Today in Sikh History – 15th January
Bhagat Namdev Ji passed away. Annual maela observations are held in village Ghumaan, district Gurdaspur.
==> Bhagat NAMDEV (1270-1350)
– Dr. D.S. Mani, Sardar Bakhshish Singh, and Dr. Gurdit Singh Guru Granth Ratnavali, page 90
The neighboring woman asketh Nam Deva:
Pray, who hath built thy tenement?
I will pay him double the wages if thou tellest me of that mason.
Sayeth Nam Dev: O woman I can tell not of the mason.
For, Seeest thou not that He Pervadeth all?
That Mason is the mainstay of my vital breath.
The Mason demands the wages of Love if one wants
Him to put up one's tenement.
Yea, if one breaks with the people,
even one's kindred, then the Mason cometh of His own.
I can describe Him not, for He abideth in the hearts of all, all over.
And, pray, how can the dumb one describe the Taste of Nectar?
Hear thou the merits of the Mason who hath bounded
the seas and made Dhruva eternal,
And rescued Sita from the cluthes of Ravana, and
handed over Lanka to Blbhlkshan,
Yea, such is my Lord, the God
Nam Dev was a celebrated saint whose name was a household word for the people of Maharashtra. They chanted his hymns amidst their families.
He was born in the village of Narsi Bamni in the Satara District of Maharashtra. His father was Dam Seti and mother Gona Bai. He was inspired to bhakti by his father and later became a disciple of Vishoba Khechar. They say, that once, when his maternal grandfather was to go out somewhere, he instructed Nam Dev to offer milk to God. Following the instructions literally, he placed a cup of milk before the image of the Lord. With a child’s unquestioning faith and unflattering devotion he created such an atmosphere that God drank the proffered milk. Another time, when Nam Dev was absorbed in meditation, the proud Brahmans, jealous of his spiritual attainments, threw him out of the temple, saying that being a Shudra, he had no business to be in a holy place. Nam Dev bore the humiliation calmly and sat outside the back wall of the temple and plunged into deep meditation. Moved by his love and devotion, God performed a miracle and the temple gate moved to where Nam Dev was sitting. Seeing this, the Brahmans recognized his greatness and besought him for forgiveness. Nam Dev himself described the event thus:
Cheerfully I entered Thy Temple
But while I was worshipping Thee the Priests
drove me out saying that I was a low-caste.
0 King of Yadvas, Why didst Thou give me birth in a low-caste family?
Holding my blanket I rushed out
And sat at the back of the Temple.
As I dwelt on Thy Praises, 0 Lord!
The facade of the Temple turned around to me.
There are numerous other parables of this kind which would convince anyone that Nam Dev was an enlightened soul. Once under the orders of the Muslim king Mohammad Tughlak or Feroz Shah Tughlak, Nam Dev was arrested and asked to embrace Islam. Though subjected to coercion and cruelty, he did not give up his faith. He was then ordered to prove that he was as a real bhakt of God possessing spiritual powers. He was asked to revive a dead cow failing which he would be done to death. Nam Dev said that it was for God and not for him to bestow life on a dead creature, and, that he had no business to thwart the will of God. The king was adamant and inflicted cruelties on Nam Dev. Ultimately, God came to the rescue of his devotee and breathed life into the dead cow. The king was pleased with the bhakt and set him free. Nam Dev, however, made it clear that the miracle simply showed that man should follow truth and Justice, and, that it did not become a king to be unjust to any one. The Kaazi and the Mullah were humbled, and, they requested the bhakt to forgive them. The bhakt bade the king abide by the principles of truth and justice.
It is a historical fact that during his pilgrimage, Nam Dev came to the Punjab also. Local tradition has it that he spent a number of years in the village of Ghuman in Gurdaspur and died here at Traudsi, in the month of Asso. Every year a fair is held at his shrine as a mark of homage to his spirit.
It is common knowledge that prior to Swami Rama Nand and bhakt Kabir, the credit for spreading the gospel of bhakti from Maharashtra to Punjab goes to Nam Dev. He wrote in Marathi as well as in Saint Bhasha. Marathi Abhangas included in the Nam Dev Gatha are sung throughout Maharashtra. For the Maharashtrians they are evocative of the same spiritual ecstasy that the people of Uttar Pradesh find in the hymns of Surdas and Mira Bal. Sixty-one of Nam Dev’s verses have been incorporated in the Adi Guru Granth Sahib under different ragas. The themes of these hymns are the varied spiritual experiences of Nam Dev.
68 Kukas, Namdhari GurSikhs were arrested near the village Rar and accused of successionist acts.
Some zealots among Kuka leaders attacked Malerkotla and killed Kotwal Ahmed Khan and 7 sepoys. As a result 68 Kukas, Namdhari GurSikhs were arrested near the village Rar and accused of successionist acts. 42 of whom were blown up on Jan. 17 while one boy was vut to pieces, 16 were blown up on Jan. 18, and 2 women were spared.
Indira Ghandhi issued orders for Bluestar Operation, attack on Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar.
Indira Ghandhi, then Prime Minster of India, relayed orders to General Vaidya for Indian Army’s asault on Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. The orderes were relayed during the Solidier Day celebrations. This operation was dubbed “Blue Star Operation” and actually carried out in the month of June.
==> 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 Punjabi Sabhiyachar 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.