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The Art of Being a Humble Egotist: Gurmat Sidhant and Other Strange Stories--DAVID LANE REPLIES TO part four of TESSLER's study

Author: David Christopher Lane
Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER
Publication date: April 1998

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.

TESSLER writes:


     On the subject of Gurmat Sidhant  Lane writes the following regarding
Kirpal Singh:
     "He was apparently involved in the publication of Sawan Singh's magnum
opus, Gurmat Sidhant.  Originally published in a much smaller version in
1919, Gurmat Sidhant  was enormously expanded in the mid-1930's.  It
presently consists of two volumes totaling approximately 2000 pages.
     "There is some controversy concerning Kirpal's contribution to the
work.  Kirpal Singh claims outright that he was the author of the book, but
out of humility asked Sawan Singh to put his name on the text, since he was
the guiding hand and inspiration behind it....Yet, historically it appears
that Kirpal Singh was not the sole author of Gurmat Sidhant, because even
his own son, Darshan Singh, claims that he collected the majority of
quotations from Persian used in the book....This is significant because
Gurmat Sidhant  is replete with citations....Approximately one half of the
Gurmat Sidhant  is quotations from other mystics, particularly those from
the Sant tradition.  There may well have been a series of satsangis,
including Lekh Raj Puri and Jagat Singh among others, who helped compile
the unabridged edition.  Moreover, the Beas Satsang disputes Kirpal Singh's
claim for sole authorship by pointing to the earlier 1919 edition as
documented evidence that Sawan Singh was the real author, since Kirpal
Singh did not meet his guru until 1924."32 [The Radhasoami Tradition.
Ibid.  pp. 146-147.]
     Beas references to an earlier document as an attempt to undermine
Kirpal Singh's claim to authorship is an instance of malicious illogic.
There is no comparison between a pamphlet or small book said to have been
written in 1919 (has anyone ever seen it? Does it in fact exist?) and the
enormous Gurmat Sidhant.  If it does exist, it could hardly have served as
more than an outline of the later text.  In fact, the first and only
English reference to an earlier work, other than Lane, is the preface to
Volume Two of the Beas English translation of Gurmat Sidhant  titled
Philosophy of the Masters, first published in the mid-sixties:
      "The Philosophy of the Masters  is an English translation of the
Gurmat Sidhant which was first written and printed by Huzur Maharaj Baba
Sawan Singh Ji in about 1918.  It was later revised and enlarged by him
personally and published again in about 1940 in two volumes."33 [Philosophy
of the Masters (Gurmat Sidhant).  Series Two, Huzur Maharaj Baba Sawan
Singh Ji,  Radha Soami Satsang,  Beas, 1964, Delhi, India,  Page ix.  This
comment by C.A. Patwardhan appears in the second English edition, published
many years after Hazur Baba Sawan Singh's passing.]

--------------------------------------------------

DAVID LANE REPLIES:

i have always found this dispute over the authorship of Gurmat
Siddhant to be particularly weird.

Why? First, if Kirpal Singh did write "it" but wanted out of
"humility" to give over his authorship to his guru Sawan Singh, then
why does he give a flying fudge whether or not he is considered the
author?

This "humility" act is fake on the surface of it. Moreover, if
Kirpal Singh did write the book and Sawan Singh put HIS name as
author, then we got two guys who need some training in ethics.

Sawan Singh should be severely ripped for putting his name on it if
didn't write. Second, Kirpal Singh shouldn't give over his
authorship
(in an act of humility?) and then try to have it BOTH ways (Yep,
I was merely a channel for the Great Master, but geez you better 
remember that I REALLY wrote the book).

Now all of this is a dispute over "why" Kirpal Singh, IF he was the
real author (but out of humility gave over authorship to Sawan
Singh) would desire that others "know" he really wrote it.....

What convoluted humility logic is operative here?

Ego, bro, and more ego.

Ego on the part of Kirpal Singh for transferring authorship but
trying to have others know or believe that he is the "real" author
(making Sawan Singh look like a downright plagiarist or worse a
downright liar in the meantime.

And ego on the part of Sawan Singh (if Kirpal's story is true) for
letting his name, and not Kirpal's, adorn the book.

Either way: quite human, quite egotistical, and quite pathetically
ordinary.....

Now the reverse problem for Kirpal Singh is that if he wants to
claim credit for this book, he has to own up to two very significant
facts:

1. There is an earlier version of the book, albeit short, which
carries the same name (and published years before Kirpal arrives on
the scene).

