Sanatan Shastar Vidiya is a battle art form that long predates the modern Sikh faith. The Sikh traditions from which the present custodian of this art the, Akali Nihang Baba Darbara Singh Sanatan Suraj Bansia Shastar Vidiya Shiv Akhara emerged has also been displaced for over a century.
As the British Raj established itself in the Punjab during the late 19th century, its progeny would give rise to a British Raj-accommodating Sikh revisionist movement - the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia. This revisionist movement tweaked the ideals of the Sikh faith and lead it down an alternative path, deviating from the traditional roots. As time passed, the gap between the traditional and modern revisionist-informed Sikh principles grew wider. In the early 20th century one Sanatan Kshatriya Nihang named Sanpuran Singh lamented:
"Then in time, some selfish men, for the sake of filling their bellies, forsook the 'Sanatani' (traditional)Singhs (i.e., their Gurus' principles), and in accordance with their own intellect began to self-manufacture the [Sikh] faith. The ordinary people, thinking that they represent the Guru's faith, joined them. Not considering the past or future, not looking at past historical books. Then, when it reached such a state that for us [eating of] cow and goat was considered equal; that we were not Hindus; on hearing the Guru-like 'devtas' (Hindu gods/goddesses) being slandered, this dog of the Guru (i.e., loyal disciple) became dejected from the world. I desired that I sitting in some mountain cave eating the fruit [there in the wilds] I will subsist. To endure such anti-Dharma is a miserable plight."
(Nihang Sanpuran Singh, Suraj Vansiya Khalsa Panth, (Siri Chand Press, n.d.), Introduction)
Consequently the Shiv Akhara, having a traditional Hindu Sikh mind-set, differs in understanding on certain issues when compared to the modern mainstream revisionist-informed Sikh world. As a result, these differences have manifest themselves in misunderstandings amongst Sikhs with regards to the Akhara. This has been further fuelled by Gurdev Nidar Singh Nihang ensuring the traditional terminology such as, Hindu, Sanatan, 'Shiv Sroop' (Shiva's form) does not decay, especially in relation to the art.
For the benefit of those Sikhs tainted by modern Sikh ideology, and who feel apprehensive when encountering such terms, a brief explanation follows.
There is no escaping the undeniable historical fact that Sanatan Shastar Vidiya is of Hindu descent, as are the majority of Sikhs and all of the Sikh Gurus. In the late 19th century, the Tat Khalsa Singh Sabhia movement began seeding that the idea of Sikhs being Hindus in any context was unacceptable. This resentment increased, over time, and accelerated during the unfortunate, yet tragic events that led up to the storming of the Sikh shrine in Amritsar in 1984. In the years that followed, the Sikh fundamentalism led to a bloody decade of Sikh secessionist and counter Indian state terrorism in the Punjab. Today, the very idea that Sikhs could be Hindu in any context is deeply resented by many Diaspora Sikhs. The more fanatical, literalist fundamentalist Sikhs, with their ability to selectively quote scripture out of context, will often refer a single line of attributed to Guru Arjan Dev, in order to make their blinkered sectarian case:
"I am neither a Hindu nor Muslim."
(Adi Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Bhairo, M:5, 1136)
The literalist approach lacks the key ingredients required to get at the truth, i.e., contextualisation and the ability to connect the subject matter to the greater historical reference. The approach also ignores a wide range of historical quotes which contradict their views, whilst at the same time adequately addressing all counter points. Utilising a more pragmatic and logical approach would be to better appreciate the context and cross-reference the quote(s) across history in order to arrive at the truest possible scenario. The line cited above derives from a 'shabad' (verse of Sikh scripture) which unusually starts in the name of Guru Arjan Dev, but concludes in the name of the great Kabir. This conundrum is solved when one reads an early 18th century text named 'Parchian Sewadas'. It states clearly that this verse was written by the fifth Guru as a dedication to the great Kabir. (see Episodes From Lives Of The Guru's - Parchian Sewadas, Translation & Commentary by Kharak Singh & Gurtej Singh, (Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh, 1995), 21). The actual purport of this 'shabad' only becomes clear when one reads the whole 'shabad' in relation to Kabir's own struggles in life against mad-cap religious sectarianism. Examining the entire verse, one reads:
"The [Hindu] fast I do not keep, nor keep the [Muslim fast of] Ramadan; I serve him who looks after the helpless. Mine is the one 'Gosain' (Sanskrit derivation 'lord of the senses') Allah. I do away with the dealings of both Hindus and 'Turks' (Muslims). I go not to [Muslim] pilgrimage of Hajj to Kabba, nor do worship at Hindu pilgrimage centres. I serve the One [Brahm] (supreme being), and no other. I do not perform Hindu worship, nor do Muslim prayers. In taking the one formless One in my heart, I salute him. I am neither a Hindu nor Muslim. My body and breath belongs to Allah 'Raam'. Says Kabir this elaborate on meeting a Guru 'Pir' (master), recognise the [One] master [of all Brahm]."
