New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) An icon and legend in his life time, Khushwant Singh was arguably India’s most popular writer. Claiming himself to be an agnostic, the author who was frequently seen visiting Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in the national capital often drew criticism and raised questions on his religious ideology. A latest book explores more of him.
“Khushwant was often asked about his visits to gurudwaras because he was loud in saying that he believed neither in religion nor in God. Yet, one of his first literary works was an English translation of the Japji Sahib verses from the Sikh scriptures. He retained his turban and Sikh identity all his life, lived the Punjabi and Sikh culture and spoke the Punjabi language,” the book says.
“His answer to the question about visits to gurudwaras was a simple admission. ‘A contradiction’, he would say, ‘and leave it at that’,” the book mentions.
The book titled “Khushwant Singh In Wisdom and In Jest” written by Vijay Narain Shankar and Onkar Singh published by Vitasta (Rs 350, pp 266) was launched during an event organised at the Press Club of India here on Monday.
The event saw eminent personalities like Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, jurist and former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee along with the authors who discussed about Khushwant Singh’s agnostic approach.
“He was a fascinating character and never cared about what others said about him. The agnostic approach of his which has also been mentioned in the book but I don’t think that’s quite correct. The way he has translated the works of Japji Sahib verses and the shloks from Guru Granth Sahib, which are about praising God, says the other thing,” Amarinder Singh said.
“There is a kind of religiosity and a kind of spiritual search in him. He believed in religion but didn’t follow the rituals,” Amarinder Singh further added.
“To say that he was not an agnostic is dangerous. I suspect Khushwant Singh had his own sense of whatever his religiosity was. He was an extraordinary person. He was very fond of his Sikh language, scholar of Sikh religion and at the same time cracked joke. I don’t think he was an atheist,” Ahluwalia commented.