This is a rebuttal to a post published by ChardiKala  (a member of the now defunct website learnsikhi.com) on the popular discussion website, Reddit, in response to our paper titled: Manmukh, Kafir and the Infidel (we would recommend reading this beforehand to properly understand this rebuttal).
Although this individual correctly understood the article’s attempted purpose, which was to draw a parallel between, as he puts it, “the Gurmukh/ Manmukh divide in Sikhi being equivalent to the Believer/ Kafir divide in Islam”, at the same time, he also described our website as “disingenuous” and the editorial in question as “deliberately twisting Sikh writing” and “selectively picking Shabads”, before succinctly and correctly understanding the latter as follows:
Before addressing the above, we are going to pick a bone of contention with the author, and a large one at that, for creating the false impression that our “central thesis” was entirely our own, while himself failing to properly deal with the copious citations of scholars and academics our paper was established on, almost all of whom happened to be Sikh and who would, thus, qualify as disinterested sources.
Of course, it is far easier to defend the accusation that we are “deliberately twisting Sikh writing”, than it is to accuse us of deliberately twisting the conclusions made by the author’s Sikh brethren who, unlike this unknown individual, are known for their qualifications and credentials.
Sadly, this sloppy approach at a refutation, where sources are just dismissively ignored, only happens to fit a general trend followed by our opponents that stretches back to when our website first started over a decade ago. How many times have we had to deal with Sikhs who publish disingenuous rejoinders that seek to misrepresent our editorials in this underhanded way?
In this case, rather than directly citing and addressing the arguments and conclusions from the many academic sources we quote throughout our paper, ChardiKala claims that we “employ two primary methods to reading Sikh scripture and other canon writing”.
Be that as it may, the first method, he says, involves us “twisting Sikh writing to make it appear as if it [is] saying something different to the original intent”; and the first and only example he bothers to reproduce is the following quote from Bhai Gurdas:
What he conveniently failed to mention here is the context in which this appeared, as well as the fact that it is Prof. Jagtar Singh Grewal, a scholar and former vice chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, who quotes this as part of a broader argument he is making. By quoting this in isolation, not only does ChardiKala ignore the specific argument in which Grewal is citing this, but, more tellingly, other citations of Bhai Gurdas too.
Before coming to this argument, let us consider the author’s attempt in justifying his underlying charge, that we twisted and distorted the above citation to meet our objective. After citing what he believes is the context – essentially seeking to highlight the falsity of various forms of worship, religious-oriented pursuits, and the dangers of hypocrisy – he reasons that the above was merely an example of satirisation on the part of Bhai Gurdas!
Notice, however, that he does nothing to explain away the qualification for liberation penned down by Bhai Gurdas, which requires some association to the “Guru’s Shabad and sadh-sangat”. This point is crucial and will tie in with what we bring next when proving our overall thesis.
For the moment, even if, for arguments sake, we concede that he was satirising in some sense, there is no escaping the fact that those who partake in “praxis of continence, burnt offerings, feasts, penances and gifts… incantations and spells… worship of the fifty-two heroes, of the eight yoginis of cemeteries and of places of cremation leads to whopping dissimulation… pranayam exercises of the inhalation, suspension of breath, the exhalation, the niolr feat and straightening of kundalini the serpent power… sitting in the siddhasanas  seeking myriad miracles… belief in the philosopher’s stone, the jewel in the serpent’s head and the miracle of life immortalising elixir… worship of idols of gods and goddesses, in fasting, uttering and giving blessings and curses” (should we go on?), will not find liberation without the “Guru’s Shabad and sadh-sangat“, no matter how good they might think they are. Now, without this qualification, are these perceived “good persons” Gurmukh or Manmukh in this context?
And we will reproduce what we originally argued to prove that this is precisely the context in which Grewal was citing Bhai Gurdas:
The highway of the Gurmukh is superior to all the twelve panths of the Jogis put together.  No other path can be compared with the Gurmukh-marg.  Bhai Gurdas is explicit on the uniqueness of the Sikh faith: there is nothing like it in the Indian religious traditions.  The Gurmukh-panth transcends the twelve panths of the Jogis; the shabad which the Gurmukh sings is not there in the Veda or the semitic books.  (bold ours)
Looked at it in this comprehensive light, not only have we not taken the above and twisted it, but also shown that, in relation to our original contention that “the Gurmukh-Manmukh bipolarity not only originates with the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, but also acquired a narrower and more exclusivist definition with each successive Guru”, this evidence from Bhai Gurdas is actually evidence against ChardiKala, not for him!
