Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween & The Sikhs

Halloween & The Sikhs
by Harjinder Singh

Halloween is a global festival which is cheerfully celebrated with kids trick or treating, people mocking and gimmicking ghosts, ghouls, goblins and demons. For Sikhs on the other hand Halloween carries a real grave significance, of real ghouls and demons, who massacred Sikhs in October and November 1984.

On Halloween, 31st October 1984 – Indira Gandhi the Indian Prime Minister was assassinated. What followed her death was inhumane, depraved and despicable, some call it genocide others ethnic cleansing, I’ll let the readers decide what they feel. The world silently turned a blind eye to these events and rather mourned the death of Mrs Gandhi.

Sikhs were burnt alive, raped, made refugees, murdered on mass, Gurdwaras attacked and Sikh businesses singled out for attacks. All this happened in what Sikhs at the time saw as ‘mother India.’ What was the crime of these Sikhs? What had they done to bring out the demons of Halloween?

The bodyguards of Mrs Gandhi who assassinated her, were Sikhs, so the orchestrated carnage was planned to ‘teach the Sikhs a lesson.’ These children, mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and grandparents had no link to the Sikh assassins. In the times of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee, Guru Jee saw the destruction of the Mughal ruler Baabar and said,

There was so much slaughter that the people screamed. Didn't You feel compassion, Lord? O Creator Lord, You are the Master of all. If some powerful man strikes out against another man, then no one feels any grief in their mind. But if a powerful tiger attacks a flock of sheep and kills them, then its master must answer for it. This priceless country has been laid to waste and defiled by dogs, and no one pays any attention to the dead (Limb 360, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee)

These words ring true of what happened to Sikhs across India following Mrs Gandhi’s death, to the extent that Guru Sahibs words above aptly describe the attacks on these common, everyday Sikhs. Sikhs were brutally and clinically attacked in cities across India, Delhi, Kanpur, Patna and the list goes on, over 10,000 Sikhs died between 31st October – 3rd November, 1984, many more refugees lived on with nightmares of what they witnessed.

Hitler killed the Jews in gas chambers which were in secret locations but in India Sikhs were killed in public. The Jews have pursued Nazi’s for these genocidal acts, today the culprits of Sikh genocide walk free, let’s try and achieve some justice. Let’s remember these Sikhs and support the surviving families and widows, so the pain of Halloween can be lessened. Please see the links below to start making practical steps in this endeavour;

Genocide of Sikhs:


Human Rights: – Lawyers for Human Rights

Books: Government-organised Carnage, by
Gurcharan Singh Babbar

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Bandi Chhor Diwas !!

Bandi Chhor Diwas

Guru Hargobind being released from the Gwalior Jail along with 52 Rajas, who held the strings attached to the dress of the Guru, hence the Guru was called Bandi Chhod.

Bandi Chhor Diwas (Diwali) is the anniversary of Guru Hargobind ji being released from the prison at Gwalior Fort. In was on this day in 1619 A D. The kind Guru ji refused to leave the fort of his own and demanded release of other 52 Hindu Rajas. The Moghuls being the cunning rulers they were, decided on a compromise. They said all the Maharajas that can hold onto your Chowla (gown) could walk out free along side you. The Sikhs smartly made a special Chowla with 50 long strips and all the prisoners walked free. Guru Hargobind ji is known as Bandhi Chhor because the imprisoned ones (Bandhi) were released (Chhor) by Him. Upon their return to Amritsar grand celebrations were held. Harmandir Sahib ji (Golden Temple) was illuminated and fireworks were displayed. Gurbani Kirtan (Hymns) and prayers were performed.

Guru ji was always prepared to sacrifice his own freedom for the sake of other innocent people. Once Guru ji was accompanying Jahangir, then, a tiger attacked Jahangir. He fired all his shots/arrows but missed attacking on tiger. His accompanying officers failed to respond to his distress call. Brave Guru ji got off His horse and put the tiger to rest with His sword. This incident made Jahangir feel obliged to Guru ji for having saved his life and he began to repent for the sin he had committed by ordering assassination of Guru Arjun Dev ji (Guru ji's father). He visited Guru ji's mother, Mata Ganga ji and apologized for the cruelty. Guru ji demonstrated the extreme and difficult virtue of "forgiveness" when He saved Jahangir's life from an attacking tiger, despite all the hostility and the awful act of ordering assassination of the 5th Guru, Guru Arjun dev ji with an excuse that the latter was a threat to Islam.

