Friday, October 27, 2006

Learning my first shabad!

mayraa pi-aaraa pareetam satgur rakhvaalaa

maajh mehlaa 4.
Maajh, Fourth Mehl:

maDhusoodan mayray man tan paraanaa.
The Lord is my mind, body and breath of life.

ha-o har bin doojaa avar na jaanaa.
I do not know any other than the Lord.

ko-ee sajan sant milai vadbhaagee mai har parabh pi-aaraa dasai jee-o. ||1||
If only I could have the good fortune to meet some friendly Saint; he might show me the Way to my Beloved Lord God. ||1||

ha-o man tan khojee bhaal bhaalaa-ee.
I have searched my mind and body, through and through.

ki-o pi-aaraa pareetam milai mayree maa-ee.
How can I meet my Darling Beloved, O my mother?

mil satsangat khoj dasaa-ee vich sangat har parabh vasai jee-o. ||2||
Joining the Sat Sangat, the True Congregation, I ask about the Path to God. In that Congregation, the Lord God abides. ||2||

mayraa pi-aaraa pareetam satgur rakhvaalaa.
My Darling Beloved True Guru is my Protector.

ham baarik deen karahu partipaalaa.
I am a helpless child-please cherish me.

mayraa maat pitaa gur satgur pooraa gur jal mil kamal vigsai jee-o. ||3||
The Guru, the Perfect True Guru, is my Mother and Father. Obtaining the Water of the Guru, the lotus of my heart blossoms forth. ||3||

mai bin gur daykhay need na aavai.
Without seeing my Guru, sleep does not come.

mayray man tan vaydan gur birahu lagaavai.
My mind and body are afflicted with the pain of separation from the Guru.

har har da-i-aa karahu gur maylhu jan naanak gur mil rahsai jee-o. ||4||2||
O Lord, Har, Har, show mercy to me, that I may meet my Guru. Meeting the Guru, servant Nanak blossoms forth. ||4||2||

Thursday, October 26, 2006

How do Sikh women fair when compared to other faiths?

I was shocked when I read the following news story about some Sheikh making comments about women and blaming them for all the problems. But I do think that with all of the Islamic and Hindu influences in Punjab over time on Sikhs, a similar mentality exists within some members of Sikh community in Punjab as well even though Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib instructs people to show equal respect, dignity, compassion towards women . This blame game may not be to the extent of majority societies, but it definitely is there. Lets take the case of female foeticide which recently been so much in the news, inspite of Sikh Jethedars are trying to convince people against it, but the system and policies of the Indian government are set up in such a way that when it comes to lower caste people and women, it seems like applying a small bandage to a huge cut. The religious values are pushed aside in the name of secularism and the women are blamed for having abortions, even though it is the problem of dowry custom during marriage, mentality of majority Hindu men towards women that they be treated like husband lords by women in homes, lack of job opportunities even though educational opportunities are there for women and just the general mentality of superiority of men over women. The question I ask is, if Gurus treated them equal and wanted their Sikhs to treat them equal and show respect, compassion and dignity, how can we be superior to them? If we disrespect women and children, we are disrespecting the Guru, it is that plain and simple and are not really following Sikhi. I don’t remember the exact quote, the date or author, but I was reading an article in Tribune India newspaper last month where one of the Punjabi Sikh author wrote that Sikh women are not asserting their Guru given right to them, when it comes to raising kids the Sikh way, education, dowry, marriage and jobs. Now I agree with that 100%. As for this article, it is sad what is happening and I wish women would get up and assert their rights no matter what faith. After all it is a God given right. I like one the lines that a Dhadi Jathas last week said at our local Gurdwara on Bandi Chorr Diwas. He said something like that for “Sikhs, it is a sin to rule by tyranny, but it is equally a sin to live under tyranny”.

What is time and how important is time to humans?

Well, with this day light savings time change coming this weekend in most of North America, I thought I would post something as to what is time anyways, why is it an important measure when it comes to philosophical, spiritual and religious nature of things? Does anyone know if Guru Nanak Sahib mentioned it anywhere in respect to space ( especially the Khands or Brahmands"? Is it a man made measure of things such as change of state of things, phenomena or process or a concept beyond humans? Why time is so important yet could be equally not important at all. Why do so many people in this World get janam patris (brith charts etc.), believe in astrlogical signs, go to astrologers, palmists, numerologists to predict events and try to change events? Not that I believe in any of those or against it, but the engineer in me wants to know and understand the who, why, what, where and when of it better. It seems so easy yet at the same time it is very difficult if you dig deeper. How do word like eternal, akaal, akahnd, infinity, aad, jugaad fit into this realm of things?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Panth Rattan - Veer Ji Bhai Sahib Bhai Jasbir Singh Ji

May Waheguru send more souls like him on this planet to show the World the beauty and goodness of Sikhi! Satnam!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

ਖਿਆਲ ਪਾਤਿਸ਼ਾਹੀ ੧੦॥खिआल पातिशाही १०॥

ਮਿਤ੍ਰ ਪਿਆਰੇ ਨੂੰ ਹਾਲ ਮੁਰੀਦਾਂ ਦਾ ਕਹਿਣਾ ॥मित्र पिआरे नूं हाल मुरीदां दा कहिणा ॥
Convey to the dear friend the condition of the disciples,

ਤੁਧੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਰੋਗੁ ਰਜਾਈਆਂ ਦਾ ਓਢਣ ਨਾਗ ਨਿਵਾਸਾਂ ਦੇ ਰਹਿਣਾ ॥तुधु बिनु रोगु रजाईआं दा ओढण नाग निवासां दे रहिणा ॥
Without Thee, the taking over of quilt is like disease and living in the house is like living with serpents;

ਸੂਲ ਸੁਰਾਹੀ ਖੰਜਰੁ ਪਿਆਲਾ ਬਿੰਗ ਕਸਾਈਆਂ ਦਾ ਸਹਿਣਾ ॥सूल सुराही खंजरु पिआला बिंग कसाईआं दा सहिणा ॥
The flask is like the spike, the cup is like a dagger and (the separation) is like enduring the chopper of the butchers,

ਯਾਰੜੇ ਦਾ ਸਾਨੂੰ ਸੱਥਰੁ ਚੰਗਾ ਭੱਠ ਖੇੜਿਆਂ ਦਾ ਰਹਿਣਾ ॥੧॥੧॥यारड़े दा सानूं स्थरु चंगा भ्ठ खेड़िआं दा रहिणा ॥१॥१॥
The pallet of the beloved Friend is most pleasing and the worldly pleasures are like furnace.1.1

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Soccer Season 2006

Here are some of this year's soccer pictures. The season endds next month. This is the first year for me as a referee and I am also volunteering as an assistant coach. All I can say is that it is a lot of fun, some exercise and great way to give back to the community. Well, I hope the turban brings about some awareness on Sikhs even though no discussion ever takes place as to what it is and why I am wearing it. I assume people either know it or too shy to ask. Being a referee is all part of being positive, fair, trying to make right calls even though there is always room for errors, and making it fun.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Clean Shaven Sikhs of Punjab! Don't worry, they will be back! They don't know what they are missing!

When I read the following news story about the growing trend in Punjab about Sikh families cutting their hair, I am not surprised and but at the same time I am not worried either. First thing is that a lot of Sikh parents haven't figured out how to instill Sikhi in kids at younger level. The reason being they don't practice it themselves. I now firmly believe that it has to start at home first. To give a personal example, my father wore a turban and had unshorn hair, did his Japji Sahib, Raihras Sahib and all. But at the same time, he also drank alcohol, use foul language, showed signs of hatred towards others, cheated, lied and probably did other bad things that I may not be aware of them. He never talked about Sikhism or what it stands for, or told stories of Sikh Gurus, shared Sikh history, or sang a Shabad or other things a normal Gursikh would do. I picked up the same habits whatever I saw in the house. I think same way, a lot of Punjabis tend to dictate Sikhi to kids and other people that want to learn instead of showing them the beautiful Sikh way of life, the good values of honesty, truthfulness in the form of "sach" or "Sat" which our Gurus emphasized for us to follow and practicsed it themselves, compassion and service to humanity in the form of seva, and most importantly simran without which living means nothing to a human being. When these gifts of Guru are missing in a person, how can he or she cherish the other gifts such as the five kakars. Secondly, it has to come with Waheguru's grace. If some ignorant like me can grow hair back and wear turban, anybody out there can whether they are Punjabi, Indian, American, Chinese, African, Canadian etc. because the life of alcohol, parties, drugs, sex etc. can never be an avenue to achieve salvation, only the sanctuary of a true Guru could save these lost people. Anyways, read and comment if you like.

Five daily prayers and blessed food!