2. A large number of quotes were researched and gathered by his son,
Darshan Singh (or so Darshan claims.... oh the joys of trying to get
in on the piece of the pie..... where's Sawan's input? oh he is the
front guy who lamely puts his name on the book so he could take
credit for the hard work of his "other" disciples). Kirpal better 
start giving credit where credit is due.... Or is he following the
Sawan model of taking credit for that which one DOES NOT do?

------------------------------------------------------

TESSLER writes:

     To state that it was revised and enlarged by Baba Sawan Singh
personally is a blatant fiction that even Lane acknowledges when he says,
"..there may well have been a series of satsangis, including Lekh Raj Puri
and Jagat Singh among others, who helped compile the unabridged edition."
However, this too has no documentary or testimonial support whatsoever
other than Lane's speculation.
     Kirpal Singh never mentions any other co-authors, but does state that
the entire work was personally approved  by Hazur.  Kirpal Singh states,
"He gave explicit directions on writing the Gurmat Sidhant, which he
graciously consented to publish under his own name."34 [Portrait of
Perfection. Ibid.  p. 31]

-----------------------------

DAVID LANE REPLIES:

"Graciously consent to publish under his own name"..... Hmm,
next time I will get my student here at MSAC write a 2000 page book
and I will "graciously" let him put my name as author.

This whole episode reeks of human egotism and blatant dishonesty.

Tessler wants to tell us it is a fiction that Sawan Singh is the
author, even though THAT is PRECISELY what is printed on the book,
and then somehow believe Kirpal's version that he was the author,
even though there is indeed an earlier (brief) version of the same
book and even though many quotes were gathered by Darshan Singh.

Boy, who would have known that such an act of humility can make
an honest reader (hey, it says Sawan) into a dishonest reader (no,
it is really Kirpal), who in turn can question the whole integrity
of a guru and a disciple (whose humble? whose on first?---the Abbott
and Costello of one upmanship in the guise of a book that is 1/2
quotes?).

And, if Kirpal Singh doesn't mention any other co-authors in his
humble claim to be the author (though he humbly asked for another
person's name to be put on the dust cover), then he SHOULD have.

Anything less is misleading and, of course, intellectually
dishonest.

Either way you slice this story, if you accept Kirpal's version:
Sawan and Kirpal lack both ethics and humility.

Is THIS what Kirpal Singh intended by his not so humble act of
wanting "credit" for that which he gave up credit for?

-----------------------------------------------

TESSLER writes:


     Lane further discounts Kirpal Singh's claim of sole authorship because
of its large proportion of quotes, many collected by others.  Half of a two
thousand page book still represents an enormous effort of authorship, as
Lane, the author of several average sized books should appreciate.  Even
with the help of a research assistant, the organization and placement of
the quotes in the text would also have been the work of the author/editor.

---------------------------------

DAVID LANE REPLIES:

Nope, you just said that Kirpal never mentioned any other authors or
contributors. You also just said that Kirpal wanted to have Sawan
Singh's name put as the author. What does Kirpal "really want"?

I know: he wants it both ways--humility and the knowledge that he
was
the "real" author.

Sorry, but such acts speak little for honesty and even littler for
humility.

As for 1/2 the book being quotes, I have Gurmat Siddhant and I can
tell you that whoever did gather those quotes SHOULD be ACKNOWLEDGED
for it.

To not acknowledge such a contribution is itself dishonest.

boy, I can't even believe how convoluted this whole episode really
is.

I neither see humility in it, nor anything impressive in it.

--------------------------------------------

TESSLER writes:


     Darshan Singh tells us:
    "When I was in my teens and he was compiling the Gurmat Sidhant, my
father would give me some research work to do; I would have to read through
so many relevant books.......Sometimes I would finish very late at night -
one o'clock was quite a general thing.  But whatever time I would go to bed
I would always find that the Beloved Master was still writing; and then
when I got up for my meditations at five o'clock in the morning, I would
find Him in meditation."
      In his autobiography, Darshan Singh describes his role in the
production of Gurmat Sidhant:
     "My study of Persian and Urdu enabled me to help my father in his
compilation of Gurmat Sidhant.  Every night around twelve or one in the
morning, my father would come into my room and give me certain subjects on
which to collect quotations from various sources.  Every second or third
day, he would give me a new subject.  Some of these were: love, separation
from God, Word or Naam, simran, remembrance of God, dying while living, and
the like.  He would ask me to collect quotations on these subjects from the
mystics, from Persian and Urdu poets, and from the Bible."35 [Love Has Only
A Beginning - Autobiography of Darshan Singh. SK Publications, Delhi, 1996,
p. 43]
      In the face of a number of accounts by witnesses to his writing, the
thorough detail of Kirpal Singh's own discussion of this period, and the
complete lack of any credible competing testimony, there is really no
foundation for the several attempts to contradict Kirpal Singh's assertion
of authorship.

