News & Views
Inspired by some well-intentioned educational and cultural organisations and the accomplishments of certain Nihang Singhs, a group of well-educated and widely-travelled youngmen have attempted to contribute their efforts to spread the message of pristine Sikh value system. In order to achieve their objectives, a few young intellectuals in collaboration with the reputed Sikh institutions and Nihang Dals have established an organisation named “SavaLakh Foundation.” Briefly the objects of this foundation, in their own words, are enunciated below:
Sava Lakh defines the true essence of a Sikh's pioneering spirit The Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh, infused the warrior's resilience in a suppressed community enshrining a moral code that inspires and enthralls. Sava Lakh is a beautiful thought, a sublime philosophy affirming, “One man can make a difference.”
Sava Lakh also serves as an acronym for the essentials of the Sikh creed:
Shastar Vidya: Every Sikh should be trained in the art of self defense
Langar: All men are born equal
Charity (Dasvandh] an all-encompassing virtue
Khalsa Maryada: Kirt Karo (Dignity of labour)
Naam Japo (Meditation and Introspection)
Horsemanship: Engenders leadership qualities and connects us to our glorious past
With the active involvement of the Akal College Council Gursagar Mastuana Sahib and ace horseman Baba Maghar Singh a training programme in traditional horsemanship and martial arts has been initiated at Mastuana Sahib.
In today's competitive world, Sava Lakh Foundation exhorts the younger generation to live up to the ideals of the Gurus. The endeavour is to instill pride and enthusiasm in the present day youth - a youth morbidly impressed by the wrong influences, drawn to drugs and wallowing in mediocrity.
Our people have produced brilliance in the past and we aspire to goad our youth to that road of excellence.
A three -pronged strategy has been adopted by the Foundation to further this cause:
1. Establish an academy staffed by Nihangs to impart training in traditional horsemanship and martial arts.
2. A traveling photo – exhibition documenting the lifestyle of the Nihangs.
3. Organizing interactive camps at schools and colleges so the younger generation is exposed to our rich culture and heritage.
The SavaLakh Foundation organised a very high grade exhibition of the State-of-Art photographs on the living of Nihangs in Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, Chandigarh on September 17-18, 2009. Nihang Singhs of renowned Dals gave scintillating demonstration of horsemanship and shastra deftness in the open ground of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College (Boys), Chandigarh. S Hira Singh Gabrian, Punjab Cabinet Minister incharge Cultural Affairs, Printing and Stationary and Jails inaugurated the function on September 17, 2009. Dr R C Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, Chandigarh presided over the concluding function in the afternoon of September 18, 2009. The two-day events were efficiently organised, well attended and highly appreciated by the audience, press and electronic media. President, Institute of Sikh Studies, S Pritam Singh (IAS retd), Secretary, Institute of Sikh Studies, Sardar Gurpreet Singh and many more from the IOSS were also present at these functions. Of the thousands of photos taken by S Gurbir Singh Brar on the living of Nihang Singhs, about sixty were put up in the exhibition. S Gurbir Singh Brar has been associated with the IOSS for about a decade and has been rendering useful assistance to carry out the objects of the IOSS while working in India and abroad. Dr Kharak Singh right upto his last breath in August, 2008 inspired and kept Gurbir Singh involved in the broadcasting of the principles of IOSS. During his eight month sojourn with various Nihang Dals, Gurbir Singh Brar captured their activities in thousands of photographs. A few of these photographs have been displayed in various exhibitions. An exhibition of some of these photographs was held at Lyalpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar on July 20-21, 2009. It was inaugurated by Sardarni Balbir Kaur, President of the College Management Committee. Another exhibition was organised at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana from August 4-7, 2009. It was inaugurated by PAU Vice Chancellor Dr M S Kang. Commissioner Jalandhar Division, Sri S R Ladhar IAS inaugurated the exhibition organised at Sikh National College, Banga (birth place of Shaheed-e-Azam S Bhagat Singh) on August 21-22, 2009.
‘Sikhs Formed a Formidable force and were the Reason for Pakistan’s Defeat in 1971’
The other day I read an article on the book Crisis of Leadership, authored by Maj Gen Mukesh Khan of the Pakistan Army. The author speaks about his experiences during the 1971 war and makes a special mention of the bravery of Sikhs in the Indian Army.
He writes that Sikhs formed a formidable force and were the reason behind their defeat. On December 3, 1971, the infantry brigade of the Pakistani forces attacked the Indian Army near Hussainiwala border.
