The Counter-Attack: Strategies to Defend our Guru

A Long-term Approach to tackling Gurbani Manipulation and Gurudwara Structure

10 min read

Current Issue

Please see this video recently released by Basics of Sikhi, highlighting a case of Beadbi at the hands of Thaminder Anand of

UNAUTHORISED changes to Guru Granth Sahib Ji! | How you can help? - YouTube

(or check their Instagram post here: Your Guru is Being Attacked - @basicsofsikhi )

In this video Bhai Harman Singh put forwards "5 requests for the Khalsa Panth to contemplate and take action on". This article respects and adheres to this request. Here is my contemplation and proposals for action.

Forever Issue

This sort of thing will only continue to happen more and more in future as technology advances and becomes more accessible. This is already almost impossible to police adequately. We can either cry about it, or take some meaningful action.

Let's start by going over Bhai Harman Singh's 5 measures:

  1. Raise Awareness

Fair enough, no problem here and yes we should ask those close to Thaminder to pressure him to cease operations.

  1. Education

Basics of Sikhi have done an immense Seva for the Panth in this area already and is deeply appreciated. All those who have been involved in this effort, may they be blessed for generations.

  1. Put aside differences

Here's where I take issue. The supporting points for this measure are:

i. "Support the Akal Takhat Jathedar and the Panth consisting of organisations trying to stop this form of beadabi"

Whilst the effort to put aside differences for a common cause is appreciated, it is not for no reason why many have become so disillusioned by the current administration residing in the Akal Takht. As an institution claiming to represent the Guru Khalsa, its legitimacy is undermined by the presence of the SGPC. An organisation that in no way represents the entire Panth, especially considering the lack of independence from state actors. Even the Jathedars of the Akal Takht are no longer decided by the Khalsa, and instead appointed by the SGPC themselves. Relying on a corrupt and broken system like the SGPC is a mistake.

ii. "All legal rights, worldwide, for printing Guru Sahib's saroops need to be under one unified flag"

Under one unified flag? Which flag will that be? Because the same SGPC you are suggesting will ensure the preservation of the Guru got itself into the Akal Takht through coercion, speared through a Saroop of Sri Dassam Granth Sahib, and then threw it out of Akal Takht. We still have that today, below is an image of that Saroop.

Credit: Gurinder Singh Mann

Even recently they had sent their thugs and goons to beat elderly members of the Khalsa for protesting against the SGPCs mismanagement that led over 300 Saroops of Sri Adi Guru Granth Sahib going missing. Is this really an organisation that we want to seek support from? Instead of compromising, let's actually stand firm with our principles. If we accept the SGPC as illegitimate, why would we go to it for support?

Alternative Measures

Instead of trying to seek support from the SGPC, it's up to us as a Sangat to make a decision that only those Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are recognised as the Guru if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Hand Written
  2. Larivaar (just like Bhai Harman Singh's 5th measure)
  3. Match spellings and include all characters and sections of at least one of the Puratan Birs

A note could be made on an accompanying "receipt" as to which Bir it is based upon. These receipts should be uploaded to a database of sorts, or we could even leverage the use of NFTs and Blockchain technology to record Saroops currently in existence that match these criterion.

A Pehradar(s) would need to be assigned for the protection and preservation of a Saroop. As part of this, contract must be drawn and signed by these individuals stating their commitment to this role. In addition, punishments should also be detailed in that contract if anything is to happen to that Saroop they are assigned to. For example, infractions such the modification of a single character to destruction of the Saroop would result in punishments ranging from amputation of limbs to death. This will be handed out regardless if the Pehradar is at fault, since it was their responsibility to ensure no sacrilege occurs as per the terms of that contract. Regardless of who does the Beadbi to that particular Saroop, it's their head on the line. This helps ensure the incentive is always there to avoid negligence. They don't have to be alone in this responsibility, however it is indeed them at the very least who are responsible and should be punished alongside any other potential attackers.

The 4th measure Bhai Harman Singh put forward was "Traceability". In that he suggested a system to account for every Saroop. With this I agree completely, so let's do it. Instead of talking about it let's start this now. I've set up a table on this website, available here to record the information of all Saroops that match the above criteria (happy to change this to another location if desired, I was already paying for the sites hosting so was easy to put on here - this is just to show how we could record it). Please contact me with information of existing Saroops that match this criteria.

