Kids Corner


Cheating God: Proxy Won't Work in Sikhi




What makes a good bargain and what doesn't?

I start with two of the finest minds among the Sikhs that I have met.

First I will tell you that they are superbly well honed intellects. Then I want you to know that they are Sikhs who seem to want to practice Sikhi - and are satisfied that they do so. The question is how well do the two attributes (virtues) here intermesh in real life?

Of these two Sikhs, one is a brilliant scientist with an absolutely first-rate track record of research and several lucrative patents under his belt. Recently, he and his wife were most anxious to visit Amritsar in Punjab for a few days.

Why? Because they had a contractual agreement with the management of the premier historical gurdwara there. On payment of a handsome fee, a reading of the entire Guru Granth would be completed in their names and for the benefit of their family by the functionaries there. So the two of them just had to be there at the time and day when the last four pages were to be read.

They were willing to a pay an exorbitant sum above and beyond the usual tariff so that the airline and hotels would accommodate them.

In many Sikh homes, a reading of the Guru Granth is always in progress. My wife and I, too, follow such practice and it takes us about a year to complete the 1430 page volume. Not so long ago, when we were still new to the community and it was time to complete the reading, we decided to make a public celebration of it by inviting the community.

That brings me to the second prominent Sikh that I wish to mention - an important mover and shaker; a superbly dedicated Sikh, highly visible as a spokesman for Sikh causes and a successful businessman blessed with the proverbial Midas touch. He approached us and wondered if he could join us in the function to complete his own reading of the Guru Granth at the same time along with us.

We welcomed the opportunity to share our delight but we were not aware that his reading of the Guru Granth was also near completion. When asked, his answer floored us. "At any given time," he said, "we have many readings simultaneously going on in India that we sponsor every year so we can complete one just about any time that we wish to. We have standing contractual agreements with many gurdwaras in India; we send them the fee; they credit the reading to us and pray for us. This is how we accumulate our record of good deeds in this life - the benefits accrue to us in our prosperity every day."

I was flabbergasted.

Isn't that what Martin Luther railed against? He saw it as the selling of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church. Isn't this what the Brahmins do every day? When the clergy insists that they are the only middlemen who can guarantee that our prayers and payments reach an otherwise unapproachable God, doesn't religion then become a closed shop - a commercial business?

We tend to forgive such outlandish behavior traits by pigeonholing them under creative and interesting rationalizations; to wit: 1) mysterious are the ways of God and these people will change when the grace of God and Guru leads them to do so - this smacks of the classical pattern of passive-aggressive behavior that appears to be a defining trait of Indian culture; 2) these are different manifestations of devotion (shrdha) that mandate our acceptance and respect, even though such practices clearly contravene the teaching in Guru Granth; any critical aspersions on it are inappropriate; or 3) a miscellaneous box labeled "Where is the harm?"

And then my mind went to the business that I have plied much of my life. I have taught at a university where students usually become physicians and dentists - professions in which they are guaranteed a place reasonably high up in the food chain.

It is the business of education, no matter where and in what, that I want to talk about. Think with me a moment. How do we educate our children to make a living?

We enroll them in schools - the best that we can afford. The children need to complete some assignments that have to be done in class and some that must be completed at home. Home work is not done in class; class work is not done at home. But the two complement each other.

If our child is not doing so well in a given subject, we are expected to meet the teacher and explore alternative strategies to help the child. We engage tutors; we spend more personal time with home work. We create study teams. Progress is important; success is critical.

Never ever does the thought come to our mind that the teacher could read the books and complete the lessons for the child and the benefit will somehow accrue to the child. No parent or student ever claims that the child has no time for home work or even class work but that graduation is critical -- so perhaps a teacher would do the work while the child stays out of class.

Such a suggestion would surely be absurd and summarily dismissed. Why? Because it is only by doing his or her own work that a child will ever learn to read or write or get the training to make a living. The child will likely not survive in this world without mastering some fundamental skills that schooling offers.

From matters of faith, I don't intend to learn how to make a living but I surely do wish to know how to make a life.

How then can I reason that if I am too busy to read the Guru Granth myself or translate its lessons, then someone else - a granthi, rabbi, minister or priest - could be paid to do all that scut work in my behalf and that would sort of grease my way into some kind of heaven with a modicum of "godly" approval.

I know that we tend to dismiss our failures along the spiritual path with the sanctimonious "It will come as and when the Spirit moves me or the Guru wills it."

I ask you: Can we forgive our lack of progress along regular schooling and the professional path with equally glib explanations? Can I say, academic success will come as and when the teacher wills it? And I need not work so hard on it now. These would be universally seen as what they are - not so attractive or clever cop-outs.

Let me see if I can explain it a bit more simply, tersely and directly.

Many years ago, there was a time when I worked a job at night to pay my way through graduate school. Many were the days when I was too worn out to learn much from a lecture or play catch up at home.

It never crossed my mind to say to my professors: I haven't the time to study and understand the assignments. But here I am paying my tuition. Can't the professors read and complete the assigned task on my behalf? Of course, I promise to come for the graduation.

Many of my students in medical and dental programs pay close to $50,000 per year in tuition alone. Would it be alright if one said: I am paying all that I have and can, and I am a dedicated student; I haven't the time (or the inclination and talent?) to do the home work and class work to master the requirements. I think it fair and reasonable that the teacher does the work in my name and the benefit comes to me. I'd be back to collect my diploma.

Or, can they offer a premium in fees and get this special dispensation? 

If making a doctor, lawyer or engineer takes training and schooling that has to be completed by the student and not by proxy or by a substitute, why would it be different for making a Sikh, Jew, Christian, or what have you?

If making a living takes dedicated attention and work, wouldn't similar logic apply to the process of making a life?

In leaving our efforts to "when God and Guru wills it", are we not forgetting that the best prayer is honest self-effort?

I would think a diploma by proxy is a bad bargain both for the individual and for society.

Guru Granth advises us that everyone receives the rewards of his own actions ("Kīṯā āpo āpṇā āpe hī lekẖā sandẖī▫ai" - GGS:473) and to do ourselves what we need to do ("Āpaṇ hathī āpṇā āpe hī kāj savārī▫ai", GGS:474).

Life is one business where outsourcing just doesn't work.

It would be an unholy bargain. 

December 6, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 06, 2010, 7:47 AM.

I know several such contractual practitioners of Sikhi. I tell them that whenever they felt hungry, I shall eat for them for free and their hunger shall be satiated. They have yet to take up my offer. Perhaps I should put a hefty price and combine a short 'ardaas' - then, I might separate the fools from their money.

2: Taran (London, United Kingdom), December 06, 2010, 7:56 AM.

I totally agree with the above. I was born in a Sikh family. But to be honest, what I call a Sikh family is not actually a Sikh family. In fact no one ever followed the religion in my family. And I can say that about many of my Sikh friends. It isn't very if we pay for the akhand path to the gurdwara or to the granthis to read the Guru Granth Sahib for family's prosperity. Sadly, many subscribe to this hindu-style ritual today. The brahminical practices have gradually crept back even though my ancestors and yours rejected Hinduism and adopted the Sikh religion. Before, a pundit used to do a puja or havan for you. How is it any different if you get a granthi to do paatth for you? To be honest, the only true guru ka singhs I see today are the Nihangs. He/she is a true sikh. They live in Sikhi. They don't just rest on the laurels that come with "Singh" and "Kaur" as their last names.

3: Darshan Kaur (United Kingdom), December 06, 2010, 8:12 AM.

The Christian bible says somewhere that "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Reading I.J. Singh ji's article, it suddenly makes sense. Worldly riches are good to have but they tend to come with a heavy price: they dull the spiritual faculties, and make it all the more difficult to pursue the more important things in life. As we see from the two examples given, intellect does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with wisdom. And it takes wisdom to understand that spiritual-proxy contractual arrangements are not worth the paper they not written on ... if I may borrow the famous phrase.

4: Lakhvir Singh Khalsa (Nairobi, Kenya), December 06, 2010, 9:40 AM.

The escapists are missing the whole point. This is what karam khand is all about - the Gurus refer to it over and over again in gurbani. Even those who merely recite the scriptures to collect points and think they can redeem them in exchange sometime later, fall in this very category. Gurbani and gursikhi will forever remain how the Gurus lived, practiced, taught (not preached) and then inspired us to follow the same. Everything about Sikhi and gurbani is logical as well as from the heart and soul, like the article rightly drives home the point. Just the other day, I was aghast to realise how Sikhs have allowed themselves to adopt 'bipran ki reet' and brahminical paths in what they now call 'punj sikhan nu roti karni'. I attended one such invite recently, having felt very uncomfortable in doing so, but at the end of it, I was at peace because what the 'punj pyare' who were invited to the home-langar proclaimed in the end that they have done their part and prayed for the family, but it now rests upon us to build on the faith with the Guru. I witnessed how the Guru himself spoke for the Khalsa - that even the Guru himself will not do your homework for you! That's Sikhi! Appey beej, appei hi khaa-o! we will never realise what true sikhi is until all these karamkands we do are mere steps to rise above them, not to set dera upon them.

