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Images: Kashmiri Brahmins freshly tonsured to participate in rallies in which they once again seek support.

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Forever Beggars:
The Pandits of India

T. SHER SINGH

 

 

 

The pandits of India have been permanently spoiled by their own shenanigans throughout the history of the subcontinent. To the point of having become perennial beggars, incapable of helping themselves or being of any benefit to anyone else either.

Last week a bunch of them calling themselves ‘Kashmiri Pandits’ paraded before Narendra Modi, claiming victimhood and asking for state charity to help them re-settle in Kashmir.

Kashmiri pandits?

Doesn’t that ring a bell?


1675 and 1984

Wasn’t it the pandits of Kashmir who, in 1675, sought out Guru Tegh Bahadar, appeared before him in his court, fell on their knees and asked for his help against the forcible conversion policy of the Mughals.

Though having nothing in common with Hindu beliefs, the Guru -- encouraged by his nine-year old, Gobind Rai, later to himself become Guru -- offered his support and sacrificed his life, thus saving the pandits and their right to practice the religion of their choice.

By the time the Guru was being tortured in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, the cowardly pandits had, of course, long fled with their lives, not willing to stay behind to even honour the Guru who then died protecting them.

Lakhi Shah Banjara, belonging to a tribe of nomads, proved himself to be of a higher ‘caste’ than the Brahmin pandits by taking custody of the beheaded body of the Guru, took it home and set fire to his abode in order to cremate the headless remains.      

Gurdwara Rakab Ganj stands tall today to mark the hallowed site.

Next door stands the Presidential Palace of India, the flagship of modern India -- built on lands owned by the same Gurdwara Rakab Ganj until 1907, when it was usurped from the Sikhs in order to build the new edifice by Edwin Lutyens.

It was on and around the lands of this very hallowed ground that several thousand innocent Sikh men, women and children were brutalized and butchered on the streets of this capital of new India, in broad daylight, in 1984.

Those who died innocently during those sad days of November 1984 did so solely because they belonged to the Faith of Tegh Bahadar.

I don’t think I heard a single squeak from any of the brahmins or pandits of the country, in Kashmir or outside it, during those days or since. Humanity and decency have never been the hallmark of either brahmins or their pandits.


1799 - 1839

During the reign of the great Sikh Emperor, Ranjit Singh, Kashmir was rescued and retrieved from the clutches of the repeat invaders from Afghanistan, and thereafter flourished under his patronage.

But it didn’t take long after Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839 for the Dogra brothers of Kashmir -- servants in the employ of the Maharaja and beneficiaries of his largesse -- to then betray the Sikhs and, in return for their treachery which directly led to the fall of the great Sikh Empire, reap the pre-negotiated reward of the rule of Kashmir.

The Kashmiris had once again shown their gratitude in the currency of betrayal and treachery.


1947

At the time of the Partition of Punjab and the subcontinent, newly created India found itself impotent in defending Kashmir as it was being over-run by Afghan  mercenaries hired by the Pakistanis for the purpose of securing the territory for newly created Pakistan.

Guess who came to India’s rescue?

Troops -- all Sikhs! -- from the Sikh Kingdom of Patiala were air-dropped into Srinagar, with the help of the small and private air force owned by, not India, but the Maharaja of Patiala.

The Raja of Kashmir -- a direct descendant of the very same treacherous Dogras who had betrayed the Sikhs a century earlier -- was Hari Singh, widely infamous as a decadent and lecherous ruler who had let the state run to the ground. In the face of the invading Pathan hordes, he promptly fled with his life to Delhi, thus saving his family -- which included his son, a mere16 years old, Karan Singh.

Kashmir was once again saved … by the Sikhs. Or at least what they could, given the late hour they had been brought into the picture, an incompetent Nehru and a dysfunctional Hari Singh having precipitated the crisis.

In their excitement at being rescued by the Sikhs, Nehru -- himself a Kashmiri Pandit -- made a promise to honour the rights and freedoms of Sikhs in the new India ... promises which were, of course, given that they were by a Brahmin and a Pandit, never kept.

Kashmir’s Dogra ruler, Hari Singh, his ignominy exposed to the world, was forced to abdicate.

18-year old Karan Singh took over.


1984 AND AFTER

Before long, the Dogra Karan Singh would be instrumental in founding the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which has in effect served as the wet-nurse to the RSS and the BJP. 

