Monday, September 26, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

13th April

 

1559 Guru Amar Das Patshah established the Vaisakhi Maela traditions.

Vaisakhi Maela celebrations were first organized in Goindwal in 1559, with Guru Amar Dass permision, by Bhai Paro Parmhans of village Dallah. On this day, the big "bavalli" (a sort of well) at Goindwal was filled with water for the first time. Subsequently, vaisakhi maela was held annually, marks the first day of Vaisakh month. This day marks the begining of solar calendar year. On this day, GurSikh sangats travel long distances to gather and join in Guru Sahib's presence. Although, no day is considered auspicious in GurSikhism, vaisakhi day is one among the three days set aside for annual maela celebrations. Vaisakhi maelas are held annually where ever GurSikhs reside.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 1110)

#### Annual maela at Guru Kee Kanshi Damdama Sahib.
1746 Panth Khalsa passed a resolution on the Vaisakhi day, not to be part of the Afghan kingdom and actively work against any such designs.
1814 Nirankari Chief, Baba Darbara Singh, son of Baba Dyal Ji was born.

==> NIRANKARI: a particular branch of GurSikh faith, established by Bhai Dayal Singh Ji. A Saehajdhari Sikh resident of Peshwar, GurSahai Ji, had a son named RamSahai Ji who married Ladhaki, daughter of Vasakha Singh (treasurer for the tenth Guru). Bhai Dayal Singh was born from this marriage on 15 Vaisakh sunmat 1840 (1783).

At the age of 30, Bhai Dayal Singh's mother passed away. Since then he moved to live with his Mama ji (mother's brother) Milkha Singh in Rawalpindi. Milkha Singh successfully instigated the drive for religious preaching in Bhai Dayal Singh Ji.

Bhai Dayal Singh married Mulladae and had three sons: Darbara Singh, Bhara Singh and Ratta Ji. Bhai Dayal Singh was continually absorbed in Nirankar Shabad Jaap and diligently preached against idol worship. For this reason, he and his following came to be known as "Nirankari". This group has actively and successfully lead reforms within GurPanth practices. However, it should be noted that this group is distinct in their beliefs and practices form another group who believes in human Guru and also calls themselves Nirankaris. Bhai Dyal Singh opposed idol worship and preached marriage reforms.

Bhai Dayal Singh Ji passed away on 18th Magh sunmat 1911. Rawalpindi has a beautiful Gurudwara of Nirankaris, where visitors are humbly served with GurSahab kirtan, Katha, Guru's Langar.

CAUTION:- The SANT NIRANKARIS are a recent phenomenon and they have nothing in common with the Nirankari sect of the Sikhs, except for the name. They are not even a schism split from it, although the founder, Buta Singh (1883-1944), was once a member of the Nirankari Durbar at Rawalpindi. Upon being asked to quit the Durbar for a misdemeanour, he raised a group of his own. He was succeeded by Avtar Singh, who after the partition of India, 1947, migrated to Delhi and set up a centre there. Over the years, he recruited a considerable following from among Sikhs, Hindus and others. He was followed by his son, Gurbachan Singh. Gurbachan Singh's son, Hardev Singh, is now the leader of the Nirankaris.

These Nirankaris have no affiliation with any of the known religious traditions. In any case, they have nothing in common with Sikh religion and own no connection with it. They welcome to their fold people from all religions. In this way, they form a freemasonry of faiths held together by the person of the leader, who is believed by the faithful to be the incarnation of God. As Gurbachan Singh once proclaimed : "The responsibilities assigned from time to time to prophets like Noah, Rama, Krishna, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, Kabir, Nanak, and Dayal have now been put on shoulders by my predecessor Baba Avtar Singh." In Nirankari writings, he was claimed to be the Deity, the creator of this entire universe, its sustainer and master.