5: Harinder Singh (San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A.), December 06, 2010, 9:47 AM.

Dr. I.J. Singh ji: I am equally amused at our attempts to bribe the Guru and Waheguru when we say if this or that happens (my son getting in medical school or my daughter finding a suitable match, etc.), I commit to a particular act (langar, donation, akhand paatth, etc). As a consumer, we want a guarantee; hence, the 'if-and-then' contract. Is this Love or a transaction? I guess this is how the world is operating now, we have legalized bribes globally where for a fee (consulting, discount), an insider will land you a contract. I suppose it is being extrapolated into an even less transparent and codified world of religion (not Religion).

6: Peejay Singh (Canada), December 06, 2010, 9:59 AM.

As always, a very beautifully written article by Dr. I.J. Singh. I totally agree with the statement: "Life is one business where outsourcing just doesn't work". I firmly believe that almost all religious institutions have become big "businesses". Our Sikh Gurus preached against all such rituals/ practices but, alas, we have failed miserably. Why do we fall into the trap of doing "akhand paatths"? All we are doing is creating jobs for many granthis - the new pujaris!

7: Irvinder Singh Babra (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), December 06, 2010, 11:20 AM.

The respect and reverence level that Sikhs have for their Guru Granth Sahib around the world is much higher than ever before. But just pause there: Other than "mathaa teko", bowing down devotionally before it, many of us have no time today to go through its 1430 wisdom-laden pages, understand the Guru's words and apply them to our daily lives.

8: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), December 06, 2010, 3:03 PM.

This is big business for the gurdwara parbhandaks ... and pure brahmanvad. In Hinduism, as the pundit charges for jaap of Rahu, Shani or Mangal, our parbandhaks now charge for paatth at Harmandar Sahib, or at any other gurdwara ... or at your own home. No one has time to listen. Now there are also instances of putting tilaks and swastiks on the Guru Granth Sahib at some places. Some do Sampat Paatth and even havan during the gurbani reading. People believe in struggling with God, not surrendering to Him. Only those who are blessed by the grace of the Almighty Waheguru will surrender, be engrossed in gurbani, live life accordingly and even end up in shahadat.

9: Bibek Singh (Jersey City, U.S.A.), December 06, 2010, 4:24 PM.

Very nice article. I was wondering whether the title of this article should read - "..Proxy Won't Work in any Religion". In olden times, only a few selected or elite people were allowed to learn those languages in which religious scriptures were written. For example - Sanskrit, also known as Dev Bhasha, was taught mainly to Brahmins, that too only to men. Rest of the society therefore used to depend on those men - Brahmins - for performing religious rituals. This corrupt practice is not applicable in Sikhism. A Sikh - man, woman or child - is permitted to read the Guru Granth Sahib. So can any non-Sikh. Therefore, the title appears to be very apt. Having said that, let us also glance through the current reality. To-day, Sikhs are either in India or in countries like US, UK, Canada & Australia. India is deteriorating into a literal Hindustan day by day. It means that Sikhs in India are focusing on the Hindi language. Diaspora Sikhs communicate mainly in English as it is evident from this website. In short, many Sikhs to-day are ignorant of the language required to read Guru Granth Sahib and hence have no choice but to 'outsource' this task. This needs to be corrected.

10: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 06, 2010, 4:26 PM.

Someone asked: "Why do people steal?" The answer: "Because there are buyers". So long as there are buyers for Akhand, Sampath, and other paatths, this buyer and seller market will go on. Therefore, it is imperative that we educate our "so-called educated" ignorant ones, before we turn to the masses.

11: Charan Singh (San Francisco, California, U.S.A.), December 06, 2010, 4:47 PM.

Bibek Singh ji: I don't know who the specific examples named by the author are, but I know a number of people in this area and all over, who not only fit the same description but are also very well-versed in Punjabi and Gurmukhi. They cannot rely on the excuse you have offered - they are just plain ignorant in spiritual matters. "Moorakh" is the term used by the Gurus for such characters who have it all, and yet have nothing!

