Thursday, July 30, 2009

Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons

The sun was out, my mind was
Dark, the heat was getting strong

Dazed and confused, I sat outside,
Knowing something was wrong

I was sitting outside of the pool, never
Aware that it was there.

Then I saw it, and I jumped in; without a
Thought – without a care.

Suddenly I began to drown, and upon my
Wrist I felt a hand.

It was the Guru guiding me, and from
Then on I swam.

At this point I was just learning, not nearly
Able to swim

But as the Guru swam alongside, I found
Support within

Suddenly Maya came along, and took over
My mind

As Maya pulled, I began to cry, and somehow got left behind
At once, the Grace of Waheguru

Came, and shined within my soul
Finally Maya let me go, and finally I felt whole.

O Sikhs of the Guru, Now is the
Time, to cross the world ocean’s tide

Use sat-Naam as your vessel and
Sat-Guru as your guide.

Submitted by: Anonymous Author


Friday, July 10, 2009

The Importance of Kesh (Hair)

Kesh (hair):
The keeping of uncut hair is given a great deal of importance in Sikhism. But what is so special about hair?

Historical significance: Well the history of hair goes back to the Bible. The Bible talks of a man called Sampson who obtained supernatural powers through his long hair. His hair was later cut and consequently he lost his powers. It is also a fact that most of the world's prophets and saints including Jesus, the Sikh Gurus and Hindu prophets kept uncut hair.

Meaning: G. A. Gaskell writes, 'Hair of the head is a symbol of faith, intuition of truth, or the highest qualities of the mind.' - Dictionary of all Scriptures Sikhs believe God to be a perfect creator. It therefore follows that whatever He creates is perfect. The keeping of uncut hair is therefore, recognition of God's perfection and the submission of a Sikh to the Will of God.

Function: Most Sikhs regard hair as a gift fromGod. But what does this gift actually do for us? Wellthe functions of hair can be divided into 5 sub categories. These include an ornamental function,physical function, psychological function, Sikhspecific function and a spiritual function. Ornamental function: Nature has decorated aman with a beard and a moustache to differentiate between a male and a female. A good example from the animal kingdom is a lion with its majestic mane.

Physical function: Just like the skin, the hair helpsto synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. It also helpsto supply the piturary gland (located in the head)
with phosphorous. Phosphorous is an elementwhich is used in meditation by the aforesaid gland. The hair on our body regulates body temperatureand our eye lashes, nostril hairs and ear hairs help to keep out dust particles.

Psychological function: This is by far, one of themost important functions of hair. People cut their hair to look good for other people, and although everyone wants to look sexy and cool, a Sikh is encouraged to impress God and not bother so much
about the opinions of everyone else. Keeping hair therefore encourages us to become less vain and more God orientated.

Sikh specific function: Uncut hair is a mark of Sikh identity. The 10th Sikh Guru instructed all his Sikhs to come before him with long hair and weapons. Long hair also represents sacrifice, because there have been many Sikhs like Bhai Taru Singh, who preferred to have their scalp removed instead of their hair cut.

Spiritual function: Hair enhances the ability of a human being to experience God. This can be explained by understanding the workings of electromagnets. An electromagnet consists of an iron rod with a coil of wire wrapped around it. The strength of an electromagnet can be increased by increasing the number of coils. Now in a human being, there are nine visible inlets/outlets (2 nostrils, 2 ear holes, 1 mouth, 2 eyes, 2 below the waistline). And the 10th inlet is located in the head and is invisible. It is called the Dasam Dawar. This is where we experience the
reality of God and we can consider this to be the iron rod. Hairs are like coils of wire which amplify spiritual energy at the 10th inlet. A greater quantity of head
hair will lead to more coils in the (Joora) knot and therefore a higher concentration of spiritual energy. Of course, it is possible to experience God without any head hair like Buddhists. However anything that helps us to experience God more easily should be welcomed. Hair is essentially a spiritual technology that makes it easier to connect with God.

Wearing 5K's does not automatically make a good Sikh and in addition to this, wearing the 5 K's without understanding their purpose is silly. The 5 K's are not
meaningless symbols, but instead are items which aid us in living a life revolving around God and submission to His Will.

