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MisterrSingh

Compassion & Tolerance Vs Common Sense & Self-preservation

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I came across a couple of unfortunate incidents in the news recently that served to get me thinking about issues that i suppose go to the heart of Sikh philosophy. We are instructed not to veer towards extremes; that the correct path is the balanced, considered middle way. Sikhi is as much a faith about standing up for oneself and battling for those who cannot defend themselves, as it is a faith that believes that love and kindness are essential traits if we are to live fruitful lives, and eventually merge with God.

How does one decide which situation merits a particular approach? Some Sikhs would have us believe that the default position must always be the one of tolerance and kindness even in the face of the overwhelming likelihood of serious harm befalling the individual who refuses to be mindful of their own welfare, instead choosing to believe in the goodness of others even when the evidence points to the contrary. 

Is it the right option to "be good" but then suffer terribly as a consequence, or should we be selective with our charitable nature, and only be forthcoming dependent on the situation before us? Which way would bring us closer to God's graces? 

Here's two recent instances that got me thinking. All opinions welcome.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/30/mother-son-die-triple-stabbing-home/

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/03/white_social_justice_warrior_dies_at_hands_of_black_killer_.html

First: A wealthy family begin providing the local homeless with a roof over their heads by taking them into their own considerably plush home. Yesterday, allegedly, the latest homeless man who was lodging with them went on a rampage, and killed the mother and son of the family. The father was found stabbed and bleeding in the driveway.

Second: A white social activist heavily involved in the liberal scene of upper middle class activism was robbed, stabbed, tortured, and murdered by a black man. She spent most of her days espousing on social media about the evils of whiteness, and that black society was a perpetual victim of the insidiousness of white America. She refused to accept that there could ever be bad apples in the black community. She met her end alone and in an utterly tragic manner. 

Edit: In the case of the American woman, i was initially reluctant to use a right-wing website as the source, but all other sites and reports neglected to mention her political views and opinions that she shared on social media. For some reason they only seemed to highlight her work as an artist but not her beliefs. A lot was glossed over or completely ignored in the case of the lady in question.

 

Edited by MisterrSingh

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One massively important thing to factor in when doing 'good' is other people's mental states. 

Asides from being conscious of the fact that some people's life experiences can be so brutal that it effects their emotional/cognitive abilities - when we do good things (which in essence involves opening ourselves up in a way that isn't a norm in society - at least these days), I believe we can attract natural predators in the shape of sociopaths and psychopaths who would naturally hone onto unwitting people like a bee to a flower. Such predators aren't capable of feeling empathy/remorse like normal people because of their neurobiology and only see others as something to ruthlessly use for some goal (even if this is some twisted sense of fun).

Plus, if your own people have been on the wrong side (like your second example), and you personally decide to try and atone for it, don't think that your one act of 'kindness' will be enough to heal deep wounds and animosity that cut across centuries. 

Personally, I think 'social activism' can be a very important and positive thing, but not for people who have a lulloo idealised perception of human nature. In a nutshell: do good, but make sure your own stance is strong and you are able to identify and defend yourself against people who would abuse your good intentions. 

Edited by dallysingh101
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Guest Jacfsing2

I think as a community we should have a similar stance to good works and braviary like the ancient Hindu Ksychatrias, (I really wanted to say Sikhs, but apparently we've been repeated the message so much it doesn't stick with us anymore), if you looked at their history, (before their cowardness), they were fighters for what they viewed as Dharam and not only that they provided society laws and structure, (despite technically being bellow Brahmins, they owned all the real power). As a general connection they seem to be a good starting point for a revival for our balance in every way except faith.

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4 hours ago, dallysingh101 said:

In a nutshell: do good, but make sure your own stance is strong and you are able to identify and defend yourself against people who would abuse your good intentions. 

I'm trying to genuinely get my head around this concept from a Sikh pov, particularly as the kind of world and society we currently occupy seems to bringing these type of issues into sharp focus. 

In an ideal world - without wishing to sound like a wet blanket, lol - i would love everyone and treat them with such kindness and goodwill as i believe God wishes humanity should behave towards each other, but from my own life experiences i just know that isn't possible in any way imaginable. On one hand i admire those who strive to see good in all, but equally I feel most of those people who behave like this - whose goodness is not rooted in a form of true religious altruism but a false sense of attention seeking pride that isn't genuine - are rather naive.

