AMRITSAR SAHIB (KP) – The current management of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Badal installed caretaker of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Giani Harpreet Singh, have finally decided to take action against Thaminder Anand, the US resident who has been unilaterally printing sacred Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji from China in violation of Sri Akal Takht Sahib’s directives.
The Sikh News Network reported on Thaminder Anand’s scrupulous activities back in 2020 when it was discovered that he had been printing saroops in China and coordinating their distribution from the Khalsa Care Foundation – a Gurdwara in the Los Angeles area that is run by Ripudaman Malik’s brother Gurdeep Malik. Like Anand, Ripudaman Malik had also printed Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in Surrey, Canada without authorization.
The Anand-Malik Connection
In order to halt the ongoing negligence and disrespect of Gurbani by commercial publishers and printers, Sri Akal Takht Sahib Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh Ji on May 9th, 1998, issued a HukamNama banning the publishing of Saroops, Pothees, and Gutkays without the consent of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Currently, only the SGPC and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has the sole authority to print Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s Saroops.
|“It needs to be stressed that the SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib management have known since 2014 Thaminder Anand’s activities but declined to take act any against him.”|
Thaminder Anand has reportedly published and distributed Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from China around 2014-16 and has also distributed a soft copy (PDF) version of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji with certain text modifications without any involvement from the SGPC or Sri Akal Takht Sahib.
Textual Errors by Scribes and Publishers
It is known fact that there are thousands of differences and variations across not only the printed saroops of today, but also in the older hand-written saroops that date back to the later period of the Sikh missals and Sikh Raj. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of many historical Saroops are no longer known, especially after the 1984 Sri Darbar Sahib attack on Sri Darbar Sahib and the Sikh Reference Library. Those puratan saroops would have been invaluable for validating the accuracy of scribed or published Saroops.
Due to these limitations in verifying variances, many scholars and committees have spent extensive time researching and documenting errata, but there has not been any consensus to move forward and implement any changes in SGPC published saroops as of yet. Nevertheless, there is no excuse for Thaminder Anand to unilaterally attempt to make and publish modifications on his own.
On the other hand, there is a narrative being built in the social media that the research put forth by the 1977 and the 1996 committees that Thaminder references are “ਛੇੜ-ਛਾੜ” (alteration/manipulation) of Gurbani. The fact is that some of these alterations began as typographical errors centuries earlier by scribes who began to mass produce volumes and pothees of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sahib Ji for monetary gain and neglected to follow the strict discipline of scribing Gurbani accurately as those before them had done.
Commercial printing in the late 19th and 20th century introduced even more errors into the machine published Saroops that become as scribing by hand went out of style.
