Saturday, February 27, 2016

How many deaths will it take to realize that too many have died? - Bob Dylan

One of Bob Dylan's greatest songs Blowin' in the Wind was written in 1962 and released on his album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in 1963. The song is about peace. In that, the song is about Ekonkar, the oneness of all. My thesis has always been that the most powerful and songs tend to be one that are singing Ekonkar.  This is true of Michael Jackson (We are the world), John Lenin (Imagine) or even contemporary singer/songwriters like Taylor Swift (Mean).

Although "Blowin' in the Wind" has been described as a protest song, it poses a series of rhetorical questions about peace, war and freedom. According to Mick Gold, the refrain "The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind" is "impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind." The third line in each of the three stanzas is especially poignant; the whole song makes you think about the futility of war.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
How many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

How many years must a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
How many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

"Blowin' in the Wind" has been covered by hundreds of artists. The most commercially successful version is by folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary, who released the song in June 1963, three weeks after The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan was issued.  Here is that version:

What are the 52 Hukams of Guru Gobind Singh?

1)Dharam di Kirat karni - Earn by honest means.
2)Daswand dena - Give one tenth of your salary.
3)Gurbani kantth karni - Memorize Gurbani.
4)Amrit Vaelae utthna - Wake up Amrit Vela (before dawn).
5)Sikh sewak di sewa ruchi naal karni - Serve a Sikh Servant with devotion.
6)Gurbani dae arth Sikh vidhvana tuo parrhnae- Learn the meanings of Gurbani from Sikh Scholars.
7)Punj Kakaar di Rehat drirh kar rukhni - Follow the discipline of the 5 K's strictly.
8)Shabad da abhihas karna - Practice Shabad Gurbani in life.
9)Sat-Saroop Satgur da dhian dharna - Concentrate on the True Guru (God).
10)Guru Granth Sahib Ji noo Guru mananaa - Accept Guru Granth Sahib Ji as Guru.
11)Kaarjaan dae arambh vich ardaas karni -At the beginning of a task, perform ardaas
12)Jaman, maran, ja viah mokae Jup da paatth kar tihaaval (Karaah Parsaad) kar anand sahib dia punj paurian, ardaas, pratham punj pyaariaan atae hazoori granthi noo vartaa kae oprunth sangat noo vartaaouna - At birth, death, or marriage ceremonies, do Japji Sahib, make Karaah Parshaad, do five stanzas of anand sahib, do ardaas, and then distribute Karaah Parshaad to the Panj Pyare, the Granthi, and then to the sangat.
13)Jab tak Karaah Parshaad vartadaa rahae sadh sangat addol batthee rahae - Until Karaah Parshaad is completely distributed, the Sangat should remain sitting and unmoving.
14)Anand Viah bina grahist nahi karna -Do not start married life without Anand Karaj (Sikh ceremony of marriage).
15)Par-Istri, Ma-Bhain, Dhi-Bhain, kar jaanani. Par Istri da sang nahi karna - Recognize all other women other than your wife as mothers and sisters. Do not engage in marital behaviour with them.
16)Istri da mooh nahi fitkaarnaa - Do not silence your wife?
17)Jagat-jootth tambaaku bikhiaa da tiaag karna - Abandon worldly falsehoods and tobacco-poison.
18)Rehatvaan atae naam jupan vaalae gursikhaa di sangat karni -Keep the company of Sikhs who follow the Rehat and meditate on the Name (of God).
19)Kum karan vich daridar nahi karna - Don't be lazy while doing work.
20)Gurbani di katha tae keertan roaz sunanaa atae karna Listen and do kirtan and Gurbani discourses daily.
21)Kisae di ninda, chugali, atae eirkha nahi karni -Do not engage in slander, gossip or spite anyone
22)Dhan, jawaani, tae kul-jaat da abhiman nahi karnaa (Nanak daadak tahe duae goath. Saak guru sikhan sang hoath) - Do not take pride in wealth, youth and caste. (Mother and Father's caste both castes. All Sikhs of the Guru are siblings)?
23)Mat uchi tae suchi rakhni -Keep the religious discipline high and pure.
24)Shubh karman tao kadae naa ttarnaa - Do not refrain from doing Righteous deeds.
25)Budh bal da daataa vaheguroo noo jaananaa - Recognize God as the giver of intellect and strength.
26)Sugandh (kasam sahu) dae kar itbaar janaaoun vaalae tae yakeen nahi karna - Do not believe a person who swears (one who tries/attempts to convince someone with a 'saun or saugandh').
27)Sutantar Vicharna. Raaj Kaaj dian kamaan tae doosrae mutaa dia purshaan noo huk nahi daenaa - Rule Independently. In the affaris of government, do not give people of other religions authority/power.
28)Raajniti parhni - Study politics.
29)Dushman naal saam, daam, bhaed, aadiak, upaa vartnae - With the enemy, practice/deploy the various techniques/tactics of diplomacy (saam, daam, dand, bhed).
30)Shaster vidyaa atae ghorhae di savaari da abhiaas karna - Practice the knowledge of weaponry and horse riding.
31)Doosrae mataa dae pustak, vidyaa parhni. Pur bhrosaa drirh Gurbani, Akal Purakh tae karnaa - Study the books and knowledge of other faiths. But keep trust in Gurbani and Akal Purukh.
32)Gurupdaesaa noo dhaaran karna -Follow the teachings of the Guru.
33)Raheraas da paath kar kharae ho kae ardaas karni - After Rehras Paatth, do Ardaas standing up.
34)Saun valae sohila atae 'paun guru pani pita...' salok parhna - Recite Sohila and 'paun guru pani pita...' stanza before going to sleep.
35)Dastaar bina nahi rehnaa - Wear a turban at all times.
36)Singha da adha naam nahi bulauna - Do not call a Singh by half of their name (nickname).
37)Sharaab nai saevani - Do not partake of alcoholic drinks.
38)Sir munae noo kanaiaa nahi daeni. Uos ghar daevni jithae Akal Purukh di sikhi ha, jo karzaai naa hovae, bhalae subhaa da hovae, bibaeki atae gyanvaan hovae - Do not given a daughter's hand to a clean shaven. Give her hand in a house where God's Sikhi exists, where the household is not in debt, is of a good nature, is disciplined and knowledgeable.
39)Subh kaaraj Gurbani anusaar karnae -Do all work in accordance with Gurbani.
40)Chugali kar kisae da kam nahi vigaarnaa - Do not ruin someone's work by gossip.
41)Kaurha bachan nahi kahinaa - Do not utter bitter statements.
42)Darshan yaatraa gurdwaaraa di hi karni - Make pilgrimages to Gurudwaras only.
43)Bachan karkae paalnaa -Fulfill all promises that are made
44)Pardaesi, lorvaan, dukhi, apung manukh di yataahshkat sewa karni - Do as much sewa as you can for foreigners, the needy and the troubled.
45)Putari da dhan bikh jananaa - Recognize the property of a daughter as poison?
46)Dikhaawae da Sikh nahi bananaa - Do not become an outward show-off Sikh.
47)Sikhi kesaa-suaasa sang nibhaaouni - Live and die a Keshadhaari Sikh
48)Chori, yaari, tthugi, dhokaa, dagaa bahi karnaa - Refrain from engaging in theft, adultery / promiscuity / permissiveness , fraud, deceit, embezzlement.
49)Sikh da itbaar karna - Believe a Sikh.
50)Jhutthi gavaahi nahi daeni - Do not give false testimony.
51)Dhroh nahi karnaa - Do not cheat.
52)Langar-Parshaad ik ras vartaaunaa -Distribute Langar and Karaah Parshaad with equality.