In providing the context, the assertion made by present day Sikh fundamentalists that 'we are not Hindus or Muslims but Sikhs' does not hold up to scrutiny. It must be appreciated that Kabir was born a Hindu, raised as a Muslim, and was the disciple of the 16th century 'Vaishnav' (follower of Vishnu) Hindu Guru Swami Ramanand Ji. The Guru is therefore in no way asserting any sectarian distinctiveness of 'Sikhi' (Sikh faith). The Guru reflects on the struggles Kabir had when facing fanatical Muslims and Hindus, each ridiculously claiming their faith superior to the other, creating much strife for all in society. The Guru is asking true devotees, be they Hindus or Muslims, to rise above all petty sectarian divides, as did Kabir.
The focus is to recognise and appreciate that we are all humans, and the master of all is the one infinite 'Brahm' (creator). In order to assert the oneness of 'Brahm', the Guru is combining Hindu designations of Brahm 'Gosain' (lord of the senses, i.e., the supreme being), and 'Raam' (the one who is woven into the fabric of all), along with Muslim designation of the almighty Allah. In similar manner he combines Hindu designation of 'Guru' (spiritual teacher) with its Islamic counterpart 'Pir' (master). Kabir's followers can still be found in India, based in Benares, and are known as Kabir Panthis; they continue to spread the teachings of Kabir in preaching egalitarianism.
On having dealt with the most common tool of the Sikh fundamentalists to assert their sectarian assertions, let us now delve into Sikh history to examine how ancient Sikhs related themselves to Hinduism.
It is very common to find 18th and 19th century Sikh historical sources inferring or directly stating that Sikhs within particular contexts are Hindu. An example of this can be found when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb demanded that Guru Tegh Bahadur renounce his faith, or perform a miracle as proof of the divinity of the doctrine he expounded. The Guru replied:
"My Dharma is Hindu. It is very dear to; how can I destroy it [by denying and forsaking it]? In this and the next world, it gives comfort. There is no other to be had in comparison to it. Only a fool of impure intellect [would forsake it]. He forsakes it he who is an enemy of Dharma."
(Kavi Santokh Singh, Suraj Parkash, ed. Bhai Vir Singh, 11: 4468-4469)
The famed 19th century Sikh historian Shaheed Rattan Singh Bhangu recounts the manner in which a Shehejdhari Sikh named Mitha Mall, whilst asking for assistance, opened his letter to the Singh Khalsa:
"I and you are Hindus brothers [disciples] of the one Guru."
(Rattan Singh Bhangu, Siri Gur Panth Parkash, ed. Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon, (Singh Brothers, 2004), 312.)
In the early 20th century, the Buddha Dal historian Nihang Sanpuran Singh, whilst arguing against revisionists empathically declared:
"Because Guru Gobind Singh was a 'Surya Bansi' (Sun dynasty) 'shatri' (Kshatriya) Hindu, his son the 'Sanatan' Khalsa is also a Hindu."
(Nihang Sanpuran Singh, Suraj Vansiya Khalsa Panth, (Siri Chand Press, n.d.), 108)
During the same period in history, another Sikh writer, Avatar Singh Vahiria on presenting abundance of historical evidence concluded:
"The meaning of all this is that the true practices of the Khalsa are all not in any way opposing the Hindu Dharma texts. They are all given testimony to and praised there. For this reason the Khalsa is the true example of 'Sanatan' Hindus."
(Avatar Singh Vahiria, Khalsa Sudar Tru, Chapter 1, Khalsa Ateh Hindu da Nitara, (Sant Singh Loodar oriental press, Lahore, n.d.),1:46)
Even the champion of the revisionist Sikhs, Bhai Vir Singh conceded:
"To apply the term Hindu to us [Sikhs] to distinguish between Semitic and Aryan races is proper, but to call oneself an idol-worshipping Hindu is wrong."
