News & Views
Historical significance of Bhat Vahis and Panda Vahis
– A Lecture organised by Sikh Sarot Ithasik Granth Project –
A lecture was organized by Sikh Sarot Ithasik Granth Project on August 6, 2011. The speaker was well-known scholar, Prof Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon, former Prof of Guru Nanak studies Department and Centre for studies in Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Dr Kirpal Singh, Director of the Project while welcoming the distinguished audience emphasized the importance of the subject and stated that verses of the Bhatts have been included in the Guru Granth Sahib the Sikh scripture. Since that time the Bhatt's were connected with Sikh Gurus. They have been constantly visiting them and recording important dates and events. According to Ibetson they were experts for writing geneaologies. Some of their dates are significant as these dates are not available anywhere else. For instance it has been recorded by Bhat Vahi Taluda Pargana Jind that Guru Gobind Singh performed the ceremony to install Guru Granth Sahib as Guru to succeed him on October 6, 1708, just one day before his demise. This is not available from any other sources. At places the dates and events may not be correct but Bhatt Vahis are important sources of information for Sikh history like other sources.
Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon the main speaker delved deep in Bhatt Vahis. He stated how he was given the assignment to work on the project of Bhatt Vahis and he travelled far off places to collect the material. His experience was that Bhatts were secretive and did not want to disclose any information. Mostly they were illiterate. Their scrolls were in Bhatt-akstri which was without any vowel or orthographic signs and resemble Lande. It was very difficult to read them. Only those who are trained can read these records. Giani Garja Singh spent some years with the Bhatts and was able to read the Bhatt Vahis. Dr Balwant Singh's experience was that Bhat Vahis and Pande Vahis seldom gives correct dates. Despite various faults it was worthwhile to study the Bhat Vahis./ It is like finding Jewels from the Sand domes.
Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti threw light on his number of Bhatts whose verses were included in the Guru Granth Sahib. S Waryam Singh, Director Religious Education of SGPC, Amritsar advised that geneaologies of descendants those Bhatts whose verses are in Guru Granth Sahib should be made subject of study as to how they recorded various dates. Dr Madanjit Kaur, Prof (retd) of Guru Nanak Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar intimated the audience that Guru Nanak Studies Department had undertaken the work of collecting the material of Bhatt Vahis, but could not complete the job due to various factors. Some material was collected which was subsequently used. Dr J. S. Grewal stated in his presidential remarks that whatever is available in Bhatt Vahis should be compared with other sources to verify the truth. It is very important to study all the relevant sources to arrive at right conclusion. With regard to Panda Vahis he was of the view that these are also important as the dates are given of Gurus visit to various places of Hindu pilgrimage. The Gurus visited these places of pilgrimage to preach their gospels. He referred to Dr B L Goswami, well-known Art Historian, who was greatly benefitted by the studies of Panda Vahis as he was able to trace genealogies of artists of Punjab Hill States to study the various schools of paintings developed there.
S Chamkaur Singh acted as stage secretary and was able to supplement and comment on the various speeches. He emphasized the Bhat Vahis and Panda Vahis constitute an important source of information which should not be ignored.
Gurbachan Singh Makin donated 100 sets of
SGGS translation to Institute of Sikh Studies
S Gurbachan Singh Makin, a well-known scholar of Gurmat has donated 100 sets of his translation of "The Universal Message of Guru Granth Sahib” in four volumes. It took him 10 years to complete this noble task. S Makin requested the Institute of Sikh Studies to distribute these sets of Guru Granth Sahib’s translation among the deserving readers of our choice.
This translation titled The Universal Message of Guru Granth Sahib deals with giving each hymn from the holy Guru Granth Sahib in sequence as contained in the original version, both in Roman and Gurmukhi Script (few lines) for reference with Page number of the scripture in brackets. Then the gist of the hymn is given in brief with special reference to the main theme brought out by the hymn and given in simple English Prose. The whole scripture consisting of 1430 pages with 5580 hymns is brought out in 4 volumes.
Institute appreciates S Makin’s gesture to spread the message of Gurbani without desiring any remuneration.
Press Release on Anand Marriage Act by the IOSS
Institute of Sikh Studies strongly condemns Central Government's rejection of Anand Marriage Act. This is a direct attack on the Sikh Dharam's independent status.
If other minorities like Christians, Jews, and Muslims have their own separate marriage act, why not Sikhs who are also a minority. Sikhism is also a monotheistic religion, like the above mentioned religions which do not fall under the ambit of Hindu Marriage Act. Idol worship is forbidden in Sikh Religion. These two basic principles, monotheistic and negation of Idol worship separate us from Hinduism.
