News & Views
Bhai Ashok Singh Elected President of Institute of Sikh Studies
Bhai Ashok Singh was unanimously elected the President for the year 2016 in Institute of Sikh Studies' General Body meeting held on December 7, 2015. The following office-bearers have been appointed by the President:
Vice-President Dr Birendra Kaur
Secretary S Sadhu Singh
Joint Secretary Prof Kulwant Singh
Treasurer S Ishwinder Singh
Member Lt Gen Kartar Singh, PVSM
Member Col Amrik Singh
Prof Prabhjot Kaur will remain as the Editor of the Abstracts of Sikh Studies.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Pays Tribute to Sikh Community
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has paid tribute to Singapore's Sikh community, saying the government will continue to support them in many ways.
The Singaporean government has and will continue to support the Sikh community in many ways. The government has already recognised Punjabi as a second language in public schools and supported the formation of the Singapore Sikh Foundation through the Education Ministry to facilitate the teaching of Punjabi.
It has initiated the formation of Central Sikh Gurdwara Board to look after the community's needs, and granted the Sikh Welfare Council the Institution of Public Character status to support fund-raising.
"I am very glad to see that the demand for these activities is also growing. I know you have some space constraints. In line with our consistent support for the community, we will look positively at the Sikh community's growing needs to see how we can be helpful," Lee said, adding that Sikhs arrived here in 1881 to form the backbone of the police contingent.
He highlighted the Sikh tradition of serving food and providing shelter at the Gurdawaras, asking the community to continue to live out the values of self service and optimism embodied in their faith.
The Sikh community has also promoted religious harmony and multi-culturalism by participating in the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles as well as the Inter-Religious Organisation, Lee said.
Out of the seven Gurudwaras here, one at Silat Road on the fringe of the central business district serves free vegetarian food, averaging 1,000 meals on weekdays and 2,000 on weekends.
Lee launched a milestone book published by the Young Sikh Association in conjunction with SG50 - the celebration of 50 years of Singapore's independence.
The book "Singapore at 50 - 50 Sikhs and Their Contributions" honours 50 notable Sikhs who have contributed to Singapore's development. These include the community of about 13,000 serving in various fields including academia, business, civil service, judiciary and politics.
The book highlights Sikhs contribution made in the post-1965 era, their role in the development and progress of the city state. Lee hopes the book will inspire the next generation of Sikhs to excel and serve Singapore.
In conjunction with the launch, the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation, which administrates Punjabi as a second language in Singapore, also celebrated its 25th anniversary by honouring teachers and staff who have been with the organisation since its inception.
The Singaporean government has allowed Indian students to take their own mother tongue (Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi and Punjabi) as second language. (Courtesy: Indian Express, Nov 29, 2015)
Sikh Mission to Come up in Guwahati
Amritsar, December 19. The SGPC is all set to open its first Sikh mission centre in Guwahati. It has received the land for the centre and the infrastructure would be arranged in the next couple of months.
The SGPC has also released a grant Rs 25 lakh to build a new structure for the over century-old gurdwara at Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. The gurdwara is being managed by a committee headed by Gurjeet Singh, who was in the city today. (Courtesy: The Tribune, December 20, 2015)
US Hindu, Sikh, Muslim Groups Unite for Pluralism
Washington, December 20. Hindu, Sikh and Muslim groups have joined a White House-initiated inter-faith coalition to celebrate and protect religious pluralism in the US, in the wake of a fresh backlash against religious minorities after the California terror attack that left 14 people dead.
"Hate-motivated violence and discrimination deserve no place in a civilised society. They also violate our federal civil rights laws," head of the civil rights division at the US Department of Justice Vanita Gupta said in her address to the gathering of top faith-based leaders.
"Similar to what we saw after 9/11, in recent weeks following the terrible and tragic attacks in San Bernardino and Paris - and amidst a ratcheting up of divisive rhetoric around religious intolerance - community members and advocates have reported an uptick in hate-related incidents targeting Muslim-Americans, as well as those perceived - rightly or wrongly - as being Muslim.
"We have heard from Muslim parents concerned for the safety of their children being bullied in school. And we have heard about reports of criminal threats and violence against mosques, children and adults. We continue to investigate many of these incidents," Gupta said.
Hindu American Seva Communities is the only Hindu group invited by the White House while the Sikh American groups include National Sikh Campaign and the Sikh Coalition. - PTI (Courtesy: The Tribune, December 21, 2015)
SAKA - The Martyrs Of Nankana Sahib - Feature Film About Forgotten Martyrs
The SAKA constitutes the core of the Gurudwara reform movement started by the Sikhs in early twentieth century. The interesting part of this saka (demonstration or agitation) is the unprecedented discipline, self-control and exemplary patience displayed by the peaceful Sikh protesters even in the face of extreme barbarism. Even the national leaders like Mahatama Gandhi had to acknowledge in no ambiguous terms the glory and the prestige which the peaceful and passive resistance of the Sikhs had brought to the India's Struggle for freedom.
