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Summary of Question:Yoga Is Sikhism
Category:General Q's from Non-Sikhs
Date Posted:Wednesday, 9/11/2002 2:28 AM MDT

This is a follow up to the question posed by Avinash in his letter titled Yoga is Hinduism.I read follow up given by somebody and I think it may not have answered all the questions that Avinash has.


About my background, I am Sikh from Punjab living now in California.

I fully agree with Avinash's observation about the Sikh's hostility towards Hindus here in America. I find it equally repelling that Sikhs donot recognize themselves with Indians living out here.

Punjab is great state and I am very proud to be born in that great state. It's different feeling when you are born there and understand values the people of this great state have. Avinash two decades back if you had gone to Punjab you would not have been able to distinguish people's religion from the way they talk or clothes they wore. I can say to some extent it's still true but things have changed little bit after all this Punjab problem that exploded like a monster.

Punjab went through some really bad times after independence. It was cut in half between pakistan and india. Lot of people lost their loved ones, livelihood and all their assets during this time. Practically we are talking 50% of punjabis made a fresh start in 1947. Next 50 years these same people constructed their lives from scratch. When you are starting from scratch , you don't think about business but how to bring food to table for your loved ones. This explains why you don't see entrepreneurialship in majority of sikhs. They resorted to army, agriculture and small shops to restart their life. Although it's not completely true, you can find couple of really successful sikh business at least I know a few like Ranbaxy and Apollo tire group, Texla. I am sure there are others. One thing I am sure you are aware of is that punjabis be it whatever religion they come from are very hard working and have made it big in whatever field they chose.

Other consequence of 1947 was that Sikhs in Punjab were so busy in rebuilding their lives that people in general ignored education. Kids were more interested in doing matriculation and going for a job in army or working in fields. It was good money in agriculture, so why bother with further education. This hurt Sikhs in Punjab very badly as lands shrunk in size with generations. Punjab is very badly represented by Punjab politicians right from the beginning and the politicians here made great advantage of people illitracy. Punjab politicians have been busy all these years filling their treasury without looking at people's future nead, nothing different from rest of India. Situation is so bad that all the states have their own official language and punjabi is still not accorded official status in Punjab. There have been times Politicians tried to incite people in Punjab on this subject and passing the issue on couple of beaurcrat from other states sitting in chandigarh. Irony of the situation is that it was true, there were couple of people in Chandigarh who opposed it. But all these years Akalis and other parties have ruled and not changed anything. Watch next time there is election, they will play this card again.

1984 was biggest blunder. It's hard for some Sikhs to accept the fact that Bhindrawale was not the right guy to have used most sacred place for purpose of hiding. I lay blame on Delhi govt for not resorting to other ways to bring out notorious people out of gurudwara. Indian govt their has been so irresponsible to have hurt Sikhs that will take years to heal. As a Sikh I think part of things I blame on people inside who were hiding. Again this was politics played out neatly by Punjab and Indian govt.

1984 riots was final nail in coffin. This I think is the root cause you see Sikhs turn other way when they see Hindu here in America. I believe people in India could have played a better role in protecting their brothers and sisters.
Now after a decade you see people from different faiths critizing govt for the carnage and making movies. These things really does not make a dent in people's mind who have lost their loved ones. Remember who are Sikhs. 99.99 % came from Hindu religion. So when people were getting killed and raped, they were your own brothers and sisters if you back up a few generation back in history.

After 1984 there was lot of unrest in Punjab over the things that happened in past few years. I am ashamed that my fellow sikhs killed their own brother and sisters who they thought were of different religion. I dont know whether those few mindless uneducated people should be called Sikhs. I am proud to be SIKH who believes in coexistence of all religions and asks for respect of all religions. Again this was a game only few Sikhs played. Most of them stayed away from this mindless act. I have deep hatred of Pakistan govt who really played with sentiments of Sikhs during those times. What a irony that we are still allowing this to happen eg ISI chief is head priest of Nankana Sahib Gurudwara ( Guru Nanak was born here). Where else you will find this kind of shit. Do we have any Mosque , Hindu temple or Church where you have a military person of opposite faith controlling the congregation. I feel like a shit thinking bout it that nobody is objecting to this nuisance.

Decade of militancy costed a lot to people in Punjab. Remember only 10 % of people supported this for their own vestige interest but almost everyone in Punjab got affected by it. There were so many reports of fake encounters. IAS officers to the lowest rank in Punjab police made huge amount of money during these years by killing innocent lives. So many 1000's lives are found in river beds now who god knows whose brother or father they are. There were so many reports a few years back about police personals committing suicide. I guess they were realizing what crimes they committed during last few years. There are some villages in Punjab that you will not see even 1 youth, only women. Punjab politicians again used these incidents to their advantage but as a Sikh we have to recognize that these greedy people had no faith and there was equal representation of sikhs in Punjab police during these times. I fail to understand why media or public in India failed to raise any alarms during those times and now all of sudden you hear novels and movies being written on these subjects.

It's hard to win a Sikh's trust after all these years of misery but eventually a true sikh will always walk path shown by Guru.

So we are talking about last 45 years where all this events happened in Punjab where each and every individual in Punjab got affected some way or other. Where will you have time to put the business perspective into minds of people here during all these troublesome years.

Regarding your question as what you can do to make your relationship with Sikhs here in America a smoother one. My answer to you is that you cannot win over and change everybody's perspective just like I cannot change minds of all hindus in india. I am happy with few but real friends of different faith. I just want to let you know that there are sikhs here in USA who understand what happened out there and not to equate indian govt to hindu and we sure try to clear misconception any time we come across it.

I see Sikh religion more as a way of life. By wearing 5 symbols a person does not become a sikh. It finally boils down to individuals thinking that really matters. I am often reminded of a very special time that I saw in gurudwara. There is this guy in his early 20's who came to stage and tells his story. He tells us how fortunate we are to be born in this great religion. He was born in brahmin family who in his early years felt longing for Guru's teachings and would go to Gurudwara. His father would beat him when he came to know that his son visited Gurudwara. His speech and later his translation of Guru Granth Sahib during recitation won everybody's heart. I call him true Sikh because unlike some priests who talk about politics in Gurudwara, concentrated more on actual teachings of Gurus. I see as a foresight that it will be people like him who will actually show path displayed by Gurus and hopefully Avinash your problem will automatically vanish. Until then please be patient.


REPLY:

Thank you for some more indepth insights. I especially comment that you encourage coming together and not breaking apart. On this aniversary of Sept. 11 th 2002. I am struck by images that make us all human and not necessary of any nationality. It is our humanity and compassion that create bridges across each other perhaps we are better reminded to develop those in the true sikh spirit of "sarbat da bhalaa" and reach out and embrace our diversity and humanity.


blessings and Peace.

SSM





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