Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

1st June

 

1748 Small Holocaust that saw 10,000 Sikhs massacared in a single day. At least 10,000 Sikhs were massacred by Yahiya Khan and Lakhpat Rai, who had taken vow to avenge the death of his brother by annihilating the Sikhs.

==> SMALL HOLOCAUST - Diwan Lakhpat Rai, a katri of Kalanoar, was the Chief Minister to the Governor of Lahore, YayahKhan. When his troublemaker brother, Jaspat, was killed by Sikhs near Badoki Gusayia village, he unleased a campaign of terror against the Sikhs to avenge the death of his brother. Jaspat Rai was actually killed in a skirmish with a Sikh outfit. However, Lakhpat Rai issued orders to shoot the Sikhs at sight. For some period, Lakhpat Rai even assumed completed control of Lahore, under orders of Ahmad Shah Abdali. Lakhpat Rai attacked Sikhs at Kahnoowal jungles and ordered to set the whole jungle on fire. Baba Deep Singh was among the Sikhs who escaped and subsequently fought back at the Beaas River bank, and finally reaching Malwa. This incident culminated in what is common known as the "Chotta Ghalughara" (small genocide) in Sikh history.

Subsequently, MeerManu arrested Lakhpat Rai and handed him over to Diwan KodahMal, who in turn handed his to the Sikhs. Sikhs kept him in jail for six months and eventually killed him in sunmat 1805.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 1056)

1813 Maharaja Ranjit Singh obtained Kohinoor from Shahsuja Amir of Kabul.

Shah Shujah, Amir of Kabul, reentered Lahore under Sikh protection. Maharaja Ranjit Singh demanded Kohinoor from him as promised by Wafa Begum of Shah Shujah. Shah Shujah grudgingly parted with Koh-inoor that originally weighed 787 carats, but was cut to 280 carats to enhance its fire and brilliance, and later recut' to 186. The Kohinoor (which means "mountain of light") was part of an enameled armlet worn by Maharaja Ranjit Singh The Kohinoor eventually landed with the British after Maharaja Ranjit Singh's death.

1924 7th shahidi Jatha of 500 valiant Akali Satyagrahies started their march for Jaito from Takhat Sri Kaesgadh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, under the leadership of Sardar Pratap Singh Khurdpuri.

==> WHERE IS JAITO? A village under Nabha, which falls on the Bathinda-Ferozpur railway line. It is 96 miles from Lahore and 17 miles from Bathinda.

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JAITO? On this place situated near a fort, is a historical Gurudwara of Guru Gobind Singh Patshah. Maharaja Hira Singh constructed the beautiful buildings of this Gurudwara. The sarowar is popularly known as "Gangsar". About a mile and a half north of Jaito is "Tibhi Sahib" Gurudwara, where Guru Gobind Singh Patshah used to organize and participate in the evening recitation of Rehras. Both Gurudwaras have extensive land sanctioned to it by the Nabha rulers. Additionally, extensive financial resources are made available on an annual basis from the Nabha rulers and the surrounding villages. A maela celebration is held every 7th of Pooh month (Dec.-Jan.) and Katak (Oct.-Nov.) Puranmashi. Jaito's markets are well renowned. People come from far distances to buy and sell their herds.

WHY AKALIS COURTED ARREST? The key issue involved was resoration of Maharaja Ripudaman Singh of Nabha. Maharaja of Nabha, well-known for his pro-Tat Khalsa Proclivities, had a dispute with Maharaja of Patiala, known for this pro-government role. Although Maharaja of Nabha had absolutely no dispute with the government, as a result of mediation, he was forced to abdicate in July 1923. Col. Michin, with the help of troops and armoured cars, took the Maharaja by surprise on July 8, 1923 and taunted him with the query, "Where is that Akali?" The news of deposition by the government raised a strom of protest against the Government's interefernce in Nabha and was decsribed as a challenge to the Akali movement. As a result tensions mounted. The Akalis, in defiance of state orders, continued to hold diwan indefinitely. The Nabha police in order to arrest all the Akalis, including the one reading the holy Granth Sahib, was said to have disrupted the Akhand Path on Sept. 14, 1923. This dispute took such a tragic shape and got so inflames by Feb. 21, 1924 that several people lost their lives. After sixteen shaheedi jathas apart from one from Bengal and another from Canada, the agitation process was completed two years later, on August 6, 1925, after the concurrent bhog of 101 Akand Paaths.