(Kavi Santokh Singh, Gurpartap Suraj Parkash, ed. Vir Singh, 14 Vol, (Bhasha Vibhag, Punjab, 1991),4468, ftn)
The author of "Ham Hindu Nahin" (We are not Hindus), one Kahn Singh Nabha, who redefined Hindu-Sikh relations late in the 19th century acknowledged:
"Those ancient Aryan people who lived around Sindhu (i.e., Hind) River were called Hindu by foreigners. Now this term is applied to all Indians."
(Mahan Kosh, (Punjab: Bhasha Vibhag, 1974), Shastar Vidiya Hindu)
In summary, Sikhs are Hindus in a particular cultural context, and this is an acknowledged fact. This very concept is what Gurdev Nidar Singh Nihang is pointing out; in a particular context, just as he is proudly British, like his ancestors, is also a Hindu.
In the pursuit of historically contextualising Sanatan Shastar Vidiya, Nidar Singh Nihang has reintroduced another term from the Sikh lexicon - 'Sanatan'. This term, like Hindu, is at present a heavily loaded term in modern usage; it has to be conceded that it is employed primarily by Hindus. The apprehension and paranoia that modern revisionist Sikhs feel that their faith will be one day assimilated into Hinduism only serves to escalate the fear of this term being applied to Sikhs. Regular ideological clashes between the highly political and patriotic Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) party in India and certain factions amongst mainstream Sikhs has accelerated and heightened this delusion. In contrast, the traditional Sikhs have no issues in employing 'Sanatan' to refer to themselves, or their faith. While commenting upon the ballads of Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Vir Singh utilised this term to refer to traditional Sikhs:
"The ballads of Bhai Gurdas amongst the Sikhs have the status of authentic scripture and amongst the 'Sanatan' Sikhs they were known as the key to Siri Guru Granth Sahib."
(Vara Bhai Gurdas Stik, ed, Bhai Vir Singh, translator Giani Hazara Singh Ji Pundit, (Bhai Vir Singh Sahit Sadan, Delhi, 1999), Benti)
In the preface of the 'Faridkotwala Teeka', the first ever full translation of Adi Guru Granth Sahib, the author Giani Badan Singh Nirmala, and the translator, Lada Singh Hazoori Raagi refer to the traditional Sikh schools that completed this exegesis of the Adi Guru Granth Sahib as "Sanatan sampida artha dee...," (see Adi Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Steek (Faridkotwala Teeka), IV volumes, (Bhasha Vibhag, 1989), 1:Bhoomka Ura).
In the introduction to the hefty work, the teachings of 'Gurbani' (Sikh scripture) are spoken of as:
"Associated to all, yet distinct from all; with certainty, perfect and true. The praise of Guru's word is great if one understands it, then one does it. There, where is no duality in it, it is the great correct Sanatan teaching."
(Ibid, Mukh Band, Haha. Lines 43-44)
It is worth noting that it was this particular translation of Adi Guru Granth Sahib which was exclusively utilised and fully acknowledged by the likes of Gurbachan Singh Bhindranwalla (a key figure in the annals of Sikh theology). The universally recognised scholar held this text with such reverence that it is said he would perform 'Parkash' of it (i.e., ceremonially open and read from it), alongside the Adi Guru Granth Sahib.
In today's world, the situation as it stands is that the majority of Nihangs, either through ignorance or fear of censorship by revisionist informed Sikhs, will shy away from or plainly deny the fact that are 'Sanatan'. However, he more informed Nihangs who have no fear of speaking their mind will confirm they are 'Sanatan' when asked. In his work on Nihangs, prepared with the consultation of Udey Singh (the one time secretary of the Buddha Dal), and other veteran Nihangs, S.J.S Pall recorded:
"It may be mentioned here that on the basis of the observations made by the tenth Guru in 'Chandi Di Var,' the Nihangs formed an opinion that the Nihangs existed even in ancient times when they had fought on the side of Durga. This view is an extended thinking of their view point that Sikh Dharma was always there in the form of Sanatan Dharma. Guru Nanak and his nine successors bought revolutionary necessary changes as were the need of the time."