Before I begin, I would like to say, that this is not to offend any Gursikh out there especially the great Gursikhs that recite five banis everyday and follow Guru with great discipline, heart and mind and with real love. I want to reach at their level one day but somehow it is not working for me. When I read this shabad below, it reminded me of the quotes in the book by Patwant Singh on Sikhs that changed my life forever regarding ritualistic nature of things that Guru Nanak Sahib tried to instill in people. All this time I have been having a hard time as to why I just can’t follow a routine to doing my daily nitnem and just reciting banis. There are days when I am up at 3:30AM and can get Jap Ji Sahib and Jap Sahib recited, even attend morning diwan at Gurdwara, but then some other days I can’t even do one Bani let alone five recited. This up and down bothers me and I feel it is one of my weaknesses and I wonder if I will get disciplined enough in life. Sometimes I feel as to whoever came up with this reciting of five banis was not at Guru’s level and this possibly could not be the only way to be a Gursikh. I mean this seems so hard at times. Does Guru Sahib really mean for us to recite five to seven prayers everyday? What happens if I only recite one or two or none at all? Am I a manmukh? Reading the shabad below makes perfect sense to me what Guru Sahib is trying to instill in us and these are the five prayers I would like to follow. Sometimes I feel Sikhism is becoming just like any other organized religion and people are getting so tied up in the ritualistic nature of things that the real beauty of Sikhi is left unrecognized. I could be wrong, but I think that this ritualistic and rigid nature in Sikh panth is another reason why some people especially some of the younger generation are getting turned off from the beautiful path that Guru Sahib laid out for us. I am having a hard time just following ritualistically five prayers, do matha take, eat langar etc. rather do Japji Sahib or Jap Sahib or Anand Sahib or or Raihras or Kirtan Sohila or may be just a few lines but try to understand the word Guru Sahib is saying with my heart and mind and try to act on those lines. Again, this is just one view from someone who is just starting out as a Sikh and haven’t had the blessing of a whole life of a Gursikh in pure Sikhi environment.

sach kamaavai so-ee kaajee.
He alone is a Qazi, who practices the Truth.

jo dil soDhai so-ee haajee.
He alone is a Haji, a pilgrim to Mecca, who purifies his heart.

so mulaa mala-oon nivaarai so darvays jis sifat Dharaa. 6
He alone is a Mullah, who banishes evil; he alone is a saintly dervish, who takes the Support of
the Lord's Praise. 6

sabhay vakhat sabhay kar vaylaa.
Always, at every moment,

khaalak yaad dilai meh ma-ulaa.
remember God, the Creator within your heart.

tasbee yaad karahu das mardan sunat seel banDhaan baraa. 7
Let your meditation beads be the subjugation of the ten senses. Let good conduct and self-restraint be your circumcision. 7

dil meh jaanhu sabh filhaalaa.
You must know in your heart that everything is temporary.

khilkhaanaa biraadar hamoo janjaalaa.
Family, household and siblings are all entanglements.

meer malak umray faanaa-i-aa ayk mukaam khudaa-ay daraa. 8
Kings, rulers and nobles are mortal and transitory; only God's Gate is the permanent place. 8

aval sifat doojee saabooree.
First, is the Lord's Praise; second, contentment;

teejai halaymee cha-uthai khairee.
third, humility, and fourth, giving to charities.

punjvai panjay ikat mukaamai ayhi panj vakhat tayray aparparaa. 9
Fifth is to hold one's desires in restraint. These are the five most sublime daily prayers. 9

saglee jaan karahu ma-udeefaa.
Let your daily worship be the knowledge that God is everywhere.

bad amal chhod karahu hath koojaa.
Let renunciation of evil actions be the water-jug you carry.

khudaa-ay ayk bujh dayvhu baaNgaaN burgoo barkhurdaar kharaa. 10
Let realization of the One Lord God be your call to prayer; be a good child of God - let this be your trumpet. 10

hak halaal bakhorahu khaanaa.
Let what is earned righteously be your blessed food.

dil daree-aa-o Dhovahu mailaanaa.
Wash away pollution with the river of your heart.

peer pachhaanai bhistee so-ee ajraa-eel na doj tharaa. 11
One who realizes the Prophet attains heaven. Azraa-eel, the Messenger of Death, does not cast him into hell. 11

kaa-i-aa kirdaar a-urat yakeenaa.
Let good deeds be your body, and faith your bride.

rang tamaasay maan hakeenaa.
Play and enjoy the Lord's love and delight.

naapaak paak kar hadoor hadeesaa saabat soorat dastaar siraa. 12
Purify what is impure, and let the Lord's Presence be your religious tradition. Let your total awareness be the turban on your head. 12

musalmaan mom dil hovai.
To be Muslim is to be kind-hearted, antar kee mal dil tay Dhovai. and wash away pollution from within the heart.

dunee-aa rang na aavai nayrhai ji-o kusam paat ghi-o paak haraa. 13
He does not even approach worldly pleasures; he is pure, like flowers, silk, ghee and the deer-skin. 13

jaa ka-o mihar mihar miharvaanaa.
One who is blessed with the mercy and compassion of the Merciful Lord, so-ee marad marad mardaanaa. is the manliest man among men.

so-ee saykh masaa-ik haajee so bandaa jis najar naraa. 14
He alone is a Shaykh, a preacher, a Haji, and he alone is God's slave, who is blessed with God's Grace. 14

kudrat kaadar karan kareemaa.
The Creator Lord has Creative Power; the Merciful Lord has Mercy.

sifat muhabat athaah raheemaa.
The Praises and the Love of the Merciful Lord are unfathomable.

hak hukam sach khudaa-i-aa bujh naanak band khalaas taraa. 15312
Realize the True Hukam, the Command of the Lord, O Nanak; you shall be released from bondage, and carried across. 15312

maaroo mehlaa 5. Maaroo, Fifth Mehl:

paarbarahm sabh ooch biraajay.
The Abode of the Supreme Lord God is above all.

aapay thaap uthaapay saajay.
He Himself establishes, establishes and creates.

parabh kee saran gahat sukh paa-ee-ai kichh bha-o na vi-aapai baal kaa. 1
Holding tight to the Sanctuary of God, peace is found, and one is not afflicted by the fear of Maya. 1

garabh agan meh jineh ubaari-aa.
He saved you from the fire of the womb,

rakat kiram meh nahee sanghaari-aa. and did not destroy you, when you were an egg in your mother's ovary.

apnaa simran day partipaali-aa oh sagal ghataa kaa maalkaa. 2
Blessing you with meditative remembrance upon Himself, He nurtured you and cherished you; He is the Master of all hearts. 2

charan kamal sarnaa-ee aa-i-aa.
I have come to the Sanctuary of His lotus feet.

saaDhsang hai har jas gaa-i-aa.
In the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, I sing the Praises of the Lord.

janam maran sabh dookh nivaaray jap har har bha-o nahee kaal kaa. 3
I have erased all the pains of birth and death; meditating on the Lord, Har, Har, I have no fear of death. 3

samrath akath agochar dayvaa.
God is all-powerful, indescribable, unfathomable and divine.

jee-a jant sabh taa kee sayvaa.
All beings and creatures serve Him.

andaj jayraj saytaj ut-bhuj baho parkaaree paalkaa. 4
In so many ways, He cherishes those born from eggs, from the womb, from sweat and from the earth. 4

tiseh paraapat ho-ay niDhaanaa.
He alone obtains this wealth,

raam naam ras antar maanaa.
who savors and enjoys, deep within his mind, the Name of the Lord.

kar geh leenay anDh koop tay virlay kay-ee saalkaa. 5
Grasping hold of his arm, God lifts him up and pulls him out of the deep, dark pit. Such a devotee of the Lord is very rare. 5

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Is the Lean, Mean, Gene and Green Revolution good for Punjab and India? Jai Jawan Jai Kisan!

Here are some great articles and news stories that provide great insight on latest farming trends, WTO, farm subsidies in developed countries, monopolies controlling farming, food and chemicals, farming suicides and money management. May be the next purchase of a Punjabi farmer should be a computer instead of an expensive tractor or combine so he/she can get plugged into the web for latest farming trends and not get in more debt to pay for dowry. To me the farmers in Punjab that ask and give dowries during marriages actually have either forgotten message from great Sikh Gurus or they just don't care anymore and just want to join the rat race. May be being knowledgeable and making wise money decisions is the way to get out of debt instead of genetically modified Hyola farming hype, giving and taking dowry, alcohol, drugs, wheat-paddy cycles, owing the greedy arthiya, buying proprietary Monsanto seeds and letting others farming monopolies like Pepsico, Field Fresh, Reliance etc controlling their livelihood, by getting pushed to use their genetically modified (GM) crops like BT cotton, distribution, production, and everything else in between. Sounds like the imperialism of the new century but without using their own fire power but instead utilizing local corrupt leaders that control fire power. Is India or Punjab listening to the framers cries? I say, the answer to all this is India should keep allowing small farmers to sell at local sabzi mandis (Farmer's Market) just like local Farmer's Market here in America and other countries . Let the greedy ones go to monopolies and get used and abused by British owned companies like Field Fresh. Please read and pass it on to others. One life of Punjabi farmer saved is one good done. Afterall, it is all part of your good karma and dharma to live a Gursikh life as taught by our Sikh Gurus.

Field of greens
India is undergoing a second agricultural revolution - building the infrastructure that connects farm to supermarket.

By John Elliot, Fortune contributor
October 2 2006: 12:12 PM EDT
(Fortune Magazine) -- Here's a business-school case study waiting to be written: a national distribution system that guarantees that a third of its goods never make it to market. That has been the problem with agriculture in India - a place that likes to tell the world these days that it is as efficient and growth-oriented as China.
But consider the obstacles that have long been faced by farmers there. Until recently they were forced by law to sell their produce at mandis, a network of local markets originally introduced to protect poor farmers from exploitation but now controlled by cartels of traders, petty bureaucrats, and moneylenders. There they were paid the official minimum price or less for their produce, but no one told them what vegetable varieties sold well or showed any interest in improving quality. The produce was then sent via other middlemen on a slow and often hot journey to retail customers, where, according to estimates by agriculture expert Abhijit Sen, a member of India's planning commission, between 30% and 40% of it would rot before it got to market. With few refrigerated packing centers, no regional distribution network, and an inefficient fleet of trucks, India can't sustain large-scale vegetable production, let alone an export business.
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Now market pressure - the potential for export and a rapidly growing domestic demand for reliable produce from new supermarket chains-is driving change and opening up opportunities for investment by multinationals such as PepsiCo, which has been involved in Indian agriculture since the 1980s, and Britain's Tesco. "Organized supermarkets have to have an organized back end," says Lynn Forester de Rothschild, founder and CEO of E.L. Rothschild, a British investment firm owned by a branch of the Rothschild banking family. E.L. Rothschild is a fifty-fifty investor in FieldFresh with Bharti Enterprises, one of India's two biggest telecom operators, which is planning to set up a nationwide retail chain, probably with Tesco, as well as India's first large-scale fruit and vegetable export business. "There is a compelling case for India to feed the world, using inherent strengths that haven't been exploited at all," says Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal, some of whose produce already goes to Tesco.
No wonder Emann Singh Mann is a happy farmer-a rare commodity in India's northern state of Punjab, where overfarming and a falling water table have affected productivity on the broad plains that gave rise to India's first green revolution in the 1960s, a U.S.-led effort that helped feed India's starving millions by introducing high-yield varieties of wheat and rice. FieldFresh has leased 90 acres of Mann's land to grow vegetables that need less water than the wheat, rice, and sugarcane he used to grow. It will pay him slightly more than the $30,000 a year he was getting, and it hires his tractors as well as pays his workers. "I might have got out of agriculture," says Mann, 35, the son of a prominent local politician, who opened a computer-design school in nearby Chandigarh 18 months ago as a hedge. Now okra and chilies grown on Mann's land go to a warehouse for cooling, then travel 125 miles by road in a refrigerated truck to Amritsar, where they're put on a flight to Britain.
FieldFresh has 78 farms with 4,200 acres on lease in Punjab producing beans, snow peas, carrots, okra, baby corn, and other vegetables for export to Europe and the Middle East. In other parts of India it is buying produce on contract from farmers, guaranteeing to pay market prices, though farmers are free to sell elsewhere. This contract system will probably become FieldFresh's main business model once farmers have learned to produce consistently high-quality crops using new seeds, fertilizers, and techniques the company provides. The benefits are already visible: "It has had an astounding impact on my village," says Mann, "with more employment and higher family earnings, alleviating a lot of social problems-and I'm learning new ways of doing things."
With low wages of $1 to $3 a day in a labor-intensive business, India has a clear cost advantage over many producing countries. But FieldFresh's initial export attempts last year proved disastrous: 15 out of 20 containers of grapes, as well as shipments of mushrooms and okra, were wasted because of bruised skins, pest attacks, and airport delays. "It was a learning phase," says Mittal, who has persuaded the government to set up India's first perishable-produce centers at airports in Delhi and Amritsar, and to relax lengthy and often corrupt customs procedures. But even though Tesco is among FieldFresh's overseas buyers, the produce company is still finding it difficult to break into foreign markets and to achieve the required levels of quality and rapid delivery. FieldFresh hopes its exports will grow this year to $15 million, after an initial investment of $50 million.
Reliance Industries, one of India's two largest industrial groups, has even bigger plans. In June its chairman, Mukesh Ambani, announced a $5.6 billion multiyear investment in agriculture and retail. He aims to make a new company, Reliance Retail, the sector's dominant player. Links are being established with farms on several thousand acres in Punjab, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and elsewhere, with rural centers providing goods for farmers and handling their produce. A supply chain is planned from these hubs to Reliance Retail's outlets as well as to foreign buyers. Ambani says he aims to deliver "better returns for the Indian farmer and producer by connecting them directly to Indian and global consumers, and lower prices and better product quality for consumers." He is already growing mangoes on land adjacent to Reliance's oil refinery at Jamnagar and plans to become India's biggest exporter, selling 3,600 tons annually within five years.
With 77% of India's population relying on agriculture for a living, improvements in efficiency and new markets have the potential to benefit large numbers of people. The initiatives by Bharti, Reliance, and other companies will undoubtedly bring advantages of scale that have largely been missing in a nation where the average land holding is only 2½ acres and 60% of agricultural output is consumed by farmers' families. But anything that might lead to consolidation or to farmers' being displaced from their land is politically sensitive-especially at a time when crop failures and bankruptcy have led to an average of 15,000 farmer suicides annually over the past five years, according to official records. Even Mann's father, Simranjit Singh Mann, who heads a Sikh political party in Punjab, has found it politically expedient to attack the state government for providing low-priced agricultural land to Reliance for a rural farming center.
India Agriculture Secretary Radha Singh is backing the big companies' entry into vegetables and fruits because of the obvious growth potential and the impact they can have on other farmers' performance. She is also encouraging states to change laws to relax the mandis' monopoly and improve infrastructure, and slowly they are beginning to do so. "Until recently," Singh says, "the government has never looked at linkages beyond basic food production because the focus has been on self-sufficiency."
PepsiCo (Charts) began working with Punjab farmers on pulping tomatoes in return for obtaining government permission to produce and sell its drinks in India. It introduced new varieties that have helped boost the state's tomato crop from 18,000 tons in 1988 to 300,000 tons this year. Although no longer involved with tomatoes, Pepsi has a five-year program with the Punjab government to provide several hundred farmers with four million sweet-orange trees by 2008 for its Tropicana juices. It is also developing a seaweed crop for a food-gelling agent on 4,000 rafts off the southern coast of India. And it has introduced Punjab farmers to high-yielding varieties of other crops, such as basmati rice, mangoes, potatoes, chilies, peanuts, and barley, that it uses for its Frito-Lay snacks and sells to domestic and foreign buyers. Last year its agriculture exports totaled $40 million. Pepsi (along with Coca-Cola) has recently been accused in India of having unsafe levels of pesticides in its cola beverage, which it denies. But that has not affected the agriculture initiatives. "This started off as a government obligation," says Abhiram Seth, Pepsi's exports director, "then became corporate social responsibility, and is now a business."
From the October 2, 2006 issue

Indian GM cotton farmers continue to suicide (does not include Punjab and other States)

Last night 5 more cotton farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra's cotton growing region of Vidharba, taking the total to 443 farmers in the growing season since June 2005.The majority grew Bt cotton which was promoted to poor farmers in India using false and misleading claims as well as unethical practices. (see EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK - THE MARKETING OF BT COTTON IN INDIA) how disastrous Bt cotton proved for Vidharba's desperate farmers was revealed by a recent study in Maharashtra which showed the incomes of Bt cotton farmers were 68% lower than the incomes of non-Bt cotton growers. Meanwhile, a statutory body investigating charges of monopoly practices filed against Mahyco-Monsanto has found the company guilty of illegal practices and found that the monopolistic and exorbitant rates charged by the company for their Bt cotton varieties was a significant factor in farmer distress. are the names of the more than 200 farmers in Vidharba who have taken their lives since the beginning of January 2006. As many again suffered a similar fate in the period from June 2005. As already noted, the vast majority of the victims cultivated Bt cotton.List of Vidharbha Farmer suicides since JANUARY 2006Taken from a list provided by Vidharbha Jan Andolan SamitiName of FarmersSahebrao Bhimrao WankhedeNandkumar WataneChabutai Shrikrushna NikhadeMadhukar Shriram ShikareRamkrushna Sheku MeshramMangesh Ambadas SableBhimrao natthuji BophadeLonkaran Tukundrao DongreSuresh Pandharinath NagrePandit Raibhan UmbarkarDayal Raghoji BadkalManohar Sampat PawdeRama Namaji KshirsagarBaldeo Atmaram WarkhadeGajanan Aknath JawjalRamesh Devidas JadhavKamalabai ChavhanDevicharan Jagnnath GaikwadRamrao Pancham PatilAshok Yashavant GujjarVijay Bhaurao TekamKisan Ganapat AkdeSunanda Babarao EngoleYamuna Ramdas AdeSubhash Shankarrao ShevtkarBabulal Savalya BhilawekarMahadeo NakatheRambhau Marotrao ShahadeRamdas Saduji PatilSakharam Kashiram KukareAnandrao laxman MotghareDadarao BhoyarShrirang Surybhan MeshramSheshrao lalji RathodHemanth Vishwath BhasmeManoj manohar Waghamaresudam Gopalrao KandalkarSahebrao MohodBabarao Natthuji SableVilas Narayan DhaleRaju Vasantrao NakhatePanjabrao KhuteAjabrao Atmaram GavandeBaliram Govindrao KutemarePravin RautBhavsing Mithya jadhavNanaji Sitaram BatteYamunabai umaleLaxman Dattuji AdhavDnyneshwar Laxman BhendareRaju Vishwash VidhateTulshiram Pandurang MarotkarPralhad Laxman KirtaneRamdas rajaram GillariBablu Girdhari Brahmankarnilesh Vishwasrao NagmotheGulsing Ramdhan RathodNamdev Amarsing RathodBala Arjun WasekarSudhakar Mahadeo ChaudhariNagorao DupareAshok JadhavBhumanna Iranna AnnamwarMohan Harising RathodGovind Narayan LandgeGanesh Jayram NikamePochu Bira ChittawarAmbadas Jagan MundaleKamalabai Mansing SolankiDilip Bhimrao BambalMangusing Ramji RathodRamdas Tukaram AhirPrabhakar Zanzat Devram Sakharam BhandarkarDomodhar Dajiba WaghadeRashtrapal Shankar MeshramDigambar Bhaurao ZadeShriram Tulshiram TinturkarMahadeo Mangluji GopaleSuresh Sheshrao PatheNanaji Vistari ShendeKashiram Gulab RathodAyya Behru AtramRamdas Mansing PawarPandurang Kawadu salameRameshwar Bhimrao SurosheDama Kawadu LanjewarBhaurao Devrao KaleHaridas Parasram MukaleManohar Maroti PimpalkarBhanudas sakharam kakadTulshiram Tukaram ZimteMadan Suryabhan GavhaleNarayan Ramji GoreNur kha Tane Kha PathanSahebrao Amrutrao NarnawareShaligram Waghaji ShelkeGulabrao Rambhau BhiseChunnilal Pandurang RahagadleMegharaj Sambhaji GovarkarSmt. Suman Amrutrao SarodeSahadev Digambar PuriShrikrishna Baliram HinganeVitthal Nandu GajabePurushottam Haribhau BhuteSanjay Rambhau LikharJajbharat Narayan WankhedeVilas Keshave MadaviKawadu Anandrao PetkarDattu Mahadeo LondeDnyneshwar marotrao GargateBikhu Yamunadas PawarRamchandra Tarachandra ChandakMahadeo Pundlik LokhandePrabhakar Sadashiv RodeVishwasrao Vyankati chavreDadarao Turerao DeshmukhJairam Bhikaji GiteNamdeo Natthuji TaideAshok BhoyarMurlidhar uttam HahareDigambar Sukhadev VekteRamchandra Phakira VaidhyDilip Raghoba ThakareDipak laxman chavalkarmaroti Namdeo TaideShamsundar Pandhe PawarSantosh Shankarrao TapreNamdeo Bhimrao MahalleManik Shivram Pusdekarkisan maniram RathodArvind Madhav KalmedhRaju Shyamrao DholeGanesh Sevakram ThakareGovind Anandrao WaghamareSubhash Punjaram ChincholkarDnyneshwar Ambadas BhagatRatiram Ragho DhudseJageshwar Sampat AjwaleArun Madhav KajeSantosh Sopan RautGajanan Shrikrishna SarodeNagorao Laxman BhavneSanjay Parasram DadmalKashirram Sheru RathodSanjay Balawantrao RalekarShanta Vinayak JadhavVitthal Shaligram AmbulkarPandit Govinda ManwarPramod Bhagvantrao LakdeShamkar Vyankatrao BhaisagarGanapat Govinda DevhareGajanan Pandurang NevareGangadhar Wamanrao RautNetram Dattuji DhobleSurlu Pandurang KalalkarGovinda Dattaji VarhadeAnil Dnyneshwar BahurupeShriram Kashiram KawadeShashikala Ramkrishna BhatkarPurnaji jagtrao KordeGajanan Kacharu EngleKailas Shravan AtramGajanan Ukunda MantureRamkisan Baliram EnagleKishor Rambhau SolankeAshok Vasant KoradeSubhash Dnyaneshwar KenheRamu Punaji AdeSharavan haribhau wakhadeSudhakar gulab khadasePrakash shankar pawarDhanraj chintaman chaphaleChandrabhan gudghaneVishanu shivlala jadhavRajendra babanrao bhujbalAnil ramrao gawandeSayyad yakub sayyad immam nathu bhiwa salwebhayya sitaram palrahul mahadev bothadeprahlad kisan rathodsukhadev namdev sarodeshankar bhagwan thakaregajanan ataram nimkhandemukund pandurang gadhawearun narayan pathadechhagan devidas kharadmohan shivram patingebharatram keshorao topaleran hari vasuedo istapevasuev mahadev rautpudlik devaji madaleshivdas kisan thakarearun mahadev jawakedhanraj nathuji raikwarsudhakar baburao dandekargajanan vasudeo dholeraju udaybhan dhurvedigamber shayrao bahalechandrabhan bapurao gurnuledasaru goma atramvasant mahadev thakarekishor shayrao kadujayvant vithal sheteraju nathuji tagdehirishchandra jairam koredeorao keshaorao rautprakash dattuji nanoreanil bapu kedartejram dayaram raghorpeshranivas madhukar virulkarmohan ramchandra goradearjun sadashiv palgajanan uttam talekialas dhanraj zadeashru janji bajadrahul sahebrao wankhedepurshottam parasram vaidyaanil kisan kataleshantaram ramchandra bhogalarun ganpat thakaredattu shankar rautsandep uttam sabe
Source: GMWatch

Selling suicide - farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries /05.99

• Genetically modified crops - Christian Aid's concerns /06.02
A battle is beginning to rage for control of farming in poor countries. In Brazil, farmers, landless people and officials are joining together to reject genetically modified (GM) crops. In India, where poor farmers are already vulnerable and some are driven to suicide, farming increasingly dominated by large corporations, will leave the poor further marginalised. Centuries-old ways of farming on which the poor depend are also threatened by new seed technologies. Ethiopia, a country virtually ignored by the giant agrochemical companies, contradicts the view that GM crops are anything to do with ending hunger.Are GM crops the next in a long line of inappropriate products to be dumped on poor countries? Glibly promoted before international controls are in place as an answer to world hunger, few have paused to consider whether in fact the latest products of a long agricultural revolution will stop hundreds of millions going without enough to eat. Or whether, in practice, the newest offerings from corporate laboratories might, for largely unconsidered reasons, make matters worse. Christian Aid believes:
GM crops are irrelevant to ending hunger
the new technology puts too much power over food into too few hands
too little is done to help small farmers grow food in sustainable and organic ways
Mistakes in managing the world's food supply will carry a serious cost. Farmers in developing countries are already vulnerable to disasters and changes in price for what they grow and what they must pay to farm. Firstly, in 1998, as a foretaste of what might become increasingly common, a mixture of economic causes and poorly chosen modern plant varieties led to hundreds of farmers committing suicide in India. Secondly, one of the newest products of genetic engineering in agriculture, the 'terminator technology' or 'suicide seed', grows plants with infertile seed and is predicted by planners in the United States to be set to dominate world farming.Christian Aid believes it will undermine hundreds of millions of farmers in poor countries who depend on saving seeds to plant the following season. Thirdly, the spread of intensive farming has presided over the mass extinction of plants and animals - the rich diversity of life which is the earth's life support system. Early planting of GM crops follows the same intensive model of commercial farming.Hunger is a daily reality for over 800 million people in the world, yet its prime cause is poverty not food shortage. There is more than enough food to keep us all healthy. Yet, false promises about ending hunger mean a fundamentally flawed approach to farming could rapidly take hold around the world, because of the lobbying and marketing power of the companies involved. The new direction could be a one way road. Just a few years' planting of GM crops could knock more sustainable farming off track for good. An uncontainable GM system, once released, denies the right to choose other courses.While companies claim GM crops will feed the world in fact they are largely irrelevant to ending hunger: around the world they are driven by commercial interests, not a concern to 'feed the world' or raise productivity. The real challenge is poverty eradication; land reform; water conservation; and increasing production by promoting mixed, low chemical-use farming which favours naturally improved and locally adapted plants.People go hungry because they are poor and cannot afford food or because they do not have land on which to grow it: the last farming revolution failed the poorest and left many hungry because of rising gaps between rich and poor, and due to increasing control of land and the new seeds and chemicals by wealthier farmers and corporations.A reckless concentration of ownership is taking place over how the world feeds itself, leaving the poor more vulnerable: no effective means exist to control emerging international monopolies: among many mergers and take-overs, Monsanto has bought into the major national seed companies of both India and Brazil; just 10 companies control 85 per cent of the global agrochemical market; industry is also integrating - Du Pont, one of the world's largest chemical companies, announced plans to buy the world's largest seed company, Hi-Bred International. (1)Major corporations are planning to introduce the 'terminator technology' worldwide: every relevant major multinational now has, or is developing, 'genetically sterilised or chemical dependent seed' which fosters a farmer's dependence on agrochemical multinationals and ends their own vital ability to develop new crops; a dozen institutions have already obtained such patents - Monsanto is seeking patents in 89 countries, Astra/Zeneca in 77 countries. (2)Biopiracy of poor country plants and animals could increase under the evolving international legal framework: designed to protect the products of United States biotech corporations, a modern form of the 'enclosures' is under way with the poorest left out, or forced to accept foreign control over their own living plant and animal heritage.Farming based on GM crops threatens the world's genetic storehouse on which we all depend: at least three quarters of the world's food plant varieties have been lost, mostly due to commercial farming. (3) Common GM crops - the focus of huge expansion plans - work with herbicides designed to wipe out a wide range of plants. The only plants to adapt and survive will be superweeds.GM crops currently not grown commercially in the UK are being promoted in developing countries: as early as 2001-2002, more land is projected to be planted with GM crops in the South than the North, while the crops are still banned in the UK for precaution. (4)The recent international trade dispute over bananas could be a prelude to forcing GM crops on poor countries: disagreements could see international trade rules used to force poor countries to accept GM crops and food, taking away their right to choose.Plans to expand the planting of GM soya in Brazil threatens one of the last major sources of the non-modified plant for the UK: consumers could be left with no choice but to have GM soya. Also, according to official government documents pressure from conventional soya plantations, is squeezing already threatened rainforest - the home of life-supporting genetic resources.GM crops are taking us down a dangerous farm track creating classic preconditions for hunger and famine: ownership of resources concentrated in too few hands - inherent in farming based on patented proprietary products - and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops widely planted, are the worst option for food security. The new techniques also leave untouched growing gaps between rich and poor.The five-year freeze campaign: Christian Aid has joined the call for a five-year freeze on genetic engineering in food and farming. The freeze campaign has the support of over 40 organisations ranging from the Iceland Foods retail chain to the Townswomen's Guilds. The call for a moratorium is based on the scale of public opposition, the inadequacy of current environmental and health and safety regulations, and the potential for negative effects on agriculture and food production in poor countries.Debate over genetic engineering in our food system exposes an artificial ecosystem of power and private interest, dominated by rich countries, where the poor stand no chance to compete. Cautionary approaches, written into international agreements since the Earth Summit in 1992, should form the basis of our approach to the new technology. Unless care is taken we could end up selling suicide.

SummaryCan biotechnology feed the world?

the two revolutions: green and gene
the death of diversity The field of play
Ethiopia Food and genetic engineering
what's new?
the risks of GM crops
food safety: debate in Europe and the US A farmer's future - victims of the revolution?
contracts and deskilling
local knowledge
small farmer efficiency When two traders meet: transnationals in the food chain PR wars
the lobby
public relations
products in search of a market Hidden in the genes: biopiracy and the cost of technology Tripping up: reviewing world trade rules Let nature's harvest continue
recommendations Conclusion
Select bibliography
This report was compiled and written by Andrew Simms.The editor was Angela Burton. Additional research was carried out by Dulce Maltez, Jane Spence and Liz Orton of Christian Aid. Case study material was also researched and provided by Grace N. Dallapria Pereira and CETAP (Brazil); the Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia); and the Deccan Development Society (Hyderabad) and Development Research Communication and Service Centre (Calcutta) for India.Comments and suggestions were provided by: Karen Oon-Buffin, David Buffin (Pesticides Trust), Kevan Bundell, John Harriss (LSE), Matthew Lockwood, Patrick Mulvany (Intermediate Technology Development Group), Liz Orton, Jagdish Patel (UK Food Group), Kate Phillips, Clive Robinson, Sarah Stewart, Roger Williamson.

Give them a break!

I don't understand the mentality behind all this. But I wish these governments and private companies would just give people a break. Is this a control issue, ego trips or just plain old hatred. I wish I knew.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Unemployed Punjabi youth search jobs!

Here is a news story that shows how educated Punjabis are out of work. Except for the large numbers, actually, it is not much different from anywhere else in the World. It reminds me of a summmer in 1990 during recession, I was loking for a job in Orange County in Southern California. I responded to a job ad for 20 openings for engineering techs and draftspersons in Irvine, when I got to the company's office, I was shocked to find a sea of people. There were at least 1000 to 1500 applicants for about 20 openings. At the time it looked as if I will never get a job, but looking back I say things just worked out fine. I have a different perspective of things now than at that time as far what education means to someone. Coming from Indian culture, my father, and older siblings put so much emphasis on doctors and engineers as part of the status symbol that it is almost laughable and partly sad as well. There are still a lot of families that have the same status symbol mentality and force kids into education, religion and marriage against their will instead of allowing free will and let them take active role in these important life choices. Not everybody is meant to be an engineer or doctor and different people have different abilities, interests and dreams. To me the titles and formal education are good to have to function in increasingly education based society but I don't think it necessarily makes the person a better person. I have met and read about some of the rudest, meanest, dishonest, degrading doctors, engineers and other professions. Some of them seem to have so much ego problem that they can not even relate to people like normal human beings and treat people with respect, honesty and common courtesy. Same goes with policemen as well. Sometimes it makes me wonder if the money they or in some cases their parents spent on their education or career was any worth? Did the school not teach them to be nice, courteous, honest, and at least be human? On the other hand, some of the nicest, courteous and honest people I have met may not have had a formal education, but they sure knew how to show people the common human courtesy.

Anyways, I went off the topic here. I guess the key is to hang in there, keep trying and be flexible in your job search. Sometimes, the jobs I have gotten were the ones that I least expected. I don't have a business yet, but I would think the best thing would be to able to own your own business if you can, so you can be your own boss, dress how you want, make other rules how you want. Other options may be to pool talent with friends or may be even look to volunteer in the field of your liking or learn different skill set. These are just thoughts on my part to help. And, those who got selected for ASIs, congratulations! Please be the nicest ASIs you can be, giving people the respect and common courtesy and bring honor to Punjab Police. The recent incident with veternary doctors is a disturbing trend.

Engineers, MBAs willing to be ASIs
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, October 10The burgeoning employment drought in Punjab and the declining physical standards of the youth have come to the fore in the recruitment of Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASI) of Punjab Police currently under way in several places in Punjab.
As many as 15,000-odd applicants, mainly including Engineers, MBAs, MCAs, BCAs and post graduates in other extremes, have queued up for just 30 posts. But only one-third of those have been able to clear the physical tests. Two weeks ago, as many as 38,000 applicants had turned up for less then 900 posts of constable with the Punjab Police.
The physical tests of the recruitment are under way at Ludhiana, Patiala and Kapurthala. Most of the applicants have been tested with only a few remaining one to be tested on the last day tomorrow.
Though a graduation degree, including mainly the Bachelor in Arts, is the base qualification for the posts, more than 80 per cent of the over 15,000 applicants were carrying post graduates degrees.
While the courses they had done were termed as highly lucrative, the youth in search for jobs were willing to settle down for Rs 8000-odd salary of an ASI, which is equivalent to the salary of a JBT teacher.
Some of the applicants said they were attracted to the honour of wearing the Punjab Police uniform, others said they could not get employed elsewhere.
But while the recruiting police officials were happy to have the option to have highly qualified officers, they were in for major disappointment as only about one-third of the applicants have been able to meet the required physical standards of a 33-inches chest, a 5 feet 7 inches tall height, stamina and speed to cover 1600 meters in 6 min 45 seconds and the long jump of 11 feet.
Sources said the stories of the physique and strength of the Punjabi youth seem to be a fairytale seeing the physical standards of the youth. Many faltered at the first step of the height and chest measurement while others could not complete 1600 meters in the requisite time.
Many batches of 15 to 20 youths running the distance were completely wiped out. On an average, only four to five could clear the test. Ironically, almost all the ex-servicemen candidates who were much old than the civilian applicants had comfortably cleared the tests.
Among the civilian qualifiers, majority were from rural areas or suburbs, sources said.
Police officials said the lack of physical exercise, addiction to TV video games and increasing consumption of junk food seemed to be the factors responsible for the decline.
In order to make the recruitment process transparent and foolproof, the entire process was being video-graphed by several cameramen apart from cameras installed at key points in the Guru Nanak Stadium here, the venue of the recruitment process of eight police districts of Ludhiana and Jalandhar ranges.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Here is a really great reading which when I saw on Sikhnet, kind of put it off to read later. Well, that later was today, and I would say, I am glad I went back and read it. It is an eye and mind opener, very thought provoking, very spiritual and beyond religious boundaries. It is a great lesson in human compassion regardless of religion, strong Sikh beliefs and determination, Sikh history, Over rated Gandhi peace movement which now I wonder how much genuinely was his own and may have been taken from this great man of God. Please read if you get a chance and thank Gurumustuk Singh and the Sikhnet team for bringing these kind of writings to us.