The late Sri Akal Takht Sahib Head Granthi Giani Kirpal Singh in the forward of the 1977 “ਪਾਠ ਭੇਦਾਂ ਦੀ ਸੂਚੀ” publications states how some of these typographical discrepancies began:
“ਪਹਿਲੇ ਲਿਖਾਰੀ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦੇ ਗੁਟਕੇ ਪੋਥੀਆਂ ਜਾਂ ਬੀੜਾਂ ਦੇ ਉਤਾਰੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਭਾਵ ਤੇ ਸਿੱਖੀ ਸ਼ਰਧਾ ਵਿੱਚ ਭਿੱਜ ਕੇ ਕੀਤਾ ਕਰਦੇ ਸਨ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰੇਮੀ ਸੰਗਤਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਇਵਜ਼ਾਨਾ ਲਏ ਸੇਵਾ ਭਾਵ ਨਾਲ ਮੁਫ਼ਤ ਹੀ ਭੇਟਾ ਕੀਤਾ ਕਰਦੇ ਸਨ, ਪਰ ਸਿੱਖ ਮਿਸਲਾਂ ਤੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਰਾਜ ਸਮੇਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਬੀੜਾਂ ਦੇ ਉਤਾਰਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਮੰਗ ਵਧ ਜਾਣ ਦੇ ਕਾਰਣ ਨਵੇਂ ਲਿਖਾਰੀਆਂ ਨੇ ਇਸ ਸੇਵਾ ਨੂੰ ਆਪਣੀ ਰੋਜ਼ੀ ਦਾ ਸਾਧਨ ਹੀ ਬਣਾ ਲਿਆ, ਜਿਸ ਕਰਕੇ ਉਤਾਰਿਆਂ ਨੂੰ ਛੇਤੀ ਸੰਪੂਰਨ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਰੁਚੀ ਤੇ ਲਿਖਾਰੀਆਂ ਅੰਦਰ ਸ਼ੁੱਧ ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ ਦੇ ਲਿਖਣ ਤੇ ਅਸ਼ੁਧੀਆਂ ਦੀ ਦੁਬਾਰਾ ਸੋਧ ਕਰਨ ਦੀ ਰੀਤ ਬਿਲਕੁਲ ਹੀ ਖ਼ਤਮ ਕਰ ਦਿੱਤੀ। ਇਹੋ ਕਾਰਨ ਸੀ ਕਿ ਪਾਠ ਭੇਦਾਂ ਦੀ ਗਿਣਤੀ ਵਧਦੀ ਗਈ।“
– ਗਿਆਨੀ ਕਿਰਪਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ (ਹੈਡ ਗ੍ਰੰਥੀ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ)
Similar concerns were voiced by the prominent Panthic Scholar Bhai Jodh Singh Ji in his 1932 book ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਨਿਰਣਯ :
“ਸਸਤਾ ਵੇਚਣ ਦੀ ਦੌੜ ਵਿੱਚ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਬੀੜ ਵਿਚ ਲਗ ਕੰਨੇ ਆਦਿ ਦੀਆਂ ਬਹੁਤ ਅਸ਼ੁੱਧੀਆਂ ਆ ਗਈਆਂ ਹਨ।
ਜੇ ਕਿਸੇ ਜ਼ੁਮੇਵਾਰ ਜਥੇ ਨੇ ਇਹ ਬੀੜਾਂ ਪ੍ਰਕਾਸ਼ਤ ਦਾ ਕੰਮ ਆਪਣੇ ਜ਼ੁਮੇ ਨਾ ਲਿਆ ਤਾਂ ਥੋੜ੍ਹੇ ਚਿਰ ਮਗਰੋਂ ਸ਼ੁਧ ਪਾਠ ਸਹੀ ਕਰਨਾ ਅਤਿ ਕਠਿਨ ਹੋ ਜਾਵੇਗਾ ।“ – ਪੰਥ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਸਿਧ ਵਿਦਵਾਨ ਭਾਈ ਜੋਧ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ
Misinformation by Anand and Detractors
Although Thaminder Anand claims that he has used the research of the late Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara as the basis for his revisions of the PDF file he has disseminated, in an old audio recording from several year ago he, himself, seems confused about the research work done for the book “ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਸੰਥਾ-ਸੈਂਚੀਆਂ ਅਤੇ ਪੁਰਾਤਨ ਹੱਥ ਲਿਖਿਤ ਪਾਵਨ ਬੀੜਾਂ ਦੇ ਪਰਸਪਰ – ਪਾਠ ਭੇਦਾਂ ਦੀ ਸੂਚੀ ” in 1977 and the 1996 Committee Report by the later scholars.
In the recording, available online, he seems to connect the later research of Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara Ji with the earlier research of Bhai Gian Singh ‘Nihang’. It is possible that he was completely unaware of the details of that research by those two distinct committees when this recording was made. It is clear that Thaminder is not a scholar himself, and also not qualified to speak on behalf of the scholars of those two committees, much less comment on Gurbani publishing issues.
In the social media, ignorant individuals are attacking the monumental work of the Sikh scholars that Thaminder Anand claims to have utilized in his modifications of the PDF. It needs to be stressed that these scholars never attempted to force their findings and opinions upon on the larger Panth and simply submitted their research to Sri Akal Takht Sahib and the SGPC, and believed that any revisions should only happen under Panthic consensus, but never unilaterally by any individual, group or faction.
A brief summary of the various committees and scholars is being listed below for the benefit of the readers:
Background: Submissions of the 1977 and the 1996 Committee and others
1) In 1977, a panel under the aegis of the SGPC submitted a report containing the detailed research done by respected SGPC Research Scholar Randhir Singh Ji (who authored Shabdarth Dasam Granth Sahib), Giani Kundan Singh, and the famous Akali Nihang Singh Scholar Baba Gian Singh ‘Satantar’.
