Sarbjit Dhunda revolutionary or heretic?
By Lavleen Kaur
Sarbjit Dhunda was sent packing from the UK, leaving a trail of division and disunity in the community.
His supporters claim that he is a revolutionary. The sangat claims that he is propagating anti-Sikh views that are designed to divide the Sangat.
As a neutral I decided to do a little research and attend his talks in Southall Singh Sahba Gurdwara and decide for myself.
Dhunda was very charismatic and knew exactly what to say to play on the emotions of the Sangat. He and his teacher Inder Ghagga, regularly mention names of revered panthic Sikhs like Bhai Balwant Singh Rajoana. But the message that he preaches is the polar opposite of the ideals for which Rajoana stands for. Dhunda and Ghagga claim that simran and kirtan are totally worthless activities that have never benefited anyone. Instead it is human intellect that has enabled the likes of Rajoana to seek revenge for the injustices of 1984. Rajoana on the other hand attributes all of his strength to simran, abiyaas and the power of The Almighty.
The incident that really brought Dhunda into the limelight was his statement that the kirtan recited in Darbar Sahib is too embarrassing for a prostitute to listen to. He was duly called before The Akal Takht and apologised. Members of The AKJ UK interviewed Dhunda and questioned him on this issue. His response was that The Jathedaar of Kesghar Sahib, whilst doing katha had made a mistake when listing the names of the four Sahibzade. He equally had made a mistake and apologized. It struck me that he was trying to draw a parallel to the Jathedar’s genuine oversight in and attempt to play down the huge intentional offensive remarks that he had made.
In the interview, at one point he begins to question the Gurmat knowledge of the interviewer. A basic, but very effective way to deflect attention and ruffle the feathers of the interviewer. I have read elsewhere that the Gurmat Gian Missionary College in Ludhiana teaches such debating skills.
One thing that struck me during his katha was the emphasis on doing LESS paath of gurbani and simran. However he dresses it up, the end result is always the same. On the stage in Southall he spoke of a situation in Punjab where due to frequent road accidents in a small town they decided to hold an Akhand Paat. His advice was that no such an Akhand Paat should be done. He suggested that practical solutions such as barriers on railway lines were the answer. Whilst nobody objects to the need for such road safety measures, I am sure an Akhand Paat will only benefit the people. In a very suttle way Dhunda appears to be getting away with openly rubbishing the established benefits which can be derived from an Akhand Paat.
On the same note, he also objects to the simultaneous reading of Japji Sahib at an Akhand Paat and to people reading any more than 3 banis in the morning. Dhunda’s constant attempt to reduce the prayers that Sikhs read is strikingly similar to what the British did during the Raaj to weaken the Sikh spirit. They acknowledged internally that a Sikh’s bravery and spirit is drawn from the Bani of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Thus the British resolved that the best way to attack them was to attack Gurbani.
The one drum that he constantly beats during his katha is his undying adherence to the Akaal Takht. Bizarrely, the day after The Jathedaar orders that he is not to do katha, what does he do? He takes the microphone at Park Avenue and talks!
Whilst talking and expressing his views he manages to say that he will not be doing katha out of respect for Akaal Takht. I found it somewhat amusing that he did atha (all be it shorter than previous days) and whist doing it, said he was not going to.
Confused? I was.
He took this opportunity to play on the sentiments of the innocent elderly Sangat by saying things like ‘my only crime is that I speak the truth’. He also gladly accepted a honorary saropa from the committee. I was under the impression that such intervention from The Akaal Takht would be an embarrassment to anyone. The elderly lady sitting next to me chuckled and said ‘besharm’. Sometimes it takes the Punjabi vocabulary to understand a Dhunda mindset.
Given that his associates and teachers such as Kala Afgana, Ghagga and Professor Darshan have all been excommunicated by Akaal Takht, one is entitled to be very sceptical of his apparent respect for Akaal Takht.
I have found from listening to his talks that consistently he will attack and ridicule Babas and their deras. I think that there is a problem in Punjab with deras like Ram Rahim, and I feel that all Kathavachaks should address these issues. However I was concerned that he did not distinguish between these phoney people and genuine Sikh parcaraks who have led the way during recent beadbis that have happened in Punjab. This again led me to question the intentions of Dhunda.
I am a strong believer in freedom of speech, so when I heard that some Singhs had come the Gurdwara to stop the katha I objected to this notion. However, upon arrival I saw a small group of Singhs sitting in the area where shoes are kept reciting Chaupai Sahib Paath. Upon further questioning they informed me that they did not want cause a scene in The Darbar of Guru Granth Sahib Ji so they were peacefully sitting outside. They felt compelled to recite the Bani of Guru Gobind Singh, the very bani that Dhunda regularly attacks in his katha. I was more than a little moved by their elegance, grace and composure.
There was irony in the fact that one of the protesting Singhs was a young 14 year old that seemed to be far more inspiring than the man sitting on the stage of one of Europe’s biggest Gurdwaras. He explained to me that Dhunda’s anti Gurmat veechar should be banned. I put forward my freedom of speech argument, namely that whatever our views, Dhunda should still have a right to his own. In a strong cockney accent I was politely asked if I thought atheists, rapists and paedophiles should also be given such freedom of speech at The Gurdwara. He was of course right and I made a somewhat embarrassed retreat.
Outside the Gurdwara two young boys had a projector and were playing some of Dhunda’s katha on the Gurdwara wall! This katha was even more alarming than the things that I heard him say on stage. I was told that Dhunda was holding back on expressing his true views because he was trying to build a following in The UK first; a tactic that he employed successfully in Delhi.
A day later (11/11/2012), despite The Akaal Takht Jathedar’s instructions not to let Dhunda do katha, it was announced that he would do exactly that. Despite claims by the Southall Committee that the decision had been reversed I saw no proof and none was put before the Sangat.
The evening escalated into scenes that did not belong at any place of worship.
The Gurdwara Sahib and all Sangat were the losers that night.
On the drive home I couldn’t help but feel that someone had won out of all this. I kept seeing the smug face of Dhunda. A man who had achieved his objective and won.
Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh of Akaal Takht had questioned whether Dhunda had come to join the Sangat or break the Sangat only 48 hours earlier. The voice from Akaal Takht was right. Everybody failed to see it until it was too late.
I have researched and reviewed Dhunda’s own words. I have spoken to his die hard supporters. I have met with those who object to him. To me, it cannot be denied that Dhunda is far more sinister than he would first appear. Just how sinister a man he is, only time will tell. I hope that we do realise his motives before it is too late.
Article was sent by Bhenji, and published by the sevadaars on here.
we praise Bhenji's rational thinking and courage to make a stand against those who attack the Guru's Word.