This Is Who We Are

In remembrance of the 25th anniversary of the Darbar Sahib attack, I’m re-posting a piece I had written for sikhchic.com‘s “1984 & I” series:

TLH_Who_We_Are.jpg

This Is Who We Are

Years ago, I was giving a local church group a tour of our Gurdwara.While I was showing them around the langar hall and explaining the history and significance of langar, I noticed that I was losing my audience. It took me a second to figure it out, but it appeared they were fixated on one of the images on the wall. It was the painting we’ve all seen of Bhai TaruSingh being scalped and blood running down his body. I’m not sure what shocked them more – the graphic painting itself, or the five-year-old boy sitting beneath it, quietly eating his meal.

For just a second, I put myself in their shoes. I looked around the room and saw pictures of Sikh martyrs from the 18th century – a man being boiled alive, a person being sawed in half, two little boys being bricked alive, and an old man with his fingers getting chopped off. And I thought to myselfis this really necessary, the depiction of these scenes in these surroundings?

I started to wonder: are these images really what we want to convey to our visitors? Shouldnt we find something that depicts universality and love for humanity? Especially after 9/11, shouldnt we be displaying a softer image of Sikhs? After all, this dining area is a place for us to share a common meal, and little children play down here, for Gods sake! Is this really appropriate?

But then it dawned on me …

This is who we are.

Sikhiis a loving religion, with a universal message that advocates equality and human rights for all. These were revolutionary ideas during the Guru’s time and preserving and strengthening these ideals under oppressive rulers came at a tremendous price. Gurus were martyred, their sons bricked alive, and countless other brave Singhs and Kaurs gave their lives for the Chardi Kalaa of the Khalsa Panth. Sometimes I look at the numbers and I am overwhelmed. Roughly 25,000 Sikhs gave their lives along with Banda Singh Bahadur, 20,000 under Zakhriya Khan’s rule, 10,000 in the Vada Ghalugara (The Big Holocaust), and 60,000 at the hands of Ahmed Shah Abdali. Within half-a-century, roughly 200,000 Sikh lives were lost. Waheguru.

Such figures can be depressing, but somehow, as a child listening to the stories of our collective struggle, I felt inspired. Not by how much we’ve suffered, but by how much we’ve overcome. No matter how hard we, the Sikhs, are suppressed, we always seem to rise again…stronger!

When I reflect on all the sacrifices, I can’t help but think that every one of those lives lost, every drop of a blood was for me, so that hundreds of years later, I could confidently walk the streets – anywhere in the world – with my head held high, proudly bearing the gifts of my father.

I am not saddened, but I am in awe of how a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old held the fate of Sikhion their shoulders and proudly gave their lives before their faith. They did it for me…they did it for us! It is these acts of sheer bravery and courage that gives me a sense of pride and a sense of purpose.

As Bhai Sukha and Bhai Jinda so eloquently wrote in their letter shortly before their execution, “Our entire nation has taken birth from the art of keeping its head on its palm.” This idea is so deeply ingrained in our way of life, that every day we stand before the Guru – on happy and sad occasions – every birth, marriage, or funeral, we recount the sacrifices of our ancestors in our Ardaas, “Band-band katae, khopriaan luhaaian, charkhriaan te chharhe …” Our sacrifice and struggle is something we cherish.

But I wonder, are we losing touch?

I’ve noticed a growing reluctance from our organizations and institutions to fully recognize our recent history, in particular, with 1984. Over the years at Gurmat camps, retreats and the Gurdwaras where I’ve taught Sikh history, I’ve encountered a lot of resistance to discussing 1984. Organizers tell me the material is “too heavy,” the images “too graphic,”, and the content “too controversial.”

What have we become?

Why is it that we can look back through our history and take pride in events that outsiders would call horrific, but recent events are too controversial? What makes it too heavy? Is it because it is so recent? Or is it because the enemies are not “Mughals”?

Or maybe because we don’t understand the history ourselves?

