Monthly Archives: December 2012

My Most Inspiring Faith Stories from 2012

Faith and Religion played an integral part in the roller-coaster that was 2012. We saw many stories which brought out the best in people whilst others had us hanging our heads in shame. As 2012 draws to a close, I share with you 4 faith based stories which inspired me this year.

My most inspiring faith stories from 2012:- 

balpreet kaur

1) Huffington Post’s Religious Person of the Year 2012, Balpreet Kaur. Balpreet hit the news after a picture of her standing in line was taken by an editor of Reddit and posted online under the subject heading of ‘funny’ based on her unique appearance. But instead of ignoring the intentional offensive jibes, she responded with a remarkable generosity of spirit:

“Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will… When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away,” Kaur wrote. “However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can.”

Balpreet’s ability to express herself and to disarm ignorance with wisdom led to a sincere apology by the original editor who expressed his true change of heart:

“I know that this post ISN’T a funny post but I felt the need to apologize to the Sikhs, Balpreet, and anyone else I offended when I posted that picture. Put simply it was stupid. Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post… I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.”

Balpreet Kaur showed that grace, kindness and goodness are the best antidote to ignorance online as well as offline and thus was made Huffington Post’s Religious person of the Year joining people such as the Dalai Lama in an exclusive club.

Tulsi Gabbard

2) With the 2012 US Presidential Election, a lot of attention was given to the Republican Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney’s faith and his beliefs as a Mormon. However these elections brought another 2 historic firsts for religion in American politics: a Buddhist was elected to Hawaii’s Senate and a Hindu was elected to the Hawaiian Congress. Supporters of newly elected senator Mazie Hirono and congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said that the win paved the way for a lot more representatives from the ethnic minority communities to come forward and make an impact on the political arena.

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3)  In August 2012, I watched in horror as news filtered in of a gunman who shot dead 6 worshippers in a Sikh Gurdwara (place of worship) in Wisconsin, USA in an act of domestic terrorism. The gunman was later found to have had links to white supremacist groups. However as Sikhs across the world mourned at the loss, I was touched by the support and messages of condolences that the Sikh Community received from people of other faiths and of no faith. I personally received a letter from faith based student organisations condemning the incident in Wisconsin. The letter signed by the Union of Jewish Students, Federation of Student Islamic Societies, National Hindu Students Forum,  and the Student Christian Movement stated,

“We wholeheartedly condemn the horrific attack that took place on the 5th August at the Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We send our sympathy and solidarity to the Sikh community, both in Wisconsin and across the world, at this difficult time. The student movement stands in solidarity with all victims of racism and far right aggression. We recognise the need to challenge and oppose racists and neo-Nazis, both in words and on the streets. We also struggle against the poverty, inequality and alienation that help fuel racist and far right ideas. We reaffirm our solidarity with the Sikh community and our commitment to working with them to try and prevent atrocities like the attack in Milwaukee from ever taking place again.”

The unity showed by other faith groups brought out the best in others even in the time of a tragedy.

jewish

4)  In a world with big problems, it is often the small gestures that make the loudest noise. As the world remained in fear, praying for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, a small appeal for peace captured the attention of the online community after the picture above went viral on Facebook and Twitter. The simple photograph showed 2 men holding cardboard signs. One sign reads, “I’m Jewish and I am from Israel.” Another reads, “I’m Muslim and I am from Palestine.”The simple photograph showed two men standing in midtown Manhattan holding cardboard signs. Together the men hold a third sign: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

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Poem dedicated to the Delhi Gangrape Victim

Maa bahut Dard seh kar
Bahut dard deh kar
Tujhse kuch keh kar main jaa rahi hun

Aaj meri vidai main jab Sakhiyaan milne aayengi
Safaid Jode main lipti dekh sisak sisak mar jayengi
Ladki hone ka khud pe fir woh Afsos jatayengi
Maa tu unse itna keh dena Darindo k duniya main Sambhal kar rehna

Maa Raakhi par jab Bhaiya Kalai suni reh jayegi
Yaad mujhe kar kar jab unki Aankh bhar ayegi
Tilak mathe par karne ko Maa rooh meri bhi Machal jayegi…
Maa tu bhaiya ko rone na dena
Main sath hu har Pal unse kah dena

Maa Papa bhi chhup chhup bohot royenge
Main kuch na kar paya ye kah k khud ko kosenge
Maa dard unhe ye hone na dena
ilzaam koi lene na dena
Wo Abhimaan hai mera samman hai mera
Tu unse itna keh dena

