5. The Sword of Sikhism

Disclaimer: This is a journal for my class on Religious Violence. It is generally written as if it is addressing my teacher, Chuck, and is written in relation to the book Terror in the Mind of God by Mark Juergensmeyer.

This section was on Sikhism, which I found to be very interesting and really beneficial to the book. I, for one, didn’t really know that much about Sikhism; I knew that it was related in some way to India (it was developed there, I later discovered), but other than that I had absolutely no idea what it entailed. Therefore, I did a little bit (VERY minor) of research to find out what exactly Juergensmeyer was talking about–a step I would recommend to anyone who was fuzzy on any of the religions described in the case studies. It really helped me understand the chapter more.

To be frank, I’m having a hard time journaling on these case studies–it’s a lot harder, in my opinion, to have a lot to say on a case study–it’s all about the facts and not about the theory, so we get much less chance to argue, I think. At any rate, the chapter showcases several incidents of religious violence in the history of Sikhism (e.g. Simranjit Singh Mann and India’s assassins) and then it goes on to talk about Sikh justifications for violence. It is here that they talk about Kanwarjit Singh, a young man who at the age of twenty-one became commander-in-chief of the Khalistan Commando Force. First, let me explain what it is the the Force did (or reiterate, since I’m sure you know). The Khalistan Commando Force was opposition to the government that also eliminated “bad” elements from Sikhism–the book gives the example of similar groups that used their powers to traffic drugs and guns and the like; this Force, on the other hand, was very careful to try and keep Sikhism respectful–they would even eliminate members of their own group if they suspected him/her of abusing their power.


I mean, WOW.

This guy was twenty-one when he assumed leadership–twenty-three when he died of self-poisoning when he was captured by the police. I know I talked about this previously, but I just cannot get over how absolutely INTENSE some of these religious experiences are. He was only two years older than me. Two years. You can learn a lot in two years and a lot can happen, but I don’t think anything could happen to me that would prepare me for such a task mentally or in terms of sheer leadership capability (knock on wood).

Also, another interesting thing I found when I was doing my loosely-quoted “research” was criticism of the sword in Sikhism, which was interesting since that is what the chapter is entitled. I have no doubt it’s entitled such because it sounds dramatic, but Sikhs have really come under fire for having a symbol of religion that incorporates a sword. And it’s not atheists or Muslims or Hindus who are doing he criticism–it’s Christians. Christians!

Excuse me, allow me to repeat that: CHRISTians. As in those people who have an unhealthy attachment to torture devices (if you haven’t caught on, which I know you have, but it’s the principle, I’m talking about the cross). Christians may treat it like it’s a romantic symbol and give their daughters little gold crosses on gold chains, but that image was the fear of people back in the days around the shift of B.C. to A.D. (which is, for the record, totally cheap that it’s
called “Before Christ”–how does that make Jewish people feel? Or people who don’t give a flying hoot about Christ?).


~ by spim on October 23, 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: