The Sikh People : Yesterday & Today
The sikh people have been in the news a great deal, of late. But when did they ever not make news? Whether it was Guru Nanak who declined to wear the Hindu sacred thread as a mere ritual or Guru Tegh Bahadur, his ninth incarnation who made the supreme sacrifice of his life so that a Hindu’s right to wear the sacred thread is not violence; whether it was Guru Arjan, an apostle of non-violence who, treading always the righteous path, underwent the severest physical torture before laying down his life, or Guru Gobind Singh who, wielding a sword in the name of God and creating an army of saint-soldiers, offered a formidable fight to the unjust rulers of the day; or whether it was Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a secular Sikh sovereign who reigned in the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh and yet had a Hindu as his Prime Minister and a Muslim as his Foreign Affairs Minister. When the British came the Sikhs were the last to lay down arms and the first to raise arms against them. Out of 2175 patriots who gave their lives for the country’s freedom, 1557 were Sikhs. Out of 2646 freedom lovers sentenced to Kala Pani for life imprisonment, 2147 were Sikhs. Out of 127 martyrs who were hanged during the freedom struggle, 92 were Sikhs. When independence came, the Sikhs cast in their lot with secular India. This heroic community is in search of truth and fair play today. Kartar Singh Duggal, a leading Sikh creative writer and thinker, attempts in these pages to narrate the legend of his people as truthfully and as objectively as possible.