LONDON, UK—Recently there has been an astonishing increase in media coverage of Niddar Singh, who claims to be the last “Sikh warrior” on the planet. The positive coverage of Niddar Singh however, has caused some very offensive and highly controversial comments. An article by the BBC stood out in particular because of the inaccurate and deliberately offensive comments made towards the Sikh lifestyle and what the Sikhs have been taught by the Sikh Gurus. In addition to BBC, many worldwide media outlets who have carried a story on Niddar, have fallen prey to Niddar’s biased propaganda. In this article, we aim to shed light on the blatant lies being spread by Niddar Singh and the western newspapers that have allied to raise doubts over Sikh history and beliefs.
Niddar Singh: A Skilled Warrior of Many Lies
Although many beliefs promoted by Niddar Singh require criticism, a few points that stick out are his views on alcoholism and marijuana. Niddar Singh promotes the use of drugs and misuses Gurbani to support his beliefs. He also regards Guru Granth Sahib and the other Sikh scriptures as mere books. Niddar also claims that the Nihangs maintain tenants of the Hindu faith. In his interview by the BBC, Niddar makes the following claims:
“Nihangs still maintain some tenets of the Hindu faith, they have three scriptures rather than one and these extra books contain influences from Hinduism. Many Nihangs also eat meat and drink alcohol which orthodox Sikhs disagree with. Traditionally they also drank bhang, an infusion of cannabis, to get closer to God.”
Deserting the Belief in One God and Promotion of Sanatan Rituals
The above statement by Niddar is contrary to Sikh beliefs—not only to those Sikhs labelled by Niddar as Orthodox, but also to the Sikh Gurus. The first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, at the young age of 9, refused to wear the Hindu sacred thread, the ‘Janeau.’ He openly condemned blind ritualism, idol worship and the caste system. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Dev Ji says:
ਦਇਆ ਕਪਾਹ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸੂਤੁ ਜਤੁ ਗੰਢੀ ਸਤੁ ਵਟੁ ॥ ਏਹੁ ਜਨੇਊ ਜੀਅ ਕਾ ਹਈ ਤ ਪਾਡੇ ਘਤੁ ॥
Make compassion the cotton, contentment the thread, modesty the knot and truth the twist. This is the sacred thread of the soul; if you have it, then go ahead and put it on me. (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ang 471)
It is clear that Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji condemns ritualism and the worship of anything other than Akaal Purakh Waheguru (One God), but Niddar Singh tries to justify “Hindu influence” from Sri Dasam Granth and Sri Sarbloh Granth. This, however, is not true at all simply due to the fact that Sri Guru Gobind Singh said this in the Sri Dasam Granth Sahib:
ਮੈ ਨ ਗਨੇਸ਼ਹਿ ਪ੍ਰਿਥਮ ਮਨਾਊਂ ॥ ਕਿਸ਼ਨ ਬਿਸ਼ਨ ਕਬਹੂੰ ਨਹ ਧਿਆਊਂ ॥ਕਾਨ ਸੁਨੇ ਪਹਿਚਾਨ ਨ ਤਿਨ ਸੋਂ ॥ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਗੀ ਮੋਰੀ ਪਗ ਇਨ ਸੋਂ ॥੪੩੪॥
I do not adore Ganesha in the beginning and also do not mediatate on Krishna and Vishnu; I have only heard about them with my ears and I do not recognize them; my consciousness is absorbed at the feet of the Supreme Kal (God). (Sri Dasam Granth Sahib 434)
Although the above verses from Gurbani are ample to established that Sikhs do not maintain Hindu philosophy, a look at historical non-Sikh accounts of Sikhs reaffirm the facts. Sir Max Arthur McAuliffe was employed by the British Government to study the Sikhs. The original individual sent by the British not only did a bad job, but took the advice of Brahmans of the time to write the “history” of the Sikhs. It was a highly inaccurate work that was a paradox to Sikh history and teachings. After Sir McAuliffe was officially employed, he became passionate about translating and finding the true history of the Sikhs, so he consulted Sikh historians and scholars of Sikh history and Gurbani. It is said later on in Sir McAuliffe’s life that he had eventually become a Sikh and recited Jap Ji Sahib on his deathbed. In one of his books Sir Max Arthur McAuliffe writes:
“Truly wonderful are the strength and vitality of Hinduism. It is like the boa constrictor of the Indian forests. When a petty enemy appears to worry it, it winds round its opponent, crushes it in its folds, and finally causes it to disappear in its capacious interior. In this way, many centuries ago, Hinduism on its own ground disposed of Budhism, which was largely a Hindu, reformation; in this way, in a prehistoric. period, it absorbed the religion of the Scythian invaders of Northern India; in this way it has converted uneducated Islam in India into a semi-paganism; and in this way it is disposing of the reformed and once hopeful religion of Baba Nanak.
