Kids Corner

Above: Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, the Sikh General who conquered the Afghans for Emperor Ranjit Singh of Punjab.

Roundtable

Stolen Glory
Revised History
- Rakesh Krishnan Simha Cooks Up A Story

by GURMUKH SINGH [United Kingdom]

 

 

 

THE FOLLOWING IS OFFERED AS THE TOPIC OF DISCUSSION FOR THIS WEEK'S ROUNDTABLE OPEN FORUM # 84

 

 

I recently came across an article by an Indian writer currently parked in New Zealand - Rakesh Krishnan Simha - in which he takes extraordinary liberties in re-writing history of the subcontinent by making wild claims over the facts around the life and times of the great Sikh Emperor, Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

For example, he begins his piece as follows:

"The western media says no country has ever conquered Afghanistan, but the fact they conveniently forget is that not too long ago the Indians conquered and ruled Afghanistan, an episode of history that is carved into the recesses of the Afghan mind."

He then lists the great exploits of the 19th century Sikh Emperor and the Sikh generals of the Sikh Empire, and rants and raves over how the western media has purportedly ignored India's great feats and "whitewashed" over these historical facts, and then concludes thus:

" ... 180 years ago the Indians showed how a mixture of ferocity, valour and empathy could tame Afghanistan. And that's the third reason: at the end of the day, the Indians just did a much better job of fighting."

Indians! 

What Indians?

How did Mr Rakesh Krishnan Simha make the giant leap from the Sikh conquest of Afghanistan to an Indian conquest, for heaven's sake? 

The "Indians" did this, he says, and the "Indians" did that!

Balderdash!

Is he referring to the Indians a la John Wayne and James Stewart? Has he been watching too many westerns?

Because I know of no desi Indians having anything to do with Afghanistan, in the 19th century ... or ever!

To begin with,  there was no "India" then. The India as we know it today is a novel creation of the mess the British left behind in the wake of their precipitous departure in 1947 - through pure default and no historical merit or justification.

The actual scene in the Ranjit Singh era was as follows:

The Sikh Empire extended from the Sutlej all the way to Ladakh, Kashmir, Kabul, etc.

Across from the River Sutlej, the British - having by now conquered the rest of the sub-continent's multiplicity of kingdoms and fiefdoms - lay in wait for Ranjit Singh to die so that they could make a move on the Sikh territories. They couldn't even twitch while Ranjit Singh was alive because Sikh might was too overwhelming for even the great British Raj to counter.

The strength of the British was based on the fact that the rest of the subcontinent had already submitted itself to British might and had no qualms about helping it conquer the only independent kingdom left standing in sight.

So, it was the Sikhs versus the "rest of the subcontinent". In modern terms: the Sikhs versus the Indians!

It was in this context that Ranjit Singh's great Sikh general, Hari Singh Nalwa, conquered the Afghans. It had never been done before. It hasn't been done since.

So, how does this Sikh victory - achieved despite the badmaashi of the 'Indians' skulking across the Sutlej - suddenly turn into an "Indian" victory, pray?

Ranjit Singh eventually died, long after the Sikh conquest of Afghanistan, and the British - aided by the "Indians" - usurped the Sikh Kingdom through a series of concocted "wars" which they conveniently labelled as the "Anglo-Sikh Wars" to give their mischief an air of legitimacy.

The Sikhs got their revenge ... when they once again found themselves pitted against the so-called "Indians" in 1857 - but that's another story for another day.

So, Mr. Rakesh Krishnan Simha, you may want to stick to fiction - but don't call it 'history' or 'journalism'. Please.


POINTS TO PONDER

Much of Indian history and text books are being revised to create a new and fictionalized glory of India.

Have you come across other instances of such revisionism?

How can Sikhs counter this mass fraud being committed on the world and on future generations?

 

February 3, 2012

 

Conversation about this article

1: Meetpal Singh (London, United Kingdom), February 03, 2012, 9:20 AM.

Education! Education! Education! is the answer to all of this. Bet you 80-90% of the younger generation would have never heard of Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, let alone know what he did. Heck, I bet you even their parents couldn't even tell them about him.

2: Harinder Singh (Jalandhar City, Punjab), February 03, 2012, 9:41 AM.

Excellent effort, so that our younger generation gets to know about the great history of the Sikh Empire and their fearless generals ...:)

3: Raj Singh (Canada), February 03, 2012, 10:16 AM.

We need to educate the next generation about our great past and our even greater future. We need to publish more books about our history. We need to join forums such as this, we need to spread the 'word' to ensure our history is known to the world in its correct form.

4: H.S. Vachoa (U.S.A.), February 03, 2012, 10:18 AM.