Diwali of 1737

Bhai Mani singh transcribed the final version of Guru Granth Sahib upon dictation from Guru Gobind Singh ji in 1704 at Damdamma Sahib. After heavenly abode of Guru Sahib in 1708 he look charge of Harmandir Sahib ji's management. In 1737, invitations were rent to the Sikhs all over India to join Bandi Chhor Diwas celebrations at Harmandir Sahib. A tax of 5000 rupees (some say 10,000) had to be paid to the Mogul governor of Punjab; Zakariya Khan. Bhai Mani Singh Ji later discovered the secret plan of Zakariya khan to kill the Sikhs during the gathering. Bhai Mani Singh ji immediately sent message to all the Sikhs not to turn up for celebrations. Zakariya Khan wasn't happy about the situation and he ordered Bhai Mani Singh ji's assassination at Lahore by ruthlessly cutting him limb-by-limb to death. Ever since, the great sacrifice and devotion of Bhai Mani Singh ji is remembered on the Bandi Chhor Diwas (Diwali) celebration. After knowing the great history of these occasions or festivals, heart wants to say:

Hey Waheguru!
"Raaj Na Chaahayu, Mukti Na Chaahyu
Man Preet Charan Kamlaare"

Oh Wonderful Lord!
I neither desire for empire and material realm nor liberation or mukti,
my soul longs for the love of your lotus feet.

Celebrating Diwali and Lightening a Deeva in true sense is acquiring divine knowledge and being selfless, tolerant, humble, kind and sweet spoken. That leads one to become one with Waheguru (god).

Pray to God on this beautiful occasion of Diwali to give us light,
to give us understanding,
so that we may know what
pleaseth thee,
and may all (all whole mankind)
prosper by the Grace.

What do we learn from Bandi-Chhor Diwas?

52 Hindu Kings were freed with Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib could have left the Fort when he was offered the chance. However, Guru Ji thought of others before himself. Others freedom and rights were more important than his own. Guru Ji is always thinking not of his emancipation but everyone's emancipation. This is the attitude and virtue which Guru Ji filled within his Sikhs, by putting into reality this positive message.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

300 Saal Guru De Naal!

Vaheguruu ji ka khalsa, Vaheguruu ji ki fatehh

On behalf of all Sevadaars,

300 Saal Gurgaddi Divas Diyaa Lakh Lakh Vadiaaeeeyaan!

300 Saal Guru De Naal!

Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee !!!!

bhairo mehalaa 5
Bhairao, Fifth Mehla:

sathigur maeraa baemuhathaaj
My True Guru is totally independet.

sathigur maerae sachaa saaj
My True Guru is adorned with Truth.

sathigur maeraa sabhas kaa dhaathaa
My True Guru is the Giver of all.

sathigur maeraa purakh bidhhaathaa 1
My True Guru is the Primal Creator Lord, the Architect of Destiny. 1

gur jaisaa naahee ko dhaev
There is no deity equal to the Guru.

jis masathak bhaag s laagaa saev 1 rehaao
Whoever has good destiny inscribed on his forehead, applies himself to seva - selfless service. 1Pause

sathigur maeraa sarab prathipaalai
My True Guru is the Sustainer and Cherisher of all.

sathigur maeraa maar jeevaalai
My True Guru kills and revives.

sathigur maerae kee vaddiaaee pragatt bhee hai sabhanee thhaaee 2
The glorious greatness of my True Guru has become manifest everywhere. 2

sathigur maeraa thaan nithaan
My True Guru is the power of the powerless.

sathigur maeraa ghar dheebaan
My True Guru is my home and court.

sathigur kai ho sadh bal jaaeiaa
I am forever a sacrifice to the True Guru.

