Professor Darshan Singh: DC Sikhs ask Akal Takhat to reconsider his excommunication Part I: The strategy
By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Friday, October 04, 2013 | 05:13 pm
Professor Darshan Singh at the Sikh Gurdwara, DC, was invited for Guru Hargobind's Gurpurab on July 7. He used the occasion to talk about the meaning of Akal Takhat, his excommunication, and the conspiracy of introducing false granths into Sikhi.
Reporting from Washington - The management at the Sikh Gurdwara, DC, has asked the Akal Takhat jathedar to reconsider Professor Darshan Singh’s excommunication in a public forum, at the Akal Takhat.
The former jathedar was summoned to the Akal Takhat on Dec. 5, 2009, and excommunicated on Jan. 29, 2010. While the original conflict centered on Darshan Singh’s 2009 kathaa at the Gurdwara of Rochester, in New York, regarding salacious stories in the Dasam Granth, which he argued could not be written by Guru Gobind Singh, the final act of excommunication resulted from his refusal to meet with the five jathedars at the Akal Takhat’s secretariat office.
“The Takhat of raj-jog (king-status) and miri-piri (king-saint) was not made today, it was founded by Guru Nanak,” he said in his kathaa at the Washington gurdwara on July 7.
Guru Hargobind solidified the concept by building the Akal Takhat, the throne of highest temporal authority, at Harmandar Sahib.
“Today, the propaganda fed to us is that the Takhat is Guru,” Darshan Singh said. “When our enemies found out that now we believe that the Takhat is Guru, they began another conspiracy: create a new takhat,” he said. “They (five jathedars) built a small room with a new takhat (secretariat). They said that anyone who cannot be at the Takhat could come and sit here for hours and will be recognized. It happened to me.
“But I would not turn away from the Akal Takhat… They said come to our takhat. I said I have always known this Takhat. I don’t know any other takhat. Their takhat is in the back room of the building in a back alley.”
The jathedars, at the secretariat, and Darshan Singh, at the Akal Takhat, were seated about 50 feet away from each other. Neither budged. Darshan Singh left.
“After that, they issued a hukamnama (edict) that we waited for 90 minutes and Darshan Singh never appeared at the Akal Takhat,” he said.
“Where is your Akal Takhat?”
The jathedars offered him a second chance to appear before them by Jan. 7, 2010. But Darshan Singh still would not meet with them behind closed doors. The hukamnama was published later that month.
“All the sangats (congregations) here and around the world are enjoined that they must not allow raagee Darshan Singh or any of his supporters to speak from the stage or facilitate such effort,” the hukamnama says. “Anyone who violates this advisory will be considered guilty and apostate from Sikhi.”
SikhNN asked Akal Takhat Jathedar Gurbachan Singh, in August, if he had decided on a tankhaa (punishment) for the gurdwara management. He said, “Not yet.”
Defiance in DC
Darshan Singh was invited to the newly re-opened gurdwara in Washington for Guru Hargobind’s Gurpurab celebration, in violation of the hukamnama.
“As of now, we did not get any email, phone call or letter from the Akal Takhat that we should not invite him,” said Daljit Singh Sawhney, head of the gurdwara, after the program.
But an email from a local Sikh was forwarded to him at 8:36 a.m. on the morning of the program.
“I would like to know why is there a program being organized at Baltimore and Washington metropolitan area?” another local Sikh said in the email. “According to these documents from the Akal Takhat, Professor Darshan Singh is not a Sikh until he goes to the Akal Takhat Sahib and apologizes for his actions and words against our Guru Sahib. It is my humble request not to attend this program…”
The email was sent to many other recipients. It included four attachments: A Nov. 17, 2009, letter summoning him to the Akal Takhat; a Dec. 5, 2009, letter labeling him an apostate for not meeting with the jathedars; the Jan. 29, 2010, hukamnama excommunicating him, and a June 6, 2013, letter to the Washington gurdwara ordering a stop to the program with Darshan Singh.
Daljit Singh did not believe that the Akal Takhat’s letter was a real document. Perhaps someone copied and pasted the letterhead on top, he was told. It was not directly sent from the Akal Takhat, he was advised. And, does the Akal Takhat send official orders by email?
But the letter was real. Gurbachan Singh later told SikhNN that the secretariat often sends official orders by email. “Sangats from all over the world call upon the Akal Takhat to take action when issues arise,” he said.
The jathedar said he knew Darshan Singh was invited to the Washington gurdwara.
“According to the hukamnama, they should not call him on stage, they should not meet with him,” he said. “He (Darshan Singh) has been jathedar two times, he knows.
“Few people are with him, the rest of the sangat just comes to see the tamaashaa (entertainment),” the jathedar added. “They are disrespecting the Akal Takhat.”
With doubts about the authenticity of the email, the program continued on track. About 200 people came to listen to Darshan Singh. Many came from other gurdwaras in metropolitan Washington.
“We will say this again and again to our management (parbandhakhaa) that we are not showing disrespect for anyone,” said Harpreet Kaur, spokeswoman for the gurdwara, in her introduction of Darshan Singh.
“But why (excommunicate) a person who had always spoken in favor of – throughout his life - he was a spokesman for Guru Granth Sahib, for Gursikhi,” she said in an interview with SikhNN, after the program. “(He was) one of the only persons who when in India there were so many cruelties inflicted on Sikhs, and the Sikhs were facing very difficult times, he was the only one who was fearlessly speaking. So, we welcome him.
“We have nothing to hide,” she added. “Everything is transparent over (here). And we are expecting the same transparency from Akal Takhat. We are looking for an open inquiry, if need be.”