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

1940 Allihgadh Prachar conference held. 25,000 Amritdhari GurSikhs attended.
1973 Akali Dal launched Karnal agitation for civil liberties.
1984 Black Day in Sikh history - CRPF and BSF fired upon and damaged Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.

CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and BSF (Border Security Force) starting firing from every direction on to the Golden Temple compelx. Firing started around 12:40 AM without any incitement from the other side and stopped after 7 hours, around 8:15 PM. 11 people died in this firing. Mehnga Singh of Babbar Khalsa International was the first martyr of this attack. Sri Darbar Sahib was fired upon which left 32 major marks on the Golden dome itself. Curfew was imposed in the city of Amritsar. This day marked the first day of Operation Bluestar and came to be known as the Black day in Sikh History. The last time, Darbar Sahib was attacked by Ahmed Shah Abdali almost 222 yrs earlier. However, that was an attack by a foriegner, while this was an attack by our own government (or was it!). The members of Shromani Committee launched a strong protest against the firing. They even tried to reach the President of India. However, every time their calls were ignored by the President's office with lame excuses.

==> BLUESTAR OPERATION is the code name for the June 1984 attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, by the Indian Armed Forces. This attack was conducted under the pretext of flushing out terrorists but was designed for maximum damage. The attack took place on the day of Guru Arjan Dev Patshah's Shahadat Gurpurab observations. Further this operation was sanctioned under the direct orders of Indira Gandhi (then prime minister) and Zail Singh (then President). The Golden Temple Complex was attacked by the Indian Armed Forces using tanks, helicopters, and other heavy artillery, under the command of Major General Kuldip Singh Brar. Sri Akal Takhat was desecrated during this attack. Sri Darbar Sahib sustained at least 300 bullet holes. Thousands of innocent people were murdered in cold blood. Their fault? They were attending the Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The brave GurSikh soldiers in the Akal Takhat, numbering about 250, gave extremely tough resistance to the Indian army. However, their resistance was no match to the large number of tanks, helicopters, bombs, and other heavy artillery that destroyed the Akal Takhat. The whole Sikh nation rose as a whole to protest against this ghastly attack. Thousands of Sikhs were martyred in the holy precincts of Darbar Sahib. Many gave their lives in attempts to reach for Darbar Sahib's protection. All roads to Amritsar were blocked. Every Sikh approaching these blockades were asked to remove their kirpan and turban. Those refusing were immediately killed or arrested. Anyone with blue or saffron turbans were particularly targeted and killed. Those arrested were blind folded and their hands tied behind their backs with their own turbans. Arrested Sikhs were packed in groups of 60-70 in small rooms with liitle room for any mobility.

In protest, many respected Sikhs returned their Padam Bushan medals/honors bestowed upon them by the Indian government and sacrificed their high positions. Several Sikh Army personal deserted their posts in protest and marched straight to protect Darbar Sahib. However, Indira Ghandhi did receive retribution for her black deeds on Oct. 31st, that same year.

For detailed description of events surrounding this attack, readers are referred to the following:

Gurbhagat Singh, "Kommi Ajadi Wal - Panjab Tae PunjabiSabhiyachar Da Bhawish," Vichar Prakashan, 1993
Major Singh, "Punjab Khuni Dahakae Di Ghatha,"Vichar Prakashan, 1993
Naraen Singh, "Kau Kito Visahau?" Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-003-8, 1986, 1990, 1992.
Naraen Singh, "Sikh Vira Nu Haluna," Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-085-2, 1987, 1989, 1993.
Harbir Singh Bhanwer (Tribune reporter), "Diary de Panne," This book is in Punjabi. It is hard to come by. I found it to be most authoritative books on this event. Mr. Bhanwer was the person who provided quite a bit of basic information to Mark Tully and Mr. Jacob for their book "Amritsar: Indira Gandhi's Last Battle."
Dr. Mohinder Singh, "Blue Star Ghalughara," This book was published in 1991 (several years after Dairy de Panne), but is more detailed.
Jathedar Kirpal Singh, "Saka Neela Tara." This book is written by thim when he was the Jathedar of Akal Takhat. I have not read it, but I think it has extremely valuable information.
 

 

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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