12: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), December 06, 2010, 4:58 PM.

It is true that material wealth can and does become an impediment. But it not an insurmountable one. I know a number of VERY successful and VERY wealthy people who have not neglected their Sikhi and have not allowed maya to become a veil in their lives. Five persons come to my mind in an instant, who I consider having been substantial influences on every major aspect of my life. Each was successful to the point of being at the top of the heap in his/her respective worldly endeavours. At least four of those, I believe, would easily qualify as "sants" in the highest meaning of the word as used in gurbani. Thus, wealth - like all challenges in life - can be used to advantage, and be turned into a real asset, even in spiritual terms. After all, Sikhi is not a path of renunciation or self-created poverty, as some others are.

13: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), December 06, 2010, 5:13 PM.

Also, Bibek Singh ji: in response to the first point raised in your comment (# 9 above), I don't believe it is entirely correct. For example, salvation by proxy is the central pillar of Christianity, which teaches that "Jesus died for your sins!" - that is, to wash away the sins of all those who qualify, regardless of whether they lived before, during or after his time. Many other faiths also rely heavily on rituals - and rituals are nothing but a proxy for living a truly christian, jewish, islamic, hindu ... life! This is the very reason we as Sikhs need to be ever vigilant against any practice which has turned into a ritual. ANY practice!

14: Balbir Singh (Germany), December 06, 2010, 6:29 PM.

It is the rare one that receives Gur Parsaad. Others fritter their lives away in proxy.

15: Irvinder Singh Babra (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), December 06, 2010, 8:55 PM.

Despite the many failings of those who run them, we must remember that our gurdwaras, which are the most visible examples of Sikhi, are also the sanctuaries where the high and mighty and lowly and down-trodden get peace, calm, food and shelter.

16: Devinder Singh Chahal (Canada), December 07, 2010, 6:27 AM.

First of all these two, especially the scientist mentioned here, are certainly not representative of the finest minds in our community since they lacked the ability to use their minds in dealing with wrong 'religious' concepts and wrong practices, and were unable to evaluate the benefit of these practices. Guru Nanak says: "Pehlay vistu sanjan kay tan kiti vapaar." The following quote from Albert Einstein suits very well for this scientist and the business man quoted by Dr. I.J. Singh ji: "He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice." There are some Sikh scientists who are not using their minds when dealing with religion. And then, there are many who do, and do not fall into the traps.

17: Dr. Jagmeet Kaur Chawla (Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India), December 07, 2010, 7:42 AM.

Extremely well written and something which was bothering me ever since, as a 10-year-old, I witnessed mass readings of Akhand Paatth and wondered how would God know what was for whom and by whom? Equally disappointing and annoying is the long list of subscribers recited at the end of an ardaas in most gurdwaras, if not all. "So-and-so did well in exams" ... and for health, wealth, academic success, etc. This was another point I still keep thinking about: if we are told that we have a direct access to God and we can communicate anything without an intermediary, then what is the need for these rambling announcements?

18: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), December 07, 2010, 2:43 PM.

A lively and wonderful discussion ranging far and wide. Much appreciated. To Devinder Singh Chahal, I would say: I am not unfamiliar with your citations from gurbani and Albert Einstein and they are on the mark for what they intend. I would request that you keep in mind an important human trait, much used in speech and writing particularly in mine - that of irony. So, literal rendition of everything oral or written may indicate passion but is not necessarily helpful. Thank you.

19: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 07, 2010, 8:31 PM.

I.J Singh ji, your lancet-like prose, when done its refrain, draws blood painlessly.

20: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), December 07, 2010, 10:51 PM.

I do not see anything wrong with what the scientist or businessman were doing (sarcasm, of course). We live in a world of instant everything: instant food, instant coffee, instant milk, instant gratification, instant cure (take a pill), instant money (credit) - so why not instant prayer or even better, instant God and blessings! I once faced the wrath of someone who suggested we should do a million chaupais and say 'Waheguru' 50 times a day. This individual - a prominent member of the gurdwara and the local community, failed to realize that a million chaupais are useless as compared to one sincere rememberance of God emerging from deep within oneself. The recent trend of the AKJ members calling out (read, 'shouting out') to Waheguru in typical filmi bhajan style would turn off anyone including God. Hence my personal preference of Maskeenji or Prof. Darshan Singh ji's katha where I get to learn the true meaning of the Shabad Guru. Something to ponder about: don't you all think that most people in Punjab are running towards fake babas because of such karam kands being propagated in gurdwaras and Sikh institutions today?

