Our Request to President Chugh to Listen to Truth

— A reevaluation of Gandhi & the Sikhs —

Dear President Navneet Singh Chugh Ji,

It comes as a great hurt to the Sikh Sangat of Greater Los Angeles to discover that Navneet Singh Chugh, President of Sikh Temple of Orange County, Santa Ana, California, has donated his property and money to the Art in Public Places Program in Cerritos, California, USA to place a statue of the Hindu religious icon Mohandas Gandhi.

Gandhi’s opinion concerning the Sikhs was obvious. About langar he said, “It is a menace,” he called Guru Gobind Singh “a misguided patriot,” and he insisted on multiple occasions that the Sikhs are Hindus. These remarks are only the tip of the iceberg which separates Gandhi from the Sikhs. His philosophy was incompatible with the Sikh worldview and Gandhi cannot be reconciled with the Sikhs. Mr. Chugh further injures the sentiments of the Sikhs by reiterating the Indian state’s concept that Gandhi, being called a “Mahatma,” is equivalent to God.

Sikhs have traditionally believed defending the rights and liberties of other people is the best way to protect their own rights and liberties. Gandhi preached a different principle. He believed taking away the rights and liberties of other people was the best way to advance caste division. The manner in which he lived severely harmed marginalized people around the world. The impact of his work is seen today in mass death and widespread oppression.

Sikhs were only one of many peoples to suffer from Gandhi’s double-dealings. Perhaps his biggest victims were the Dalits, whose leader Dr. B. R. Ambedkar said, “If a man with God’s name on his tongue and sword under his armpit deserved the appellation of a Mahatma, then Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a Mahatma.” [1] Gandhi has been used by the Indian state to hoodwink the world. On one hand, the state perpetrates genocide against every minority — Sikhs in 1984, Muslims in 2002, Christians in 2008. On the other hand, the state smiles and talks of peace and equality.

Gandhi is professed by many as the founding father of the Indian state. If this is true, then the son he fathered is responsible for an abominable absence of liberty and prosperity. His life, for an authentic student, clearly demonstrates he preached a gospel not of peace, but of division, hatred, and war. As leader of the Congress Party, he spread casteism. The same Congress-controlled Delhi government slaughtered Sikhs in the streets in 1984 and rules India today.

There is no question that the Indian state spots the globe with Gandhi statues as an active form of propaganda. On November 10, 2010, Indian MP Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy placed a formal question to India’s Ministry of External Affairs: “Does the Indian state assist in placing statues of Gandhi around the world?” Their response: “Yes.”

The state bureaucracy in charge of this is the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Between 2001 and 2010, the ICCR placed 65 state-funded statues and busts of Gandhi in countries all around the earth. Meanwhile, killers of Sikhs like Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath and Punjab Police DGP Sumedh Saini gain promotion, killers of Muslims like Gujarati CM Narendra Modi gain reelection, and killers of Christians like Odisha MLA Manoj Pradhan receive suspended sentences. India’s system seems constructed so state officials who participate in ethnic cleansing thrive.

Recent media coverage has brought to the attention of the Sikh Sangat that local Sikhs are requesting the City of Cerritos to remove the Gandhi statue. The local Sangat has detailed five primary reasons why all good people should oppose a Gandhi statue. These reasons are:

 

1) Gandhi sexually abused his grandnieces in a manner which would have led to his arrest and imprisonment if done in Cerritos, CA today;

2) Gandhi psychologically abused his deathly sick wife, denying her access to medicine, which directly resulted in her death;

3) Gandhi is rejected by India’s most marginalized communities as the one responsible for increasing their social and political oppression;

4) Gandhi spread sympathy for Adolf Hitler at the height of the Nazi leader’s bloodiest massacres and suggested Jews should cooperate with Hitler’s Holocaust;

5) Gandhi promoted racial supremacy and racial segregation while living and working in South Africa shortly before Apartheid.

 

Through these actions, Gandhi violated every basic truth held by Sikhs — purity is valuable, women are to be treasured, the weak should be lifted up, oppressors should be rebuked rather than befriended, and all people are equal in the sight of God. For the Sikh people, these five reasons can be summed up in a single reason: Gandhi mocked truth and promoted the caste system of spiritual slavery.

