“Sikh Scholars Refute McLeod’s Misrepresentation of Sikh Religion” in 1988
But McLeod and his controversial followers continue to spread lies.
A galaxy of Sikh luminaries, scholars and historians from Punjab, England, and the United States, participating in a conference on Sikh Studies, have criticized, condemned and refuted Dr. Hew McLeod’s baseless, irrational, biased, prejudiced, distorted versions, aspersions and misrepresentations of the Sikh religion, history and culture.
The Conference was sponsored by the Sikh Community of North America and was held at the Cal State University campus, Long Beach on December 10 to clarify misinterpretations of Sikh religion by some Western authors. Over 200 people evinced keen interest in its deliberations all the day from 8:30 am to 9 pm.
McLeod, a New Zealander, had worked as a lecturer in a Christian college in Bata in Punjab many years back. There he came under the influence of some misinformed persons to distort the Sikh history. McLeod, 63, now lives in the U.S. near Chicago. He was invited to participate in the conference but he did not respond.
In his welcome and introductory remarks, Dr. Hakam Singh, a well=known research scientist-cum Sikh scholar of So. California, said that since Sikhism was the youngest major religion in the world, it was expected its history would be free from myths and misconceptions but, unfortunately, it was not the case. He expressed hope that facts would be carefully sifted and separated from myths and misconceptions.
Sardar Daljit Singh, belonging to the Indian Administrative Service, who retired as Secretary of Education in Punjab, spelt out salient features and comparative study of Sikhism.
Speaking on the authenticity of the Kartarpuri Bir, he said we all know the original Bir of Adi Granth prepared by Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru, is at Kartarpur. But McLeod threw doubt on its originality and wrote that the Banno Bir was original and Kartarpuri Bir a shortened copy. He said McLeod had made these baseless assertions without examining neither the Kartarpuri Bir nor the Banno Bir, nor studying the related literature.
Dr. James R. Lewis, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Appalachain State Univeristy, Boone, North Carolina, who was also chaired a session, speaking on misrepresentations of Sikhism in world religion text books, said the Sikh tradition was usually dealt with so superficially that errors of fact often appear in such works. Beyond carless errors that he said, were the result of shallow scholarship, the majority of these treatments misrepresented the Sikh religion.
Speaking on the Guruship and succession of Guru Granth Sahib, Dr. Madanjit Kaur, Head Dept. of Guru Nanak Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, said that McLeod’s views posed a serious threat to the historical authenticity of the events related to the religious history of the Sikhs and by rejecting the tradition of the vesting of the authority of guruship in the holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib.
She said McLeod was neither familiar with the social process of the evaluation of Sikhism nor he cared for the nature of Sikh ethos.
Speaking on the founding of the Khalsa and the prescribing of the Sikh symbols, she forcefully refuted the false contention and aspirations of McLeod.
Speaking on the ‘value and importance of Janamsakhis’ Dr. S.S. Kohli, former Dean of Punjab University, Chandigarh said that the critics of Janamsakhis like McLeod faltered because of their lack of knowledge and also due to their pre-determined notions.
The criteria applied by McLeod to the episodes of Janamsakhis, he said, has been so designed as to reject the accounts on one pretext or the other.
Dr. Noel King, Professor of History and Comparative Religions, University of California, Santa Cruz, who chaired the first session, said he was collecting facts and opinions about world-wide Sikhism for making the historical and religious material available to posterity and to scholars.
He said McLeod, who has an unpronounceable name, has lost his faith.
Dr. King admired the valor, sincerity, intelligence and resourcefulness of the Sikhs.
Speaking on ‘Sikh Rahat Maryada and Sikh Symbols’, Dr. Gobind Singh Mansukhani the well known author of many books on Sikhism from London, said the practice observance of the disciplined way of life is essential.
He also criticized McLeod and refuted his obnoxious writings about the Sikh way of life and the Sikh symbols.