pragatt maarag jin kar dhikhalaaeiaa 3
He has shown me the path. 3

jin gur saeviaa this bho n biaapai
One who serves the Guru is not afflicted with fear.

jin gur saeviaa this dhukh n sa(n)thaapai
One who serves the Guru does not suffer in pain.

naanak sodhhae si(n)mrith baedh
Nanak has studied the Simritees and the Vedas.

paarabreham gur naahee bhaedh 41124
There is no difference between the Supreme Lord God and the Guru. 41124


Vaheguruu ji ka khalsa, Vaheguruu ji ki fatehh

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Many more things are wrought by prayer than those of which the world can dream…

THE WINTER DAYS were severely cold. In the small dark room in the corner of the house in which she sat, she comforted her brother in her lap. He was severely ill with a lung infection and was unable to speak. He did not let anyone even switch on the lights.

For almost three full days, she sat there in the dark, knowing that she had a Physics exam coming up. But nothing could comfort her more than comforting the lovely, miraculous child who was now lying in his sister's warm lap.

The three days passed. It was now the morning of the midterm examination. Her supposed three days of preparation had passed without her having read a single word, but she felt not even a hint of anxiety or fear. Her mind was completely at rest, filled with the peace of knowing that she had done what she really needed to do. In her heart she knew that she had everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Her mom arrived home at 8:15 that morning, tired from working a night shift. She handed over her brother to her mom and she hurriedly assembled her things. Without even changing her dress she headed to the porch to get her bicycle for the 40 minute ride to college. As she pulled out the bicycle it rolled heavily....What…A rear tyre was punctured! It was too early for any of the shops to be open yet in such cold weather. The sun still would not rise until past 10:00.

Having no choice, she rushed to her friend's home a seven minute walk away. Although her friend was studying at the same college as she, it was already too late. She had left ten minutes before. She asked her friend's mom to lend her her bicycle for a day, but she couldn't find the keys.

Walking back home in the chill morning through the deep dark endless river of fog on the lonely street, she noticed that all the shops on both sides of the street wre shut down. There was not a sign of life. The silence was profound. There was no way to reach the auto-stand 15 minutes away by bicycle. Though she knew she would lose a full year by not sitting for the exam, her mind was still at peace. She felt that nothing could shake her. It was a state of grace. She was now halfway home passing through those lonely streets, and she still enjoyed the feeling of having lost nothing.

Suddenly a polite and sweet voice came through the morning fog, "Daughter, where do you want to go?" As she turned around, to her surprise she saw a rickshaw stopped beside the curb. She stopped at once feeling a little strange. From where had this man suddenly appeared? She had never seen a rickshaw in that colony, and so early in the morning?

Before she could think too much, her eyes caught a glimpse of the rickshaw driver. He was wearing a pearly white robe and had a long white beard which was shining in the faint morning light. A pure white cloth was wrapped on his head. In between his red cheeks crinkled with apparent joy, his heavenly smile was radiant and he seemed surrounded by a bright aura. He looked a completely saintly figure. She had never seen anyone like this before.

But now a feeling of insecurity ran across her mind. She didn't have nearly enough money to pay the driver to take her anywhere near school. She had only 10 dollars and no rickshaw driver would accept that little for such a journey. Despite her insecurity, and knowing that she had no other option at this point, she gathered up her courage and asked softly, "how much?" With a warm smile, the rickshaw man said, "two dollars."

She stood shocked. Was this seemingly saintly man might an immoral person? How could he possibly be asking such a low price? She hesitated, but realizing that this was her only opportunity, she agreed. As she put her foot on the rickshaw, she noticed that it was brand new. It was beautifully decorated with colorful and finely painted flowers and elephants. She had never seen such a wonderful and comfortable rickshaw in her lifetime.

As the rickshaw man started riding through the lonely street, she heard him start murmuring something, Again, doubt arose in her and she wondered, "perhaps he is not a good man after all.". Sitting quite still on the rickshaw, she just squeezed down her fear for a while. The rickshaw man was driving very fast and in two minutes they were on the main road which was much more secure and well lit. Her fear began to subside.