Sikhi was founded to overthrow caste. The Sikh practice of langar is foundational to Sikh teachings. By breaking bread together, people break down barriers. Discrimination is destroyed by association. Yet Gandhi viewed langar with total disdain, saying: “So far as the Sikh kitchen is concerned, it is a menace whether the Sikhs may be regarded as Hindus or non-Hindus.” [2] In fact, he was obsessed with making Sikhs identify as Hindus. In April 1947, he said: “The Sikhs are almost Hindus. I have seen the Granth Sahib. In many parts it is Hinduism to the letter.” [3]

Gandhi believed the truth was that caste is life and taught that caste division is the very substance of Hinduism. In 1933, he plainly stated: “To abolish caste is to demolish Hinduism.” [4] He wanted the whole world to embrace caste practice. In 1932, he said: “Caste is necessary for Christians and Muslims as it has been necessary for Hinduism, and has been its saving grace.” [5]

Gandhi thought Hinduism should be pushed on to all of humanity by redefining them as Hindus. In December 1947, he declared:

 

“One cannot separate Hindus and Sikhs…. The two religions are fundamentally one. Even Guru Nanak never said that he was not a Hindu nor did any other Guru. If we read the Granth Sahib we shall find that it is full of the teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads…. The same is true of the teachings of Guru Govind Singh. What he taught is also to be found in the Hindu scriptures. There is nothing wholly new. He has only emphasized certain things. I claim that they originate from the Vedas. It cannot be said that Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are separate religions. All these four faiths and their offshoots are one. Hinduism is an ocean into which all the rivers run. It can absorb Islam and Christianity and all the other religions and only then can it become an ocean. Otherwise it remains merely a stream along which large ships cannot ply.” [6]

 

These claims cannot possibly be true because the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, like those of Muhammad and Jesus Christ, clearly contradict the division of humanity into separate castes. Gandhi said no Sikh Guru ever denied being a Hindu. This is a blatant lie. Guru Nanak Dev Ji directly separated Sikhs, saying: “There is no Hindu, no Muslim.” Guru Arjan Dev Ji proclaimed Sikhs are separate, saying: I have broken with the Hindu and the Muslim. I won’t go on Hajj to Mecca, nor do I worship at the Hindu places. I shall serve Him alone and no other…. We are neither Hindus nor Muslims.”

We are utterly confused by Mr. Chugh’s decision to sponsor a statue of a person who denied the existence of the Sikh faith and instead insisted Sikhs should embrace the abhorrent system of social tyranny which the Sikh faith was founded to end.

From Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, every teacher of the disciples has taught equality of humanity. All have rejected caste. Gandhi said abolishing caste abolishes Hinduism, but Guru Nanak taught: “Recognize the Lord’s Light (Spirit) within all, and do not consider social class or status; there are no classes or Castes in the world hereafter.” [7] In 1925, Gandhi said, “Had I lived as [Guru Gobind Singh’s] contemporary, I would have called [him] a misguided patriot.” [8] Yet Guru Gobind taught: “All human beings are the reflection of one and the same Lord. Recognise ye the whole human race as one.” [9]

As President of Sikh Temple of Orange County, Santa Ana, California, Mr. Chugh was elected with the expectation he would represent the interests and beliefs of the Sikh people. He swore to uphold the principle of langar. How can he protect the integrity of this practice of human equality while simultaneously promoting Gandhi, who preached social inequality?

How can he protect the principle that the human race is one while simultaneously promoting Gandhi, who preached caste division of humanity?

How can he represent the Sikh people while simultaneously promoting Gandhi, who preached the Sikh people don’t exist?

We must remember Guru Nanak’s teaching: “Lowest of Low Born, Nanak seeks their company. The friendship of great is in vain For where the weak are cared for, there Thy mercy rains.” [10] The weak, the oppressed, the low born are those whom Sikhs are instructed to befriend. Whether in South Africa against black Africans, in India against the Dalits, or during Partition against the Sikhs and Muslims, Gandhi devoted himself to undermining the rights, liberties, and lives of oppressed people.

In this sensitive historical era, when Sikhs in the United States are in a position of fragility due to confusion about the meaning of our turbans while Sikhs in India are in a life-or-death struggle with an oppressive state, advancing Mohandas Gandhi as a hero to Americans is probably the most damaging strategy for the improvement of the Sikh status. How does it help us to assimilate into the USA to promote a man who loved Hitler, hated blacks, and abused his wife and female relatives? It embarrassing for Sikhs to erect an idol of a Hindu deity like Gandhi. In a post-9/11 world, this will only handicap our desire to integrate.

Because Gandhi’s efforts were so offensive to the Sikh nation and all other minorities of Indian origin, because he propagated casteism, because he denied freedom and rejected purity, we are convinced that a statue of Gandhi is intolerable to the Khalsa, a violation of the Sikh Panth, and has no place amidst the Sikh Sangat. Consequently, we prayerfully ask Navneet Chugh to remove the Gandhi statue he has placed outside his office building in Cerritos, California, USA.

 

Signed:

 

Bhajan Singh Bhinder

September 13, 2013

 

 

1 Gandhi and Gandhism by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

2 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 28, 11.

3 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 94, 225.

4 Harijan, 1933.

5 Gandhi’s 1932 speech at Trivandrum, cited in “The Bleeding Wound: Being a most up-to-date collection of Gandhiji’s speeches, writings and statements on untouchability by Ramnath Suman.

6 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 97, 465.

7 Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 349.

8 Collected Works of Mohandas Gandhi, Vol. 31, p. 142.

9 Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 51.

10 Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 15.