It is quite upsetting, and a very sad day, to see cowardly Sikhs entering a Gurdwara dressed in black with their faces hidden to protest against and prevent a Sikh and non-Sikh from deepening their commitment as one soul to God. Also very upsetting to hear about and see the aggression Sikhs have towards other Sikhs, and towards other people. Sikhs are defenders, not aggressors.
I listened to an interview with Sunny Hundal. Very good interview. You can find it on his Facebook page.
What I loved immediately about Sikhism, is that it is showing us how to live a pure life, how to live a good, service-full, and loving life that sees the Divine in all.
The Guru tells us that everything is God; which means that we see the Divine in all things and all people. So... how can we see people as less than we are.
There are degrees of awareness in people's consciousness, that affect the way they live; but that's because life hasn't brought them the blessing to choose to awaken themselves to their true deeper Divine Nature, and connection with the Creator of all things, the Sat Guru. When you connect to that Divine Love, then you see the Divine in all people. You realize that there's no point in anger.
Guru Amar Daas
When you love the Truth, your words are true; they reflect the True Word of the Shabad.
The ointment of spiritual wisdom is the destroyer of fear; through love, the Pure One is seen. The mysteries of the seen and the unseen are all known, if the mind is kept centered and balanced. If one finds such a True Guru, the Lord is met with intuitive ease. ||3||.
Where has tolerance gone, where has acceptance gone, where is the love of humanity?
As Hundal said, Sikhs and Hindus have married over centuries. And where did the Sikhs come from? They were mostly Hindus. Guru Nanak came from a Hindu family. There were no "Sikhs" as we see it today. There is no such thing as a "pure" Sikh. Sikh means student, which means that there's no such thing as a "pure" student. You simply are a student; a student learning how to live a pure life. Understand Japji and you will understand how to live a pure life.
Guru Gobind Singh brought the purity of living to a more specific level of commitment. And not everybody is ready for that commitment. On Baisakhi day Guru Gobind Singh called for a head, it took time for five to step up and give their head and heart to the Guru. It wasn't for everybody. The Guru keeps calling on his/her Sikhs, and those who answer the call will show up; there's no guarantee.
I often find that the calling is there within many Sikhs, they just don't have the inner guidance to make that step of commitment towards their own Divine Life and true Divine Nature, whether it is simply to follow the Guru's teaching or to make a stronger commitment to this way of life by taking Amrit.
It really saddens me, when I come across so many closed minded and strict Sikhs. I have personally experienced this closed mindedness and uneducated way of understanding the Guru's word.
I was having a conversation about the Anand Karaj with an Amritdhari Sikh man. We spoke about different aspects of the wedding ceremony, and about mixed marriages. I am an Amritdhari Sikh, and married to a non-Sikh. Guess what this man said to me? He said that because I was with a non-Sikh, I no longer was an Amritdhari Sikh. This could be taken as a real insult; I chose to take it as ignorance, intolerance, and ego interpretation of God's Will. (See Glossary of Sikh Terms.)
As a good facebook Nihang friend said, once one has taken Amrit, it can never be taken away.
What is lacking is the reminder that Divine Truth flows through each person, just as the Divine Breath flows through each person. When one is attuned to the Divine Truth, then the True answer will present itself. And usually the Truth is always about Love.
Mostly, we don't know how to remind the Sangat about what the Guru's are really teaching us. Our Giani's need to be chosen carefully. Even though they chant Gurbani, they themselves don't abide by it, and don't even know how to inspire the Sangat to understand the deep meaning of the Guru's teaching.
I just recently offered, at one of our Sukhmani Sahib Sangat Kirtan Evenings the chanting of "Ong Sohung", meaning "He is me, I am Him".
After offering this chant, many shared with me, how much they enjoyed the chant.
Well... next day, two Sikhs at the Gurdwara came to me asking what Shabad I had sung. They were trying to teach me a lesson, and tell me what is appropriate and what is not by Guru's definition. I replied that it wasn't a Shabad, as mentioned just before the chanting. They continued to say that in the presence of the Guru, I could only sing the words of the Guru. I replied that these words come from the Guru.
Here are two passage from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib that includes the word Sohung (or Sohun). The first passage perfectly represents some Sikhs that we unfortunately encounter all over the world.
