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Found 9 results

  1. Mughals forcing islam on sikhs need not be narrated. everyone knows it , but whats not known is if Christians during british empire forced xianity onto sikhs . In other areas of india, such as goa , there were inquisitions set up by Portuguese officials , when they were ruled by portugal. But it seems britishers even though christians were opposed to such barbarism and at times intervened against it . I read somewhere that in punjab during british empire, sikh officers were promised higher pay and promotions if they converted to christianity , but is there any record of force being used , as in torture, or even attempts to undermine sikhism ? I mean something enforced by british empire as such
  2. Hello to you all. I am a white british man and I would like to know what preparations I should undertake before entering my local Gurdwara. I was christened when I was a baby but I have never been religious, I never attended a church other than for weddings, funerals etc. There is a beautiful Gurdwara near me that stands out in the sky like the fabled star in the tale of the 3 wise men travelling to meet the baby Jesus and while I always thought it was an impressive building, only recently have I seriously considered entering. I know that the temple will be welcoming to all but I'm looking for somewhere I can seriously attain sot eme spirituality. I have searched for a long time, in the past using drugs and whatnot and have come to a conclusion that one of the biggest problems in the UK is the lack of spirituality. We have not been overly religious in the UK for centuries but church would still be attended by most and certainly our heads of state/government were informed heavily by their religion. It is well documented (though rarely discussed) that the people of the UK lost their spirituality and firm belief in the creator around the years 1914-1918 and had this destruction of faith reinforced between 1939 and 1945. When I was growing up, almost no-one attended church and to do so was seen as almost barbaric, something people did in th epast as now we have telephones and televisions, we didn't need religion. God was dead and he wasn't coming back. We had technology which kept progressing to mobile phones and laptops and internet. Incredible. Now our time is filled and we can communicate and lean and be happy knowing that we have more knowledge at our fingertips than was contained in the library of Alexandria! Within seconds we can speak with someone on the other side of the world or we can watch the mating ritual of birds of paradise while simultaneously watching a Bengal Tiger stalk its prey. Now we see the results of our labour. The bubble has burst and since the 70s there has been a clear slide of people towards hating themselves and the world they live in. There is no purpose anymore, no meaning. Yes we can get drunk or take drugs or have sex, but in the morning we will ask ourselves why are we doing this? What is the point? These questions cannot be answered by Physics or biology. Evolution explains so much to us and gives us great knowledge but it does not explain where it all came from. Quantum physics tells us that the world we see or touch may not be real at all, it may be best described as a computer simulation or a fevered dream. Particles are popping in and out of existence and nothing stays the same, yet we experience the world as we do. Our consciousness seems to separate humans from all other species, yet anyone who has tried LSD or Ayuhuasca or DMT will say that there is a world beyond ours. All the religions from all over the world say something similar. There is something else beyond this material world. Beyond even the observable universe. I now firmly believe that this is where the idea of God comes from. From the most ancient peoples we know of down to the present dy the idea of god has always persisted. I always thought it was a simple explanation and as human as anything, think of the religions as an commercial enterprise, in order to get more currency/followers they must make claims about truth and power, knowledge and love, feelings and thoughts. I think that if we strip away most of the teachings and teachers from these religions we see a common denominator. A sense of a supernatural being who is beyond time and space who supervises our world and probably all worlds. Now I will never understand this of course, it is like they speak of in science when they talk of a fourth dimension, it is not something I will ever know. Perhaps though, I can get a sense of it, perhaps through meditation and work I can open up the part of my mind which will let Gods power in. My basic understanding of Sikhi leads me to believe that what I believe and what Sikhs teach is similar. I understand that the gurus have the power of god, that he uses his power through them and in turn can enlighten followers. I know it is more compliacted than this and I haven't read enough to pretend that I understand your religion but I am looking for truth. I have always looked for truth through philosophy and science, eventually through drugs and meditation and what I have learned is that I don't want to use drugs, I don't want to keep reading philosophers and science (as they are written by man and thus their ideas are often obstructed by their ego). I'm asking you honestly, can I become a Sikh and how should I do it? There is a beautiful Gurdwara near me where I know I would be welcome as is the custom of all Sikhs but I do not want to go there as an observer, I wish to genuinely know if I can become a Sikh as I see it as the best chance at uncovering the truth I crave. I don't expect to ever know the truth, but based on the Sikhs I have met, those I have seen fighting for what is right, this is the only religion I know of that I would be willing to commit my time to. The only one I would fight for. Will I be welcomed?