Eye-Witness To Sikh History
Date: 10/06/2006
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From the Lecture delivered at The National Army Museum, London, England, on Sep 18, 2006 By T. Sher Singh
C.F. Andrews (1871-1940)The period straddling the mid-19th century and the middle of the next was one of the most packed with significance in the annals of humankind - including, specifically, the history of the Sikhs, that of the Indian sub-continent, and even of the vast British Empire itself.Charles Freer Andrews could easily be rated as one of the most extraordinary people who lived during the era and had an impact on, again, each of those constituencies - the Sikh nation, the sprawling Indian sub-continent, the far-flung British Empire, and even the world at large.But I won’t be telling you anything new, I’m sure, by stating that very few people even recognize the name of C.F. Andrews today. Of those who have heard of him or know of him, what they know - but for a very few exceptions - is very limited and mostly deals with some isolated aspect of his life.Through some quirk of fate, I became aware of him as a young teenager. I was drawn to early 20th century history, and during the course of my readings, I came across this extraordinary man. The more I read about him - and there wasn’t much available - the more intrigued I became. I pursued and found some of his writings and quickly realized that there was much more to him than met the eye.But I experienced the same difficulty then that I have experienced recently in researching him for this lecture. He is a man who has been allowed to disappear into the footnotes of history. I believe it is a grievous loss, and one that begs to be corrected.I did a bit of a survey - unscientific and informal, I readily admit - over the course of a couple of weeks this summer. I asked over 60 people who I had encountered during the course of other dealings but who either hailed from the sub-continent or were Sikh or otherwise knew quite a bit about India. One person, that is, just one out of approximately 60, recognized his name. When I questioned him further, he knew him as one of the founders of St Stephen’s College in Delhi, and a friend of Gandhi - Mahatma Gandhi - and little else.Having now revisited his life and work more extensively, I have come to the conclusion that there are two reasons why he has been lost to this generation. First, I think his memory has been overshadowed by the memory and aura of Gandhi himself. It would have been most inconvenient for India and Indians to recognize Andrews’ role in the same period of history. So, they conveniently let him go.And, secondly, it was his role as the Conscience of the British Empire that led to his obliteration in the British memory. It was convenient in Britain as well to let his memory dissolve within the pages of history. Like any good conscience, he was - at times - prickly.Pity, because it is a black-hole of a loss.For those of you who think you have never heard about this man, let me remind you that you actually may have, but … and you’ll soon see how and why he has been overshadowed. Most, if not all of you, have seen - I’m sure - the wonderful Richard Attenborough film, “Gandhi”. Let me then jog your memory. You will recall an early scene in the film, when a young Anglican priest visits a young Gandhi at his home in South Africa and offers his support for the local struggle. That Anglican priest was C.F. Andrews. There is another scene in a church. Andrews is in the pulpit and he chides the British people and urges them to look at the Indian situation through truly Christian eyes. Many in the congregation are shown expressing their disapproval by storming out during his sermon.Then there is the scene between Andrews, Gokhale and Gandhi during a garden party held shortly after Gandhi’s return from South Africa. The scene acknowledges that Andrews was instrumental in drawing Gandhi into the Indian Independence Movement. Again, we see Andrews, with Gandhi and his wife, Kasturba, on an overcrowded train, which has a number of laborers, perched on the roof of the speeding train. The precariously placed passengers, noting the Englishman’s curiosity, coax him into joining them. He accepts the challenge and clambers perilously to the top.In yet another scene, Andrews visits Gandhi in jail. In this remarkable scene, Gandhi encourages Andrews to go off to Fiji on a mission, stating that it is time for him to leave the Indian struggle to the Indians. Significantly, Andrews does not appear in the film again.I have thus culled only a few significant clips. You can see him in various other scenes, as a direct player or in the background, reflective of his intense and crucial involvement in the very forefront of everything that was going on in the geopolitik. Would I be surprising you if I told you that a considerable portion of the Gandhi film is fictitious and not supported by history? Shortly, I’ll give you a couple of striking examples of how wide a poetic license Attenborough took in building the Gandhi saga. But, I must hasten to add - vis-à-vis Charlie Andrews - that the film does at the very least give us a flavor of his omnipresence during those eventful decades. The final scene in which the film depicts Andrews, especially of Gandhi sending him away by asking him to leave the independence movement to Indians, is pure fiction. It fits into Attenborough’s creation of the Gandhi mystique, but the fact is that Andrews did not leave the setting that early in the story. In the film, he’s never seen again. In actual life, he stayed on as a central figure until 1940, when he died of an illness in Calcutta and was buried there, in the land he loved so much.But Attenborough couldn’t completely write-off Andrews’ ongoing role. True, you don’t see Charlie Andrews again after the last scene I described to you. So, Attenborough invents a second character, because he simply cannot avoid showing one of the highlights of Andrews’ involvement on the sub-continent. You’ll recall, I expect, the role of a journalist played by the actor, Martin Sheen, and it is through this largely fictitious role that Attenborough captures the further and ongoing adventures of CF Andrews. But first, before I go any further, let me briefly revert to the real … Charles Freer Andrews.Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1871, to a Catholic Apostolic Church Minister and his second wife, Charlie was the second of 12 Children from their union, the fourth in a larger family of a total of 14 children. From an early age, he is described as a special child and … his mother’s favorite. From the age of 6, he grew up in Birmingham where Charlie’s father became renowned for his “healing powers” and his “gift of prophecy”. With the strong influence of both of his parents, it therefore comes as no surprise that Charlie grew up with two gravitational pulls.The first, to a life of prayer, and the second, to a life of serving the poor and the downtrodden. These two strong currents, always interconnected, remained the dominant forces in his life. No matter where he went, whatever he did, these were his defining pre-occupations. They shaped everything he did, everything he said, and everything he wrote. Even when they brought him into direct conflict with the most powerful figures of Empire, or into direct disagreement with those he loved and supported.Upon his father’s urging, he joined the Catholic Apostolic Church, but his years of studying theology at Cambridge helped him formulate a simple and clear understanding of his own spirituality. He rejected his father’s deeply ritualistic practices, and turned to Anglicanism. In 1897, at the age of 26, he was ordained an Anglican priest.Someone who knew him well during this early period describes him as “simple, resolute, intense, self-denying… self-forgetful.”During this formative stage of his life, as the Victorian era ends and a new century begins, a number of key trends and traits have become entrenched in Charlie Andrews’ young life. Some people around him have noted his deep spirituality and relentless energy, and have begun to admire him in superlatives. Others, at the same time, feel threatened by the very same characteristics and quickly become vociferous critics and detractors. Andrews begins to exhaust himself physically to the point of getting ill at periodic intervals. At the same time, as he discovers causes … and they discover and claim him … he discovers the vagaries of emotional depression. He is already very politically aware of the world he lives in, and does not hesitate in expressing his admiration for the work done by the Empire. He also indicates a “deep respect” for the monarchy. A College being run by the Cambridge Mission, with which he is somewhat associated - St Stephen’s College in Delhi, India - is in urgent need for an “exceptionally strong and able man” to take over a Principal. Charlie Andrews is conscripted for the position. At the age of 33, he sets sail for India and arrives in Bombay on March 14, 1904.Andrews describes the country he found thus:“The scene in India …resembled that of the Roman Empire 1900 years ago. There was the same vast, unbroken, imperial peace in external affairs and a settled order outwardly maintained. But within this area of apparent calm a surging, heaving ferment had suddenly begun to appear.” But for short trips back to England or the extensive travels he undertook regularly to different parts of the world to fight for various causes, India would henceforth be his home for almost 4 decades, until his death in 1940.It was love at first sight for Andrews. And it didn’t take long either for India to fall in love with this man. But, like all love affairs, this one too had its ups and downs, its learning curve, its moments of doubt and moments of epiphany, its challenges galore. But the passion and the commitment remained throughout, unabated, undiminished, unwavering.Since the very moment the two met - this 33-year old Anglican priest from England and the age-old civilization looking for a new future - neither would be the same again. Each would not only transform the other but actually become the catalyst for the fulfillment of its - or his - destiny.In quick succession and progression, Andrews took on new skills and new roles. With each new vocation, he added it to his repertoire, without shedding any of the earlier responsibilities.He had come as a priest. And became a teacher, writer, journalist, translator, columnist, newspaper-correspondent, editor, educationist, labor leader, mediator, activist, spokesman, and leader. And conscience. Not only of the Raj but for India and Indians as well, questioning every tactic and strategy and demanding that all parties walk the straight line and do the right thing.It didn’t make things easy for him, because he opened himself easily to detractors: British authorities found him to be a thorn on their side - an Englishman constantly questioning their motives and their methods. Some saw him as betraying his land of birth, even the very Faith he had been sent to preach.It didn’t help any when he offered to resign from his Church and priesthood.On the other hand, many Indians worried if he was a British spy. You will recall the scene in the Gandhi film in which Andrews quips, in the presence of Gandhi and Gokhale, that he is off to file a report with the Viceroy.From the very outset, it was not difficult to find a cause to espouse or support in India at this stage of its history.Andrews began by attacking the very methods of Christian prostylization in India - and don’t forget that he was a priest sent to India to help convert the masses!He began to question the western and Eurocentric view of Christianity, and demanded that it embrace humanity, not just what he himself called the “white races”.He then fought for the equality of Indian Christian clergy and demanded that they be treated as equals with British Christian clergy. It didn’t take long before he went to the next step and introduced the revolutionary idea that all Indians were to be treated as equals … with the rest of the citizens of the Empire! After all, he argued, they were British subjects, weren’t they?When the Empire was revolted by the idea, Andrews came to the conclusion - and henceforth began to publicly sell this idea - that the only way Indians would ever achieve equality would be through independence - that is, complete independence from Great Britain.Now, you have to look at this in the context of the 1920s. Gandhi - yes Mahatma Gandhi - and his colleagues reacted AGAINST this concept. At this early juncture, they found it difficult to imagine a scenario where Indians could or would ever be treated as equals. More political power and a greater role in local decision-making is what they thought was possible, and that is the limit of what they then thought was in reality achievable.But Andrews was not a politician. No one had taught him that Politics was merely “the art of the possible” and he was never guided or limited by such a definition. To use a modern term, he was able to think outside the box.And was relentless in haranguing Gandhi and Gokhale and Tagore and Patel, and later, Nehru, that what they wanted was Complete Independence, not just Greater Autonomy. And he did not give up until he converted them over to this simple but the then novel concept …He taught Indians, for example, “the importance of substituting ‘the concrete and the real’ for ‘dreams and speculation’”. But, while all of this was going on, he kept the British authorities on their toes by fighting for the rights of Indians in the colonies - in South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius, Guyana, even Canada. And in India, for the rights of women, the so-called backward castes.. and so on.You and I have been taught about William Wilberforce who helped abolish the idea of slavery. Well, I believe that the history books should also similarly sing about Charles Freer Andrews because he helped abolish the idea of Indentured Labor, which was then as much of a plague as slavery had been (and to a large extent continued to be in some parts of the world). Indentured Labor was then the mainstay of the economies of the West Indies and the East Indies, all the fruits of course going to the colonizers. All of this I present to you only to give you a taste of a fraction of what Andrews did during his lifetime. He wrote and published daily … he edited “Young India”; he became a correspondent with the Manchester-Guardian; a regular contributor to the Times of London. There’s one journal, The Modern Review, I think it is called. Over the course of 30 years, it is difficult to find many issues in which he doesn’t have a substantial contribution.Throughout all of this, he became a close confidant and advisor to both Gandhi and Tagore. And that dual role wasn’t easy, because not only were the needs of the two great and all-consuming, but they also didn’t see eye-to-eye with each other and were often at loggerheads in terms of the overall approach vis-à-vis the British. So Andrews was the mediator, the great reconciler, sometimes the only line of communication open between the two.Andrews was distressed by some of the translations of Tagore that were being published in the West …. Tagore had just won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was in high demand around the world. So, Andrews became his translator and editor. And traveled with him several times through Europe and North America.Andrews led Tagore’s great experiment at education, the Shantiniketan. And later, also led his new International University, the Vishwa Bharati University …I could go on thus for pages just listing for you the areas that Andrews touched and left transformed for the better.And I haven’t even got to his many books. Two dozen of them. His extraordinary biography of Gandhi, for example. Or his umpteen books of essays on India, past, present and future.And ah yes, his spiritual writings. The accounts of his personal spiritual journeys. Some became classics and best sellers the world over. They move you, and you don’t have to be a Christian to savor them. If you read “What I Owe to Christ”, or “Christ in the Silence” or “The Sermon on the Mount”, you realize how genuinely and completely he had gone past religion, into the realm of pure spirituality … a stage to which all religions aspire.