Monday, July 03, 2017

Exposed: Fraud and deception in the name of religion...

Sikhs respect all religions, and everyone's freedom to practise their religion. Guru Teg Bahadar Ji, the ninth Guru, gave their life for this freedom for all to live with respect and dignity. If someone freely chooses to convert from one religion to another, there is no objection. However, the objection is when deception, manipulation, greed, and fear are used to coerce someone to convert their religion, even if the individual is made to "feel" or "believe" they have converted out of "choice".

I have come across cases where young individuals from nominal Sikh families have "chosen" to convert to another religion. Again, there is no objection if someone actually knows what they had "given up" in order to embrace something new. When questioned why they wish to "abandon" Sikhi, they replied, "Sikhi is not a true religion... It has not answered my questions.... it is a false religion..." They further said that they had now found the true new religion.

Now, the first issue is, before you drop something, did you even try it? I asked if this person actually read Gurbani, done Nitnem, practised Naam-Simran, been involved in Seva, woke up at Amritvela, or followed Rehat. The answer as you can imagine was, "no." I asked how much knowledge they had about Sikhi. They didn't even knowthe names of the Ten Gurus, let alone accurately describe Sikh history. They claimed Sikhi was not divine, and that Gurbani had no answers, yet they have never learnt Gurbani, studied the meanings of Gurbani, and nor read Gurbani with an open heart and mind from beginning to end.

Lets imagine that someone goes to a restaurant and publicly proclaims, "This restaurant is awful, I am never eating here again. This restaurant should be closed down. From now on, I am taking my business to the restaurant across the road, because they cook awesome food." Now, knowing that the individual has not eaten anything at the restaurant that day, knowing that they have never before seen or tried the menu offered, and never ever sat down on a table in the restaurant ready to eat. It doesn't make sense. I am sure everyone would agree that the restaurant owners and staff would have the right to question the individual and his motivations or understanding behind his choice to go to another restaurant, and make such a bold public statement.

How can someone abandon Sikhi, when they never had Sikhi. What is Sikhi? A name badge? Just a uniform? No. Sikhi is a way of seeing the world, a way of living your life, and a path of complete submission to the Guru. If someone did everything as the Guru prescribed, and said, "Hang on guys, this is not my cup of tea!" Furthermore, they  allowed Gursikhs to talk to them, but were not satisfied and still convinced they wished to walk another path, then one would accept that they have a free choice to do as they please.

Some years back there was an article on a Christian website (now taken down) about the Christian missionary (in photo) who wears Sikh dress and seeks Sikhs converts, dreaming one day to convert Sri Darbaar Sahib into a cathedral.

Recently, issues regarding some Christian missionaries in Punjab actively seeking to convert Sikhs to Christianity through deception and greed has surfaced. A video went viral of a Punjabi Christian sister trying to evangelise and proselytise to seek Sikhs, using flimsy and cringe-worthy attempts to justify her objective by misquoting Gurbani and telling Sikhs what Sikhi is. Thank you, but no thanks. Many Sikhs around the world, including myself, didn't appreciate someone outside of the faith, who has little knowledge of Gurbani and Sikhi, dictating to Sikhs what their religion is by using false statements, and it the end stating that their false representation was "elevating Sikhi to a higher status".

Then I saw on the Internet, how some Christian "Faith Healers" in Punjab are targeting the Sikh community with claims of, able to cure cancer and other diseases. Desperately ill people, seeing such staged dramas become drawn in with the hope that they can get better. However, how real are these "faith healings"? Below, is a clip from a documentary that came on British television a few years back. The documentary was called "Miracles for Sale" (the full documentary is on the link given below the video). The presenter, Derren Brown, analysed the claims of healing in the Bible belt of the USA, and proved that an actor can do the same thing as these apparent faith-healers were doing in a public display to lure converts. Genuine healings would not be publicised and misused in such a manner, and used as a cheap selling tool to gain vulnerable converts.

To watch full documentary: Miracles for Sale 

I was listening to one discussion debate on a news channel, where one Punjabi Christian Minister refuted claims that deception, greed and manipulation of vulnerable people was used by some missionaries in Punjab for converting Sikhs. The response to the Sikh panelist was, "We provide free education to the illiterate, clothes to needy, food to the hungry, jobs to the jobless... what crime is there in that. We are helping humanity. Our religion teaches us to love one another. When we show compassion to humanity, we are accused of converting others using greed and deception."  

Sikh institutions provide free education in Punjab, and every Gurdwara provides free food to the hungry etc, however never will you find that a non-Sikh eats Langar at the Gurdwara with the condition that they must now attend a Sikh prayer session or religious seminar every week. Never has an example come forward where a poor person from another religion has been given a job on the condition that they have to come once a week to the Gurdwara to read and understand Gurbani. Never has an example come to light, that a Sikh has offered a loan to poor person on the condition that they don't have to pay back the loan as long as they attend the Gurdwara every week to hear a lecture on Sikhi. 

A poor Sikh who converted after being offered free hospital treatment which he could not afford in return for becoming a Christian.
On the other hand, there are numerous examples of other religions that are actively seeking to convert others to their religion, where vulnerable people have been targeted with jobs, food, education and generosity with a clause. This "compassion" is with strings attached, and being done with an agenda.  When organizations like Khalsa Aid, United Sikhs and Self Relief provided humanitarian aid to disaster zones in parts of the world where there are no Sikhs living there, they do so with the sole aim of helping humanity. There is no agenda that if we help them then they will convert to Sikhi.

A philosopher once said, “History is reflective of a religion, its race and their actions in love of their faith.” I am proud to be a Sikh. By analysing Sikh history, one understands what Sikhi is about. A Sikh doesn't necessarily need to talk about compassion to others, fighting for justice and freedom of others, and helping others... our history says it all. There are good and bad individuals in all religious and non-religious communities. However, in the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no race has been slaughtered. In the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no rape has been committed. In the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no individual or race have been made into slaves. In the name of Sikhi and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no one has been seen and treated as an inferior race or religion. In the name of Sikhi or Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no nation has been subjugated. In the name of Sikhi or Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, no non-Sikh religious place of worship has been destroyed or attacked. 

I would welcome all to read Gurbani, read Sikh history and truly experience Sikhi by "living" it, before commenting or supposedly denouncing it in search for something they think is "better."

Sikhs love all humanity and people of all religions. Sikh history bares witness that the Gurus and Sikhs following them, gave their lives to protect people of other religions and their right to live freely without discrimination. Everyday, a Sikh prays for the prosperity of all humanity. Whilst a Sikh firmly holds that the Sikh path is the complete truth and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the Saviour of humanity, a true Sikh will never insult or degrade any religion to hurt anyone's feelings. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru, was once asked by Bahadar Shah, the Mughal Emperor, "which religion is the best?" Being a perfect example of a stateman and champion for all humanity, Guru Ji replied, "Just as your religion is the most beautiful for you, my religion is the most beautiful for me."

May we all live in peace and respect one another, whilst denouncing those elements of any community that use deception, hatred, fear, greed, manipulation and lies against others.

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