Their work was published in an 850 page voluminous book by the SGPC titled “ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੀ ਸੰਥਾ-ਸੈਂਚੀਆਂ ਅਤੇ ਪੁਰਾਤਨ ਹੱਥ ਲਿਖਿਤ ਪਾਵਨ ਬੀੜਾਂ ਦੇ ਪਰਸਪਰ – ਪਾਠ ਭੇਦਾਂ ਦੀ ਸੂਚੀ”. It details the thousands of variations in Gurbani text that is published in Pothees as compared to hand-written copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The variations are meticulously notes and referenced.
2) The 1996 committee report, however, was an internal report by the following Panthic scholars:
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti,
Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara,
Giani Harbans Singh Patiala (Teekakar),
Bhai Vikram Singh,
Bhai Avtar Singh Bandhni Kalan (Grandson of Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji Bhindran),
Bhai Parkash Singh.
Their report was submitted the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Takht Sri Keshagarh Sahib, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, and to the president of the SGPC. This report also details the variances in the printed and saroops and pothees in the first 1106 Angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, including inconsistencies in pad–ched of words, and inconsistencies in how certain subscript symbols that occur below the Gurmukhi characters are not properly printed and many other areas of concern.
3) Other Popular Resources that documented Gurbani textual variances and location of manglacharan:
ਸ਼੍ਰੋਮਣੀ ਕਮੇਟੀ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਛਾਪੀ ਗਈ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੇ ਬੀੜ ਬਾਰੇ ਜ਼ਰੂਰੀ ਵਾਕਫ਼ੀਅਤ – (1959) SGPC Secretary Ravel Singh 1959.
ਆਦਿ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਜੀ ਦੀਆਂ ਪੁਰਾਤਨਿ ਬੀੜਾਂ ਤੇ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਬਾਰੇ ਜ਼ਰੂਰੀ ਵਾਕਫ਼ੀਅਤ – (1969) Panth Akali Budha Dal Nihang Singh Naurang Singh who was popularly known as Swami Harnam Das Udaaseen.
Despite the extensive decades of research and documentation provided by the above committees and scholars, SGPC continues to print Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji with countless typographical errors, and variances.
Accuracy of 2000+ Year Old Jewish Torah
Perhaps Sikh organizations can learn from the dedication of Jewish scribes (sofers) who write the Jewish Torah by hand. Once text has been scribed by hand and is 100% matching in content with the original source and containing absolutely no errors can it certified as Kosher according to the “halakhot” (laws) and given the title of Torah.
Incidentally, the text in the Torah has not changed for over 2000 years, once it was standardized.
In comparisons, in just four centuries, the contents of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji have been revised by negligence of the Sikh scribes, whether they were Nirmalas, Udaasees, or SevaPanthees and by our modern publishers. This is happening despite the fact that Sikhs are well aware of the sakhis of Baba Ram Rai Ji altering Gurbani, and of the Sikh reciting Dankhani Oangkar who was reprimanded by Guru Sahib for mispronouncing the word “ਕੈ” as ਕੇ in the tuk “ਕਰਤੇ ਕੀ ਮਿਤਿ ਕਰਤਾ ਜਾਣੈ ਕੈ ਜਾਣੈ ਗੁਰੁ ਸੂਰਾ ॥੩॥”.
If Guru Sahib reprimanded a Sikh for simply mispronouncing a single word – what type of reprimand is justified for the Sikh community that has allowed thousands of modifications into Guru Granth Sahib Ji, intentional or un-intentional?
It is clear that no single individual has the right to unilaterally revise and publish Gurbani Sarroops as Thaminder Anand has done, but the inaction and negligence by the SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib in preserving the accuracy and form of the original textual contents of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji can never be excused.
|Thaminder Anand is guilty of violating the 1998 HukamaNama, and has committed a great blunder by distributing the revised versions of the Saroop in PDF form without approaching the SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib, but the inactions and negligence of these institutions cannot be ignored or excused.|
Similar Revision by Others
In defense of Anand, some individuals have raised the issue that hundreds of revisions in Gurbani have also been noted in Pothees and Gutkays published by the Damdami Taksal of Mehta, and the Hazuri Taksal at Hazur Sahib Nanded compared to what the SGPC publishes, yet there is no outrage against those groups. Both of the above-mentioned organizations are seen politically close to the Badal controlled SGPC leadership.