  3. Just watched this. Very profound and insightful.
  4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/shankill-road-bombing-mi5-ignored-ira-tip-off-that-could-have-prevent-belfast-atrocity-investigation-a6833541.html
  5. Recently a member brought to my attention a thread on this forum which aims to denote the factual integrity of Saraghari as a myth. The essential crux, of this denotation, is that the British and Sikhs always re-wrote their losses in order to exhibit a sense of victory and self-proclaimed glory. In short, the initiator of the myths and facts analysis believes that the battle has been considerably hyped at the expense of his poor, yet silent suffering race. I could not resist going back to the history books again, and have written a rebuttal (if you may) to our doubting friend. I have used several significant military sources, all with proven credibility, and other verified texts in constructing the below article. If, however, some members feel I might have overstepped the mark then please inform me. 'Strength down to half but good news! Each one of us has now two rifles.' -Dispatch from the battle at Saraghari, 1897 A.D. (1) Leonidas and his 300 Spartans established a new and unique military doctrine at Thermopylae. Named after the locus of their last stand, the Thermopylean conflict is a sporadic occurrence in military pragmatism. Fundamentally it pits a much superior offence against an inferior defense (although anomalies exist). Leonidas and his 300 men themselves faced a much superior force of 100-150,000 Persians during their last stand. (2) Their main aim was to detract or delay the foe until a much poignant rival force could be collated from mainland Greece. In this they succeeded, although by forfeiting their own lives. A step-by-step surgical analysis of their strategy inaugurates the following: -The defense will often be an archetypal last stand. Its constituents will be foolhardy in the defense of their aims, but not to the extent of heedlessness. -The offence will be forced to blunt it's initial thrust, or establish a new stratagem, as the defense will occupy a much better strategically placed locus. At Thermopylae Leonidas placed his men in a narrow passage. The Persians were forced to re-vamp their initial tactic and faced a Spartan picket bristling to the teeth. -The offence will be forced to utilize a tidal technique, although this is not necessary. A well ensconced, and established defense, cannot be attacked with a straight-forward march and confront technique. Often attrition will have to be adopted as a principle Modus operandi, and the defense will be assaulted by different companies in a repetitive fashion. -The foremost aim of the defense is to either buy time for reinforcements or a collation of forces on an unprecedented scale. If it succeeds in this, despite forfeiting itself, it has succeeded in it's designs and desires. -Technological, geographical, intelligence and disciplinary ingenuity all play a pivotal role in a Thermopylean conflict. If possessed by the defense, then a plausible modicum of success is ensured although to what extent is determined by it's own subsequent conduct in the engagement itself. These doctrines were well established in the mind of Lt. Col John Haughton, of the 36th Sikhs, as he marched towards fort Lockhart in the Samana ranges of the Hindu Khush. An avid veteran of Afghani warfare his mission was clear. To neutralize any plausible ally of Czarist Russia, in the North-West Frontier, via utilizing several companies of his battalion efficiently and fluidly. His forward base was to be at Fort Lockhart, neighbored by it's sibling Fort Gulistan in the present day North-Western Frontier. Initial intelligence briefings indicated that local Islamic leaders had been whipping up a pandemonium in the regional Afghani Afridi and Orakzai tribesmen. Haughton ordered his officers to be on their guard whilst simultaneously dispatching a small task-force towards Saraghari. The latter was a military outpost, constructed for helicographic contact between Lockhart and Gulistan. Despite their immediate vicinity, both forts were separated by rugged and mountainous terrain and were not immune to elemental disruption. The helicograph became a pivotal tool for keeping both in contact, a fact which did not escape Afghani watchers. On September 3rd, 1897 A.D., 5,000 Orakazai horsemen attacked Gulistan. The 130 Sikhs, occupying the fort, under Maj. C.H. Desvoeux and Lt. A.K. Blair offered exceptional resistance forcing the Orakazais to retreat. (3) Five days later a more substantial force of tribesmen returned. Two days later they were forced to retreat via Haughton himself, who arrived with 150 Sikhs from Lockhart. (4) Realizing that Saraghari might be a potential target, Haughton reinforced the communications outpost until at full strength it possessed one NCO and 20 OR's (other ranks). The ingenuity of the tribesmen was to however obfuscate him soon, and thrust him into dire straits. On 12th September, the 19 year oldhelicograph operator, Gurmukh Singh, reported a mass movement towards the outpost, to his superior Havildar Ishar Singh. Both men ascended to a higher platform and attempted to analyze the situation. The Havildar finally gauged that it was potent sign of war. Waves upon waves of Afridi and Orakzai tribesmen were marching towards Saraghari. Calmly ordering Gurmukh Singh to inform Haughton and request reinforcements, Ishar Singh prepared to be besieged. Haughton's reply has not been properly established. Two conflicting versions have been put into play. The initial states that he sent a reliving force towards Ishar Singh but it encountered marauding tribesmen, whereas another states that his resources were stretched. The former