Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Jatha's... Its All Good

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh,

I have been hearing a lot of talk of people saying that we should not affiliate with any jathebandi or group, and we should all just consider ourselves sons and daughters of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and follow one common panthic rehit. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with jathebandi’s. Jatha’s have been around since the times of our beloved Guru’s. Aslong as we have prem and respect for each other and can work together for the Chardi Kala of the Panth, I believe that different Jathebandi’s and ‘Ekta’ are non-issues.

Ekta does not mean following the same rehit, it means co-existing while maintaining a healthy respect for each other and coming together in times of needs. We can use an example of a family to further understand this concept. Not each child in a family lives the same way or has the same views, but at the end of the day if someone comes and talks bad about one of the siblings, the other siblings will be there to stand up for each other.

There are many forms of Jatha’s. We see raagi jatha’s doing keertan at the Gurdwara everyday. There are also Dhadi Jatha’s, If a bunch of Singh’s were to travel from BC to England, people may say ‘look there is the BC jatha’. There are also panthic Jathedbandi’s such as Damdami Taksal, Buddha Dal, Tarna Dal, and Akhand Keertani Jatha, etc. I will relate this concept back to a family. In one house lives one family (father, mother, daughter, son). Than in another house lives (taya, tayi, son, daughter). In another house could be (uncle, auntie, son, son). Although these people live in different houses, may live different lifestyles, and have different beliefs, they are still extended family and will come together in times of need. I will venture to say that the same principle applies to Jathebandi’s.

Even in the times of our great Guru’s there were various forms of Jatha’s. When a bunch of Singhs would come to visit Guru Ji from Malwa region they would come in a group, that group we can say is a jatha. Than another Jatha would come from Doaba. Since they lived in different areas of Punjab they would live slightly different lifestyles and speak in a different style. But at the end of the day they were still all Sikhs.

Another example is when Singhs fought wars. Groups of Singhs (misls) would come from all over. These Singhs since they were familiar with each other would stay with each other and fight together in the form of misls or jathas since they related to each other more than others. But they were still able to come together with the other Singhs (misls) to fight for a common cause.

If we look back at the June 1984 Ghalughara where the Indian Government sent in troops to massacre thousands of innocents. Singhs from Damdami Taksal and Akhand Keertani Jatha aswell as other Sikhs came together to protect Darbar Sahib. These singhs don’t agree on everything and their beliefs are somewhat different. But they were still able to work together to protect the honor of the Panth. I believe this is real ekta. Coming together when needed for the Chardi Kala of the panth, and having respect for one another.

This being said. Akal Takht is a common maryada which should unite the panth. If some jatha’s have more strict rehits that is fine, but at a minimum one should follow Akal Takht.

In the future to deal with issues such as raag mala and other panthic issues we must all come to the table with humility. Who are we to say we are right. We should atleast have enough nimrata to think the Singh beside me is right and I am wrong, instead of being so stubborn and narrow minded. Guru Sahib entrusted Guruship onto Guru Granth Sahib Ji aswell as Guru Khalsa Panth. If we really have love for Guru Sahib we will follow their hukams. If the whole panth (Sarbat Khalsa) comes together and makes a decision whether we like it or not, that is a direct hukam from Guru Sahib and if we truly love Guru Sahib we will swallow our ego and follow it.

But like Sant Jarnail Singh Ji said, now is not the time to deal with such internal issues, we have to deal with the external forces attacking our Panth first. Once we have dealt with those, we can come together to deal with internal issues. Until that day comes I have faith that all Jathebandi’s will always be there for each other as history has proven.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh