Akhand Kirtani Jatha (UK)
On 13th April 1978 during the occasion of Vaisakhi an extraordinary event unfolded in Amritsar. This event was to usher in a new chapter in the Sikh struggle against state oppression, unleashed by the ruling Brahmin-Hindu regime. Bhai Fauja Singh and his twelve companions were key participants in this historic turning point, and their Kurbani or sacrifice forms the focus of this publication.
Though it is twenty-five years since the thirteen Gursikhs courted martyrdom, little is known of their lives, of this crucial historical event and the impact of their Kurbani. This publication offers an insight into the moral and spiritual lives of these contemporary Sikh martyrs, the extraordinary circumstances concerning their martyrdom, as well as the reaction from the Sikh nation and Indian government.
It is often said that the Kurbani of Shaheeds breathes new life into the body and spirit of the Panth. Those that know their history well will recognise this truth. Each day the Ardaas or invocatory prayer recalls and salutes the countless Sikhs who sacrifice their lives for the preservation of the Sikh faith, nation and its distinct identity. This is testament to the power of Kurbani.
The tradition of Shaheedi or martyrdom comes from an inherent love for liberty and justice. It is deeply revered and honoured in Sikhism. During the Panth’s turbulent periods of strife and suffering, Shaheedi gave new hope and pride enabling the Sikhs to struggle against all odds. The story of the thirteen Shaheeds is in keeping with this scared tradition.
Throughout history, great souls have risen to guide humanity towards the path of truthful conduct and godliness. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji describes their exalted state:
He who grieves not in griet
From avarice, pleasures and fear is free,
And considers gold as dust: Refrain
Who indulges not in slander and flattery,
And is immune to greed, attachment and vanity,
Who in happiness and sorrow is self-poised,
And is indifferent to all praise and blame;
Who discards all hopes and desires,
Who lives detached from the world,
And is not affected by lust or wrath,
In such a one, shines the Light of God.
Bhai Fauja Singh emanated this spirit. All who knew and met him were witness to his dynamic spiritual transformation after receiving Khande-Di-PahuJ. Many observers noted his infectious love for humanity as well as his rigorous spiritual discipline. Others were deeply moved and inspired by his staunch obedience to the Guru’s Word, unconquerable faith and battle-readiness.
The 1978 incident is commonly referred to as the ‘Amritsar Massacre’. It must not be misunderstood as a tragedy, but rather remembered as a compelling demonstration of spiritual force, moral conviction, dauntless courage and duty in the face of extreme adversity. Bhai Fauja Singh took an uncompromising stand on behalf of the Panth, against the abuse and provocation meted out by the government-sponsored Nirankari sect. The Amritsar Massacre is therefore best described as a heroic battle that awakened the Sikh nation and raised the banner of Panthic solidarity and set the course for political self-determination.
The Shaheeds’ Kurbani also marked a new resurgence of the martyrdom tradition. A spirit of renewed national Sikh consciousness and determination emerged from the ashes of the fearless souls. Their Kurbani underscored the great need for the Panth to return to the Guru’s teachings.
Their martyrdom had powerful consequences across the Punjab and elsewhere. It injected a resolute determination amongst the Sikh masses to confront India’s policy of attrition and discrimination, a determination that stubbornly continues twenty-five years later.
This publication recalls the extraordinary story of the life and martyrdom of Bhai Fauja Singh and his twelve fearless companions. We are pleased to present new information concerning the character of the twelve Shaheeds in this revised second edition.
This present work marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of their Kurbani. We hope this humble effort will give the reader a unique insight into the standards of the Khalsa, as well as contemporary Sikh history. Equally, we hope it will inspire greater confidence within the seekers of Truth, that they may hold steadfast to the sacred Rehit of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and strive in the footsteps of our immortalised heroes.