Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shukar Karo ke Bajj Gaye....The Cinderella Hour of the Sardar





From multi faith genesis, came the dawn of Sikhism one of the youngest Faiths today. Sikhism ranked as the world’s 5th largest religion with a following of over 20 million people worldwide. Conceptually from the time of ideation it has been a progressive religion, well ahead of its time when it was founded over 500 years ago.


It is the faith I follow and  perhaps so do you…… if accepted in its purity it has given us in its very simplistic format a religious belief system of spiritual sustenance .The path is based on the teachings of ten Gurus, the first of whom was Guru Nanak (1469-1539) and the tenth, was Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Sikhism is unmistakable in its belief in the oneness of God, Ek Onkar ….rejecting idolatry and any worship of object of images.



A collection of thoughts and teachings form the building blocks of a religion. Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals. This was a break away from the ritualistic bonds prevalent in Hinduism.
Sikhism is a monotheistic belief……
The word monotheism comes from the Greek monos, which mean one, and theos, which means God. Thus, monotheism is a belief in the existence of a single God…Thus we can say that it is  founded upon the idea that there is only one God, This is true of all  monotheistic religious systems like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism.
Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
·         keep God in heart and mind at all times
·         live honestly and work hard
·         treat everyone equally
·         be generous to the less fortunate
·         serve others

From Hinduism also came an acceptance of ideas of samsara - the cycle of rebirths and karma. Samsara literally means "wandering-on”. In most Indian religions, life is not considered to begin with birth and end in death, but as a continuous existence extending to beyond.
Air Marshal Arjan Singh & General JJ Singh


In spite of only being just about 2% of India's population, Sikhs play an important role in the our countries defense forces, agriculture and commerce. As we know a Sikh is called   ‘Sardar ji’…..Sardar means a leader. In order to eliminate the inequality and prejudices of caste system Guru Gobind Singh made every ‘Sikh’ a ‘Sardar’….and consequentially a leader.




But sadly you will notice that collectively as a community, Sardars become a butt of jokes, some of these are harmless and fondly silly while others are stupidly typecast and senile. It is possible that these jokes were started by those, with pigeon holed vision who could not match up with the Sikhs who were seen to be brave, strong, intelligent, diligent  and enterprising.
By far and large we are a community brimming with confidence and an innate sense of chivalrous persona hence a sense of humor that does not easily get offended by such tasteless humour.


Sardarji quips and wisecracks are often inoffensive yet I’m sure they do tend to grate the wits sometimes …..The one liner that most Sardars must have heard sometime or the other is 'Sardarji de Barah Baj gaye' and invariably it is laughed out in discomfited mirth.


 Strangely …..Yet unwittingly, though many would be unaware, this statement was indeed nothing, but a call of help …..Yes I repeat, for in the nether years it neither a tease nor jest… but a matter of saving lives by heroic band of Sikhs.
Why? ….Well, the facts are shrouded in history…




Read on and you will be the intrigued as well.
Did you know that there once came a time that rulers had become so tyrannical and Silks, chivalrous as usual opposed them …… now this made the tyrants livid and they put a reward of 25 Rupaiya for every Sikh head and doubled it for every Sikh caught 
alive.
Invaders  carrying  sikh heads to claim award

Between 1713 and 1801 a number of Sikh fighters had altered their lifestyle to live a life of a guerilla and were almost without a roof over their head and were exemplifying heroic acts of courage at every given opportunity. Since Sikhs were fewer in number, they developed strategic, highly skilled, and intelligent way of fighting with the Muslim invaders mostly at night in order to use the darkness to their advantage and they did so at 12 o’ clock midnight or in blistering heat of the midday sun.
Sikhs in the jungle mounting a 12 o'clock raid.
Nadir Shah. A son of a poor shepherd in Khurasan, a province of Iran, joined a robber band when he was still a boy. He grew up to be its leader by 1717. As time went by it was 1725, and he had become a national hero, who drove the Afghans out of Iran, and became a sort of regent with a boy of the royal family as King of Iran. In 1736 the boy King died, and Nadir tacitly took the title of Emperor of Iran…..Soon, as soon as 1937/38 he started to move and came across the Hindukush ranges as marauders. 


Nadir Shah
Nadir Shah was an able general, a wise administrator but an insane criminal. His band of soldiers could aptly be called freebooters, rapists and looters. Atrocities were committed on all populace of Punjab….. Muslims and Hindus alike.

By now the Mughal Empire was a hollow mantle and it had been cracked open by Nadir Shah. 

Delhi was now vulnerable; the Sikhs too came out of their jungle hideouts and had no difficulty in looting all the Mughal countryside posts from the river Chenab to the areas around Karnal. So it seems that Nadir Shah’s invasion was an opportune time for the Sikhs to the restock their depleted stores.


Year or so slipped by, and it  was the beginning of May of 1739 and Nadir Shah  was going home ,backing away  from Delhi, but he taking back with him thousands Hindu and Muslim girls enslaved from Punjab, a large number of boys as slaves…. artisans as 
labour….This human cargo was part of his war booty.



