Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

23rd March

 

1923 Third attempt to kill Labh Singh Dhadda also aborts
1931 Bhagat Singh Shaheed was hanged to death in the Lahore central jail along with Shivram Rajguru and Sukhdeo.

==> Shaheed BHAGAT SINGH: was one of the leader Sikh revolutionaries of the early 20th century who earned the fame of causing explosion in the Legislative Assembly in Delhi and of committing daring acts of killing British Police Officers. He and his associates were hanged on March 23rd of 1931. Their bodies were secretly cremated on the bank of the Satluj river near Ferozpur. The associated secrecy was to avoid public outcry and any subsequent outburst of violence.

Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh met Bhagat Singh on October 4, 1930 in the Lahore jail. Both were being kept in the same jail and on this day Bhai Sahib was being released. This meeting was secretly arranged after great difficulty. Bhagat Singh wanted to see Bhai Sahib for a long time, but couldn't because of Bhai Sahib's refusal to see him in clean-shaven form. He was instructed by Bhai Sahib to keep long hair as demanded of GurSikhs. Bhagat Singh did exactly that. Further he apologized stating he was mistakenly misled by some people to believe that he could do certain things only if he was clean-shaven. Bhagat Singh also stated that if he had been a Sikh with flowing beard and long hair, the Hindu press would not have talked about his sacrifice. He further clarified that he did not actually kill Saunders. However, he admitted to the crime when accused, simply to take the credit.

Bhai Sahib reiterated the story of Bhai Nidhan Singh Chughewale, a well-known patriot, who had recruited people from many different islands and places to fight the British. The government knew of him had circulated posters throughout India with his picture. Bhai Nidhan Singh's brother once suggested that he color his beard to disguise his identity. Bhai Nidhan Singh flatly refused this suggestion saying whatever he would do will be carried out without any disguise. He advised them not to instill any fear in him, as a GurSikh is always fearless. True to his principles, Bhai Nidhan Singh accomplished many remarkable things without changing the color of his hair or employing any other disguise.

Bhagat Singh declared his awareness that he was going to die anyway and promised to adhere by GurSikh living. Bhagat Singh died as a Sikh.

According to the Granthi of Kasur, Bhai Natha Singh, when Bhagat Singh's body was cremated, his hair were about six inches long. By looking at the photo, the hair actually look lot longer. The newspapers discussed in their columns that he was in fact a believer in Sikhism. His last photograph was taken only a few minutes before he was hanged which showed his hair tied in a knot over his head and beard on his face. He is sitting on a cot in the central jail of Lahore at that time. That is where he was hanged. The photograph was taken by a gentleman named Sohan Lal from Delhi. The government also declared that his body was cremated according to the Sikh tradition.

-Ref. Jehal Chitthian (Jail letters) by Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh

April 8, 1929, two representatives of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Army, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt, entered unnoticed the assembly chamber and threw two bombs towards the seats occupied by government officials and supporters. With deafening sound the bombs exploded and covered the hall with dense smoke. The benches near which the bombs fail were broken to pieces, and a portion of the floor was also hollowed out. But except for minor scratches to a few no one received any injury. On 23 march, 1931 Bhagat Singh along with Shivram Rajguru and Sukhdeo was hanged to death in the Lahore central jail.

Bhagat Singh's faith was in mass action for the masses. In Bhagat Singh's own words we attach great sanctity to human life, we regard human life as sacred as any one else could. We would sooner lay down our lives in the service of humanity than injure any one else . revolution doesn't necessarily involve a sanguinary strife, nor is there any place in it for individual vendetta.

Bhagat Singh believed that the Congress consisted as it was of landlords, capitalists and rich lawyers could never launch that action which would lead to complete economic freedom for the masses. Gandhiji is kind hearted philanthropists, he used to say, and it is not philanthrophy that is needed, but a dynamic scientific social force. According to him what was needed most was a band of selfless young men who would organize and work for that social revolution. He further believed that in order to initiate the young men in the gospel of this mission, an appeal would have force only when it was delivered from the platform of the gallows and he himself undertook to deliver that appeal.

There was ample opportunity for both of them to make good their escape from the assembly. It was part of a deliberate plan to surrender themselves to the police so that they might be able to expand the revolutionary creed and philosophy by means of a statement in the court. Again to quote Bhagat Singh We then deliberately offered ourselves to bear the penalty for what we had done and to let the Imperialist exploiters know that by crushing individuals they cannot kill ideas. By crushing two insignificant units the nation cannot be crushed. The occasion was also judiciously chosen. By throwing the bombs when the British government was trying to pass the much hated Trade dispute bill, Bhagat Singh and his colleagues also declared their solidarity with the labor class. Bhagat Singh was an avid reader of politics and history and this also shows up in his speech. Below are excerpts from his statement given in the court.

Excerpts From Bhagat Singh
April 8, 1929

In the reply to the next half of the first question we are constrained to go into some detail to offer a full and frank explanation of our motive and circumstances leading up to what has now become an historic event. When we were told by some of the Police Officers who visited us in Jail that Lord Irwin in his address to a joint session of the two houses after the event in question described it as an attack directed against no individual but against the institution itself, we readily recognized that the true significance of the incident had been correctly appreciated. We are next to none in our love of humanity and so, far from having any malice against any individual, we hold human life sacred beyond words. We are neither the perpetrators of dastardly outrage and therefore a disgrace to the country as the pseudo-socialist Diwan Chaman Lal is reported to have described us, nor are we 'lunatic' as the Tribune of Lahore and some others have it believe. We humbly claim to be no more than serious students of the history and conditions of our country and human aspirations, and we despise hypocrisy. Our practical protest was against the institution which since its birth has eminently helped to display not only its worthlessness but its far reaching power for mischief. The more we have pondered the more deeply we have been convinced that that it exists only to demonstrate to the world India's humiliation and helplessness and it symbolizes the over riding domination of an irresponsible and autocratic rule. Time and again in the national demand has been pressed by the People's representatives' only to find the waste-paper basket as its final destination. Solemn resolution passed by the House have been contemptuously trampled under foot on the floor of the so called indian Parliament. Resolutions regarding the repeal of repressive and arbitrary Government measures have been treated with sublime contempt and proposals rejected as unacceptable by the elected members have been restored by stroke of the pen. In brief, in spite of earnest endeavor we have utterly failed to find any justification for the existence of an institution which despite all the pomp and splendor organized with the hard earned money of the sweating millions of India is only a hollow show and a mischievous make believe. And alike have we failed to comprehend the mentality of the public leaders who help to squander public time and money on so manifestly stage managed an exhibition of India's helpless subjection. We had been ruminating upon all this, as also upon the wholesole arrests of the leaders of the labor movement when the introduction of the Trade Disputes Bill brought us into the Assembly to watch its progress and the course of the debate only served to confirm our conviction that the laboring millions of India had nothing to expect from an institution that stood as a menacing monument to the strangling power of exploiters to suck the blood of the helpless laborers. Finally the insult of what we considered an inhuman and barbarous measure was hurled on the devoted heads of the representatives of the entire country and the starving and struggling millions were deprived of their primary right and sole means of improving their economic welfare. None who has felt like us for the dumb driven drudges of laborers could possibly witness this spectacle with equanimity. None whose heart bleeds for those who have given their life-blood in silence to the building up of the economic structures of the exploiters of whom the government happens to be the biggest in this country could repress the cry of soul agonizing anguish which so ruthless a blow wrung out of our hearts. Consequently bearing in mind the words of the late Mr. S. R. Dass, once the Law Member of the Governor Generals Executive Council, which appeared in the famous letter he addressed to his son that a bomb was necessary to awaken England from her dreams. We dropped the bombs on the floors of the Assembly Chamber to register our protest on behalf of those who had no other means left to give expression to their heart-rending agony. Our sole purpose was to make the deaf hear, and to give the heedless a timely warning. Others have as keenly felt as we have done and from under the seeming stillness of the sea of the Indian humanity a veritable storm is about to break out. We have only marked the end of the era of Utopian non-violence of whose fulfilty the rising generation has been convinced beyond the shadow of doubt. Out of our sincerest good-will and love of humanity have we adopted this method of warning to prevent the untold sufferings which we like millions of others clearly foresee.

We have used the expression Utopian non-violence in the foregoing para, which requires some explanation. Force when aggressively applied is violence and therefore is morally unjustifiable; but when it is used in the furtherance of a legitimate cause it has moral justification. The elimination of force at all costs is Utopian and the new movement which has arisen in the country and of which we have given the warning, is inspired by the ideals which guided Guru Govind Singh and Shivaji, Kamal Pasha and Ringa Khan, Washington, Garibaldi, Lafayetter and Lenin. As both the alien government and the Indian public leaders have appeared to have shut their eyes and closed their ears against the existence and voice of this movement, we felt it our duty to sound the warning where it could not go unheard.

We have so far dealt with the motive behind the incident in question and now we must define the extent of our intention.