Whatever the reason may be, the result is an overwhelming number of youth who haven’t a clue what happened in 1984 – it is as though it never happened. And even those who have some vague idea of what happened have no understanding of what led to the events in 1984 and the grave human rights violations that have happened since.

I understand how painful the events are, and some of the wounds haven’t fully healed, but since when have we have turned into a nation that sweeps its history under the rug? We all know what happens to “those who forget their history…”, and considering we are a community that has suffered several large-scale massacres throughout our short existence, one would think we would be more vigilant.

My Jewish friends tell me they were taught the graphic realities of the Holocaust at an early age. It was ingrained into their psyche. This idea of “Never Again” became part of their character. Every Jew – young or old – anywhere in the world could identify with the Holocaust. Their struggle seemed to strengthen them, individually and as a community.

While much of our community would prefer to forget 1984, I cannot – I am a product of it. At a young age, I did not have much of an interest in Sikhi, but that period of time where Sikhiwas being attacked inspired me to learn more – about my faith, history and people. I wanted to know exactly what it was that all these brave men and women were willing to give their lives for. The events and personalities of 1984 and the struggle for sovereignty motivated me to learn more about Gurmat and become more conscious of human rights violations and social injustice all over the world. Instead of forgetting our history, I chose to embrace it!

And I am not alone.

There are many other “thirty-somethings” in the Khalsa Panth today, who have channeled their energy and emotion inspired by 1984 into productive work for the Panth, some of whom hold leadership roles in our civil and human rights organizations – safeguarding our rights every day.

Some criticize me for “living in the past,” but I refuse to let this chapter in our history pass quietly. Especially as a parent, I do not want to shield my kids from our history – even if it is sometimes “too heavy.” I want my children to be just as equally inspired by the Battle of Amritsar as they are by the Battle of Chamkaur. I want them to know about the great sacrifices of the brave Singhs and Kaurs before them, so they can not only bask in the Guru’s love, but understand the responsibility that comes along with it.


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28 Responses to “This Is Who We Are”

  1. British Sikh says:

    amazing article!

  2. British Sikh says:

    amazing article!

  3. Gabru says:

    This is a good post. I do realise that it often takes a shocking event to jolt us back into thinking about our faith, our ancestors, and their sacrifices. I also have a deep respect for some of the martyrs of 84.

    But I would also have to say that there is a big difference between many of the prominent individuals from 84, and those from past battles such as Chamkaur and others. The Sikh character then was not as blemished, the cause was noble and inclusive, and the panth a lot more united.

    I would encourage you to read Harminder Kaur's very balanced and well researched take on the events of 1984 ("Blue Star over Amritsar"; introduction by Khushwant Singh). This, and other well researched accounts, not only cover the divisive politics of the government, but also the flawed stance of the Akalis, and Bhindranwale (whose men ultimately fought very bravely, there is no doubt about it). Extreme power also corrupts, and the movement for autonomy was not inclusive at all – infact, it turned autocratic and suppressive of dissent. Moderate Sikh voices were delt with just as violently as opposing "Indian" ones were.

    I for one, would not equate some of the "martyrs" of 1984 with those from our glorious past – those Sikhs were much more noble and principled in pursuing their cause.

    Going forward, I think we should definately teach our children about 1984, but not in a manner that completely vilifies Indians and glorifies men such as Bhindranwale as well as others from the Akalis, Babbars, etc. I see a lot of Sikh youth outside India these days living in hate – of the Indian government, even Indians in general. This blind us versus them mentality, occupying a higher moral ground, and simply disliking all things Indian only leads to more extremism and an inablility to look introspectively at our own community's faults.

    And we have plenty of problems in the panth that we simply cannot blame others for. But that is a topic for another discussion.

  4. Gabru says:

    This is a good post. I do realise that it often takes a shocking event to jolt us back into thinking about our faith, our ancestors, and their sacrifices. I also have a deep respect for some of the martyrs of 84.

    But I would also have to say that there is a big difference between many of the prominent individuals from 84, and those from past battles such as Chamkaur and others. The Sikh character then was not as blemished, the cause was noble and inclusive, and the panth a lot more united.