(S.J.S. Pall, The Beloved forces of The Guru, (B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh, Amritsar, 2007), 33)
A Nihang elder based at the Sikh shrine in Nanded, Maharashtra, who possesses a similar viewpoint as his ancestors explained:
"Like we boil milk for a long time, boil it all day, and then let it settle to curdle. Even when it curdles, we do not let it be. We now churn it. Then what happens? The butter floats to the top and pure butter milk is left behind. In this way, from all the creeds that make up Hinduism, the Khalsa, like the butter that is churned out [of milk], has been extracted and revealed by the great king [Guru Gobind Singh]. That truth which is 'Sanatan', from the time the earth and skies were created and mankind came into being, it has been made manifest."
(Baba Mehar Singh Nihang, interviewed 17 March 2005)
It appears that the term 'Sanatan' does have a historical place in Sikh tradition, and is employed by traditional Sikhs even to this day. Uniquely, it is even found in Sikh scripture; the great Kabir describes his enlightened state upon realising the true import of Sanatan Dharma:
"Now my mind has changed, and become 'Sanatan' (i.e., eternal). Now, I appreciate [the timeless eternal truth], having died whilst alive [being unaffected by worldly temptations]. Says Kabir now, in comfort, spontaneously absorbed in the One, I fear no one, nor do I intimidate anyone."
(Adi Guru Granth Sahib, Raag Gauri, 327)
Bhai Gurdas would also express a similar vein of thought:
"A devotee of the Guru eats the comfort-giving fruit [of divine knowledge], his physical state thus changes and his mind becoming Sanatan; it becomes elevated and detached from the mundane world."
(Bhai Gurdas, Kabit Swaya, translation by Pundit Narain Singh Giani, (Published by Bhai Boota Singh & Partap Singh Pustka Walleh Bazzar Mai Seva Amritsar, n.d), Swaya 181)
Guru Gobind Singh declared:
"With your grace, O Prabh (master), my Sanatan state remains successful and intact..... I am your servant O master of the three worlds [i.e., Vaehguru], you who are considered 'Sanatan' and 'Puratan' (most ancient)."
(Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib, 2:5:709)
Guru Gobind Singh also employed the term Sanatan to describe 'Vaehguru' in his translation of the Bhagwad Gita, as found in the Dasam Guru Granth Sahib text dated 1698, which can be found at Patna, Bihar.
The literal meaning of the word 'Sanatan' is 'timeless' or 'most ancient'; as a consequence of being timeless, it is also the most ancient. One can now appreciate how absurd it is for any Sikh to deny that their faith is not timeless, i.e., eternal. In denying the use of the term by Nihang Nidar Singh, they are violating this very principle.
- Shiv Sroop
'Shiv sroop' literally refers to 'the form of Shiva'; it is a conceptual form and is a traditional Nihang designation for the form of the Sikh martial order, the Singh Khalsa. The context arises from the Indian tradition that Shiva is acknowledged as the first devotee of the infinite one 'Brahm' (creator). It is he who introduced the principles and practices meditation known as 'Naam Simran' (meditations on Brahm) to this world.
Shiva is spoken of as the very form of love and devotion, 'Bhau Bhagti'. In this context, the Singh Khalsa is also the form of 'Bhau Bhagti'. Traditional Nihangs model themselves on the great Indian sage Shiva (i.e., 'Mahakal') and cite the Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib:
"The path of Dharma the Khalsa emerged in the original true eternal form of Shiva."
(Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib, 2:5:496)
The Indian tradition acknowledges every being that sits cross-legged to meditate as adopting 'Shiv sroop'. This is usually done at the ambrosial time, and through focusing on their true self, Brahm.
The 'Tilak' is a mark made on forehead, between the eyes with various natural substances; this signifies a blessing or anointment and is an ancient Indian tradition. As the revisionist Sikhs emerged late 19th century, in their eternal quest to completely segregate the Sikh faith from Hinduism declared the practice as a purely Hindu tradition. In their paranoia, they advocated that all Sikhs avoid applying 'tilaks'.
In stark contrast, amongst traditional Sikhs, the application of 'tilak' is a common practice. The pacifist Udasi (missionary) and Nirmala (scholarly) orders of Sikhs apply 'tilak' of saffron, or ash from 'dhuni' (sacred fire), or, 'dhoor' (dust from the feet of a holy personage or place). Amongst the Akali Nihangs, they employ these, but in addition also utilise the blood of sacrificed goats, or blood from their own wounds.
Even today, during the martial festival of 'Holla Mohalla', the Akali Nihangs and Hazoori Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra, partake in this ritual. Upon reading of the martial ballads of 'Chandi' as written by Guru Gobind Singh, they sacrifice goats to the divine mother by decapitating them with a sword. They apply the blood 'tilak' to their foreheads, weapons, battle standards and war drums. The blood 'tilak' is deemed a blessing from the goddess; it keeps the Hindu Sikh warrior spirit alive. The meat itself is cooked and distributed amongst the non-vegetarian congregation; prepared in such a manner, it is considered sacramental food. Prior to the revisionist Sikhs banning the practice, the Kshatriya warrior traditions were commonplace at all Sikh 'Takhtss' (temporal seats), even at the Akal Takht in the Punjab. Avatar Singh Vahiria in his text 'Khalsa Dharma Shastara', considered to be the first all-Takht approved Khalsa 'Rehitnama' (code of conduct), noted:
"The great orders which initiate Khalsa at the 'Takhts', especially during 'Navrata' (nine days of Chandi worship), worship the weapons by reading 'Chandi Charitra' [and other] war scriptures of the tenth Master. At the Hari Mandir Sahib in Amritsar, with the completion of all the readings at the 'Akal Takht', on the 'Vijay Dasmi' (tenth day that Lord Raam gained victory over the demon Ravana by killing him), the readings were then taken from 'Bachittar Natak' and the 'Raam Avatar'. As the point of Ravana's death was reached in the recitation, in the tradition of infusing warrior spirit, in the spirit of rage and horror [was performed] by the 'chatka' (decapitation with sword) of goats; surrounded by thousands of people in the area reserved for holding gatherings [in front of the Akal Takht under its 'Nishan Sahib' (battle standard)]. Seeing this fearful sight, the Singh Khalsa fills with joy, the weapons are anointed with the blood, and their limbs quiver with power. Those who believe non-violence is the highest Dharam, these superstitious beings, becoming cowards and lacking courage, are unable to watch or listen. Closing their eyes and covering their ears, they cannot find an escape route to run to. In the Sikh Panth, we have [the Guru's] permission to hunt animals and to 'chatka' of domesticated animals such as goats, etc. and to eat meat; it is from the Hindu tradition."
(Avatar Singh Vahiria, Khalsa Dharam Shastar, (Siri Gurmat Press Amritsar, 1914), 403)
These and other texts prove that the application of 'tilak' is an ancient Sikh institution. In the past, it was even common that on completion of the reading of the scriptures, a saffron 'tilak' was applied to the inside folios of the Adi Guru Granth Sahib; all ancient Adi Guru Granth Sahib have such markings in them. The ceremony whereby the Guruship would be passed from one Guru to the next involved the application of a saffron 'tilak' to the successor's forehead, along a coconut (signifying the Godhead, where the three dots represent the three eyes of Shiva), and some money.
In accordance with the time-honoured tradition, when Gurdev Nidar Singh applies a blood 'tilak' to his forehead, it is within the bounds of Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa etiquette. Any suggestion that the blood 'tilak' and the carrying of the 'Trehsool' (trident), itself an ancient weapon, in any way indicates he is a shadowy political Hindu agent is absurd. The 'Trehsool' itself is referenced many times in Adi Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Guru Granth Sahib.? The application of blood 'tilak', along with the curled up moustaches, has deep esoteric meaning which would be too cumbersome to explain here. It is suffice to say this iconic symbol is part and parcel of the Sanatan Shastar Vidiya repertoire of psychological warfare. As with martial races the world over, the ancient Shastar Vidiya masters emphasised the use of potent psychological imagery, strong physical appearance and fierce reputations before physically engaging with the enemy.