As of right now I am only aware of the Puratan Birs themselves, and so if we want to pressure the Akal Takht or SGPC to do anything, then let's make them adhere to this system and assign a Pehradar to these Saroops to begin with.

All Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib that do not meet this criteria should not be considered a Saroop at all. At best they would be seen as a Gutka, and at worst unverified "Saroops" and as such should be disregarded with the status of Guru altogether. Lastly, these Saroops should be made freely accessible by Sangatan to sit alongside the appointed Pehradar and check to see for any mistakes in any new Saroops. This could even be done digitally by setting up a high definition camera as the Granthi reads through the Angs so that Sangat from around the world can help regulate this aspect. If any letter etc. is missing, that Saroop would be taken off of the register and declassified with the Guru status until corrected.

The Power is with the Khalsa

Do not rely on SGPC or other committees and organisations. Sri Guru Gobind Singh gave us the Khalsa sovereignty as whole. Each Singh/Kaur is their own monarch, do not rely on organisations since they can often be blinded by their own politics and elitist desires for power and control.

Prachin Panth Prakash, Rattan Singh Bhangu
Episode 16
Excerpt from Baba Santa Singh's Steek

Adopt the understanding that only those Saroops count as Sri Guru Granth Sahib that are larivaar, handwritten and contain ALL the correct spellings and sections. This includes Raagmala and correct ordering of Shabad headings. Only the Khalsa represents the Khalsa, and we should be skeptical of all those who claim to speak on our behalf. We already have our leader, it is our Guru. If we want to consult their advice, then meditate on the Shabad and gain your answer.

Many times the answer may be subjective to you personally and that's okay. Sikhi from the start has accommodated many different ways of understanding it, often seemingly contradictory in cases (see the introduction to the Azadist Manifesto to see how the Guru plays with contradictions and paradoxes throughout their Bani). We today tend to be scared of contradiction due to the Abrahamicisation of Sikhi.

It wouldn't surprise me that this beadbi case is a coordinated effort to consolidate power into a select few (we already know beadbis in India have been due to third parties paying and sending others to commit these acts). Have we not learned our lesson of centralising power in the past? Do we want to continue disregarding our Guru's mandate for the Khalsa as collective to hold power? Let's stop being so emotional and become more strategic. Think with your brains about the long term consequences of your reactions. I understand this our Guru and hurts seeing beadbi of this nature, but look to the actual contents of the Guru's Sikhi. Our Guru has not made us into mindless sheep who abandon reason for madness, constantly being led by the ear by our enemies. Our lack of awareness and tactics leads us to poor decision making and sets us up for failure down the line.

Our blind desire for 'Ekta' has led us astray. Sure, we need to be untied sometimes, but forget this myth of uniformity. There is strength is having multiple flags, tackling issues via a multipronged approach. Be wary of those who claim to speak on the behalf of the Khalsa, for a true Singh or Kaur has no representative. The Guru has granted them their own sovereignty for each to establish their own Raaj

Prachin Panth Prakash, Rattan Singh Bhangu
Episode 90

This method doesn't require approval from no organisation, committee, jathebabdiyan etc. All it requires is us, the Sangat and the Guru Khalsa Panth as a collective, to accept or reject what is classed as the Guru's Sargun Saroop. This is something each of us needs to establish individually.

Therefore, I can only speak for myself and so from now on,  if a Gurudwara does not house a Saroop meeting the above requirements, in my mind there is no Sargun Saroop of Guru Sahib there at all. Instead, whatever they have Prakash there would be considered as a Gutka (obviously, still worthy of respect). However, if there is Shastar Prakash on or around the Palki, then that will be my object of focus when prostrating, and it is the physical manifestations of Akaal Purakh's Shakti that I will doing Parikarma around.

Redefining Gurudware

You may be thinking "but there's not enough Saroops in existence that fulfill that criteria!" GOOD. Maybe we need less so that the physical manifestations of the Guru becomes more scarce again, just like their human forms were. To create Saroops would now require immense time, dedication and effort and then would need to go through rigorous scrutiny (by anyone) to check it meets the above criteria. This would also once again create a sense of appreciation for the Guru as something that is rare and that we shouldn't take their darshan for granted. If a city or local Sangat deeply desires constant presence of their Guru, then they should come together and fund the effort to create a Saroop.