Within less than six minutes, the rickshaw man had taken her to the front of the auto which was preparing to leave for her college. It was the only auto on the well lit road, the formal auto-stand. She stepped down the rickshaw and signaled the auto to stop for her. Averting her eyes, she hurriedly handed her ten dollars to the rickshaw man.. But he waved it away with a smile..The thought came to her that perhaps he did not have any change, since it was so early in the morning.

She turned to the auto driver and asked him to change the ten dollar bill so she could give two dollars to the rickshaw man. The driver looked at her very strangely. She realized that everyone in the auto was staring at her as if she were mad. As she turned her head to look back at the rickshaw, there saw nothing but the streetlights reflecting off the shiny black surface of the road. She gazed back as far as she could standing there clutching her money in her hand.

Stunned, she faintly realized the driver was speaking to her. "Are you coming or not?" She turned to the rother riders. "Did you see the rickshaw?" Everyone just stared at her blankly. No one replied.

Bewildered, she sat down in the auto and 15 minutes later she was in front of her college and as the bell rang at 9:00 am sharp, she was sitting on her seat in the examination hall.

After her examination was over, with six dollars remaining in her pocket, she caught the auto back to the auto stand, and then a rickshaw back to her home where her mother paid the rickshaw driver ten dollars.

Her mom served her food and asked her if everything had gone okay. She slowly recounted the whole incident and expressed her regret that the old rickshaw man had not taken even two dollars for his service. She described how, to her surprise, the rickshaw driver had vanished without a word and how the other people in the auto had stared at her so strangely.

Her mom chuckled and said. "You know dear, that old rickshaw driver was God himself. That's why He wasn't visible to the auto driver and the other people. That's why they looked at you as if you were mad."

Suddenly she felt a pang of regret in her heart and tears filled her eyes. "Why couldn't I recognize Him? Oh, my gosh! I even had bad thoughts about Him!" She wondered if He would forgive her.

Being a science student, she had never believed the story her mom had told her about her brother's miraculous birth.

Her brother had been born prematurely a month early. His lungs were undeveloped and he could not get enough oxygen. The doctors told her mother that the baby would probably survive only twelve hours or so. As that evening approached, the baby's toenails began turning blue from lack of oxygen.

Crying softly, her mother had watched as the nails of his tiny hands turned blue as well. The life was draining from his weak and forlorn cries signaled his approaching death.

His father had left the hospital. He was simply unable to watch his newborn child dying for no apparent reason. Her mom could not help crying and finally she placed her hand on the child's head and started to pray. Her eyes were shut and she looked as if in a trance.

After a half an hour of praying fervently with her whole heart, she told her how she had seen a man with a beautiful white beard, wearing a white robe and a white turban. His eyes sparkled and she saw rays of lights coming from his entire body. He slowly approached, walking between the long lines of beds in the hospital's birthing ward.

He stood beside the child and pointed a finger towards him. Her mother had clearly understood the message,"Life is given to him by God's order (Hukam) and his name should be Hukam." Her mother watched him silently turn and leave the ward.

Suddenly one of the nurses shook her mother's shoulder screaming in joy, "He is coming back to life!" Her mother opened her eyes and saw movement in his tiny. The entire hospital staff gathered to say goodbye to this little one. They were overwhelmed to see this miracle. The most senior doctor, pointed upwards with his index finger and said, "God is great!"

Now, for the very first time, she believed that story. She understood that God can come to this earth to help you when you are alone and helpless. She understood that God is not beyond even becoming a rickshaw puller for a poor creatures like me.

Author's Note: This incident is a true story. It happened to me about 15 years ago. Now I am doing my PhD studies at the University of Sydney. Over this time I have realized how God is completely forgiving and extremely generous. I have experienced His help several times since the incident described in this story. But even with this understanding, every time it happened I was unable to recognize Him and didn't realize until sometime afterward that it was God Himself who had reached out to come to my aid.

- Navdeep Kaur Sandhu (Sydney)


Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Kirtan Updates !

Vaheguruuu ji ka khalsa, Vaheguruu ji ki fatehh

Various new additions in our Kirtan folder including:

- Windsor AKJ Raensbayee - September 2008
- Cambridge YKD - September 2008
- Calgary Sadh Sangat Smaagam - August 2008
- Local Toronto Programs
- and more ! be added this week...