Monday, July 6, 2009

TO Sanjha Smagam 2009: July 16-18

TO Sanjha Smagam 2009
Thursday, July 16 - Saturday, July 18
Old Rexdale Gurughar
47 Baywood Rd., Rexdale, ON

For more information visit:


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The effects of the Pauris of Jap Ji Sahib...

Reciting the entire Japji daily will balance all aspects of your self, and activate your soul. Or, you may choose one pauri to work on a particular facet. In that case, recite it 11 times a day.

The MUL MANTRA removes the fate and changes the destiny to prosperity.

The FIRST PAURI contains the total knowledge and ecstasy of God. The second half is an antidote to depression. It will lift you from depression, insecurity, nightmares, and loss.

The SECOND PAURI imparts patience and stability.

The THIRD PAURI transforms insufficiency into sufficiency, turns depression into elevation, and transforms low self-esteem into complete self-confidence.

The FOURTH PAURI blesses those trapped in feelings of poverty and lack of means. It blasts through the trap of these feelings like a thunderbolt.

The FIFTH PAURI must be recited when you feel a sense of failure within yourself. When you feel that you are not up to the job this pauri will grant you all success.

The SIXTH PAURI dispels limitation. Recite it when you feel limited, cornered, trapped, or coerced. When you suffer from greed, madness for power, overbearing expansion and the need to control or when you become trapped in your territoriality.

The SEVENTH PAURI will heal you.

The EIGHTH PAURI gives the power to be a perfect sage.

The NINTH PAURI gives expansion.

The TENTH PAURI grants grace.

The ELEVENTH PAURI gives virtuousness.

The TWELFTH PAURI gives your solidarity of self, self-impressiveness, and self-respect, when you feel small.

The THIRTEENTH PAURI gives you the occult knowledge of infinity. It brings deep intuition.

The FOURTEENTH PAURI will show you the way, when you cannot find your path in life, when you cannot see the direction to your destiny, and when you cannot achieve fulfillment.

The FIFTEENTH PAURI brings liberation.

The SIXTEENTH PAURI gives knowledge of the structure of universe.

The SEVENTEENTH PAURI brings freedom and resurrection.

The EIGHTEENTH PAURI fights madness, deep feelings of inferiority, and self-destructive behavior.

The NINETEENTH PAURI brings universal knowledge, inspiration, and revelation.

The TWENTIETH PAURI wipes away all your misdeeds when the monsters are nipping at your heels.

The TWENTY-FIRST PAURI will maintain your status, grace and position

The TWENTY-SECOND PAURI brings victory in legal battles. It gives you’re the strategy.

The TWENTY-THIRD PAURI dispels darkness and elevates the self.

The TWENTY-FOURTH PAURI breaks through all limitations with the force of a thunderbolt, so powerfully that it affects generations; it has the power to kill misfortune.

The TWENTY-FIFTH PAURI pre-fulfills all your needs. Prosperity, virtue, estate, and wealth are yours without asking.

The TWENTY-SIXTH PAURI transforms nothing into everything. In your business it banishes losses, misfortunes, and miseries.

The TWENTY-SEVENTH PAURI shows you the way when you are stuck and you cannot see the window of opportunity before you. It removes obstacles so you can leap over hurdles.

The TWENTY-EIGHTH PAURI is the strongest permutation and combination of words in the world. It unites you with God.

The TWENTH-NINTH PAURI is a shield of protection from enemies. It vaporizes animosity towards you.

The THIRTIETH PAURI places you upon the throne of divinity. It makes you into a sage and a saint.

The THIRTY-FIRST PAURI pulls all virtues from the heavens.

The THIRTY-SECOND PAURI pays your debts and completes your karma.

The THIRTY-THIRD PAURI destroys your ego and brings forth your divinity. It removes negativity, neutralizes your destructive nature, and prevents harm to others by your hand.

The THIRTY-FOURTH PAURI brings stability.

The THIRTY-FIFTH PAURI gives you’re the capacity to do your duty and fulfill your responsibility.

The THIRTY-SIXTH PAURI brings divine realization. It grants complete understanding of the Heavens and the Earth.

The THIRTY-SEVENTH PAURI cuts the karma. It eliminates the impact of all bad karmas.

The THIRTY-EIGHTH PAURI gives you the power to rewrite your own destiny.

The SHALOK brings self-satisfaction, elevation, acknowledgement, and respect.

Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Conversation with Sahib Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj on Meat Eating

Question: Guru Jee please tell me can Sikhs eat meat?
ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੀ ਕੀਏ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਾਂਗੀਐ ਤਬ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੮੭॥
"O Kabeer! Those that use force and kill and call it lawful, after going to the Court of God, what will be their state? 187"
(SGGS - Ang 1374)

Question: But my friends told me that I should eat meat because it is good for me and will make me strong. Is it that bad if I have meat now and again?
ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ ॥
ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ॥੧੮੮॥
"O Kabeer! The dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is (just) flavoured with salt. I am not ready to have my own throat cut to have meat with my bread? 188"
(SGGS - Ang 1374)

Question: But Guru Jee, why can't Sikhs eat meat?
ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ ॥
"Do not cause any being to suffer, and you shall go to your true home with honor."
(SGGS - Ang 322)

Question: That's all good, but I have seen Nihang Singhs do Jhatka and they say that its on going tradition to slaughter goats and eat its meat. So is it okay for the Nihang Singhs to do Jhatka?
ਜੀਅ ਬਧਹੁ ਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਅਧਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਤ ਭਾਈ ॥
ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਸਾਈ ॥2॥
"You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? If you religious people are doing "religious" killing for meat, then what is A-dharam (atheism)? If you are a religious person then whom will we call a butcher? 2"
(SGGS - Ang 1103)

Question: Okay. What about eating fish? I suppose that isn't really meat?
ਕਬੀਰ ਭਾਂਗ ਮਾਛੁਲੀ ਸੁਰਾ ਪਾਨਿ ਜੋ ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਾਨੀ ਖਾਂਹਿ ॥
ਤੀਰਥ ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਕੀਏ ਤੇ ਸਭੈ ਰਸਾਤਲਿ ਜਾਂਹਿ ॥੨੩੩॥
"O Kabeer! Those mortals who consume marijuana, fish and wine - no matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all go to hell. 233"
(SGGS - Ang 1377)

Question: Guru Jee, can you eat meat and still do Bhagti (devotional worship)?
ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥
"If in all is the one God, then why kill a chicken?"
(SGGS - Ang 1350)

Question: Does it affect our spirituality if we eat meat?
ਜੇ ਰਤੁ ਲਗੈ ਕਪੜੈ ਜਾਮਾ ਹੋਇ ਪਲੀਤੁ ॥
ਜੋ ਰਤੁ ਪੀਵਹਿ ਮਾਣਸਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਿਉ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਚੀਤੁ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਉ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਾ ਦਿਲਿ ਹਛੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ॥
ਅਵਰਿ ਦਿਵਾਜੇ ਦੁਨੀ ਕੇ ਝੂਠੇ ਅਮਲ ਕਰੇਹੁ ॥੧॥
"If one's clothes are stained with blood, the garment becomes polluted. Those who drink the blood of others - how can those people's consciousness be pure?"
(SGGS - Ang 140)

Question: Guru Jee does becoming a vegetarian make me religious? If I just give eating meat, does that please you?
ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥
ਕਉਣੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਉਣੁ ਸਾਗੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਮਾਣੇ ॥
"Only the fool quarrels over the question of eating or not eating of the meat; that person does not have the True Wisdom. (Without True Wisdom or Meditation), the person harps on which is flesh and which is not flesh and which food is sinful and which is not."
(SGGS - Ang 1289-1290)

Question: So a Sikh doesn't eat meat because a Sikh should have compassion and kindness for living life, but what thing makes a person religious if just becoming a vegetarian doesn't make a person religious?
ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਕਰਤ ਮਿਟੇ ਸਭਿ ਭਰਮਾ ॥
ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਲੈ ਊਤਮ ਧਰਮਾ ॥
"Chanting the Name of the Lord all doubts are dispelled. Naam, the Name of the Lord is the highest religion."
(SGGS – Ang 874)

Question: Guru Jee thanks for clearing up things. But why is the Panth in doubt over what "Kuttha" means and whether it means Halal meat or all meat?
ਕਬੀਰ ਸਾਚਾ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਕਿਆ ਕਰੈ ਜਉ ਸਿਖਾ ਮਹਿ ਚੂਕ ॥
ਅੰਧੇ ਏਕ ਨ ਲਾਗਈ ਜਿਉ ਬਾਂਸੁ ਬਜਾਈਐ ਫੂਕ ॥੧੫੮॥
"O Kabeer! What can the True Guru do, when His Sikhs are at fault? The blind do not take in any of His Teachings; it is as useless as blowing into bamboo. 158"
(SGGS – Ang 1372)

compiled by Bhai Manvir Singh ji (UK)

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Jatha Is The Best :), I love my jatha

My Jatha Is The Best :), I love my Jatha
By: TejiKaur

I wanted to belong to one who I loved only then could I ever be whole

I wanted The one whose compassion instantly broke my anger to pieces

the one who melted my heart and made it smile over and over when Kaljug took its toll

whenever I was broken he was alway there to heal me as I went over lifes confusing bumps and creases

I longed to be his and dreamed of being his wife

I dreamed of hearing the unspoken speach of love and affection

I dreamed of making his tender sweetness my comfort in trouble and strife

I wanted to build my home in his perfect perfection day and night I would cherish the connection

finnaly the day came when I would join him in his permanant palace

I was to recieve the Amrit the necter of life and join my Lord

I was to be liberated from my bodys flaws no more anger, greed or ego-filled malice

And so my soul became elavated and ecstatic as I embraced the exilir of the double eged sword

For so long my heart was always his but now its official I thought

meanwhile day and night I enjoyed belonging to my wonderous husband

My heart was never lonely nor did my mind ever become distraught

How could ones spirit ever hurt when they have the power of Gods hand

But then would day I met someone who said my life was totally wrong

This was not the way to worship God he said that not how it goes

than he asked me how I do simran and said it was incorecct all along

and to follow his jatha cause only his jatha knows

So I listened about his jatha and my heart filled up with wonder and prem

I loved every bit of Bhai Randhir Singh jis messege and doctrine of jeeven

I followed the akj rehit in hapiness my burning soul peaceful and tame till another messenger came

and I allowed myself to get brainwashed again thinking my bumpy soul would leven

The Sikh He said give up Akj become a nihung

Akj is all about looking good they are pakhand not panthic at all

come on look at their Simran look how its sung

dont you wanna join the army of those strong as a mountain twice as tall

I listened to the teachings and they Vibrated inside

My heart longed to be a nihung but I still loved Akj

Regardless from that day onwards it was with the Gurus Laadli fauj I would abide

or so I thought Till once again a Sikh cane to show me the way once more my soul was to sway

I head the amazing love filled voice of the angels and listed to his Sakhis in awe

I saw God in the face of The Saint in all his glory and extol

Nanaksar Sahib made its place in my heart it was the only way I saw

But still I could not forget the way of life of the Nihungs or Akj from my soul

Than one day a Singh came from Damdami Taksal

He was so brave and so paka in rehit

I thought I would love to join Sant Jis Jatha this is my true call

I would be Taksali and that was that

Untill I heard the Chardi Kala Jatha play

And saw the faces of 3h0

Bibi Snatam Kaur just made my day

3ho was the way to go

I lived in Peace one day I woke to do my nitnem

My heart was wavering confused

I had forgotten the meaning of life and who I am

My soul was broken and confused

I loved the nihungs but akj too

3h0 had a place within me

I was bound to Nanaksar Sahib through and though

The Taksal experience could last eternity

So who do I follow where do I go

All of the Bhramgianis were right

So which jatha to join I don’t know

Their were so many differences but each Unparelled inspite

Do I eat meat or not

What color and style should I tie my dastaar

Such trivial matters but my mind still faught

From the truth I wandered far and far

I missed those days when it was me and my Guru

and I was just his period

The days where I would do Simran in the language of love and dwell on the One whose True