seems more likely. Under the aegis of Gul Badshah, the tribesmen were striving to conquer Gulistan. (5) The latter would have been a mass improbability if Saraghari had been reinforced by Lockhart. Thus it seems Haughton's substantiated refusal was justified not by a lack of manpower, but by a stringent blockading of his passage towards Ishar Singh. Ultimately, whatever the vindication Ishar Singh found himself solely confronting a murderous horde of blood thirsty tribesmen. Whilst Havildar Singh called a Chinese Parliament* and attempted to form a course of action, Gurmukh Singh repeatedly cast up to date minutes to Haughton. At 9.00 am he signaled the arrival of Afridis and Orakzais. Subsequently battle was joined. The 20 men under Ishar Singh refused to surrender to the foe. The ancestors of the latter had indulged in religious bigotry, and rapine on their sacrosanct land of Punjab. Their own ancestors had refused to give or take any quarter from them, and they too wanted to emulate this valorous tradition. By the time the first shot had been fired, all 21 men inside the post had determined to die defending their mission. The location of Saraghari prevented Gul Badshah from employing the tried and tested tactic of foolhardy charges. He was forced to adopt attrition as a means of achieving his goal. Organizing his men in batches of 150-180 companies (6) he dispatched them towards the communications post. The Havildar meanwhile had been witnessing these proceedings and gauged the inferiority of the tribal artillery. Armed with the newest Martini-Henry rifle, effective up to 600 yards, the 21 besieged waited until the tribal waves were in range and then fired. (7) Their murderous volley repeatedly dwindled the attackers until finally, before midday, Gul Badshah himself came to the fore. An astute negotiator, Badshah brought his entire skill set to the fore. He argued with Ishar Singh that resistance was futile and the deaths of his 20 men would achieve nothing. If all 21 emerged from the fort then he would let them leave unharmed, whilst Haughton would vindicate them due to the numerical foe they faced. Both Singh, and he, were leaders of men and thus knew the intricacies of the battlefield and leadership. The aphorism live to fight another day would serve them both well. Singh, with an emphasized candor, rebutted his offer word for word and a resigned Badshah summarily left. The battle then recommenced. Haughton meanwhile was attempting to gauge the numerical superiority of Badshah. Along with his men, veterans of earlier Afghan campaigns, he identified 14 religious ensigns. Bringing his past experience to the fore, he summarily concluded that Ishar Singh faced 10-12,000 tribal's out of which only less than 200 were able to engage the Sikhs at any given time. (8) The unequal locus of Saraghari was too narrow for an en-massed assault, and too open for a lightening skirmish. Ishar Singh, so far, had utilized the battlefield well but would he be able to hold out until a much superior relief arrived? The fate of Gulistan, and neighboring British protectorates, was no longer in his (Haughton's) hands. Only time would tell if a single NCO, and his 21 men, proved successful or not. Gurmukh Singh continually kept on relaying up-to-date briefings to Lockhart. By now more than 3-4 hours had elapsed since first contact and the 21 Sikhs had eaten no food or drunk water. They had fought off two assaults and suffered two casualties. Still, they continued to operate like clockwork fixedly targeting the offenders and either forcing them to retreat or killing them. Their own numbers were also beginning to dwindle. Bhagwan Singh was the first to be killed thus reducing the strength of the defenders to 20. Ammunition was also beginning to run out. Gurmukh Singh signaled to Haughton, asking for more ammunition, the Lt. Col attempted to disperse the masses swirling on the Lockhart-Saraghari rout with no success. He signaled back his inability. (9) By now Badshah himself was in desperate straits. Saraghari's location made his favored stratagem of a massed charge obsolete. The defenders were not willing to surrender, and his remaining numbers were becoming swiftly disgruntled as more time elapsed since the initial engagement. Despite breaching two pickets, the communication post still stood defiantly. Discipline was lacking among his men, who preferred the commands of different leaders simultaneously, and moral was low. Then, he spied a chance at victory. Sending his non-fighters to the scrub bordering the outpost, he had them set it on fire thus blinding the defenders (who, by now, it is believed had only less then eight men). He then sent two men to make a breach on the defender's wild side. Haughton, and his men, watched with increasing trepidation as the blinded defenders attempted to put out what they perceived as being an internal fire. This allowed several tribesmen to make a breach and enter the outpost. (10) With misery the Lt. Col watched as Ishar Singh took a last minute decision to continue fighting. Via Gurmukh Singh's relays, Haughton learnt of the Havildar's final decision. Ishar Singh ordered his men to fall back to the outpost's inner layer, whilst taking a bayonet and jumping into the mass of the bloodthirsty foe himself. In fierce hand-to-hand fighting he was wounded several times before finally being killed. His action, and sacrifice, allowed Gurmukh Singh enough time to relay to Haughton that the stampede which the defender's now faced itself was constrained by the outpost's size. Ultimately the inner layer itself was breached. The remaining Sikhs fought back with intense gusto until their last breath in an emulation of their Havildar. The 19 year old Gurmukh Singh, then himself jumped into the