I am glad you brought this up but this propaganda has been going on and the annexation of Sikhs into India has been completely overlooked by the so-called Sikh historians themselves.

5: G. Singh (U.S.A.), February 03, 2012, 11:33 AM.

This is not new and has been going on for several decades. Right-wing Hindu groups have been busy re-writing Sikh history, portraying Sikhs in their own mold and to suit their own ends, as 'Indians' even when no India existed back then. The problem today is much worse in India. I have had a chance to talk to Indians from the South and they actually believe this to be the the truth because that's what they have read in their text books. A century ago, the Singh Sabha scholars like Gyani Ditt Singh, Prof. Sahib Singh, Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, Bhai Vir Singh and many others, made excellent contribution in thwarting such attacks from Hindu ultra-nationalists. But today, even Punjab is openly targeted and we have handed over our major institutions to blind puppets who couldn't care less!

6: Kanwar (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 03, 2012, 12:19 PM.

Whenever I come across this sort of thing, it affirms my belief that the Sikh community must invest much more time, money and energy in the media and the arts. Otherwise, all our hard-earned heritage will be misaappropriated by the desis.

7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 03, 2012, 12:43 PM.

So Indians are rewriting history about Sikhs? Or are Sikhs turning into Hindus? The enemy within is a greater enemy. It's time for another Ranjit Singh.

8: Ari Singh (Sofia, Bulgaria), February 03, 2012, 12:48 PM.

Many years ago I visited a gurdwara in Southall where there were paintings and prints of Sikh heroes, but some of them didn't even have names of the heroes, let alone a description or history!

9: Gurinder Singh (Stockton, California, U.S.A.), February 03, 2012, 1:07 PM.

Sikhs themselves know very little about their rich history. How many of us know that Pathans of Afghanistan were conquered by Sikhs and proof of that is the breaking-away of the province of Peshawar from Afghanistan permanently. It still forms of part of Pakistan. This was due to the Sikhs. Likewise, Pakistan too can claim that they had subdued Afghanistan!

10: Ranjeet (Southampton, United Kingdom), February 03, 2012, 1:16 PM.

These would be the same 'Indians' that supported the British to quell the mutiny in 1857? I'm sure Rakesh Krishnan Sinha won't be referring to them as 'Indian' when he writes that chapter ...

11: G.C. Singh (U.S.A.), February 03, 2012, 6:04 PM.

"Indians" practicing the Chankayan ideology have been successful beyond their wildest dreams in rewriting Sikh history and subjugating the Sikh nation by treachery, betrayal, genocide, massive propaganda war and overt and covert infiltration. They pretty much control the entire Sikh political, religious and economic institutions. Almost all of our Sikh leaders, irrespective of their political affiliations or color of their turban, are under the firm foot of the Hindutava forces whose sworn mission since the times of our Gurus has been to wipe out the unique Sikh identity.

12: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), February 03, 2012, 7:42 PM.

The hijacking of Sikh history by Hindus is nothing new. They're doing exactly the same thing with Banda Singh Bahadar, who they claim was a Hindu who went around fighting the Mughals, conveniently omitting the fact that the great Baba Banda Singh - who had earlier turned his back on Hinduism and converted to the Khalsa - had consciously chosen to attack places in Punjab where the Moghuls had mistreated the Sikhs, not the Hindus. Secondly, there is another claim by these Hindu revisionists that the Khalsa was founded to protect Hindus. Complete and utter nonsense! I assume a huge part of these lies has to do with an inferiority complex on the part of Hindus that the Sikhs did in a hundred years what the vast multitude of Hindu kingdoms could not do for a 1,000 - repel, defeat, conquer and/or subjugate, first, the Mughals ... and later the British.

13: Raj (Canada), February 03, 2012, 8:33 PM.

Remember the couplet - "Jung hind punjab da hon laga, dovein patshahi faujan bharyan ne, Aj hovey sarkar tey mu pavey jehrian khalsay ne tegan marian ne". Punjab (Sikhs) were never part of Hind (India). Sikhs ruled over Afghanistan, not the Hindus, ever.

14: R. Singh (Canada), February 03, 2012, 9:43 PM.

Sikhs need to write their own history and record it - fully, honestly and properly. We also need to produce quality transaltions of Guru Granth Sahib. Dress codes and martial arts are not the mainstay of Sikhi, it is its teetering philosophical facade that needs to be strenghtened, by focussing foremost on Guru Granth Sahib as its only shabad-Guru and deciphering others using that as guide-post. Merely promoting dress-codes will amount to nothing if we do not focus on the message. The attacks are coming fast and furious, as is the lust for power on the sub-continent grows by leaps and bounds.