Law minister seems absolutely confused when he states, "Since the scope of the Anand Marriage Act 1909 is limited to marriage ceremonies amongst ‘Anands’, the registration of all forms of Sikh marriage is not within its scope". There is no other form of marriage amongst Sikhs. It is quite clear that the decision to drop Anand Marriage Act 1909 has been taken under the influence of a section of society that denies Sikhism its independent existence and is not tired of propagating that Sikhism is a sect of Hinduism. It was against this false tirade that Bhai Kahn Singh of Nabha wrote a booklet “Hum Hindu Nahi” in 1898. Ironically his 150th birth falls on 30th August when this news appears. This anti Sikh section was successful in getting Sikhism bracketed with Jains and Budhism etc in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.
Institute of Sikh Studies has already presented its case before the Constitution Amendment Committee at Delhi pleading that Sikhism be recognized as a minority like Islam and Christianity and taken out of the definition of Hinduism ambit.
Institute strongly pleads with Govt of India to reconsider its anti Sikh decision and allow registration of the marriage under the Anand Marriage Act at the earliest.
Institute of Sikh Studies calls upon / urges Chief Minister / Speaker to call a special session of Punjab Assembly to condemn this anti Sikh step of the Central Government and ask Govt of India to reconsider its decision and also urge upon Govt of India to amend Article 25 of the Indian Constitution to recognize Sikhism as a minority religion like Islam, Christianity, Jews.
ਇੰਸਟੀਚਿਊਟ ਵਲੋਂ ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ ਮੰਜੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ (ਸ੍ਰੀ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ)
ਦੇ ਉਦਮ ਦੀ ਸ਼ਲਾਘਾ
ਸਤੰਬਰ 7, 2011 ਨੂੰ ਇੰਸਟੀਚਿਊਟ ਆਫ ਸਿੱਖ ਸਟੱਡੀਜ਼ ਦੀ ਜਨਰਲ ਬਾਡੀ ਦੀ ਮੀਟਿੰਗ ਵਿੱਚ ਮੈਂਬਰ ਸਾਹਿਬਾਨ ਵਲੋਂ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਮੰਜੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਤੋਂ ਜੋ ਹਰ ਰੋਜ ਉਸ ਦਿਨ ਦੇ ਮੁੱਖ ਵਾਕ ਦੀ ਕਥਾ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਾਂਦੀ ਹੈ ਉਸ ਦੀ ਭਰਪੂਰ ਪ੍ਰਸੰਸਾ ਕੀਤੀ ਗਈ|
ਇਹ ਪ੍ਰੋਗਰਾਮ ਜੋ ਆਪ ਦੀ ਸੁਹਿਰਦ ਅਗਾਵਾਈ ਵਿੱਚ ਆਰੰਭ ਹੋਏ ਨੂੰ ਲੱਗਭਗ ਇਕ ਸਾਲ ਦਾ ਅਰਸਾ ਹੋ ਚੱਲਿਆ ਹੈ, ਇਸ ਪ੍ਰੋਗਰਾਮ ਦੁਆਰਾ ਸੰਗਤਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਪਾਏ ਜਾ ਰਹੇ ਡੇਰੇਦਾਰਾਂ ਦੀਆਂ ਵੱਖ ਵੱਖ ਰਹਿਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਗੰਧਲੇ ਤੇ ਕੁਰਾਹੇ ਪਾਉਣ ਵਾਲੇ ਵਿਚਾਰਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਸੰਗਤਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਬਹੁਤ ਦਲੀਲ ਪੂਰਵਕ ਢੰਗ ਨਾਲ ਗੁਰਆਸ਼ਾ ਤੋਂ ਜਾਣੂ ਕਰਵਾਇਆ ਜਾ ਰਿਹਾ ਹੈ | ਇਸ ਉਪਰਾਲੇ ਦੀ ਜਿਨੀ ਸ਼ਲਾਘਾ ਕੀਤੀ ਜਾਏ ਘੱਟ ਹੈ |
ਇਸ ਬਾਰੇ ਇਕ ਸੁਝਾਓ ਵੀ ਆਪ ਦੇ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਗੋਚਰ ਪੇਸ਼ ਕਰਦੇ ਹਾਂ ਕਿ ਜਿੱਥੇ ਮੁੱਖ ਵਾਕ ਬੋਰਡ ਉਪਰ ਅਰਥਾਂ ਸਹਿਤ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਲਿਖ ਕੇ ਸੰਗਤਾਂ ਦੇ ਦਰਸ਼ਨ, ਵੀਚਾਰ ਲਈ ਪੇਸ਼ ਕੀਤਾ ਜਾਂਦਾ ਹੈ ਉਥੇ ਉਸ ਦੇ ਨਾਲ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਅਗਰ ਅੰਗਰੇਜ਼ੀ ਵਿੱਚ ਵੀ ਲਿਖ ਦਿੱਤਾ ਜਾਵੇ ਤਾਂ ਬਾਹਰਲੇ ਦੇਸਾਂ, ਵਿਦੇਸ਼ਾਂ ਵਿੱਚ ਰਹਿੰਦੇ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੋ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਐਨੀ ਅੱਛੀ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਜਾਣਦੇ ਉਨਾਂ ਦੇ ਗਿਆਨ ਵਿੱਚ ਵੀ ਵਾਧਾ ਕਰ ਸਕਦਾ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਉਨਾਂ ਦੀ ਆਤਮਕ ਸੰਤੁਸ਼ਟੀ ਹੋ ਸਕਦੀ ਹੈ |
ਆਸ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਆਪ ਇੰਸਟੀਚਿਊਟ ਆਫ ਸਿੱਖ ਸਟੱਡੀਜ਼ ਵਲੋ ਪੇਸ਼ ਇਸ ਬੇਨਤੀ ਤੇ ਜਰੂਰ ਧਿਆਨ ਦੇ ਕੇ ਇਸ ਕੰਮ ਦਾ ਜਲਦੀ ਹੀ ਆਰੰਭ ਕਰਵਾ ਦਿਓਗੇ |
British-born Sikh appointed High Court judge in London Shyam Bhatia in London
A British-born Sikh lawyer, who advised that British intervention in the Iraq war was unlawful, has been appointed a judge of the High Court in London.
