- No government can dictate specifications for Sikh articles of faith.
Blunt non-steel Kirpan is a joke and an insult to the proud Khalsa tradition.
The proposal deserved outright rejection by Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib as a matter of routine interpretation of Khalsa tradition and Sikh Reht Martyada.
It is clear that some Italian “pragmatic thinkers” do not understand the traditional miri-piri (temporal-spiritual) significance of the
Kirpan. It is an article of faith and the defender of human dignity. Only the Sikhs and the oppressors who have faced the Sikhs and lost empires, understand the traditional significance of this great gift of Guru Gobind Singh to his beloved Khalsa.
It is with some regret that I have to follow up this topic so soon after discussing the Sikhi way for the downtrodden communities of India. In his booklet, “Bharat de pashday vargo!”, Nand Kishore has suggested that if these disadvantaged millions had been “shastrdhari” Sikhs, they would have secured their human rights in the states of India. Kirpan is a “shastar” as well as symbolic of armed resistance to oppression.
We are told that some Sikhs in Italy have produced a Kirpan “with a bending blade” and they have asked Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib for serious consideration and approval. This so called “kirpan” is made of flexible material and has a rounded flexible tip. It is like a child’s toy! Sikh organisations have expressed surprise that instead of rejecting this proposal at the outset, Jathedar Akal Takht Sahib has agreed to table it for serious consideration for the Singh Sahiban. That cannot be a good precedent for other similar proposals, for example, regarding the other “kakaars”.
That the Italian government has approved this “kirpan” is hardly the point. The debate which has been provoked by Jathedar Sahib’s seemingly favourable comments on video and that the matter is being given serious consideration by Singh Sahiban, has further diminished the image of Jathedar Sahib’s post following other recent events.
Those who do understand the religious and historical importance of the Kirpan will agree with a leading Sikh, Ranjit Singh Masuta of Langenthal Gurdwara in Switzerland, “No question arises over changing the traditional kirpan. Sikhs will not take diktats from any country’s government. It is direct intervention in the Sikhs’ religious affairs.” Restrictive laws and the governments who make them, cannot dictate to the Sikh nation what a Kirpan is and what it stands for.
Temporal laws can impose restrictions on religious freedom but such restrictions will be opposed. The Sikhs have done this successfully in many diaspora countries where the significance of the Sikh articles of faith has been explained and understood. Otherwise, over the decades, Sikhs have earned their reputation as law abiding, hard working citizens.
This episode reminds us of the so called “pragmatic” approach to the French turban ban (behind the scenes in that case) and we are still fighting the turban war! Pragmatic solutions, without clarifying the ideology and the tradition can win some short-term battles but endanger the outcome of the longer-term war seeking religious freedoms. Jathedar Sahib’s offer to give serious consideration to the Italian toy “kirpan” proposal, is regrettable.
Gurmukh Singh OBE