Singing against injustice - Quotes from Martin Luther King Junior

I stumbled across this popular quote from MLK Jr. about courage and speaking the truth:

Did some research and found where this quote comes from.  This was a speech about courage made on March 8, 1965 in Salem, Alabama.  The words have been changed a little bit.

This is the transcript of these powerful words from Martin Luther King Jr.

Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they're worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36-years-old, as I happen to be, some great truth stands before the door of his life--some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right. 
A man might be afraid his home will get bombed, or he's afraid that he will lose his job, or he's afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers, and he may go on and live until he's 80. He's just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80, and the cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. He died ... A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.
So we're going to stand up amid horses. We're going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We're going to stand up right here in Alabama amid police dogs, if they have them. We're going to stand up amid tear gas!

We're going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!

What is "kungoo"?

In two of the recent poems (Jaisi Main Aveh Khasam Ki Bani and Har Bin Jiyara ) I have sung from Guru Nanak, I found references to something called "kungoo."  

Khoon kae sohilae gaaveeahi naanak rath kaa kungoo paae vae laalo |1|
Sing the songs of murder, O Nanak, sprinkling kungoo* of blood, O Lalo. 

I hadn't seen this word before and mispronounced it "kangoo" initially.  Existing translations explained kungoo to be "saffron;"  but that was suspect.  I knew that saffron is called "kesar" not kungoo.  So I decided to do some research ...  

There are six references of "kungoo" in Gurbani.  All the references are from Guru Nanak.   It must have been popular during his time.  

Apparently "kungoo" powder can be found in Indian spice shops and can be used to color one's hair: 

Kungoo must have been used to beautiful brides before their weddings:

In the end I found the scientific name of kungoo in an old reference book: it was "sertaria italica." I looked for pictures and found dried pink seeds.  This must be it!  The seeds are dried and made into a powder that is pink that can be used as a dye.  

The Story of Guru Nanak meeting Babur in Saidpur/Eminabad

Chakki used by Guru Nanak While Imprisonment in Saidpur

While returning from his travels to the West (Samvat 1578), Guru Nanak Dev Ji paid a visit to Saidpur, now known as Eminabad, to meet his devotee Bhai Lalo. 

In the following lines from the Janamsakhis, Guru Sahib Ji speaks about those times of upheaval:
The age is like a knife.
In the dark night of falsehood
I cannot see where the moon of truth is rising
(Majh ki Var).

And again:
Modesty and religion have disappeared because falsehood reigns supreme.
The Muslim mulla and the Hindu pandit have resigned their duties, the Devil reads the marriage vows.
Praises of murder are sung and people smear themselves with blood instead of saffron.

Guru Ji speaks about the Mughal invasions:
They who had beautiful locks with vermilion dyed the parting of their hair,
have their tresses shorn with scissors and dust thrown on their heads.
They who dwelt in palaces cannot find a place in the streets.

During this period (Samvat 1578) the Emperor Babur attacked Eminabad and captured Guru Ji with his companions and imprisoned them. The captured were given grinding mills and put to grinding corn to feed the Mughals troops. While grinding the corn Guru Ji went into contemplation and sang the glories of God. While Guru Ji sang about the creator the grinding mill continued to grind without any visible means of power, all who observed bowed their heads for surely they were in the presence of a great soul. This news was carried to the ears of Babar. Babar came down to the dungeons and waited until Guru Ji had finished singing. When his eyes met with the Guru's he folded his hands and bowed and begged forgiveness.

Babur requested that Guru Ji accompany him to his tent. Guru Ji asked Babar to release all the prisoners as they had committed no crime, and then he accompanied Babur to his tent.

The emperor offered Guru Ji refreshments but Guru Sahib replied,"My cup is full. I have drunk the cup of my Lord's love which fills me for all time.""Listen O King, go and survey the scene of destruction that has been caused by your army. Take a warning from those who have defeated others. He who is victorious today may suffer defeat tomorrow. Where are those kings who ruled here yesterday? Where are those games, those stables, those horses? Where are those bugles, those clarions? Where are those who buckled on their swords and were mighty in battle? Where are those scarlet uniforms? Where are those mirrors that reflected fair faces? Where are those houses, those mansions, those palaces? We see them no longer here. O Lord, this world is Thine. In one moment, Thou create, in another moment, Thou destroy Thy Creation."

On hearing the words of the Guru, Babur remained in deep thought for a long time and then asked Guru Ji humbly "What can I, do for you?""Nothing," said the Guru "The soul supreme Being has Himself commissioned me to spread His message of Naam, and I enjoy His grace and gifts. Those who forsake Him and attach themselves to others lose all. He makes emperors and kings, and He turns them into dust."

Babur bowed before Guru Ji and begged for counsel for a better life."Be just to all, and never do injustice to anyone,"said Guru Ji. " Never depart from the path of truth. Be merciful and forgive others as you would wish to be forgiven. Do not covert that which belongs to others. Do not sow the seeds of cruelty. He who is cruel, suffers."

These words Babur took to heart and from then on endeavoured to be a just ruler.

Due to Guru Ji's request Babur released 11,111 other prisoners.