Edited by MisterrSingh

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The path that you are alluding to is one where balance must be struck between compassion and self-preservation.

They may seem be completely contradictory but the almighty in his hukam has created great paradoxes in human nature.

It is often said that those that bite the hand that feeds them often lick the boots that kick them.

Just because one is streetwise and puts oneself first does not mean that that one cannot be compassionate. 

You cannot help others unless you do not put yourself first. Call it enlightened self-interest.

I think where we get confused in Sikhi with our compassion, is that the narrative is constantly about shaheedi, our selfless sacrifice for others.

However, Shaheedi is not something that is taken lightly but I believe that during Purataan times when we were hunted down my Mughals, our forefathers had to put themselves first. They only stuck their necks out to rescue Hindu captives when they were in a position to do so. They only do Shaheedi if it necessary and it would bring further gains.

However, with Contemporary Sikhs, I think we romanticize this and look at this aspect with rose tinted glasses.

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29 minutes ago, MisterrSingh said:

I'm trying to genuinely get my head around this concept from a Sikh pov, particularly as the kind of world and society we currently occupy seems to bringing these type of issues into sharp focus. 

In an ideal world - without wishing to sound like a wet blanket, lol - i would love everyone and treat them with such kindness and goodwill as i believe God wishes humanity should behave towards each other, but from my own life experiences i just know that isn't possible in any way imaginable. On one hand i admire those who strive to see good in all, but equally I feel most of those people who behave like this - whose goodness is not rooted in a form of true religious altruism but a false sense of attention seeking pride that isn't genuine - are rather naive.

What I struggle to get my head around is Singhs in the mid 1700s. They didn't seem remotely concerned with this 'universal altruism' people equate Sikhi with. They seemed more concerned with power and land. And VERY aggressively too. How do we explain that? Some of the ones from the later 1700s (like the Bhangi sardars) seem like outright bandits. These sardars pee'd the citizens of Lahore so much that the town essentially begged a young Ranjit Singh to take over and oust them. Rattan Singh Bhangu mentions that they killed the brother of another sardar (Jassa Singh Ramgarhia) to avoid splitting loot from some fort they had stormed. What the.....

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Addition:

 

I should add, in my opinion, the way dasmesh pita has framed life here on earth (in the dasam granth) conceptualising human interactions analogous to those of devtay and daints, explicitly explains (to me anyway) that we aren't supposed to view all other humans with idealised, rose tinted glasses. Humans can be great (devtay-like) or evil as hell (asura-like) and all shades in-between. I think Akal Ustat is also telling us that Waheguru made this diverse world with all sorts too. Simple pendu-minded thinking to the contrary is bound to hurt us. 

The idea is to do as much good as you can under the constraints we have I think. 

Edited by dallysingh101
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7 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

What I struggle to get my head around is Singhs in the mid 1700s. They didn't seem remotely concerned with this 'universal altruism' people equate Sikhi with. They seemed more concerned with power and land. And VERY aggressively too. How do we explain that? Some of the ones from the later 1700s (like the Bhangi sardars) seem like outright bandits. These sardars pee'd the citizens of Lahore so much that the town essentially begged a young Ranjit Singh to take over and oust them. Rattan Singh Bhangu mentions that they killed the brother of another sardar (Jassa Singh Ramgarhia) to avoid splitting loot from some fort they had stormed. What the.....

I reckon they saw the potential riches on offer for anyone who had the balls to step up and take their chance, and the Piri went out the window in a majorly drastic fashion, leaving the Miri in its place. Banditry is exactly what it was. Either that or somewhere along the way Sikh history post-1708 has undergone a severe watering down to bring it into line with its spiritual roots. Honestly, i don't think we're calculating enough to carry out a "conspiracy" on that scale the affects of which are in action to this very day. 

Edited by MisterrSingh

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7 minutes ago, MisterrSingh said:

I reckon they saw the potential riches on offer for anyone who had the balls to step up and take their chance, and the Piri went out the window in a majorly drastic fashion, leaving the Miri in its place. Banditry is exactly what it was. Either that or somewhere along the way Sikh history post-1708 has undergone a severe watering down to bring it into line with its spiritual roots. Honestly, i don't think we're calculating enough to carry out a "conspiracy" on that scale the affects of which are in action to this very day. 

I've seen life a fair bit now and I'm telling you, any sort of chaos/uncertainty automatically produces very sharp and ruthless (to varying degrees) opportunists who know exactly how to exploit it to their advantage. I believe a certain section of any population is naturally composed of these types; and the detached way they think makes them leaders - and they don't become leaders for some purely, selfless objective, it's for themselves mainly. If we are lucky they might do some good along the way - if not, they can be cruel tyrants. 

That's why I respect M. Ranjit Singh. Yes, he was exactly the type I'm talking about above, but he did do a hell of a lot of good while he was sitting on the throne (amongst all his shenanigans). 

Edited by dallysingh101

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1 minute ago, dallysingh101 said:

Honestly, i don't think we're calculating enough to carry out a "conspiracy" on that scale the affects of which are in action to this very day. 

I don't get this bit here. What are you trying to say bro? 

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4 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

I don't get this bit here. What are you trying to say bro? 

That we were always a bit ruthless and rough even in the so-called golden days, but the narrative had been airbrushed to make us seem chilled and accommodating, as if every Sikh alive was a potential saint. There was always dodgy people who considered themselves Sikhs, even in the times of the Gurus. I remember reading about a Sikh who came to Dasme Paatshah to complain that his missus had run off with his Muslim neighbour, lol. That's the kind of thing they'll never mention in Gurdwaras. 

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36 minutes ago, Ranjeet01 said:

The path that you are alluding to is one where balance must be struck between compassion and self-preservation.

They may seem be completely contradictory but the almighty in his hukam has created great paradoxes in human nature.

It is often said that those that bite the hand that feeds them often lick the boots that kick them.

Just because one is streetwise and puts oneself first does not mean that that one cannot be compassionate. 

You cannot help others unless you do not put yourself first. Call it enlightened self-interest.

I think where we get confused in Sikhi with our compassion, is that the narrative is constantly about shaheedi, our selfless sacrifice for others.

However, Shaheedi is not something that is taken lightly but I believe that during Purataan times when we were hunted down my Mughals, our forefathers had to put themselves first. They only stuck their necks out to rescue Hindu captives when they were in a position to do so. They only do Shaheedi if it necessary and it would bring further gains.

However, with Contemporary Sikhs, I think we romanticize this and look at this aspect with rose tinted glasses.

Unless I've completely misunderstood the essence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, it's exactly the lack of that sense of pragmatism that i find to be concerning on a personal level. It is beautifully aspirational on a spiritual level, and appeals to our higher selves in a way that makes one frustrated with the contradictions of human nature that make practicing everything in Gurbani such a heartfelt struggle. Is that why Dasam Bani was always in parkash with SGGS Ji back in the day; because it provided a necessary counterpoint and pragmatic balance to the idealistic purity of SGGS Ji? If so, what the heck have we done by removing Dasam Bani from its rightful place?

Edited by MisterrSingh

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1 minute ago, MisterrSingh said:

That we were always a bit ruthless and rough even in the so-called golden days, but the narrative had been airbrushed to make us seem chilled and accommodating, as if every Sikh alive was a potential saint. There was always dodgy people who considered themselves Sikhs, even in the times of the Gurus. I remember reading about a Sikh who came to Dasme Paatshah to complain that his missus had run off with his Muslim neighbour, lol. That's the kind of thing they'll never mention in Gurdwaras. 

Bro, there is a real straight forward explanation for this in my opinion  (and I have tried to research it, so it's not just a hunch):

It was the Singh Sabha lehar that changed Sikh literature in this way. If you look at pre-annexation Sikh literature, they don't have any qualms with writing about stuff that we'd find shocking today. Rattan Singh Bhangu's work is a perfect example. I believe that conservative Christian influence on many of the prominent people of the lehar (through their education in British institutes), as well the famously 'repressed' nature of Victorian society (which ruled us at the time) seeped into their psyches, and they became ashamed of a lot of what our ancestors did - and completely wrote it out of their published (and very popular) histories. That's why you have this weird whitewashed conceptualisation of our ancestors which doesn't remotely reflect the nature of our society today and contradicts so many pre-annexation sources.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

In a nutshell: made ourselves docile. 

