Friday, September 30, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

29th July

 

1873 Initial establishment of Singh Sabha in Amritsar.

==> SINGH SABHA, a reform group of Amritdhari GurSikhs who objectively sought the eradication of the wrong practices in re-establishing the true traditions of GurSikhism. Their initial efforts for religious propagation and education resulted in the establishment of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Amritsar, in 1872. Sardar Thakur Singh Sandawalaia was the first chief, while the temporary offices and gathering facilities were organized at Guru Ka Bagh. The objectives of Singh Sabha, Amritsar, were to inculcate the principles of SIkh religion as preached by the Sikh Gurus among the Sikhs with a view to restoring Sikhism to its pristine purity, preach the principles of Sikh religion by word of mouth, by publication of historical and religious books, and through magazines and newspapers, encourage propagation of Punjabi, reclaim apostates and attract the sympathies of those highly placed in public adminsitration to the educational progress of the Sikhs. The Singh Sabha was to shun politics.

Next in 1879, another Singh Sabha was established at the Prakash place of Guru Ram Das Patshah, in Lahore. Diwan Buta Singh and Bhai Gurmukh Singh were the chiefs of this organization. The successful efforts of these Singh Sabhas resulted in several Singh Sabhas springing around the country. Singh Sabha had a clear perception of Sikhism as enunciated by the Sikh Gurus, and was determined to restore it to its original shape, without any compromise with Hindusim. A number of Singh Sabhas were established and affiliated to the Singh Sabha, Lahore. Amrit Prachar (administration of baptism) to all, including Muslims and lower classes, was an effective movement which, however, brought about conflict with certain Pujaris of the Sikh shrines. Gradually, the Singh Sabhas constructed their own gurudwaras with granthis, ragis, and updeshaks, and they became centres of new rivivalism.

The warming up of the Singh Sabha activity was discernible by a decision to establish Khalsa Diwan at Amritsar. This came into being in 1883 to oversee the functioning of over three dozen Singh Sabhas. There were, however, differences over the provisions of the conmstitution of the Khalsa Diwan. THese resulted in a break, with Lahore Singh Sabha spearheading a Khalsa Diwan at Lahore with a membership of all except three of the Singh Sabha affiliated to it. Suffices to say that the Singh Sabha Lahore, became the focal point of the Sikh reform movement.

The Singh Sabha movement played its historic role by exposing the evils which had crept into the social and religious life of the Sikhs. It reclaimed Sikhism from a state of utter ossification and inertia and articulated the inner urge of Sikhism for reform and gave it a decisive direction. It not only checked the relapse of the Sikhs into Hinduism but also retaliated by carrying prosewlytsing activities into the Hindu camp. A large number of Hindus were baptised and the Sikh population which was 17,06,165 in 1881 rose to 21,02,896 in 1901 and never dwindled again. Thus the Singh Sabha movement proved to be the elan vital in the regeneration of the Sikh society.

In 1888, Khalsa Diwan was established in Lahore. Subsequently, on Nov. 10, 1901, Shiromani GurSikhs gathered at Ramgarhia Bunga, Amritsar, and laid the foundation of Chief Khalsa Diwan. This organization actively corrected numerous traditions in GurSikhism and continues to do so til today.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 193)
The Sikhs in History, by Sangat Singh, 1995.

1984 Sardar Sadhu Singh Hamdard, Editor of Punjab's voice, Ajit, daily newspaper, died of a heart attack. He was deeply disturbed by the Indian Army's attack on Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. In protest, he had returned his Padam Sri honor to the Indian government.

==> SADHU SINGH HAMDARD was the editor of The Daily Ajit and a well-known poet of Punjabi. He was a great fan of Punjab, Punjabi language and Punjabism.

Sadhu Singh Hamdard was born in a poor family. He got an M.A. degree in political science. He also served as the Syndic and Senator of Guru Nanak Dev University for many years. He was not only a top-notch Punjabi journalist, he was also a top-notch poet, specially of gazels. His poetical teacher was Pandit Labhu Ram Josh Malsiani who belonged to the Dag school of poetry (traditonal Urdu poetry with great emphasis on meter and form). He received a PhD degree in poetry (gazel). His PhD thesis Gazel Janam te Vikas (Gazel: Origin and Development) was published by Guru Nanak Dev University. It is a very comprehensive work on the gazel form of Punjabi poetry. Punjabi Gazel is much more advanced than Hindi gazel today. Much credit goes to Dr. Sadhu Singh Hamdard.

Dr. Sadhu Singh was also a scholar of Urdu. At one time The Daily Ajit was simultaneously published in Punjabi and Urdu. He was very effective in countering the Mahasha (Hindu) propaganda against the Sikhs.

He returned his Padam Shri award when the Indian government attacked the Golden Temple.

Dr. Sadhu Singh wrote more than dozen books. Some of his poetry books include:
1. Gazel
2. Modern gazel
3. Rang Sugandh
4. Gazel de Rang
5. Cocktail
6. Modern Heer

He also wrote historical novels such as
1. Zeenat Baghel Singh
2. Takkar

He also wrote a travel book called, Akhin Ditha Roos. In the field of literary criticism he wrote the following books:
1. Islah
2. Kav Nirnha

Dr. Sadhu Singh Hamdard's contribution to Punjabi journalism is extremely valuable. The attack on the Golden Temple and Akal Takhat took a heavy toll on him. He died within few months after the Operation Blue Star.

 

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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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