Interesting Quotes from Baburnama - the autobiography of Babur

On being truthful:
I have not written all this to complain: I have simply written the truth. I do not intend by what I have written to compliment myself: I have simply set down exactly what happened. Since I have made it a point in this history to write the truth of every matter and to set down no more than the reality of every event, as a consequence I have reported every good and evil I have seen of father and brother and set down the actuality of every fault and virtue of relative and stranger. May the reader excuse me; may the listener take me not to task.

Babar's geneology:

Babar was the great-great-great-grandsom of Timur and he claimed that from his mother's side, he was descended from Genghis khan. In his autobiography he describes the genealogy of his maternal grandfather Yunas Khan as:
Yunas Khan, son of Wais Khan, son of Sher-'ali Aughlon, son of Muhammad Khan, son of Khizr Khwaja Khan, son of Tughluq-timur Khan, son of Aisan-bugha Khan, son of Dawa Khan, son of Baraq Khan, son of Yesuntawa Khan, son of Muatukan, son of Chagatai Khan, son of Genghis Khan

"Pillar of heads"

We had been told that when Afghans are powerless to resist, they go before their foe with grass between their teeth, this being as much as to say, " I am your cow."  Here we saw this custom ; Afghans unable to make resistance, came before us with grass between their teeth. Those our men had brought in as prisoners were ordered to be beheaded and a pillar of their heads was set up in our camp 
I first heard the word sangur after coming to Kabul where people describe fortifying themselves on a hill as making a sangur. Our men went straight up, broke into it and cut off a hundred or two of insolent Afghan heads. There also a pillar of heads was set up.
After dismounting in Bannu, we heard that the tribesmen in the Plain (Dasht) were for resisting an4 were entrenching themselves on a hill to the north. A force headed by Jahanglr Mirza, went against what seemed to be the Kiwi sangur, took it at once, made general slaughter, cut off and brought in many heads. Much white cloth fell into (their) hands. In Bannu also a pillar of heads was set up. After the sangur had been taken, the Kiwi head-man, Shadi Khan, came to my presence, with grass between his teeth, and did me obeisance. I pardoned all the prisoners.

On his "wretched" Mongol cousins compared to his own troops:
The Moghul troops who had come as reinforcements had no endurance for battle. They left the battle and began to unhorse and plunder our own men. It was not just here they did this: those wretched Moghuls always do this. If they win they take booty; if they lose they unhorse their own people and plunder them for for booty.

On the deplorable "Hindustan":
Hindustan is a place of little charm… There are no good horses, meat, grapes, melons, or other fruit. There is no ice, cold water, good food or bread in the markets. There are no baths and no madrasas. There are no candles, torches, or candlesticks.

On killing "infidels"
For the sake of Islam I became a wanderer,
I battled infidels and Hindus,
I determined to become a martyr
Thank God I became a Killer of Non-Muslims!

Babar and Music

Mentions Musicians that need to be remembered.  This among many:
ShaikhT the flautist {ndyt) was another ; it is said he played also the lute and the guitar, and that he had played the flute from his 12th or 13th year. He once produced a wonderful air on the flute, at one of Badl'u'z-zaman Mirza's assemblies ; Qul-i- muhammad could not reproduce it on the guitar, so declared this a worthless instrument ; Shaikhl Ndyi at once took the guitar from Qul-i-muhammad's hands and played the air on it, well and in perfect tune. They say he was so expert in music that having once heard an air, he was able to say, "This or that is the tune of so-and-so's or so-and-so's flute." 
Discerning good and bad music; for him being "in tune" was important.
Amongst the musicians present at this party were Hafiz HajT, Jalalu'd-din Mahmud the flautist, and Ghulam shadt's younger brother, Ghulam bacha the Jews'-harpist. Hafiz Haji sang well, as Herl people sing, quietly, delicately, and in tune. With Jahangir Mirza was a Samarkandl singer Mir Jan whose singing was always loud, harsh and out-of-tune. The Mirza, having had enough, ordered him to sing ; he did so, loudly, harshly and without taste. Khurasanis have quite refined manners ; if, under this singing, one did stop his ears, the face of another put question, not one could stop the singer, out of consideration for the Mirza.
Musicians are named in parties:
Having ridden out at the Mid-day Prayer for an excursion, we got on a boat and 'araq was drunk. The people of the party were Dost Beg, Mirza Quli, Ahmadi, Gadai, Muhammad 'All Jang-jang, 'Asas,5 and Aughan-blrdI MughilL The musicians were Rauh-dam, Baba Jan, Qasim-i-'all, Yusuf-i-'alT, Tingrl-qull, Abu'l-qasim, Ramzan Lull. We drank in the boat till the Bed- time Prayer ; then getting off it, full of drink, we mounted, took torches in our hands, and went to camp from the river's bank

Babar's Poverty
During my stay in Tashkent, I endured much poverty and humiliation. I had no country or hope of one! Most of my retainers dispersed; those who remained were unable to move about with me because of their destitution. This uncertainty and want of house and home drove me at last to despair. I thought, 'It would be better to go off by myself than live in such misery; better to go as far as my feet can carry me than for others to see me in such poverty and humiliation. 

On Melons (he loved melons!):
In all Fergana no fort is so strong as Akhsi. Its suburbs extend some two miles further than the walled town. People say of Akhsi, "Where is the village? Where are the trees?" Its melons are excellent; one variety of them is known as Mir Timuri and may have no equal in the world. The melons of Bukhara are famous. When I took Samarkand, I had some brought from there and some from Akhsi. They were cut up at an entertainment and those from Bukhara could not compare with those from Akhsi. The fowling and hunting of Akhsi are very good indeed; white deer abound in the waste on the Akhsi side of the Syr-Darya; in the jungle on the Andijan side, abundant and well-fed bucks and does, pheasant and hare are had.
Samarkand has good districts and subdistricts. Its largest district, and one that is its equal, is Bukhara, 162 miles to the west. Bukhara in its turn, has several subdistricts; it is a fine town. Its fruits are many and good, its melons excellent, none in Mawara'u'n-nahr matching them for quality and quantity. Although the Mir Timuri- melon of Akhsi is sweeter and more delicate than any Bukhara melon, still in Bukhara many kinds of melon are good and plentiful. The Bukhara plum is famous; no other equals it. They skin it, dry it and export it from land to land with other rarities; it is an excellent laxative. Fowls and geese are bred in abundance in Bukhara. Bukhara wine is the strongest made in Mawara'u'n-nahr; that was what I drank while in Samarkand.
One of those on the south is Andijan, which has a central position and is the capital of the Fergana country. It produces much grain, fruits in abundance, excellent grapes and melons. In the melon season, it is not customary to sell them out at the fields. There are no pears better than those of Andijan. After Samarkand and Kesh, the fort of Andijan is the largest in Mawara'u'n-nahr (Transoxiana). It has three gates. Its citadel (ark) is on its south side. Water flows into it by nine channels, but, oddly, flows out by none. Round the outer edge of the ditch runs a gravelled highway; the width of this highway divides the fort from the suburbs surrounding it.