The blood of Kashmiri Pandits also flowed through the veins of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Arun Nehru … and now, through the veins of Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka, both of whom have the gumption to lay claim to the country’s leadership on the sheer strength of the traitor’s blood that flows through their veins, and no other qualifications.

What they have done, individually and collectively, to Sikhs in gratitude for all that the Sikhs have done for them and their ancestors, is history.


THIS WEEK IN NEW DELHI

Today, the Kashmiri Pandits are back in Delhi, on their knees, hands out-stretched, once again begging for alms.

They need not look far for answers to their predicament … and that of the country of which they are a symbolic part.

To understand their plight, one need only turn to the central Hindu concepts of karma and reincarnation.

Could it be that it is the same Brahmins and Pandits who keep on being reborn … to pay for the sins of their fathers, and their own?


June 9, 2014
 
       

 

Conversation about this article

1: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), June 09, 2014, 12:07 PM.

It is easy to see how Islam swallowed up Hindustan when we look at the Kashmiri Pandits. They live in a Hindu majority country yet they are forever begging for help and totally incapable of looking after themselves and their kith and kin. But when it comes to making mischief ... they are ever-ready.

2: Sarvjit Singh (Massachusetts, USA), June 09, 2014, 12:54 PM.

Sher Singh ji, while what you say is true, yet as Sikhs we should follow our Guru Tegh Bahadar's footsteps and be kind to these oppressed people, no matter how ungrateful they might be. They have been kicked out of their homes and need our compassion.

3: Harjas Singh (United Kingdom), June 09, 2014, 12:59 PM.

The buggers have been chased off the land that didn't belong to them, in the first place. Now, they want someone else to come and bully the locals and help these twits go back. What's the point? They'll get thrashed again ... and this time, in a fast-paced world, it won't take long.

4: Sangat Singh  (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), June 09, 2014, 4:04 PM.

They have a manufacturing defect and are born with a begging bowl in each hand ... and a crooked mindset. Time for a recall.

5: Sarvjit Singh (Massachusetts, USA), June 09, 2014, 5:58 PM.

What I find offensive here is the attitude of us Sikhs. We start behaving like what others did to us, thus ceasing to be Sikhs but just another disgruntled group. Interesting dialogue though.

6: Gobinder Singh (USA), June 09, 2014, 8:02 PM.

Sarvjit Singh ji, I agree and admire your thoughts. We as Sikhs should always take the high road, yes, even with a group such as these brahmins. Focus on constructive and positive aspects, help those we can and keep our heads high! That's what Sikhi is. There is a reason the world remembers us as Sardars!

7: Manjeet Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), June 09, 2014, 9:27 PM.

Ganggu the infamous server in the house of Guru Gobind Singh was also a Kashmiri pandit. According to Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha [Mahan kosh], Ganggu was amongst the pandits who pleaded with Guru Tegh Bahadar to save them. He was about 25 years old then. He returned to Kashmir for about 5 years. He returned to Anandpur and entered the service of Guru Gobind Rai [Guru Gobind Singh from 1699 onwards]. After the evacuation from Anandpur in December 1704, Ganggu betrayed Mata Gujri ji and the younger sahibzadas to the Mughals. He was rewarded by the Governor of Sirhind. Pandit Kirpa Ram who led the Kasmiri pandits in meeting Guru Tegh Bahadar on the other hand was so impressed by the sincere sacrifice the Ninth Guru made that he returned to Anandpur and took khande da pahul and became Kirpa Singh. At the siege in Chamkaur where Guru Gobind Singh and about 40 Sikhs were attacked, groups of five Sikhs went out to face the attackers. Kirpa Singh was one of those valiant parties of five [including the elder sahibzadas], who fell as a martyr on 7 December 1705.

8: Hardev Singh (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), June 09, 2014, 10:53 PM.

"It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere" -- Voltaire. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

9: Harcharan Kaur (Patiala, Punjab), June 10, 2014, 1:41 AM.

The main point of this piece, as I read it, is not that these fellows are always begging, but that they have the propensity to bite the hand that feeds them. When you deal with dogs who you know will behave like this, what do you do? I stay away from them. THAT, I believe, is the moral of the article! Sure, let's always be charitable, but never foolish.

10: Jasbeer Singh (Delhi, India), June 10, 2014, 5:16 AM.

"... Sikhaa(n)da munn neevaa(n) / mutt ucchi ..." We recite this line everyday in our ardaas. But we concentrate only on the first part of the line, not the latter. These beggars know this very well, and they repeat their bad behaviour ... and we always respond by rewarding them. Need to break this cycle.

11: N Singh (Canada), June 10, 2014, 7:57 AM.

There is a difference between being charitable and forgiving as opposed to being naive and not acting intelligently. Sikhi does not advocate making the same mistakes over and over again. Sikhi does draw a line in the sand when all other means have failed. Some of us need to smarten up a bit ... soon.

12: Kamaldeep Singh (London, United Kingdom), June 10, 2014, 9:12 AM.

As Sikhs, in the daily ardaas we ask for sarbat the bhalla - the well-being of everyone - and that includes the Kashmiri Pandits. If the pandits came to the Ninth Master for assistance, and He did so without thought of His life, then harboring ill will towards them shows just how far off the mark we have fallen today. Sikhi teaches that divinity resides in every heart and that we should show love and respect to all, not enmity, regardless of what has happened in the past. Adhering to the teachings will guide people in this world, not pointing fingers.

13: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), June 10, 2014, 9:22 AM.

The secret of greatness in Sikhs and Sikhi is the freedom of religion it practices and protects, regardless of political process of the country -- democracy, dictatorship or communism. This is what we strive for, wherever we are situated.

14: Harsohena Kaur (Minnesota, USA), June 10, 2014, 9:23 AM.

Sarvjit Singh ji, I applaud your comments. We must take the high road. That is what Guru Sahib and Sikhi teach us. We must not lead ourselves away from our primary goal in life - to be gurmukh in every moment.

15: Harjit Kaur (New York, USA), June 10, 2014, 10:28 AM.

I absolutely and strongly disagree with those of you who think that we should be lovey-dovey with those who continually betray us. That's not Sikhi! We DON'T turn the other cheek to the oppressor and the badmaash, or molly-coddle them even for a moment. We as Sikhs are of course to practice compassion and forgiveness to the nth degree, but when it finally comes time to act firmly, we do. Enough of this silliness! Looks like we've taken the chicken-hearted approach of our Hindu neighbours in India and have started behaving like them. If we do, we'll end up like them -- slaves for the next two thousand years! For heaven's sake, has the true meaning of being sava lakh been beaten out of you already? Enough of this goofiness already. While the enemy develops a militia in every neighbourhood in India, we are teaching our children to be giddarhs! No wonder we are in so-o-o much trouble.

16: Kaala Singh (Punjab), June 10, 2014, 10:30 AM.

We helped and trusted the Dogras and Kashmiris, they betrayed us. We helped and trusted the British, they betrayed us. We helped and trusted the Indians, and they did the same to us. Why are we so naive?. There must be something very wrong with us that we get fooled so easily. Is it in our DNA or have become lately thus?

17: Gurteg Singh (New York, USA), June 10, 2014, 11:55 AM.

Guru Gobind Singh met an assembly of Hindu Hill chiefs at Rawalsar to listen to their tales of oppression under tyrannical Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh gave a clarion call for liberation and freedom from Moghul rule and asked them to have a unified front to fight the tyranny. But these Brahmins again betrayed the Guru who had sacrificed his own father for the right of Hindus to practice their own religion freely, and instead they all joined Aurangzeb during the siege of Anandpur Sahib by the Moghuls. Guru Gobind Singh had told his Sikhs in no uncertain terms not to follow the Brahmanical ways of worshiping a multitude of gods, goddesses and idols, racist caste 'superiority', burning of the widow on her husband's pyre, and the ingrained character of betrayal and treachery. Instead, he told the Sikhs: " jab lag Khalsa rahe nyara tab lag tej dee-o(n) mai(n) saara / jab eh gaye bipran ki reet mai(n) na karo)n) in ki parteet". But sadly today the Sikh nation has been occupied and overwhelmed by the Brahmin and Bania gang and Sikhs have become victims of these practices. Just a month ago cricketer Navjot Sidhu built a Hindu temple in his home in Amritsar to worship the 'shivling' - the bizarre Hindu practice, amongst many, of worshiping the male penis!

18: R.S. Minhas (Millburn, New Jersey, USA), June 10, 2014, 12:06 PM.

A person cannot offer something he does not have - be it money, compassion, love, life, etc. This only shows how "wealthy" Guru Tegh Bahadar was. Mere mortals are captives of their own worldly possessions and therefore limited and poor. When something is offered with a return on investment in mind, it really becomes a trade. Guru Nanak did not do worldly accounting when he said "tera tera" or Bhai Kanhaiyya offered water to the "enemy". Conventional business logic will say both their actions are not correct. It seems the path of righteousness is more important than calculations, because the treasures of the Guru are infinite, which defies conventional business logic. As far as reciprocity, we have no control over others. Again, how can anyone offer something that they do not have? So who would we rather strive to be?

