I cringe every time I hear these words…typically around discussions on 1984 or Sikh sovereignty. As though discussing politics all of a sudden becomes off-limits in a gurdwara, or somehow gets in the way of one’s spiritual growth.
Merriam-Webster defines politics as “the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy.” Wait a second…wasn’t Guru Nanak Sahib’s writings on the Mughal invasion of India by Babur a political protest? What else do you call it when one refuses to turn a blind eye to political suppression and speaks out against it? And what about Guru Angad Patshah’s encounter with Humayun? What about Guru Hargobind Sahib and his release of the 52 prisoners in our well-celebrated bandhi chor divas…was this not influencing governmental policy? Guru Sahib wore a sword that symbolized Miri, or earthly power, yet politics shouldn’t be discussed in a gurdwara? And wasn’t the establishment of the Khalsa a way of empowering the common man/woman and organizing the political power of the community? And what about the establishment of the misls? Or the gurdwara reform movement? Or the punjabi suba movement? The list goes on and on. Are there really no politics in Sikhi? Ever wonder why the Guru’s challenged nearly every single political ruler during their time? The Guru’s mastered the art and science of guiding and influencing governmental policy and if they didn’t, Sikhs wouldn’t exist today.
So when you tell me you don’t walk to talk about politics, be honest, you don’t want to talk about MY politics. But the truth is, it is not my politics or your politics – it is our history and it is filled with revolutionaries who disrupted unjust rule and refused to sit quietly in the face of tyranny – and that will always make people uncomfortable…even Sikhs.
Often the same people who don’t want to talk about politics have no problem celebrating political activists like shaheeds Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh or are more comfortable talking about the heroes of yesteryear. How is it that we can celebrate the likes of Bhai Sukha Singh & Bhai Mehtab Singh yet vilify Bhai Sukha Singh & Bhai Jinda Singh…I’ll never understand it…is it just too soon? Are we going to wait another twenty years or so before we embrace our history? Not me…our community needs uplifting and empowerment now more than ever, and we have too much inspiration to take from 1984 and those who led the struggle for justice to just sweep it under the rug.
Call it politics, call it something else…I call it the truth…let’s talk about it.