fray. According to Haughton, he signaled a request to enjoin the fray. The Lt. Col granted him his last desire with a heavy heart. (11) Saraghari had finally fallen. It is not known what subsequent course Badshah took next. His men, it seems, were mutinous and wanted to rest. His initial incentive had been to seize Gulistan but he had failed in this respect. Paramount discipline, and an efficient chain of command, was also lacking among his men. They preferred the commands of several different tribal chieftains at a time. Thus he was forced to give in and wait. By the next day however he found himself besieged. A potent relief force had been collated and attacked the resting tribesmen on the night of the 13th. Clockwork discipline again played a part, and Badshah was routed. Thus ended the Afghani attempt at conquering Gulistan. Havildar Ishar Singh, and his men, had succeeded in their mission. An Analysis. Despite more than a century elapsing since the battle of Saraghari, it is still being passionately debated in academic and military circles. The below points are often raised whenever the battle is studied: 1.) Did the Afghans gain a Phyrric victory? 2.) What was their ultimate goal? 3.) Is it possible for 21 men to face an onslaught by 10,000 men? 4.) What allowed Ishar Singh to hold out for the better part of a day? 5.) How accurate is Haughton's initial assessment of 10-12,000 attackers? 6.) How many casualties were incurred by the tribesmen on the 12th and the 14th? A.1.) Did the Afghans gain a Phyrric victory? A Phyrric victory is a victory gained at such a cost that any subsequent actions/courses are rendered obsolete by the reduction in the victor's forces. The Afghani incentive was to conquer Gulistan. They did not succeed thus a Phyrric victory is out of the question as they cannot be deemed as being the victors at Saraghari. A.2.) What was their ultimate goal? Gulistan, but what they intended to do subsequently is a mystery. Most historians promulgate that after Gulistan, Lockhart would have been the second target. Again, this might or might not be related to the factual truth. The swiftness with which Gul Badshah lead his men indicates that either he wanted to pursue a Fabian strategy, i.e. collate resources and men until they outnumbered Lockhart and thus force Haughton into submission; or launch a massed strike against it as well. A.3.) Is it possible for 21 men to face an onslaught by 10,000 men? Military history does not propose 'what happened' but 'what could, should or would have happened.' If we surgically analyze Saraghari we will see several different elements supporting the Sikhs. 1.) They were well entrenched and experienced soldiers. 2.) They could easily counter any decisive assault due to their location which would have been narrow for 200 men or more. 3.) They occupied higher terrain, thus they were well placed to witness any raid forming and counter it. 4.) They possessed a superior range in firearms. Their Henry Martini rifle reached up to 600 yards, thus giving them a longer reach. 5.) One has to remember that Haughton estimated there to be 10-12,000 attackers based on the banners and tactics of the tribesmen. How many actually attacked the outpost at a single time (the tidal wave theory) has not been established. Contemporaneous Afghani sources state 150-180, although these would probably have dwindled as the attackers reached the terrain on which Saraghari was situated. One also has to remember that the classic Charge-Trench ideologue did not exist at Saraghari. This was not Beersheba where horsemen charged trenches. Saraghari was a well fortified structure thus blunting the Afghani offensive. A.4.) What allowed Ishar Singh to hold out for the better part of a day? An able NCO, Singh was already a prior veteran of Afghanistan. Subsequently he was also well versed in military strategy and adaptive, essential traits which assist all military leaders. He utilized the high vantage of Saraghari, the instruments at his disposal and the training of his men. High Vantage- This would have considerably reduced the number of foes approaching, slowed their ascent and also given him time for a counter-offensive. Instruments at his disposal- The Martini-Henry rifle possessed an accurate range of 600 yards (548.64 m). Ishar Singh is said to have ordered 'fire'when the tribesmen passed the 300 yard (274.32 m) mark. Although the tribesmen possessed their own arsenal, this was not as advanced as the Sikh rifles. Combined with the clockwork precision of his men, the superior Martini would have played a cardinal role in Singh's strategy which was to delay the foe. Training of men- Via Gurmukh Singh's briefings, it has been theorized that Ishar Singh utilized a clockwork plan of action. This called for equal teams of soldiers firing upon the charging foe. Given his own prominence in the affair he would have divided his 20 men team (Gurmukh Singh was signalling) into either 4 lots of five or 5 lots of 4. The former would have seen three teams firing from their own respective positions in the outpost. One team would then have been replaced by another fresher team, while it reloaded and reinforced another. The fourth relieving team would have also reinforced another simultaneously, thus ensuring a rapidity in the assaulting fire. Via the 5 lots of 4 a similar pattern would have emerged although it's effectiveness is debatable. A.5.) How accurate is Haughton's initial assessment of 10-12,000 attackers? Valor aside, the British military was not as obdurate as is cast. It rapidly adapted to the foe's tactics and learnt lessons from near defeats and victories on the battlefield. The First and Second Anglo-Afghan Wars (ranging from 1839-1880 A.D.) had taught it several new principles of Afghani