History has been created with the appointment of Mr Justice Rabinder Singh who becomes the first Sikh and the first male from an ethnic minority ever to be elevated to the exalted position of a High Court judge.
Another Sikh, Kenya-born Sir Mota Singh, also created history when he became the first judge to wear a turban in a British court. But Sir Mota Singh retired as a Crown Court judge, one level below the High Court.
The significance of Justice Rabinder Singh's achievement is that it is one of the country's most influential and prestigious legal appointments. He will from now on hear some of the UK's most serious and important legal issues and will be automatically in the running for Chief Justice as and when the position becomes vacant.
Friends and admirers of Rabinder Singh say he has an enviable human rights record. Some of the highlights of his legal career include representing the campaign of nuclear disarmament in 2002 when he argued that the UK would be in breach of international law if it used force against Iraq based on Security Council Resolution 1441.
In an opinion delivered jointly with fellow lawyer Charlotte Kilroy in November 2002, Singh argued: “We consider that it is clear that SCR 1441 does not authorise military action by a member state against Iraq. In our view there is nothing in the Preamble, which alters this view. Indeed it is notable that a late insertion into the Preamble was the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, Kuwait and the neighbouring states.”
Two years later in 2004, he successfully represented the human rights group, Liberty, in the House of Lords against the indefinite detention without trial of non-UK national suspected of terrorist activities. One year later, he successfully represented Liberty and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants in the case against the UK government over the refusal of economic benefits to refugees.
Born in 1964 to Sikh immigrant parents from India, Singh grew up in Bristol and went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a double first in law in 1985. He spent the following year studying for his LLM at the University of California at Berkeley where he became interested in constitutional law, as well as issues concerned with the misuse of power.
He returned to London by 1988 to do his Bar Finals and was called to the Bar in July 1989. For the next 10 years, he specialised in administrative law, employment law, European Community law, human rights law, commercial law and media laws. One of his colleagues from the earliest days was Cherie Booth, QC, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Together with Cherie and five other fellow lawyers, he set up his own set of Chambers - Matrix Chambers - in 2000. Named Barrister of the Year by Lawyer magazine in 2001, he was appointed a QC in 2002.
A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Singh has been cited for his interest in Ancient Greece. "One thing I would have liked to be is an academic specialising in Greek poetry", he is quoted as telling an interviewer. (Courtesy : The Tribune, July 31, 2011)
Illness Fails to Dampen her Teaching Zeal
Fatehgarh Sahib, Sept 4. Even as the country would be celebrating the Teacher’s Day tomorrow and several persons would be honoured for their contribution in the field of education, there are a few members of the fraternity whose hard work has remained unsung. Fortythree-year-old Jatinder Kaur, a teacher at Baba Zorawar Singh Baba Fateh Singh Senior Secondary School, Fatehgarh Sahib, is one such case.