Gurdwara Nankana Sahib was managed by Mahant Narayan Das in the early 20th century.. Money-power made the Mahant corrupt and he started using the Gurdwara's money for wrongful deeds. The Mahant was a very desolute and wicked person who also used Gurdwara premises for immoral and highly objectionable activities.
When Mahant (Narayan) Narian Dass was asked to reform himself, he started making preparations to oppose the Panth (Sikh community) instead.On feburary 20,1921 there was a peaceful protest against mahant Narain Dass to hand over nankana sahib back to the sikh community but he got all the protestors brutally killed with indirect help from britishers.How Nankana sahib was finally freed from the clutches of mahant after this incident forms the crux of story. In political significance, it comes next only to Jallianwala bagh massacre of April 1919.
This film is being written and directed by Jagmeet Singh Samundri and produced by Sukhbir Sandhar under the banner of Sukhbir Sandhar films pvt. Ltd. A proper set was constructed according to the look of gurdwara Nankana Sahib in 1920's at ucha pind Near phagwara. Jagmeet singh samundri took two years to research and write this script. His past work documentaries like Rise of the Khalsa has won best director award at NewYork international film festival. Jagmeet says this film would not have been possible about the support of producer Sukhbir Sandhar who provided each and everything unconditionally for the production and proper Sikh code of conduct is followed to execute the film. (Courtesy: http://www.sikhnet.com/>
Letters to Editor
We have just celebrated the sacrifice of the Sahibzadas. During the celebrations two things caught my eye which I want to share with you.
For the Saka at Chamkaur, I have heard all the Katha Wachaks and others refer to the enemy strength (fauj) as 10 lacs. Now, the Indian Army today is little over one million and it is the second largest army of the world, after China. The total army of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was around 60,000. The Bulk of the Muslim Army was with Aurangzeb fighting the Marhatas in the south. What was there at Chamkaur was the armies of local Nawabs of Sirhind (Wazir Khan), Nawabs of Lahore and Malerkotla, and Hindu Rajas. In my humble opinion, the total force of all these would not exceed 10,000. The whole army of Arungzeb was less than one and half lacs.
I have asked these katha wachaks their source. The reply is, it is written in Zafarnama (the letter sent by Guru Gobind Singh ji to the Emperor Aurangzeb). The letter is in Persian. Could it be that we have mis interpreted the letter and are reading it as lacs instead of thousands? We should be saying Hazaran the Fauj.
The second is the height of the Burj at Sirhind. In the Dec 2012 issue of SGPC Journal Gurmat Parkash (page 21), the height of the Burj has been mentioned as 140 feet, which means 14 Manzals. Very improbable height were the old Mata Gujri ji and the young Sahibzadas were imprisoned. These Baradari type structures were generally one or one and half manzalas.
The purpose is that when we say things which do not appear to be correct, then it is likely to bring the whole episode under question, particularly when we Sikhs have destroyed all the evidence of the time. I mean the Garhi at Chamkaur and the wall and Burj at Sirhind now Fathegarh Sahib.
I do not know as to how you will look at it to elicit more information from Sikh scholars and historians; but we must state the facts only to the sangat to retain credibility of the events, for future generations.
Col Avtar Singh (retd)
A Note from the Editor:
Even though it is agreed that the history must be truthfully recorded, what is of more importance in this context, is the invincible spirit Guru Gobind Singh fostered in his young sons and Sikhs, who were as dear to him as his own sons. It is not a question of numbers. Even if it was in thousands, and not ten lakh as popularly believed, it does not diminish the enormity of the fight between the Mughals and the Guru, where the Sikhs were heavily outnumbered. With a huge army, getting regular food supplies as well as armour from the rulers of the land, surrounding the small mound of clay improvised as fortress made of mud, behind which forty Sikhs had taken shelter, I believe it is one of the most unequal battles ever fought, more unequal than even the battle of Saraghari, which has found place in the list of the topmost battles of the world.
Add to it the fact the Guru had just evacuated the fort of Anandpur and had lost almost all his belongs and I believe, even the clothes must be wet after crossing the overflowing river Sirsa. And the winter was at its severest. Fighting the battle to the last against such heavy odds is the victory of the spirit and it is this message that needs to go to the youth of today, regardless of the numbers of the Mughal army the researchers arrive at after thorough research.
Similarly, we need to face the extreme chill in this weather to fully realize what Mata Gujri and the chhote Sahibzade went through at Thanda Burj, whatever its height. Again add to it the fact that faced with extreme chill and hunger, the younger sons of the Guru, at such a tender age, did not fall prey to all sorts of temptations. Again, the invincibility of the spirit at its best.