- Detroit Sadh Sangat Smaagam - October 2008
- Delhi Annual AKJ Smaagam - October 2008
- Local House Youth Kirtan - October 2008
- Various Weekend Sangat Programs
- and more !


Friday, October 3, 2008

How to take Hukamnama

Vaheguruu ji ka khalsa, Vaheguruu ji ki fateh !!

Hukamnama is the command of Guru Ji intended for the whole congregation in a congregational session to understand and follow. Therefore when commencing or finishing a congregational session, when doing parkaash (ceremoniously opening Guru Ji) or sukhaasan (when Guru Ji ceremoniously is closed and is taking to Guru Ji's private room) then reading a Hukamnama is essential. Through Hukamnama, the living and speaking soul of Guru Nanak Ji gives us guidance, instruction and blessings.

How to take a Hukamnama step by step:

(1) An Ardaas or standing prayer, should be offered before taking a Hukamnama.

(2) If Guru Ji is covered with a Rumaala Sahib (beautiful fabric draping), then slowly with reverence roll or fold the Rumaala Sahib on itself. It is advisable to tuck the rolled up section of the Rumaala Sahib between the hard cover of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the Angs on both sides. Ang litterally means 'part' as in part of a body. Each ang is reverently considered to be part of the body of the living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahibji

(3) If Guru Ji has not been opened, then when opening Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the opening angs at the top will be the Hukamnama. If Guru is already open then from the middle of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, lift an equal amount of Angs from one side and the other side, and with both thumbs carefully and randomly select an ang from the middle section of Guru Ji.

(4) Before reciting a Hukamnama, it is common to recite a mangla-chaaran, which means an invocation. We not only invoke the blessing of the Guru but clear our minds that we may read the Hukamnaama with proper attention. This can be a small shabad, salokh or saying 'Satnaam Vaahiguroo' in between opening Guru Ji for the Hukamnama and before reading the Hukam.

Some examples of Mangla-chaarans which are commonly used when taking Hukamnamas are:

Mool Mantar: -
ੴ ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
"One Universal Creator God. The Name Is Truth. Creative Being Personified. No Fear. No Hatred. Image Of The Undying, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By Guru's Grace." (Ang 1, SGGS)

Salokh (couplet):
"Salokh: I bow down, and fall to the ground in humble adoration, countless times, to the All-powerful Lord, who possesses all powers. Please protect me, and save me from wandering, God. Reach out and give Nanak Your Hand. 1" (Ang 256, SGGS)

A pauree (stanza) from a shabad:
ਸਲੋਕੁ ॥ਡੰਡਉਤਿ ਬੰਦਨ ਅਨਿਕ ਬਾਰ ਸਰਬ ਕਲਾ ਸਮਰਥ ॥ ਡੋਲਨ ਤੇ ਰਾਖਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੇ ਕਰਿ ਹਥ ॥1॥
I seek Your Sanctuary - You are my only hope. You are my companion, and my best friend. Save me, O Merciful Saviour Lord; Nanak is the slave of Your home. 312 (Ang 673)

(5) The Hukamnama according to the Rehat Maryada is always from the top left hand side. If the shabad is continuing from the previous ang turn the ang over to the point where the shabad begins.

If the Bani is a Salokh (couplet) or a Pauree (stanza), read the Salokh and the Pauree (if it starts on the previous ang, start from there). The pauree typically at the end of a given Shabad, which is deliniated by the pause or 'Rahao' line, in a shabad contains the central idea of Guru Ji's message. The other stanzas then expound in greater detail on this central theme.

(6) You need to read the first two lines of the Hukamnama twice. Again the Pauree before the "Rahaao" (if applicable) is usually the central idea of the Shabad. The last two lines are then to also read twice (as indication that this is the end of the Hukamnama).

(7) A shabad usually ends with "Nanak" Also you can tell by looking at the numbers following after the line after a given Pauree where you are. The final Pauree contains a number then another number indicating fianlity of the Shabad. Thus Gurbani is organized in a logical way most can follow.