Hinduism has embraced Sikhism in its folds; the still comparatively young religion is making a vigorous struggle for life, but its ultimate destruction is, it is apprehended, inevitable without State support. Notwithstanding the Sikh Gurus’ powerful denunciation of Brahmans, secular Sikhs now rarely do anything without their assistance. Brahmans help them to be born, help them to wed, help them to die, and help their souls after death to obtain a state of bliss. And Brahmans, with all the deftness of Roman Catholic missionaries in Protestant countries, have partially succeeded in persuading the Sikhs to restore to their niches the images of Devi, the Queen of Heaven, and of the saints and gods of the ancient faith.”
Endorsement of Drugs and Other Intoxicants
Niddar Singh claims that Nihangs regularly consume alcohol before battle and drink bhang (cannabis) to get closer to God. This, however, goes against the very basic principles of Sikhi that says such things are strictly forbidden in the Sikh way of life. In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Bhagat Kabeer Ji says:
ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥ ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥
Kabeer, those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine; no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. ||233|| (1377).
In Sri Dasam Granth Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh Ji makes it very clear what the negative consequences are of taking such intoxicants. During a narration of a wise man who has never been intoxicated, it is written that:
ਅਮਲ ਪਿਯਤ ਜੇ ਪੁਰਖ ਪਰੇ ਦਿਨ ਰੈਨਿ ਉਘਾਵਤ ॥ ਅਮਲ ਜੁ ਘਰੀ ਨ ਪਿਯਹਿ ਤਾਪ ਤਿਨ ਕਹ ਚੜਿ ਆਵਤ ॥ ਅਮਲ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਜੋ ਪੀਯੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਕਾਰਜ ਕੇ ਨਾਹੀ ॥ ਅਮਲ ਖਾਇ ਗੜ ਰਹੈ ਮ੍ਰਿਤਕ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਕੈ ਘਰ ਮਾਹੀ ॥੧੧॥
The ones who use intoxicants feel sleepy all the time. And when they don’t get their dose then they feel feverish. And that person is good for nothing. He lies in his home like a dead person. (Charitropakhyan, Dasam Granth Sahib)
Such are teachings enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth Sahib which make it evident that the UK based neo-Nihang is only promoting the use of intoxicants because of personal desires.
Extraordinary Nihang, Bizarre Claims
“Niddar claimed in one of his books that it was okay for Sikh women to trim hair and eyebrows.”
Niddar Singh claims to be the last shaster vidiya master alive and uses it to sell his demented ideology. Now if there were a clear dichotomy between his non-Sikh views and his martial art, Sikhs would not mind it at all. It is important to note that all Nihang Jathebandis (groups), many of which have been around since the times of the human Gurus, have openly condemned Niddar Singh’s claim to be the last master as well as his ideology. At Hazoor Sahib, known as a base for many Nihang groups, Niddar Singh was confronted by local Sikhs for the blatant lies he had written in one of his books. Niddar Singh wrote a written apology and took back everything. It is a different story that despite apologizing in person, Niddar has continued to sell his defamed and baseless claims.
Video of Niddar Singh apologizing to the Hazoor Sahib Singhs. Niddar claimed in one of his books that it was okay for Sikh women to trim hair and eyebrows.
The claim of being the last living Sikh warrior is nothing short of being bizarre as well. Niddar Singh had opened a “Hadh Tor” challenge a few years ago in which he claims to be unchallenged. A martial arts fight that took place at Sri Hazoor Sahib suggests something different. The proof was recorded on video:
In this video, Ustad Uptej Singh from England can be seen kicking Nihang Niddar Singh’s farri soti out of his hands and debunking him. Uptej Singh has been teaching martial arts in England for many years. After this fight, Uptej Singh received many threats from followers of Niddar Singh.
This article has only touched upon a few points of Niddar Singh’s propaganda campaign against Sikhi, it is in the interest of all Sikhs to become educated to what it means to be a Sikh, so we remain a separate and unique Koum! Khalsa is Niara!