Shalok, First Mehl:
When one acts in egotism, then You are not there, Lord. Wherever You are, there is no ego.
O spiritual teachers, understand this: the Unspoken Speech is in the mind.
Without the Guru, the essence of reality is not found; the Invisible Lord dwells everywhere.
One meets the True Guru, and then the Lord is known, when the Word of the Shabad comes to dwell in the mind.
When self-conceit departs, doubt and fear also depart, and the pain of birth and death is removed.
Following the Guru's Teachings, the Unseen Lord is seen; the intellect is exalted, and one is carried across.
O Nanak, chant the chant of 'Sohang hansaa' -- 'He is me, and I am Him.' The three worlds are absorbed in Him. ||1||
As Gurmukh, look upon all with the single eye of equality; in each and every heart, the Divine Light is contained. ||2|| ....
…. The essence, the immaculate Lord, the Light of all -- I am He and He is me - there is no difference between us.
The Infinite Transcendent Lord, the Supreme Lord God -- Nanak has met with Him, the Guru. ||5||11||
May we realize this Truth that the Divine is within all people; that the Divine Light resides within all; it just has to be awakened, so that love can pour out.
There's arguable linkage, a much ignored connection, between the issues of Sikh gender inequality and banning marriages between Sikhs and non-Sikhs. (Both are aspects of tribalism. Watch Tribalism For Those Who Dare.)
Until Sikhs deal with and overcome the failure to practice Guru Nanak Dev Ji's teachings re gender equality, including the issues presented by Balvinder Kaur Saund and Siri Pritam Kaur Khalsa, there can be no resolution to the mixed faith marriage issue for Sikhs.
Re: Should Mixed Faith Marriage In Sikh Temples Be Banned?
Sangat jeo, Gur Fateh!
Please understand that if you are not in favor of mixed marriages you are utterly ignorant of the true meanings of the very first words of our Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Ek Ong Kar Sat Naam. And you remain completely oblivious to the next words, Karta Purkh.
This is what is happening in almost all of our Gurdwaras. It is so sad. Our Gurbani is Universal in conveying the Universal message to the whole humanity. If we, the Sikhs, do not understand ourselves and live our teachings, how can we convey this most important message to the world.
Please, from now on, put all your attention on the Universality of Gurbani and spread the message.
Thank you for speaking out with regard to this core issue! Your commentary points out the Sikh preoccupation with what is known as tribalism, which must come to an end if Sikhs are to lead the people of planet Earth forward into the Age of Guru Nanak.
Re: Should Mixed Faith Marriage In Sikh Temples Be Banned?
Respected members: This discussion on “Mixed Marriages and Anand Karaj” is ignoring the real world. The mixed weddings within a Sikh ceremony is more common than we think. I have attended Sikh weddings where both the man and woman were from Sikh families, but had no clue as to what was involved in a Lavan/Anand Karaj.
I have attended, equal or perhaps more, Sikh wedding ceremonies where the boy or girl was a Sikh and the other partner was a non-Sikh including Punjabi, Sindi and South Indian Hindus. I recall at least 3 Sikh girls marrying boys from Lebanon, two Chrisitans and one Muslim, performed at an Anand Karaj ceremony.
I have attended several weddings where the woman or man was a White Amercan and the other partner a Sikh. In almost all the cases it was the Sikh parents who wanted the Anand Karaj for their own satisfaction.
The list can go on, but we need to recognize the reality.
The Sikh wedding is called Anand Karaj. It simply means Anand (being Blissfu), not just being happy during the wedding days and honeymoon. Karaj (Actions), your actions in this case, being blissful until the last breath, i.e., always blissful.
The history of the Anand marriage ceremony is traced back to the time of Guru Amar Das (1479–1574). His successor, Guru Ram Das, composed a four-stanza hymn, "Lavan", which is recited and sung to solemnize nuptials. During the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his successors, however, this ceremony fell into partial disuse under the renewed Brahmanical influence at court, as well as in society.
Siri Guru Granth Sahib holding court as 'Master of Ceremony'
The Namdhari reform movement of the mid-19th century made the practice of Anand ceremony a vital plank in its program as did the later, more widely influential Singh Sabha. But there was opposition from the Arya Samajis and priestly classes; the former due to their position that Sikhism was a sect within the larger umbrella of Hinduism and hence subject to Hindu Marriage Act. The Sikh form of wedding ceremonial eventually received legal sanction through the Anand Marriage Act, which was adopted in 1909.