- Hindu Imagery
Since the revelation of Sanatan Shastar Vidiya to the world at large, a bone of contention for revisionist Sikhs has been that the websites created by Nihang Teja Singh (www.shastarvidiya.org, www.sarbloh.info, etc.), employ too much Hindu imagery. This is unavoidable since the art itself arises from the Sanatan Hindu world. One only has to pay a visit to the ancient Sikh shrines that still remain; the frescos themselves testify to this. Sadly, much of this art has been allowed to decay, or has been maliciously defaced, whitewashed, or demolished entirely by revisionist Sikhs. In many cases, of those examples that still remain, almost seventy to eighty percent of the entire artwork depicts Hindu mythological. This same artwork can be found in abundance on historical weapons attributed to Sikhs, and in old hand-written Sikh manuscripts. The references to Hindu mythology do not end here; even the verbal references and analogies employed in the Sikh scriptures such as Adi Guru Granth Sahib, Dasam Guru Granth Sahib, and Sarbloh Guru Granth Sahib are primarily Hindu. Ultimately, the Sikh faith is a child of the greater Hindu Indian culture; a child by nature resembles its parent.
Sikhs should embrace this aesthetic wonder and not fear it. In this iconography enshrines the Indian cultural form as seen through the eyes of our ancestors; it is this that provides us Indians the true cultural self-image and identity. Gurdev Nidar Singh Nihang often speaks how his own Gurdev, Baba Mohinder Singh, advised him to seek out old Hindu Sikh art work. Surrounding oneself in such culture allows for the inspiration and absorption that allows one to understand the subtle nuances of the cultural form. It results in the truer expression of Sanatan Shastar Vidiya. As students of the art, one also becomes enamoured by classical Indian dance, music and art - the cultural brothers and sisters of Shastar Vidiya. The ability for music and art to elevate one's mind and soul is an ancient Indian belief.
Gurdev Nidar Singh Nihang is an ordinary family man, a vehement supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers, and resides in Wolverhampton, UK. He lives with his wife, whom he has been with for twenty two years, and four children, along with his elderly parents next door. By nature, he is a very private man, and aside from teaching at the Akhara, he regularly carries out lectures, and master classes at various institutions.
Many detractors lay claims that Nidar Singh compares his life and work to that of the ten Sikh Gurus, and has titled himself as 'Guru'. This is however, an entirely false accusation. We, the 'shagirds' (students) of the Akali Nihang Baba Darbara Singh Sanatan Suraj Bansia Shastar Vidiya Shiv Akhara address him as 'Gurdev' as this is the traditional Nihang designation for a leader and teacher. Bhai Vir Singh, a staunch champion of revisionist Sikhs noted with regards to the Nihangs:
"Sometimes a Jathedar was called a Gurdev Singh."
(Vir Singh, Satwant Kaur, (Bhai Vir Singh Sadan, Delhi, 1992), 230)
Gurdev Nidar Singh Nihang points out himself on numerous occasions that he is our teacher, rather than a leader. One of the prime reasons for many Sikhs being unable to make such a distinction is down to the fact that most Sikh institutions today function as a leader-based organisation. A 'Jathabandi' (one affiliated with a leader), cannot understand how the Akhara can function without a leader. In a pragmatic fashion, consensus is reached by ensuring like-minded individuals, martial artists and academics function together; the primary focus is to ensure the survival of Sanatan Shastar Vidiya. There are no leaders in the Shiv Akhara, only teachers, students and friends. Good advice arises through many channels; it is this advice that is followed.
From ignorance is born fear; an old Punjabi saying speaks:
"Do not fear, but understand."
With understanding all, fear and misunderstandings flee. The Akali Nihang Baba Darbara Singh Sanatan Suraj Bansia Shastar Vidiya Shiv Akhara is a historical Sikh institution of the great Hindu Sikh ancestors. All Sikhs should forsake petty squabbles and minor differences and welcome and respect all outsiders. They should aim to nurture its martial art, martial culture and wisdom to guarantee their survival. The Sikh Gurus taught:
"The stories of their elders the good children relate. If they wish to please the Guru, let them accept them and act as they did. Go and ask [with regards to this truth] the 'Simritis', 'Shashtras' (Hindu law books), the Sages Vyas, Sukh and Narad (Sanatan Hindu sages), who teach this [respect for ancestors] equally to the world. Those who have been attached to truth [by wisdom of their elders and Gurus] remain attached to truth, and, in truth are merged. Nanak, only their birth is acceptable if they gain salvation for all; their clan ancestors [by respecting and propagating the good ways of their ancestors]."
(Adi Guru Granth Sahib, Raamkali Ki Var, M:3, 951)
There is no better way than propagating the good way of our ancestors than preserving Sanatan Shastar Vidiya.