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Kirpans out as Canadian Sikh divisions


Kirpans out as Canadian Sikh divisions deepen over scripture


Toronto, April 12, 2010:  Divisions among Canadian Sikhs over the ongoing controversy about the Dasam Granth reached a flash point with hardliners using kirpans to attack supporters of former Akal Takht head priest Darshan Singh Ragi who suspects the authenticity of the scripture.

After the holy Granth which carries the writings of the first nine Sikhs, the Dasam Granth is another major scripture of the community carrying the writings of the last guru Gobind Singh.

Though only the holy Granth is installed at all gurdwaras because it was declared the eternal guru of the Sikhs by the last guru (Guru Gobind Singh) before his death in 1708, some gurdwaras associated with his birth and death in Patna and Nanded have also installed the Dasam Granth.

However, Sikh scholars, inlcuding Ragi,are against its installation as they suspect the authenticity of the Dasam Granth because of objectionable parts - references to women in derogatory languages, sexual promiscuity and intoxicants - in it.

They say the last Sikh guru could never have written these parts, linking the derogatory parts to conspiracy theories against the community.

But opponents say these scholars are denigrating the Dasam Granth and should be excommunicated from the Sikh religion.

Toronto-based former Akal Takht head priest Ragi was ex-communicated from the Sikh clergy last December for vocing his opposition to the scripture.

Last week Ragi, who presided over the Akal Takht at the height of militancy in Punjab in the 1980s, was not allowed to perform kirtan at a suburban gurdwara with his opponents taking out their kirpans and injuring one of his prominent supporters. The protesters were opposed to the ostracized former Akal Takht head priest being invited to the gurdwara.

Sikhs are not supposed to do anything with someone excommunicated by the Akal Takht - their spiritual and temporal seat in Amritsar.

The use of kirpans in the gurdwara violence led to calls in some section of the media to revisit the issue of kirpan in Canada where the Sikhs won a major legal victory for it in 2006 to let them wear their religious symbol in classrooms and work places.