The core of the Anand Karaj (the 'blissful ceremony') is the 'lavan', wherein shabads are sung with the bride and groom circumambulating the Guru Granth Sahib. The ceremony serves to provide the foundation principles towards a successful marriage and also places the marriage within the context of unity with God. Guru Ram Das Ji composed the four stanzas of Lavan to be sung and recited as the core of the Anand Karaj.
The ceremony is now universally observed by the Sikhs. --
“A true spiritual teacher blends into a stress-free life. Not the kind of stress-free
life that you think. Not the avoidance of as much stressful situations as possible.
This is the way of the world. It’s actually a stress-full way. The avoidance of stress
is a very stressful job. A spiritual stress-free life is not achieved by the avoidance
of stress, not just dealing with all stress, but the actual embracing of any
and all stress, which may come your way.” -- Hari Jiwan Singh Khslsa
Nam! My experience is whenever the subject of tribalism comes up in conversation many people relate to it as if tribalism is a four letter word. 'Tribalism' for many evokes a negative response, a psychological/emotional squirming. If you are one of these folks, I challenge you, I dare you, to watch this video, to look within, and to come face to face with your sensibilities.
Question: How does one know when tribalism is a likely issue? Answer: When dialogue between opposing parties is non-existent.
When diversity is minimal or nonexistent and exclusion is the practice.
When there's a lot of yelling and telling, not enough listening and learning.
Sat Nam. My mom, Sat Bachan Kaur, came to the precurser of MPA, Miri Piri Academy, for 11 years, and my dad, Sat Kartar Singh, came for one year, so I've known that I was going to come here my whole life; it was just a matter of waiting for the right time.
Last year I had this realization, as I was saying goodbye to my friends who were going to MPA, that I didn't want to do that anymore. I didn't want to say goodbye to them again; I wanted to go.
Since both of my parents went to school in India, I was mentally prepared to be challenged a lot while here and that helped me adjust quickly. I knew that there were going to be challenges and dangers but I wasn't worried about anything in particular; everything was within the package of coming.
What I was really excited about was being in a new place. I was really ready for a new set of things to do and a new lifestyle. I'm from a Sikh family so the lifestyle's not new to me, but this was going to be the first time in my life that things were going to change in a big way. I was going to be somewhere totally different and doing things that were totally different.
I'm super happy being here. I love everything about it. I've made a lot of friends and I'm really happy being here, having the experience that I'm having. Sometimes I miss the variety of food available back home (New Mexico, USA) or the lack of high living standards, but it's all part of the flow. Whatever the challenges, you just keep up and keep going.
There was a time in India when the rulers put a price on every Sikh's head, but Sikh's did not run and hide, they all took on an identity. Wearing a turban, men with their beards. This was an act of defiance. You want to know where we are, we are not hiding. It also became a beacon of light and safety. People would see a Sikh and know they would help them, serve them, protect them.
I am attached to this path and I will not run. I will pick myself up and continue to help others, be a lighthouse. I cannot pretend to understand why this happened, but the history of the past shows me to keep up, stand tall and speak up.
I stand with everyone. Do not feel alone, you are not. Find each other, hug each other, love each other. Do not give up! We can do this, we can survive this and we can overcome this. Love, love, love, peace, peace. Hate will not fill my heart. Fear will not be my motivation.
Whoever you are, however you identify. I am with you in our common goal for good.
Sat Nam. This Sunday (November 13, 2016) our community is celebrating Guru Nanak Dev Jis birthday. He was the founder of the Sikh Faith. He did not set out to start a religion, but he questioned what he saw.
Sikh by definition means student. One who wants to learn and evolve. Sikhs do not believe in dogma, magic and superstition. Sikhs believe that we are all One (Ek Ong Kar), we are to be treated equally and with respect.
Guru Nanak Dev brought people together with his words, his actions and deeds. He travelled on foot all over Asia and the Middle East. He helped to bring peace and love where ever he went. He called out sexism, caste system, greed, religious dogma, selfishness, hate, intolerance, division, and fear of the other. He bowed to the Oneness in all creation.