15: H.S. Vachoa (U.S.A.), February 03, 2012, 10:26 PM.

A major misinformation spread by ourselves is that Sikhism began in India when the fact is Sikhism began in the Punjab region of South Asia. This is the first step that needs to be corrected by us.

16: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 04, 2012, 7:40 AM.

Sikh mothers - and fathers too - would have all the time in the world to teach their young about Sikhi and Sikh history, but only if they could tear themselves away from the asinine Hindi soap operas and bollywood films which are now beamed right into their homes ... and brains.

17: Roopinder Singh Bains (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), February 04, 2012, 7:42 AM.

The mountains that separate Afghanistan from the rest of the subcontinent are called - for good reason, I would assume - the Hindu Kush, which means "Hindu Killer" since no desi had ever been able to cross them. And then, Sikhs arrived on the scene, and the rest is history!

18: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), February 04, 2012, 12:20 PM.

There are two things my Hindu friends should learn: (a) They exist today because Sikhs laid their lives protecting forceful conversions - first by Mughals and then by British Christian missionaries. And, more importantly, (b) they were slaves through much of their history ... until the advent of Sikhi. All I can say to them is: if you eliminate the Sikhs (which you have been so far bent upon doing), you basically open the flood gates to your own elimination. So please feel free to go ahead and wipe us out physically, psychologicaly and ideologically. Now to my Sikh brothers: we cannot play Chanakyan politics as we are taught not to play such games; instead, we need to focus on the Guru-given mantars of 'chardi kala' and 'sarbat da bhala'. If we stay united and focused, and do not get caught in the distractions created by the BJPs and the RSSs of this world, we will survive and write our own history. In the meantime, continue to make your children proud of their heritage and teach them real history.

19: Gurmukh Singh (London, United Kingdom), February 04, 2012, 3:44 PM.

Views expressed in this forum show a healthy awareness of half-truths and partial reporting by Indian journalists. In an article, "The Suicidal Missionary", published in the anniversary issue of December 26, 2011 of the prestigious "India Today", a Chandan Mitra who, we are told, is 'a prominent spokesperson of the BJP', has used the Bhindranwale episode as the main reason why India has become an intolerant and violent nation! Using one 'rustic preacher' (his words) as the excuse for India's blood stained history does not even provide a fig leaf for covering the nakedness of such twisted logic. The need is for an alert media watch and timely response to set the record straight. Journalists serving the communal agenda of the majority do great disservice to any democracy.

20: Ravinder Singh (Mumbai, India), February 04, 2012, 10:49 PM.

"Khurasan khasmana kiya Hindustan draya/ eti mar pai kurlane tain ki dard na aaya" - Guru Nanak was the first to use the word the term 'Hindustan'.

21: H.S. Vachoa (U.S.A.), February 05, 2012, 12:48 AM.

The term 'Hindustan' was first used by Persians, with the term 'Hindu' as a slur which literally meant 'thief' in Persian.

22: Santokh Singh Saran (Birmingham, United Kingdom), February 05, 2012, 2:57 AM.

Acts such as burning, stealing of Sikh religious and historical resources and manuscripts after the attack on Punjab as a whole, and Amritsar in particular in 1984, is bound to create challenges for us as a nation striving for freedom from the grip of Hindu chauvinism. Our leadership under the Badals, by dropping all genuine demands envisaged within the Anandpur resolution, seem to have accepted complete surrender, leaving the nation at the mercy of the RSS.

23: Gurmit Singh (Sydney, Australia), February 05, 2012, 3:50 AM.

While the Sikhs had established their own rule in Greater Punjab and blocked the Khyber Pass by annexing Afghanistan, the Hindus did nothing to resist the entry of the British, French, Portuguese, Dutch, etc. and allowed them to establish themselves through the ports of Calcutta, Madras, Pondicherry, Cochin, Goa, etc. The Hindus enterd Afghanistan only during the British Raj, as their slaves, never as conquerers.

24: S.S.N. (Belmont, Massachusetts, U.S.A.), February 05, 2012, 7:58 AM.