The days where I was free to dance how God moved me and be happy whatever he did

Suddenly it seemed so excruciatinly confusing

Nothing was right nor was it wrong

Hanging on by hopes famous last sting

I wondered where is it that I belong

Than I looked to the sky and remembered the day, the feeling, the monment the true belief

The reason I live, the inspirer of rehit, my Satguru my jaan and support

I remembered the one to who I belonged and who was their to share my trouble and grief

as I gave up all other colors My hear intuitively led my feet to his court

After roaming around I was home to my maharaj

And I asked Guru Ji for the answer

I folderd my hands and offered my body soul and laaj

And placed my faith in one who no obstacle could deter

As I prayed I felt it all it was all right their ahead

The source of all the necter, bliss, and power

The Guru to whom all great Saints bowed their head

The one who mended the broken and loved the meek and at the same time made the 5 sinners cower

Sitting there in Guru Jis Hazoori I found the one who filled the heart of Baba Nand Singh Ji

The one whose love inspires the Nihungs to fight save lakh se ik

The one whose bani enticed the mind of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji

The one who Bhai Randhir Singh ji called his sacha tek

The one who pulled 3ho on the path by sending wandering hearts his call

The source of all this greatness Amazingly Was always there sitting right in front of me

He was the ocean and the source of it all

All the saints came from Guru Granth Sahib Ji

The love was with all there in the bani of all the Gurus and so was the strength

Even though my dastar is not always gol I could still stand for justice like taksal

I could still do simran with each breath like Akj and wear a keski of any length

I could wear a chola like 3ho and fight to defend my kaum with the dal

I relized that this was the truth the teachings of the saints

They wanted Guru jis love thats it !They did not want a wakhree kaum

It doesn’t matter what one calls themself nor does dressing in various turban colors styles and taints

What is the use if you still havent found your home

The Saints are all one with the shabad all perfect and unflawed

And they all want us to follow that way as well

For it is love and compassion that lead to God

And pakhandi rituals pave the way to hell

So with the grace of the saints lets unite in the shelter of our true jatha

The Khalsa panth jathedhar Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharajjjjj

Lets give him our hearts our souls and let him give us the naam with his hand upon our matha

We are his He is ours and that’s the truth of the Khalsa Fauj

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Canadian eyewitness recalls bodies 'everywhere, everywhere, everywhere'

Canadian eyewitness recalls bodies 'everywhere, everywhere, everywhere'

It has been 25 years, but Inderjit Singh Jagraon talks about his experiences inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, as if he just walked out of the complex

From Saturday's Globe and Mail, Saturday, Jun. 06, 2009 09:02AM EDT

It's been 25 years, but Inderjit Singh Jagraon talks about his experiences in early June, 1984, inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, as if he just walked out of the complex. His voice quivers as he recounts the horrific scene: dead bodies everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, he repeats. Men with open bullet wounds and limbs missing; floors awash in blood and water.

Mr. Jagraon recalls running from gunfire. The man next to him was shot and fell forward on his head. "He died in my hands," Mr. Jagraon said in an interview this week. "He did not move. I left him where he was. I ran away." Everyone was trying to find a place to hide, like mice. "We ran from room to room," he said.

Mr. Jagraon, who is now married, the father of three daughters and living in Toronto, was a 19-year-old student in 1984, in his second year of studies in civil engineering in his hometown of Jagraon, about two hours away from the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion.

He was active in the Sikh Student Federation, a group considered to be a terrorist organization by the government of India. The group was involved mostly in educating people about the Sikh religion, Mr. Jagraon said. But they did more than that and some members paid a price. "Anyone asking for their rights and justice [at that time] was beaten up or killed, and their voice ... quieted," he said without elaborating.

On June 1, 1984, he heard that government forces had killed a number of people at the temple. He went with a friend to find out what was happening. No one stopped them from going in, but once inside the temple complex, he was unable to leave.

The Golden Temple is actually a collection of religious halls, offices and dormitories. Armed terrorists were in the central temple building. Mr. Jagraon stayed in a dormitory called Guru Ram Das Sarai. He says he was not involved in the fighting. "I was a student, a young kid; I was not trained to do all those things," he said.