SikhBookClub Text Revisions:
Screenshots of the SikhBookClub PDF containing revisions to Gurbani text are shown below (courtesy Facebook content of Dr. Anurag Singh/Satinder Singh) :
Hazuri Taksal Pothi Text Revisions:
For comparison, screenshots of the Hazuri Pothi published by the Hazuri Taksal in 2006 containing revisions to Gurbani text using bindis (ਬਿੰਦੀ) and uduks (ਅਧਕ) are shown below:
It has been noted that senchee/pothis of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji published by Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma faction of the DamdDami Taksal at Mehta also contain variations in the Gurbani text, possibly numbering into the hundreds as compared with the standardized edition published by the SGPC.
Online Content – Gurbani Variations Also Noted by SGPC
In 2020 the former president of the SGPC, Gobind Singh Longowal had noted issues in the text variations of Gurbani on the web and in phone apps and had promised to take action to force uniformity in the Gurbani published online – yet there is no system in place by the SGPC to review and validate the contents of Gurbani in these applications and approve them for public dissemination.
Tribune India article titled: “SGPC fumes over Gurbani distortion on Net“, says will act” states : “…there is no such restriction when it comes to creating a digital edition of the holy scripture. Consequently, a “distorted” version of Gurbani has been posted on various web portals and mobile applications, having several grammatical errors and misspelt verses which have changed their meaning.”
It needs to be stressed that the SGPC and Sri Akal Takht Sahib management have known since 2014 about Thaminder Anand’s activities, but have declined to take act against him. Similarly, no action was taken against Malik for printing of the Saroops in 2020.
Past News Reports Highlighting the Publishing of Saroops by Anand and Malik:
Intentional Inaction in Previous Beadbi Cases?
Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh Ji, who has been relentlessly prodding the SGPC and Giani Harpreet Singh for the cover-up of various controversies, and their intentional inaction and silence, has dubbed the upcoming May 3rd meeting of Sikh organizations that has been called by the Giani a political stunt orchestrated by Sukhbir Badal to superficially show that they are true to Panthic causes in order to win back the trust and support of Panthic organizations who have been deeply critical of their failures and blunders.
For the past few years, there have been several controversies the SGPC and Giani Harpreet Singh are entangled in, they include:
- Inaction against the Badal family for their role in the Bargari Sirsa-cult related beadbi cases and their responsibility in the death of two innocent Sikhs who were killed by the Punjab police firing upon innocent protestors.
- Inaction against the SGPC and Badals in regards to the whereabouts of missing 328 published Saroops that were published at the SGPC run Ramsar Sahib publishing house.
- Non-transparency and silence in regard to the hundreds of puratan handwritten volumes of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Saroops, pothees, and other historical records that went missing during the 1984 Army attack on Sri Darbar Sahib complex. The government records state all those rare scriptures were returned back to the SGPC, yet they are not locatable anymore in the Sikh Reference Library.
|“185 old handwritten saroops of Guru Granth Sahib were also handed over which have now gone missing from the library”
– Dr. Anurag Singh (Former Director of the Sikh Reference Library)
– Mystery over missing manuscripts from Golden Temple, books deepens
– Operation Bluestar: 37 years on, no clarity on articles missing from Sikh Reference Library (Hindustan Times)
Political Angle – Winning Back Trust of the Sikh Organizations
Lastly, there is quite a lot of resentment against the Badal family in Punjab as they are considered directly involved in the sacrilege (beadbi) cases that occurred during their nearly two-decade control over Punjab and the SGPC. The discontent against the Badal clans reached its peak earlier this year during the recent assembly polls in which the Akali Dal Badal was routed by Punjab voters in two consecutive elections to the point of irrelevance in state level politics.
Although the Badals have lost political power at the state level, they still have a tight grip over the SGPC and have sway with many deras across Punjab who benefitted from Badals’ reign for the last two decades. In return, it was reported that over 300 of these so-called sants openly asked Sikhs to stand behind the disgraced Badal family despite their misdeeds and vote them back into power.
Interestingly, many of the pro-Badal sants and their supporters are expected to attend the upcoming May 3rd meeting, as they have reportedly all been personally invited by the SGPC and Giani Harpreet Singh who needs their support to win back the trust of the larger community.
Khalsa Press will continue to provide information and articles highlighting these types of issues and share the critical research of Panthic scholars so the sangat at large is aware of the lapses in our institutions and not be easily manipulated by misguided narratives by those with dubious agendas.