    I would encourage you to read Harminder Kaur’s very balanced and well researched take on the events of 1984 (“Blue Star over Amritsar”; introduction by Khushwant Singh). This, and other well researched accounts, not only cover the divisive politics of the government, but also the flawed stance of the Akalis, and Bhindranwale (whose men ultimately fought very bravely, there is no doubt about it). Extreme power also corrupts, and the movement for autonomy was not inclusive at all – infact, it turned autocratic and suppressive of dissent. Moderate Sikh voices were delt with just as violently as opposing “Indian” ones were.

    I for one, would not equate some of the “martyrs” of 1984 with those from our glorious past – those Sikhs were much more noble and principled in pursuing their cause.

    Going forward, I think we should definately teach our children about 1984, but not in a manner that completely vilifies Indians and glorifies men such as Bhindranwale as well as others from the Akalis, Babbars, etc. I see a lot of Sikh youth outside India these days living in hate – of the Indian government, even Indians in general. This blind us versus them mentality, occupying a higher moral ground, and simply disliking all things Indian only leads to more extremism and an inablility to look introspectively at our own community’s faults.

    And we have plenty of problems in the panth that we simply cannot blame others for. But that is a topic for another discussion.

  5. ItsMe says:

    From a family perspective the individuals in my family who I have mentioned 1984 have varying opinions and stories. A large majority of my family was in Punjab during those times some were in Delhi.

    But one person stuck out in my head and said why were Sikhs never attacked before 1984 in such a manner. (I question this statement but my lack of knowledge held me back from arguing this point) His answer was that operation bluestar happened because Sikhs were at fault and essentially we were the cause of our own situation at the time. I am just thinking to myself how does someone come to the conclusion?

    I grew learning 1984 was an attack on the Sikh people for us asking for our Civil Liberties initially please correct me if i am wrong. The threat in the governments eyes was the Jathedar at the time as he was trying to empower the people to be self reliant and ardent Gursikhs.

    Bleh way too much info and then we get over whelmed. Someone needs to put a course together or online class or something.

    I apologize for any typos and grammatical errors.

  6. Hari Singh says:

    Chotta Bhai sahib ji,

    Many thanks for presenting a great article. Despite my 56 years, it managed to enlightened me and provide a new dimension on a few issues.

    However, there is one point which I find hard to accept. The shaahidi of Baba Deep Singh, Banda Singh Bahadar, Chotta sahibzade, Bhai Taru Singh, etc versus 1984. Please do not put the two in the same category. I accept the sacrifices of the Sikhs in 1984 and I accept a wrong was done but we cannot faithfully say that the background and motive were the same!

    In 1984, we were not being asked forcefully to become Muslims or Hindus; we had most of our basis human rights; Sikhs were governing Punjab democratically (before emergency); there was no open persecution of Sikhs by outsiders; no price was put on the head of a Sikh, etc, etc. I am not an expert on India politics but I believe that a minority of Sikhs wanted additional economical rights and they wanted to get them by inciting violence; this is not Sikhi!! And should we bring weapons and arms into a Gurdwara and fortify it for a battle? Is there a previous precedence like this?

    I accept that to attack a holy site is wrong and what was done by the Indian government is unacceptable but please don't put the two periods in the same category – there is a big difference!

    The historic sacrifices were for basic human rights; for all the peoples of the world not for a local Khalistan or just for Sikhs! None of the historic sacrifices were for a Sikh homeland! They were for the freedom for all the peoples of the world to live freely and without fear. It was a global fight against a tyrannical rule.

    I will keep this short and conclude that this is why there is not the same global support from all the Sikhs for 1984 as there is for the sacrifices of the past. The aim was not the same; the motives were a little "selfish" and "more communal" not global as for example the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadar, chotta Sahibzade, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Dayal Das, Bhai Deep Singh, etc.

