For all intents and purposes, the Khalistani cult has split from Sikh religion. Khalistanis are not Sikhs. A friend who has for long observed the dynamics of the faith that emerged in undivided Punjab once told me, “Khalistanis are Abrahamics in Sikh attire”. I did not believe him. But what I have learnt over the course of time has proved him right. My interest in this subject began when I noticed the approach to the concept of God in the gurudwara I frequent. While playing Gurbani, a screen is used to project Punjabi verses and their corresponding English translations. I noticed that the Gurbani being played referred to various Hindu gods — Ram, Hari, Narasimha, Parabrahma, Shiva etc. But the English text always translated these names to “Lord”.
Here are some translations where Sanskrit names are replaced with Abrahamic “Lord” in English.
I later learned that this Gurudwara is controlled by the Khalistani crowd, the cult that has now reared its head again not only in India but also in their global refuges like Canada, the United Kingdom and now Australia, with the ongoing agitation by farmers from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh as their ruse.
Khalistanis today believe that they are the “people of the book” as described in the Quran. They, therefore, see themselves as a sister sect to Islam — of late, Muslims who have been identified by their anti-India activities are collaborating with Khalistanis as Pakistanis would do in the 1980s — rather than a part of the pan-sanatana (eternal) fold (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist) unlike other Sikhs see themselves as.
Sikh history and where Khalistanis split
Explaining the details of the formation of the Sikh religion and the tradition of gurus that followed it is not required. Until Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji commanded that Guru Granth Sahib will be the 11th Guru, that history is pretty much well known.
What’s not known is the role of a person named Max Arthur McAuliffe who began this corruption of the Sikh religion. McAuliffe became Sikh himself and began to write and lecture about the Sikh religion. He also began translating the Sikh scriptures.
Beginning of Abrahamisation
McAuliffe viewed Sikhism through his Christian experience and began to interpret Sikhism as a unary form of Hinduism. For example, McAuliffe in his translations converted the names of gods like Hari, Shiva, Ram, etc. in Guru Granth Sahib into a single Abrahamic word “Lord”. His work on Sikhism started the cycle of Abrahamisation of Sikh community.
By spinning the all-encompassing sanatana system of Sikhism, which was born out of Hinduism, into a unary Abrahamic system in his works, he set in motion the creation of a separate belief system in the eyes of the British empire. The British would later pass laws to officially separate Sikhism from Hinduism.
Akali movement and 1925 Sikh Gurudwaras Act
The Akali movement began in the early 1920s and was focussed on ousting Udasi Sikhs from Gurudwaras. Udasis were the originalists who interpreted Sikh teachings as sanatana non-unary/non-binary. The intention was to replace them with Khalistani-Akalis that believed in unary Abrahamism, with intention of taking Sikhism away from Hinduism.
The British regime of the period facilitated the passage of the 1925 Sikh Gurudwaras Act, which changed the control of Sikh gurudwaras from Udasis to Khalsa-Akalis. This act was a major driving force that fuelled the Khalistani separatist movement later in the 1980s.
Khalistani movement in 1980s
The 1980s saw a phenomenal rise in the militant Khalistani movement that aimed at creating a homeland for Khalistanis within India. Being driven by Abrahamic-Sikh belief that was set in motion by McAuliffe, Khalistani militants targeted Hindus in Punjab and Sikhs who did not share their vision of unary Abrahamism.
Operation Blue Star in 1984 led to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her bodyguards, which in-turn led to the anti-Sikh Riots engineered by the members of the Congress (Indira) [later rechristened as the Indian National Congress]. All these incidents further cemented the separation of Khalistanis into an Abrahamic faith.
Modern-day Khalistani movement
The Khalistani movement is still active in countries where large-scale migrations happened from Punjab. Canada, Australia and the UK are major centres of support for Khalistani separatism in India.
The belief that “Sikhism is a sister sect of Islam” has cemented among the youth of the Khalistani movement. Due to prevailing politics, the voice of the original sanatana Sikh movement is now subdued and political power to change this outright Abrahamic corruption of Sikh faith.
If one spoke to an average Khalistani, one would hear statements like “Guru Nanak Dev ji is mentioned in the Quran”, and that “We don’t revere Ram in Sikhism”. This although the name of Sri Rama appears several times in Guru Granth Sahib, along with ‘Hari’, ‘Govind’ and ‘Mahadev’.
Summary and conclusion
Khalistanis are fundamentally different from Sikhs. Khalistanis believe in Abrahamic God, while Sikhs believe in the sanatana order.
Khalistanis are what can be termed ‘Abrahamic-Sikhs’ or ‘McSikhs’ whose belief system can only persist if core Advaita-basis of Guru Granth Sahib can be completely ignored along with the teachings of 10 great gurus.
Instead, they rely on the teachings of Arthur McAuliffe who imposed middle eastern Abrahamism on them, essentially elevating McAuliffe to the stature of their gurus.
Khalistanis are indeed Abrahamics in Sikh attire and are desperate for assimilation into Islam and Christianity.