It is not for anyone to controvert such claims. Least of all for Sikhs, who do not regard truth as the monopoly of any single group or faith. Their history and culture are witness to their liberal outlook. Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75), Nanak IX, laid down his life to secure the people the liberty of conscience. His martyrdom was for the protection of the right of everyone to practise his religion unhindered. He protested against the State's interference with the individual's duty towards his faith. It was a declaration that any attempt to create a unitary, monolithic society must be resisted. It was a reiteration of the Sikh belief in an open and ethical social order and of the Sikh principles of tolerance and acceptance of diversity of faith and practice. This lesson is part of the Sikh experience and teaching and no follower of the faith may contravene it.

The Sikhs would have no quarrel with the Sant Nirankaris about their beliefs or ways of worship, but there are certain aspects of their system which cause abrasion. Although the Sikhs form a small percentage of their following, the Nirankari leaders have always preached their faith through the vocabulary and symbols of Sikhism. But with their native bias, they never cease from attempting to disfigure and distort many of its cherished ideals and institutions. Imitation breeds obliquity. The word Nirankari itself is borrowed from the Sikh chroniclers. The Founder, Guru Nanak, was by them referred to as Nanak Nirankari - believer in God, the Formless. "Nirankari Baba" is the title the Nirankari leader has appropriated unto himself. He retains his Sikh form, as did his predecessors. In imitation of Guru Gobind Singh's Panj Piare (the Five Beloved of Sikh history), he has created his Sat Sitare (Seven Stars). The names of venerable Sikh personages from history are assigned to members of the leader's family and his followers. Among them : Mata Sulakkhani (Guru Nanak's wife), Bibi Nanaki (Guru Nanak's sister), and Bhai Buddha and Bhai Gurdas, two primal figures of Sikhism, both regarded highly in Sikh piety. Peculiarly Sikh terms, such as Satguru, Sangat and Sachcha Padshah, the title which the Sikh history came to be used for the Gurus, in contrast with Padshah and Badshah representing secular emperors, have been appropriated by the Nirankaris. Their religious book, a collection of Punjabi verse, incipient and elementary in character, by Avtar Singh, with little literary grace and spiritual content, is designated Avtar Bani in the manner of gurbani, i.e. the Sikh Gurus' utterance. In Nirankari congregations gurbani is frequently and copiously quoted, but with a deliberate slant. The purpose invariably is disapprobation of the Sikh way of life. Sikh Scriptures are quoted and expounded openly to suit the Nirankari bias. In their monthly journal, Sant Nirankari, articles were published on Gurbani and its interpretation. These articles appeared under title such as "Vichar Sri Sachche Patshah" (Thoughts of, or Interpretations by, the True Lord, i.e. the Nirankari leader), and "Gurbani ki Hai" (What really is gurbani?). Meanings contrary to Sikh understanding and tradition were propounded.

Sikhs have resented the continuing denigration by the Nirankaris of the their faith and of their belief in the Guru Granth as the Person Visible of the Gurus. They have protested against it. This is what they attempted to do - peacefully - at the time of the huge Nirankari congregation in Amritsar on April 13, 1978, coinciding with Baisakhi celebrations by the Sikhs. The Sikh group which went to the site had no violent intent. They were unarmed, except for their religiously sanctioned regalia. They were neither Nihangs nor Akalis, though most of the Sikhs are of Akali persuasion - politically. The bulk of the protesters in fact belonged to Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh's jatha, whose primary concern is with kirtan or chanting of the holy hymns. Their other colleagues were from the jatha of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who devote themselves exclusively to the study and expounding of the bani of the Guru Granth.

The protesting Sikhs were met with a shower of bullets from the Nirankaris. Thirteen of them were killed, and many more wounded. The congregation, under the aegis of the Nirankari leader, Gurbachan Singh, continued for more than three hours after the gruesome tragedy. No one - none from among the Nirankaris who profess love and human fellowship to be the fundamental value in their creed - had a thought to spare for the dead bodies that lay scattered outside.

-Taken from "Retrospect" section, on page 26 of the June 1994, Volume 42:6, No. 486, issue of The Sikh Review.

SANT NIRANKARIS & AKALIS

The genesis of the real trouble between the Nirankaris and Akalis goes back to the years when Mrs. Gandhi headed the Union Government. She wanted to weaken the Shiromani Akali Dal but found that Akalis could not be brought to heel. She thought of an elaborate plan to strengthen the Nirankari sect not only in Punjab but throughout the country and abroad also. Official patronage was extended to the Nirankaris much to the chagin of Akalis who have always considered the Nirankaris as heretics. In pursuit of this policy of divide and rule, Mrs. Gandhi personally gave clearance for a diplomatic passport to be issued to the Nirankari chief, and the Indian High Commissioners and Ambassadors abroad were instructed to show him respect and regard. This was meant to help the sect to improve its image and increase its following abroad. During Mrs. Gandhi's regime, the Nirankaris were known to be receiving financial help from secret Government funds, not open to audit or scrutiny by Parliament.

- Sat Pal Baghi of Ferozepore in Chandigarh Edition of Indian Express in the last week of April, 1978

1861 Baba Ram Singh started the Namdhari movement.

==> BABA RAM SINGH was born on 5th Magh sunmat 1872 in village Rayia, Ludhiana, to father Jassa Singh and mother Sedha Kaur. Since early childhood, Ram Singh was inclined to reciting God's name (Vaaheguru's Naam simran). For a while, he served in the forces of Lahore darbar. However in 1841 he left active service and joined the company of Baba Balak Singh, whose preachings had enlightened thousands. Upon receiving Naam Updaesh, Ram Singh settled in Bhaenni village and engaged in extensive preaching of Sikh faith. On the Baisakhi day of 1857, Baba Ram SIngh administered "Pahul" to the Sikhs in his village and created 22 centres in different parts of the country. He started the "Kuka" branch. Kuka Sikhs wear white attire and a malla made from white wool. Their practices include, giving Vaaheguru Gurmantar in individual's ear; amrit is not partaken together, rather given to individuals in isolation; practice of "Hawaan" ceremony; rather than the traditional Parikarma around Guru Granth Sahib during marriage ceremony, they recite lawan in presence of fire (Agni Haum). During religious ceremonies, they yell, shout, and dance out of love. The punjabi term for their yelling and shouting is "Kukeh". Hence they are popularly known as "Kukas".

When the British government were alluring unemployed Sikh youths into their armed forces, Baba Ram Singh was among many GurSikhs who considered it inappropraite to serve a foreign government. He initiated a non-cooperation movement at times when Congress wasn't even born. It is because of their principles that the Namdari movement came in direct conflict with the British government.

In 1871, the Kukas held a conference at Khote. Some recalcitrant Kuka leaders, despite Baba Ram Singh's exhortation, attacked the butchers at Amritsar on June 14, 1871 and at Raikot on 15th July, 1871. Baba Ram Singh was held responsible for this outrage and his movements were restricted. But the Kuka intransigancy could not be stemmed. Again some zealots attacked Malerkotla on January 15, 1872 and killed Kotwal Ahmedkhan and 7 sepoys. 68 Kukas were captured near the village Rar. 42 of whome were blown up with guns on January 17 under the orders of M.L. Cowan, Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana, while on eboy was slaughtered to pieces. Next day the remaining 16 were blown up under the orders of T.D. Forsy, the Commissioner, Ambala Division. Only 2 Kuka women were spared. Namdhari's successfully evoked a rebellion within a Army center. As a result 95 Namdhari Sikhs were court marshaled. In 1872 a British armoury was looted and several weapons were taken away. As a result, Baba Ram Singh and 12 of his associates were exiled to Rangun, Burma. Baba Ram Singh died there after 13 years of solitary confinement, on Nov. 29th, 1885.