It can't again be said that we bore no personal grudge or malice against any one of those who received slight injuries or against any other person in the Assembly. On the contrary we repeat that we hold human lives sacred beyond words and would sooner lay down ourselves in the service of humanity than injure anyone else. Unlike the mercenary soldiers of Imperialist Armies who are disciplined to kill without compunction we respect and in so far as it lies in us attempt to save human life. And still we admit deliberately dropped the bombs into the Assembly Chambers. Facts, however speak for themselves and our intention should be judged from the result of our action without drawing upon hypothetical circumstances and presumptions. Despite the evidence of the Government experts the bombs that were thrown in the Assembly Chamber resulted in some damage of furniture and a few slight bruises and less than half a dozen cases. While the government's scientist ascribed the result to a miracle we see nothing but a precisely scientific process in it all. First the two bombs exploded in vacant spaces within wooden barriers of desks and benches. Secondly, even those who were within even two feet of the explosion (for instance Mr. P.R. Rau, Mr. Shankar Rao and Sir George Schuster) were either not hurt or only slightly scratched. Bombs of the capacity disposed to by the Government Expert (though his estimate being imaginary is exaggerated) loaded with an effective charge of Potassium Chlorate and a sensitive picrate would have smashed the barriers and laid many low within some yards of the explosion. Again had they been loaded with some other high explosive with a charge of destructive pellets or darts they would have sufficed to wipe out the majority of the members of the legislative Assembly. Still again we could have flung them into the official-box chokefull of people of note. And finally we could have ambushed Sir John Simon whose luckless Commission was loathed by all the responsible people and who was sitting in the President's gallery at the time. All this however, was beyond our intention and the bombs did more than they were designed to do and the miracle consisted of no more than the deliberate aim which landed them in safe places. Similarly, the pistol was fired in the air but by neither of us.

We then deliberately offered ourselves to bear the penalty for what we had done and to let the imperialist exploiters know that by crushing individuals they cannot kill ideas. By crushing two insignificant units the Nation cannot be crushed. We wanted to emphasize the historical lesson that de Cachets and Bastilles could not crush the Revolutionary movement in France. Gallows and Siberian mines could not extinguish the Russian revolution. The bloody Sundays and Black Mondays failed to strangle the movement of Iris freedom. Can ordinances and safety bills snuffs out the flame of freedom in India. Conspiracy cases trumped up or discovered and incarceration of all the young men who cherish the vision of a greater ideal cannot check the march of the Revolution. But timely warning if not unheeded can help to prevent loss of life and general sufferings. We took it upon ourselves to provide this warning and our duty is done.

I, Bhagat Singh, was asked in the Lower Court as what we meant by the word 'Revolution'. In answer to that question, I would say that Revolution doesn't necessarily involve a sanguinary strife, nor is there any places in it for individual vendetta. It is not the cult of the bomb and pistol. By revolution we mean that the present order of things which is based on the manifest injustice must change. the producers or the laborers, in spite of being the most necessary element of society are robbed by their exploiters of the fruits of their labor and deprived of their elementary right. On the one hand the peasant who grows corn for all starves with his family; the weaver who supplies world markets with textile fabrics cannot find enough to cover his own children's bodies; the masons, smiths and carpenters who rear magnificent places live end perish in slums; and on the other capitalist exploiters, the parasite of society squander millions on their whims. These terrible inequalities and forced disparity of chances are heading towards chaos. This state of affairs cannot last and is obvious that the present order of society is merry making on the brink of a volcano and the innocent children of exploiters no less than millions of the exploited are walking on the edge of a dangerous precipice. The whole edifice of this civilization, if not saved in time, shall crumble. A radical change, therefore, is necessary; and is the duty of those who realize this to recognize society on the Socialistic basis. Unless this is done and the exploitation of man by man and of nations by nations which goes as Imperialism, is brought to an end, the sufferings and carnage with which humanity is threatened today cannot be prevented and all talks of ending wars and ushering in an era of universal peace is undisguised hypocrisy. By revolution we mean the ultimate establishment of an order of society which may not be threatened by such brake down, and in which the sovereignty of Proletariat should be recognized and as the result of which a world federation should redeem humanity from the bondage of capitalism and the misery of Imperial wars.

This is our ideal; and with this ideology for our inspiration we have given a fair and loud enough warning. If, however, it goes unheeded and the present system of Government continues to be an impediment in the way of the natural forces that are welling up, a grim struggle must ensue involving the overthrow of all obstacles, and the establishment of the Directorship of the Proleatist to pave the way for the consummation of the ideal of the Revolution.

Revolution is the unalienable right of the mankind. freedom is the impregnable birth right of all. the laborer is the real sustainer of society. The sovereignty of the people is the ultimate destiny of the workers.

For these ideals and for this faith, we shall welcome any sufferings to which we may be condemned. To the alter of this revolution we have brought our youth an incense, for no sacrifice is too great for so magnificent a cause.

1985 Sikh Women's Seminar was held in Toronto. The seminar's primary objective was to bring the Sikh women together, whereby they could discuss various issues facing the community. There was a need for such a forum where Sikh women could assemble, delibrate, and contribute toward the development of programs for the Sikh youth. The following papers were presented at the seminar: A Potrait of South Asian Canadian Women; Role of Women in Sikh Society; What is Leadership; Role of Sikh Women in Canadian Society; Role of Women in Sikh Leadership; and Participation of Sikh Women in Community Life.

 

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