warfare. Haughton himself, a Lt. Col, would have engaged in the Second Anglo-Afghan war and thus observed the proceedings. Afghani tribes, and even military leaders, preferred an en-mass cavalry charge against strategic locations. The psychological effect of seeing a mass body of horsemen, bearing down upon them, would have petrified many opposing forces into surrender. Afghani cavalry tactics often called for 150 men or more (12) to line up in equal lines and charge the foe. Not only did this provide momentum but also immediate relief if required. Whilst confronting such a horde the British would often dismount and then engage. The massed attacks on the 3rd of September, and afterwards, corroborate Haughton's estimates. On the aforementioned date it was estimated that at least 5,000 tribesmen, or upwards, attacked Lockhart. Whilst engaging forts, Badshah would have been well aware of the need of continuous momentum, and rejuvenated men. Cast as crude, his strategy, if looked at from a new light makes profound sense. He would have utilized the tidal theory. 10,000 men divided into 150 companies would have given him 66-67 attacking formations. Their large number would have allowed for continuous momentum, replacement of men and also simultaneous action if they would have been confronted by a joint task force from both Gulistan and Lockhart. He would have reinforced his initial 5,000 with double that number to be on the safe side. A.6.) How many casualties were incurred by the tribesmen on the 12th and the 14th? Upon capturing the field, the relieving force accounted 450 bodies. The latter were the tribesmen who had been killed on the 12th,13th and 14th. Gul Badshah would initially state that Ishar Singh and his men killed 150 of his tribesmen although he would soon change the number to 180. (13) British estimates varied. Given that the attacker often forfeits more men then the defender (14), it can safely be said that at least 30-40% of the casualties would plausibly have been inflicted by Singh and his men. The British estimated there to be at least twice as many wounded tribesmen. The latter never ventured to release the official number of their dead and wounded given their ironic defeat. Upon learning of their gallantry, the British government gloriously applauded the actions of the 21 deceased at Saraghari. Entranced by their valor Queen Victoria awarded each of the Sikhs the Indian order of Merit (the sub-continent's then highest military honor) and allotted a pension and land grant for their next of kin. Presently the battle has been reduced to military textbooks, but it's legend still abounds. These 21 men engraved an unique niche in historicity along with Leonidas and the countless others who engaged in a Thermopylean battle. In death they serve as an inspiration beacon, forever proclaiming 'duty onto death!' The deceased: Havildar Ishar Singh (regimental number 165). Naik Lal Singh (332). Lance Naik Chanda Singh (546). Sepoy Sundar Singh (1321). Sepoy Ram Singh (287). Sepoy Uttar Singh (492). Sepoy Sahib Singh (182). Sepoy Hira Singh (359). Sepoy Daya Singh (687). Sepoy Jivan Singh (760). Sepoy Bhola Singh (791). Sepoy Narayan Singh (834). Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (814). Sepoy Jivan Singh (871). Sepoy Gurmukh Singh (1733). Sepoy Ram Singh (163). Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1257). Sepoy Bhagwan Singh (1265). Sepoy Buta Singh (1556). Sepoy Jivan Singh (1651). Sepoy Nand Singh (1221). Sources and footnotes: *Chinese Parliament- A military congregation where rank is not customary or obligatory. Any decision manifested is entirely democratic. 1.) Accessed from http://magellanclubforkids.com/2012/09/20/against-all-odds/ 2.) Cassin S.J; (1977) The Greek and Persian Wars 500-323 B.C. Osprey publishers, pg. 11. It is customary to acknowledge that whereas modern scholars give this figure, contemporaneous scholars estimated at least a million Persian soldiers to be present. 3.) Sidhu S.D, Virdi A; The Battle of Saraghari, The Last Stand of the 36th Sikh Regiment. Gyan Khand Media, India, pg. 3. 4.) ibid, pg. 3. 5.) ibid, pg. 4. 6.) Badsey S; (2008) Doctrine and Reform in the British Cavalry, 1880-1918, Barnes and Nobles, UK, pg. 150. Additionally see 3,000 years of Warfare for a profound exegesis of Attrition. 7.) Accessed from http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/History/First150/238-Defending-Saragarhi.html 8.) Accessed from http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/military-history/12117-battle-saragarhi-21-sikhs-versus-10-000-pathans.html 9.) Accessed from http://khalsa-raaj.blogspot.co.nz/2011/09/battle-of-saraghari.html 10.) Accessed from http://swordarm.in/?page_id=21 11.) Accessed from http://magellanclubforkids.com/2012/09/20/against-all-odds/ 12.) Badsey S; (2008) Doctrine and Reform in the British Cavalry, 1880-1918, Barnes and Nobles, UK, pg. 150. 13.) Maj. Gen. Jaswant Singh Letter to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II Institute of Sikh Studies (1999). 14.) Singh; A (2010) The Last Sunset, Roli Publishing a division of Lotus Books. See sub-section titled First-Anglo Sikh War. http://tisarpanth.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/21.html?view=magazine The question and answer component was done with the aid of a military historian. If you possess any questions on it then please post them below, and I will forward them to him. Thank you.
  6. 13Mirch

    Akali Poohla Singh.

    Just wondering do we have any in-depth sources on the everyday life of Akali Poohla Singh Ji Shahid. We always hear his generalised exploits but never gain a perception of his character. Any sources from the period etc??? Plus what were his views on the European generals who served alongside him???
  7. What do you guys think? It is very thought provoking isn't it? Res Publica. The rise and fall of the Sikh misls and the present day decay of Democracy. Often a commonwealth and/or a republic is built on the basis of the common good. The parameters which define this are however debatable and often victim to constant change. History is replete with examples of how the common good soon mutates into manifestations of corruption and avarice through the imperfectness of man. One such example is found in the rise and fall of the Sikh misls. A series of twelve confederacies (misls) which divided Punjab between themselves for the survival of the Sikh nation, but over time became hell bent on territorial conquest and achieving personal ambition. The concept, when presented to a mass gathering of Sikhs on March 29th 1748, was accepted with much gusto and cheering. At the time no one realised that the misls, which were to act as the lifeblood of the Punjab, would soon start to de-oxygenate it through their in-fighting. The misls, at first, were led by the glorious and Spartan Nawab Kapur Singh, a general whose only ambition was to create a united and singular nation for his community. His personality was the glue which bound the 11 confederacies together. At the time, this was no easy achievement. On one hand were the royal misls. Lead by successful and often wealthy leaders such as Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, and Charat Singh Sukarchakia; they were brave, resourceful and more often than not had their coffers full of finance. On the other hand was the reclusive Shahida, consisting entirely of the Akalis (traditional Sikh warriors) who relied on raids and looting to boost their financial position. Such a contrast could easily have caused divisions between the misls if it hadnt been for the strong-minded personality, of a single and militant leader. As time progressed each confederacy carved an extensive part of Punjab for itself. Obviously this lead it into conflict with the ruling regimes of the time. On one hand were the Mughals who occasionally approached them for help, on the other were the Marathas who were slowly consolidating their power on the sub-continent; whilst Afghanistan sent its raiders deep into Indian Territory for conquest and booty. By 1761, however, the confederacies were beginning to dominate Punjab and ultimately by 1780 had gained total control over Punjab. Long gone were the days of the Mughal and Afghani empires, now a new empire ruled Punjab and one which would become extensively synonymous with it; the Sikh empire. In the fashion of a true commonwealth it was moulded in a democratic form, with each and every one of the 11 chiefs holding a commune once a year at Amritsar (the religious capital of Sikh Dom) and bringing his/her problems to the attention of his/her companions. Yet reminiscent of todays democracies, strains of unease and tension were beginning to appear in these communes. Whereas at first there was a feeling of companionship and brotherhood, now there was an atmosphere of tension and unease. The maxim that power corrupts was beginning to take hold, and it was only a matter of time before past allies decided to drink each others blood. After the demise of Nawab Kapur Singhs charismatic successor, Jassa Singh Alhuwalia, in 1783 the confederacies declared open war on each other and the common good soon became clouded in the mists of profit and territorial conquest. The very leaders, who the common man relied on were now ignoring his wishes and setting his residence up for a fall. This inter-fighting saw the demise of many legendary warriors and politicians who would have contributed immensely in the growth of the Sikh sovereignty. The news of this in-fighting soon reached the ears of Zaman Shah, the Afghani emperor who decided to launch an offensive against Punjab. He succeeded in capturing the Sikh economical capital, Lahore, which weakened the confederacies even further. But rather than uniting together and facing this new threat, the confederates soon started extending their empire into North India towards Kashmir and Delhi. What was needed to preserve the common wealth of Punjab, and the common good was a shrewd and cunning leader. One who could unite the confederacies, by force if necessary, and give the state a new face. Only a few of the confederates possessed such a character, amongst them being Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, Mahan Singh Sukarchakia and the father son-duo (Jai Singh and Gurbax Singh) of the Kaniheya confederacy. However all were too busy in slaughtering each other and adding more area to their ever expanding territories. Furthermore Punjab so far had only ever been subject to imperial governing, whether at the hands of the Mughals, Afghanis and Sikhs was a different matter. So far a democratic imperial ship had failed the state. It had started off well but sunk half-way to its destination. What was needed was a change of government, the times required a single figure of power unlike Kapur Singh or Jassa Singh; a figure who retained the reins of power exclusively in his own two hands. So far corruption and avarice ran rife due to their being more than one powerful leader who paid tribute to the natural law of power, more than one powerful individual will always be a catalyst for conflict. This of course is reminiscent of many democracies, whichever leader rose to prominence in Punjab needed not only to subdue the confederacies but also demolish the old system. The catalyst for a new leader surprisingly was provided by the confederacies themselves. By this point in time all 11 had united against each other and were allying themselves with tributaries and kingdoms outside Punjab. It was to prevent an encroachment of external tributaries that the Kaniheyas and Sukarchakias bonded together in a pact. They also gave their solemn oath that if one was to attack any tributary of another confederacy, than he would share the profits with his partner. However it was not long before Mahan Singh, the ruler of the Sukarchakia confederacy, decided to break the pact. He along with his battalions attacked Kashmir and subdued its rulers, along with looting the state. This did not sit well with the Kaniheyas who decided to retaliate by crushing the Sukarchakias for once and for all. To this end Jai Singh sent his heir and son Gurbax Singh to attack Mahan Singh, who on the other hand allied himself with Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and Chief Sansar Chand. The battle which followed has gone down in history as the battle of Batala. Friend and foe alike slaughtered each other in a feast of blood and metal, steel clashed on steel and warriors thundered massive war cries as they charged at each other. Ultimately the fate of the battle was decided after the untimely demise of Gurbax Singh. The Kaniheyas were defeated, and the