Baba Ram Singh married Mai Jassah of Village Tharodh in Ludhiana district and had two daughters. As a result, Baba Ram Singh's gaddhi was assumed by his younger brother Bhai Budh Singh Ji. Later Bhai Pratap Singh, son of Bhai Budh Singh assumed this gaddhi and continued to serve the followers and visitors with langer and Akhand Kirtan.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 1033-1034)
Naraen Singh, "Kau Kito Visahau?" Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-003-8, 1986, 1990, 1992

1907 Panch Khalsa Diwan established at Basodh.
1919 Jallianwala massacre took place, 379 unarmed killed and 2,000 wounded.

The situation in Punjab had exploded because of the agitation against Rowlatt Bills. People had gathered at Jallianwalla Bagh, Amritsar when troops under Gen. Dyer command open fire killing 337 men, 41 boys, a 7 week-old baby, and wounded over 2,000 umarmed persons. This was followed by brutal repression. Unfortunately, this did not have any affect on the Chief Khalsa Diwan and the traditional Sikh leaders. Arur Singh, Sarbrah, and the head priets of the Golden Temple, Amritsar, not only conferred saropa (robe of honour) on General Dyer but also initiated him and Capt. Briggs into the brotherhood of the Khalsa, investing them with the five K's, the sacred emblem of brotherhood by letting them off from keeping keshas (long hairs) and giving up smoking. This was outrageous.

==> JALLIANWALA BAGH INCIDENT: A meeting was called in 1919 to protest - the arrest of Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew and Dr. Satyapal, two prominent leaders in Punjab at the time and - against the repressive Rowlette Act of the British Government Several hundred people had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar to participate in this protest. Brigadier General Dwyer was sent to disperse the assembly. He intially proceeded with an armoured car. However, the streets leading up to the Jallianwalla bagh were too narrow for the armoured vehicle and consequently the soldiers had to abandon the vehicle and travel by foot. Upon reaching the Jallianwala bagh, Brigadier General Dwyer opened fire on the innocent and unarmed people, killing almost all. When the firing stooped, a total of 1302 people been killed, including 799 GurSikhs. Udham Singh from Sunam (Punjab), was a child at that time, whose father was among the killed. He vowed to kill the cruel General.

A subsequent enquiry was held into the shooting. As a result, Brigadier General Dyer retired, went back to England, and subsequently died six years after the Jallianwala massacre.

However, The Sikh community felt further insulted, when Rur Sngh, the custodian of the Golden Temple, offered a Saropa to Sir Michael O'Dwyer, Lieuetnant Governor of Punjab. General Dwyer was also offered a Kirpan (Sword of honor) and it was qouted in the British Parliament by Lord Finlay that he had been made a Sikh.

Udham Singh came to England and spent many years of hard work planning ways to fulfill his childhood vows. It is said that Udham Singh took up work in Sir Michale O'Dwyer's residence in England, who was the Governor of Punjab during the Jallianwala massacre. Udham Singh worked there for sometime and therefore got to know Sir O'Dwyer very well. Seezing an opportune moment Udham Singh gunned down Sir O'Dwyer at a public meeting in England as he stood to address the gathering.

-Ref. "Babbar Akali Movement, A Historical Survey," Dr. Gurcharan Singh, Aman Publications, 1993.

1936 All Parties Sikh Conference to discuss the conversion of 5 million untouchables. Dr. Ambedkar made public his intentions to adopt Sikhism at this conference.

All Parties Sikh Conference was held under the Presidentship of Mehtab Singh, constituting an All India Sikh Mission under the Presidentship of Master Tara Singh and convened the Gurmat Prachar Conference which was also attended by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had been pondering over the offers by the Muslims and the Christians for mass conversion of 5 million untounchables when the small Sikh community of Bombay, led by Gurdit Singh Sethi, offered him conversion to Sikhism. At their instance, a delegation from the Gurdwara established contact with various sections of depressed classes. They also participated in the Untouchables Conference at Poona on January 10-11, 1936. Considering the importance of the subject, this conference was called. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar made public his intenstion to adopt Sikhism. As a result, the Sikhs set up a private press at Bombay for publication of Ambedkar's paper Janta. They also established a Khalsa College in Bombay to impart higher education to backward classes.

Even the leaders Hindu Mahasabha, Dr. B.S. Monnje and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya were not in favour of conversion of backward classes to Islam or Christianity, as by that they would outside the purview of Indian culture. However, they encouraged Dr. Ambedkar to go in for Sikhism. As a result an outline of the propsed entry of backward classes into Sikhims was drawn up. The time and venuew of the proposed ceremony were to be announced shortly. Jugal Kishore Birla donated a sum of Rs. 25,000 to the Sikhs for the purspose. However, Gandhi's disapproval put and end to this conversion.

-Ref. "The Sikhs in History," by Sangat Singh, 1995

1967 Punjabi became official language of Punjab State under Indian Union, at the secretariat level.
1970 The first two American Sikhs partake Amrit and became members of Guru Khalsa Panth.
1974 Sant Mihan Singh and his followers conducted an Amrit sanchar ceremony for the western-born Sikhs at Guru Ram Das Ashram. Los Angeles. Bhai Sahib Dayal Singh, serving as one of the Panj Piare, became the first western-born Sikh to administer Amrit.
1975 For the first time in history , the Amrit Parchar was conducted by a Panj Piare comprised totally of western-born Khalsa.
1978 Massacre of Sikhs took place in Amritsar where 13 GurSikhs were murdered by the fake Nirankaris.

==> WHO WERE THE MURDERED GURSIKHS?
Over 1 million Sikh pilgrims had assembled at Amritsar on the Vaisakhi day of 1978. At the same time, the Nirankari-called Sect of bohemians from Delhi and other parts of the Indian sub-continent held a procession and a conference at Amritsara. During their Conference the speakers made venomous attacks on Sikhism, Sikh Gurus, Sikh scriptures, etc. A few Sikhs, under the command of Bhai Fauja Singh, marched from the Darbar Sahib to protest against this fake Nirankari procession in which Gurbachan Singh Nirankari had seated himself on a higher position than Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the prevalent Guru of GurSikhs, is always respectfully seated at the highest platform in any congregation. Anyone seated on a platform higher than that of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is considered disrespectful and sacrilegious among Guru Khalsa Panth.

Further, the Nirankaris were hurling grave and malicious insults against the GurSikhism religion, beliefs, and sentiments. Oblivious to the GurSikhs, the Nirankaris had other plans, including a para-military platoon armed with lethal weapons, guns, revolvers, acid-filled bottles and mechanical propellants for shooting poison-tipped arrows, all well positioned behind a row of trucks. The GurSikh protestors were persuaded by the police officers on duty into believing that steps were being taken to stop further provocations of GurSikhism sentiments. Then the voice of Gurbachan Singh. Nirankari chief, was heard over the sound system, saying "these sikhs think they can stop us from freely carrying out our program. Let them know today, how mistaken they are. Time has come to be active for those, who have come here for this job". Suddenly the para-military platoon briskly advanced toward the GurSikh protestors. The police on duty hurled tear-gas bombs against the unarmed GurSikhs, converting them into sitting ducks for their hunters. Even some Hindu police officials like O.D. Joshi joined the Nirankaris attacks on the protesting GurSikhs. When it was all over 13 lay dead and over 50 were seriously injured. The batch of protesting GurSikhs were from Akhand Kirtan Jatha and Bhindranwale jatha, led by Bhai Fuaja Singh, included the following 13 who layed their lives:

  1. Bhai Amrik Singh
  2. Bhai Avtar Singh
  3. Bhai Darshan Singh
  4. Bhai Dharamvir Singh
  5. Bhai Fauja Singh
  6. Bhai Gurcharan Singh
  7. Bhai Gurdial Singh
  8. Bhai Harbhajan Singh
  9. Bhai Hari Singh
  10. Bhai Kewal Singh
  11. Bhai Piara Singh
  12. Bhai Raghbir Singh
  13. Bhai Ranbir Singh

