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‘Bir can be kept at home while maintaining code of conduct, can’t be removed forcibly’

On Monday, a team led by Satikar committee head Balbir Singh Muchhal removed a Bir of Guru Granth Sahib from the residence of 78-year-old retired principal of Khalsa College Jaswant Singh in Hoshiarpur. However, there are differing views on this in the Sikh community.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar | August 12, 2020 11:38:17 pm
According to the SGPC, for setting up a Bir at one’s home, a Sikh requires permission from a local SGPC member.

While the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Satikar Committee of Amritsar has objected to Sikhs keeping the Birs of Guru Granth Sahib at home, the practice is not uncommon, and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) even has a proper procedure in place for the same.

On Monday, a team led by Satikar committee head Balbir Singh Muchhal removed a Bir of Guru Granth Sahib from the residence of 78-year-old retired principal of Khalsa College Jaswant Singh in Hoshiarpur. However, there are differing views on this in the Sikh community.

According to the SGPC, for setting up a Bir at one’s home, a Sikh requires permission from a local SGPC member. The SGPC then sends its people to the house of the individual to check if there are proper arrangements in adherence to the code of conduct regarding installation of Guru Granth Sahib.

“People often make complaints to Satikar committees because they have some personal grudge against the person who has installed Guru Granth Sahib at home. The complainant knows that SGPC will act according to set procedure, but Satikar committee works in self-styled manner…When the complainant is sincere, he or she makes a complaint to the Akal Takht or SGPC. We have a set of procedures to give Bir or to deal with such complaints. It is true that it is not easy to maintain a code of conduct for installation of Guru Granth Sahib at homes,” said SGPC senior-vice president Rajinder Singh Mehta.

Harpal Singh Pannu, head of Guru Gobind Singh chair at Central University Bathinda, “The Dal Khalsa remained at war for years. They would stay in forests with no roof over their heads. They were like a family moving from one place to another. At those times, they made a kind of hut for the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. It was the era before Maharaja Ranjit Singh established kingdom and gurdwaras were established at local level. There has been not a single reference that can be used to stop Sikhs from installing Guru Granth Sahib at home. What Sarikar Committee are doing is hooliganism. Who has given them rights to decide wrong and right? There is no doubt that the respect of Guru Granth Sahib should be maintained — whether it is installed at gurdwara or home.”

Head of department of Guru Granth Sahib studies at Patiala University, Sarbjinder Singh, said, “Sikhs have always set high standards for the respect of Guru Granth Sahib. British government arranged for publication of Guru Granth Sahib in small size. Two Sikhs soldiers would be leading a company on war ground with a small Bir of Guru Granth Sahib during the first world war. There were two Sikhs so the second one can take care of Guru Granth Sahib in case the first one falls. So there should be no doubt that no Sikh will compromise maintaining the code of conduct regarding installation of Guru Granth Sahib. But there should not be any problem for installation at home in case if conduct is followed in spirit.”

Historian Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, former member Punjab University Senate, said, “Sikhism is not exclusive but inclusive. There is great importance of the concept of ‘Sangat’ where Sikhs come together to sit in company of Guru Granth Sahib. It can’t happen at home. So we can’t say that installation of Guru Granth Sahib at home has much relevance in the way of Sikhi. But still I do not endorse or approve any highhandedness shown by the Satikar committee while removing Birs from homes.”

Former Speaker in Punjab Assembly Bir Davinder Singh said he believes the installation of Guru Granth Sahib does not serve the purpose for which a Sikh installs Bir at home. “You can’t achieve that kind of concentration at home that you can achieve at a gurdwara. There are many aspects. But still Bir can’t be removed forcefully,” he added.

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