Gurmukh-Manmukh in Bhai Gurdas’ Varan
Given that this chap’s attempt thus far is predicated on his apparent acceptance of Bhai Gurdas’ Varan (after the Adi Granth, this source document is perhaps the second most important one, at least from an exegetical perspective, for orthodox Sikhs – more so even than the controversial Dasam Granth), we are now going to present further evidence from said source to prove the following a fortiori argument:
Bhai Gurdas has the most to say of the relationship between Muslims and Hindus and the Gurmukh-Manmukh dichotomy in the very first Pauri, or section, of Var 33, appropriately titled ‘Gurmukh-Manmukh’, wherein he states: “Whether Muslim or the Hindu, the manmukh among the gurmukhs is the utter darkness,”  – alternatively translated by Surinder Singh Kohli: “Among the Hindus and Muslims, there are Gurmukhs as well as self-willed steeped in ignorance.” 
This raises the question of how one is to recognise a Manmukh among Muslims. An answer to this is revealed in subsequent Pauris, with the second one (titled ‘Hindu-Muslim’) noting the existence of four sects (majahab or mazhab) within Sunnism: “Hindus created four castes (Khatri, Brahmin, Vaish, Shudra) and Muslims four sects (Hanifis, Safis, Malikis, and Hambalis),”  before Pauri 4 concludes:
Var 38 also speaks of the superiority of the Gursikh in more emphatic terms, with Pauri 10, contemptuously titled ‘Gursikh is above a Hindu and a Muslim’, declaring:
Emphatically titled ‘Gursikh is above all religions and sects’, and making specific mention of the “six schools of philosophy and fourteen lineages (of the Sufis)”, Pauri 11 too repeats: “They all are not equal to one trichome of that Gursikh who has attuned himself with that great primeval Lord.”
Pauri 12, titled ‘Gursikh is above other indigenous and foreign religions’, continues in the same vein proclaiming that the “sects of Sunnis, S[h]ias and Rafazis”, as well as the “[f]ollowers of Jesus and Moses” who, being “confounded in their own pride… are not equal to even a trichome of those Gursikhs who have sold themselves at the hands of the Guru”. 
This sense of superiority is then extended to include Bhai Gurdas’ Guru as a condition for salvation, for in his very last Var 40 Pauri 8, which is titled ‘No liberation without Guru’, he reveals:
Pirs (Muslim saints), Prophets, Auliyas (godly persons), Gaus, Scholars and religious leaders… numerous Qazis, Mullahs, Maulvis…. None of them can get liberation without the True Guru…. – Bhai Gurdas
So, going back to the question of who these double-minded Muslims are that cannot match a single hair of a Gursikh, and require a Guru for liberation; then, Bhai Gurdas answers that they adhere to the fundamental pillars (arkaan) of Islam: Kalima, Salah, Siyam, and Hajj; recognise the four madhaahib: Hanafis, Malikis, Shaf’ees and Hanbalis; and necessarily include the learned elite.
Now, we don’t know about ChardiKala, but these people sound suspiciously like the vast majority of Muslims who have ever existed. And so, this brings us to our next question: how do these Muslims compare to the aforementioned Sikh heterodox sects according to Bhai Gurdas?
These dissident groups, their dastardly characteristics, and the consequences of their nefarious machinations are detailed extensively in Var 36, with the Mina sect explicitly mentioned by name in the very title of the first Pauri: ‘Mina munh kala’, or the ‘Dissembler blackened face’, where the popular pejorative idiomatic term “blackened face” can be understood as meaning: disgraced, shamed or discredited:
Shamsher Singh Puri, who published a translation with commentary to said Varan, recognises:
What is interesting to note is the use of the sandalwood tree analogy below:
This analogy is utilised on various occasions throughout the Varan including describing the “ungrateful” Manmukh in Var 37, Pauri 23.
Moving on to Pauris 2-6, then “the Mina (unfaithful) is punished being false and wicked”;  the Mina “cannot create a holy congregation [Mina sachchi sangat nahin bana sakda]”, i.e. the Sadh Sangat; and because of “evil actions, liberation can never be attained and ultimately one becomes wretched”. In the end, reminds Pauri 4, the “Mina ant nu jam pur jaega – Dissembler will ultimately go to the hell”, with Bhai Gurdas warning:
- O dissembler! If you have totally forgotten that Lord who has bestowed body and soul upon you, you will go straight to the abode of Yama.
- [S]imilarly the way of brazen-faced dissemblers [minia] leads towards hell [narak].