21: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), December 08, 2010, 5:52 AM.

Cheating God? Impossible. No one can cheat Waheguru. Instead, I am cheating myself by hiring a proxy to do prayers and paatth for me, out of my own ignorance and foolishness. I can earn money for my family and friends but cannot buy Naam Daan or even a simple blessing for anybody. If I earn it by the grace of Waheguru, it will be beneficial to me only, not to any other. Nobody can share it and no one can grab or steal it from me. Why use the hollow power of money against the power of Waheguru. Guru Gobind Singh said: "Jin prem kiyo tinhi prabh paayo" and Guru Nanak said: "Jo tav prem khaylan kaa chaa-o/ sir dhar tullee gullee mayree aa-o." (If you desire to play this game of love with me, then come to me with head in hand - GGS:1412). Paid akhand paathh is in practice from the time of Guru Nanak, that of the Hindu Veds and Shastaras. He pointed out in Japji: "Asankh granth mukh vayd paatth" (Countless scriptures and ritual recitations of the Vedas), and rejected it all. Still, so many of us adopt the mindless practices of Hindus and Brahmins, who incessantly practice this type of fraud on God. Guru Arjan said: "Paatth parhi-o ar bayd beechaari-o ..." - They read scriptures, and contemplate the Vedas; they practice the inner cleansing techniques of Yoga, and control of the breath. But they cannot escape from the company of the five passions; they are increasingly bound to egotism. O Beloved, this is not the way to meet the Lord; I have performed these rituals so many times. I have collapsed, exhausted, at the door of my Lord Master; I pray that He may grant me a discerning intellect!"- [GGS:641]

22: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), December 08, 2010, 6:35 AM.

It is said that when Guru Gobind Singh had completed the compilation of the Adi Granth, he had five members of the congregation (Sadh Sangat) read it to him continuously. He stood and listened to the entire manuscript. People brought him water for his bath and for his meals where he stood. This was the first Akhand Paatth. The second Akhand Paatth was in Nanded after Guru Gobind Singh sent Banda Singh Bahadar to Punjab. The Akhand Paatthis (readers of the paatth) were Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, Baba Deep Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh (one of the Punj Pyareay), Bhai Santokh Singh, and Bhai Hari Singh (who used to write the daily diary of Guru Gobind Singh). Before giving the Guruship to the Adi Granth, the Guru held this Akhand Paatth and then proclaimed the Adi Granth as the perpetual Guru of the Sikhs.

23: Devinder Pal Singh (Delhi, India), December 08, 2010, 7:43 AM.

The practice of holding Akhand Paatths in gurdwaras and also at homes to rejoice or to seek solace in sorrow has been around for ages. There would have been many factors, lack of knowledge of gurmukhi, maryada and associated religious protocols, to explain resorting to others to do it for you. Nonetheless, those that have sought to have it conducted have had definite faith in it and reasons for doing it. Many a times science fails to explain faith and belief. I am sure none would deny that pilgrimage too falls in the same category, yet the majority of humanity's beliefs in conducting such journeys continue. You may recall a Dr. Rao narrating his first hand encounter with cancer and the subsequent relief when an akhand paatth was held by his family at the Durbar Sahib. He gave a first-hand account to Giani Maskeen ji, and was encouraged by Giani ji to narrate his experience. We, in our fast-lane life, seek instant solutions, but I do believe that over the centuries the faithful have been kept together with these services. If those amongst us do not have the ability to ardently conduct ourselves through the 1430 anks of Guru Granth Sahib, then let us accept that those that at least do it for us even as professionals are fulfilling our desire. Perhaps it is one amongst the several ways to invoke a little thought towards the Almighty. Also this has enabled the bond with the Guru to be maintained. Rather than drawing attention towards this, I request the learned to emphasize on the Sikh masses to represent that image that our Gurus want us to present. Religion is personal and its flame is kept going by individuals who will contribute their bit, the holding of Akhand Paatth is one such example. It in its own way exhorts the human and spiritual side of humanity to acknowledge and thank God for what ever we have.

24: Farid Singh (Indiana, U.S.A.), December 08, 2010, 8:05 AM.

