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Sikhism a separate religion, admits RSS

The Hindu, Wednesday 17 January 2001

NEW DELHI, JAN. 16. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today officially recognised Sikhism as a "separate religion" and Sikhs as having a "separate identity" from Hindus.

The RSS view, placed before a meeting of the Minorities Commission here, represents a total retractment of the earlier stance that Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism were branches of Hinduism, a view put in print by old RSS "gurus" such as Golwalkar.

The decision to close this chapter comes after widespread resentment among the Sikhs and the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee, which had objected to attempts by RSS workers in Punjab to subsume Sikhism. Whatever the history of the birth of Sikhism, clearly, the Sikhs were not amused by the RSS trying to portray their religion as only a branch or an offshoot of Hinduism. In Punjab, RSS workers had tried to get all temples to keep the Guru Granth Sahib and wanted gurudwaras to reciprocate by allowing prayers to Hindu gods. They had also tried to enlist Sikh youth as swayamsevaks.

Mr. M. G. Vaidya, RSS spokesperson and member of the delegation that deposed before the Minorities Commission, later said: "The RSS has a firm belief in the plurality of religions, denying the distinctiveness of different religions goes against the very grain of the RSS, and we appreciate the diversity of religions." "If we deny the diversity we will cease to be Hindus." Next month an RSS delegation will meet the Commission to clarify its views on Christianity and conversions.