Just as 'Arabs call every place outside 'Arab (Arabia), ' Ajam, so Hindustanis call every place outside Hindustan, Khurasan. There are two trade-marts on the land-route between Hindustan and Khurasan ; one is Kabul, the other, Qandahar.
From all these the mountains of Nijr-au, the Lamghanat and Sawad differ in having masses of cypresses,^ holm-oak, olive and mastic {kkanjak) ; their grass also is different, — it is dense, it is tall, it is good neither for horse nor sheep. Although these mountains are not so high as those already described, indeed they look to be low, none-the-less, they are strongholds ; what to the eye is even slope, really is hard rock on which it is impossible to ride. Many of the beasts and birds of Hindustan are found amongst them, such as the parrot, mina, peacock and liija {lukhd), the ape, nil-gdu and hog-deer {kuta-pdt); some found there are not found even in Hindustan.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

When I met the descendent of Genghis Khan in New York ...

Towards the end of my taxi journey today in New York I asked where the cab driver was from.  He told me Kirkhistan.  He claimed that he was the descendent of Genghis Khan.  That was very interesting because I have been doing research on another descendent of Genghis Khan: Babar (See here).  Here is a picture of me with him at the airport:

In the short time I spent talking to him, he told me that Genghis Khan was not as bad as historians have painted him. When I returned from the trip, I read a little about Genghis Khan.  I found that there were actually some positives that came from Genghis Khan's empire, for example he started an international post system.  While there may have been some good things that Genghis Khan did, but in the end because he killed millions of people, I would say he is correctly categorized as a monster in history.

In my research, I found that around 1 out of every 200 men living in the world are descendents of Genghis Khan.  See here. Hmmm!

More on Genghis Khan:
10 Things You May Not Know About Genghis Khan
- Evan Andrews

Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire and became one of the most feared conquerors of all time.

Between 1206 and his death in 1227, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory—more than any individual in history. Along the way, he cut a ruthless path through Asia and Europe that left untold millions dead, but he also modernized Mongolian culture, embraced religious freedom and helped open contact between East and West. Explore 10 facts about a great ruler who was equal parts military genius, political statesman and bloodthirsty terror.

“Genghis” wasn’t his real name.

The man who would become the “Great Khan” of the Mongols was born along the banks of the Onon River sometime around 1162 and originally named Temujin, which means “of iron” or “blacksmith.” He didn’t get the honorific name “Genghis Kahn” until 1206, when he was proclaimed leader of the Mongols at a tribal meeting known as a “kurultai.” While “Khan” is a traditional title meaning “leader” or “ruler,” historians are still unsure of the origins of “Genghis.” It may have may have meant “ocean” or “just,” but in context it is usually translated as “supreme ruler” or “universal ruler.”

He had a rough childhood.

From an early age, Genghis was forced to contend with the brutality of life on the Mongolian Steppe. Rival Tatars poisoned his father when he was only nine, and his own tribe later expelled his family and left his mother to raise her seven children alone. Genghis grew up hunting and foraging to survive, and as an adolescent he may have even murdered his own half-brother in a dispute over food. During his teenage years, rival clans abducted both he and his young wife, and Genghis spent time as a slave before making a daring escape. Despite all these hardships, by his early 20s he had established himself as a formidable warrior and leader. After amassing an army of supporters, he began forging alliances with the heads of important tribes. By 1206, he had successfully consolidated the steppe confederations under his banner and began to turn his attention to outside conquest.

There is no definitive record of what he looked like.

For such an influential figure, very little is known about Genghis Kahn’s personal life or even his physical appearance. No contemporary portraits or sculptures of him have survived, and what little information historians do have is often contradictory or unreliable. Most accounts describe him as tall and strong with a flowing mane of hair and a long, bushy beard. Perhaps the most surprising description comes courtesy of the 14th century Persian chronicler Rashid al-Din, who claimed Genghis had red hair and green eyes. Al-Din’s account is questionable—he never met the Khan in person—but these striking features were not unheard of among the ethnically diverse Mongols.

Some of his most trusted generals were former enemies.

The Great Khan had a keen eye for talent, and he usually promoted his officers on skill and experience rather than class, ancestry or even past allegiances. One famous example of this belief in meritocracy came during a 1201 battle against the rival Taijut tribe, when Genghis was nearly killed after his horse was shot out from under him with an arrow. When he later addressed the Taijut prisoners and demanded to know who was responsible, one soldier bravely stood up and admitted to being the shooter. Stirred by the archer’s boldness, Genghis made him an officer in his army and later nicknamed him “Jebe,” or “arrow,” in honor of their first meeting on the battlefield. Along with the famed general Subutai, Jebe would go on to become one of the Mongols’ greatest field commanders during their conquests in Asia and Europe.

He rarely left a score unsettled.

Genghis Khan often gave other kingdoms a chance to peacefully submit to Mongol rule, but he didn’t hesitate to bring down the sword on any society that resisted. One of his most famous campaigns of revenge came in 1219, after the Shah of the Khwarezmid Empire broke a treaty with the Mongols. Genghis had offered the Shah a valuable trade agreement to exchange goods along the Silk Road, but when his first emissaries were murdered, the enraged Khan responded by unleashing the full force of his Mongol hordes on the Khwarezmid territories in Persia. The subsequent war left millions dead and the Shah’s empire in utter ruin, but the Khan didn’t stop there. He followed up on his victory by returning east and waging war on the Tanguts of Xi Xia, a group of Mongol subjects who had refused his order to provide troops for his invasion of Khwarizm. After routing the Tangut forces and sacking their capital, the Great Khan ordered the execution of the entire Tangut royal family as punishment for their defiance.

He was responsible for the deaths of as many as 40 million people.