Devinder Pal ji, I appreciate what you are saying, but I must say I have to disagree with you. The explanation you have offered is the very example of many of us sliding into a Hindu state of mind - exactly what Guru Nanak rejected unequivocally. Sikhi expects us to strive for excellence, not wallow in our weaknesses and distractions. It expects us to do what is necessary if we want to walk along the path of spirituality. You can't sit at the bottom of the hill and let Tenzing climb the mountain and then take the credit for his accomplishment! Sikhi expects us to use our best faculties and not resort to excuses for slipping into mediocrity - rituals and superstitions. The beauty of Sikhi lies in the striving ... the learning ... the journey ... the seeking. The goal is not important in this exercise, because it comes with Grace, as long as we do our bit sincerely and truthfully. But not by finding reasons to do nothing! Sorry, but you have merely offered the classic description of a decadent, dhendi kalaa Hindu world-view. Simply not acceptable if you walk the path of Sikhi, I'm afraid ... in my humble opinion!

25: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), December 08, 2010, 9:17 AM.

Kanwarjeet Singh ji, happy to know about your interest in katha-vyakhya by Maskeenji and Prof. Darshan Singh ji. I have a huge collection of both and if you need some, I will be happy to mail some audio CDs to you free. My email is To Devinder Pal Singh ji: I only partly agree with your point of view. Majority of people do not give proper attention to Sehaj or Akhand Paathh. After reading Guru Granth Sahib several times and still reading with vichaar and following it, I believe following the current trend and running here and there like chickens without heads has no meaning. Sending money from Toronto to Harmandar Sahib for akhand paathh and waiting several years for THEM to do it on your behalf one day, is meaningless. Guru Nanak has said: "Gyan khand main gyan parchand" - following one's religion without gyan is worthless. Reading or listening paatth personally with dhyan is always fruitful. Please check out pauris 16 and 17 of Japji Sahib and also the ashtpadi by Guru Arjan at GGS:641. With respect to Dr. Rao, I met him personally in 2006 at Surat Gurdwara (Gujarat, India); he started believing in gurbani much earlier and is a good listener. The whole family sat in Harmandar Sahib in front of the 'reader' where the akhand paatth was being held, for the entire 50 hours of the paatth with the utmost concentration and devotion. Later, after the bhog, while walking around on the parikarma, he encountered the miracle. He was already in the habit of doing the Sukhmani Sahin paatth regularly. Waheguru is merciful. Guru Arjan said "Patit paavan har birad sadaa-ay ik til nahee bhannai ghaalay" - 'It is the Lord's natural way to purify sinners; He does not overlook even an iota of service' - [GGS:784]. Thus, you will note that Dr. Rao was not doing it by proxy! Finally, I fully agree with Farid Singh ji.

26: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), December 08, 2010, 1:56 PM.

I agree with Bibek Singh and Mohan Singh that one can't cheat God. One only cheats oneself. The title referring to God in it is the prerogative of the editor. My original title was more benign and was about "Bargains: Good & Bad." nevertheless, the point is made and the discussion is as it should be - lively and broad-based, involving the community. Sangat Singh ji, being painless with my stiletto of words was never my goal - it never is. If some issue is discussed and it does not elicit some passionate disagreement or debate (a little unease, even pain?) then perhaps the point is wasted. So a little discomfort is welcome. It is necessary to development and progress. Thank you.

27: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 08, 2010, 9:20 PM.

That innocuous remark, "praise for prose" was not just meant as a witty insolence. I enjoy a good argument and relish verbal contact provided it's done with civility. It is an ability to be able to say 'Go to Hell!' with such mastery of barb that one may look forward to the trip. I remember when Stevenson was a candidate for the U.S. presidential election and had asked J.K. Galbraith: "Ken, I want you to write the speeches against Nixon. You have no tendency to be fair. Let us keep our good humoured growl."

28: Harbans Lal (Arlington, Texas, U.S.A), December 14, 2010, 5:16 PM.

It is gratifying to observe wide-spread interest in the subject that Dr. I.J. Singh has written about. My question: If there is so much understanding and revolt about the akhand paatth ritual that I.J. questions, then why is the same ritual becoming increasingly popular and wide-spread with time? I rarely meet anyone who may come out to discourage the community or friends from refraining to continue something which does not make sense. Only the other day someone almost hit me when I suggested that it was of no avail to me to come to listen to the Akhand Paatth when it was being done in an inaudible tone and with very fast speed. My hunch is that most of the community is afraid of annoying the granthi or other parchaaraks who promote the custom actively in order to make a living.

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