The shooting and explosions began around 4:30 a.m. on June 4, his second night at the temple, and continued into the next day. He recalled a voice on a loudspeaker around 5 p.m. on June 5, saying whoever wants to come out would be allowed to leave. He stayed but others went. He saw them being beaten with steel rods as they stepped out.

The exchange of fire ended on June 6. Mr. Jagraon was taken into custody that night. He had fallen asleep and was awaken by a soldier pointing a gun at his chest. Soldiers lined up hundreds of people. He was left sitting for hours with dead bodies on the floor nearby. He recalled seeing people die from their wounds, after asking soldiers for water.

He was eventually put on a bus and taken to a camp in an isolated location. He remembers the intense heat. People went crazy for water, he said. He saw an army tank point its barrel and shoot some of those people. He estimated around 60 people were killed.

He was held in a high-security prison until March, 1989, convicted of fighting against the Indian army. Mr. Jagraon came to Canada via Kenya in August, 1991.

"Now everything is okay," said Mr. Jagraon, who works as a realtor. He continues to support the goals of the student federation that led to his troubles. "I am a well-wisher of all those organizations who seek Sikh rights," he said, "but I'm not really involved in any [of them]."

"When you look at Rwanda, the whole world knew what was happening and was shaken right to the core," Kirpa Kaur, a member of a group called B.C. Sikh Youth, said earlier this week. "So few people know about [the attacks of 1984] and they perceive it as a story brought up needlessly."

She believes human-rights violations that occurred 25 years ago continue to sting because those responsible for the actions were never punished. "As Canadians who have deeply emotional and social connections to the injustices that happened in Punjab, we would hope that the Canadian government would support us in fighting injustices, in helping us indict those who clearly have been found guilty... [by non-governmental organizations]," she said.

The government of India sent the army into the Golden Temple compound in the first week of June, 1984, after years of deadly skirmishes with militant Sikh leaders fighting for Sikh rights and Khalistan. Government officials said their goal was to dislodge terrorists who had turned the religious hall and adjacent buildings into an armed fortress.

The assault coincided with a religious pilgrimage that had drawn thousands of Sikhs to the site on June 3 to pay homage on the martyrdom day of the fifth guru, Arjan Dev. Most were trapped in the compound after Indian forces launched continuous artillery bombardments and mortar fire. Unable to flush the terrorists out, the army stepped up its attack on June 4, sending infantry into the compound.

The deadly exchange of fire with Sikhs armed with machine guns, rifles and pistols ended on June 6. A government white paper says 493 people, including religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, were killed. Non-governmental groups say as many as 10,000 people, mostly innocent pilgrims, were killed and priceless historic artifacts, including religious books and historical documents in the library, were destroyed. Bodies were cremated without notifying relatives and without autopsies. No official records of cremations were kept. Many Sikhs perceived the attacks as calculated assaults on their faith, culture and identity.

The events fuelled the secessionist insurgency. Radical fringe groups championing the Khalistani cause found themselves suddenly in the mainstream. In Canada, less than a week after the assault, thousands of angry people marched in protest in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, vowing to avenge the attack on the Golden Temple. Effigies of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi were stabbed and burned. Some carried placards with slogans such as "Death to butcher Indira" and "Indira Gandhi dead old meat." An Indian flag was set on fire on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.

Ms. Gandhi was assassinated four months later. In June, 1985, Sikh radicals had explosives checked onto two flights from Vancouver. The explosions on opposite sides of the world caused 331 deaths.

This year in Canada, events are considerably quieter. The World Sikh Organization held a dinner in Ottawa on Thursday for parliamentarians, community leaders and members of the Sikh community. Public forums are being held throughout June in several cities on how the events of June, 1984, shaped the Sikh community.

In downtown Vancouver, a group of Canadian-born, religious youth are holding a vigil today. Earlier this week, members of the organizing group spoke to The Globe and Mail about the changes within their community since 1984. Following Sikh tradition, the women in the group wished to be identified by the family name Kaur and most of the men identified themselves only as Singh.

Some said they believe many of their generation are unaware of what happened in 1984. "The only reason my history-12 class knew anything about it was because my teacher asked me about it," said Paneet Singh, who was born six years after the assault on the temple. His Grade 12 history textbook had only two paragraphs on the events and his teachers did not elaborate. "It is not as though it is going to be on a final exam," he said.

