The issue of Guru Granth Sahib: a book vs. a living guru.

This is a revised article that I published on the Internet in 2003. All rights reserved.

When I grew up in Toronto, I went to gurdwara a lot. I believed that the Guru Granth Sahib (GGS) was a living guru and it was better than the teachers of other religions. At that time, I did not know any better. What I knew was based upon what I heard being repeated in our gurdwaras. The books that I read on Sikhism said nothing different. I never thought of questioning what I believed. This was the result of growing up in an atmosphere where no one asked questions. Since I was not taught to do this, I never felt the need to question it. As I look back, I realize that our people are taught not to think and not to question. But growing up in Canada has taught me to question. I have never been one not to ask questions. Though I have asked questions but I also know the feeling of having a door slammed on my face. The elders do this with every teenager. I know of many teenagers who had similar experiences as mine. As you read this, it may make you think too. At least I hope it will do that.

At that time, I knew that what I believed was true. But nobody asked me why I believed it was true. If someone had asked me, I am pretty sure I would have given the patented answer that practically every Sikh gives. This is because all of us are taught the same information.

In 1981, I had successfully won the right to wear a kirpan. It was the first-ever, precedent-setting case in the history of Canadian Sikhs. Back then, someone could say that I knew more about Sikhism than anyone else. In comparison to many Sikhs who attended gurdwara and were never put on the spot and had to defend their faith, I knew more than most. There were no libraries in any of our gurdwaras. No one was teaching young people like me. At the time, I thought I knew everything there was to be known about being a Sikh. After all these years, this is difficult for me accept. Now, I know a much more. I now realize that what I knew was based upon information that had been carefully selected and controlled. This is evidenced by the fact that I did not hear from anyone or read anything that was contrary to my beliefs at that time. Had I been exposed to contrary information, I would have considered it.

That was something like twenty-nine years ago.

In 1977, I began listening to Sant Singh Maskeen’s katha. This was the only real teaching that I purposely sought after. I could understand Punjabi but could not speak it. Later, I became involved with the Sikh Social and Educational Society.

As I reflect, I realize that Maskeen did not offer any contradictory evidence about the Guru Granth not being a guru. It is as if he’s towing the party line that many parcharaks do. As I now look back, it would seem there is almost a conspiracy within the Sikh community not to discuss the question: How do we know GGS being the book that it is, is also a living guru?

The issue raised by Narender Grewal made me think. It has re-ignited an age-old controversy that most people would prefer not to think about. I know the Namdharis still believe in a living guru and because they do, they do not fit in mainstream Sikhism. There is a lot of history behind this but I will leave that out for now.

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