As we celebrate, I would like to invite those that feel hurt or pain to learn from your neighbors, to see the other as yourself, serve others, stand up for those that need a voice. Celebrate with us, eat with us, get to know us. Sikhs stand by the Word. Sikhs serve others. Sikhs feed others, work honestly while chanting the Nam, remembering the Oneness in all. People can change, can give comfort, can stand together.
Sat Nam. Here's a recent post by Sardar Balmeet Singh. It's another case of a Sikh walking the walk on the path of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. --
Racism on display before a patio full of diners.
"If our roles are ever reversed, and you need help,
know that I will stand up. I will be there for you."
One of the simple joys of life is being able to go enjoy a meal with your loved ones. Unless you happen to be a member of Bakersfield’s Sikh community.
As a Sikh, I wear my articles of faith every day, including my turban and beard. Sikhism, the fifth largest world religion, stands for service, equality, justice, compassion, and love. Despite this fact, in post 9/11 America, Sikhs have been disproportionately targeted in xenophobic harassment, discrimination and violence.
On September 30 (2016), a Friday night, my life was threatened because of my Sikh faith.
Just outside of a Habit Burger, I called my teenage cousin to wish him a happy birthday. As I shared in my little cousin’s birthday celebration, I heard some background noise, almost like an angry buzzing in my ears.
I adjusted the phone and continued to speak to my cousin, when all of a sudden I heard it more clearly: “You gonna blow up this country!”
I looked around to see where this was coming from, and locked eyes with the angry white man.
“You gonna blow up this country!” he yelled. “F--- you! I should f---ing kill you right now... I am going to kill you right now.”
I just stood there, in shock, my phone slipping from my hands, my little cousin forgotten, as a million thoughts raced through my head: Who was this stranger? Why was he so angry? Why was he blaming me?
I stood there, my legs frozen, as I saw the filled drink cup leave his hand and hurl towards me in the air. Time slowed down, almost like in the movies. I couldn’t move, as the cup flew towards me, my eyes widening, as it hit me, splashing the liquid all over my dastaar, or turban, covering my eyes, my face, dripping down my beard, to my shirt and jeans.
I stood for what seemed like an eternity, in shock at what was happening.
I kept thinking, I’ve lived in Kern County most of my life; I went to school in Bakersfield; I work here; this is my home! I looked around at the packed patio of Habit Burger only a few feet away, filled with people enjoying their meals. My eyes search around from person to person, looking for some spark of recognition, some acknowledgment of what was happening. Everyone looked away, choosing to pretend like I didn’t exist.
As I stepped toward my attacker, called him a racist, and yelled, “I’m calling the police,” he walked further into the parking lot and cruised off in his red pickup truck.
I stood there, sticky, dripping liquid, in the busy parking lot of Habit Burger, on the phone with 911, thinking over and over in my head: There were so many people here. Why didn’t anyone say something?
After reporting the incident, I made my way slowly past all the people on the patio, walking through the Habit Burger seating area, to the bathroom. l washed my face, wet down my turban, trying to wipe the sticky liquid off my phone, my face, my clothes. I stared into the mirror, looking into my own eyes, breathing deeply, hands shaking, wondering: When it would be OK? When would I be able to just eat a meal in peace?
To the people who sat there that night at Habit Burger, watching as I was attacked, and who did nothing about it, I have a message for you. Even though your eyes didn’t meet mine when I looked to you for support, even though you pretended like I didn’t exist that night, if our roles are ever reversed, and you need help, know that I will stand up. I will be there for you.
Bakersfield, we are better than this. I’m with you.
I agree with Sardar Gurmukh Singh Ji about politicians attending our events, getting Siropas and respect from us, but not doing much in return for promotion of the Sikh community through media and political channels.
Every Sikh function I have attended, I have got bored listening to the appeasing speeches from the same few politicians with large number of Sikh constituents. They say such nice things about us and how good citizens we are, yet politically, we are still lacking our fair representation in House of Commons and in House of Lords. Hate crimes against Sikhs is lumped together in Islamphobia statistics and our demands for clearly labelled meat products and grooming issues are ignored.
We are still not counted as an ethnic group in Office of National Statistics Census data, yet a handful of Gypsies and Arabs are given a separate tick box to record their small numbers. The Establishment is very clever keeping us in our place as the quiet child of U.K. Our contributions to Indian independence and first and second world wars is ignored in history books and we Sikhs had to remind them of our sacrifices.