Respectively titled ‘Association with the dissembler is bad as well as painful’ and ‘Dissembler’s association disappoints’, Sikhs have, likewise, been cautioned in Pauris 5 and 7:
- Prostitute looks very beautiful but she ensnares the mind (and ultimately man stands finished). Similarly, dissembler’s [minia] company causes suffering for their friends.
- One who keeps association with dissemblers [Kohli translates: sangati minia, as “sect of the Minas”], ultimately goes (from this world) disappointed.
Further still, the “Mine are accurs[ed] by the Gurus”, or so says the title of Pauri 8, which counsels with strong analogies before advising an ignominious punishment for such miscreants:
The use of counterfeit coins of fake mint is another intriguing analogy, not least because this imagery is also used to castigate the Muslim kings and emperors in Var 26, Pauri 31, who, despite minting their own coin and being sworn in by “Qazis and Mullahs”, are deemed inferior to Sikhs, because, as both Puri and Jodh Singh render: “There is only one mint (Sadh Sangat/ holy congregation), one sermon (Nam) and the [true] throne (spiritual seat).” 
In fact, this singular perspective is actually brought into sharper focus when continuing our evaluation of Var 36 and Pauris 9 through to 16, wherein Bhai Gurdas provides a more comprehensive outlook of his exclusivist vision when speaking on liberation.
In Pauri 13, titled ‘All the means for liberation are useless’, Bhai Gurdas states that just as “a house  is useless without [a] door, one cannot attain liberation without Guru”, before emphatically declaring in Pauri 14: “No liberation is attained without Guru and bondages are shattered only after meeting the Guru.”
This theme continues in Pauri 15 where Bhai Gurdas, in affirming that “without Guru, no liberation is achieved and the Guru-oriented gurmukhs become immortal and make others so too”, implies that such individuals are ipso facto Manmukhs who “without the Guru”, repeats Pauri 16 (unequivocally titled: “Liberation [is] impossible without Guru”), “is not liberated and suffers transmigration”!
But, look how these “sluggish dissemblers”, as they are labelled in Pauri 9, “who without merit call themselves Guru”, are tactlessly described in Pauri 11:
Wearing five garments one may assume the garb of a male person. He may have beautiful beard and moustaches and a slim body. Wielder of a hundred weapons he may be counted among prominent knights. He may be an adept courtier and widely known throughout the country. But without masculinity, of what use is he to a woman? Who would bow before those who are without merit and get themselves called Guru? 
When speaking of the “miserable plight of the apostate” in Pauri 32 of Var 26, or as Puri translates the title ‘Rebellious of [the] Guru [Guru ton aki]’ – a reference to Guru Hargobind and the “many fake and hypocrite Gurus” he had to deal with some of whom “were from the house of the Guru” – then it should be obvious, self-evidently so in fact, that what Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) taught was far more removed from Sikhism than anything the leaders of the Udasis and Minas established from the Gurus’ households.
Titled ‘The Ego [Haumai] of the Guru’s Progeny’ (haumai being one of the five major vices in Sikhism), Bhai Gurdas delineates said family tree in Pauri 33 as follows (both Puri’s and Kohli’s translations are cited below for a more complete understanding):
Now, if the close members of the Gurus’ households have been described so scathingly, and since “[s]lander of anyone is bad but the slandering of the Guru is the greatest evil”,  then what of those who consider all ten Gurus to be disbelievers in the absolute sense of the word?
Hence, when it comes to properly understanding and more faithfully interpreting Bhai Gurdas’ exclusivist position on religion, salvation, liberation and damnation, the following from Puri (Var 36, Pauris 14-16) is far closer to what is true and real than ChardiKala’s attempt at watering things down:
During Guru-period, a large number of religious sects, godmen and self-proclaimed granter of salvation had misled gullible and humble seekers of the truth. Guru Sahib had condemned all those means and Bhai Gurdas Ji has taken same theme in this pauri. It has been repeatedly asserted that Guru alone can lead one to emancipation since he himself is a realized soul. …
Through these illustrations, Bhai Gurdas Ji has emphasized once again that a True Guru who himself has been liberated, alone can help and guide others to salvation. All other means suggested and propagated by unwise and stupid people cannot lead one to achieve ultimate aim.  (bold, underline ours)
Adi Granth on the Sikh Heterodox Sects – the Udasis & Minas
Now that we have a thorough understanding of Bhai Gurdas’ black and white stance in this regard, we can begin to explore ChardiKala’s second contention: “Selectively picking Shabads in a way which furthers their own narrative.”