    Bhul chuk maff

  7. ItsMe says:

    From a family perspective the individuals in my family who I have mentioned 1984 have varying opinions and stories. A large majority of my family was in Punjab during those times some were in Delhi.

    But one person stuck out in my head and said why were Sikhs never attacked before 1984 in such a manner. (I question this statement but my lack of knowledge held me back from arguing this point) His answer was that operation bluestar happened because Sikhs were at fault and essentially we were the cause of our own situation at the time. I am just thinking to myself how does someone come to the conclusion?

    I grew learning 1984 was an attack on the Sikh people for us asking for our Civil Liberties initially please correct me if i am wrong. The threat in the governments eyes was the Jathedar at the time as he was trying to empower the people to be self reliant and ardent Gursikhs.

    Bleh way too much info and then we get over whelmed. Someone needs to put a course together or online class or something.

    I apologize for any typos and grammatical errors.

  8. Reema says:

    ItsMe- If you're looking for an online class, SikhRI is doing just that- a webinar. :)

    There's a class on June 13th titled "June 1984: Myth vs. Reality."

    You can register here: https://sikhri.webex.com/mw0306l/mywebex/default….

  9. Reema says:

    ItsMe- If you’re looking for an online class, SikhRI is doing just that- a webinar. :)

    There’s a class on June 13th titled “June 1984: Myth vs. Reality.”

    You can register here: https://sikhri.webex.com/mw0306l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=sikhri

  10. Hari Singh says:

    Chotta Bhai sahib ji,

    Many thanks for presenting a great article. Despite my 56 years, it managed to enlightened me and provide a new dimension on a few issues.

    However, there is one point which I find hard to accept. The shaahidi of Baba Deep Singh, Banda Singh Bahadar, Chotta sahibzade, Bhai Taru Singh, etc versus 1984. Please do not put the two in the same category. I accept the sacrifices of the Sikhs in 1984 and I accept a wrong was done but we cannot faithfully say that the background and motive were the same!

    In 1984, we were not being asked forcefully to become Muslims or Hindus; we had most of our basis human rights; Sikhs were governing Punjab democratically (before emergency); there was no open persecution of Sikhs by outsiders; no price was put on the head of a Sikh, etc, etc. I am not an expert on India politics but I believe that a minority of Sikhs wanted additional economical rights and they wanted to get them by inciting violence; this is not Sikhi!! And should we bring weapons and arms into a Gurdwara and fortify it for a battle? Is there a previous precedence like this?

    I accept that to attack a holy site is wrong and what was done by the Indian government is unacceptable but please don’t put the two periods in the same category – there is a big difference!

    The historic sacrifices were for basic human rights; for all the peoples of the world not for a local Khalistan or just for Sikhs! None of the historic sacrifices were for a Sikh homeland! They were for the freedom for all the peoples of the world to live freely and without fear. It was a global fight against a tyrannical rule.

    I will keep this short and conclude that this is why there is not the same global support from all the Sikhs for 1984 as there is for the sacrifices of the past. The aim was not the same; the motives were a little “selfish” and “more communal” not global as for example the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadar, chotta Sahibzade, Bhai Sati Das, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Dayal Das, Bhai Deep Singh, etc.

    Bhul chuk maff

  11. Rab Rakha says:

    Very good article. As a Punjabi who grew up going to Dargahs, Mandirs, Churches, Deras, and Gurudwara, it is in our spirit as Punjabis, being the gateway to South Asia, to have to deal with persecution of foreign tyrants for years. In the case of Sikhi, bariyan bariyan qurbaniya Guruan ne ditti sadi lee. Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Arjun Dev, and Guru Gobind Singh jee all dedicated their lives for justice and paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is important that Sikhs remember this Shaheedi. The same way people of other religions do (Christian martyrs, Jews in the Old Testament, Shias, etc…Its not only a Dharmik thing obviously)

    I am pleased to read other comments here, however. I feel it is wrong that full justice has not been delivered to the victims of the 1984 pogrom against Delhi Sikhs. I still believe, though, that June 1984 was a aggravated assault, in the sense that men with weapons and political agendas went into the Guru's home risking the lives of thousands of people. That was an internal threat that any government had to deal with. The way the government dealt with it, yes it could have been better. But Bhindranwale and his fauj should not have used the Golden Temple as a military base, that is not the way a Sikh of the Gurus should act. Forgive me, if my analysis is skewed but that is how I look at it. Feel free to correct me.