…………………………………What first drew me to Charlie Andrews was his account, as published in the press, of some historic events he personally witnessed in the Punjab in the 1920’s. These were highly charged, violent, dramatic, dangerous, oppressive incidents involving the police and peaceful protesters.What first moved me was that Andrews didn’t find himself there by accident. He was prohibited from going even into the Province of Punjab, but he managed to find a way to get in nevertheless. He suffered … and I do not use the word lightly … through witnessing these events. And then … then he wrote about them and published them and ensured that the world, especially all Britons, read about them. He wrote truthfully and daringly, at great personal peril. Let me explain, first the context, and then the specifics, and you’ll see for your self …By 1919, things had come to a head in the Punjab. Oppression at the hands of the government authorities had reached a new high. Public whippings of those who opposed the raj had become a daily occurrence. Yes, I’m talking about 1919, not long after the Great War had ended. The very same war in which tens of thousands of Indians, primarily Sikhs, had given their lives fighting for Britain and the Empire.On April 13, 1919, General Dyer marched into the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, while a public and publicized, peaceful protest meeting was being held. He was accompanied by a troop of soldiers armed with machine-guns and an armored car. They secured the only entrance and exit to the wall-enclosed park and Dyer ordered his troops to open fire. Over 400 innocent men, women and children were killed in cold blood. Hundreds of others were left shot and bleeding, in an action later described by General Dyer and his boss, Michael O’Dwyer, the Governor of the Province, as an attempt to teach the people a lesson.Tight censorship prevented details of this outrage from reaching the outside world, even though an inkling of the massacre had been carried around the world through the rumor mill. When, months later, the details began to filter in, Andrews bristled at the news and desperately tried to enter Punjab. They banned him from entry. He tried over and over again, and was once even caught on a train and forcibly disembarked. Finally, almost 6 months later, he was able to enter Punjab and visit the site and obtain eyewitness accounts. “I could not sleep”, he later wrote, “or eat or even speak to anyone after what I saw. I wanted to go apart, and be alone.” Andrews made his way to the Gujranwala District where, he had heard, a Sikh ex-non-commissioned officer had been accused of disrupting railway services. Though he denied the accusation and despite no proof whatsoever, he had been flogged and publicly humiliated, as an example to the populace. Andrews had heard of this and other humiliations being carried out in the Province and sought this man out. The proud Sikh refused to talk or complain.Andrews then did something, which caught the imagination of the entire nation: “He stooped down and touched [the ex-soldier’s] feet, and asked him to forgive the British for their evil-doing.”The Sikh soldier, who was also the headman of the village, responded by embracing him.Andrews explained it later by citing an old Sanskrit word “prayaschitta” which means both “repentance” and a “gesture”. Gandhi, who was still in the nascent stage of developing a long-term strategy for his national movement, publicly responded to this event by stating: “The lesson that Mr Andrews’ life taught them was that, though we would and must resist injustice and oppression … we were to bear no ill-will toward the wrongdoer.”Later, as the tragedy of the massacre of Amritsar was commemorated around the country, leaders proclaimed: “How can we hate Englishmen, if we love Andrews … and others [like him]? We must conquer the English with our love.”This period in Andrews’ life also proved to be its most intense. He travels to Africa, speaking out against racial prejudice. He is repeatedly assaulted, physically assaulted - each time by a European. Back in England, Churchill hears about it and denounces the crimes.Back in India, Andrews enters into an intense dialogue with Gandhi. “Civil disobedience treads on the very brink of violence,” Andrews argues. “I cannot find Christ in all this.”Andrews is asked to address the Congress. He does, but insists on wearing foreign, specifically English clothes.Around this time, amidst the storms raging around him, Andrews begins to see further clarity in his personal spiritual quest. He confesses to Tagore that “stormy religious doubts and questioning have ceased to rage.”In September 1922, he sets out on a nation-wide, fund-raising journey for Tagore’s new International University at Shantiniketan.On the 12th of September, he finds himself back in Amritsar. And hears about Guru-ka-Bagh and the situation developing there.This photo shows one of the jathas during the prolonged Guru-ka-Bagh morcha. This photograph was taken on October 25, 1922The Sikhs in Punjab are in the throes of a struggle to regain control of their places of worship. Many of the gurdwaras - Sikh churches - have been taken over by corrupt Hindu priests, known as mahants, and are being used for anti-social, even criminal, activities.The government authorities are content with the new status quo, because it is convenient for them if it keeps the Sikhs out of their places-of-worship, which in turns keeps them off-balance, and possibly out of mischief by weakening their participation in the independence movement. Why the Sikhs?Well, the government is worried, because this is a community with a high sense of civic involvement. While only 2 percent of the Indian population, it was contributing to more than 80 percent of the arrests and sacrifices made to the Independence Movement. It was a community that, they felt, had to be kept in check.The Sikhs, on their part, were pursuing a simple, non-violent approach.They zeroed in on one blatant transgressor, the mahant at the Guru-ka-Bagh, a complex of two gurdwaras located at a distance of 12 miles from Amritsar on the road to Ajnala. The gurdwaras were historical shrines commemorating the memory of the two Martyr Gurus of Sikhism who had each taught the lesson of passive resistance to tyranny and oppression, and had both given their lives in setting such an example. When denied the right to enter the property - all public gatherings in the Province had by now been declared unlawful assemblies - Sikhs began to simply assemble and peaceably cross the property line. After all, it was their place of worship. The authorities responded by alleging trespass and arrested those who stepped onto the property.Groups … known as jathas… of between 50 and 200 volunteers, young men and old, sometimes even women, would court arrest everyday by peacefully entering the property line. This had been going on through the month of August and into September. By the time Andrews arrived on the scene, more than 4000 had already been arrested and were languishing in jail. The jails were full.The police were instructed to stop the jathas some distance away, and chose three specific bridges for this purpose. The new instructions to the police were that, instead of arresting the trespassers, the latter were to be beaten and terrorized in order to discourage them from joining these marches.The Sikhs responded by taking public vows of non-violence and continued to attend on the scene in large numbers.Here’s one description of what would happen on the scene:“Finding the road blocked to them, the Akalis - [that was the name then given to the Sikh protesters, bearing no relation to the current political party using the name] - would generally squat down on the bare ground with joined hands as if in prayer singing hymns all the while. They would be asked to disperse and go back to their homes and on their continuing to sit and sing as before, they would be dragged about and beaten brutally with lathis, often on their private parts, till they became senseless. They were then lifted up and thrown on one side of the road, where they were attended to by the scouts and medical men who were always present for rendering first-aid and then carrying the men in ambulance cars to one of the three hospitals improvised for the purpose at Amritsar … “ [“From ‘The Struggle for Reform in Sikh Shrines”, by Ruchi Ram Sahni] Charlie Andrews heard of all of this and, of course, made a beeline for one of the bridges. He arrived at the Raniwala Bridge on the morning of September 12, 1922.Now, Richard Attenborough recreates the scene Andrews witnessed that morning. But with some - no, considerable - poetic license. Here’s what he changes: in the actual scene, all the non-violent protesters were Sikhs. In the movie, of the hundreds you see, only one is shown as a Sikh. In reality, the scene was in 1922, as part of the non-violent Sikh Gurdwara Reform Movement, and it later became the inspiration for Gandhi’s independence movement. In the film, it is shown as an incident in the independence movement itself, directly precipitating independence. In reality, such an event never happened under Gandhi. The time-shift between the actual event and the imagined one is of at least two decades.Also, in the film depiction, it is worthy of note that there is no Charlie Andrews…. but he is there. The Martin Sheen character, the journalist Walker in the film, as I’ve said earlier, is largely a fictional role. In real life, it was Charlie Andrews reporting the incident.Charlie Andrews’ report was published on the 19 and 20th of September 1922, a week after the incident. Here are a few excerpts from The Tribune:En route to the bridge, Andrews comes across a jatha …“… There was a light in their faces as they spoke to me with betokened joy. I was especially struck by the look of devotion in the face of a Sikh lady of middle age who accompanied us. I can only describe it by saying that she looked, in her quiet devotion, like a picture of the “Madonna”. The whole scene, the intense faith of my companions, the look of reverence in their faces, the solemn awe mingled with joy, moved me very deeply. It was the first event, which really gave me the religious atmosphere of all that I was afterwards to experience in the later scenes. It put me in touch with the Akali reform movement in its spiritual aspects as perhaps nothing else could have done…” Further down the road, Andrews encounters another jatha heading for the bridge….“… We met on the route a band of hundred Akalis in black turbans, who had marched that morning from Amritsar after having taken the vow at the Golden Temple that they would not commit a single act of violence, either by word or deed. I was to see, later on, how faithfully they kept that vow. On subsequent days I had opportunities of witnessing the scene at the Golden Temple itself as they came out with religious joy written on their faces and a tiny wreath of white flower placed on their black turbans which dedicated them to the sacrifice …” While doing his research for writing the report, Andrews discovered the following statistics: “one in three of the Sikhs in these jathas had been a soldier and had served during the Great War.”Andrews gets down from his horse-carriage, and proceeds on foot alongside a jatha … “… I was dressed in my English dress, with a sun helmet on my head, but even before they knew my name they returned my greeting without the slightest trace of bitterness in their faces. There was a halt to drink water and they got to know who I was and came forward. Then one who was serving water with a brass vessel came to me and offered the water to me also to drink. I put my hand forward to receive it, but he said to me, “Please take the vessel itself” and I took it in my hands and drank from it. The act had a strongly religious aspect to me. It was as if I was sharing in a sacrament of consecration before the suffering was to begin…”Finally, Andrews arrives at the Guru-ka-Bagh gurdwara …“…I was struck at once by the absence of excitement such as I had expected to find among so great a crowd of people. Close to the entrance there was a reader of the Scriptures, who was holding a very large congregation of worshippers silent as they were seated on the ground before him. In another quarter there were attendants who were preparing the simple evening meal for the Gurdwara guests by grinding the flour between two large stones. There was no sign that the actual beating had just begun and that the sufferers had already endured the shower of blows. But when I asked one of the passers-by, he told me that the beating was now taking place. On hearing this news I at once went forward. There were some hundreds present seated on an open piece of ground watching what was going on in front, their faces strained with agony. I watched their faces first of all, before I turned to the corner of a building and reached a spot where I could see the beating itself. There was not a cry raised from the spectators but the lips of very many of them were moving in prayer. It was clear that they had been taught to repeat the name of God and to call on God for deliverance. I can only describe the silence and the worship and the pain upon the faces of these people, who were seated in prayer, as reminding me of the shadow of the Cross. What was happening to them was truly, in some dim way, a crucifixion….” C.F. Andrews visits Sikhs in Vancouver, Canada in 1929------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ “…What was happening to them was truly, in some dim way, a crucifixion…”--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------C.F. Andrews proceeds to describe the actual beatings in graphic detail. The scene is captured well by Attenborough in Gandhi, and I’ll therefore not reproduce the relevant passages here. He, however, borrows this event to convey the power of personal sacrifice and to portray a seminal turning point, not in the Sikh struggle to free the gurdwaras - as it actually was - but as part of the culminating days of Indian Independence Struggle itself - which it never was. Attenborough unabashedly and liberally dips into the intricate details, even the very language, of Andrews’ report.“… The brutality and inhumanity of the whole scene was indescribably increased by the fact that the men who were hit were praying to God and had already taken a vow that they would remain silent and peaceful in word and deed. The Akali Sikhs who had taken this vow, both at the Golden Temple before starting and also at the shrine of Guru-ka-Bagh, were as I have already stated, largely from the army. They had served in many campaigns in Flanders, in France, in Mesopotamia and in East Africa. Some of them at the risk of their own safety may have saved the lives of Englishmen who had been wounded. Now they were felled to the ground at the hand of English officials serving in the same Government which they themselves had served …”Later in the report, Andrews proclaims:“… A new heroism, learnt through suffering, has arisen in the land. A new lesson in moral warfare has been taught to the world…”These very words are echoed in Martin Sheen’s distressed telephone call in the film, reporting the outrage. Andrews concludes his report thus:“It was very rarely that I witnessed any Akali Sikh, who went forward to suffer, flinch from a blow when it was struck. Apart from the instinctive and involuntary reaction of the muscles that has the appearance of a slight shrinking back, there was nothing, so far as I can remember that could be called a deliberate avoidance of the blow struck. The blows were received one by one without resistance and without a sign of fear.” ----------------------------------------------------------I have yet to tell you about Andrews’ spiritual life. I do want to give you at least a glimpse of the type of man he was, and hope to maybe encourage those who have the mandate to study his life and give him the place in history he so richly deserves.You know how historians marvel at how the British left India, with not a shot fired at the British - a unique phenomenon in the history of Man. Well, maybe the answer lies in these words from Gandhi, written after Andrews’ death in 1940:“If we really love Andrews’ memory we may not have hate in us for Englishmen, of whom Andrews was among the best and the noblest. It is possible, quite possible, for the best Englishmen and the best Indians to meet together and never separate till they have evolved a formula acceptable to both. The legacy left by Andrews is worth the effort.” On the day Andrews died, Gandhi had declared: “I have not known a better man or a better Christian than C.F. Andrews.”In my readings on Andrews, I repeatedly came across people - in India, in England, in different parts of the world - who amazingly, over and over again, compared him to … St Francis of Assisi. Sometimes, even unabashedly, referred to him as an “apostle”.But my favorite quote on Andrews is from Sir Gordon Guggisberg, who served as the British Governor of the Gold Coast, and later of British Guiana.Meetings between Andrews and British bureaucrats were never easy. For the bureaucrats, that is.Sir Gordon met with him, had discussions with him on various thorny issues, they had lunch together, and then, Sir Gordon saw him off at the door. As the taxi drove away carrying Andrews - an eye-witness describes this graphically - Sir Gordon “gazed after it with bowed head and fixed eyes… he breathed deeply [and said]: “I feel as though I had been honored to give lunch to Our Lord.”That, ladies and gentlemen, was Charles Freer Andrews.

Quote of the day!

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. "

Albert Einstein

Friday, October 6, 2006

Is criticism of Ragi Jathas fair?

As I was driving to work this morning in a van that normally my wife drives, I am listening to Bhai Harjinder Singh Srinagar Wale’s tape in the van. It is hard to imagine how nice it is to listen to shabads in the van and tune in for hour to hour and half long commute. The other car I drive, the tape recorder inside stopped working about a year ago and I have felt like a handicap without my Gurbani tapes. I was thinking well, what happens if I didn’t have this tape? Even though it is nice to hear a recorded tape, nothing beats listening to ragis live at the Guru’s darbar with Sadh Sangat. Secondly, if everyone just started to just enjoy tapes and CDs too much, there will be less desire for learning to play kirtan, tabla, harmonium, sarangi, guitar etc. and for listening to live Kirtan or Ragis and would be a unhealthy to maintaining Guru’s tradition and for ragis who depend on sangat for their livelihood as well. Afterall, they have made the effort to learn kirtan, teach others and need to live, eat and raise their families as well. A person like me who missed opportunities to learn kirtan and has even the slightest idea as to how to read, write or play any musical instrument cherish the ragis to uplift our spiritual connection to God in Guru’s darbar. So I am thinking, even though it is hard to resist from listening to Gurbani tapes and Cd’s and other form of recordings, I definitely need to keep attending live kirtan darbars in Gurdwaras, homes, akhand paths and everywhere else where Guru’s diwan would be present and keep supporting ragi jathas at every chance I get. As I was looking for some Gurbani shabads on internet, I happen to run into this interesting post on Ragi Jathas and inside happenings of what is wrong or right in Guru’s darbar. Eventhough it is an interesting post, I would think it is not our job to judge if a ragi is doing things wrong or right, if kirtan darbar is wasted or not, if management is doing things right or wrong. How can I be the judge of how someone is connecting with the God in Guru’s court? If I am sitting in Guru’s court judging people, then I defeat the purpose of going to a Gurdwara. Anyways, this is just one opinion and would love to hear what others have to say. Please read and comment if you wish.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Those who divide! What is Khalistan anyways? I thought it was a place wherever Khalsa lives!

Here is an interesting site that has various flags, and information about aspirant people etc. Surprisingly, Khalistan is listed as part of India and with a variation of the one and only Sikh flag Nishan Sahib as flag of Khalistan. It sounds nice, but funny thing is, I don't see any Quebecans in Canada, Texans in America, Irish in England, Basques in Spain, Scotts, Tibetans, Baloch, Chechans and many others that are also aspiring peacefully or thru violence for autonomous controls. Another funny things is that none of the authors on the website are Sikhs or seem to have any idea of what Khalsa means and Sikhism and somehow have been just focussed on aspirant peoples of Japan and India. There must be a reason. But how can Khalsa or Khalsa Raj or Khalistan be compared to some culture, social class, custom, gender, heritage, caste, land etc? Those are just man made things and I would think would make part of maya that every Sikh is supposed to get bondage from.

So what is Khalistan? If we go by the definition that Khalistan is where Gurus went, preached, and showed so many lost souls the Sikh way to live then the whole India, Pakistan, Tibet, Iraq, Sri Lanka etc. should be part of Khalistan. But the word "Khalsitan" itself did not even exist till 1940's where as Sikhs have been praying for "Khalsa Raj" long before the word "Khalistan" was even invented. Growing up, all prayers I heard in Gurdwaras mentioned "Raj Karega Khalsa, aki Rahe na Koi" and never have I ever heard the mention of a piece of land called "Khalistan". The way Sikhism is growing all over the World, the definition of Khalistan as a little piece of land in Punjab in itself is losing meaning. Even if some super power creates a land called "Khalistan" for Sikhs like it happened to Jews, do you think Sikhs all over the World are going to pack up and start heading towards Punjab? What would happen to Sikhs in Europe, North America, Middle East, Thailand, Africa etc. ? I probably don't think the migration will happen at a very large scale even if it did. Looking at the current affairs in the World, I say Sikhs have a great opportunity to teach the whole World Khalsa way of life to bring peace and harmony. The prophecy of the Guru Gobind Singh for Khalsa Raj would have to be for the whole Universe and not just India or Pakistan in a purely Sikh perspective because the divine message of our great Gurus was not just meant for Punjabis or Indians or Canadians or Americans or Chinese or Africans etc. Actually looking at the spread of Sikhism all over the World, I think the closer we are to 96 Crore Khalsa, the peaceful and harmonius the World will become and a truly Khalsa Raj is not that far off. I say, this coming millinium may even belong to Sikhs!

Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib! Another beautiful Hukumnama

English Translation :
The elephant offers its head to the reins, and the anvil offers itself to the hammer; just so, we offer our minds and bodies to our Guru; we stand before Him, and serve Him. This is how the Gurmukhs eliminate their self-conceit, and come to rule the whole world. O Nanak, the Gurmukh understands, when the Lord casts His Glance of Grace. 1 THIRD MEHL: Blessed and approved is the coming into the world, of those Gurmukhs who meditate on the Naam, the Name of the Lord. O Nanak, they save their families, and they are honored in the Court of the Lord. 2 PAUREE: The Guru unites His Sikhs, the Gurmukhs, with the Lord. The Guru keeps some of them with Himself, and engages others in His Service. Those who cherish their Beloved in their conscious minds, the Guru blesses them with His Love. The Guru loves all of His Gursikhs equally well, like friends, children and siblings. So chant the Name of the Guru, the True Guru, everyone! Chanting the Name of the Guru, Guru, you shall be rejuvenated. 14
Thursday, 21st Assu (Samvat 538 Nanakshahi)
Thursday, 21st Assu (Samvat 538 Nanakshahi)
(Page: 647)

Here is a beautiful hukum from Guru Granth Sahib. This also answers my question in the last post and reinforces what Prabhu Singh and others mentioned about Guru guiding each one of differently at different times and places and loving all of us equally well.

Monday, October 2, 2006

What is the right protocol on swimming for Sikhs?

I was really saddened when I read the following news of these teenagers drowning. As a parent myself of a teenager, I can not even imagine what the families must be going thru at their loss. For a casual and expereinced swimmers, it is hard to comprehend how tempting that water in a lake, river, pool, canal or at the beach could be to a non-swimmer. It looks so natural, calm, fun, exciting etc. and the feeling of well if other people are doing it, it could not be that hard to swim. The first problem is that those people have learned it and have been practicing it for a while and secondly, the water usually looks very calm at the top of a flowing river or canal, but there are very strong hidden currents underneath. Lakes and ocean beaches have their own unique dangers like waves crashing without warning and sudden drops in the news story. I learned to swim in Toronto in late teens and I am glad I did and it was learnt the hard way (i.e. jumping in without reading the deep end or shallow end water marks of the pool, encouragement from class buddies them assuming I knew how to swim but I without knowing how to swim and finally being dragged out with a pole by the teacher).

This whole thing brings a few questions in my mind that I would like to ask the cyber sangat i.e. doing sports activites with turban. I am still not clear as to what is right thing to do and what does Guru Granth Sahib say about this? From the news story, it seems like that they swam with their turbans on. It has been taught that Sikhs have to keep their heads covered with dastaar but I have also met Sikhs that are okay to take it off and tie their hair in back like a pony tail or on top like a jhoora or put on a tight swim cover during a swimming activity etc. Afterall, turban comes off when we wash our hair, dry our hair, during sleep and some contact sports activities.
I wish some Gursikh would tell me what the rigth protocol is on taking turban off? When is it okay or not okay? My feeling is that opinions would differ, but I would like to know for my sake anyways. Do I just follow what I feel is okay to do. To the parents with little kids out there, please enroll your sons and daughters in swim lessons early on like 3-5 years old, then at least they have the necessary skill to swim if needed, it is nice to have an extra tool in your toolbox of learning such as reading, writing, music, gatka etc. and the rest is in the hands of Akal Purukh Waheguru! My sympathies are with the families of these youngsters. Bhul chuk maaf!!OpenDocument

And! I forgot to mention the most important thing, please wear the "Life Jacket"