With their brigade comprising the powerful Punjab regiment and Baloch regiment, the Indian Army was forced to retreat. As the Pakistani Army reached near the Kausre-Hind post (Kasure), they were halted by a small segment of the Indian Army belonging to the Sikh Regiment.
With slogans of Bole so Nihal reverberating in the air, the Sikh soldiers went on the roof and persistently opposed them. The entire night they showered fire on Pakistani soldiers and it was on the following day when Pakistani tanks bombed the post that some Sikhs were martyred. The remaining brave soldiers then destroyed the Pakistani tanks. Fighting with great bravery, they marched forward and thus our Army lost its foothold, the author wrote in the book.
“Alas! A handful of Sikhs converted our great victory into a big defeat and shattered our confidence and courage. The same thing happened in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the battle of Jassur, the Singhs opposed the Pakistani Army so fiercely that our backbone and foothold were lost. This became the main reason for our defeat and Sikhs’ strength and safety and honour of the country became the sole cause of their victory,” the author records in his book. (Courtesy: Chandigarh Newslines, July 31, 2009)
Website on Dr Kharak Singh Launched
A website www.drkharaksingh.com has been launched, the aims of which are:
– To Present the Compiled Works and Views of Dr Kharak Singh ji.
– To Seek Your Opinions/Views/Ideas On Sikh Issues Of Concern, So As To Identify The Collective Will / Thought Process Of The Sikhs, As Such Information / Database Shall Be Of Immense Value As Ready Reference Material.
– To Promote Projects Undertaken and Envisaged by Dr Kharak Singh ji.
As such, in addition to providing information about Dr Sahib and an attempt to promote his Projects through this website, certain Sikh Issues that the Panth needs to address have also been introduced for seeking the views/opinions of panthdardis regarding the same, as these, when compiled/recorded, may assist in determining the path the Panth should tread. Visit www.drkharaksingh.com for more details.
Sikhism’s Appeal Charts New Course
[800 non-Sikhs, 28 from Foreign countries enroll for the SGPC’s Correspondence Sikh Studies Programme]
Amritsar: Sikhism seems to be arousing the curiosity of people from all over the world and different religions. A total of 3,000 people, including 800 non-Sikhs, 28 from foreign countries and 1,100 from states other than Punjab, have registered themselves for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s two-year correspondence course in Sikh Studies.
Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC, President, had started the course in 2007, aiming to preach the basic tenets of Sikhism to people across the world. Offered in Punjabi and Hindi, the course is likely to be taught in English too. And its students range from the powerful to the influential. “We are proud of awarding course certificates to a retired Maj Gen of the Army and a Punjab Police DIG during the 2007-09 session. We have enrolled several senior Army officers and bureaucrats for this session,” says Correspondence Course Directorate head Dr Jasbir Singh Sabar.
He mentions that the idea is to explain the purpose behind the writing of the Guru Granth Sahib when so many holy scriptures exist. The course also deals with the religious, historical, economic, political and social aspects of the Guru Granth Sahib, besides the lives and works of its authors.
The syllabus - prepared by Sabar after taking the help of scholars Dr Jodh Singh, Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon, Dr Gurnek Singh, Dr Paramjit Singh Sidhu, Dr Paramvir Singh and Simarjit Singh - is contained d in two books comprising 200 pages each. It carries a message that the appeal of the Sikhs’ holy book is not only confined to the community but the entire humanity, as it has references to the names of other religious Gods.
The SGPC charges only Rs 100/- as enrollment fee. Books and personal contact programme are provided free of cost. There is one handicap, however.
The exam centres are in Punjab only. Nevertheless, the authorities have started conducting personal contact programme classes outside the state.
There is no community, caste or age barrier to study the course. To attain the certificate, student has to score 40 per cent aggregate marks in all the eight papers - four in first year and as many in the second.
Subjects taught in the first year include Salient Features of Guru Granth Sahib, Life and Works of Sikh Gurus, Basic Tenets of Sikhism and its Culture, History and Literature and Sikh Rehat Maryada (way of life). The second-year syllabus includes basic information about the five major religions - Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Jainism, Christianity and Sikhism, lives and works of five saints - Farid, Namdev, Ravidas, Kabir and Dhanna, Basic Concepts of Sikhism and Prominent Sikh Traditions and Movements / Morchas.
