We explore Sikh and wider South Asian history, art, culture and philosophy with historians, artists and researchers.
The ਸੋਚ Podcast Episode #06 – Dr. Kamalroop Singh – Sri Dasam Granth: Authenticity & Authorship
In episode 6 of the ਸੋਚ podcast I get to put forward your questions and the most common critiques of Sri Dasam Granth to Dr. Kamalroop Singh who has completed a PhD at the University of Birmingham, School of Philosophy, Theology and Religions. His thesis was titled, “Dasam Granth Re-examined.” In addition, he has published two books on Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, “Sri Dasam Granth: Q&A” as well as “The Granth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Essays, Lectures and Translations.
We spend the first ten minutes, as always, getting to know our guest a little bit better, starting with his upbringing, the influence of his Bibi Ji, his own personal identity crisis and academic pursuits leading to and through his PhD in Sri Dasam Granth Sahib.
We then dive into Sri Dasam Granth Sahib and the ‘so-called’ controversy surrounding it. We start with the following extract, Saturday, 4th April 1846 – Illustrated London News – “Guru Govind inculcated his tenets upon his followers by his preaching, his actions, and his works; among the latter is ‘Dasama Padshah Ka Gurunth,’ or Book of the Tenth King, he being the tenth ruler from Nanc, the founder of the religion. This work, together with the ‘Adi Gurunth’ of Nanac – their only other sacred book – is held in great veneration by the Sikhs.”
Here is another extract, although not included in the podcast, Sir John Malcolm, while in the Punjaub in 1805, succeeded in procuring a copy of the ‘Adi Gurunth’ from a Chief, who sent it to him at night, after having obtained a promise that he would treat the scared volume with great respect. A Mr. Colebrook, with persevering assiduity, was also able to procure not only the ‘Adi-Gurunth,’ but the ‘Dasama Padshah Ka Gurunth’ – the two most scared books of the Sikhs.”
From this point on we deal with the following questions:
1. What is Sri Dasam Granth?
2. Was Sri Dasam Granth written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji or could it include the work of court poets or others? In the process of answering this Dr. Kamalroop Singh outlines a raft of early Dasam Granth manuscripts starting in 1688 and uses further historical evidence to remove any possibility of court poet material being used.
3. Who do the pen names Ram & Shyam refer to?
4. Why do some of the earliest manuscripts have compositions ordered in a different order or exclude certain compositions completely?
5. We dive deeper into the history of the Bhai Mani Singh recension of Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji & Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji.
6. What is Charitropakhian? What is the context of Charitropakhian? Is Charitropakhian misogynistic?
7. How is Sri Dasam Granth part of the social revolution of the Khalsa?
8. Does Sri Dasam Granth lack originality due to its inclusion of puranic texts?
9. What does Maharaj mean when he states he comes from the khastriya lineage? Is this a declaration of caste?
10. What was the influence of Colonialism and the Singh Sabha upon Sri Dasam Granth Sahib?
11. How does the concept of the female divine energy fit into wider Sikh thought?
12. Is there a Sikh theology?
13. How do you explain the story of Guru Gobind Singh ji and Naina Devi Yagna found in Bansavalinama by Kesar Singh Chibber?
14. What is the relationship between reformists such as the Bandai Khalsa and Teja Singh Bhasauria with Sri Dasam Granth?
15. Will Sri Dasam Granth Sahib ever be parkash at Akal Takht?
16. How does Jhatka & Dheg fit into Sikhi?
Episode #05 – Hark1karan from London – The Pind, Photography and Our Own Narratives
In this episode of The Sooch podcast I get to talk to Hark1karan, we get to know more about him and his latest photo book - Pind: Portrait of a Village in Rural Punjab.
We first start off by getting to know the meaning behind his name, the influence of photography and art in his household whilst growing up and the impact of the environment and energy of growing up in working class neighbourhood of south London.
We go on to discuss photography, the photographer and the responsibility of constructing a narrative of the subject matter. We move on to discuss the Pind and it’s connection with Punjabi culture and Sikhi.
We discuss why Hark1karan decided to publish a book in the age of Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr and why he’s decided not to post the images on social media. We also learn about the process taken to get the book from concept to a published book and the responsibility of showcasing the community from the inside and not erasing the story.
We move on to find out about the importance of language in constructing this photo book and get to know more about the process involved. Can you believe that these photos were taken on an old-school roll film camera?
The rest of the discussion moves on to representation and how quite often if people don't see it, for them it's not a reality. We move on to how Hark1karan was able to take some of the more honest photos, the idea that we're not the same person but we're different people in different scenarios.
We move on to discuss the current and on going Kissan-Majdoor protests in India & its connection to the Pind, the responsibility of artists and how women have been excluded from certain narratives regarding the protests.
We round the podcast off with Hark1karan’s own personal journey in putting his book together and the importance of collaboration and fostering a constructive environment within our community to help change outdated narratives and tell our own story.
Episode #04 - Aman Bali from Kashmir & Jodh Singh from America - The Kisaan-Majdoor Protests
I get the pleasure to talk to Aman Bali from Kashmir, who is currently providing excellent on the ground coverage of the ongoing Kisaan-Majdoor protests in India, and Jodh Singh from America, who helps provide historical context and analysis.
We start off with what has caused these protests, we move on to how this spurned a people’s protest, seemingly bereft of any political impetus. To be cliché – a movement, for the people, by the people. - We demarcate how these protests are not abrupt. In fact the protesting started back in June and the protests we now see in Delhi are simply the next step in the Kissan-Majdoor protest - that of increasing their own negotiation powers by bringing the protest to the capital.
