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W.H. Mcleod, who dedicated over four decades of his life in researching Sikh history, died


Sikhs's most controversial western Historian, Mcleod dies


Chandigarh, July 21, 2009
Satish Mehta

The man from faraway New Zealand who came to Punjab in the 1950s as a Christian missionary but ended up being a globally-reputed historian on Sikhs has passed away. W.H. Mcleod, who dedicated over four decades of his life in researching Sikh history, died in Dunedin Monday night, his wife of 54 years, Margaret, informed friends here.

Mcleod, 77, the son of a sheep-farmer in New Zealand had come to Punjab, the north Indian border province that has a Sikh majority population, as a Christian missionary in 1958. Soon after settling down in Batala town, 40 km from Amritsar, Mcleod found his interest in Christianity waning and was drawn to Sikh history.

"Mcleod played a major role in establishing and popularising the academic study of Sikhism outside India. He leaves behind a body of work on Sikhism which will be a source of reference to the coming generations of Sikh scholars," Roopinder Singh, author of "Guru Nanak: his life and teachings" and a senior journalist, told IANS here.

Described by many as an "unsung success story" who acquired "global repute" with his work as a historian, Mcleod left New Zealand in 1958 to work as a missionary in northern Punjab. He taught Punjab history at Baring College in Batala town before his interest as a missionary started to fade.

Unimpressed with the existing studies at that time on the 10 Sikh Gurus, Mcleod got immersed in Sikh history and religion and even Punjabi, a language he learnt to speak with ease. He lost all interest and contact with the church as he pursued Sikh history.

"It (his death) is a huge loss to the Sikh community. He always added a fresh perspective to the development and history of the Sikhs as opposed to the traditional view of romanticising it overly," said Punjab-based author of the book "Sikhs Unlimited" Khushwant Singh.

Sikhism is one of the youngest religions in the world founded by Guru Nanak Dev (born 1469) in the 15th century. The religion had 10 gurus till the early 18th century. The 10th master, Guru Gobind Singh, ordained that after him the holy book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, would be the eternal guru.

Mcleod wrote several books, including "Guru Nanak and Sikh Religion" (translated into Punjabi by Amritsar's Guru Nanak Dev University), "The Evolution of Sikh Community", "The Sikhs - History, Religion and Society", "Sikhs of the Khalsa" and many others. He did his PhD on Sikh history from the University of London.

Some of his books and research came in for criticism from Sikh scholars but there were many who admired his tireless work on Sikhism.

"He became an international authority on the religion, perhaps the best known outside Punjab and India, and the man who has done more to introduce Sikhism to the world outside India than anyone else," said I.J. Singh, an academic. (ians/NRIpress)

In July 1987, the Punjabi University, Patiala, published Commemoration Lectures holding that McLeod’s observations about the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir were ‘unfounded and misleading.’ The present publication is a disappointment because instead of responding to their criticism of Mcleod and of continuing the academic debate, he has stopped it by omitting altogether any reference to those two related books or their contents. The book, can, thus, serve no academic purpose, because mere reiteration of exploded assertions cannot constitute a piece of research.


Psychoanalysis of W. H. McLeod
Based on Discovering The Sikhs — Autobiography of a Historian

S.S. Sodhi and J.S. Mann

Science is a part and parcel of our knowledge, but it obscures our insight when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is. ~ Carl Jung

The main thrust of this paper is to psychoanalyze Dr. McLeod’s recent book Discovering the Sikhs. As it is an autobiography, an attempt will be made to critically look at his personality functioning using many psychological paradigms. The following Western psychological paradigms will be used.

W.H. McLeod

i. Growing Up Absurd (Paul Goodman)

ii. Man in Search of Meaning (Victor Frankle)

iii. Gandhi’s Truth

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Intimacy vs. Isolation

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Integrity vs. Despair (Erik Erikson)

iv. One Dimensional Man (Herb Marcuse)

v. Divided Self, Interpersonal Perception, Politics of Experience (R. D. Liang)

vi. DSM IV- The “Bible” used by American Psychiatric Association

vii. Blaming the Victims (Dr. Ryan)

viii. The Voice of Experience, Science & Psychiatry (R. D. Liang)

In Discovering The Sikhs, Dr. McLeod attempts to highlight that:

1. He wants to explain his method (of doing research) dealing with the Sikhs, to the Sikhs (p. 1, Discovering Sikhs). “It is a historian’s quest for the truth” (p. 3, Discovering The Sikhs).

2. “I am a Western historian and the society I study is not my own,” “using Western methodology” (p. 4, Discovering The Sikhs).

3. I was deposited in Punjab (Kharar-Batala) in 1958, where I discovered lack of direction and started searching something in the history of Punjab (p. 5, Discovering The Sikhs).

4. I came in contact with another missionary, Dr. Loehlin who had done some work in Sikh history. In five years since my arrival in India, I collected enough data and left for London to do a Ph. D. on Guru Nanak under Dr. A. L. Basham, the author of The Wonder That Was India.

5. Dr. McLeod claims that Professor Basham knew nothing about Guru Nanak and little about Punjabi language (p. 39, Discovering Sikhs). Hence his thesis was his own work which was “stamped” by Professor Basham on June 30, 1965. It could be seen that Professor Basham stated in his book The Wonder That Was India (p. 481) that Nanak taught the doctrine developed by Kabir. Further to Professor Basham’s historical knowledge about Lord Krishna, it is stated in The Wonder That Was India that Lord Krishna died a depressed person in Gujrat after Yadvs killed each other in a drunken brawl!

6. Dr. McLeod got his Ph. D. in 1965 from University of London after seven years of total exposure to Sikhism. It is interesting to note that there were many famous historians living in Punjab such as Ganda Singh, Harbans Singh, Fauja Singh and Kripal Singh, yet Dr. McLeod chose to work under Dr. Basham who knew nothing about Sikhism. No ethics committee was set up to examine his thesis proposal and none of the members of his thesis committee were Punjabi knowing Sikhs. It must be pointed out that his other students (Pashaura Singh, Oberoi and Fenech) followed the model set by him to become “instant historians” of Sikh history. Their thesis proposals, too, were not examined by the ethics committee. No input was sought from the ethnic community under study and no exposure was provided to these students about Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC, 1993) guidelines.

7. After receiving his Ph. D., Dr. McLeod’s academic career can be divided as follows:

a. Baring Christian College, Batala 1965-69 (He claims that during this period, his religious beliefs dwindled to zero and he started looking for “Truth” in Sikh history.)

b. 1969-2002: Teaching at the University of Otago, undermining Sikh traditions but missing teaching in North American universities and obsessively displaying doubts, skepticism in his search for the “truth.” He was not at all empathy oriented to Sikh ethos and traditions and went as far as comparing Bano, Kartarpur and Damadama version of Guru Granth Sahib to figure out which one was the “Real Live Guru of the Sikhs.” (The readers are directed to Dr. McLeod’s article to the “Sikh Scriptures: Some Issues” in a book on Sikh Studies edited by G. Barrier (1979, pp. 97-111).

As a Western historian, Dr. McLeod claims that he has the authority to look for truth and if in the process, traditions get destroyed and trampled over, so be it! As a Sikh psychologist trained in the Western tradition with twenty-seven years of teaching experience (1968-95) in the Western universities and practicing psychotherapy for eight years (1995-2003), I would use his book Discovering the Sikhs (Autobiography of a Historian) to psychoanalyze him using psychoanalytical method and hope the "truth" about him will emerge.

I have another advantage. I met Hew and his wife, Margaret, in Halifax, Canada in October 1991. It gave me a chance to observe his research orientations and family dynamics or co-dependency they had on each other. This meeting led me to write my article entitled “Pathology of Pseudo-Sikh Researchers With Linear Myopic, Left Brain and Mystified Western Realities,” which has been declared as absurd by Dr. McLeod in Discovering The Sikhs (Discovering The Sikhs, p. 201).

Thirdly, I come from Kharar hence have a first hand knowledge of what kind of missionary work was done by Dr. Ryburn who was supposed to be replaced by Dr. McLeod. I would like to discuss cognitive dissonance which Hew might have experienced after meeting the seventy-eight Rice Christian Children of Kharar School and he did not know what to do with them.

In chapter one, The Reason Why, Hew tries to justify his Western methodology of looking for truth in Sikh history. He also claims that he was a shy introvert and had “impoverished social skills.” In Halifax in 1991, I found him a bit anxious, at times confused, dependent, fearful, melancholy, self-conscious, unappreciated, unfulfilled, suffering from wishy-washy obsessive-compulsiveness with linear one-dimensional thinking. His historical research training took place in New Zealand; hence he was not exposed to Afro-centric or Khalsa-centric ethnic paradigms of research. As a result, he was not interested in wonder stories of Janam Sakhis or mythology and miracles of religions.

In chapter two, Hew tells us that he was the second born son of Margaret and Bruce McLeod. Dr. McLeod’s grandfather and his father never attended church but his mother was a believer in Presbyterian denomination of Christian faith. Applying Adlerian psychology it can be inferred that being a second born son to a non-believing, shy father and a devoted Christian mother had profound influence on Hew’s early development. He may have internalized his non-relatedness and non-believing attitudes from his father through reaction formation (DSM IV), which later on destroyed his belief system.

Being second born to his older brother Ian, may have produced in him goal striving, urge to power, feeling of relative inferiority to an acquired feeling of superiority, an urge to sharply dichotomize and categorize as a means of self discovered truth through obsessive-compulsive behavior. According to Dr Adler, neurotic researchers try to raise their self-esteem by destroying the belief system of others. Organ inferiority (height of the person, et cetera) produces self-centeredness. Second born child always wants power to change hands (from tradition to truth). In discovering Sikhs, Hew tells us that “The power of the Head Boy appealed to me enormously” and “I was also the Regimental Sergeant-Major of the School’s cadet-corps.”

It can be inferred that this Adlerian strive for power may be manifesting in Hew to become Sergeant Major of Sikh research (a VIP) producing many sepoys dancing around the “truth” so discovered.

The influence of Dr. McLeod’s father for making him a VIP, Rev. J. Hays for making him a Presbyterian minister and his own desire to become Principal of one of New Zealand’s better secondary schools motivated his undergraduate and graduate career.

University years provided Hew opportunity to interact socially and spiritually with members of opposite sex through Student Christian Movement where people failed to notice that he was a Head Boy at Nelson! This non-recognition was hurting Hew’s self image which he compensated by becoming a Divinity student and also becoming a member of the executive of Otago University Student Association. It can be easily seen that use of religion to gain power and mobility had entered Hew’s personality functioning.

Hew started having doubts about his Christian belief system in 1955 but kept quiet due to insecurity. It took him eight years to become a non-believer, but in the meantime, he was ordained and used missionary money to leave New Zealand and live in India and used missionary school facilities of India to educate his children in Woodstock School in Landour near Mussoorie, India during Punjab Years (1958-69). It represented for Hew years of positive disintegration (Dubroski), cognitive dissonance (Festinger) with problems of becoming (Allport) and total conversion (William James).

Before he could leave New Zealand for missionary trip to replace Dr. Ryburn in Kharar, India, he had to be ordained. He showed his ambivalence and anti-social, non-conforming personality and doubts in the Lordship of Christ by replacing the Christian Clerical Collar with a tie and going through the ceremony that for him was devoid of meaning (Divided Self and Politics of Experience, R. D. Liang), (DSM IV). Hew is silent about how he resolved his doubts in the Lordship of Christ!

During his stay in Kharar, it became clear to Hew that he was not a missionary type. He could not relate to the Christian community of Kharar, its children and make sense of their cognitive styles. Hew could have taken time to figure out the role various Christian Institutes of Kharar played in the life of seventy-eight Christian children. He could have looked at British education system as a Cultural Imperialism (Carnoy). But there is no power, ego pedestals for a missionary in doing this kind of radical research; hence, after five years of stay in Kharar, going to Golden Temple many times and appreciating the respect Sikhs showed to Guru Granth Sahib, collecting material for further studies is Sikhism, he sailed to New Zealand and then back to England to do a Ph.D. in the School of Oriental and African Studies where Professor Basham worked.

Later in 1979, he questioned the very identity of Guru Granth Sahib. Knowing that Basham did not know ABC of Sikhism or Punjabi language, Hew still accepted him as his thesis advisor. On June 30, 1965 these non-Sikhs, non-Punjabi supervisors gave Hew a Ph. D. from University of London on the thesis he wrote himself and got it approved without any input from his supervisors. No wonder his research is one sided, non-holistic, linear, left brain, perceptually selective and myopic. An eclectic training with various Ph. D. level courses would have opened “Hew’s Doors of Perception” (A. Huxley) and may have landed him a job in North America, which he desperately wanted.

Mission schools were opened in Amritsar and Batala after the Empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was taken over by the British colonizers. He does not say a word about the conversion of Maharaja Dalip Singh by missionaries and the motivation of Amritsar, Batala or Kharar missionaries to produce Rice Christians out of Harijans. Hew misses the concept of Cultural Imperialism (Canvoy), while discussing the non-motivation of his history students in Batala. As a missionary, McLeod found Batala a better campus than poverty stricken Kharar.

At Batala, Hew became a confirmed atheist and experienced "truthful bliss" while his wife stayed agnostic. He also arrogantly declared that for him, Adi Granth was not his Guru and he has the right to analyse it. His atheistic belief system may have become existentialism of Sartre or he may have become a Marxist. He claims that his becoming a missionary was a “youthful aberration.” At a conference organized by Punjabi University, Patiala, 1969, Hew’s book, Guru Nanak and Sikh Religion, was aggressively criticized by Sardar Kapur Singh. It is unbelievable that Hew did not care to find out the reasons; his Eurocentric research had started to bother Sikh scholars. His ego would not let him do that!

Hew and Margaret claim that they did not feel guilty after leaving the Christian faith. A question can be raised regarding their use of Christian facilities in Kharar, Batala and Landour and travels all over the world with missionary money. Is it possible that they unconsciously wanted to exploit the faith they had left behind? It does provide a glimpse into the selfish streak in their personality-functioning (DSM, IV), which could be broadly called a psychosocial-pathological behavior? Dr. McLeod goes on to justify his attack on Janam Sakhies as mythical stories, Jats influence on panth, Kartarpur Bir, travels of Guru Nanak and regression in Sikhs brought by Guru Amardas.

On one hand he keeps on asserting that an outsider should be very careful in dealing with the sensitive issues of Sikh studies such as Guru Granth Sahib, yet he still tried to let loose people like Pashaura Singh and Oberoi to dig like drain inspectors and destroy the traditions so dear to the Sikhs. It appears he got vicarious satisfaction (Bandura) by putting Sikh researchers such as Oberoi, on Sikh Chairs at University of British Columbia as he could not himself land a job in a North American university.

It is amazing that a Ph. D. from University of London could be so myopic as not to recognize the dangers of planting a Eurocentric Sikh researcher on a Chair created by the donations of rural Sikhs of India who have made Canada their home and felt that a Sikh scholar at the University of British Columbia would help them find ways of enhancing their needs of transmitting Sikh traditions to second generation children. It is a known fact that Government of India objected to the creation of a Sikh Chair at University of British Columbia, but McLeod came to their rescue by recommending an anti-Sikh researcher to put cold water on their enthusiasm.

Hew felt upset when Sikh’s call him Reverend. He also felt upset when he was called an agent of Government of India. A man is known by the company he keeps. His association with missionaries of Kharar and Batala and Dr. Grewal and his student Indu Banga at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Simla is taken as a proof of his affiliations. Also foreign missionaries had a great deal of difficulty getting Indian visas, I do not think Dr. McLeod was ever denied one. Sikhs have not forgotten how Royal Family of Kapurthala was converted to Christianity by missionaries and also how Maharaja Dalip Singh was made to undergo ceremonies of humiliation from 1850-1860 before he agreed to become a Christian.

There is no doubt that Sikh’s showed a “Burnt Child Dreads the Fire” approach to McLeod’s writing, but Hew should remember that he came as white missionary to India. Sikhs still have in their “Collective Unconscious” memories of how missionaries of Ludhiana, 1832 - on, spied on the Kingdom of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Western friends of the Sikhs such as Henry Lawrence, General Ventura, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Harding, Major Broadfoot and Lord Dalhousie to mention a few, cheated Sikhs of their hard earned empire and Sir John Login, a missionary, converted Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s son Dalip Singh, to Christianity at the tender age of eleven through brain washing and making him and his mother Rani Jindan suffer.

In chapter six, Otago Years (1971-2002), Hew claims that he introduced a second year paper on Historical Methods and Interpretation and used his classes to show how ignorant Sikh scholars were attacking a “faithful, truth-finding historian.” I hope the outline of the above-mentioned course was not lopsided and Eurocentric as all his writings were! He also claims that he had gotten Janam Sakhi published by Guru Nanak University Press through the influence of Professor Grewal who later on was his associate at the University of Toronto. Some Sikh scholars claim that Mr. Grewal had connections with Government of India.

During these years, Hew was collecting Rahitnamas to prove that Khalsa with 5 K’s was not created in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh but was a later invention. He also took time to go to Gurdwara Panja Sahib to get the exact measurement of the panja of Guru Nanak Devji. McLeod, a keen destroyer of Sikh faith and tradition, claims the following about Panja Sahib. According to him:

a. It is unquestionably a late aetiological legend dating from the early nineteenth century (Discovering The Sikhs, 87).

b. The story of Panja Sahib is an anecdote set in the Village of Hasan Abdal.

It is clear that Hew does not care for the sentiments of the Sikhs but wants to needle them from time to time with the intentions of cutting Guru Nanak to “size” to point out whether incisions of the panja were sharp or smooth! What else do you expect from a historian with linear cognition!

In 1985, Hew was given a grant by Government of India to visit Indian universities. It can be inferred that the events of 1984 may have motivated Government of India to make him go to universities and talk about the Sikhs and their traditions as seen by him. During this period he also got Commonwealth Fellowship from University of Toronto. It will be very interesting to find out what kind of grant proposals were made by him to the Government of India and to the Commonwealth Society.

Eurocentric researchers such as John Simpson, Will Oxtoby, Milton Isreal, Joseph O’Connell, Ainslie Embree, Jack Hawley, Mark Juergensmeyer and Jerry Barrier had started gathering at the University of Toronto. Hence McLeod was invited to put the Canadian Sikhs in their place with the blessings of Fabian, Consulate General, Government of India stationed in Toronto in 1985. There is a documented evidence (minutes) of University of British Columbia President’s meeting with Fabian that Government of India was against setting up Sikh Studies Chairs at University of British Columbia with the money collected by rural Sikhs of Punjab who had settled in Canada. When the Chair was approved, thanks to Government of Canada’s contribution, Hew helped all Canadian Sikhs by recommending Oberoi to sit on that Chair and produce non-relevant anti-Sikh research. It must be stated that Hew’s Otago years were not without purpose. He was getting grants from Government of India and Commonwealth, planning to start University of Toronto Sikh Studies program to produce and plant “historians in a hurry” in various North American universities.

On February 2, 1987, at the age of fifty-four, because of his excessive work, on-the-go type A personality, Hew suffered stroke on the left side of his brain which affected his right side of the body. His written competencies were not affected. He claims to have written three books while recovering from stroke! “Talk of death wish or denial producing depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder behavior”(DSM IV). His oral competencies were affected and he developed problem in spoken language especially in the area of “switching.” Spiritually speaking, Sat Guru wanted to show His annoyance with Hew, who was producing un-truthful material on Sikhism and alienating an already troubled minority of India. His atheist academic outlook had overpowered his behavior and he had lost all capacity to enjoy “the other kinds of seeing.” He was back in Toronto in 1988, even though he suffered a near death stroke in 1987. I call this type of personality driven, egocentric, self-destructive and insensitive to the needs of his partner, Margaret.

Canada Years, 1988

As Hew’s motivation was to train some Sikh scholars in Canada, he found an ex-granthi (Pashaura Singh). While at Calgary, Pashaura Singh finished his degree and wrote M. A. thesis on Bhagats (Kabir and Farid) under the supervision of non-Sikhs who did not know Gurbani. Mr. Singh, who declared Kabir as a semi-illiterate person in his M. A. thesis, got admission to newly minted and funded program by Canada Council and the local Sikh community. It is very interesting to note that even though the University of Toronto Sikh scholars applied and got Social Science Humanities Research Council of Canada funding, they violated every ethics guideline set by the secular body.

When this violation was brought to the attention of Dr. Carole Murphy, Director, Fellowship Division, Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa and Dr. Adel Sedra, Vice-President and Provost, University of Toronto, they investigated and stopped the funding thereby producing banishment from Toronto of this Eurocentric group. The credit for leading this attack rests with Dr. Jasbir Singh Mann of California. The readers are referred to a well written book, Planned Attack on Aad Sri Guru Granth Sahib Academics or Blasphemy, edited by B. S. Giani (1994) to see for themselves why we should not feel disgraced by what we did to stop this unethical non-sense that went on in Toronto with funds provided by Canada Council or Toronto Sikhs.

McLeod is upset that his other instant scholars such as Fenech and Oberoi were also mistreated. A brief summary and hypothesis of Dr. Fenech's thesis are given and the readers can make their own judgments. Fenech (1994) states that:

i. The purpose behind Sikh Martyrologies is to demonstrate the profound victory in what at first appears to be a defeat (So Baba Dip Singh was actually defeated.)!

ii. The motivation of Sikh martyrs came from the taunt or Mehna not from their faiths in Gurus.

iii. Guru Teg Bahadur's martydom was instigated by Brahmnic taunts.

iv. Guru Gobind Singh’s Zafarnarna is an example of a taunt.

This shameful and lopsided research done by an instant Sikh scholar of Maltese extraction was again published by Oxford University Press, Delhi and Hew feels very proud of imposing such half baked scholars on the Sikhs and feels upset that we do not give a warm welcome to their degrading research about our role models and Gurus. McLeod feels that those who rose against Dr. Oberoi earned a black mark against their name. The University of British Columbia made a wise decision by first not changing their minds about Sikhs Chairs under the influence of Government of India and then removing Oberoi for violating norms of SSHRC (Canada). If Minister of Education, Province of British Columbia had his say, Oberoi would have been fired. Anybody who wants to meet this Sikh scholar can see him on the streets of Vancouver, clean shaven, holding hands of his keshadhari children and claiming that at least he got a University of British Columbia professorship out of the stupidity of the Sikhs!

Dr. McLeod keeps on complaining that his work and research was very severely treated in print. Did he ever think why so many Sikh scholars such as Judge Gurdev Singh, S. Daljeet Singh, Jagjit Singh, Kharak Singh, Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Gurtej Singh, Dr. J. S. Mann, Gurbakhsh Singh, Tarlochan Singh, Ganda Singh, Fauja Singh, Harbans Singh, Justice Choor Singh, Balwant Singh Dhillon, Surinder Singh Kohli, Surinder Singh Sodhi, Gobind Singh Mansukhani, Madanjit Kaur, Saran Singh (Sikh Review), Noel King, Pamela Wylam (Manjit-Kaur), James R. Lewis, Surjit Singh, Bachiltar Singh Giani, Sangat Singh, Avtar Singh, Dr. H. S. Dilgeer, S. S. Kapoor (London), Tharan Singh, Arvindpal Singh Mandair, Pritpal Singh Bindra and finally Jathedar Manjit Singh of Sri Kesgarh Sahib had to publish material against him. Did he ever care to “discover” the hurt he has caused the Sikhs because of his “egostonic” (DSM IV) behaviour?

He claims that all the above scholars were bent on demonizing his group. While discovering Sikhs he forgot that Sikhs used to say in their ardas, adee so charree. Sikhs, he should have known by now, can extend a hand of friendship to even a missionary of Kharar, but to protect their nation and religion they can also take the person to the cleaners. The examples of S. Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh can be cited from the recent history.

Discovering the Sikhs, an autobiography of a Historian by Dr. Hew McLeod is a very troubling book written by a very troubled person. If Hew could have stayed in Kharar to look after the well being of seventy-eight Christian children and cared for Christian Boys School, he would be remembered in Punjab as Dr. Ryburn is still remembered. Incidentally, the Kharar School is in ruins and Marshal Press is also closed because various missionaries came to Kharar, used school’s resources and left for greener pastures.

As a psychologist, I would advise him to start reading the books mentioned at the beginning of this article; he should have read it at the time of doing his Ph. D. It will help him in becoming holistic and forgiving. Furthermore,

a. He may need to undergo psycho-spiritual therapy to get back to his pre-morbid condition.

b. He should gain ability to capitalize from past experiences.

c. Social responsibility could also come to him.

d. Perception of reality and social sensitivity after losing his ego chains is also suggested.

e. Decreasing dichotomy between his real self and acquired self

f. Develop Universal Cosmic Consciousness and stop seeing lines between “Snatanic Sikhs and Khalsa Sikhs.”

g. Undergo positive disintegration by the process of de-automatization through prayers of self-regard.

h. Become an instrument of Super-power attributive Will.

i. Kill egotism, a neurosis of the soul and I-am-ness.

j. Replace argument with experience, rational with metaphoric, abstract with concrete, symbolic with perceptual, differential with existential, analytical with Gestalt, linear with holistic and Buddhi with mannas.

k. Stop cultivating his linear garden of Sikh research, light a candle, and let the beautitude appear without efforts or documentation.

l. Seek Satorie, atonement with life at this phase of your life.

m. Train himself in mental silence.

n. Stop de-naturing nature by using language and labels.

o. Train himself into choiceless attention.

p. Develop wise passiveness and awareness without comparison.

q. Say his prayer of self-regard to become seer and the seen.

r. Use meditation to dwell upon something to produce a metaphoric universe.

s. Use transcendental operationalism to develop a mind which has no boundaries.

t. Know that without mysticism a historian is a monster.

u. Enjoy the fathomlessly strange, enigmatic “other kind of seeing.”

v. Get out of the automatized, caged, cultural and educational conditioning of New Zealand.

w. Through mind fasting lose his attachments.

x. Leave the control of five senses; pass through shadow, ego biosocial existential, transpersonal bands to enjoy eternity-infinity.

y. Get related to the Ground of Being.

z. Through de-automatization, come to his senses by losing his mind.

Final word

In summing up, I would like to provide Dr. McLeod a summary of Khalsacentrism as is experienced by the common Sikh person. Also, as Blacks have developed Afrocentric guidelines to do research on Blacks in North America, I feel the following guidelines of Khalsacentric research will come in handy if he does not want to produce more Eurocentric role-dancing, anti-Sikh researchers.

Khalsacentrism: A life affirming system

Sikhism, which evolved into Khalsacentric living, an assertive way of life, attempted to decrease the dichotomy between spiritual life and empirical life. It challenged the initial structure through ‘structural inversion’ and ‘negation of the negations’. In Khalsacentric living, Sikhs reject the unreality of life, withdrawal from life, indulgence in asceticism or sanyas, rejection of varnas, caste systems, ritualism and avtarhood. The Sikh Gurus developed a life affirming system and advised Sikhs to model life as a venture of love, honesty and assertive living.

Khalsacentrism believes in Universal Consciousness and deep mystical saintliness. The Sikh concept of God is One creator -- self-existent, without fear, without enmity, timeless, un-incarnated, gracious enlightener, benevolent, ocean of virtue and inexpressible. “And if you want to play the game of love with Him,” says the Guru, “come to me with your head on your palm.” (‘Head on palm’ in Punjabi means ‘toying with the death’ or ‘to be ready for a sacrifice’). Sikhs internalize these attributes daily by repeating them in prayers.

In Khalsacentric living, family life is a must. There is no room for recluses, ascetics, hermits. Rejection of celibacy in Sikhism has made the status of woman equal to the man. Guru Nanak pleads, “Why call a woman inferior when without woman, there would be none, and when it is she who gives birth to kings among men?”

Khalsacentrism believes in the importance of work and production. Work should not be divided through castes. A Sikh strives to break free from the convoluted cycle of caste versus non-caste. Sikhism recommends working and sharing incomes. Sikhism deprecates the amassing of wealth. According to the Sikh scripture, “Riches cannot be gathered without sin and do not keep company after death. God’s bounty belongs to all, but men grab it for themselves.” According to the Gurus, wealthy men have a responsibility of voluntarily sharing their assets.

Khalsacentrism fully accepts the concept of social responsibility. A tyrant, who dehumanizes and hinders in the honest and righteous discharge of a family life, has to be tackled. A Khalsa automatically takes up the role of the protector of people victimized by a tyrant, whether it is a helpless Brahmin from Kashmir or a powerless woman kidnapped by Ghazni for slave trade.

A Khalsa undergoes what modern psychologists call ‘positive disintegration’ or ‘cognitive dissonance’, because of his truthful living and reshaping his reality through internalization of the daily prayers. He evolves into a mystic by losing his ego. He starts seeing things clearly because his doors of perception are cleansed.

Guru Arjan, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh, his four children and many followers up to the present time, followed this path of social responsibility and attained martyrdom. This is Khalsacentrism in action, as modeled by the Gurus, who challenged the status quo and stayed defiant to the tyrants. Sikhism teaches politeness to friends and defiance to oppressors. Through social partnership and resistance against falsity, the Khalsa becomes ‘an instrument of God’s attributive will’ and wants to bring halemi raj or the Kingdom of God on Earth. By reciting and repeating Naam, the Khalsa stops seeing ‘lines’ in his reality. He becomes cosmocentric and the whole pain of the universe becomes his own. Egotism, the neurosis of the soul, dies through naam.

Remembering God in the company of sadh sangat (congregation) is his vehicle of evolution. It is not the end of evolution as seen in other Eastern religions. Naam is a method of cosmocentric reassuring and removing ‘I-am-ness’, the greatest malady of human beings. Naam awakens the Will of God in human beings through love, contentment, truth, humbleness, other-orientedness, self-control and discipline.

Naam removes anger, lust, greed, envy, attachment and pride. After going through the stages of Naam Simran (reciting and acknowledging the Divine and its attributes), one becomes a Khalsa. Khalsa defends the claims of conscience against oppression, and sides with the good. He becomes the vanguard of righteousness by defining himself in the image of the Guru. Khalsa belongs to the egalitarian society and joins the cosmocentric universal culture where only the pure will be allowed to rule. Through the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh took Sikhism to the ‘Phoenix Principle of Khalsacentric’—A Life Affirming System.

Khalsacentrism and Sikh research

It is a known fact that Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) gave freedom to the imperialists, colonizers and ‘fitters’ to create the culture of the fitters. Using their linear and colonized mind, Eurocentric historians tried to fit Sikhism into a ‘social science, no-nonsense paradigm’. They also operated on the assumption that the researcher is separate from the object of study and in fact seek to gain as much distance as possible from the object of study.

Dr. E. Trumpp came to India in 1869 to write a book about Sikhs for the benefit of the colonizers. Dr. Trumpp’s colonial mentality and occidental (Westerly) reality were later picked up consciously or subconsciously by numerous historians, rapidly trained in social science methodology with European traditions. They saw the Sikh Gurus as ‘political personalities’ and caused a great deal of hurt and stress to the Sikh community.

Many Eurocentric researchers are driven by greed or other individualistic motives. For instance, McLeod, who has written a lot about Sikhism since 1968, indicated through his articles in The Sikh Review, January and April 1994, that his own contradictions about Christianity and his repression affected his research of Sikhism. Dr. Mcleod has dedicated his book Sikhism to Harjot Oberoi, Pashaura Singh, Gurinder Mann, and Lou Fenech. These flag carriers for McLeod have disgraced the Khalsa Panth through misinterpretation and academic suppression of historical evidence that supports Sikh symbols as spiritual injunction and its promulgation by the tenth Guru.

Khalsacentric research on the other hand believes in the essence, wholism, introspection and retrospection. It rejects the hypothetical, statistical, interventionist model of research and the use of European social science methods. A Khalsacentric researcher does not approach the subject of study with a prestored paradigm in his or her psyche.

Through retrospection, a Khalsacentric researcher questions to ascertain if the interpretations of his findings are causing psychic or spiritual discomfort to the people who belong to the culture under study. A Khalsacentric researcher looks for the wholistic reality rather than a detached reality. He looks for the essence of the culture rooted in a particularistic view of reality. False propositions of one culture are not applied to study other cultures to produce a distorted and hurtful knowledge.

A Khalsacentric researcher seeks total immersion in the culture before rushing to study it. A researcher cannot stay separate from the object of the study. The distance distorts the view. A Khalsacentric researcher cleanses the doors of his perception through introspection of any pre-existing paradigms. A Khalsacentric researcher uses retrospection to see if the interpretation is not intentionally made convergent to provide a ‘good fit’ to the existing paradigm of knowledge. A Khalsacentric researcher does not use ‘freedom of expression’ as a crutch. His personality is very important and his knowledge of ethno-methodology of research is very crucial for the research outcome. It must be pointed out that a Khalsacentric scholar assumes the right and responsibility of describing Sikh realities from the subjective faith point of view of the Khalsa values and ideals. He centers himself and the Sikh community in his research activity.

A Khalsacentric researcher recognizes the pivotal role of history and uses ideological, humanistic and emancipatory anti-racist awareness to formulate his hypotheses. Colonial, Calvinistic, elitist and arrogantly elect behaviour is not accepted in Khalsacentrism. Part of a mandate of Khalsacentric research is to screen out oppressive assumptions. A Khalsacentric researcher stresses the importance of centering Sikh ideas, codes and symbols in Punjab as a place and the struggle that was put up to oppose the oppressive assumptions. A Khalsacentric researcher self-consciously obliterates the subject/object duality and enthrones Khalsa wholism in his research.

The perceptive, which a Khalsacentric researcher brings to the research exercise, depends upon his experiences, both within and outside the Sikh culture. When centering Khalsa values, the researcher must center his own ideals. It is, therefore, important that Khalsacentric scholars declare who they are and what has motivated them to study Sikhism.

Even though Sikhism has become a living, assertive way of life, a Khalsacentric researcher can extract the specific values described in the first part of this article and apply them to ‘discover himself.’ These values are easily traceable in the Sikh scripture and ethos.

A Khalsacentric researcher rejects subject-object separation, encourages collectivism rather than individualism, grounds himself in complimentarity, leaves false consciousness of Eurocentric thinking, looks at struggles as a way of transferring human consciousness, makes research centered in its base community (Punjab), and gets himself embedded in Punjab experience of last 500 years, familiarizing himself with language, philosophy and myths of the Sikhs through cultural immersion.

A Khalsacentric researcher must examine himself or herself in the process of examining the subject. The introspection and retrospection are two integral parts of Khalsacentric research. Introspection means that the researcher questions himself in regards to the subject under study. In retrospection, the researcher questions himself after the project is completed, to ascertain if any personal biases have entered or are hindering the fair interpretation of the results. He attempts to know how the community being studied will feel about the research findings.

The first question that a Khalsacentric researcher asks is, “Who am I?” In defining himself, he defines his place and the perspective he brings to the research exercise. The data collected must include the personal knowledge of the subjective faith of the researcher, his personality, functioning, experiences, motivation (repression, projection, spiritual, mystical) in order to provide some source of validation for the result of his inquiry.

The instrumental, non-believing Eurocentric researchers who take sadistic pleasure in trampling over the subjective faith of a minority community, have to be challenged and exposed. May God forgive them for the hurt they have caused. Perhaps they do not know what they are doing, because of the acute academic neurosis has made them linear, non-intuitive, convergent and myopically pathological.

Copyright©2003 S.S. Sodhi and J.S. Mann. About the authors


W.H. Mcleod, who dedicated over four decades of his life in researching Sikh history, died

  • McLeod, a New Zealander, has written extensively on the origin, evolution, and modernization of the Sikh tradition, has prepared critical editions of the Janam Sakhi and rahit literature, and has significantly contributed toward introducing the Sikh tradition to the Western world
  • He will always be remembered as one of the most outstanding scholars of Sikhism.
  • Professor McLeod is credited with writing a number of books on Sikhs and Sikhism besides Sikh diaspora.
  • The most interesting feature is his disclosure of how he got his Ph.D. degree and got himself declared as "being among the foremost scholars of Sikh studies in the world".This information seems to be crucial in understanding the genesis of his perspectives on Sikhism.
  • Since 1968, many Sikh scholars have attacked his works and oddly enough, McLeod in response used a five-pronged strategy to defend himself and deflect the criticism.