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The real story behind Sikhs rushing to aid of Rohingya refugees

What’s motivating them to defy a hostile climate against the stateless people.

HARMEET SHAH SINGH

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Why have Sikhs, of all people, crossed into Bangladesh to feed thousands of Rohingya refugees?

Why reach out to Muslims, who committed the worst of atrocities on the Sikhs? Have they forgotten the savage execution of two of their gurus – Guru Arjan and Guru Teg Bahadur – under Mughal orders? Have they forgotten how young children of Guru Gobind Singh were walled up alive and thousands of soldiers of his Khalsa army brutally massacred?

Have they forgotten how Afghan invader Ahmed Shah had an estimated 25,000 Sikhs murdered in two days some 250 years ago?

Do they know our government has declared Rohingya Muslims a “threat to national security”? Don’t they know India, under the present dispensation, wants to deport them?

These are the questions troubling every other supporter of anti-Rohingya, anti-Muslim sentiment in India.

Dear all, they do know everything. They have read history. They read newspapers and watch TV almost every day. But what they also read, and try to follow, is what’s written in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the fountainhead of their strength that empowers them to swim against the tide.

khalsa-aid-690_091617072007.jpgImage: Khalsa Aid

Let me take you through a tiny portion of the ocean of humanity that’s embodied for eternity in Sri Guru Granth Sahib – collective writings of six of the 10 gurus and of more than 30 other spiritual figures from various traditions.

But first, here’s a quick rundown of some of the authors other than the gurus themselves:

· Kabir: Iconoclastic poet-saint raised by a Muslim weaver and influenced by Hindu ascetic Ramanand

· Namdev: A celebrated low-caste saint who wrote in the Marathi language

· Ravidas: A mystic poet born in Varanasi in a leather-working low-caste family

· Sheikh Farid: A Muslim sufi saint

· Trilochan: A celebrated saint of the Vaishya caste

· Dhanna: a Jat from Rajasthan

· Jaidev: A poet laureate in the court of King Lakshman Sen of Bengal

· Parmanand: A saint-poet from Maharashtra

· Pipa: A Rajput ruler turned saint

· Ramanand: A Brahmin poet-saint

· Sadhna: A butcher by occupation

·Sain: A barber in the court of Raja Ram, the king of Rewa

Can you spot any geographical boundaries or distinctions of castes, languages, faiths or jobs in the wellspring of Sikh philosophy? You can’t because there’s none.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is awash with calls to humanity to treat human race as one. Gurbani fiercely opposed state excesses. The gurus warned against them.

“Rajang Ta Manang Abhimanang Ta Heenang,” wrote Guru Arjan, the fifth guru. In English, this means: “Power corrupted by arrogance leads to a drastic fall.” “Bipreet Budhang Marrat Lokah Nanak Chirangkaal Dukh Bhogtey (Evil-minded oppressors are destined to perpetual suffering).”

Now, let’s also look at the worldview of Guru Gobind Singh, whose military campaigns against tyrant Islamists are often cited to promote a misleading narrative that the Sikhs were born to save and support only one race, community or group.

Guru Gobind Singh delivered a profound analysis of divine theatre in Akal Ustat, his ode to God.

“Dhaeharaa Maseet Soee Poojaa A Nivaaj Ouee Maanas Sabai Eaek Pai Anaek Ko Bharamaao Hai,” he wrote. “Temples and mosques are the same, there is no difference between Hindu worship and Muslim prayer; all human beings are the same, they may just appear to be different.”

He noted further: “The gods, demons, yakshas, gandharvas, Turks and Hindus are all outward garbs. The eyes are the same, the ears the same, the bodies the same and the habits the same. Creation is the fusion of the earth, the air, the fire and the water. Muslims’ Allah and the abhekh (the guiseless) of Hindus are the same, the Puranas and the holy Quran depict the same reality; all have been created in the image of the same divine intelligence.”

“Millions of sparks emanate from the fire and merge back into the same flame. Waves on the surface of rivers are made up of the same compound. Animate and inanimate objects come out of the same supreme intelligence and blend back into it.”

That leads us to believe humanity is not defined by press statements or rhetoric. You turn inward to discover it. The Rohingyas have faced brutal assaults as did many of us – Hindus and Sikhs – in our own recent and distant histories.

Just imagine what would have happened if Guru Teg Bahadur hadn’t held the hand of Kashmiri Pandits. Just imagine if Guru Gobind Singh hadn’t done what he did to fight off Mughal terror.

I personally feel many of us – the Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere – wouldn’t have been alive if fellow Hindus hadn’t saved us from rampaging murderers in 1984. That was the period when every turbaned man in India was portrayed as a suspected terrorist as is every Rohingya survivor now looking for a place to lay their heads on.

I am proud of Khalsa Aid, the charity registered in the UK, to have sent its teams to the village of Teknaf in the Cox’s Bazar area.

Very much like our Hindu neighbours who protected Sikh lives in the crisis of 1984, Khalsa Aid volunteers are not just helping Rohingyas but supplying oxygen to humanity left unattended in an ICU. Let it survive.http://www.dailyo.in/politics/sikhs-help-rohingyas-bangladesh-1984-anti-sikh-riots-khalsa-aid/story/1/19550.html

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