Sukarchakias, along with the Ramgarhias, carried the day. For many Sikhs at the time this was only another battle in a never-ending chain of battles. Yet this was the long-awaited catalyst needed for a refurbishment of Sikh sovereignty. When Jai Singh received news of his sons death, he instantly handed the reins of the Kaniheyas to his daughter-in-law, Sada Kaur. Not only did she gain a position of prominence in a much feared confederacy, but also became commander-in-chief of the said confederacys military power. It was expected that she, being possessed of a valorous spirit, would clash with Mahan Singh who was responsible for her husbands early demise; but she surprised even her most vocal critics when she sued for peace. Sada Kaur had seen Mahan Singhs young son, the prince Ranjit Singh. The boy, despite being in his teens, was extensively shrewd and heavily cunning. He also possessed great perseverance and strength of character, which was lacking in other potential confederate heirs. He had been a victim of chicken-pox on his birth, but had survived its initial effects. However as a result he was blind in one eye and was not much of a sight to view, yet despite these handicaps he had trained himself to become one of the best horsemen in Asia and was an expert in firing from a moving stead. Furthermore he was also possessed of a strong desire to see a reconstruction of the Punjab political scene; however he needed a strong mentor to keep him on track. Mahan Singh was constantly embroiled in his own conflicts, and the young Ranjit was often left to his own devices. He had already proved himself to be an apt general, and this combined with many other factors convinced Sada Kaur to betroth her daughter to him. Hence by the time Mahan Singh died, in 1792, Sada Kaur and Ranjit Singh had already discussed their plans to change the face of Punjab permanently. On one hand were the united Kaniheya and Sukarchakia confederacies, whilst on the other hand were the individual confederacies. Despite their differences, with each other, the confederacies at any given time could unite against the Kaniheya-Sukarchakia alliance and uproot it. To prevent this Sada Kaur and Ranjit Singh launched quick successive attacks on each and every confederacy. It was soon becoming evident to the confederates that Ranjit Singh would bring about their downfall if he was not stopped. But just as Lenin and his God, communism, became an unstoppable force in Imperial Russia; so too did Ranjit Singh in a divided Punjab. He was hell-bent on re-designing the commonwealth of Punjab and was not willing to let any obstacles interfere with his vision. To this end by the time he was in his twenties, he had succeeded in subduing 9 confederacies and only two remained. It is not known why he never pursued his course with Shahida. Maybe he was fearful of its legendary battle prowess, or respectful of its generals and commanders-in-chief. Whatever the reason, even up till his death he did not enter into any debate or conflict with Shahida. The Bhangi confederacy on the other hand was a different matter. They had been responsible for his fathers early demise and also controlled Lahore, which had been won back from Zaman Shah. Also in their possession was the Zamzama the most feared cannon in that part of Asia at the time. To this end and entranced by the prospect of gaining the economic capital of the state, Ranjit Singh planned an all-out attack. One which if he won guaranteed him absolute power over Punjab. Unbeknownst to him, however, was the fact that most of Lahores population wanted him to capture the city. It had become a heavily fought over region due to the confederacy in-fighting and Ranjit Singh presented it with the prospect of peace, in a long time. Other factors too convinced the residents of Lahore that Ranjit Singh was the right ruler for them. He wanted to rule solely, this would prevent an outbreak of internal conflict in the future as was the case with the confederacies. Not only did he want to become a sole figure of power, he was also possessed of extreme cunning. Rather than execute his vanquished opponents, he would grant them employment in his court and was also planning on extending Punjab. To this end he was eyeing China, Nepal, Tibet, Afghanistan and what remained of the Indian sub-continent. Thus not only was he expanding his empire, he was also giving it a strong political legacy. Disillusioned with a democratic-confederate state he had decided to take the burden of ruling solely on his own head. Such a man, the residents of Lahore reasoned, was worthy of power. Finally the day arrived which would decide the fate of the confederacies, 7th July 1799. Would democracy be victorious, or a dictatorial monarchy? The question hung heavy in the tense atmosphere. The Bhangis had extensive military equipment, and were expert tacticians. Ranjit Singh on the other hand had Sada Kaur and an army composed of high-spirited and valorous soldiers. By nightfall the fate of Lahore, and the confederacies as a result, was decided. Lahore had fallen. Ranjit Singh had succeeded in his designs to wipe out the confederacies and their democracy. The year 1799 finally announced a change in Punjabs fortunes and the birth of an empire which would stand on par with the undefeatable British Empire. This fall of the Sikh confederacies however is not solely intended to be a lesson in gaining allies and military victories. It is reminiscent of many political frameworks today. Democracy, which is accepted as being an epitome of equality, is increasingly distancing itself from its real purpose. Thus there is an increasing disillusion with the system, even within its fundamentalist supporters. How equal is an individual in a democracy? Is the main question. Democracy has mutated into nothing more than a battleground for the elite few. Whereas at first the Sikh confederacies listened to their citizens, and pursued courses in a collective manner, as time progressed they became heavily embroiled in their own personal matters and forgot the common-good. Once more the common man was left with no course to resort to, as the very leaders who he selected and supported turned against his welfare. Even today a majority of nations pursue a theoretically democratic policy, but in reality are battlegrounds of the elite; who have been granted the right to rule over the common man by the common man himself. Thus what the global village needs now, nay requires now, is a new form of governorship. Similar to Ranjit Singh wiping out the vestiges of the confederacy, a contemporary Ranjit Singh needs to vanquish the remnants of democracy and replace it with a much better system. One can argue, via a devils advocates perspective, that everything man creates is doomed to failure. But one can also argue that what man creates is subject to evolution, and democracy has long overstayed its own evolution.