This would also naturally mean that there technically would be less Gurudwara's too by definition since most would now not contain a Saroop that matches the required criteria. This may also be a positive thing. Our stupidity and lack of respect for our Guru's Sikhi has led us to create corrupt committee systems who treat these buildings like their personal businesses. Some cities have multiple Gurudware, many even on the same road! How do you expect Ekta when we can not even unify the Sangat in one place at a local level? Instead, these already existing buildings would be considers as Dharamsaals, and they can use the "Saroops" they currently have to read Paath from etc, but the understanding would now be that these are more akin to Gutke, rather than actually the Guru themselves housed there. Instead, Gurudware and Dharamsaals could be structured as mapped below:

Remind you of anywhere?

Final Notes

Most definitely there are some details to iron out here and room for improvement. I highly encourage you to reach out and let me know your thoughts so we can discuss and debate this further. However, if you agree with what I have written here and would like to see this implemented, then start with yourselves by mentally accepting what is and isn't classified as the Sargun Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Most people will forget this beadbi case in a week and wait for the next problem that arises on their social media to complain about. Let's break this cycle of being so reactive and become proactive as a Panth. Instead of waiting for issues to arise, let's take long-term and principled approaches to tackle problems ahead of time.

This approach does not completely solve the problem as there is still an issue of Shabads being distorted. However at least this way we can take power away from these nindaks and malechh by invalidating all their claim on holding a Saroop of the Guru in the first place. By them making a change to even a single letter, then what they have is no longer classed as the Guru. Instead they have a Gutka that contains mistakes. This helps provide the rest of the Panth with assurance that our Guru is not in the hands of those with ill intentions.

The reality is that we can not realistically police all instances of cases like this. Mass production of texts and scriptures have become easier and more accessible, and so trying to account for every single Saroop of Guru Sahib, whether pad-ched or larivaar is near impossible. However, by redefining what constitutes as a Sargun Saroop of the Guru, far less have to be accounted for. If the argument is that even single Shabads must be regulated, then this is foolish. Nothing stops someone from writing a Gurbani on a piece of paper, how would we regulate this? How would anyone even know? Sometimes we have trust in the Guru to manage things, we can not do everything ourselves. Yes of course, where we can we should stop situations like this one however possible and raise awareness like Basics of Sikhi is doing, however since much of our Panth has lost common sense with so much, these sort of things are to be expected. Rather than crying about it, do something about it that establishes what counts as the Sargun Saroop of the Guru. At least this way the problem can begin to minimised to some degree.

The argument that we need to rely on the Akal Takht system since this what the Guru's had set up is flawed. When Sri Guru Gobind Singh realised the corruption that had infested the Masand system established by the previous Gurus, he uprooted it and made the necessary reforms. Similarly, since the Gurgaddi has been passed on to both the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the Guru Khalsa Panth, we today have the right to adapt and overcome the broken institutions we have today. And this is something that the Khalsa throughout history had realised, when we had a roaming Takht when the Akal Bunga was under Mughal occupation, or when Nawab Kapoor Singh reorganised the Dal Khalsa. Even when the Singhs had adopted guerilla tactics over the standardised system of warfare that the earlier Guru's had practiced. The point here is that we don't need to stick to old way of doing things for traditions sake, nor do we necessarily have to turn these modern masands into pakore again. However, we should recognise that if our principles are solid, our techniques can be fluid.

Whilst I will send this article to Basics of Sikhi, I doubt they will see it without your help, and so I encourage you also to send them this as well. They are a busy organisation, I am still waiting to hear back from them after I sent them details of the wider Azadism project too. If they do read this, then I invite you personally, Bhai Harman Singh, to contact me about this and discuss further.

If you are blockchain developer, also contact me. Until then, I will start this database on this website. Please send me the details of Saroops meeting the above criteria.

Final Final Note

Where is this Guru Khalsa Panth I keep mentioning? If you want to see them, then practice Naam Abhiaas diligently, adhere to your Rehit and practice your Nitnem. Bring the Panj Chorr under control. Abandon ego, the sense of self and recognise this existence as one. Once you have done this, find the nearest mirror and you will have their darshan.