January 3,4 1998 at Gobind Sadan
Baba Virsa Singh Ji – 17:00 min (Punjabi)
Dr. Karan Singh – 15:27 min (Punjabi)
Dr. Jaswant Singh Neki – 6:57 min (Punjabi)
Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Sikh Guru, is credited with shaping Sikh dharam and turning timid and oppressed people into brave opponents of tyranny. Nevertheless, his writings have not been fully accepted by Sikhs, for they do not fit into a rigid interpretation of Sikh religion. In 1987, eminent scholars thus assembled at Akal Takt, Amritsar to debate the authenticity of his writings, which are compiled as the scripture Dasam Granth. They determined that it is entirely the work of the Tenth Guru. Again in 1931, the Darbar Sahib Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee proclaimed the same and published a book to this effect. Nevertheless, the controversy and reluctance to fully accept Dasam Granth lingered. Therefore, scholars appealed to His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh, a highly revered spiritual teacher of Sikh background, to gather scholars to clarify the doubts about Dasam Granth.
This seminar was held on 3 and 4 January by The Gobind Sadan Institute for Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion at Gobind Sadan, the devotional community and farm developed by Baba Virsa Singh in previously barren land south of Delhi. Nearly one hundred well-known scholars from major universities in India, Russia, Canada, Korea, and the United States attended, and many of them presented papers on various aspects of the little-known scripture. Unlike most conferences, this seminar fully engaged the participants’ attention, and they sat listening to each other for hours with intense and appreciative concentration.
At the inaugural function on 3rd January in Gobind Sadan’s paradisical garden, His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh blessed the work to come, saying, “We have tried to understand Guru Gobind Singh with our limited thinking, but it is very difficult for us to understand the divine wisdom with which he was speaking. His thinking is very neutral, very highly enlightened. He described the Four Yugas and avtars and prophets of God such as Lord Krishna and Durga Mata in great detail, so that their history might be clear, even though he himself meditated upon and merged with the One God who created the entire cosmos, and whose light is running the whole Creation”.
Dr. Karan Singh, in his praises of Guru Gobind Singh, made this powerful statement: “In this land, great avtars have come, Ram, Krishna, religious reformers, Mahavir, Buddha, great acharyas, great rishis and munis, great Sufis, and great Gurus have come. The Gurus have made a great contribution to this country and to the defense of our culture, but it is a very sad thing that their heritage has been claimed only by the Sikh community. We should understand that if the Ten Gurus had not come and done their work, and there had not been Gurbani from Guru Nanak’s Adi Granth to Guru Gobind Singh’s Dasam Granth, then perhaps our country as we know it would not exist. Today we would instead be divided into many pieces-perhaps Russia would have taken some, Afghanistan some, Iran some. This is the power of our cultural heritage.”
Dr. J.S. Neki praised the multi-faceted and powerful personality of Guru Gobind Singh, describing him as a great spiritual master, writer, military commander, and social worker who affirmed the oneness of all castes as a single humankind. Dr. Rattan Singh Jaggi spoke of Guru Gobind Singh’s vast concept of God, as revealed in his Jaap Sahib. Dr. Joginder Singh Puar, Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, who presided over the inaugural function, concluded that it is a good thing to recollect the writings of Guru Gobind Singh so that people may put them into practice in their lives. As the seminar brought out, these writings are rich repositories of cultural history and clearly support social justice and upliftment of women and the oppressed.
Throughout the ensuing deliberations, there was a remarkable lack of acrimony among the scholars, despite their initially variant points of view. Dr. S.S. Joshi of Punjabi University, Patiala, who was the very competent stage secretary, in his summary remarks addressed to His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh, concluded, “During very open deliberations, all the scholars listened to each other with great love and at the same time presented the results of their own deep research honestly and patiently. Perhaps their ideas differed, but they discovered that their subject was the same. Since in every minute particle of the cosmos – even in grass, leaves, water, earth and air – there is Hari, there is Gobind everywhere, if we understand Guru Gobind Singh’s poetry, whether it was written abou Ram or Sham or anyone else, is there not Gobind in that?”
The end result of the conference was that the professors, no matter what their initial point of view, became so appreciative of Dasam Granth that they enthusiastically accepted it as a great compilation of ancient Indian culture and a powerful proclamation of the equality of all humanity. They requested His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh to hold another conference so that they might delve further into the treasures in the Tenth Guru’s scripture, and His Holiness graciously agreed. He affirmed that it is very beneficial for the whole country that there should be to research into and dissemination Guru Gobind Singh’s writings, for “He did not come for one community or one country. His message is for the whole creation”.