19: N Singh (Canada), June 10, 2014, 1:40 PM.

@12: The Ninth Guru helped the Kashmiri Pandits because they were oppressed. At the time, Mughal oppression was a reality. India is no longer a Mughal state and the oppressed have become the oppressors. If there are any victims it is the poor and downtrodden (the Dalits), women and minorities. I would hardly classify these 'beggars' in the same manner and they hold no special status in Sikhi, regardless of the Ninth Master's sacrifice. He would have done the same for Christians, Muslims and whoever. That is the point.

20: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 10, 2014, 2:50 PM.

Let them face the music of their own destiny. There are, for example, tens of thousands of Sikligar Sikhs who served Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh ji and they need our help. They are real Sikhs! Why not help them, to begin with? And the widows of 1984?

21: H. Kaur (Canada), June 10, 2014, 6:57 PM.

What about the Kashmiri Muslims who were made orphans and widows or childless seniors without anyone to look after them? I don't see any mention of helping them. Those who go on about being generous like Guru Tegh Bahadar to the Brahmins, go and sacrifice yourselves if you must. Or forget giving your lives: just sell your houses and cars and savings and labour for them. I am sure no other Sikhs will stop you. See how they will thank you and your children even a few years from now, especially if you become their dependents by giving them everything you have. Sikhs are supposed to be generous ... but, not stupid. We can't turn into fools who don't even know who their enemies are.

22: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, USA ), June 10, 2014, 8:03 PM.

None of India's new history books make any mention of the sacrifice of Guru Tegh Bahadar or the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits. Therefore, most of the Hindus have no inkling of the great sacrifice. Or much of the extraordinary role of Sikhs in the history and liberation of the subcontinent.

23: GC Singh (USA), June 11, 2014, 7:39 AM.

RSS controlled Akali minion Parkash Badal and son yesterday again pushed the Sikh nation further into Brahmin hegemony when at a ceremony in Dashmesh Academy at Anandpur Sahib, the birth place of the Khalsa, the foundation stone of a structure was laid by its turbaned principal by doing 'Bhoomi Puja' before Hindu stone idols. Our enemy is aggressively moving as per its planned agenda of complete assimilation and saffornization but Sikhs and their institutions unfortunately are in deep slumber.

24: Harcharan Singh (Singapore), June 11, 2014, 10:39 AM.

It's a tale of Sikh good-heartedness and betrayal in return for as many centuries as Sikhs have been living. Still Sikhs have not learnt any lessons. Anything more stupid than what as modern day Sikhs have been guilty of I can't think of. We should help ourselves only. Period. We always think of helping the poor and the downtrodden but this is the same group that drank the blood of our poor November martyrs. The Sikh needs to conquer himself by helping his own people before helping others. Otherwise, retribution from the same group will follow as we saw in 1984. In India especially there are no just 'people': only greedy people who will kill for a few rupees ... aka the mob. Actually Guru Tegh Bahadar did not merely fight for a group of beggar pandits. He fought for humanity. First let us save our individual selves, our families, our quom, then when we are stronger we can save the world. For how long and for how many of other peoples' battles shall we as a nation be restless forever? Let us conquer the munn of our Sikh nationhood. Then can we conquer the world with our lofty and dignified ideas as taught by our great Gurus.

25: H. Kaur (Canada), June 11, 2014, 11:06 PM.