    One more thing, it is important for us to realize the atrocities that our Sikh, Punjabi, and overall Human brothers and sisters face TODAY. The female infanticide, Cancer caused by ill farming techniques, immigrants leaving their Punjabi wives forever, marriage fraud, farmer suicide. Not acknowledging these issues but focusing only on 1984 is not only strikingly hypocritical but also against Sikhi's tenets.

  12. Rab Rakha says:

    Very good article. As a Punjabi who grew up going to Dargahs, Mandirs, Churches, Deras, and Gurudwara, it is in our spirit as Punjabis, being the gateway to South Asia, to have to deal with persecution of foreign tyrants for years. In the case of Sikhi, bariyan bariyan qurbaniya Guruan ne ditti sadi lee. Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Arjun Dev, and Guru Gobind Singh jee all dedicated their lives for justice and paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is important that Sikhs remember this Shaheedi. The same way people of other religions do (Christian martyrs, Jews in the Old Testament, Shias, etc…Its not only a Dharmik thing obviously)

    I am pleased to read other comments here, however. I feel it is wrong that full justice has not been delivered to the victims of the 1984 pogrom against Delhi Sikhs. I still believe, though, that June 1984 was a aggravated assault, in the sense that men with weapons and political agendas went into the Guru’s home risking the lives of thousands of people. That was an internal threat that any government had to deal with. The way the government dealt with it, yes it could have been better. But Bhindranwale and his fauj should not have used the Golden Temple as a military base, that is not the way a Sikh of the Gurus should act. Forgive me, if my analysis is skewed but that is how I look at it. Feel free to correct me.

    One more thing, it is important for us to realize the atrocities that our Sikh, Punjabi, and overall Human brothers and sisters face TODAY. The female infanticide, Cancer caused by ill farming techniques, immigrants leaving their Punjabi wives forever, marriage fraud, farmer suicide. Not acknowledging these issues but focusing only on 1984 is not only strikingly hypocritical but also against Sikhi’s tenets.

  13. British Sikh says:

    its sad that the India government has been so successfully in their propaganda to make Sikhs feel as if they deserved what happened in 1984…how sad!!!

  14. British Sikh says:

    its sad that the India government has been so successfully in their propaganda to make Sikhs feel as if they deserved what happened in 1984…how sad!!!

  15. Harinder says:

    Let Truth come out how so ever hard it may be.

    Let it come out with out Hatred and with out prejuidice.

    It should be from depth of heart yearning to see the meaning of this event.

    As per SIKH nothing happens with out the will of "WAHEGURU" it should be ultimately be taken in spirit op

    "TERA KIYA MITHA LAGE"

    It cannot be worse or more painful than for the 6,00,000/ JEWS killed in world war -11 .

  16. Gabru says:

    British Sikh – Indian Government propoganda has nothing to do with it. The Sikhs have run the Punjab government for a long time, and they are very touchy about any such propoganda. It would be extremely difficult for the government, or any other body, to openly even suggest in Punjab that what happened in 84 was correct. Propoganda is not the cause of the change in opinion.

    The opinion of many Sikhs in India has changed towards what happened in 84 because of a range of reasons. Many suffered through the 80's at the hands of the "militants" (I personally know of families who were forced to make monetary donations for the cause). Many realise that Bhindranwale, athough well intentioned, was not perfect in his actions.

    Others now in Punjab see that we have many more serious problems than continue focusing on 84 – and these problems are of our own making, we simply cannot blame the Indian government for everything. Yet others realise that Khalistan was just a really bad idea – not viable in any way (inter "cast" and other rivalries for one would have consumed us the minute we had our own state). Indian Sikhs can be pragmatic, and many have realised that the best way forward is to be economically prosperous, well educated, and respected.

