Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Sikh Leadership: What Went Wrong?

Waheguru Ji Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh,

Have you ever seen someone preaching, that drinking isn’t good, not to eat meat, not to go to clubs or pubs, and to teach your children about Sikhi and keep them on the right path, only to realize later, that the person who lectured you is doing the opposite of what they are preaching.

What about those so called Sikh leaders who chant Khalistan Zindabad, and than on their trips to India are seen wining and dining Indian Government Officials. Ever wonder why the pardhaan of the local gurdwara committee goes on stage and preaches about Sikhi but his own children are regulars at the local clubs and pubs? What Went Wrong? I believe the whole leadership structure that our community has is flawed. We have strayed from the system that our Guru’s have left us with.

Leadership by election is a relatively new phenomenon in the Sikh Panth, and was introduced by the British. Leadership by election has many flaws. The main flaw being that the most popular person wins, not the most qualified. If you look at the elections in Punjab people are running as Sikhs, but they are buying votes through distributing alcohol and drugs to the people. A drug in Punjab has even been named after a famous Sikh politician because he was infamous for distributing that drug during election time. This is further proved with the following quote,
“Without mincing words, the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and the Jathedar of Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh, have held the SAD-BJP government and its official machinery responsible for “spreading the drug menace” in the state.” (
To a lesser extent gurdwara elections are also run as popularity races, and people running basically buy their votes. This whole system is flawed, that is why we end up with the type of hypocritical, power hungry leaders that we do. The Guru’s left us with such an amazing system which incorporated checks and balances, but we have fallen pray to the election system, because those who speak out loudest in support of this system are the ones who have the most to lose if this system is abolished.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji put into place the leadership system of the Panj Pyarai. In order to be even considered to do sewa in the Panj Pyarai you must uphold Gurmat Rehit, have nitnem baneeya memorize, and be a full and practicing Sikh who is committed to the Chardi Kala of the Panth. This is the type of Gursikhs we need to be our leaders and to represent the Panth. How can someone who himself isn’t a practicing Sikh run a gurdwara or educate the masses about Sikhi, or deal with Panthic affairs? It makes no sense, practicing Gursikhs are needed to deal with Panthic Matters.

The problem currently is that these Gursikhs prefer to remain gupt because they know how messy our Panthic political situation is now, and how dirty it can get, and they prefer to stay out of this mess and concentrate on their bhagti. People are winning elections based on buying votes and feeding voters nashai, and Gursikhs want nothing to do with this. The masses are so lost that they vote for these so-called leaders just because they gave them a bottle of whiskey, with no regard to the future of the Panth. That is how cheap it has become to buy a vote these days.

The Panj Pyara system would solve this problem, because there would be no campaigning and elections involved. Rather there would be a method of ‘selection’ as opposed to ‘election’. Instead of having one leader the Panj Pyarai would lead, and the Panj Pyarai amongst themselves would choose a Jathedaar out of the 5, to be the spokesperson. All decisions would be made with a consensus of the Panj Pyarai, and since they are practicing Gursikh’s living high spiritual jeevans, our Panth would be in good hands. The Panj would have the knowledge to inspire others and bring them onto the Sikh path. The Panj would be committed to Guru Sahib and the Panth, this would be reinforced by their high spiritual jeevans, and so they would not fall pray to greed and jealousy and would keep Panthic Chardi Kala at the forefront.

I believe that the Sangat should nominate qualified Gursikhs to be a part of the Panj Pyarai of each institution, if more than 5 Gursikhs are nominated than everyone should go in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji put there names in a hat, do ardas and take hukamnama, than according to Guru Ji’s will draw 5 names from the hat (parchi system), and those 5 Gursikhs would be the panj pyarai. This is the ideal system for our Panth.
It would eliminate the hypocritical and fake leaders that we see on our stages, as well as the same leaders who exploit the Panth for their own personal gain.

When re-introducing the Panj Pyara system, people will put up lots of resistance. But these people will not have the Chardi Kala of the Panth in their minds; they will just be worried about their own ‘chaudar’ and losing control. We must not be deterred by the noise these people will make, as I will venture to compare them to the ‘masands’ who exploited the Panth and Guru Gobind Singh Ji finally took the steps to burn them alive. When someone loses something dear to them, such as their hold over the Panth and its assets they will cry and make noise, but at the end we must work for the Chardi Kala of the Panth. We must strengthen our jeevans to be able to stand up to these modern day masands and retake the leadership of the Panth. Guru Sahib is there to support us, if we take one step towards them, they will take a thousand steps towards us.

I will end of with a quote;

“At crucial moments of history Panj Piare have collectively acted as supreme authority, representing the Guru-Panth. During the battle of Chamkaur, it was the last five surviving Sikhs who, constituting themselves into the Council of Five, Panj Piare, commanded Guru Gobind Singh to leave the fortress and save himself to reassemble the Sikhs. Guru Gobind Singh had abolished the masand system and before he passed away, he also ended the line of living gurus. In the institution of Panj Piare, he had created the nucleus of a casteless and democratic continuing society.” (

Waheguru Ji Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

*please note that our real leader and guiding light is Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj