Saragarhi is the incredible story of 21 men of the 36th Sikh Regiment (currently the 4th Sikh Regiment) who gave up their lives in devotion to their duty. This battle, like many others fought by the Sikhs, highlights the heroic action by a small detachment of Sikh soldiers against heavy odds. This encounter took place on September 12, 1897, in the Tirah region of North-West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan, which then formed part of British India). In keeping with the tradition of the Sikh Army, they fought to the death rather than surrender. See Britain's Parliament Finally Remembers Saragarhi Martyrs.
The Battle at Saragarhi is one of eight stories of collective bravery published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). DID YOU KNOW: This battle has been mentioned as one of the five most significant events of its kind in the world, which includes the Battle of Thermopylae associated with the heroic stand of a small Greek force against the mighty Persian Army of Xerxes I in 480 B.C.
SIKH'S LAST STAND
The British colonial rulers had constructed a series of forts to control the NWFP (North West Frontier Province -- today a state in Pakistan) and to provide security to troops against marauding tribesmen and their lashkars (large body of troops). Most of these forts had initially been built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh as part of the consolidation of the Sikh empire in Punjab and the British added some more. The British had only partially succeeded in gaining control over this region, consequently, skirmishes and sometimes serious fights with the tribals were a frequent occurrence. However, the NWFP was a good training ground for the Indian Army to hone its skills and techniques.
Two such forts on the Samana Ridge of the Hindukush and Sulaiman Ranges that is Fort Lockhart and Fort Gulistan were a few miles apart. Since these forts were not inter-visible, a signalling relay post called Saragarhi was located midway on a bluff to provide heliographic (A heliograph is a simple device for sending Morse code using a mirror catching the sunlight) communications between them. This post or picket had been fortified to provide safety and protection to the signaling detachment.
In 1897 there was a general uprising in the NWFP engineered by Afghans as part of their policy, which came to be known as the 'prickly heat policy' to direct the wrath of the tribals against the British. In this uprising, Mullahs (Muslim religious leaders) played a prominent role. It was the duty of the 36th Sikh to occupy Gulistan and Lockhart forts. On September 3, and September 9, 1897, Orakazai and Afridi Lashkars attacked Fort Gulistan. On both occasion the attacks were beaten back. A relief column was sent from the fort to assist in beating back these attacks.
SOLDIERS OF THE 36TH SIKHS
The 36th Sikhs were raised in 1887 at a time when Russian expansion was feared and the Northwest Frontier needed strong fortification. Their brief history is notable for one action that occurred in 1897 when the regiment defended the Samana Ridge against a huge army of Pathans. Many acts of great bravery were performed by soldiers of the 36th during a few days in September of that year, most notably at Saragarhi.
The relief column from Lockhart on the return trip reinforced the signalling detachment at Saragarhi making its strength 1 NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) and 20 ORs (Other Ranks). In a renewed effort on September 12, 1897, hordes of tribesmen laid siege to Fort Lockhart and Saragarhi, with the aim of overrunning the latter and at the same time preventing any help from the former. The Commanding Officer of 36th Sikh, Lt. Col. Haughton, was at Fort Lockhart and was in communication with the Saragarhi post through heliograph.
The defenders of Saragarhi under the indomitable and inspiring leadership of their detachment commander, Havildar Ishar Singh, resolved to defend their post in the best tradition of their race and regiment. They were not there to hand over the post to the enemy and seek safety elsewhere. Havildar Singh and his men knew well that the post would fall, because a handful of men in that make-shift fort of stones and mud walls with a wooden door could not stand the onslaught of thousands of tribesmen. These plucky men knew that they will go down but they had resolved to do so fighting to the last.
From Fort Lockhart, troops and the Commanding Officer could count at least 14 standards and that gave an idea of the number of tribes and their massed strength against the Saragarhi relay post (estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 tribals). From early morning the tribals started battering the fort. The Sikhs fought back valiantly. Charge after charge was repulsed by the men of the 36th Sikh. The tribal leaders started to make tempting promises so that the Sikhs would surrender. But Havildar Singh and his men ignored them. For quite some time, the troops held their own against the determined and repeated attacks by the wild and ferocious hordes. A few attempts were made to send a relief column from Fort Lockhart but these were foiled by the tribals.
At Saragarhi, the enemy made two determined attempts to rush the gate of the post and on both occasions the defenders repulsed the assault. While the enemy suffered heavy casualties, the ranks of the defenders too kept dwindling as the fire from the attackers took its toll and their ammunition stocks were depleting. Unmindful of his safety, Sepoy Gurmukh Singh kept signalling a minute-to-minute account of the battle from the signal tower in the post to Battalion HQs. The battle lasted the better part of the day.
When repeated attacks failed, the enemy set fire to the surrounding bushes and shrubs and two of the tribesmen under cover of smoke, managed to close in with the post's boundary wall in an area blind to the defender's observation and rifle fire from the post holes. They succeeded in making a breach in the wall. This development could be seen from Fort Lockhart and was flashed to the post.
A few men from those defending the approaches to the gate were dispatched to deal with the breach in the wall. This diversion by the enemy and the defenders' reaction resulted in weakening of the fire covering the gate. The enemy now rushed the gate as well as the breach. Thereafter, one of the fiercest hand-to-hand fights followed. One of the Havildar Singh's men, who was seriously wounded and was profusely bleeding, had taken charge of the guardroom. He shot four of the enemy as they tried to approach his charge. All this time, Sepoy Gurmukh Singh continued flashing the details of the action at the post. Beside this the Commanding Officer of 36th Sikh and others at Lockhart Fort also saw his unique saga of heroism and valor unfold at Saragarhi.
The battle had come too close for Sepoy Gurmukh Singh's comfort, so he asked Battalion HQs for permission to shut down the heliograph and take up his rifle. Permission was flashed back. He dismounted his heliograph equipment, packed it in a leather bag, fixed bayonet on his rifle and joined the fight. From this vantage point in the tower he wrought havoc on the intruders in the post. He died fighting, but took 20 of the enemy with him.
The tribals set fire to the post, while the brave garrison lay dead or dying with their ammunition exhausted. Next morning the relief column reached the post and the tell tale marks of the epic fight were there for all to see. The tribals later admitted to figure of a minimum of 600-1400 were dead and many more wounded. This episode when narrated in the British Parliament, drew from the members a standing ovation in the memory of the defenders of Saragarhi.
The story of the heroic deeds of these men was also placed before Queen Victoria. The account was received all over the world with awe and admiration. All the 21 valiant men of this epic battle were awarded the Indian Order of Merit Class III (posthumously), which at the time was one of the highest gallantry awards given to Indian troops and is considered equivalent to the present-day Vir Chakra. All dependents of the Saragarhi heroes were awarded 50 acres of land and 500 Rupees. Never before or since has a body of troops - that is, all of them won gallantry awards in a single action. It is indeed a singularly unique action in the annals of Indian military history.
PARLIAMENT HONORS SARAGARHI MARTYRS, NOVEMBER 2017
NO GREATER SERVANTS, NO WORSE ENEMIES
The tablet reads:
165 Havildar Ishar Singh
Wahe Guruji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh! -- Source.
Follow the next link for biographies of a few of the many Sikh Warriors who protected Sikhs and members of other religions from the onslaught of tyrannical forces. Click here.
Gurdwara Security and Safety
"In Prosperity, three things work: Security, Security and Security.
"It is a Sikh's sacred duty, without fear or hate, to defend the
"Forgiveness doesn't mean you forget what happened...
SECURITY AND SAFETY GUIDELINES
Monitor all activities occurring in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib as well as any other activities in order to maintain a safe, hazard-free environment, and a peaceful, respectful Gurdwara decorum.
Special Operating Protocols or SOPs should be formulated and implemented by respective Sangat leaders after consultation with local First Responders, i.e., Fire, Medical Emergency, Law Enforcement or other agencies. These Special Operating Protocols then will reflect conditions peculiar to local circumstances, which may vary according to any unique layout, structural, or geographical, economic, or technical requirements.
In addition, each community should contact their local First Responders, especially Fire Prevention and Law Enforcement Agencies, for a comprehensive risk assessment survey of Gurdwara property, and management policies and procedures to include a comprehensive Safety and Security Audit. Audits may possibly be provided free of charge, and should include procedures related to the following issues:
a) Fire Prevention and Emergency Evacuation
Security is the absence of risk.
Security is those actions or systems, which prevent or minimize
American Sikhs are free to pursue happiness,
SPECIAL NOTE: American Sikhs are free to pursue happiness, but there's no guarantee we will achieve it. We can view the subject of Security as an unpleasant, even terrifying concept, or as a fearless, even exhilarating exercise in courage. We can choose to be passive, wimpy victims, or proactive, fearless survivors. To those members of the Sadh Sangat who choose to remain in denial with regard to matters of Security and Safety, who either claim that Gurdwara Security is unnecessary, or who dismiss any thought of improving Gurdwara Security, I suggest that you not only recall the tragic events of the August 5, 2012 Gurdwara assault in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in Newtown, Connecticut, December 14, 2012, and the U.S. Navy Yard massacre of September 16, 2013, but that you recall the days of Operation Blue Star, the tragic assault on the Guru in Amritsar, India, June 1-6, 1984, a week, which will live in infamy... the event that involved the desecration of the Golden Temple, and the destruction of the Akal Takht. (See video.) Going back much farther, remember Aurangzeb?
Keep in mind also that the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma established a policy whereby a Security and Safety Sevadar is posted at the door of the House of Guru Ram Das Gurdwara in Los Angeles, California, even to this day. His vision being that Gurdwara Security and Safety is not about acting out of fear or hate, it is about selflessly serving the Guru and the Sangat while fearlessly defending the weak and protecting the innocent for which Sikhs have a sacred duty. See Our Youth Deserves Leadership Training.
See Refuse To Be A Victim Course. See World's Worst Mass Shootings. See How To Build A Team at 1Plus1Equals11.com. See Women: Wimps or Warriors?. See Are You Among The 'Unchurched'? See The 12 Signs of Kali Yuga.
SANT SIPAHI - SOLDIER SAINT
Karam khand ki bani jor. Tithai hor na koi hor.
is a blend of Saint and Soldier (Sant Sipahi); this is a complete person.
can think of a number of fanatical, over-zealous religious groups
Sat Nam. The Siri Singh Sahib was asked to express his priorities for a community gathering in the early ‘70s. His reply, “Security, Security, Security.” I share his vision. I have the concern that with the passage of time, nay, even as we speak, the memory of the Oak Creek massacre will fade away just as the memory of the infamous 1984 Operation Blue Star attack on the Sikhs in India seems to have disappeared from our recollection. Many Sikhs simply tag these events as the will of God and Guru, which is true, but we cannot stop there. There is a deeper message, a challenge, that has apparently gone unnoticed, i.e., our sacred duty to fearlessly "defend the weak and protect the innocent," just as Guru Gobind Singh taught us. So, I am requesting that the Sikh ministers act to meet our present day challenges. Not out of a sense of fear or apprehension, but with the same courage and fearlessness as did Guru Gobind Singh and our beloved Siri Singh Sahib. I urge my fellow ministers to answer this call by purchasing the Active Shooter Survival Training DVD shown below, and sharing it with their respective sangats. See Jai Jagdeesh Kaur's Ad Guray Nameh.
ACTIVE SHOOTER SURVIVAL TRAINING
Check it out!
AVOID BECOMING A HELPLESS VICTIM
Planning for Survival
Training includes a step-by-step how-to, such as:
Protecting you from extreme
Who is responsible for your security?
Most people are reactive when
it comes to their safety and well-being.
value is not in how many experiences you have had.
consciousness is a state of being whereby we live in service
Open Letter To The Saadh Sangat of Sikh Dharma
Security is the absence of risk.
Security is those actions or systems, which prevent or minimize
Sat Nam, Brothers and Sisters! Iam a former U.S. Marine and someone who has been involved with Gurdwara and Solstice security for decades. I would like to address what I see as a general absence of security/soldier consciousness within Sikh communities by quoting the Siri Singh Sahib, who said: “Human is a blend of Saint and Soldier; this is a complete person. If you are not a Soldier your sainthood will be kicked around. If you are only a Soldier, not a Saint, you will start kicking others around.”
The Siri Singh Sahib was once asked to express his priorities at a 3HO Solstice Sadhana gathering in the early ‘70s. His reply was, “Security, Security, Security.” And since the establishment of the Guru Ram Das Ashram in Los Angeles, and until this very day, a sevadar is posted at the door of the gurdwara as ordered by the Siri Singh Sahib. Security has been a priority consideration since the earliest days of 3HO/Sikh Dharma.
While recently speaking with a sangat member regarding the subject of Gurdwara Security and Safety, she mentioned how she thought she would engage an active-shooter incident within her community. She said her first instinct would be to physically cover any potential victims with her body as a shield. I advised her that this would be exactly the wrong action to take. I suggested that she think about the instructions given by airline attendants concerning an in-flight emergency. Passengers are advised to take self-saving actions first by utilizing their oxygen mask on themselves before attempting to assist anybody else.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but self-preservation must be the first response in order for other potential victims to be protected and defended. Contrary to the unfortunate outcomes of numerous recent horrific events, an active-shooter event is not a situation where potential victims are without recourse. This is addressed in numerous, simple, and surprising ways in a survival training video called Survival Edge: Active Shooter Survival, available at ACTCert.com (ACT stands for Attack Countermeasures Training), which I urge all communities to acquire and view. This DVD provides a reality-based, step-by-step training program that covers how to protect you and others from extreme violence, including responding to an active shooter, managing workplace violence, improving Gurdwara security and safety, becoming better prepared, saving innocent lives and surviving terrorism.
Though the outcome of the shooting event in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012 was horrific, those murders might have been preventable to a significant extent. There are specific actions (some even at the time of the attack) that could have possibly mitigated the outcome.
My concern is that with the passage of time, the memory of the Oak Creek massacre and other tragedies will fade away. I strongly encourage all members of the Sikh community – and especially Sikh Dharma Ministers – to act now to meet this ever-present challenge – not out of a sense of reactionary fear, but with the same attention and fearless dedication as our beloved Siri Singh Sahib.
As a member of the 3HO Solstice Security and Safety advisory team, I am working to help develop programs and awareness, and I am happy to receive communication from sangat members.
My web site at www.GurdwaraSecurity.com provides resources, tips, and thoughts about this important topic.
Open Letter To The First Teachers of Sikh Dharma
Sat Nam, Khalsa ji! In the wake of the attention that's been given for and against gun ownership, and the use of firearms, I find myself recalling with a wince and shudder on one hand, and a smile and headshake on the other, an experience from many years ago.
Wimps or Warriors
I was conducting a security and gun safety class in a mixed group of women and men. While discussing gun safety training I observed a young woman reluctantly pick up a handgun between her thumb and forefinger as if picking up a dead mouse. The vision has stuck with me ever since. The frequent media attention and talk about guns and gun violence causes me to recall that silly albeit sad scenario to this day. Silly because it looked so comical; sad because it is so indicative of where I see the mind set of too many women, today.
a woman is attacked by a gun-toting assailant, her
Those who shall not learn to obey shall never be
A woman who is not a leader is a miserable person… A leader has three things.
children, not dependent children. Give your children
The basic aspect of you as woman is not in your sensuality and in your dramas.
Your reliability will give people the courage to trust you.
Children are born with intrinsic leadership traits, which prepare them for life.
Sikhi youth...Sant-Sipahi is their heritage
Sat Nam, Khalsa ji! I am a passionate proponent of more balance between our claims to accept and understand the concept of Saint-Soldier, and actually living our lives as authentic Sant-Sipahi. To this end I strongly urge Khalsa parents, especially our women, the first teachers of our children, to consider the following points.
.) I urge you to consider enrolling our children at the New Mexico Military Institute, located in Roswell, New Mexico. My kids graduated high school with honors at NMMI in the early '80s, the first children of Sikh Dharma to attend a military school in America. The Siri Singh Sahib expressed pleasure upon observing cadet training when he visited NMMI in 1983. He advised us then that he would have enrolled his own children at NMMI if he had known of its existence. Another group of children who attended school in India later attended NMMI in the early '90s.
New Mexico Military Institute offers an outstanding two year college option for your sons and daughters after they complete their time at Miri Piri Academy. For those families for which MPA is not an option, NMMI has an excellent four year high school college prep program in addition to their two year college program. New Mexico Military Institute has been ranked No. 5 on a list of the nation’s top 50 community colleges by an independent organization, i.e., TheBestSchools.org, which has described the Roswell, New Mexico school as the “only state-supported, coeducational, military boarding school in the United States.” The school offers college prep, a four-year high school and a two-year junior college. See NMMI Strategic Measures Statistics.
Each of the former Sikhi students/graduates of NMMI provide a testament to the advantages of attending NMMI, which include a rigorous and challenging lifestyle, camaraderie and fellowship, and outstanding leadership training especially, along with NMMI's excellent scholastic program. This experience prepared them for additional university training, and exciting careers all over the world. NMMI is the only American prep school I know that has a history of accommodating the Sikhi lifestyle, i.e., sadhana, kesh, turban, sipahi training, and vegetarian diet. And it is an excellent environment for Sikhi youth to learn leadership and soldiering skills for which the Siri Singh Sahib was a passionate proponent.
The NMMI program offers MPA students and other Sikh youth
a unique and reasonably cost-effective opportunity to transition
from the Indian program into the American experience as a unit, and the obvious advantage of continued
bonding with their peers. See NMMI
Admissions, or click email@example.com, or call 800-421-5376.
.) I urge you to reflect on the Siri Singh Sahib's words, "Human is a blend of Saint and Soldier (Sant Sipahi); this is a complete person. If you are not a Soldier your sainthood will be kicked around. If you are only a Soldier, not a Saint, you will start kicking others around."
Again, our youth deserve leadership training going forward. I know of no readily available source of formal leadership training available to our Sikh youth other than the New Mexico Military Institute.
See Women Warriors. See Jai Jagdeesh Kaur's Ad Guray Nameh.
POINTS TO PONDER
If you cannot walk together, you
Those who shall not learn to obey shall never
The synergistic equation is 1 plus 1 equals 11.
security is local.
Pages And Points To Ponder
the heart of a lion,
never started a war before,
the heart of a lion,
come and enemies go,
the heart of a lion,
every side the world will pull;
the heart of a lion,
See Women Warriors.
Pages And Points To Ponder
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