘social science, no-nonsense paradigm’. They also operated on the assumption that the researcher is separate from the object of study and in fact seeks to gain as much distance as possible from the object of study.
Dr. E. Trumpp came to India in 1869 to write a book about Sikhs for the benefit of the colonizers. Dr. Trumpp’s colonial mentality and occidental (westerly) reality were later picked up consciously or subconsciously by numerous historians, rapidly trained in social science methodology with European traditions. They saw the Sikh Gurus as ‘political personalities’ and caused a great deal of hurt and stress to the Sikh community.
Many Eurocentric researchers are driven by greed or other individualistic motives. For instance, McLeod, who has written a lot about Sikhism since 1968, indicated through his articles in The Sikh Review, January and April 1994, that his own contradictions about Christianity and his repression affected his research of Sikhism. Numerous other researchers such as Pashaura Singh, Gurinder Mann and Oberoi have apparently sold their souls for landing university positions.
Khalsacentric research on the other hand believes in the essence, wholism, introspection and retrospection. It rejects the hypothetical, statistical, interventionist model of research and the use of European social science methods. A Khalsacentric researcher does not approach the subject of study with a prestored paradigm in his or her psyche.
Through retrospection, a Khalsacentric researcher questions to ascertain if the interpretations of his findings are causing psychic or spiritual discomfort to the people who belong to the culture under study.
A Khalsacentric researcher looks for the wholistic reality rather than a detached reality. He looks for the essence of the culture rooted in a particularistic view of reality. False propositions of one culture are not applied to study other cultures to produce a distorted and hurtful knowledge.
A Khalsacentric researcher seeks total immersion in the culture before rushing to study it. A researcher cannot stay separate from the object of the study. The distance distorts the view. A Khalsacentric researcher cleanses the doors of his perception through introspection of any pre-existing paradigms.
A Khalscentric researcher uses retrospection to see if the interpretation is not intentionally made convergent to provide a 'good fit' to the existing paradigm of knowledge. A Khalsacentric researcher does not use ‘freedom of expression’ as a crutch. His personality is very important and his knowledge of ethno-methodology of research is very crucial for the research outcome.
It must be pointed out that a Khalsacentric scholar assumes the right and responsibility of describing Sikh realities from the subjective faith point of view of the Khalsa values and ideals. He centres himself and the Sikh community in his research activity. A Khalsacentric researcher recognizes the pivotal role of history and uses ideological, humanistic and emancipatory anti-racist awareness to formulate his hypotheses. Colonial, Calvinistic, elitist and arrogantly elect behaviour is not accepted in Khalsacentrism. Part of a mandate of Khalsacentric research is to screen out oppressive assumptions. A Khalsacentric researcher stresses the importance of centring Sikh ideas, codes and symbols in Punjab as a place and the struggle that was put up to oppose the oppressive assumptions. A Khalsacentric researcher self-consciously obliterates the subject/object duality and enthrones Khalsa wholism in his research.
The perceptive which a Khalsacentric researcher brings to the research exercise, depends upon his experiences, both within and outside the Sikh culture. When centring Khalsa values, the researcher must centre his own ideals. It is, therefore, important that Khalsacentric scholars declare who they are and what has motivated them to study Sikhism. Even though Sikhism has become a living, assertive way of life, a Khalsacentric researcher can extract the specific values described in the first part of this article and apply them to 'discover himself'. These values are easily traceable in the Sikh scripture and ethos. A Khalsacentric researcher rejects subject-object separation, encourages collectivism rather than individualism, grounds himself in complimentarily, leaves false consciousness of Eurocentric thinking, looks at struggles as a way of transferring human consciousness, makes research centred in its base community (Punjab), and gets himself embedded in Punjab experience of the last 500 years, familiarizing himself with language, philosophy and myths of the Sikhs through cultural immersion.
A Khalsacentric researcher must examine himself or herself in the process of examining the subject. The introspection and retrospection are two integral parts of Khalsacentric research. Introspection means that the researcher questions himself in regards to the subject under study. In retrospection, the researcher questions himself after the project is completed, to ascertain if any personal biases have entered or are hindering the fair interpretation of the results. He attempts to know how the community being studied will feel about the research findings. The first question that a Khalsacentric researcher asks is, “Who am I?” In defining himself, he defines his place and the perspective he brings to the research exercise. The data collected must include the personal knowledge of the subjective faith of the researcher, his personality, functioning, experiences, motivation (repression, projection, spiritual, mystical) in order to provide some source of validation for the result of his inquiry. The instrumental, non-believing Eurocentric researchers who take sadistic pleasure in trampling over the subjective faith of a minority community, have to be challenged and exposed. May God forgive them for the hurt they have caused. Perhaps they do no know what they are doing, because of the acute academic neurosis has made them linear, non-intuitive, convergent and myopically pathological
- A Life Affirming System, Excerpts from articles by Dr. J. S. Mann, Santa Ana, California and Dr. S.S. Sodhi, Halifax, Canada