Maa tere liye ab kya kahu..
Dard ko tere shabdon main kaise bandhu…
Fir se jeene ka moka kaise maangu

Maa log tujhe satayenge
mujhe azaadi dene ka tujhpe ilzaam lagayenge
Maa sab sah lena par ye na kahna
“Agle janam Mohe Bitiya na dena”

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Baba Moti Ram Mehra – The man who understood Dharam and Karam

Much of Baba Moti Ram Ji Mehra’s life is unclear and until recently much was not known. Baba Moti Ram Ji Mehra was born in Fatehgarh Sahib (the year is unknown but many Historians claim approx 1660’s). Baba Moti Ram was one of two sons. His elder brother was Baba Joti Ram who was the father of Bhai Himmat Singh Ji, one of the original Panj Pyare (five beloved ones).

On the 24th December, 1704, Sahibzadas Baba Zorawar Singh ji, Baba Fateh Singh ji along with Mata Gujri ji (mother of Guru Gobind Singh Ji) were arrested by Kotwal Jaani Khan of Morinda at Kheri, the native village of Gangu Ram. Gangu was a servant of Guru Gobind Singh who was allured by the money and jewellery which Mata Gujri ji carried and ,thus, informed the Kotwal of Morinda about their presence in his house. Jaani Khan brought them as prisoners to Sirhind. Faujdar Wazir Khan of Sirhind imprisoned them in the Thanda Burj (cold Fort).

Baba Moti Ram Mehra was a servant in the Hindu kitchen of the Faujdar. He used to serve food to the Hindu prisoners. Jagat Mata Gujri ji refused to accept the food of the Mughal kitchen as well as that which came from Diwan Sucha Nand’s house. Baba Moti Ram Mehra was a great follower of Sikh Gurus. He used to serve the sikhs on their way to Ananadpur Sahib and back to their homes. The Sikhs took rest at his mud house, where the mother of Baba Moti Ram Mehra and Bibi Bholi, wife of Mehra ji prepared food for these sikhs.

When Jagat Mata Gujriji refused to accept the food, Baba Moti Ram Mehra could not bear the Sahibzadas sleeping hungry. He came home and told his family that he would serve milk and fresh water to these great prisoners. His mother and wife wee scared and tried to persuade him not to take such a step. Bibi Bholi, wife of Mehra ji, told him that the Wazir Khan had made an announcement in the town that whoever tried to help and serve any type of food to the sons of the tenth Guru, he along with his family would be crushed alive in a Kohlu, (the oil squeezer). This information could not change the resolve of Baba ji. His mother told him that there were so many followers of the Guru in the town, they could have dared to serve the Sahibzadas. Baba Moti Ram Mehra humbly, but with determination, told his mother that those followers feared the ruler .

“Aren’t you scared, my son?” asked the mother. Baba Mehra ji humbly replied, “Dear mother our Guru is fighting against injustice of the Mughals. I will serve the great mother and the Sahibzadas. I don’t fear the punishment of the Faujdar. The history will not forgive us if we do not serve the great prisoners.”

Sensing his determination, his wife gave him her silver jewellery and some coins and requested him,” Please bribe the gate man of the Burj and request him to keep this act a secret.” Baba ji praised his wife for participation in the great cause.Baba Moti Ram served milk and water to the Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri ji for three nights. Seeing Baba Moti Ram Ji’s determination and bravery, Mata Gujri Ji blessed Baba Moti Ram Ji Mehra by saying, “dhan moti jin punn kamaya, guru laalan taahe dudh pilaya.” (Blessed Moti has earned good deeds, serving the Guru’s son’s with Milk.)

On 27th December 1704, the Sahibzadas were slain after bricking them alive in the foundation of the wall. Mata Gujri ji also breathed her last. Raja Todar Mall of Sirhind performed the cremation. He told Baba Mehra ji to arrange a cart of Chandan wood, which he brought from the forests of Atta Ali. After some time, Pumma, the brother of Gangu, told the Faujdar that his servant (Cook) had served the prisoners with milk and water.

Baba Moti Ram Mehra, his mother, wife and a little son were arrested. He did not conceal his act and boldly told the Faujdar that, it was his dharma to serve the young children and the aged mother of Guru Gobind Singhji. So, Baba Moti Ram Mehra along with his family were sentenced to the death by being squeezed in a squeezer (Kohlu).