While it’s impossible to know for sure how many people perished during the Mongol conquests, many historians put the number at somewhere around 40 million. Censuses from the Middle Ages show that the population of China plummeted by tens of millions during the Khan’s lifetime, and scholars estimate that he may have killed a full three-fourths of modern-day Iran’s population during his war with the Khwarezmid Empire. All told, the Mongols’ attacks may have reduced the entire world population by as much as 11 percent.

He was tolerant of different religions.

Unlike many empire builders, Genghis Khan embraced the diversity of his newly conquered territories. He passed laws declaring religious freedom for all and even granted tax exemptions to places of worship. This tolerance had a political side—the Khan knew that happy subjects were less likely to rebel—but the Mongols also had an exceptionally liberal attitude towards religion. While Genghis and many others subscribed to a shamanistic belief system that revered the spirits of the sky, winds and mountains, the Steppe peoples were a diverse bunch that included Nestorian Christians, Buddhists, Muslims and other animistic traditions. The Great Khan also had a personal interest in spirituality. He was known to pray in his tent for multiple days before important campaigns, and he often met with different religious leaders to discuss the details of their faiths. In his old age, he even summoned the Taoist leader Qiu Chuji to his camp, and the pair supposedly had long conversations on immortality and philosophy.

He created one of the first international postal systems.

Along with the bow and the horse, the Mongols most potent weapon may have been their vast communication network. One of his earliest decrees as Khan involved the formation of a mounted courier service known as the “Yam.” This medieval express consisted of a well-organized series of post houses and way stations strung out across the whole of the Empire. By stopping to rest or take on a fresh mount every few miles, official riders could often travel as far as 200 miles a day. The system allowed goods and information to travel with unprecedented speed, but it also acted as the eyes and ears of the Khan. Thanks to the Yam, he could easily keep abreast of military and political developments and maintain contact with his extensive network of spies and scouts. The Yam also helped protect foreign dignitaries and merchants during their travels. In later years, the service was famously used by the likes of Marco Polo and John of Plano Carpini.

No one knows how he died or where he is buried.

Of all the enigmas surrounding the Khan’s life, perhaps the most famous concerns how it ended. The traditional narrative says he died in 1227 from injuries sustained in a fall from a horse, but other sources list everything from malaria to an arrow wound in the knee. One of the more questionable accounts even claims he was murdered while trying to force himself on a Chinese princess. However he died, the Khan took great pains to keep his final resting place a secret. According to legend, his funeral procession slaughtered everyone they came in contact with during their journey and then repeatedly rode horses over his grave to help conceal it. The tomb is most likely on or around a Mongolian mountain called Burkhan Khaldun, but to this day its precise location is unknown.

The Soviets tried to snuff out his memory in Mongolia.

Genghis Khan is now seen as a national hero and founding father of Mongolia, but during the era of Soviet rule in the 20th century, the mere mention of his name was banned. Hoping to stamp out all traces of Mongolian nationalism, the Soviets tried to suppress the Khan’s memory by removing his story from school textbooks and forbidding people from making pilgrimages to his birthplace in Khentii. Genghis Khan was eventually restored to Mongolian history after the country won independence in the early 1990s, and he’s since become a recurring motif in art and popular culture. The Great Khan lends his name to the nation’s main airport in the city of Ulan Bator, and his portrait even appears on Mongolian currency.

Our death is our wedding with eternity - Rumi

Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? "God is One."
The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For he who is living in the Light of God, 
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding him, say neither bad nor good,
For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes 
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light 
Don't call all these lights "the Light of God";
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
... Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards you with the wings of desire. 

Don't edit your soul

Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. -Franz Kafka 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Jaisi Main Avai Khasam ki Baani - Translation and History

[ongoing research - Feb/Mar 2016 - please contribute if you know something]

"Jaisi Main Avai" is one of the four poems included in what is called "Babarvani" describing the four invasions by Mughal Emperor Babar (1483-1530).  While three of these poems are in Raag Asa (the color of Hope), this poem is in Raag Tilang (the color of Mideast).

Read More: Complete Babarvani

Babar and Guru Nanak in 1520-1521

Before I share the translation, some brief history for you based on what I have gathered from several sources including Babar's Autobiography in the past few days.

The year was 1520.  The season was winter.  Babar made his third invasion into India and easily subdued several cities including Sialkot.  He wanted to do the same with Saidpur, a town of landowners and merchants.  The inhabitants of Saidpur, not knowing Babar's savage intentions, resisted and in his wrath Babar ordered a bloody massacre of city dwellers.

Guru Nanak was traveling back home after his trip to Mecca, and reached Saidpur from Punja Sahib and stayed with disciple and friend Bhai Lalo.  Guru Nanak and Bhai Lalo, along with other older men, women and children were imprisoned by Babar.  Babar had to leave Saidpur because of attacks at his home in Afganisthan.  According to the Puratan Janam Saaki, Guru Nanak and Bhai Lalo were made to carry loads of wealth on their backs for Babar's troops to take away (See Babur's Invasion).

Many of the historical accounts of Babar's third invasion I found were short and colorless. For example, one account mentioned Babar's invasion in the following way:
"There is no doubt, however, that he made an expedition, called the third, in 1520. On this occasion he crossed the Indus, marched into the part known now as the Rawal Pindi division, crossed the Jehlam, reached Sialkot, which he spared, and then marched on Saiyidpur, which he plundered. He was called from this place to Kabul to meet a threatened attack upon that capital."

In comparsion ... Guru Nanak is beautifully descriptive, and he calls the savagery like it is: evil and sinful:

Calling it like it is ... Guru Nanak Style

Guru Nanak's courageous song of truth that describes the condition of Saidpur after it was devastated by Babar's attack in 1521:

Tilang, First Mehl:

Jaisi Main Avai Khasam ki Baani, taisada kari gyaan vey Lalo
As the Word of the divine comes to me, so do I express it, O Lalo

Guru Nanak is going to describe the horrors of Babur's atrocities. He says, look, I'm going to say it like it is. This is not just ordinary "Bani" or ordinary "word," it is "Khasam ki Bani" or the "word of the eternal husband." And what is "khasam" according to Guru Nanak -- it is "satnam" or the truth. So this is the word of truth according to Guru Nanak!