It was a slow caravan that he had as his cargo train, and it had many miles to travel… thousands of elephants, horses and camels laden with loot ….Gold, silver, precious stones, silks and brocades inter woven with gold and silver thread were being carried back along with his human cargo of women, artisans and slaves. The most precious possession in his cache was Kohinoor diamond. His baggage train being heavy-laden, lagged well behind his main force  


Meanwhile the Sikhs banded together in the clearings in the forests and were very agitated when they heard of the rumours .They were resolute that they would attack.
But how they wondered?
How could they take on the trained invaders?

A Sikh campsite
Nadir, on the other hand, felt that his reputation was a sufficient to restrain any misplaced bravado. The route, he had taken was along the foothills of the north to escape the heat of the plains.


In this particular instance it is said, that to avoid the summer heat, the caravan would rest during the day and travel in the night…..Some say  that at the peak of the day heat  that is at 12 noon, the Sikh fighters  started attacking his cargo train in Punjab ,from north of Delhi right  up to the Indus. They managed to free many women, artisans, and slaves and counter looted large amounts of wealth. The young women and girls being taken for slave markets ,were escorted back to Delhi by the Sikhs and the slaves were released.
Slave Market Middle East
We may take it lightly now, but It was a laudable intrepid act by a handful of Sikhs. No one else dared or even dreamed to dare to fight against the might of Nadir.


Thus the Sikhs started getting seen as people who could get moments of madness at 12 Noon, Perhaps this was the origin of the 12 o' clock jokes of nowadays


Now coming back to Nadir Shah ….He was stunned by the audacious strike …it was quite  a shock for him to hear on reaching Akhnoor by the river Chenab , that most of  his slaves  and women had been freed by Sikh bands, who had also seized a large share of his gold, including the Kohinoor.






One name steps out in history at this point of time …Jassa Singh Ahluwalia….He had just turned 21, and in spite of his inexperience showed a glimpse of his greatness as a leader by planning those raids, and by escorting the freed women and giving them
 protection till they were taken back to the safety of their villages and families.




Nadir Shah was perplexed by the turn of events, he quizzed Zakaria Khan the Mughal general who had accompanied Nadir Shah to Akhnoor.

Who are these Sikhs? Why don't you burn their houses down to punish them?
 
 Zakaria Khan expressed the futility of his efforts in words “We have tried to prevent them….They seem unstoppable …Their only homes are the saddles of their horses. They can last long periods without food and rest. It seems they can go to sleep on horseback. We have put prizes on their heads, but their numbers keep increasing. 
In spite of hardships their morale never flags, they never tire of singing the praise of 
their Pirs."

Nadir Shah looked pensive and remarked that in that case the Sikhs would one day rule the land and further despondently admitted that his only choice was to cut his losses and move on.
With the departure of Nadir Shah, Zakaria Khan avenged his loss of face and killed 10,000 Sikhs in a few days.


After Nadir Shah came Ahmad Shah Abdali, the ruler from Afghanistan. He rampaged India nine times. Again the Sikhs attacked his returning caravans of looted booty strategically at midday or at midnight and freed over 2000 women and escorted them back to their homes. Yet again it was 12 o’clock, which unfortunately the others perceived as a maddening act and therefore further strengthened the 12 o’clock syndrome.
 These acts of Sikhs aggravated Ahmed Shah Abdali, who swore to take revenge at an appropriate time. During his sixth invasion he caught the Sikhs unaware and 25,000 of them were killed in a few days.
 But the spirit of the Sikhs remained high as one Nihang Sikh of that time nonchalantly commented … ‘eh Kachche khiladi si’…. He felt that only those that were soft and unbaked fell off.
This, my friends is the true tale of valour laced with bravado of young Sikhs in late eighteenth century, continuing well into nineteenth century.

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12 O’clock was the hour of retribution …The hour of payback. Whether this be 12 O’clock  in the dead of the night or 12 o’clock  in the sweltering midday sun….The band of Sikh fighters chose their battles and chose the time and chose it well….to strike and bleed the enemy.
Next time if somebody says ‘sardarji  barah bajj gaye’ …


Lift your head high and with pride say ‘Yes shukar karo ke Bajj gaye……otherwise who would be there to save the honour of your mother sister and wife.’

6 comments:

  1. This is the best, most complete account of this I have read. Thank you.

    A small suggestion. A picture is on top of some of the printing. It would be good to move it, so the words can be read.

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  2. I am proud to be a Sikh and yes when I see 12o clock I thank to almighty "Waheguru" I am safe & my Children's are safe.
    Binder From Waterloo

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  3. Thank You Mai and Binder...I have created some space in pic placing ...Are you okay with it now?

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  4. just a correction to the above -"1737/1738"

    Soon, as soon as 1937/38 he started to move and came across the Hindukush ranges as marauders.

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  5. Satnaam Daarji ji,

    It looks good. Now I can read it.

    Whatever happened to the spirit of those Sikhs? We need to work to revive it, eh?

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  6. Thank you Mai ji......Persevere and we will be back on track again..upright...Righteous.....and ever chivalrous...SSA...and regards..

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