He suggests that “the author selectively chooses Shabads from each Guru attempting to show that the message in the Shabads of Guru Nanak on this topic is different to the message in the Shabads of successive Gurus”, with our “implicit message” being that “Nanak considered ‘Gurmukh’ to be a broad term which applied to generally good people (including non-Sikhs) while ‘Manmukh’ simply referred to generally bad people (Sikhs and bad non-Sikhs)”.
He, thus, forwards a number of arguments in his defence, beginning with:
Whether Guru Nanak stressed any importance or not in “having a Guru” is entirely beside the point, because, as it so happens, this has absolutely no bearing on what he calls our “implicit message”, but which we call our primary argument, which could not have been more explicit! The whole idea behind the original editorial was to show that the Gurmukh-Manmukh dichotomy is a direct equivalence of the Muslim-Kafir juxtaposition. Our contention has been that the conditions for being a Gurmukh took on a narrower understanding and became, with each successive Guru subsequent to Nanak, progressively more restricted, such that by Ram Das’ tenure, a Sikh Guru would have been required to qualify as a Gurmukh.
And just in case ChardiKala somehow manages to overlook our rebuttal’s central argument, then let us repeat here too for his sake:
To further prove this point, and to demonstrate how flimsy ChardiKala’s accusation of us selectively quoting is, we are going to turn to Balwant Singh Dhillon’s book: Early Sikh Scriptural Tradition – Myth and Reality, and his appraisal of the very same sects that Bhai Gurdas was forced to contend with, except that he does so by turning to the SGGS.
In his assessment, Dhillon provides references to plenty of Shabads from the Adi Granth wherein these latter Gurus directly tackled, while concurrently providing their followers with a clear blueprint on how to deal with, the threat of the Udasis and the Minas.
The Udasis, Dhillon begins, was a “schism created by Sri Chand” after “Guru Nanak had decided in favour of Guru Angad”. In this respect, he cites the following verse:
While being told that “Guru Amar Das exhorted the Sikhs not to follow the Udasi way of life… [and] to be aware of the pseudo-guru and his ‘false’ writings”, Dhillon further quotes:
“Guru Ram Das’ compositions are replete,” Dhillon tells us, with the usage of “technical words, namely, Nindak, Bemukh, Kuiyãr, Manmukh, Dusha, etc., in relation to the activities of his rivals” who, he adds, were “not limited merely to a detractor or an evil person but stood for a person who is an enemy of the Guru”, with Sikhs being “advised not to associate with him”:
As evidenced below, these detractors had “exposed themselves to disrepute”, “lost their creditability”, were “spiritually bankrupt”, “hopeless fellows”, with “no purpose”:
In fact, these “slanderers (Nindak) and evil-doers” (SGGS 850) “ultimately would meet with ignominy” to the extent “that even for four generations the detractors would not be able to achieve unison with God“, with Dhillon having this page in mind:
We are then informed that at some point “Guru Ram Das had responded positively towards rapprochement with them” by promising anyone who “comes seeking the Guru’s protection”, after having slandered him, that the “True Guru” won’t just forgive his past sins and unite him with the Saints’ Congregation, but such a person “instantly  attains celestial peace”, provided “one  obeys and believes in the True Guru” (SGGS 854-5).
But, this “experience failed”, because these “detractors continued to conspire against the Guru”:
Dhillon contrasts these “detractors, [who] encouraged desertions from Guru’s side to their camp”, to the Guru’s loyalists:
In response to the “exploitation” of his followers, Dhillon tells us, “Guru Ram Das had to decree that except the Guru, the Sikhs should not take commands from anyone else” (bold ours), furnishing the verse below as proof:
Thus, “the Sikhs were advised to shun away from the company of such fellows”, since “Guru Ram Das remarked that the deserters and their associates were destined to ruin” as “wretches and hopeless fellows”:
What do we learn, therefore, from these shabads? Precisely this: the Udasis and the Minas were:
Consequently, these Udasis and Minas, according to SGGS:
And so what does Guru Ram Das counsel?
Even though they may have a great longing to associate with the Guru, the Creator does not allow it. They shall not find shelter in the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation; in the Sangat, the Guru has proclaimed this. – SGGS 307 re Udasis & Minas
With all this in mind, will ChardiKala come out and claim that all these Shabads have been cherry-picked by Dhillon? Will ChardiKala proclaim that the Udasis and the Minas were actually Gurmukhs in reality? Will he suggest that the Gurus weren’t really criticising the Udasis and Minas for failing to follow them?