Arent' the pandits the same people who took food from farmers and then took coins from them too, as tax for wearing out their teeth by giving them food? "Dund khasayee" they called it. I wonder how the Boston Tea Party would have handled this tax, much better than the Indians certainly. I just find it amazing how a small group of people fooled so many into giving them everything, their food, their material goods, their wealth, their labour, their liberty, their equality, their sanity, their rationality - heck, even their daughters to satisfy their sexual appetites (with tens of thousands of daughters still in that role today as devadassis -- Hindu religious prostitute-slaves ). The masses of India still reel from this exploitation, not least due to the superstitions given to them as beliefs by the same group. Guru Nanak did not call them the butchers of humanity for nothing. I was mighty amused the other night. I was looking through some stuff in the Veda that is a book of spells. There was incantation that made me burst into laughter, an incantation against members of the Kshatriya caste daring to take a cow from a Brahmin (apparently Brahmins were the only ones allowed to own cows at one point). Has there ever been anyone in any land who exploited their own people so much as the pandits? If so I want to know who they are and what their practices were. I was looking through that Veda with the spells because I was really curious about some superstitions I see all these ladies from India engaging in today, trying to ward off bad luck or pass it to others, etc. I was just wondering if maybe the Veda of spells prescribed any rituals but it just seemed to be words to read. Does anyone who grew up in India know where the pandits get the interesting rituals they prescribe to idiots who want to get fertile or make their neighbours suffer instead of them? My landlady in Vancouver attacked a little girl in the neighbourhood (a first born little girl)and cut off some of her hair so her daughter-in-law's infertility would go leave her and be hoisted onto this little girl. Or so I was told was the reason. Is there some Hindu book or something about these practices? I'm really curious and may even pretend to be a superstitious woman just to find out more about this amazing world that exists even here in Canada thanks to Indian-Hindus lugging this nonsense here and see who is willing to guide me through these things for make believe problems.

26: Mankanwal Singh (New York City, USA), June 12, 2014, 6:30 AM.

While I agree with most of the comments, let's be careful to not throw the baby out with the bath water. Those that say Sikhs are duty bound to wish and act for sarbat da bhalla, I completely agree with you. However, sarbat also includes Sikhs who need our help. Ignoring our brothers and sisters who need help and going out of the way to help non-Sikhs, in my opinion is not sarbat da bhalla. On the other hand, let's not get close-minded and only concentrate on Sikh welfare. We must include others as well or we'll be perceived like Muslim and Christian charities and, worse, not following Sikhi. A balance must be struck. This discussion on a Sikh site is good to a point that it galvanizes Sikh thought throughout the world which is the need of the hour. However, I've always believed that Sikhi is for the entire world and we need to let non-Sikhs know about the jewel that Sikhi is. The more people are exposed to Sikhi, greater the probability of increasing the Sikh population, more political power, less bullying and discrimination, more acceptable to be a practicing Sikh in public and also the easier it will be for societies (both secular and theocratic) to accept Sikh practices which have been under attack since the inception of the religion. Also, from quantity comes quality, not the other way around. To that end I feel Sikhs should do the following: 1) Each Sikh couple should have 3 kids, if they can. Having 2 kids just replaces the couple. 2) Those that can't have kids should adopt, not just from Punjab or India but from their host countries. 3) Taksals or seminaries as envisioned by the Gurus should be established in the countries where we reside. The granthis coming out of these institutions should be well versed in the host country's culture, language and Gurmukhi. 4) We need to have street level preachers in our countries, exposing Sikhi to the average Amar/Akbar/Anthony. The only one I've seen is Jagtar Singh from the UK. He's done a remarkable job, check out his you-tube channel. 5) Continue support for Sikh charities like United Sikhs that do relief work across the world during the time of disasters and gain a lot of goodwill for Sikhi from those they serve. However when the relief work is completed and they leave, the vacuum is filled by Christian and Muslim missionaries. If we had our taksals in place, our missionaries would be going after the cavalry, like the United Sikhs. 6) This is for India. We must strive to have at least one gurdwara in every village in India. I'm not talking about Punjab, Haryana but South India, Eastern India, the cow-belt, etc. We constantly lament that bhaiyyas from Bihar and UP, etc. are changing the demographics of Punjab. If we were to follow Sikhi, and embrace these people who are mostly from Hindu low-castes and faced discrimination in their home states, a substantial number would immediately become Sikhs. This is a direct connection back to their villages in UP and Bihar where Sikh charities should set up schools, clinics, gurdwaras and start missionary work. 7) As a minority, which Sikhs have been since the inception of the religion and will continue to be in the foreseeable future, our rights can only be protected if we vote as a block. That's the only tool available to minorities in a democracy. The politician cares only about votes. We should be the swing vote that can tilt elections in favor of or against a politician.

27: Simr Kaur (Punjab), July 17, 2014, 11:17 PM.

@16: "Ik vaar kise nu dhokha den nalo changa hai 100 vaar dhokha kha laina. Sikh dhokha kha sakda hai, hazaraa'n vaar kha sakda hai, par dhokha de nhi sakda, hargiz nhi de sakda, eh sade Guru di bakhshi vadeayi hai" - Gyani Sant Singh Maskeen. I hope this answers your question.

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The Pandits of India"









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