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HINDU APPROACH TO SIKH HISTORY
BY PRITHIPAL SINGH
Buddhism as a manifestation of this movement remained a vital force in India for almost a thousand years, till it succumbed before the wave of persecution let loose by resurgent Brahminism under the Guptas.
Following the decline of the Guptas, the Hindus chose isolation as a great refuge, and learnt to live with a self-nursed sense of glory -- a concept which ingrained into their psyche the uniqueness of their country, religion and ancient knowledge. It is in this context that Hinduism came to acquire great absorptive capacity and tenacity to withstand onslaughts. This state of mind brought forth the idea "Hinduism as mother of all religions, Vedas as source of all knowledge and India as cradle of human civilization."
Guru Nanak's Sikhism initially defied every definition that could fall within the orbit of absorptive religiosity of Hinduism. Guru Nanak rejected Vedas, opposed caste, idolatry and superiority of Brahmins, re-defined Karma theory, and gave a unique meaning to the concept of monotheism.
This was the emergence of a new religion which could effectively challenge the hegemony of the Brahmin and withstand the pervasive tendencies of Hindu socio-religious conduct. Guru Nanak's doctrine impressed all those who were in search of something that could stand- out from the assimilating Hinduism and aggressive Islam.
---Note: c. S. Gurpreet Singh Dhillon
The struggle for regaining control of their gurdwaras after the fall of Ranjit Singh's empire in the mid 1800s offers a prime example of the multidimensional nature of attacks on Sikh security in India. Prior to the decline of Maharajah Ranjit Singh's empire, Sikhs were forced into the forests and jungles of northern India for safety from attacking marauders. As the established gurdwaras often lacked knowledgeable Sikh caretakers, they were left vulnerable to the introduction of Hindu rituals initiated by Sahajdharis, non-Sikhs who systematically took control of the religious services in the gurdwaras. Paramount to the Sikhs' vulnerability in this instance is Guru Nanak's deliberate non inclusion of a priest figure in Sikh religion. The ritual practices of Brahmans, the priestly upperclass, had been used to enforce the distinction between classes and castes and thus were forbidden by Guru Nanak. Sahajdhari encroachment into the vacated gurdwaras allowed the very acts disavowed by Nanak to creep into Sikh practices. The Sahajdhari influence carried over into British rule, as a class of hereditary gurdwara "managers", Mahants, were allowed control of the gurdwaras. The Mahants continued anti-Sikh Hindu ritual practices in the gurdwaras while often taking money form worshipers and living lavishly off such exploitation, in traditional Brahamanical fashion and completely contrary to Guru Nanak's teachings. Such conditions led to a five-year struggle for control of the gurdwaras in which 30,000 Sikhs were arrested, 2000 wounded, and 1,100 killed over a period from 1919 to 1924. However, the effect on the Sikh population carried over into other spheres as well. 1. Gurbakhash Singh, Sikhism : Under Brahmanical Siege (Ontario: Sikh Education & Research Centre of Windsor, 1992) 75.