We take a look at the bills in some depth and, amongst a number of things, we demarcate how the socio-economic fabric of Punjab would be drastically altered. We start with the three main laws of contention - Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce, Promotion and Facilitation Act, Farmers Empowerment and Protection Agreement Act and the Essentials Commodity Amendment. We also discuss the two further ordinances – the air quality ordinance and the electricity amendment.
We talk about sharecroppers, landgrabbing, middlemen, Mandis, Mandi Tax, MSP and alot more than I can fit in one post.
Overall the one of the biggest themes that lept out is the appalling lack of legal redress any of these farmers would have if these bills were to be passed. In addition, it seems these laws are part of a bigger issue – India’s urgent want to industrialise almost overnight. A task which, as Aman Bali rightfully points out, needs to be done incrementally.
We look at the locus of the protests coming from Punjab and Haryana, the role of Sikhi and how the diaspora can help. We also dissect the idea that 250 million people have been protesting in Delhi.
We covered a lot of ground in a relatively short space of time. However, if you want to find out more I would strongly recommend listening to Sial Mirza Goya’s podcast series – there’s 14 episodes so far - https://bit.ly/SialPodcast
I would also suggest you follow them on Twitter- their handles are @amaanbali and @sialmirzagoraya – and also follow @Punyaab who is providing coverage from the protest sites.
Episode #03 - Sikh Archive (Sukh Singh) from Slough - Sikhi, Colonialism and Justice
In this episode I get to talk with the man behind Sikh Archive
We start off the conversation talking about family, in particular his baby daughter, Brexit, Punjab and tomatoes. We then dive into wider migration patterns and how they affected his family. The difficulties in tracing Punjabi family lineage, social and historical capital and the legacy of colonial legislation.
We then move onto more interesting topics (one sent in by a number of followers) namely what does Sikh Archive say to those who accuse him of being too left-leaning? This touches upon a number of things such as Kamala Harris, Marcus Rashford and identity politics.
This then flows into a discussion regarding what is justice? How do we engage with injustice, whether that be historical injustice or societal injustice. We discuss Sikhs in the military, integration and alignment to whiteness, the martial race narrative and the Sikh nation.
We round the episode off asking how and why Sikh Archive was started, book recommendations, the Sikh ethos of uprooting tyrannical systems and the changing landscape of Sikhi & Gurdwaras.
Episode #02 - Shabd Singh from America - History, Politics and 3H0
Shabd has been someone who I’ve been following for a while and inspired me to start my own podcast, so it was great to get to know a bit more about him and I cannot thank him enough for taking the time out to talk.
In this episode, we get to know a bit more about Shabd and his upbringing near Washington DC in Northern Virginia, amongst the 3HO community, his parents, who are both converts to Sikhi through 3HO, his background including his mixture of Jewish, Basque and Parisian ancestry, his attendance at Miri-Piri academy in Punjab, his further education, a period of change in his life more recently and his involvement in politics and how it took him further then he could have imagined.
Did you know his mum travelled overland through Afghanistan to reach India in the 1970s?
We continue and talk about how Shabd spends some of his spare time focusing on his own podcast – The One: Intersection of Sikhi/Sikh Affairs and Left/Progressive politics.
You can check out Shabd's podcast here: anchor.fm/theonepodcast
How Sikhi is more than a religion, a book called the “Jakarta Method” which helps to map the American backing of the Indonesian death squads of the 1960s (resulting in the death of over a million people) and how this was part of the CIA’s broader project of extinguishing the left wherever it was. Those who doubt socialism and use a lack of historical examples sometimes miss that since inception socialism has been aggressively attacked and undermined by the USA and Western powers & specifically undermined.
Can Sikhs be part of a modern day military? How WWI and WII are not unrelated or disconnected from colonialism and the purpose of modern militaries. The tokenisation of Sikhs, the concept of langar and the human right of food security, the relationship of colonialism, capitalism and white supremacy.
Malcolm X, truly questioning the system, the Khalsa mindset, the acceptance of death, learning and teaching and how Shabd tries to use this to keep grounded when involved in politics.
We then dive into Shabd’s upbringing as a Sikh, experience of the 3HO community and the cult, criminal activities and systems of abuse controlled by Yogi Bhajan. Shabd outlines his own personal journey and the importance of Kashi House’s accessible production of pre-colonial Sikh history that was particularly helpful. Amongst other things, we round off the episode focusing on the 3HO community today, the entities and community of 3HO and why it is important to identify and change the systems around us.
We spoke about so much more than that. More importantly, I learnt so much and thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time talking to Shabd Singh.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Episode #01 - Satnam Singh from Denmark - The Sikh Golden Age
In our very first episode of The ਸੋਚ Podcast, I get to talk with Satnam Singh from Denmark.
We get to know a little bit about him and his upbringing in Denmark. We discuss the importance of teachers, the books he is currently reading, as well as a discussion about the need for impartiality when researching.
We continue and dive into the Anandpur Darbar and the Early Misl Period. Just a few of the questions we discuss: What is the Anandpur Darbar? Why the number 52? The Kavis Mansion in Anandpur and the cultural, political and wider impacts of the Anandpur Darbar.
The discussion regarding the early Misl Period touches upon a number of things, including a comparison with the Ottoman Empire of the time, how a lot of the systems required for the success of Maharaja Ranjit Singh ji were already setup during the misl period. We discuss art, literature and culture under the early misl period and modern day auction houses.