We've shot ourselves in the foot. Cursed ourselves perhaps.

 

16 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

Bro, there is a real straight forward explanation for this in my opinion  (and I have tried to research it, so it's not just a hunch):

It was the Singh Sabha lehar that changed Sikh literature in this way. If you look at pre-annexation Sikh literature, they don't have any qualms with writing about stuff that we'd find shocking today. Rattan Singh Bhangu's work is a perfect example. I believe that conservative Christian influence on many of the prominent people of the lehar (through their education in British institutes), as well the famously 'repressed' nature of Victorian society (which ruled us at the time) seeped into their psyches, and they became ashamed of a lot of what our ancestors did - and completely wrote it out of their published (and very popular) histories. That's why you have this weird whitewashed conceptualisation of our ancestors which doesn't remotely reflect the nature of our society today and contradicts so many pre-annexation sources.

That makes sense considering all we know and perceive to be our natural proclivities as Punjabis. It's a shame there's been a considerable mythologising of our history, almost as if what occurred was thousands of years ago in an idealised pre-history akin to the events of Indian mythology.

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  • Topics

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    • As per usual,  our openness and tolerance is seen as weakness for others, and they take full advantage. 
    • This is nothing new. I tried setting up an initiative to defeat this trend; happened a good few years back on this forum, but some of us decided to establish a body of sorts which would publish and distribute literature regarding the falsity spread by other faiths vis-a-vis Sikhi. Because we were based in different countries we used to stay in contact via email to exchange ideas and finalize publications in our own respective countries. I wrote and dispatched a particular article on the falsity that Bhagat Fareed was a hardcore Muslim and by incorporating his Bani into the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh Gurus proved their respect for Islam and hence all Sikhs should become Muslims. Here are some examples of what I wrote: "For Bhagat Farid, and Sufis in general, life is but nihilistic. Such a perception, logically, leads to renunciation and asceticism. Farid asserts:

      'Farid, had my throat been slit on the same day as my umbilical cord, I would not have been prey to trouble nor weathered such hardship. Farid, I alone thought I was in pain, but the whole world is in pain. I ascended my roof and witnessed each and every house in flame.' 
      -Saloks 76 and 81, ASGGS, Ang. 1381-82.

      When Guru Nanak Dev Ji had entered Multan, the local Sufis had tried to eject him on the pretext of his criticism of the Sufi order. The Guru had rejected their renunciation and described their acts of obeisance as charades. With this particular incident in mind, Guru Arjan Dev Ji elected to reply to Farid with the following:

      'The world is akin to a garden, Farid, in which poisonous plants take root. They for whom the Master cares suffer not at all.' 

      And:

      'How sweet be this life oh Farid! With health the body blooms, but they who love their dear beloved Lord are rarely found.' 
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      The writings of Farid were incorporated into the Sikh canon to refute the notion that life, in general, is painful. For the Gurus life is what one makes out of it. Ignorance, naturally, leads to pain whilst knowledge leads to joy. By positing their views below Farids', the Sikh Gurus refuted the Sufi notion of life being suffering in toto.'   "The Sufi path of asceticism is best summed up in the following conversation between Sayid Muhammad Gesu Daraz and a suppliant. Daraz was the acolyte of Shaikh Farid Nasir-u'd-Din-Chiarg-i-Delhi, the disciple of Nizam-u'd-din Auliya who was the successor to Baba Farid. This conversation is recorded in the 'Jawama-u'l-Kilam' and focuses on the physical suffering weathered by Baba Farid in his search for the Divine. Pledging his mind to the Lord's path, the latter Farid hung upside down in a well for forty days and nights. 

      'Then one day when Sayid Muhammad Gesu Daraz was recounting the pledge of (Baba Farid), a man queried: "how is it that blood does not run out of the eyes and mouth of the person who undertakes it and how is it that foodstuff and other bodily elements do not come out of him?" The Saint explained that in a body as emaciated as that of Farid, the question of food and blood no longer lingers as austerities have reduced such a body to mere skeleton.' 

      Bhagat Farid writes:

      'Farid, if one were to hack my body, not a drop of blood would ooze from it. Those who are imbued with the Lord's love have no blood left in their beings.' 
      -Salok 51, ASGGS, Ang. 1380.

      Guru Amardass Ji comments on this Shabad in the following way:

      'The body is all blood, without blood it cannot exist. Those who are imbued with the Lord's love have not a single drop of selfish blood in their bodies. When the fear of Divine enters one's being, it becomes emaciated, and the blood of greed departs. As flames purify metal, so too does the fear of the Divine cast out impure inclinations. They alone are beautiful, Nanak, who are dyed with the love of the Lord.'
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      Farid's ascetic undertones are sidelined, by the Guru, to provide a more rational interpretation of his words. Farid's "blood" becomes "selfish blood" and the external is transformed into the internal. It is not the physical frame which matters but the internal, the spiritual. Only through spiritual austerities can inimical inclinations depart; physical austerities only invite weakness and prolonged suffering."   "Now, we will look at the Bani of Bhagat Farid along with the relevant commentary by the Sikh Gurus. 

      'Farid, she who did not enjoy her spouse when black-haired, will she enjoy him when grey-haired? Love the Lord with such love that your hair's color will never change!'
      -Salok 12, ASGGS, Ang. 1378.

      Bhagat Farid holds that youth is conducive to following the spiritual path, in old age it is a lost cause. Guru Amardass Ji, who became the third Nanak at the age of 72, provides a commentary on this shabad:

      'Farid, whether one's hair be black or grey, the Lord is ever present if one remembers him. True love does not come from one's own desire, that cup of the Master's love he himself gives to whomever he desires.'
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      Bhagat Farid believes effort to be necessary vis-a-vis the spiritual path; the Sikh Gurus concur but to an extent. All transpires due to the Divine Will and man's efforts have a limit. Divine Will is more pontificate than man's efforts; man should elect to reside in this will and recognize where effort ends. From a Nanakian perspective effort is necessary in the temporal paradigm, but in the spiritual paradigm success depends on the Divine initiative. Guru Nanak Dev Ji states:

      'Does it matter if one is a swan or heron on whom the Lord casts his glance? Sayeth Nanak that if he so desires, crowns turn into swans.'
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      The Lord is supreme in all that he does.

      Bhagat Farid then utilizes martial scenery:

      'One who is not welcome by her in-laws, and who has not place at her parents' house; and whose spouse does not care an iota for her, is she truly a happily married wife?'
      -Salok 31, ASGGS, Ang. 1379. 

      The 'parents' house' symbolizes societal life, the 'in-laws' spiritual life and the 'spouse' the Lord. Bhagat Farid is commenting on those spiritualists, those devotees, who desire the best of both spiritualism and societal living. He feels that by pursuing both concepts, one ultimately fails in all that he/she commits to. Guru Nanak Dev Ji comments:

      'At her in-laws and at her parents' house, she belongs to her spouse, the Divine beloved who is inaccessible and unfathomable. Oh Nanak! That one is indeed a happily married bride, who pleases the indifferent one.'
      -Mohalla 1, Salok 32, ASGGS, Ang. 1379.

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      'You could not construct a raft when required. Now that the ocean is full and overflowing, it is hard to traverse. Do not touch the saffron flower for it's color will depart, my beloved. Rahau.
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      -Suhi Lalit 1, ASGGS, Ang. 794.

      Guru Nanak Dev Ji, prior to Farid's verse, expounds:

      'Make meditation and restraint the raft via which to traverse the flowing stream. Your pass will be comfortable as if there is no ocean or overflowing stream. Your name alone is the unfading matter with which this cloak is dyed; my Beloved Lord, this color is perennial. My dear companions have departed, how will they meet the Lord? If they are united in virtue, the Lord will unite them with himself. Once united the mortal does not separate if the union be true. The cycle of birth and death is nullified by the True, Eternal Lord. She who removes her own self-centrism sews herself a garment to please her spouse. By the Guru's words, she obtained the fruit of the nectar of the Lord's word. Sayeth Nanak, my companions, my spouse be dear to me. We be the Lord's handmaidens; he our husband.'
      -Mohalla 1, Suhi 4, Ang. 729.