Another interpretation of this line is that Guru Nanak is emphasizing that it is not he who is making any judgements, because in the end whether someone is good or evil, is a judgement.  He says that the source his knowledge (gyaan) is the divine husband (khasam).  He is just imparting what has come to him from the divine.  He is just doing what God willed him to do: sing!

This line reminds me of Bob Dylan's song Blowin in the Wind. In this song that was meant to be a protest against war, Bob Dylan asks several poignant questions. For instance:
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The convenient thing to do is to ignore atrocities.  It saves you from any negative repercussions.  But the right and courageous thing to do is to stand by the truth.  Guru Nanak's poem is especially courageous because it could result in him losing his life; despite this, he choses to write and sing this.

Paap kee janj lai Kabulon Dhaaeiaa Jori Mangai Daan vey Lalo
Bringing the wedding party of sin from Kabul he (Babur) demands land as his wedding gift, O Lalo.

He is saying it like it is.  

The Wedding Metaphor

Wedding are often used as metaphors of death in sufi poetry and gurbani. Just like the bridegroom leaves her temporary house and goes to her husband's house one day, it is inevitable that we all die.  Guru Nanak extends this metaphor chillingly -- the wedding party has come from Kabul and "demands" land.  This sin has come from greed.  Through this poem he slays the greed of acquirers of land and women. The fact that he wanted the land and riches of the people of Saidpur has been corroborated from primary sources.  

The wedding party of sin comes from Kabul.  After Babur's failures in Central Asia he had moved south east to Kabul and established his supremacy.  He was especially punitive to the Afghans, often setting up "pillars of heads" after winning battles; now he brings such horrors to India.  

One historian remarks that Guru Nanak knew about Babur's attack beforehand and came to Saidpur to warn Bhai Lalo of the devastation.  I believe the shabad was written afterwards because of the specific description and the evidence (chakki). 

Saram Dharam Doi Chhap Khaloye Kood Phire Pardhaan vey Lalo
Decency and righteousness are hiding, and falsehood struts around like a leader, O Lalo.

Kajiyan Baamana ki gal Thakki, Agad Padai Saitan vey Lalo
The Qazis and the Brahmins have lost their roles, and Satan now conduct wedding rites, O Lalo.

Normally the religious leaders conduct marriage ceremonies. So that would be the brahman for hindus and the kazi for muslims. But in this case Satan is conducting wedding rites.  Another extension of the wedding metaphor.

Toll of War on Women

Musalamaaneeaa parrehi kathaebaa kasatt mehi karehi khudhaae vae laalo
The Muslim women read the Koran, and in their misery, they call upon God, O Lalo.

Jaath sanaathee hor hidhavaaneeaa eaehi bhee laekhai laae vae laalo
The Hindu women of different statuses, as well, have been met with the same fate, O Lalo.

The Muslim women are suffering ... they have no where else to go but God. And Hindu women of all statuses are met with the same fate.  Everyone is suffering.

Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi author, who has written a book on the plight of women in war, claims that things are not different now. She claims that we talk about only one side of war.  We talk about the missiles, the destruction, the valiant warriors, the vanquished ones, troop levels, tactics, dollars and casualties. We treat casualties rather casually. We don't talk about where the social fabric is most torn. We don't talk about the suffering of women, the suffering of children ... they remain the the unspoken sufferers of war. And the fact is that seventy-five percent of the casualties of war are women and children.

Babar - Jabar - Equal Opportunity Savage

It is clear from this description that Babar is indiscriminately killing and torturing people regardless of religion.  He was an equal opportunity savage. History shows that Babar (and for that matter his ancestor Genghiz Khan) was more interested in capturing land and wealth than converting folks to Islam. As an aside, it was much later, after he had conqured Delhi, Babar used Islam to rally his troops to defeating Rajputs of Mewar.

A noted Pakistani Journalist, Mushtak Soofi, describes Babar's intent in his article on Guru Nanak
Babar was like a character one finds in one of Bertolt Brecht’s poems; 'where my tank passes is my street/what my gun says is my opinion.'
When Babar decided to savagely kill the people of Saidpur, much of its male population must have been killed in the attack. Guru Nanak only mentions the plight of the Muslim and Hindu women, perhaps because most of the men were dead. But, it is clear that it was the women who suffered the most. 

Guru Nanak And Bhai Lalo Survives

It is interesting that both Guru Nanak and Bhai Lalo survived the attack. It might have been because Guru Nanak was highly regarded (because he was returning from Mecca and was considered a Haji; there weren't too many people in that time and place who had completed the Hajj), or because he was spiritual, because he was a musician (and Babar loved music and musicians), or just because he was old (>50 years old). We don't know this; but it is also possible that Babar only killed folks who were opposing his invasion; he imprisoned the others. According to the puratam janam sakhi over 11,000 people were imprisoned.

Imbued in Red

Khoon kae sohilae gaaveeahi naanak rath kaa kungoo paae vae laalo |1|
Sing the songs of murder, O Nanak, sprinkling kungoo* of blood, O Lalo.

Although kungoo is often translated as "saffron" in most translations of this shabad, this is not accurate. Kungoo is a powdered dye from a variety of millet that was used as make-up by women. I found some references of modern use of this millet for making hair pink (More on Kungoo)! Continuing the extension of this chilling metaphor of death, the poet is also decorated with the kungoo, but its the kungoo of blood and he sings the songs of murder.

It is interesting to note that Khoon is red.  Kungoo is pink, derived from red. And Lalo, although a person's name, is also derived from red.  Red is the color of blood. It is the color of blood that makes a memory of war so gory. Yet, it is also the color of love. It is the traditional color of a bride's dress.  The redness of Guru Nanak's last line highlights the dichotomy of the world that we live in. This world is full of suffering, yet it is also full of love.  And all us poets of life have a choice.

Guru Nanak Sings His Part 

What does Guru Nanak do despite all the suffering. He is not dejected. He sings! The poet of the soul is ready to die.  He is ready to die a bloody death.  Not just ready, he accepts the bloody death gleefully. He sings the songs of murder. He does what he is here for. He does his part.   In the darkest hours of life, he sees stars; he has optimism. He has hope. He rejoices in His Will.
How remove all this dark falsehood? By rejoicing in His Will, says Nanak! (Japji 1)
We live in a time of great confusion and pain. There was uncalled for bloodshed in Paris, Syria and California last year.  Terrorists were killing innocent people for reasons even baser than Babar's. But you shouldn't be discouraged. While you might not be able to fix this, but you should not lose heart. Peace begins with you. Just like Guru Nanak, you have a unique mission. Just like him, you can be singing.  Just like him, you can make a big difference. Just like him, you can truly live.