    My question to you is this – why is it that Sikhs living overseas hold on so firmly to 84 (even when those most effected – Indian Sikhs – have moved on)? Why remain frozen in time? Why not focus on current challenges faced by the Sikh community (and there are plenty) rather than dwell on those we faced 25 years ago?

    These are questions for all Sikhs living overseas who continue to hold onto 84, sell Bhindranwale/Khalistan/84 t-shirts outside gurudwaras, give inflamatory speeches in gurudwaras against the Indian Government, hold annual protests against the government – all of which don't really effect the Canadian/American/British/Australian Sikhs, but create problems for Indian Sikhs who simply want to move on and don't want to be seen as Khalistanis!

  17. Harinder says:

    Let Truth come out how so ever hard it may be.
    Let it come out with out Hatred and with out prejuidice.
    It should be from depth of heart yearning to see the meaning of this event.
    As per SIKH nothing happens with out the will of “WAHEGURU” it should be ultimately be taken in spirit op

    “TERA KIYA MITHA LAGE”

    It cannot be worse or more painful than for the 6,00,000/ JEWS killed in world war -11 .

  18. Gabru says:

    British Sikh – Indian Government propoganda has nothing to do with it. The Sikhs have run the Punjab government for a long time, and they are very touchy about any such propoganda. It would be extremely difficult for the government, or any other body, to openly even suggest in Punjab that what happened in 84 was correct. Propoganda is not the cause of the change in opinion.

    The opinion of many Sikhs in India has changed towards what happened in 84 because of a range of reasons. Many suffered through the 80’s at the hands of the “militants” (I personally know of families who were forced to make monetary donations for the cause). Many realise that Bhindranwale, athough well intentioned, was not perfect in his actions.

    Others now in Punjab see that we have many more serious problems than continue focusing on 84 – and these problems are of our own making, we simply cannot blame the Indian government for everything. Yet others realise that Khalistan was just a really bad idea – not viable in any way (inter “cast” and other rivalries for one would have consumed us the minute we had our own state). Indian Sikhs can be pragmatic, and many have realised that the best way forward is to be economically prosperous, well educated, and respected.

    My question to you is this – why is it that Sikhs living overseas hold on so firmly to 84 (even when those most effected – Indian Sikhs – have moved on)? Why remain frozen in time? Why not focus on current challenges faced by the Sikh community (and there are plenty) rather than dwell on those we faced 25 years ago?

    These are questions for all Sikhs living overseas who continue to hold onto 84, sell Bhindranwale/Khalistan/84 t-shirts outside gurudwaras, give inflamatory speeches in gurudwaras against the Indian Government, hold annual protests against the government – all of which don’t really effect the Canadian/American/British/Australian Sikhs, but create problems for Indian Sikhs who simply want to move on and don’t want to be seen as Khalistanis!

  19. It’s really pathetic to hear from fellow Sikhs who go on and teach others that move on, what do you mean by move on?
    1. Does it mean that we should forget 1984 completely as if nothing happened?
    2. Does it mean that those mass murderers who commmited atrocities should be left scot free?
    3. Does that mean that there will be no justice given to the riot victims?
    4. Does that mean we should forget that our sisters, daughters and mothers were raped brtually for three consecutive days in Delhi and rest on India?
    5. Does it mean that we should forget the justification for 1984 riots given by Rajiv Gandhi(Indian PM then) by saying “When Big tree falls, earth is bound to shake”?
    When justice is not delivered to you even after several commisions and 25 years later it is very hard for us to say even “move on” then to think about it?We are demanding Justice to the 1984 riots victims not because they were SIKHS but because they were citizens of Indian republic. Is asking for justice in India is like asking for moon? Tell us? It is not that 1984 will never happen again it has happened again in 2002 in Gujrat, the only thing which was different was instead of SIKHS it was muslims. It has happened in Kandhamal, Orissa, the difference here being was the victims were Christians and it will happen again until the time the perprators are not brought to the book and punhished according to the law.The “Move on” attitude or I should say “Yaar sab chalta hai” attitude of we Indians will never bring peace and prosperity to we Indians.