      Bhagat Farid provides a picture of doom and gloom by lamenting lost opportunities. He focuses on old age, where mental and physical faculties are too frail to be attuned to Divine contemplation. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, instead, expounds that it is never too late to focus on the Lord (one should remember Guru Amardass Ji here) for the Beloved is not harsh nor his commands. Via the saffron flower, Bhagat Farid warns of the fleeting pleasures of the world -here today, gone tomorrow- Guru Nanak Dev Ji instead elaborates that all pleasures belong to the Lord and via merging with him, all pleasures become permanent for he is the highest pleasure of all. 

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      'My physical frame is oven-hot; my bones are the firewood. If my feet fail, I shall walk upon my head to meet my Beloved.'
      -Salok 119, ASGGS, Ang. 1384.

      Bhagat Farid utilizes the metaphor of a kiln to depict his love for the Lord. A Sufi, his ascetic concepts however were not in line with Gurmat. Guru Nanak Dev Ji refutes his call for such asceticism by commenting:

      'Do not heat your physical frame oven-hot; burn not your bones like firewood. What harm have they committed that you torture them such? Rather behold the Beloved within your soul, Farid.'
      -Salok 120, ASGGS, Ang. 1384.

      Bhagat Farid is of the mind that the human body is but a prison and the soul it's captive. The Sikh Gurus believe that the human body is a temple, a locus where the Lord resides and awaits his devotee. By utilizing this Shabad of Farid, the Gurus desired that their Sikhs imbue the same zeal as the Sufi did whilst also discarding his asceticism; hence the refutation. Throughout Bhagat Bani we find a similar concept at play. The Sikh Gurus initiate a written dialogue with the radicals of their time and provide an unalloyed picture of the Divine Truth. For Farid, creation is a falsity; for the Gurus it is a truth. Farid's asceticism renders the body as simply an object; the Gurus however perceive it to be divine and encourage their Sikhs to employ it in the service of the Divine by societal living." I printed all this out in pamphlet form and took it to a local Nagar Kirtan when I was in Australia and man, some of the Muslims burned. A few confrontations occurred, "how can you say Guru Nanak was a non-Muslim?!" "Gobind Singh made you anti-Muslim." "Your history is a lie, all Gurus were Muslims and they even married Muslims!" Basically they were clutching at straws. The pamphlets were enough to make the Sikhs ignore these idiots and they grew worried and left the scene. Later a famous attendant Gyani, from Taksal (and who I will not name), got hold of one of the pamphlets. After having it explained to him he called me over and asked me what jatha I belonged to. I told him none. Then he asked me where I got this information from. I told him my sources. Basically his problem was that I was not crediting any jatha on my pamphlet. He asked me to mention Taksal in them but I refused. Few days later all the pamphlets were thrown in the trash and I was told to abstain from publishing such (and here's how they described them) lies. The youth wanted more, but the Gurughar committee would have none of it. The main problem, here, is the liberal fuddu attitude our qaum has that respect all faiths at the expense of your own.  After this some of us decided to stick to the social media. There was veer Bijla Singh Ji with his Search Sikhism page which, back in the heyday of grooming, forced several Muslim preachers to quit their anti-Sikh proselytizing. There were a few more who set up Tisarpanth. Then there was The Truth of Sikhi and Shamshir Publications. Bijla Singh Ji advised us but out of the three initiatives set up, only one is going strong and the others were forced to close down. Why? Because they had to hit the streets and they faced the same problem which I did- our own elders were and still are shooting us down. If we had claimed affiliation with some jatha, then we would have been lionized.   
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    • That's her father in law Tarsem Singh of Hushiarpur, he is the village Granthi.   Her father's name is Monohar Lal of Delhi and her name is Kiran Bala. Sikhs don't have names like Lal and Bala. These are typical Hindu names.
    • I'm surprised to learn there are differences in Bani. If Ram rai can be excommunicated for changing the meaning of a verse (to please the emporer), then it should be impossible for a Sikh to change the words or spellings of Bani. Apart from layout differences (which would occur due to variations in handwriting style and page size), the Bani should be identical in all versions. To allow variations can lead to questioning the authenticity and hence validity of Bani.    Yes it can lead to attacks from without by muslims and others looking to destroy Sikhs faith in Bani, but it can also lead to disruption from within. 
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