Everything we got, we had to agitate for it through peaceful protests and build up our own community through sheer hard work and perseverance.
I am encouraged by many sikh youth now taking up the mantle from us older generation, and professionally moving into prominent posts in U.K.
Recently there was lots of debate in the media when UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson visited a Gurdwara in Bristol and uttered the word, "Whisky", while promoting a free trade deal with India. The uproar from the Sikh community showed our hypocrisy.
We need to hold a mirror up to our faces and agree that despite our Sikh faith teaching no intoxicants ideology, the majority of our community love their alcohol as gleaned from the free flowing alcohol at wedding receptions and parties.
During election time, we allow politicians to take over our Gurdwaras. Politicians do what politicians do, i.e., campaign for their party from the stage. We should then not complain that the perception is out there that Sikhs are whisky drinkers. Ask any person what they know of Sikhs and alcohol?
We brush taboo subjects under the carpet and do not like airing them, but only debate will bring about solutions to the rising statistics of drug addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, marriage and social breakdown of Sikh communities.
Small organizations like the Sikh Women's Alliance hold Conferences on these subjects but hardly any Sikh men attend, so our messages that we need to invest Gurdwara donations into making safe places for women facing violence, and Counseling, Mediation and Rehabilitation Centres are falling on deaf ears.
We do not need bigger and bigger Gurdwaras, but investment into our youth who have turned away from Sikh values and need to be brought back into the fold with love, not be judged or condemned.
So, those sitting on large Golaks, should put the sangat donations towards the needy and vulnerable. A good example is a Gurdwara in Derby, in their community centre, which is running a Rehabilitation Centre to help those wanting to come off alcohol and drug addiction, who are given professional medical support, and befriending help.
Regarding Alcohol and Sikhs debate: Jaspal Singh Mayell from USA asked some questions about Aims and Objectives of Sikh Women's Alliance UK.
Dear Jaspal Veer Ji,
WJKK WJKF to all Learning Zone readers.
Majority of our members are same age as your mothers and grandmothers but for last 17 years, whilst working outside in professional roles and running our homes, we have given our voluntary unpaid time empowering educating and inspiring sikh women.
We started with 5 women in 2001 but now we have hundreds on our membership list (£5 annual fee) and our events are open to all. We charge small minimal entry fee to our events and we ourselves pay too.
We raise funds from raffles and voluntary donations and every two years, if our Fundraiser is not too busy with her caring of her parents, we may apply to National Lottery Board to hold our Conferences and pay for the preparation of our Conference Reports which are circulated widely. Our spending is audited and our Treasurer is brilliant at balancing our books.
We never hold our hand out for money, we are too proud. We hold annual World Women's Day, Vaisakhi Day, Teeyan and Jago Events, regular Conferences and Workshops on taboo themes of gender equality, female infanticide, domestic violence, sexual exploitation, grooming issues, end of life care, making wills, inheritance and health advice and much more. We give awards to deserving women and young people and take them out to coach trips and holidays.
We speak on national Radio and Media to raise awareness of us as Sikhs needing support with mistaken identity and hate crime issues. We join protest marches or vigils for justice for women fighting caste discrimination and rape crimes. Our banner saying, 'Save our Daughters', and, 'Respect and love your daughters as you love your sons', can be seen on marches in UK.
We have many men who criticise us and pull us down, but there are equally many more Sikh brothers who have supported us with giving us space in their Colleges and Centres to hold our gatherings. They are our true brothers, true Guru Sikhs.
We are not a Drug or Alcohol Rehabilitation Group which will need secure purpose build premises, qualified Panjabi speaking Counsellers, paid Staff and running costs which us elderly pensionable ladies cannot afford.
Most of us singlehandedly run our own homes and help our children with babysitting duties in an ever hard world where are young couples need us. We have promoted many Sikh businesses by allowing them free stalls, and many have not set up proper shops from which we order food for our events and buy their products.
At our yearly Conferences and Workshops where up to 500 people turn up, we invite prominent Speakers from all professions who advise the women on how to recognise problems and signpost people for help to social services and Rehabilitation Centres. Most of our ladies are professionally qualified as Councillors, Counsellors, Magistrates, Chaplains, School Teachers and Gurdwara Stage Secretaries and much more.
