Ankhele Sardar di Gorav Gatha (In Punjabi)
A Review by Jaswant Rai
Author: S Karamjit Singh Aujla
Publisher: Sewa Lehar, 9516, Joshi Nagar, Haibowal, Ludhiana
Pages: 183; Price: Rs 250/- (Edition 2011)
The book under review is written by S Karamjit Singh Aujla, a renowned Sikh thinker and Editor of monthly Punjabi Magazine “Sewa Lehar”. The author has tried to compile a biography of a great Sikh the late S Harchand Singh Jaijee, founder of the Praja Mandal (1934), for which he is successful. Karamjit Singh cleared it in the very beginning that book is not written in praise of Jaijee Sahib but to remind the Sikh leadership that they have forgotten S Harchand Singh who was a role model for Sikh leadership.
The author has narrated a beautiful story how Shergill family became Jaijee. The author records that when Shergill family of Malwa refused to pay the Jazia, (a tax on non-Muslims) to the Mughal Govt and recorders started calling them Jaijee (non-payer jajia). The family was so powerful that the weak govt had to allow Jaijee family not to pay the tax. The very first two personalities of the Jaijees were S Ladha Singh and S Ramditta Singh, who helped Baba Ala Singh to establish the Patiala State. After that the author has given detailed information of the other Jaijee Sardars who had played significant role in the Sikh politics and the same high Sikh values became the inheritance of Sardar Harchand Singh Jaijee.
God blessed S Harchand Singh Jaijee with five sons and three daughters and a brief introduction has been given about all the children. The crucial period started for S Harchand Singh Jaijee when he arranged the marriage of the daughter of S Sewa Singh Thikriwala with his son, Wazir Singh against the wishes of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. The book explored the tragic history of S Jaijee for which he paid a heavy price but did not stray from the path of truth (Gursikhi). The Maharaja usuerped his property and expelled him from his ancestoral home, but he never faltered. Later the British Govt restored the property but confirmed his exile.
His nature was so kind that he had no negative tinge in his personality and was fully dedicated to the Guru Maryada. Author narrates that according to Jaijee Sahib only a speech towards social reform is not enough, some practical work must be done as he himself did in his whole life. He was of the view that the dowry system in our society is a curse and many families suffer due to such type of customs. He set an example himself by marriaging all his sons in the royal families without dowry. He had never budged from his principles. The example of kind-heartedness of the S Harchand Singh could be visualised that at the time of partition, the ancestral home of S Jaijee at Chural Kalaln was converted into a refugee Camp for the Muslims of this area, from where they were escorted to Pakistan in 1947.
The incident of the marriage of Maharaja Yadwinder Singh and Bibi Mehtab Kaur daughter of S Jaijee is beautifully narrated and the commemorating pictures of the prominent leaders who attended the marriage are given in the book. The chapter relating to Maharaja Yadwindra Singh explains the patriotism of Maharaja for India and his role to make the present federal system. The Maharaja was the Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes and was a powerful Army Commander. This was all due to S Harchand Singh Jaijee, who had impressed the Maharaja in true Sikhi spirit.
The book not only highlights the life and work done by S Harchand Singh Jaijee, but also tells about the successors of S Jaijee who have continued the struggle for the betterment of the Panth. The protest shown by Maharaja Capt Amrinder Singh, grandson of S Harchand Singh, during the tragedy of Blue Star Operation signifies his Sikh Spirit and Bibi Baljit Kaur daughter of S Jaijee, who has played a laudable role to highlight the police atrocities on Sikhs and about the false cases which had been made by the police during the turmoil in Punjab. Between 1987 and 1997 Bibi Baljit Kaur, along with an NGO, the Movement Against State Repression (MASR), established by her brother S Inderjit Singh Jaijee, the elder son of Sardar Harchand Singh Jaijee, maintained files on hundreds of cases of human rights violations, sought redressal for victims of illegal acts and spoke out through all available media to raise awareness of the provisions of the law and instances of the law abrogation. At the time MASR was founded, Punjab was going through a period of civil unrest. The state was bent on elimination of Khalistan supporters who advocated secession from the Indian Union. Among the unfortunate consequences of the process of eliminating terrorists was that the rule of law was eliminated.
The elder son of S Jaijee, S Inderjit Singh Jaijee has also stuck to the noble cause to help the society, especially the families of small farmers, who committed suicide due to the heavy debt. He has also established NGO named Movement Against State Repression (MASR), which has been working in Punjab for the past two decades. It has recorded more than 1800 suicides in around 100 Punjabi villages especially in District Sangrur between 1988 and 2010.
Vast information is available in this book about the History of Patiala State and work done by various eminent personalities of this family for the upliftment of Punjabi language, Sikh culture etc. The author narrates on page 65 of the book that even though Sikh women were not allowed to go for participating in any Morchas (agitations) Sardarni Harchand Kaur played a crucial role to look after the injured and passive resisters (satyagrahie) of Guru Ka Bagh Morcha.
The last three chapters of the book deal with the personality and nature of this self-respecting Gursikh, who never bent before any unlawful and unjust situation. More than two dozen coloured and black & white rare and historical photographs given in book make it more memorable. The author covers every aspect of S Harchand Singh's life in these photographs.
I would like to congratulate S Karamjit Singh Aujla for this wonderful book of a great leader and devout Sikh as a gift to the Sikh Intelligentsia and also recommend this book to be read and treasured in every Sikh house-hold.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All