Sabar says the level of these exams is equivalent to that of reputed universities. Outstanding students are given cash awards too. (Courtesy: Hindustan Times, September 25, 2009)
1984 Riots: Life in Jail for Three
New Delhi, August 29. In the first case of such stern punishment in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case, a city court on Saturday sentenced three men to rigorous imprisonment for life under charges of attempt to murder, loot and arson.
The trio – Brij Mohan Verma, Mangal Sain and Bhagat Singh – were also slapped with a monetary penalty of Rs 6.2 lakh each.
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Surinder S Rathi held that the convicts had to be given the maximum punishment for their acts of “mindless violence committed under the garb of emotional outburst.”
The convicts were immediate neighbours of victim Joginder Singh in Shastri Nagar, North Delhi. On November 1, 1984, the three barged into Singh’s house, beat up the family and looted the house before putting it on fire.
The incident forced Singh and his sons Jagmohan and Gurinder to migrate to Amritsar soon after. They took the witness box during the trial, which helped the court seal the fate of the accused.
In his order, ASJ Rathi described the anti-Sikh riots as the “most unfortunate time” for the country after Independence.
“I see no justification in claiming that the riots were emotional outburst of masses,” he observed. “There can be no justification, verbose or otherwise, to validate such mayhem and pogrom.”
The court also held that it was “alarming and disturbing” that the convicts committed the crime despite being neighbours. The court also slammed the state machinery for mishandling the situation and failing to protect the victims’ families.
“History would never forgive police officials who were at the helm of the affairs and the government of the day for their unprecedented slothful and quiescent role,” ASJ Rathi said.
“But for the contrived action and sluggish response of the police and the government, scores of priceless lives could have been saved.”
Finding substance in the arguments of special prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, the court held that the trio’s punishment must serve as a lesson for others.
Victims Jagmohan Singh and Gurinder Singh were present in court today. Expressing apology to the brothers for the overstretched trial, ASJ Rathi said though no monetary relief could undo their pain, Rs 18 lakh would be given to them out of the penalty amount as token of compensation.
Jagmohan Singh told Newsline after the verdict that he was satisfied with the judgment as it would serve as a precedent for others. “I feel vindicated and satisfied that there is still scope for justice in the country,” he said.
His younger brother Gurinder said he had wanted his father, who passed away in 1990, to see the guilty being punished.
Dubbing the verdict as “unprecedented,” a senior official from the Anti-Riots Cell said it was the first case in the Capital where convicts were handed down life imprisonment under charges of attempt to murder. (Courtesy: Indian Express, August 31, 2009)
Work on Annotative Version of Guru Granth Sahib Begins
Amritsar, September 1. Foreign-based new generation of Sikhs and people from other religions having faith in Guru Granth Sahib will hardly have any problem in comprehending the meaning and message in the holy book as the SGPC has initiated work on preparing the first “authentic and widely-accepted” annotative version (Teeka) of Guru Granth Sahib.
The annotative version of Guru Granth Sahib is being prepared under the guidance of renowned Sikh scholars. The project was initiated by SGPC chief Avtar Singh at Guru Granth Sahib Research Centre in the Golden Temple complex here today.
Several Sikh organisations, taksals, Panthic organisations and Sikhs based in different parts of the world have been asking the SGPC to come out with an “authentic” annotative version of Guru Granth Sahib for an easy comprehension of the message of the Gurus. Upon completion of the first phase of the “Teeka”, it will be translated in English, Russian and French languages. “The translated versions will be helpful in sending the message across the world. It will be particularly helpful to the young generation of the Sikhs, who are educated in different countries and the scholars who were seeking to comprehend message enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib in a better way,” said Avtar.
He said to supervise the project, the SGPC had appointed former Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and former secretary of the SGPC’s Dharam Parchar Committee Waryam Singh as chairman and director of the research centre, respectively.
World Sikh University to be Set Up
Shimla, August 30. The World Sikh Foundation has decided to set up an international university at Paonta Sahib. It will be the second World Sikh University to be set up in the country by the foundation. The first institution is being established at Tral near Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir.
Chairman of the foundation Prof Jaswant Singh Man said the decision was taken at a meeting of the governing body of the foundation held at Paonta Sahib yesterday. He said the proposed university would involve an investment of Rs 500 crore which would be contributed mostly by Sikh non-resident Indians (NRIs).
It would be a multi-faculty institution with focus on engineering, business management, law, biotechnology and other allied disciplines.