  20. It’s really pathetic to hear from fellow Sikhs who go on and teach others that move on, what do you mean by move on?
    1. Does it mean that we should forget 1984 completely as if nothing happened?
    2. Does it mean that those mass murderers who commmited atrocities should be left scot free?
    3. Does that mean that there will be no justice given to the riot victims?
    4. Does that mean we should forget that our sisters, daughters and mothers were raped brtually for three consecutive days in Delhi and rest on India?
    5. Does it mean that we should forget the justification for 1984 riots given by Rajiv Gandhi(Indian PM then) by saying “When Big tree falls, earth is bound to shake”?
    When justice is not delivered to you even after several commisions and 25 years later it is very hard for us to say even “move on” then to think about it?We are demanding Justice to the 1984 riots victims not because they were SIKHS but because they were citizens of Indian republic. Is asking for justice in India is like asking for moon? Tell us? It is not that 1984 will never happen again it has happened again in 2002 in Gujrat, the only thing which was different was instead of SIKHS it was muslims. It has happened in Kandhamal, Orissa, the difference here being was the victims were Christians and it will happen again until the time the perprators are not brought to the book and punhished according to the law.The “Move on” attitude or I should say “Yaar sab chalta hai” attitude of we Indians will never bring peace and prosperity to we Indians.

  21. Jodha says:

    I have heard well-reasoned discussions and that in and of itself is the purpose of this forum.

    I did want to throw out a few points for further thought.

    1) This week marks the remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, yet hardly do the Chinese in China make any note of it. Should we then believe that the Chinese in China have "moved on", the world should "forget", and the Chinese in China only care about "economic prosperity"? Are the Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and throughout the global diaspora therefore 'stuck' in the past? Should they remain silent so as not to make things difficult for the Chinese in China?

    2) Why are Sikhs stuck in binaries? Can one ONLY decide to fight for human rights justice OR social issues justice? Are these mutually exclusive? Can one not do both at the same time? There will be those that are interested in opening economic opportunities for Sikhs. Great! There will be those that will bring light to social ills, including sex-selective abortions and rampant drug abuse. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the Indian state. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the United States like Amrit Singh and many others. Great!

    Activists need not do the same thing. Do whatever calls out to you. Stop criticizing those that do. You do!

    3) Everyone makes the facile remark that Sikhs are not to take weapons into "holy sites," however such a binary understanding of "religious" versus "political" creates confusion when applied to the Sikhs. I am the first to admit that many politicians (Akalis, Congress, etc.) have abused religion in the name of politics, but it does not mean that the only solution is the abandonment of the dual-interlocked swords of miri-piri. Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses. The whole purpose of the Burj near Darbar Sahib was not for some architectural beauty, but for the real purpose of defense.

    Maybe certain practices of Sikhi don't sit well with some of us, according to our own beliefs or notions. Maybe our understanding of Sikhi is less than the genius of our great Gurus. Still, I do not believe the solution is to create binaries where our Gurus did not intend them.

  22. Jodha says:

    I have heard well-reasoned discussions and that in and of itself is the purpose of this forum.

    I did want to throw out a few points for further thought.

    1) This week marks the remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, yet hardly do the Chinese in China make any note of it. Should we then believe that the Chinese in China have “moved on”, the world should “forget”, and the Chinese in China only care about “economic prosperity”? Are the Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and throughout the global diaspora therefore ‘stuck’ in the past? Should they remain silent so as not to make things difficult for the Chinese in China?

    2) Why are Sikhs stuck in binaries? Can one ONLY decide to fight for human rights justice OR social issues justice? Are these mutually exclusive? Can one not do both at the same time? There will be those that are interested in opening economic opportunities for Sikhs. Great! There will be those that will bring light to social ills, including sex-selective abortions and rampant drug abuse. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the Indian state. Great! There will be those that continue to expose abuses perpetrated by the United States like Amrit Singh and many others. Great!