Martin Luther King once said, "A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true." To truly live, you have to sing what is right, you have to sing for justice, you have have to sing the truth.  The Guru Nanak within us lives as long as we sing the truth. He sings eternally, 'Akhaan Jeevan Visrai Mar Jaon' ... he sings, "As long as I sing I live; as soon as I forget I die."

Guru Nanak is waiting 
for you to sing ...
Sing and find him ...
find him within ...
Shiv, sing!

Babar's Invasion of India Through Guru Nanak's Eyes

Here is an account of Babar's Invasion of India as described by Harbans Singh in the Encyclopedia of Sikhism. It is an interesting essay that combines history, references from Gurbani and stories written about Guru Nanak by early Sikhs.  Some of the material used, especially from the early stories, don't seem accurate (like the miracles described about Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana), but much of the other material seems very accurate and well collated.  

Babar was soldier of fortune, founder of the Mughal dynasty in India, diarist and poet, descending in the fifth generation from Timur, was born on 14 February 1483. In June 1494, he succeeded his father, 'Umar Shaik , as ruler of Farghana, whose revenues supported no more than a few hundred cavalry. With this force of helmeted, mailclad warriors, Babar began his career of conquest. He joined in the family struggle for power, thrice winning and thrice losing Samarkand, alternately master of a kingdom or a wanderer through the hills. In 1504, he made himself master of Kabul and so came in touch with India whose wealth was a standing temptation. In 1517 and again in 1519, he swept down the Afghan plateau into the plains of India. He entered the Punjab in 1523 on the invitation of Daulat Khan Lodhi, the governor of the province, and 'Alam Khan, an uncle of Ibrahim Lodhi, the Delhi Sultan. But, wars in his home country however, compelled Babar to return so that his final invasion was not begun until November 1525.

Babar's army of 12,000 men was mostly undisciplined group of men who wanted to loot the riches of India. These 12,000 men, a tiny army with which to attempt the conquest of Ibrahim Lodhi's realm, first devasted Punjab. Guru Nanak in his famous epic named "Babarvani" describes the atrocities of Babar and his men in Punjab.

Babarvani (Babar's command or sway) is how the four hymns by Guru Nanak alluding to the invasions by Babar (1483-1530), are collectively known in Sikh literature. The name is derived from the use of the term in one of these hymns "Babarvani phiri gal kuiru na rot khai -Babar's command or sway has spread; even the princes go without food" (GG, 417). Three of these hymns are in Asa measure at pages 360 and 417-18 of the standard recension of Guru Granth Sahib and the fourth is in Tilang measure on pages 722-23.

In his first invasion, Babar came as far as Peshawar. The following year he crossed the Indus and, conquering Sialkot without resistance, marched on Saidpur (now Eminabad, 15 km southeast of Gujranwala in Pakistan) which suffered the worst fury of the invading host. The town was taken by assault, the garrison put to the sword and the inhabitants carried into captivity. During his next invasion in 1524, Babar ransacked Lahore. His final invasion was launched during the winter of 1525-26 and he became master of Delhi after his Victory at Panipat on 21 April 1526.

Guru Nanak was an eye-witness to the havoc created during these invasions. Janam Sakhis mention that he himself was taken captive at Saidpur. A little of his, outside of Babarwani hymns, indicates that he may have been present in Lahore when the city was given up to plunder. In six pithy words this line conveys, "For a pahar and a quarter, i.e. for nearly four hours, the city of Lahore remained subject to death and fury" (GG,1412). The mention in one of the Babalvani hymns of the use of guns by the Mughals against the Afghan defence relying mainly upon their war - elephants may well be a reference to the historic battle of Panipat which sealed the fate of the Afghan king, Ibrahim Lodhi.

The Sikh tradition strongly subscribes to a meeting in 1520 between  Guru Nanak and Babar during the latter's invasion of Saidpur, now called Eminabad, in Gujranwala district of Pakistan. The town was taken by assault, the garrison put to the sword and the inhabitants carried into captivity. According to the Puratan Janam Sakhi,  Guru Nanak and Mardana, also among the captives, were ordered to be taken to prison as slaves. The Guru was given a load to carry and Mardana a horse to lead. But Mir Khan, says the Janam Sakhi, saw that the Guru's bundle was carried without any support and Mardana's horse followed him without the reins. He reported this to Sultan Babar who remarked, "If there was such a holy man here, the town should not have been destroyed." The Janam Sakhi continues, "Babar kissed his (Guru Nanak's) feet. He said, 'On the face of this fair one sees God himself.' Then all the people, Hindus and Musalmans, began to make their salutations. The king spoke again, 'O dervish, accept something'. The Guru answered, 'I take nothing, but you must release all the prisoners of Saidpur and restore their property to them'. King Babar ordered, 'Those who are in detention be released and their property be returned to them'. All the prisoners of Saidpur were set at liberty"

Babarvani hymns are not a narrative of historical events like Guru Gobind Singh's Bachitra Natak, nor are they an indictment of Babar as his Zafarnamah was that of Aurangzab. They are the outpourings of a compassionate soul touched by scenes of human misery and by the cruelty perpetrated by the invaders. The sufferings of the people are rendered here in accents of intense power and protest. The events are placed in the larger social and historical perspective decline in moral standards must lead to chaos. A corrupt political system must end in dissolution. Lure of power divides men and violence unresisted tends to flourish It could not be wished away by magic or sorcery Guru Nanak reiterated his faith in the Almighty and in His justice. Yet so acute was his realization of the distress of the people that he could not resist making the complaint: "When there was such suffering, such killing, such shrieking in pain, did not Thou, O God, feel pity? Creator, Thou art the same for all!"

The people for Guru Nanak were the people as a whole, the Hindus and the Muslims, the high-caste and the low-caste, soldiers and civilians, men and women. These hymns are remarkable for their moral structurs and poetical eloquence. Nowhere else in contemporary literature are the issues in medieval Indian situation comprehended with such clarity or presented in tones of greater urgency. In spite of his destructive role Babar is seen by Guru Nanak to have been an unwitting instrument of the divine Will. Because the Lodhi's had violated God's laws, they had to pay the penalty. Babar descended from Kabul as God's chosen agent, demonstrating the absolute authority of God and the retribution which must follow defiance of His laws. Guru Nanak's commentary on the events which he actually witnessed thus becomes a part of the same universal message. God is absolute and no man may disobey. His commands with impunity. Obey Him and receive freedom. Disobey him and the result must inevitably be retribution, a dire reckoning which brings suffering in this present life and continued transmigration in the hereafter. The hymn rendered in free English verse reads:Lord, Thou takest Khurasan under Thy wing, but yielded India to the invader's wrath. Yet thou takest no blame; And sendest the Mughal as the messenger of death. When there was such suffering, killing, such shrieking in pain, Didst not Thou, O God, feel pity ?