Many of our ladies run their own projects like EKTA, Elderly abuse group, and Hospital Chaplaincy Groups. They have been given OBEs and MBEs in recognition of their lifetime work. I was Redbridge Councillor for eight years from 2006-2014. I held weekly Advise Surgeries in a local library premises, where women from all faiths came to seek help in confidence.
I have personally referred thousands to the mediators, lawyers and to top officers in Police and local Council, who have helped these women to get social services support and justice. Our local Gurdwara would not give me a room for holding this Advise Surgery as they said people smoking or under intoxicant influences may come into the Gurdwara. We have personally through our monthly Meet and Greet groups in the Panjabi Centre made referrals to authorities and helped thousands of women facing many problems.
The dilemma is that our families do not want to talk about their sons or daughters being addicted, so they hide their secrets until the family explodes, but by then, matters have got out of hand leading to violence and mental breakdowns. We hate going to Mediation and Counselling sessions to resolve our issues, as we are very quick to judge and gossip about these individuals, even when we are Amritdhari Sikhs.
A woman has to be beaten up nearly 40 times before she will seek outside help. She will blame herself for the episode of violence and will try to keep her family together. When she gets to court, she asks for her husband to be given anger management training or Alcohol Rehabilitation placement to get him to change his behaviour.
Our Executive Committee does not allow loose talk and negative narrative at our gatherings. We agreed not to apply for grants to open an office with paid staff, as many such groups use money on running their own office/household and self promote themselves and employ their own family members as paid workers.
Our families want free rehabilitation placements but these are rare as councils are cutting their budgets. Families will spend £100,000 on a wedding but not confide in their GP or open their purse to invest in their child by enrolling them in private Rehabilitation Centres. We have sent many youngsters to Baru Sahib in India to get them support both spiritually and practically.
We believe that some Gurdwaras have up to £10 million sitting in their Golaks, which they use to build bigger halls, and marble and gold plate the walls for show.
Others accuse the Pardhans of salting away money to their personal accounts to build their own personal property portfolios, whilst not doing any practical paid work outside.
Harking back: When near Delhi Gate,
let your mind’s eye wander. By Majid Sheikh
"...what happened in March 1746 inside the once walled city, in the gateway
and outside Delhi Gate needs to be remembered as a communal outrage."
Every time I enter Delhi Gate my thoughts are not on the splendid job done to conserve the Shahi Hamam, or even to the dilapidated mosque of Wazir Khan, but the mind’s eye goes back 270 years when the main gateway and beyond had thousands lying slaughtered.
For this reason if you go through old descriptions of the ‘Chotta Ghalughara’ that took place in Lahore, one is amazed at the sheer scale of barbarity that took place. But this happening on the 10th of March 1746 needs to be put in its historical context. The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 and the founding of the Lahore Darbar of Maharajah Ranjit Singh in 1799 has a bloody 92 years of history.
For purely communal reasons this time period has been ignored, more so because the sub-continent fragments with amazing continuity over a 3,000-year cyclic pattern that we know of, only to come together because of some uniting catalyst, mostly foreign. Lest you think history repeats itself, be warned, for that is not the case.
The sole reason the entire sub-continent fragments is because of the way the poor of this huge landmass are treated by the rulers. In a way this process even today continues on both sides of the communal ‘line of hate’ that divides the sub-continent. Divided, they rule more easily. Communal hatred created castes 3,500 years ago in our cities and villages. That wretched way of thinking remains part and parcel of our “allegedly pious” way of life.
No one is able today to lump the fact that our historic ‘foreign liberators’ were in fact child slave traders. Our leaders remain, essentially, traders of our products, our wealth, be it gold, children, women, spices, indigo, cotton, forced labour and cheap soldiers, and now the easily-convertible dollar. This wealth of our land has been taken to faraway places of ‘relative safety’ and ‘ease’.
That is why what happened in March 1746 inside the once walled city, in the gateway and outside Delhi Gate needs to be remembered as a communal outrage. In the 92-year time period mentioned above, a relatively new religion had aggressively emerged, one that did not believe in castes or idols or directions to pray towards, but rather rationalised the Almighty within oneself. Sikhism, a very simple concept that liberated the very poor, had emerged and this was being attacked by the rulers, who happened to be foreigners, and Muslims at that.
