Letters: Dr. Ambedkar and Sikh Leadership of 1930s

Dr. Ambedkar went to Amritsar in 1936 with his proposal to convert 60 million Dalit to Sikhism, his first choice religion. The Sikh leadership, including Master Tara Singh, a high caste, had been advised by Gandhi and the Brahmin leaders to reject the proposed conversion as that would shift the monopoly of power from the higher caste Sikhs to the new Dalit Sikhs. Gandhi and the Brahmins also did not want the message of caste less society advocated by Sikhism to spread to the rest of India – the land of caste, to which Gandhi and Brahminical forces subscribed.

If the Sikhs had accepted the proposal at that time, today Sikhs would have numbered 250 to 300 million, and would have had a lot of clout in all power structures, and what had happened to them in 1984 would probably never would have happened. Furthermore, if they had accepted the conversion, their demand for autonomy would have had a more realistic chance of being met. More still, the Sikh slogan “Raj Karega Khalsa” would have become real by capturing political power in the new democratic India.

Apparently, the Sikh leadership was not interested in expansion of Sikhism to India as they were blinded by their selfish interest, and not the interest of Sikhism. They feared, that they would lose all control and power to the new Dalit Sikhs. If only the Sikhs leaders had followed the true agenda of Guru Gobind Singh Ji of a new caste less society in India; the Guru had hoped that his Khalsa contagion would spread rapidly throughout India especially among victims of the caste system (the lower castes i.e. the shudra varna who form nearly 80% of India’s population).

This was a great loss to Sikhism. The Sikhs had one chance to expand their religion out of Punjab to the rest of India, and they have lost that chance. Sikhism has become a stunted religion as a result without any missionary zeal, restricted to Punjab and largely a hereditary religion with no new conversions at national or international level. This was a great achievement for the Brahminical forces as they did not want Sikhism to spread to rest of India and threaten the hegemony of Brahmins and the Brahminical system in India. The Guru’s in their infinite wisdom wanted Sikhism to be a India wide religion but the Sikh leaders at the time lacked that wisdom and had put their own agenda, above the agenda and the vision of the Guru’s.

All those who have known or know Sardar Harbhajan Singh Khalsa, ex -M.P, will agree that he was a true Sikh and a true Sikh missionary, who loved the massage of  the Guru’s and Guru Granth Sahib Ji. His ultimate desire was to join the Khalsa, a caste less order. He  also desired that the Dalits, who suffer so much injustice under Hinduism and its caste system, should seek refuge in Sikhism, which will give them protection against suffering and oppression.

Vaheguru ji ka Khalsa Vaheguru ji ki fateh.

H Singh, UK

(Edited for readability)


  1. Sikhs have been losing opportunities of expansion sue to self interests of one leader or the other as is seen in the case of Ambedkar left out from joining Sikhism. I have also known the events when a Dalit leader from Punjab who revived Ambedkar movement in entire India and got his Dalit party to win over elections in UP and rule for years, himself a Sikh showed his eagerness to get all Dalits into Sikhism, but was shunned by the powerful lobby of upper class Sikhs. As a result he too became a staunch Buddhist along with his followers. Now we have millions of Sikligars, banjaras, Satnamis, lamas (karmapas), etc., who maintain their faith in Sikhism but are not being accepted in the main stream. Even Sindhis, Nirankaris, Namdharis Radhaswamis and many other such break away groups have firm faith in Sikhism but are kept away due to one reason or other. There is a strong need to have dedicated spiritual leaders who attract all the break away groups into mainstream and expand beyond Sikhism horizons based on the fundamental ideologies of Sikhism which is universal in nature.
    Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal

  2. Good you the editors are reading my points, thanks for the articles. Corrupt Jatt leadership has ruined Sikhi.

  3. Dr Ambedkar converted to Buddhism before his death. Did all of his followers convert to Buddhism? The answer is NO, an estimated 500,000 did(not even 1% of 60 Million).

    If he wanted to embrace Sikhism no one could have stopped him. Can anyone stop the other from converting to another religion? Please use some common sense people.
    Had Dr Ambedkar converted and had Dalits started dominating their new found religion, Master Ji would have been criticized, but, the truth is that Dr Ambedkar did not convert, and Master Ji is still being criticized.
    All these are what ifs, and we need to focus on ‘what is’. Don’t blame Master Ji because Dr Ambedkar did not convert.

    Also, please stop maligning Master Ji. He gave every breath of his life to the Panth, that is why he is PANTH RATTAN MASTER TARA SINGH JI. Ask any respected Jathedar and they will tell you how great his contribution is!

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