And what will his answer be to the question of who, in his view, is worse in their doctrinal beliefs towards his Gurus: these heterodox Sikh sects or Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him)?
If it is true, according to SGGS, that “without the True Guru; all other songs are false. The speakers are false, and the listeners are false; those who speak and recite are false”, and anyone “who tries to compete with them is a fool (Murakh)”; then, unlike practically every Muslim, at least the Udasis and Minas did not reject the Gurus and their scriptures in toto.
In the end, ChardiKala appears confused about our central contention. This confusion is no better demonstrated than his strawman of Bhagats like Kabir, who long preceded the Gurus, but “talk about the importance of having a ‘Saadh Sangat’ and a ‘True Guru'” as evidence against the argument that a Manmukh is someone who chooses not to follow a Sikh Guru.
If ChardiKala recognises that our argument is, as he himself quotes us saying, “that ‘Gurmukh’ became a much more selective term after Guru Nanak while ‘Manmukh’ became broader and began to encompass many more people than during the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji”, then how do the Bhagats, most of whom preceded him, fit into this equation?
ChardiKala lamented that we are not “interested in having an honest discussion or presenting Sikhi’s real position and then commenting on it”. To the contrary, if this man’s failure in directly addressing the many arguments we cited from disinterested scholars and academics in our original paper proves anything, it proves his own lack of honesty in this exchange.
This time, however, we believe that he simply cannot hide behind this excuse again, particularly given the evidence we have presented in this rebuttal from these two sources:
- Direct quotes from Bhai Gurdas proving that the Udasis and Minas are not just archetypal Manmukhs, but also the ultimate yardstick by which others must be measured when determining their status as one.
- Direct quotes from SGGS in response to the threat of these heterodox sects as cited and understood, not by us (and ChardiKala would do well to underscore this point), but by a Sikh academic by the name of Balwant Singh Dhillon.
And we have utilised these two sources to prove our overarching contention:
Since there is little doubt on the part of the “key to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib”, Bhai Gurdas, that these sects were, indeed, Manmukh, it stands to reason a fortiori that there is more of a reason for non-Sikh religions to qualify as Manmukhs.
And this is precisely what we set out to prove originally, that the evidences before us “leave very little doubt that the Gurmukh-Manmukh categorisation is a direct equivalence of the Muslim-Kafir bipolarity”.
It is an undisputable fact that part of the Kalimah Shahaadatayn, or the duel declaration of faith, is to affirm that none has the right to be followed in truth except Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), which involves the inviolable condition that he is the “seal of the Prophets” and the last messenger of God, with direct revelation from God having entirely come to an end with his finality. Therefore, anyone’s claim of being a recipient of such revelation, let alone proclaiming an entirely new theology, faith and religion, must be rejected as false. It is for this reason that our Prophet (Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) warned, when revealing a number of signs indicating the imminent approach of the final Hour and the Day of Judgement, that “30 deceitful Dajjals (literally: lying Imposters) will appear, each one claiming to be a Messenger of Allah”. 
Of course, Guru Nanak and his successors claimed far more than just that, establishing a religion that has practically nothing to do with the theological, soteriological and eschatological beliefs and concepts of Islam.
 Variations of this have also been published on two Sikh forums here and here.
 J.S. Grewal (2011), History, Literature, and Identity: Four Centuries of Sikh Tradition, (Oxford University Press, India), p. 125.
 J. Singh (2013), Varan Bhai Gurdas – Text, Transliteration and Translation – Vol 2, (B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh, Bazar Mai Sewan, Amritsar), p. 395.
 G. Singh (2007), Bhai Gurdas: The Great Sikh Theologian – His Life and Work, (Publication Bureau Punjabi University, Patiala), p. 257.
 S.S. Puri (2009), Varan Bhai Gurdas Ji – Vol 2, (Singh Brothers, Amritsar), p. 1533.
 J. Singh, op. cit., p. 272.
 S.S. Puri, op. cit., p. 1783.
 J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 396-7.
 S.S. Puri, op. cit., p. 1863.
 G. Singh, op. cit., p. 276.
 J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 338-42.
 S.S. Puri, op. cit., p. 1269.
 J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 343-50.
 S.S. Puri, op. cit., pp. 1269-73.
 J. Singh, op. cit., pp. 139-40.
 S.S. Puri, op. cit., p. 1623.
 Ibid., pp. 1689-93.
 B.S. Dhillon (1999), Early Sikh Scriptural Tradition – Myth and Reality, (Singh Bros, Amritsar), pp. 49-52.
 Afflictions and the End of the World, Sunnah.com (accessed: 31 Dec 2019).