Sikhs join to fight Climate Change
New Delhi, July 4. Sikh religious and political leaders met in the capital on Saturday to underline the Sikh community’s commitment to save the environment from threats posed by climate change and global warming.
Representatives from the apex Sikh body SGPC and DSGMC were present at the conference, where a five-year greening plan was adopted, which included a long-term commitment to transform gurdwaras into ecologically-friendly in terms of energy use, building materials and means of transportation.
A document highlighting Sikh community’s commitments - ‘EcoSikh, the Sikh community’s response to global warming and climate change’ – was also launched. This is the first time the Sikh religious and political leaders, grassroot-levels activists and educationists gathered to talk about global warning and demonstrate their commitment to save the mother earth, says chairperson of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) Rajwant Singh.
“Sikh community is committed to save this gift from God. We believe that threat of climate change and global warming must not go unchecked. The Sikh religion was created for defence of the defenceless. We want to extend this definition to environment, as we believe that the most defenceless right now is Mother Earth. It is our religious duty to follow the teachings of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh and now become eco warriors,” he said.
The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are advisories on how carbon footprint can be lowered.
Are Northern States Ignoring Punjabi?
Chandigarh, July 13. Acts alone do not help in the promotion or prevention of a language from going into the oblivion. Punjabi is a glaring example of official apathy and neglect.
Though the previous Indian National Lok Dal government had amended its Official Language Act, granting Punjabi the status of second language, it is yet to be implemented in the state. It’s the same with the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Teaching of Punjabi as a language in schools or its use in official work has been virtually abandoned by the Chandigarh Administration.
What could have been more painful for ardent lovers of Punjabi than the serious concerns expressed over its future in the state in the just-concluded Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha?
Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Tarlochan Singh had in the ongoing session of Parliament raised the issue of financial assistance provided to the states under the centrally sponsored scheme of appointment of language teachers.
The reply given by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, himself a Punjabi, was shocking. None of the northern states other than Himachal Pradesh had applied for financial assistance for the appointment of Punjabi teachers during the past three years. Only Himachal Pradesh had obtained a grant in October 2007 for the appointment of 100 Punjabi teachers.
Interestingly, the HRD Ministers’ reply mentioned that requests for grant for the appointment of Urdu teachers had come from many states. But Haryana, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, that have substantial Punjabi-speaking population, have not asked for any financial assistance for appointing Punjabi teachers.
In letters addressed to the Chief Ministers of Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and the Administrator of Chandigarh, Tarlochan Singh has expressed deep concern over the apathy and indifferent attitude of these state governments towards Punjabi.
“In a secular country, where the Central government is providing financial help for the promotion of minority languages, all state governments should have responded positively to the scheme, so as to earn goodwill of these minority communities. But, I am amazed at their attitude,” he wrote in his letter.
He was hopeful that the Chief Ministers concerned would issue directions to their respective education departments to immediately send proposals to the Centre for special financial assistance to appoint Punjabi language teachers. The entire financial burden for their appointment and salaries is borne by the Centre. (Courtesy: The Tribune, July 14, 2009)
Maharashtrian’s Reverence for Sikh Gurus
Gajendra Suryakant Wadhonkar of Aurangabad has made paintings and scribbled history of the 10 Sikh Gurus on grains of rice.
Wadhonkar, with family and a friend, reached Amritsar on the invitation of president, Baba Budha Sahib Direct Descendant Welfare Centre, Chheharta, Prof Nirmal Singh.
The centre will exhibit Wadhonkar’s paintings of 10 Sikh Gurus, their history and hymns. He has also painted the Golden Temple on grains of rice and pasted these on paper before putting it in decorated frame.
Gajendra (31) said, eight years ago, he picked up a grain of rice and scribbled name of his mother Kamla Rani on it. “Family members and friends appreciated it and exhorted him to pursue it”.
He has made paintings of Lok Manya Tilak, Subhas Chandra Bose, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, political and religious leaders.
Born at Hazur Sahib in Nanded (Maharashtra) in 1978 Gajendra wants entry of his name in the Limca Book of World Records for his achievement. All formalities in this regard have been completed.
He said his wife Veena and friend Joshi helped him hone his scribbling and painting on grains of rice. Zero number brush, after certain alterations, is his tool. He does not use magnifying glass to scribble words on grains of rice. He claims writing 240 alphabets on a grain of rice besides 26 to 40 on a ‘til’ and 20 on a grain of ‘rai’. (Courtesy: The Tribune, July 27, 2009)
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2009, All