The irony of the Sikh situation was this that Punjab was being ruled by a so-called Sikh Party; Amritsar was one of the holiest cities of the Sikhs; one minister, Mr Jiwan Singh was also present in the city; the city was the headquarters of the Akali Party and the Sikh Parliament (SGPC) and the Nirankaris had long been attacking the Sikh religion and this was known in the Government. Furthermore all the killers of the Sikhs escaped from the Punjab safely, even with the help of officials of the Punjab Government (including Niranjan Singh, an official of the Punjab and, allegedly, the Chief Minister of the Punjab).

Throughout the world the Sikhs exhibited their fury. However, the Akali ministers of Punjab province bowed before the Central (Hindu) Government and refused to ban the activities of this gang of bohemians. Meanwhile these ministers addressed various Sikh congregations and spoke against the Nirankaris so that the Sikh masses should not become furious against them for their indifferent (or pro-Nirankari) attitude.

Thus this became the starting point of the new phase of the struggle of the Sikh nation. The lead was given by the Sikh Youth under the guidance of the Sikh intelligentsia. They had to fight various platforms: the Hindus, the Communists and some of the pseudo-Akalis, who loved their office more than their nation.

This amritsar massacre was one of the most significant incidents of this century for GurSikhs. It led to the murder of Lala Jagat Narain, the rise of the Khalistan demand, attack on the Golden Temple and Sri Akal Takhat, and enormous destruction of lives and properties in Punjab, Delhi, and other locals of GurSikh population. It should be noted that although Gurbachan Singh's movement call themselves Nirankaris, they do not have anything in common with the original Nirankari movement that made enormous sacrifices and significant contributions for GurPanth's reform. For details see the description on Nirankaris below.

On October 6, 1978, a Hukumnama bearing the seal of Sri Akal Takhat (by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat, Amritsar) was issued, calling upon GurSikhs all over the world to socially boycott these fake "Nirankaris" and not allow their faith and creed to grow or flourish in the society. This Hukumnama was prepared by a committee comprising of the following:
Giani Gurdit Singh Giani Lal Singh Giani Partap Singh Giani Sadhu Singh Bhaura Sardar Kapur Singh Sardar Parkash Singh Sardar Satbir Singh

Through this Hukumnama, all GurSikhs were asked to stop "roti beti di sanjh", food and marital relations, with the fake nirankaris. Gurbachan Singh was subsequently killed by the GurSikhs on Apr. 24, 1980. However, the repercussion of the initial event continue to persist.

-Ref. The Illustrated History of the Sikhs (1947-78), by Gur Rattan Pal Singh
THE SIKHS' STRUGGLE FOR SOVEREIGNTY, An Historical Perspective By Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer and Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon. Edited By: A.T. Kerr Page 110-119

1981 Sikhs assert claim to Nation and demand associate status at the UN.

A huge Sikh convention held at Anandpur Sahib, at the instance of Akali Dal (Talwandi) unanimously asserted the Sikh claim to Nation and demanded associate status at UN. Additionally, the Sikhs are a Nation slogons got wide public support from the Sikhs. Smt. Rajinder Kaur (daughter of Master Tara Singh) and Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala made fiery speeched in support of this claim at the Golden Temple. Even moderate Sikh leaders like Sant Harchand Singh Longowal supported it. Sant Ji explained:

The exclusiveness of religion, caste, customs, traditions, culture, literature, history of the community of the Sikhs were the basis of a nation. East germany and West Germany were two countries, yet the German Nation is one. The UN is an organization of different nations such as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and other communities.

-Source. History of Sikh Struggles, Vol. 1, By Gurmit Singh, Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, 1989. pp. 50.

1996 Begining of Khalsa Year 298.

 

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