  8. The British-Sikh community may once again be dominated by India-born arrivals, reversing the trend of a decade earlier when 56 per cent were born in the UK. The new statistics, based on recently released Census 2011 data, have profound implications for the future of the British-Sikh community, majority of which, only a decade earlier, was UK-born. “India-born Sikhs tend to be more conservative, traditional, have bigger families and struggle in the labour markets,” explains Professor Gurharpal Singh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, who has analysed the data. “Historically, they are also the ones who controlled gurdwaras,” he said. Gurharpal, who is the author of “Sikhs in Britain: the making of a community” and other works, adds, “There is the possibility that the emergence of a British-Sikh identity, which seemed to be taking firm roots in the 2000s, with the community being at ease with itself and being increasingly recognised in public life, might once again be challenged by homeland concerns. This is not to say British-born Sikhs are uninterested in issues of Sikh identity and homeland concerns, but that their attachment to India and Punjab is much less rooted and anchored than the first generation of India-born.” His study of the latest census data indicates that the Sikh community in England and Wales jumped from 3.36 lakh in 2001 to 4.23 lakh in 2011, representing a 26 per cent increase in a decade. He says this is substantially less than the 7 lakh total claimed by some UK Sikh organisations. However if the numbers for Scotland and Northern Ireland are added, along with the numbers of illegal Sikh immigrants (estimated at 50,000), the true figure for the actual Sikh population in the UK is closer to 5lakh. “In terms of size”, Gurharpal explains, “the (British) Sikh community is today almost on a par with its counterparts in Canada and the USA. The data confirms that British-Sikhs are a growing, expansive community.” In Gurharpal’s view, this increase in the Sikh population cannot be accounted for only by natural growth. Additional reasons include internal migration within the European Union. Most important of all, because of the liberal visa regime of the previous British Labour government, was the higher rate of immigration from India. “Clearly we need more detailed data from Census 2011 on the place of birth, ethnicity, education and employment to draw more firm conclusions,” Gurharpal agrees. “However, my initial view is that primary migration (from India) has contributed significantly to the increase. If that is, indeed, the case in this decade it will tip the balance in favour of the non-British-born Sikhs.” All South Asian ethnic communities have shown a significant increase. But the statistics for the Sikhs are modest compared to the Muslims, whose numbers have gone up from 16 lakh to 27 lakh (70 per cent), Hindus from 5.58 lakh to 8.17 lakh (46.3 per cent) and Buddhist 1.49 lakh to 2.48 lakh (66 per cent). Muslims now make up nearly 5 per cent of the population of England and Wales, compared to 1.5 per cent Hindus, 0.8 per cent Sikhs and 0.4 per cent Buddhists. “The emergence of Muslims as the undisputed leading ‘minority’ religious community in Britain is likely to intensify political and economic competition among minority communities, especially in areas of local settlement - little Punjabs, Gujarats and Kashmir, like Southall, Leicester, Sparkbrook and Bradford,” says Gurharpal. “The major conflict that is likely to emerge is around control of local councils.” He, therefore, points out that South Asian communities will have a profound impact and major say in the outcome of the next British General Election due in 2015.
  9. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8354977.stm I had heard that Sikh soldiers within the army had to remove their dastars during training/on field, to replace with a helmet. This was confirmed by the above article: "During his training on the rifle ranges, Rifleman Singh has to take off his turban for safety and wear a hard helmet." there are roughly 80 Sikhs in the British army. from over 100,000 fighting with their Dastars to death, to 80 Sikhs willingly replacing their dastars... this is clearly an issue for those to whom the dastar has significance. for those who see it as mere head covering, will willingly replace it for a helmet. But what about our Amritdhari Sikh wanting to join the army or already within the army? perhaps this is why the number of Sikhs is so low? or atleast a contributer. Is there anything being done about this? and legal cases etc... Pul chuk maaf ji
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