From fighting cancer and poverty to performing her father’s last rites and being the sole bread-earner for her family, Jatinder’s story speaks volumes about her grit, determination and self-belief.
Suffering from breast cancer, she is an alumnus of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib. She has always carried a fighting spirit towards life. “I became a teacher by choice and not by incident. Teaching was always my cup of tea and I used to dream of becoming a guru since my childhood,” says the Sirhind resident who wants to dedicate her life to her students.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the doctors told me to go in for injections that cost Rs 1 lakh per dose. As it was unaffordable, I shifted to homoeopathic treatment as I had to save money to marry my two younger sisters,” she recalls.
“I still remember when I used to go for treatment and later rush to school to teach my students despite pain. There was never a moment when I felt pain inside my classroom, as once amongst my students, the pain vanished,” says the science teacher.
Though her disease came as a shocker, Jatinder recalls how encouraging words of her school vice-principal Manvinder Kaur lifted her spirits to fight the disease. “Manvinder’s words were really helpful for me and whenever I was felt low due to my treatment and pain, she supported me immensely,” Jatinder Kaur told The Tribune. “Now that my two sisters are married, I do not fear death and can concentrate solely on my students.”
In August, her father, who was a retired Punjab State Electricity Board employee, died and Jatinder stood up like a true family head, performing the last rites and even carrying her father’s corpse to the cremation ground on her shoulder. “I have been like a son to my family and instead of shedding tears, I have been taught by my teachers to fight situations,” says Kaur, who has lost her hair due to her treatment.
Despite her woes, Jatinder has refused any kind of grant or help from anyone and says that she wants to live with her head held high. “I know that without proper treatment, I would not live long, but I cannot beg from anyone for financial support and would continue teaching students till my last breath as now all my family responsibilities are over,” she says. (Courtesy: The Tribune, September 5, 2011)
Study on Role of Women in Freedom Struggle
Patiala, August 28. Keeping in mind the role played by women in various spheres, Punjabi University, Patiala, will soon initiate an in-depth study on contribution of women in the freedom struggle and other areas.
Dr Jaspal Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, informed that he had proposed this study keeping in mind the fact that women had played a significant role in Indian history but still no significant study had been done on their contribution.
“People are unaware of the contribution of women in the Indian history. Though most of them know the names of prominent women, there is still ignorance as to what was their exact contribution in history. Therefore, this study would be highly beneficial for the coming generations. Rani of Jhansi Lakshmi Bai is one about which people have detailed knowledge,” he added.
Giving instances from the history, he informed that Guru Angad Dev's wife Bibi Khivi did a lot for the promotion of langar system but no one actually knows much about it. "Guru Gobind Singh's wife Mata Sundri holds a special place in Sikhism for the role she played in leading Sikhs through the troubled times that befell on them after the death of her husband and sons. She commanded the Sikh community for 40 long years after Guru Gobind Singh's death but people are not much aware of her contribution. Mai Bhago is another such heroic lady," he further informed.
Therefore, we have decided to carry out this study in order to apprise our future generations about these strong women. He informed that Women’s Study Centre will be given the task of this study. (Courtesy: The Tribune, August 30, 2011)
Rare Sikh Memorabilia Dazzle London
A painting of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his General Hari Singh Nalwa was put up at Golden Temple exhibition in London.
Davinder Singh Toor’s moment of revelation came back in 1999 when he was apprenticed as a tour guide to the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition in London called, ‘The Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms’.
“For me it was a revelation”, says Davinder, a 33-year-old London-based optometrist. “It suddenly became real. I was brought up reading stories about the Gurus and things like this, but there was always something mythical about it and because of the myth there was a bit of a disconnect. This was different. Now I had the artefacts that proved the existence of these people to me.”
The son of a Ludhiana-born engineer who emigrated to the UK in 1962, Davinder soon discovered he had a passion for finding out more about his heritage. His father was a clean shaven Sikh, but Davinder started wearing a turban at the age of 14. By the time he was a second year student at the University of Aston in Birmingham, he was an avid collector of Sikh memorabilia.
The first artefact he ever collected was an early 20th century dagger made of jade and brass and produced in Lahore. Davinder bought it from a London dealer with £60 borrowed from his elder brother.
Today he is part of a group of UK-based Sikhs who have come together under the aegis of the UK Punjab Heritage Association to promote a stunning exhibition about the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
They include author/historian Parmjit Singh, public relations expert Harbaksh Singh Grewal and exhibition designer Juga Singh. Judging from the comments in the visitors’ book, the exhibition so far has been an unqualified success and is a tribute to the group’s dedication and perseverance.
Polite and attentive, members of the group emphasise the inclusiveness of their faith and how it drew followers from all religions, whether Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs.
Parmjit Singh, the exhibition curator, is quoted as saying: “When it was at its peak, the temple was not only recognised as a centre of devotion for pilgrims of many other faiths, it was also a centre of learning,”
Although their immediate aim is to draw attention to the Golden Temple, how and why it was built and the devotees it serves, the exhibition serves a much larger purpose by reminding visitors about Sikhism, its history and traditions, including the arts that flourished under the patronage of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the first half of the 19th century.
A vast Perspex model of the Golden Temple itself as it once stood in the 19th century is on display on the lower ground floor of the Brunei Gallery at the London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
One floor up is the hugely impressive re-creation of what a Sikh warrior looked like more than 100 years ago. This full-sized mannequin dressed in its original helmet, armour and weaponry is one of the most impressive items on display.
Like 80 per cent of the exhibits, it belongs to Davinder who admits to buying it from a dealer in London’s Notting Hill. He will not say how much he paid for it, but he does explain that it is insured for £100,000.
Also on display is a replica of the Kohinoor diamond and a receipt for its transfer to the British authorities.
For the devout one of the most important exhibits is the ground floor painting done in gouache of Guru Nanak meeting the yogis, an early original miniature dating back to the early 19th century. Another painting of Guru Arjun overseeing the construction of the Golden Temple is also made from gouache which Davinder explains is a type of water colour made with the powder of crushed precious and semi precious stones.
Another painting depicts Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Hari Singh Nalwa seated together. Hari Singh, born in the same village as Ranjit Singh, was a famous general often described as the terror of the Afghans. He hardly ever came to the Punjab because he was mostly on the North West Frontier among the hill tribes. The setting of this painting is at the Rambagh Palace in Amritsar.
Elsewhere on the ground floor room are ear-rings that once belonged to Maharani Jindan Kaur, the mother of Maharaja Dalip Singh. Next to them is a 19th century necklace with an image behind the rock crystal face of Guru Nanak flanked by his Hindu and Muslim companions, including Bhai Mardana. Still another painting, and one that is considered controversial, shows a group of Sikhs being entertained by courtesans. This rare picture from the Awadh School of painting dates back to 1770, a full 30 years before the formal start of the Sikh period of art. “It’s amazing to see how long it survived”, comments Davinder. “The pigment, so long as it kept at the correct temperature, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t survive…
“For me as a collector, I really believe that the renaissance of Sikh art is beginning and its going to come from the West. Not one of the pieces you see on show was bought in India. Firstly, India, although there may be things that survive there, there are very strict export laws. “If you buy anything in India, you have to keep it in India. You can’t take anything out that’s over 100-year-old. And, more importantly, the best stuff is out of India because of the nature of the (British) empire. That’s why these objects exist outside India.
Letter to Editors
I write to thank you for the superlative review of The Valiant Ones. Gagandeep and I are deeply honoured. Your encouragement inspires us to tackle future projects with gusto.
The three years spent researching this book yielded fascinating experiences and forged meaningful alliances in the field. Guided by the Tenth Master's decree that 'one person can make a difference' we founded Sava Lakh Foundation at Mastuana Sahib focuses at nurturing our most precious resource-our children; the Foundation quickly set up field offices in Majha and Doaba. Leadership camps are being conducted to provide enhanced horizon to village kids. Classes in gurbani santhys, shastar vidya and horsemanship are bringing out the best in the attendees. Lessons in history, ecology and hygienc are imparted alongside. Kids have started scoring better at school and their parents contributing more to community affairs. We reckon these baby steps are the need of the hour.
We look forward to your guidance in these endeavours.
Thank you for your patronage.
Kesar Media Private Limited
# 1273, Sector 42-B,
This has reference to the report of the Article 25 of the Indian Constitution sub Committee, published in the July – Sept 2011 issue of the Journal.
An area which has been left out by the members is the Sikh Members of the Parliament of India. These Sikh members , irrespective of their party affiliations, should be approached individually by the subcommittee, persuaded and cajoled to raise the issue both in Parliament and their respective party forums.
After all, in a democracy, it is the members representing a Province/party/community, who are responsible for informing and educating other members from different regions and communities about the correctness, genuineness, relevance and urgency of a particular demand or an issue. These members should be made to realise the urgency of both the issues:
1. Enactment of Ananad Marriage Act for the Sikhs and
2. Amendment to the Article 25 of the constitution.
Col Avtar Singh (retd)
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2011, All