Their parents' generation was hesitant to talk about 1984 after the Air India bombing. Those who spoke up were tagged as extremists or terrorists. Many remained silent and over the years became apathetic, the members of B.C. Sikh Youth said.

However, the youth are indifferent to the charge of promoting Khalistan. They say the accusation is a myth intended to divert attention from the injustices. "Our main concern at these events is strictly human rights," said Jagjit Singh, the main spokesman for the youth group. Kirpa Kaur, a recent graduate in psychology and social equity, said some of the youth may be supporters of Khalistan. "But these events are about fighting injustice and [the secessionist movement is] absolutely irrelevant to what we are doing."

Prabhroop Kaur, 21, has been going to annual vigils for events in 1984 "ever since I can remember," she said. Her parents instilled in her a strong commitment to justice. "They sat me down and told me what happened. We were supposed to fight injustice everywhere.... We grew up with that. We see clearly injustice and we have to do something about it."

Gurdit Singh, 25, a college student in human-resource management, identified "an education gap" between his parents and himself. His father was a farmer in Punjab and his mother was a high-school teacher. "They talk about it, but they had more raw emotions, more anger built up inside them. They did not know how to proceed, what to do next."

Some parents accepted what the Indian government told them. Paneet Singh said his mother left India in 1986 believing that Sikhs brought the assault upon themselves, as the government of India says. His mother told him the extremists had to be flushed out of the temple and the government had to restore order.

But the younger generation has more tools than their parents to find out what went on in 1984. "The ease with which we can go and find records, find third-party accounts, is exponentially bigger than what our parents would have been able to do, if they had the knowledge base and skills to do it," said Perpinder Singh Patrola, a 31-year-old lawyer. "We have resources that did not exist 15, 20 years ago. We may feel emotions, but we can move beyond raw emotion and look at actual facts and figures, and present it - without reducing it to something that is purely emotional."

Research has shown that stories they were told about their history were often not true, Kirpa Kaur said. "We have to do a lot of work ourselves to figure out the true story."

Shining a global spotlight on what actually happened is a step toward having justice done, she added. "Living in a country as Canada, which claims to support so many human rights-type initiatives, we say it is time to support us in fighting against injustice."



What happened?

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the Indian army into the Golden Temple in Amritsar in the first week of June, 1984, to flush out militant Sikh leaders who were using the religious compound as their headquarters in a campaign of violence against their critics, the police and state institutions.

Why did the government send in troops at that time?

The Indian government moved to restore law and order after a lengthy string of killings, arsons and lootings that it said threatened the stability of the state. Violence had claimed the lives of 410 people and injured more than 1,180 in the two years before the attack, according to a white paper on the Punjab agitation dated July 10, 1984. More than 775 violent incidents were recorded in the five months prior to the attack.

Who were the religious


The political leadership in Punjab province had a lengthy list of grievances with the central government built up over several years, ranging from disputes over surplus water rights to concerns over issues related to the Sikh religion. Sectarian violence erupted in 1978, with fundamentalist Sikhs embracing secession as the most effective way to protect their religion. The troubles escalated in 1981, following several killings, the hijacking of an Indian plane by Sikh extremists, and rallies by the All India Sikh Students Federation calling for the creation of Khalistan. After the head of the student group was arrested in July, 1982, fundamentalist leaders moved into the Golden Temple complex and turned it into a fortified encampment.

Were only religious militants killed in the assault?

The military assault coincided with a religious pilgrimage that had drawn thousands of Sikhs to the site. The militants were in dormitories on the compound as well as in the religious halls. Hundreds if not thousands of pilgrims were caught in the crossfire. Shekhar Gupta, a correspondent with India Today, wrote in a report published Aug 15, 1984: "As the army got sniped at from a number of rooms in the parikrama [a walkway around the pool that surrounded the temple] and the sarais [dormitories ], the troops just threw grenades into the rooms. 'People were dying on both sides,' recalls an officer, adding, 'and there was no time to find out who was inside a room.' Some of the pilgrims also died of thirst. Many died of the fires which broke out."