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The Sarbat Khalsa





It is a picture perfect afternoon. The sun is shining. Water is glistening. The wind is gentle.

I am walking with a friend and confidant. A first for me, for I am a solitude-seeker and I generally go for walks alone.

He and I barely speak. Yet the silence is comfortable.

And then, softly, he asks, “How did you feel about the Sarbat Khalsa?”

I hesitate.

I vividly remember that night. I was an emotional wreck. And I’m still struggling to process what transpired.

But he asks, and so I share my thoughts with him.

I had snuggled into my cozy bed and watched it live on my computer. The scale of humanity that was present overwhelmed me. I could not see myself in that crowd. I felt distant.

However, all that changed when Pritam Kaur spoke. I felt her strength. I knew nothing about her. The next day, I searched for her on the internet and read everything I could find. She has become my role model. I long for her strength.

But the shift in my consciousness came when the first Resolution was read.

Witnessing the euphoria of the Panth on hearing the appointment of Jagtar Singh Hawara as Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib was truly a moment of pause.

The Panth has embraced its warrior.

The Panth has honored its warrior.

He is theirs and they are his. No question about that.

Doubts crept in, and I struggled with them. How dare I pass judgement, a mere armchair witness, far from the goings-on in a tumultuous country?

The ones who walked miles to get there. The ones who crossed the Sutlej and Beas rivers to get there. The ones who defied the State to get there. They desreve the euphoria, while knowing full well that a price is going to be paid for this announcement.

But they don’t seem to care. Their joy is contagious. I can feel it.

I am cautious ... It’s in my DNA. I know what the Indian State is capable of. I worry. How many of our men and women and children are we going to lose this time?

A shabad resounds within.

If you want to play this game of Love,
Then step onto this path with your head
On the palm of your hand.
When you place your feet on this path,
Give your head and pay no heed to others.

[Guru Nanak, GGS:1412]

My heart tightens. Guru’s Path is the ultimate game of love. If I say that I belong to Guru, then this is the Guru-Panth. And I am absent from there? Why can’t I see myself sitting on the hard cold ground with them? Is it because I am Ms. Prim-and-Proper? Or am I what they call an elitist? 

I watched the entire event with a heavy heart. I even saw the volunteers who cleaned the grounds after the sangat had dispersed. I felt like picking up a fistful of the sanctified soil and placing it on my head. I felt like kissing the ground where the Panth sat.

These were new emotions for me.

Suddenly, I am transported to the Vaisakhi of 1699. I see the Tenth Master bringing out the Beloved Five from the tent. The jubilation of the sangat is contagious. I witness it. I am there. Tears roll. How blessed can I be? Guru is far too kind to this mere mortal. It was a strange night.

I know the Guru-Panth is alive and well. I felt it that night. The desecrations of the Guru Granth Sahib may have been done to destabilize or destroy us but I feel it has become a unifying force.

I feel we are all connected. I feel we all share the pain.

Something will transpire. Though, I know not what.

Silence ensues.

“You must write this,” my friend says.

I cringe. I am lazy.

Yet I write because he has asked me to.

Inni Kaur is the author of ‘Journey with the Gurus’ series; ‘Sakhi-Time with Nani ji’; and ‘Thank You, Vahiguru.’ She serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of The Sikh Research Institute.

December 1, 2015


Conversation about this article

1: Harsaran Singh (Java, Indonesia), December 01, 2015, 11:00 AM.

It won't be an overstatement to say that Sarbat Khalsa-2015 was a much needed and rather overdue event. Only that it took the Badals to play the dubious puppeteer role for the custodians of our faith that the pent up angst within all of us exploded. Everyone far and beyond the venue waited for the Gurmattas to be read out and it did make us proud that if implemented they will go a long way to place our supreme temporal seats in safe and better hands. But then there are more pressing issues and challenges to our nation. The youth of Punjab are getting drowned in a cesspool of drugs, farmers are fed up of low yield and high production costs, unemployment is at its highest, the social issues ... We,the faithful living thousands of miles from Punjab, have to ask ourselves, should we don the role of ringside cheerleaders and sloganeers, merely paying lip service towards the problems, or actually help to revive our glorious quom. Let us pray and hope that the next Sarbat Khalsa culminates on a much happier note.

2: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), December 01, 2015, 12:15 PM.

Though Sikhi is based on truth, love, humility and forbearance, a stage has come that active resistance is needed to the organized evil-doers who are violating the fundamentals of human decency. Desecration of Guru Granth Sahib, our Guru from whom we get guidance, is unacceptable -- in the spirit of Guru Nanak's opposition to Babur's attrocities. "Truly brave is the one who fights for a conviction" [Bhagat Kabir, GGS:1105]. It is time for action.