-------------------------------------------

DAVID LANE'S REPLY:

Except, of course, the most obvious one: SAWAN SINGH's name is ON
the BOOK.

Which, of course, Kirpal Singh wanted to be there out of his great
humility..... Except that he still wanted others to know that he was
REALLY the author.

Geez, this has got to be one of the most pathetic examples of
humility I have ever seen.

I would have been deeply impressed if Kirpal Singh (out of his
desire to be humble) would have done a really humble thing:

shut up about it.....

Now since he hasn't (and I don't begrudge him that--such a human
thing to tell people that we did something really impressive), it
shows two things:

Sawan Singh is dishonest and misleading


and

Kirpal Singh likes to take credit for humble acts.


Or, of course, there is another possiblity:

Kirpal did the grunt work for Gurmat Sidhant and Sawan Singh was
the "director" of the project.....

But wait a second, isn't that precisely what Darshan Singh claims to
have done--that is, worked under his father's direction?

Maybe we should start saying Darshan "really" wrote the meat of the
book, huh?

Personally, I am quite comfortable with the fact that Kirpal or
other authors may have written the book based upon Sawan's direction
or outline.

What I am not so comfortable with is how this episode reflects
positively on either Kirpal or Sawan....

Both are lessened by Kirpal's version....

Both look awfully human and quite silly in the process...


-----------------------------------------

TESSLER writes:

Furthermore, how a book of this magnitude could have been
directly authored by Baba Sawan Singh at the height of his ministry has yet
to be explained. 

------------------------

DAVID LANE REPLIES:

Hmm, the twisted logic here puts me in a humorous mood.....

The simple thing, of course, would have been the obvious course:

If Kirpal did write it, then Sawan should have put Kirpal's name
(not his) on it....

Or is that too simple?

Now, if Kirpal really thought Sawan was the "inspiration" (oh, I am
thinking of how Kirpal "inspired" the Tiger's Fang--see Heart to
Heart Talks) and really wanted Sawan to be known as the author, then
Kirpal should have sucked it up and said univocally, "I am NOT the
author--Sawan is."

Did he do THAT?

Nope.

So Kirpal wants the humble points, but also the authorship
points....

And guess who gets confused by all of this?

The honest reader who misled by that infamous designation:

written by Sawan Singh.

Geez, these gurus need to go back to grammar school and learn some
fudging literary ethics......

-----------------------------

TESSLER writes:


 It should also be noted that the introductory articles
which precede each volume of Gurmat Sidhant  are titled My Submission, also
with authorship attributed to Baba Sawan Singh.  This choice of title
itself begs the question.  In my discussion with Darshan Singh in 1988, he
stated emphatically that Kirpal Singh had also written these introductory
sketches.

-----------------------

DAVID LANE REPLIES:

Hmm, but out of humility he put Sawan's name on it, huh?

But later tells the world, "but hold on friends, I am REALLY the
author."

Again, Sawan looks like an idiot and Kirpal an egotist.

Can't these guy just be STRAIGHT from the get go?

Would have saved a lot of ideological headaches, huh?

Now, of course, with a book that is 1/2 quotes, maybe we should say
"compilation" to be more accurate......


Of course, there is a mystic reason these gurus can't tell us a
straight story from the beginning, right?

Wrong: this episode is a classic example of why gurus are human,
all too human.

-----------------------------------------------------

TESSLER writes:

      In the preface to the English volume of My Submission the Beas
secretary writes:
     "...it will be no exaggeration to call (Gurmat Sidhant ), the Bible or
be-all and end-all of all literature dealing with matters spiritual..."
     Despite such high regard for the original, it has been substantially
tampered with in the English translation issued by Beas, after Hazur past
away.  The order of sections has been shifted, some text and many quotes
have been eliminated. Comparing Gurmat Sidhant to scripture and then
altering the text is a surprising contradiction.  One can only speculate if
translators of the Holy Bible  or copyists of the Guru Granth Sahib  had
taken a similar hand to their work; chopping and changing to suit their
editorial agenda.

---------------------------------------------

DAVID LANE REPLIES:

Hmm, kind of similar perhaps to what Jaimal Singh did to Sar
Bachan, or so the Agra camps believe.....

I think your point is well taken, though, and Beas should learn how
to
translate the WHOLE BOOK next time or at least state that they are
butchering the text.

I think we have a right to know......

Unless of course they were simply being "humble" and didn't want to
reveal who the real translator was 


E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.