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