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Gur Panth Parkash

Gur Panth Parkash
by Rattan Singh Bhangoo
Translated by
Prof Kulwant Singh

 

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Some Precious Pages of the Sikh History

A Review by Jaswant Rai

Author: Dr Jasbir Singh Sarna
Publisher: Lookgeet Parkashan, SCO 26-27, Sector 34-A, Chd.
Pages: 208; Price. 495/-; ($25, £12)

Dr Jasbir Singh Sarna needs no introduction.  He is a well-known prolific Sikh writer. Despite living outside his land i.e., Punjab, Dr Sarna has not forgotten his roots.  He has written more than two dozens books and most of them are written on Sikh philosophy and Sikh History. His book “Jammu Kashmir di Sikh Tawarikh” published in 1997 won first prize from the Punjab Govt.  The book under review is a compilation of his articles published in different magazines and Journals from time to time. Some of the articles of this volume like “How did the Koh-i-noor diamond come into the hands of the Sikhs”, “Two historic Volumes of Guru Granth Sahib in Kashmir” “Holy Shrines of Sikhs in Kashmir” etc are well written and informative.

The episode of the exile of Maharaja Duleep Singh, his exile to England and forcably converting to Christianity is full of emotion. Author describes in this chapter that during the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh hundreds of Brahmins kept immigrating here (Punjab) from other states and embracing Sikhism by partaking Amrit (Khande di Pahul). But after the annexation of Punjab, the Britishers started preaching their own faith (Christianity) at the cost of Sikhs and Sikhism. First they separated young, innocent and tender-hearted Maharaja Duleep Singh from his mother, Maharani Jind Kaur and then took him away to England.

The journey of Kohinoor diamond from Mughal emperor Hyumayun to Afgan King Nadir Shah and then to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and finally in the custody of the British rulers has been beautifully and briefly described. The final owner of the Kohinar diamond was Maharaja Duleep Singh, son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, in the backdrop of the two Sikh Wars leading to the annexation of the Punjab by the British. The hoisting of British flag was on March 29th, 1849 in Lahore when Punjab was formally proclaimed a part of the British Empire in India. One of the terms of the Treaty of Lahore was:- "The gem called the Koh-i-noor which was taken from Shah Shuja-ul-Mulk by Maharajah Ranjit Singh shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore to the Queen of England."

Author's research on two historic volumes of Guru Granth Sahib in Kashmir is another informative rendition. Dr Sarna claims that a Dharamsala was set up by Pandit Brahm Dass, a devotee of Guru Nanak Dev and in the memory of Guru Nanak's visits, a historical gurdwara was constructed by S Gurmukh Singh, a special cabinet member of Afghan Governor Nur-u-Din Bazmi in 1766 CE and thereafter Sikh Governor S Hari Singh Nalwa constructed seven gurdwaras, where seven hand-written volumes of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were installed. Two volumes out of seven have been taken away by the SGPC, another volume written in Persian script containing 2220 pages and lying with one S Surinder Singh Bali of Gundi Village has been located by the author.

The author devotes more than 100 pages to elaborate the History of the Sikh Students Federation with a very impressive introduction regarding the circumstances of its birth. It is well-known that before the Federation came into being, there existed Bhujangi Sabhas, Societies of the Sikh youth, in schools to nurture Sikh ideals. Most of the Sikh schools had their Bhujangi Sabhas. The origin was traced to 1888 when the first of the Sikh Vidyarthi Sabha or Khalsa club came into existence. These were the product of the new religious and cultural awakening, the Sikhs were then experiencing. They had started questioning and caviling some of the prevalent practices which were considered contrary to the teachings of the Gurus. The Sabhas met every Saturday after which members went to the Harmindar Sahib chanting the holy Shabads.

A long history of how the Indian rulers cheated or betrayed the Sikhs after Independence has been given in this chapter.  The promises made by Nehru and Gandhi before the dawn of the independence to the Sikhs were completely forgotten after three months of Independence, when on October 10, 1947 Sh Chandu Lal Trivedi, Governor of Punjab issued a circular to the Deputy Commissioners, saying, “The Sikhs as a community are a lawless people and are a menace to the law abiding Hindus of the province. Deputy Commissioner should take special measures against them.” Pandit Nehru addressing the Calcutta Congress said, “The brave Sikhs of the Punjab deserve special treatment. I won't have any objection to have a separate State in the north of India from where the Sikhs should get warmth of freedom.” And similar views had been expressed by Mahatma Gandhi on March 10, 1931 in a gathering at Gurdwara Sis Ganj at Delhi, “… our Sikh friends have no reason to fear that it would betray them.  For the moment if it did so, the Congress would not only thereby seal its own doom but that of the country too. Moreover, the Sikhs are brave people. They will know how to safeguard their rights by the exercise of arms if it should come to that.”

Dr Jasbir Singh Sarna has done a monumental work in arranging these flowers culled from the bush of history.  For every Indian, especially Punjabis and Sikhs, it is a treasure house and ready references to be proudly possessed and read. Lesser price of the book will encourage larger readership. All in all, this is a book for every Sikh or Punjabi who loves to know history, not going in detail.

 

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ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All rights reserved.