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Table Of Contents For 'Demeaning The Sikh Tradition A Study of Mina Poetry' By Dr. Simarjit Singh
|1.||Dissenters and Origin of the Mina Sect||25|
|2.||Mina Sect: Rise and Fall||43|
|3.||Sources of Mina Poetry||73|
|4.||Analysis of Mina Poetry under Pen-name of 'Nanak'||104|
|6.||The Text of Mina Poetry||149-415|
Preface To Book 'Demeaning The Sikh Tradition - A Study of Mina Poetry' By Dr Simarjit Singh
It is honour and privilege to write a few words about this excellent book by Dr. Simarjit Singh.
In the last stages of his thesis work, he graciously discussed every aspect of it with me, and it was very clear that he had worked out in his own mind as he studied, with judicious balancing of factors, how the minas, that is , some of the notable early factions of the Sikh teaching, came to exist. He then pointed out who they were, whence they had come, and, so far as one can tell, where they are going. He also pointed to the way in which their perceptions and talents can contribute to the life of the mainstream. I was totally intrigued because my own doctoral thesis in late Roman and early Byzantine history had been concerned with the way in which Christianity found itself standing apart from both Judaism and the old Greco-Roman 'paganism'. I asked myself how it could be that the church could carry forward into its traditions items concerning the Hebrew scriptures as well as features of the old pagan religion. In the study of every religion came to perceive its own uniqueness and its suigeneris status. In the old Universities of Britain, courses in Christianity always included what the undergraduates dubbed "Dads and Bads," that is Fathers and Heretics, Orthodoxy and Schismatics. These courses examined the way in which some Christians in their first century began to say "We are not Jews." By the end of their fourth century they were plainly and explicitly dissociating themselves from both Judaism and the Greco-Roman divinities. It was some time before the Christians could confidently go back and reclaim what they considered best in both Judaism and 'paganism' as part of a common heritage and thus part of theirs. At all times at the official level they found it hard to accept syncretism, a mixing together with Christianity of any elements from any other religion. They also tried to excommunicate any Church leaders who could not accredit their leadership in the accepted orthodox way. By the end of their fourth century, some of the fathers and mothers of the Church were compiling lists of heretics and schismatics and warning the faithful to avoid them. In the fifth century many Church people had so clearly given up believing in the divinities of the old religions that it was possible for Christians to go back and claim old artistic and literary features as well as customs and beliefs and give them new life. Sometimes, this could be done by the use of allegory, but often it was a matter of just taking the thing over but giving it another meaning. I once asked my Ghanaian teacher of African Traditional Religion to explain his avid love of collecting all forms of African art including religious pieces, although it was less than a century since the Christians had been insisting that everyone wishing to join them must bring out their 'fetishes' and burn them. He replied: "It is because my ancestors faithfully had done that, that I am able to collect them, not as divine things but as symbols of the best in the old religion and because of art for art's sake."
Self definitions and exclusion of others over a period of time is not to be interpreted as the evolution of a religion. A new religion can spring out of its father's head like the goddess Arthena came out of Zeus. It does not indicate dependence or begetting or evolution. A religion is a perception; it is also a revolution. It is what it was, for in it are contained all the genes of a totally self-defining entity. Sikhism grew up in the Punjab and after four centuries, it is a world religion present in India and Pakistan,Malaysia, China, Fiji, New Zealand, Britain and Europe, North America, Belize, Guiana, Chile, South Africa, etc. It had to work out its self-realization. In what way it is to retain its Punjabi or Indian background is being worked out in such matters as language, music and the place of certain customs, leaders, and groups. Its past decisions will guide us as to its future. Just as Guru Nanak went East, West, North, and South, Sikhism has gone forward in all those directions to the uttermost parts of the universe. In the face of centuries of Indian and world tradition, Nanak spoke out for the absolute importance and dignity of woman's status. The ten Gurus worked against the ranking of people by caste or colour or religion; all stood shoulder to shoulder in the Durbar of the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh taught us that the sword is the last resort and when it has prevented the adversary from doing even more harm to himself and us all, it is firmly put away to become a symbol and reminder. It has become an icon in the way that, that word is used in conjunction with computers. Interestingly enough, the New Testament Greek word for image is normally icon. The Tenth Guru gave us symbols, and each one very full of meaning, both physical and spiritual. Some of them in significance may go back to the old Indic symbolism of the religious beliefs and thinking of the people of the second millenniun before the common era. They are given to us with that old symbolism transfigured into a new sacramentum, a mystical presence of the time-dedicated truth here and now in the present, full of meaningfulness to those who believe and understand. Atonement and reconciliation is implemented whatever the risk and cost. Guru Gobind Singh denied he was an avatar or incarnation. He placed an offering before the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib and instructed us that Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the presence of a panchayat of Sikhs was the Guru ever present among us. It has been my delight and privilege that in the Sikh home and family which adopted me. I have been enabled to see these principles and ways worked out in every detail of life from our daily food to our devotions and ways of work and giving, and living in fellowship. Sardar Simarjit Singh visited with us here and took me also into his home and family. Again I perceived the presence and all-permeating mission of the Guru in him.
Having the pleasure of working with him in the final stages of his doctoral thesis, I learnt a great deal about the writer as a person. I gathered he was by avocation and profession a police official of high rank. I once referred to the headgear of the Sixth Guru Onward, where both the symbol of the holy, dedicated, and spiritual person was combined with the symbol of earthly power. And I often reflect how wonderful it is that I have met so many people who have reached the highest ranks of the Indian Army and Air Force who were also dedicated students of their faith. Sikhism insists on juxtaposing temporal and spiritual power. When I came look at scholars around me I found some of the most dedicated students of Sikh religion had also risen to the highest ranks of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Accordingly, I was delighted to find an active student who was doing a Ph.D. as well as putting in full time work as a police officer with the highest responsibilities. The British imperialists tried to tell us that it was they who invented the idea of a police force. They said it went it back to Sir Robert Peel. I was told as a child growing up in the old Punjab to think of the policeman or policewoman as my friend, protector and helper. However, in those days I found little reason to think of them as friends, and I am sorry to say I have also had incidents where I have not found them so when living in the United Kingdom and when travelling around North America. In the Jurisdiction of Dr. Simarjit Singh, I have met evidence of the benevolence and help of the police force, from Wagah to the fields of Palam. I realized that the tradition of friendly guardians may well be in the background when Ganapati is not so much a deity as a symbol of the strength as well as benevolence of the police official who has a staff to keep wickedness in check and also benevolence to bestow for the doing of good.
It is with pride that I commend this work regarding the Minas to the attention of the public. It is so judiciously and fairly and thoroughly researched and stated, a model of its Kind.
Noel Q. King
About The Author Of Book 'Demeaning The Sikh Tradition - A Study of Mina Poetry' By Dr Simarjit Singh
Dr. Simarjit Singh (b. 1948) served as officer in the Department of Punjab Police. Besides serving the police with dedication and commitment, he continued his academic pursuits as well. He was awarded the degree of Ph.D. by Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar in 2005 on his work "The Minas and their poetry". He has a deep interest in Sikh literature and his quest for knowledge is never on the wane. He has also presented some well documented research papers at various universities, which have been well received by the scholars.
|Author||Dr Simarjit Singh|
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