After the creation – for a seven-year period, of the ‘First Sikh State’ in the Punjab east of Lahore by the revolutionary Banda Singh Bahadar, known popularly as Banda Bairagi, the ‘zamindari’ system was abolished and tillers given their lands. True freedom had come for the poor. The Mughals, landowners that they had become, amassed armies from all over the sub-continent to tackle this “freedom-loving revolutionary”, finally capturing him.
He was brought to Lahore and outside Delhi Gate was chained, put in an iron cage, and put on an elephant. Then a procession started out for Delhi with 700 Sikh heads on spikes proceeding alongside. There he was skinned alive after the heart and liver of his five-year old son were stuffed in his mouth. Not a cry from him came forth. Another Punjabi hero was born.
Before him at the same place outside Delhi Gate, the great Dullah Bhatti had been skinned alive for daring to challenge Akbar the ‘Great’. The issue was unfair taxation of peasants. The revolutionary did not let a whimper reflect the pain. Over time one cruelty followed another.
In place of Banda Bairagi emerged the founder of the ‘Second Sikh State’, a leader by the name of Nawab Kapoor Singh, who made a daring plan to capture the Mughal Governor of Lahore, Nawab Zakarya Khan. Inside the walled city trickled in a force of 2,000 men all of whom were in disguise. On that eventful Friday they all went to pray at the Shahi Mosque. Their spies had informed that Zakarya Khan always offered his Friday prayers at this huge mosque. But then it was a lucky day for Zakarya Khan as he did not visit the mosque.
Kapoor Singh threw off his disguise, and waving his sword and a knife shouted “Sat Sri Akal’, and with his Sikh force marched out of Lahore, vanishing in the jungle beyond Mahmood Buti on the River Ravi. This incident was one of several others that set the stage for Zakarya Khan and his chief minister, Lakhpat Rai, to launch a campaign to exterminate Sikhs, for as the ‘farmans’ now tell us they had been declared as ‘Kafirs’ and it was their Islamic duty to exterminate them.
From the bush country and forests as far away as Kahnuwan, they started massacring Sikhs, and a procession was again brought to Lahore. According to the historian S.M. Latif, over 7,000 men, women and children were massacred and another 3,000 brought in chains to Lahore and parked in the horse market outside Delhi Gate. What followed is known in Sikh history as the “Chotta Ghalughara”.
The scene outside Delhi Gate has been described by Latif: “Lakhpat Rai separated over 1,000 Sikh men from the over 3,000 captured alive. These men were bare-backed, faces blackened, sitting two astride facing outwards on donkeys. A huge procession went all the way through the bazaars of Lahore returning to Delhi Gate.” Along the way excited frenzied people threw whatever they could at them.
This was orchestrated communal hatred at its height. When the bloodied procession returned to Delhi Gate on that fateful day, all the butchers and the scavengers of the city were engaged to behead them, one at a time. By late in the evening the entire area inside the gateway and in the horse market outside, lay butchered bodies by the thousands.
The women and children of Sikh families were also not spared, with most managing a less painful death by jumping into the ‘Shaheedi Khoo’ outside the city, now in Landa Bazaar. This terrible day is known as ‘Chotta Ghalughara’ and it was the catalyst that led the Sikh ‘misls’ to attack Afghans, ultimately expelling them from Punjab. The Bhangi ‘misl’ took over power in Lahore and set up the ‘Second Sikh State’.
But then the Afghans returned, only to be taken on by the Sukerchakia ‘misl’ of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, leading to the setting up in 1799 of the ‘Third Sikh State’, and the greatest of the three. Within 92 years of Aurangzeb passing away, power has passed on to the oppressed. Aurangzeb on his death bed was to say: “I do not know who I am, why I am here, and what has happened.”
That is why Delhi Gate is not merely about old decaying and neglected monuments. It is, to my way of thinking, more about the people of this neglected city and the way they have been treated by our rulers. Pious words mean nothing, for communal hatred rules our minds and ways.
Ironically, 250 years after this massacre, the Afghans have trickled back into the old city, where they form a majority. In the evenings in most ‘mohallahs’, Pushto has replaced Lahori Punjabi. A lot of them are now traders as are their workers Afghan. What this holds for the future is worth pondering over in a land where our Punjabi mother tongue is frowned upon. Surely an explosive communal mix.Source.