Today a Gurudwara stands in memory of Baba Moti Ram ji Mehra and their family in Sri Fatehgarh Sahib. Below is an actual picture of the 2 steel glasses which were uses by Baba moti Ram ji Mehra to serve the milk to the Chotte Sahibzade and Mata Gujri ji.

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Unparallel sacrifice – Martyrdom of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh

With the objective of killing or capturing Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the joint forces of the emperor of Delhi and the rajas of Himachal Pardesh attacked Anandpur Sahib.  They encircled the town and did not allow any food to be taken inside, in the hope of starving the Guru Ji and his followers so that they can come out.  They lost thousands of soldiers while attacking Guru Ji who was occupying the fort.  Having failed to defeat the Guru Ji they promised him on solemn oath, a safe passage if he voluntarily left the fort.

They further assured him that later on, he could come back again to Anandpur as and when desired.  The army generals hoped to give the emperor an image of their victory if they could make the Guru Ji left Anandpur.

The joint forces, not considering their solemn promises given to the Guru Ji, attacked him as soon he left the fort.  It was a cold winder night of December, 1704. Attacked by the enemy forces and difficulties of crossing the flooded Sirsa River resulted in the separation of the Sikhs. With great difficulty the Guru Ji and his family along with some daring soldiers could cross Sirsa.  In the process all property and most valuable manuscripts were washed away.  Many Sikhs were drowned.

Those who succeeded crossing Sirsa were divided into several groups. One group comprised Mata Gujari Ji (Guru Gobind Singh ji’s Mother) and her two grandsons, Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh (younger sons of Guru ji).  The second group consisted of Guru ji, his two elder sons Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh and 40 solders.  The third group consisted of Mata Sundar Kaur ji, Mata Sahib Kaur ji and their attendants.  It was utter confusion and no body knew about the others. The family members got separated. At that place of separation is now located Gurdwara Parivar Vichora Sahib.

Mata Gujri Ji, along with the children managed to reach Roper, nearest city with great hardship.  There she met a Brahmin, Gangu, their discharged cook.  He offered to entertain them and to give shelter in his village Kheri, near Sirhind. Mata Gujari Ji agreed to accept his shelter and protection.  But the Brahmin betrayed and handed them over to Wazir Khan, viceroy of Sirhind.  The children and the grand mother were lodged  in the Cold tower.  They were given neither any food nor warm clothing despite the freezing conditions.

On the following day the grandmother was asked to prepare the children as they had to be produced in the royal court. The children clung to the “Dadee Maan” (grandmother) and her warmth lap gave a tremendous relief against the last nights cold. Sweet and dear “Dadee Maan” started combing their hair and making preparation for the court with very heavy heart. Still, simultaneously she continued advising them to remain firm to their faith, which along would bring honour to their father and grandfather Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji.  On this Zorawar Singh, the elder said “Dadee Maan” why are you worried about us? We won’t do any thing which could bring insult to you or our family.” He had hardly finished this bold assurance to Dadee Maan when the Mughal soldiers harshly took them away.

The children were produced before Wazir Khan, the Governor of Sirhand, in his court. Wazir Khan tried very kindly and affectionately to impress upon them advisability of changing their faith and acceptance of Islam on promises of honor and various gifts.  But Zorawar Singh replied in equally polite tone “Our faith is dearer to us then the offered royal gifts”. The Nawab retorted “Then get ready to die”. Zorawar Singh remained firm and said “It will be better to die with our faith intact.”

The Governor felt that the young aged children did not understand him properly, and, therefore, they should be given one more chance to think over his offer.  Accordingly the children were taken back to their grandmother. Both the children came running to their grandmother and sat in her lap. They narrated to her everything which had happened in the court.  She felt the relief after hearing them.

The next day they were produced again in the court. The children exhibited no fear at all.  They acted gracefully like princes and with great self-confidence uttered “WAHEGURU JI KA KHALSA”, ‘WAHEGURU JI KI FATEH”. This angered Wazir Khan very much and he was annoyed that the children had not lowered before him, to show their respect.  He then threatened them with many forms of punishments and tortures if they did not act according to his wishes and embrace Islam.  The children again finally refused to give up their faith.

Wazir Khan changed his attitude and was thinking to release the children. But at that moment Suchanand Khatri, his Dewan (courtier) infuriated him again saying “These children are young ones of a snake and could be more poisonous.” Consequently, Wazir Khan harassed the children more and more, but of no avail. He then called Nawab of Malerkotla and offered to hand over the children to him for avenging the death of his brotherr, killed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in a battle.