    Activists need not do the same thing. Do whatever calls out to you. Stop criticizing those that do. You do!

    3) Everyone makes the facile remark that Sikhs are not to take weapons into “holy sites,” however such a binary understanding of “religious” versus “political” creates confusion when applied to the Sikhs. I am the first to admit that many politicians (Akalis, Congress, etc.) have abused religion in the name of politics, but it does not mean that the only solution is the abandonment of the dual-interlocked swords of miri-piri. Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses. The whole purpose of the Burj near Darbar Sahib was not for some architectural beauty, but for the real purpose of defense.

    Maybe certain practices of Sikhi don’t sit well with some of us, according to our own beliefs or notions. Maybe our understanding of Sikhi is less than the genius of our great Gurus. Still, I do not believe the solution is to create binaries where our Gurus did not intend them.

  23. Rab Rakha says:

    "Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses."

    If that is the official position of Sikhs, then there is no way anyone can be mad at the attack on Harmandir Sahib. They would just twist and turn the concepts of miripiri and Sant-Sipay, claiming that Sikhi and War go hand-in-hand.

    I am sorry but this is not right for the rest of Sikhs who wish to worship in peace. Go fight you wars elsewhere.

  24. Rab Rakha says:

    “Most Gurdwaras are the SITES of battles. Throughout history, Gurdwaras have been used as staging grounds for wars, battles, and defenses.”

    If that is the official position of Sikhs, then there is no way anyone can be mad at the attack on Harmandir Sahib. They would just twist and turn the concepts of miripiri and Sant-Sipay, claiming that Sikhi and War go hand-in-hand.

    I am sorry but this is not right for the rest of Sikhs who wish to worship in peace. Go fight you wars elsewhere.

  25. singh says:

    "This week marks the remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, yet hardly do the Chinese in China make any note of it."

    I would have to have to break it you Jodha but that is a very wierd thing to say

    China is a communist state with police repression, they have numerous restrictions in place to prevent these commemorations from taking place. If anything I think you are comparing the "democratic Republic" of india to a communist polic controlled state. How that helps to further your argument I dont understand??

  26. singh says:

    “This week marks the remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, yet hardly do the Chinese in China make any note of it.”

    I would have to have to break it you Jodha but that is a very wierd thing to say

    China is a communist state with police repression, they have numerous restrictions in place to prevent these commemorations from taking place. If anything I think you are comparing the “democratic Republic” of india to a communist polic controlled state. How that helps to further your argument I dont understand??

  27. Jodha says:

    Singh,

    No problem about 'breaking' it to me. The analogy was made on purpose. Regardless of communist or capitalist, there are movements and discussions that totalitarian states do not allow. While I do agree that many more enjoy certain freedoms in India, I would hardly go so far as to believe that those freedoms are extended to all. For many in Punjab, Assam, and Kashmir, tribal communities – arguments of degrees of state-terrorism are all that you can offer for why India is a better place to live than China.

    Tehelka does a major expose on the brutal state repression of tribal communities and how the Indian middle classes know, but do not care.

    The myth of Gandhi still largely shapes Indian rhetoric. For the masses of the country, that is all it is – rhetoric.

  28. Jodha says:

    Singh,

    No problem about ‘breaking’ it to me. The analogy was made on purpose. Regardless of communist or capitalist, there are movements and discussions that totalitarian states do not allow. While I do agree that many more enjoy certain freedoms in India, I would hardly go so far as to believe that those freedoms are extended to all. For many in Punjab, Assam, and Kashmir, tribal communities – arguments of degrees of state-terrorism are all that you can offer for why India is a better place to live than China.

    Tehelka does a major expose on the brutal state repression of tribal communities and how the Indian middle classes know, but do not care.

    The myth of Gandhi still largely shapes Indian rhetoric. For the masses of the country, that is all it is – rhetoric.