3: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), December 01, 2015, 6:35 PM.

Inni ji: What a lovely and profound piece. It would have been our loss if you hadn't written it. All that now remains is that it be read widely.

4: Brig Nawab Singh Heer (Ret.) (New York, USA), December 01, 2015, 10:10 PM.

Inni has said it all. I can only add, I wish I had the courage to attend the same. However, as Inni has said, we were all connected; the gathering had the good wishes of 95% of Sikhs living globally. It happened due to Guru's grace. Let us not go into the ifs and the whats. Let us move on to April 2016. I am proud of being a Sikh. Salute to who attended it. Looking forward to bow my head to a pinch of "mitti" (dust) where more than half a million sat and passed resolutions, even if some were hijacked ones. Move on, Sikhs, towards action and Chardi Kalaa.

5: Kaala Singh (Punjab), December 02, 2015, 12:54 AM.

In this event, the demand for Sikh sovereignty was reiterated and hence I am intrigued by the presence of Congress leaders who profess their loyalty to the Indian State. These Congress leaders are known to be loyal to Amarinder Singh -- the Punjab Congress chief, who recently started defending the likes of Tytler. I am also intrigued by the association of Sant Daduwal who has a running feud with Badal vis-a-vis this event. I am therefore not sure if this event represents the revival of a political movement.

6: G C Singh (USA), December 02, 2015, 11:18 AM.

#5 Kala Singh's comment repeats the Badal/BJP's lies and their narrative of the recent earthshaking events in Punjab. Even a political novice knows that Badal's is, simply, political muddling before the upcoming assembly elections. Any Sikh irrespective of his or her political affiliations has a right and a duty to congregate to deliberate on the state of affairs of Sikh institutions which are now directly controlled by the Indian government and its agencies through cowardly turbaned minions who are so scared of their crimes, that they cannot step out of their houses without heavy security provided by the Indian state. Sardarni Pritam Kaur who witnessed the Shahidi of her son and husband during the 1984 attack on the Darbar Sahib is the real life living legend in the footsteps of Mai Bhago and an embodiment of Chardi Kalaa and should actually be the leader who should be the Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib. We have to look beyond the resolutions passed or conspiracy theories that it was hijacked by political vested interests and analyze the situation in the context of overall policies which have been pursued by the Indian state. When we thought that everything was lost and the Sikhs were in deep despondency, when our determined enemies had felt comfortable and were confident that they had solved the "Sikh problem" by making Punjab a bankrupt state, by infesting every corner of the state with drugs through Government controlled mafias, when they thought heavy military occupation, brutality and genocide had subdued the Sikhs, the recent collective outrage of the Sikhs was like a bolt from the blue for them and completely rattled and unnerved the New Delhi Government which is controlled by fascist RSS ideology. Guru Granth Sahib literally had to give its own sacrifice to wake up Sikhs from their deep slumber resulting in the Sikhs doing what they do best when pushed against the wall. Against all odds, obstacles, oppression, arrests, road barriers, fear psychosis created by flag marches by the heavily armed Indian occupation forces and the propaganda mills of the largest demonocracy in the world, and to the the pleasant surprise of the entire global Sikh nation, Sarbat Khalsa attended by over half a million Sikhs from around the world rose like a phoenix on a rural patch of farm land in village Chabba. This collective will of the Sikh nation sent a loud and clear message to the Indian rulers and the entire world that Sikhs are determined to live as free people and will never rest till political economic and military power effectively comes in their own hands in the form of Halimi Raj - a benevolent compassionate political system which is committed to serve entire humanity irrespective of caste, creed, race, religion or nationality.

7: Raj Singh (Canada), December 02, 2015, 9:45 PM.

Please inform the Sikh sangat of the world that the doors of the Darbar Sahib that were brought by Sikh warriors from Afghanistan are no longer at Harmandar Sahib. Someone needs to question the SGPC ... the RSS has long had its eyes on them. Is it possible that the Badals have given them to the BJP/RSS?

8: Kaala Singh (Punjab), December 03, 2015, 11:51 AM.

@6: Is it only because of "political muddling" that Badal managed to win 5 times? In that case the people of Punjab must be very naive to vote for him. Does this prove what I said in my previous posts, that in Punjab the doles rule and whoever can provide them will win? Anyways, my comment was in relation to the Congress and I don't want to see someone defending the likes of Tytler coming to power and he can't get any resources for Punjab since the BJP controls Delhi and he can't free Sikh religious institutions from outside interference. Badal may not be a good choice but sadly there is nobody ready to replace him.

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