But the Nawab said “O Viceroy, these children are still drinking milk in the nursery, and are too young to commit an offence. Therefore be pleased to allow them to depart.” Wazir Khan did not pay heed to the advice of the Nawab. He ordered them to be bricked alive. Fateh Singh, aged 6 years and Zorawar Singh aged 8 recited their Japji Sahib whilst they stood side by side and the wall raised around the. The wall fell down when it reached shoulder high but the young Sahibzade were unconscious. They were, therefore, beheaded on the 26th December, 1704 .

As soon as the two Sahibzadas attained martyrdom, Mata Gujri ji, who was sitting in meditation in the tower, breathed her last. The messenger who came with the news of the martyrdom of the Sahibzads found that Mata-Ji had already attained salvation.

This sacrifice of the Guru Gobind Singh’s sons only six and eight years old will forever be remembered by young and old alike to learn lessons from their lives.  Firm belief in faith, freedom of worship and refusal to submit to any kind of attack by rulers, is the way to live or to die with courage…

“Why lose your faith to save your life, Faith lives with you, even after you die”

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The end of the world?

The end of the world?

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by | December 24, 2012 · 6:05 pm

Baba Ajit Singh ji & Baba Jujhar Singh ji

The level of education obtained by the sahibzadas at such a young age was much higher than most people have today at twice that age. Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Ji were educated in religious texts, philosophy and history, and had training in the martial arts such as riding, swordsmanship,gatka and archery. Sahibzadas had started Gatka training at around the ages of about 4-5 and started learning Gurbani at about the same time. Today at the age of 4-5 we are barely learning the names of the Sikh Gurus whereas learning gatka and gurbani is way out of the picture. The Sahibzadas were blessed to be born the sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji but that does not mean they were born with all this knowledge. They learnt it and so can we. They gave equal respect to academic, physical and spiritual education, not favoring one over the other. Today we pick a medium we are good in and have the tendency to forget the others.

The Sahibzadas also never got so bogged down with their education that they had no time to stick up for what’s right. Whenever Guru Gobind Singh Ji instructed Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji to go and fight for what’s right, Sahibzada Ji went without a second look at his education. Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji was barely twelve when he was sent to defend Sikh Sangat from the looters ‘Ranghar of Nuh’. Since the age of twelve Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji has defended innocent people that came to Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s darbar asking for help, regardless of religion. The Sahibzadas never rejected education in favor of doing the right thing or vice versa, they did both at the same time. We need to become like the Sahibzadas in this manner where we learn to do both things at the same time. Often we hide behind the excuse of education and work, so we don’t have to follow the order of our father Guru Gobind Singh Ji and do the right thing.

Sahibzadas did an amazing job in whatever they did but they never had any ego and always respected their parents. Sahibzadas always did whatever their Guru, their father told them to do. How often do we listen to our parents today? How often do we do as Guru Ji instructed us to do? Where is the respect if we can’t even follow simple instructions given by our parents or the Guru Ji? We need to be like the Sahibzadas, who gave went up to their father and asked for permission to go join the fight in which they would receive martyrdom. That’s the kind of respect we need to give our parents. Just because we are doing the right thing, doesn’t mean we should jump right into it. First we need to go to our parents and ask permission and explain why it’s important they not say no. We owe our parents at least that much respect, that we can ask for permission when taking important decisions of our life. If our parents don’t agree and the matter is of Khalsa Panth, we can turn to our spiritual father, Guru Gobind Singh Ji and ask for hukam from Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We should always give our parents the respect they deserve, just like the Sahibzadas did.

Sahibzadas made their parents proud by being properly educated, being soldiers along with saints and always respecting their parents and Sikhi. Sahibzadas received education and became the saints. They fought for what was right and even gave their lives, so they could be the soldiers and martyrs. They respected their parents and received their blessings to be the best Sons of Khalsa Panth. Following in the steps of Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji and Sabihzada Jujhar Singh Ji we can become the true sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

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Lunch with God

There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Chocolates and a six-pack of Coke cans, and he started his journey.

When he had gone a short way, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his suitcase when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry so he offered her a Chocolate. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a drink. Once again, she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave but before he had gone more than a few steps; he turned around, ran back to the old woman, and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? She’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, “Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?” She replied, “I ate Chocolates in the park with God.” But before her son responded, she added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

“You are the Light of all, the Life of the World; You imbue each and every heart with Your Love. All meditate on You, O my Beloved; You are the True, True Primal Being, the Immaculate Lord.”

-Guru Raam Das Ji, the fourth Sikh Master.

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