Through the direct teachings from his self-realised teachers and masters, Dav first introduced his subjective understanding of Guru Nanaks’ Mul Mantra, that could be experienced by everyone simply through cultivating present moment awareness and over time and through grace and guidance of teachers, live in Presence and as Presence. This created a significant change in the sikh community understanding the impact of colonisation, and thus, remounding a lived tradition (Gurmat lifestyle) to a belief system called Sikhism. Many Gurdwaras left highly intimidated by this approach and akined it to “Buddhism”, failing to see the non-duality in Guru Nanaks Ik Ongkaar!
Sikh Studies degree program
Dav together with Professor Arvind Mandair worked in partnership with Coventry University to establish the first Sikh studies program for graduates at Coventry University. Based on the success of the pilot Sikh studies program, Professor Arvind-Pal S. Mandair moved to the USA as the Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious and Chair of Sikh Studies at Hofstra University, New York.
Dav shared a passion with Arvind to help the community recognise the difference between Sikhism, the product of colonialism and Sikhi, pre colonial Sikh practices. Working together, they successfully created the first undergraduate program with Coventry University.
The initial Sikh studies program
The Sikh Community places great value on ensuring that each generation understands the history of Sikh(ism) and its importance to their lives today. This series of modules is designed to provide a coherent framework for Sikh Studies, accessible both to young students aged 14 onwards, and to adults wishing to formalise and extend their knowledge and understanding of Sikh(ism).
The modules had been designed to be both self standing, but also to join together within a coherent framework for progression and development. Those wanting to pursue higher education in Sikh Studies will have the underpinning knowledge to support this goal.
Additional modules can be developed at each level to extend the range of topics, and parallel studies in Punjabi can be taken to enhance understanding and to support existing language skills.
Sikh Studies Curriculum Framework
(For students aged 14-16, and those wanting a basic introductory programme)
Module 1 Introduction to Punjabi
Module 2 Introduction to Sikhism (Use materials from Vaisakhi 2002 book)
(For students aged 15+ and for those wanting a broad understanding of Sikhism)
Module 1 Early History 1 – the Lives and contribution of the first 4 gurus
Module 2 Early History 2 – the lives and contributions of the later gurus
Module 3 The Sikh Way of Life, including perceptions of Sikhs in the Western World
(For students aged 16+, and for all those wanting a broad and in depth understanding of Sikhism, and to develop a basis for textual interpretation)
Module 1 (Core module)
Sants and medieval
Module 2 (Core module)
Early traditions in Sikhism – an understanding of the underpinning tenets of Sikhism
Module 3 (Core module)
The Khalsa – developing an understanding of the importance of the Khalsa
Module 4 (Optional)
The Diaspora – historical understanding of the causes of the diaspora and its impact on Sikhism
Module 5 (Optional)
Module 6 (Core and to be completed after the 3 core modules)
Texts and Interpretive traditions
Introduction: A USA/U.K Sikh Studies Program Proposal/UK
In 2001, Dav together with Professor Arvind Mandair once again tried to motivate the Sikh Gurdwaras to fund both a Chair in Sikh Studies and provide quality based education that can provide a strong and clear understanding of Sikh(ism), its history, way of life, being, ethics and integration. This proposal was led by Dav and created in partnership between U.K further education college (Walsall College), USA University (Hofstra) and Sikh Gurdwaras and community centres.
Background to Sikh Studies.
Sikh Studies is by no means a new initiative within the North American university system. Since the mid-1980’s fully and partially endowed programmes have been established at leading North American universities such as:
University of California (Berkeley, 1981-88)
University of Toronto ( Centre for South Asian Studies,1986-90)
University of British Columbia (Dept. of Asian Studies, 1987-96)
Columbia University (New York) (1992-99).
All of the above programmes are now defunct. Since 1994 another three fully endowed chairs have been established at:
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) – to come on line 2002.
University of Wisconsin – Madison ( Department of History)
University of California (Santa Barbara) (Dept of Religious Studies)
Hofstra University, New York.
With the exception of Hofstra the teaching element in all of these programmes has tended to focused on Punjabi language and either Sikh history or on textual history. The major disadvantage of the North American programmes stems from the demographic situation of Sikhs in the USA, there being no major concentration of the community within easy reach of the university campus. As a result these programmes are generally difficult for communities to access (again Hofstra may be something of an exception).
In contrast the UK presents very different scenario. Although no endowed chair has yet been established, nevertheless many Colleges of Further Education (post-16-upto post-graduate level) have, over the last decade or so, developed flourishing vocational and non-vocation programmes in Sikh, Punjabi and Asian culture mainly at a pre-university level. Much of this builds on the strong demographic advantages of British Sikhs many of which reside within 10-20 minutes travelling distance. These F.E. programmes have been coordinated in partnership with wide network of Sikh grass roots organisation and local community centres such as Gurdwaras which have doubled as centres for outreach education.
Major local Gurdwaras in UK, can have anything from 200 to 500 students attached to them studying for external qualifications in Punjabi and Sikh studies. There are approx. 250 Gurdwaras throughout the UK and within the West Midlands alone a population of at least 200,000 Sikhs. As a result there has been over the last ten years, a steady and significant increase in the number of Sikh Britons taking nationally recognised qualifications at 16+ and 18+ level in Punjabi language, Sikh Studies as well as vocational qualifications in performance arts such as Indian music and dance.
Several of the major Sikh community centres in the West Midlands area have been working with Walsall Further Education College to develop:
(i) a full complement of academic and vocational courses on Sikh Studies from Post 16+ to Post graduate level.
(ii) A transnational delivery infrastructure using internet and telematics technologies. (Much of this has been worked out over the last 2-3 years, and government grants in excess of £200,000 obtained to carry out such projects. ).
However, what is presently lacking in the U.K is an established chair of Sikh Studies which can provide expert validation and direction and suitable academic environment for the above courses. What is proposed, therefore, is the establishment of a partnership between:
(i) Hofstra University
(ii) Walsall College of Further Education
(iii) Community networks in U.K.
Each partner will have a specific role. For example, Hofstra will provide the overall direction and academic validation for all the courses. Walsall College will be able to access local and national funding to provide for teaching and administration costs. The college can also Site for delivery of courses . The community network will provide direct access to student recruitment -> on site delivery
• To develop (post 16+) Further Education Sikh Studies modules
• To establish a definitive Sikh Studies panels with representatives from Hofstra University, Walsall College and SRF for the accreditation for Sikh Studies modules
• To develop free standing courses in Sikh studies leading to Certificate, Diploma and eventually Masters qualifications.
• Establishment of exchange programmes between UK and USA based on the Sikh studies programme.
Unfortunately, while the need was evident in the local community, the Gurdwaras failed to support the initiative.
Community education NVQ’s
Dav was instrumental in developing and delivering a range of NVQ programs aimed at enabling disadvantaged groups to access employment, education and communal resources. He developed NVQ level 2-4 in a range of Internet and e-commerce subject in partnership with Henley college Coventry. He enabled over 800 individuals to re train and find employment during the period of 1995-2000.
His achievements were significant enough to be recognized by the local and national governments, winning him accolades including invitation to HRH Queen’s Garden party.