I am a young Sikh man and very boisterous about my Sikh identity; I make it a point to introduce myself as a Sikh and not as an Indian. I am not a resident of this country. I tell my Persian, Algerian, Italian, Chinese and American friends that we did it in Kabul. That we are very different than Indians. However, I am increasingly dismayed and tortured to see people ignorant of Sikhs. They ask me if I am a Hindu, even in a place as educated as Boston. Problem - I know no Sikh male or female of my age group openly talking about their Sikhism. The only other turbaned Sikh in my company describes panjiri as "Indian sweets" rather than Punjabi sweets. And the saddest part, I couldn't even question him. Why? I know a lot of Sikhs who speak Hindi at home or have relatives in Punjab whose kids speak Hindi at home. Some comments have talked about the inferiority complex on part of Hindus. Did we talk about inferiority complex that some of us have picked up from them? Are we too beat after 1947 and 1984, and so on and so forth? I want to do something for my panth but over the years, because of disillusionment, not finding the right people who think the same way, not finding the right causes, the continuity of self doubts - I now question why I want to be a turbaned Sikh. I have my own wars to fight and should I keep feeling so 'hurt' about Sikh causes? All valid questions. An afterthought - an article in the New York Times today - "The Hard Way Out of Afghanistan". Commentators talk about Afghans never being subdued and Kabul as having never been conquered!?

25: Ajit Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada.), February 05, 2012, 10:26 AM.

In the jungle, when a lion makes a kill and leaves, the eagle and the coyote, even insects, come in to claim the corpse. The latter role is fulfilled by the right wing fanatics in India.

26: Bahadar Singh (Birmingham, United Kingdom), February 05, 2012, 3:37 PM.

An eye opener and a harsh awakening call. Many thanks to Veer Gurmukh Singh ji. You have done justice to your good name. May Satguru bless you with more knowledge and strength to take up these sensitive issues. I talk to over a hundred children aged between 5 and 25 every week, and have done so for the last three decades, and I tell them of the glory of our Gurus, the uniqueness of Guru Granth Sahib and the richness of our heritage and history. I pray that our Guru empowers me to do this seva till my last breath.

27: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), February 06, 2012, 10:40 PM.

If one wants to see the highjacking of Sikh history in action, all one has to do is jump to the Hari Singh Nalwa discussion page on Wikipedia and look at some of the more recent edits of people trying to claim a Hindu victory over the Afghans. Quite disgusting that a community can demand so much from its position as the hegemony that it is not content merely enough with the vice grip over the political system but also demands its name to be heard in the histories of other people.

28: Sukhindarpal SIngh (Penang, Malaysia), February 07, 2012, 7:43 AM.

"Sikhi begins with me." As a parent I am duty-bound (mera dharam) to learn my faith so that I can help my children learn about the glory of my/our faith. "mannai pervaaray sadhaar." I make it a point to sit with our children to help them learn about our heritage. All of us must do our part. Guru Rakha.

29: Jespal Brar (Lodi, California, U.S.A.), February 21, 2012, 9:02 PM.

I also do not agree with the idea and term "Indian". Indian is a nationality and not a racial term. A person can be a Punjabi-Indian, Punjabi-Malaysian, Punjabi-American but it is ridiculous to think of someone as an Indian-American. Why, how can a Tamil and a Punjabi have anything in common from a cultural perspective? Nothing in common from these perspectives; clothes, food, history, language and wedding traditions, etc., etc.

30: Charandeep Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), August 10, 2012, 5:51 AM.

Rakesh does not mention once that those he claims to be "Indians" are actually Sardars. The other natives were not able to save themselves. Looters and plunderers like Abdali (18th century) came, plundered, killed and took away their women and girls. Society was divided into castes. No meaningful resistance arose from the Hindu masses to the looters who mostly came through the Khyber. When the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh started, he sent his brave general Hari Singh Nalwa to conquer the Khyber and stop any further attacks. Hari Singh Nalwa not only conquered that area but a large area around it. Afghans and Pashtuns feared him. I remember a dialogue from the movie Sholay, "Son, go to sleep or Gabbar will come". This phrase has been stolen from what Afghan women used to tell their children ... referring to Hari Singh Nalwa, not any Indian. Another tale of his bravery - Pashtuns came to know that Sikhs do not harm women and children so they started wearing salwar (a dress that Punjabi women wear). Even today, they wear salwars, unlike dressing up like Arabs (which they used to do before that time).

31: T P (New York, USA), November 28, 2012, 5:26 PM.

All Indians recognize that Sikhs work very hard and are superior to others in valor. Mr. Gurmukh Singh seems to dislike the author calling the Sikhs Indians. I think they are more Indian than many others. If not, what is Dr. Manmohan Singh doing as the helmsman of India?

32: Inderjit Kaur (New Delhi, India), November 28, 2012, 11:37 PM.

Good words, T P ji. Now, what're you going to do to get your fellow Indians to live up to them? These words will continue to ring hollow until and unless India begins to meet its civic obligations, and behave like a civilized nation - that is, both its government and its majority. Sikh-Indians have indeed worn their proverbial hearts on the sleeve. The rest of the country, by far the majority of it, has failed itself miserably.

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Revised History
- Rakesh Krishnan Simha Cooks Up A Story"









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