The fourth Babarvani hymn is probably addressed to Bhal Lalo, one of Guru Nanak's devotees living at Saidpur itself. It ends on a prophetic note, alluding perhaps to the rise of Sher Khan, an Afghan of Sur clan, who had already captured Bengal and Bihar, defeated Babar's son and successor, Humayun, at Chausa on the Ganga in June 1539 (during the lifetime of Guru Nanak), and who finally drove the Mughal king out of India in the following year. The hymn in Tilang measure is, like the other three, an expression of Guru Nanak feeling of distress at the moral degradation of the people at the imposition by the mighty. It is a statement also of his belief in God's justice and in the ultimate victory of good over evil. In an English rendering:" As descendeth the Lord's word to me, so do I deliver it unto you, O Lalo: [Babar] leading a wedding-array of sin hath descended from Kabul and demandeth by force the bride, O Lalo. decency and righteousness have vanished, and falsehood struts abroad, O Lalo. Gone are the days of Qazis and Brahmans, Satan now conducts the nuptials, O Lalo. The Muslim women recite the Qur'an and in distress remember their God, O Lalo. Similar is the fate of Hindu women of castes high and low, O Lalo. They sing paeans of blood, O Nanak, and by blood, not saffron, ointment is made, O Lalo. In this city of corpses, Nanak proclaimeth God's praises, and uttereth this true saying: The Lord who created men and put them to their tasks watcheth them from His seclusion. True is that Lord, true His verdict, and true is the justice He dealeth. As her body's vesture is torn to shreds, India shall remember my words. In seventy-eight they come, in ninety seven shall depart; another man of destiny shall arise. Nanak pronounceth words of truth, Truth he uttereth; truth the time calls for."

The words Seventy-eight and ninetyseven" in the penultimate line are interpreted as 1578 and 1597 of the Indian calendar, corresponding respectively with 1521 and 1540 which are the dates of Babar's invasion and Humayun's dethronement by Sher Khan/Shah. Though Babar's Tuzk, or Memoirs, a work of high literary quality, gives many interesting details of the campaigns and the events he was involved in and also describes the Indian life and customs very minutely there is no mention in these recollections that he met Guru Nanak. Nevertheless, the possibility of such a meeting having taken place cannot be ruled out. There are references in Guru Nanak's bans to Babars's invasions. An open tragedy like the one that struck Saidpur moved him profoundly and he described the sorrows of Indians-Hindus and Muslims alike-in words of intense power and suffering. Babar's army, in the words of Guru Nanak, was "the bridal procession of sin." In fact, Indian literature of that period records no more virile protest against the invading hordes than do Guru Nanak's four hymns of Babarvani in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Babar died on 26 December 1530 at Agra. Several years later his body was moved to its present grave in one of the gardens of Kabul.

Babar's ivasion and occupation of India impacted the life in India in all aspects. His generals forced people to be converted to Islam, his Zamindar's and other influential people bestowed lands and property on the newly converted Muslims. Babar himself became a Ghazi which in Islamic terminology is a positive epitecht and it means "a muslim who has killed a non-muslim", such a person is guaranteed heaven with "beautiful women, wine and rivers of honey." Another thing to note is that Babar destroyed several Hindu temples all over Punjab, and UP. Reason being is because founder of islam, Mohammad had done the same thing when he attacked Meeca and destroyed its temple and idolized Kaba. He made a pathway to kaaba using destroyed debree of the old temple, this tradition was continued by all the Mughal kings who invaded Indian, including Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shahjahan and Aurungzeb, they destroyed temples and converted them to mosques, even though it is not allowed in islam as muslims claim but Mohammad himself had done it so they followed their leader.

The clash between Sikh and Islamic culture was inevitable and resulted in first small hostilities between Guru's followers starting with the Sixth Guru Hargobind Singh and later into full scale with Tenth Guru Gobind Singh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' down to freedom land

Ain't gonna let segregation turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let segregation turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' up to freedom's land

Ain't gonna let racism turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let racism turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' up to freedom's land

Ain't gonna let no hatred turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let no hatred turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' up to freedom's land

Ain't gonna let injustice turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let injustice turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' up to freedom's land

Ain't gonna let no jail cell turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let no jail cell turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' up to freedom's land

Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
Turn me around, turn me around
Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around
I'm gonna keep on a-walkin', keep on a-talkin'
Marchin' up to freedom's land


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Frederick Douglass - Most Moving Speech from 1852

"The wisdom that I impart comes to me from Almighty through 'bani'" - Guru Nanak

However difficult it is to sing the truth, truth must be sung. And when it is sung, it makes everyone closer to the truth.  Like when Guru Nanak talks courageously about the atrocities of Babur.  Or when Guru Gobind Singh talks about the atrocities.  I see a similar truth reflected when Frederick Douglas talks about slavery.  

Frederick Douglass was a African American Civil Rights activist in the times of Abraham Lincoln. Frederick was asked to speak at an event on July 5, 1852 to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence at Rochester's Corinthian Hall. Very courageously he changed his speech to the call of the hour, American Slavery.  

Within the now-famous address is what historian Philip S. Foner has called "probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass' speeches."

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Following is his entire speech from 1852.

Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory....

... Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.ÑThe rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery Ñ the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate; I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, "It is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, an denounce less; would you persuade more, and rebuke less; your cause would be much more likely to succeed." But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is a man? That point is conceded already. Nobody doubts it. The slaveholders themselves acknowledge it in the enactment of laws for their government. They acknowledge it when they punish disobedience on the part of the slave. There are seventy-two crimes in the State of Virginia which, if committed by a black man (no matter how ignorant he be), subject him to the punishment of death; while only two of the same crimes will subject a white man to the like punishment. What is this but the acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being? The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that, while we are ploughing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators and teachers; that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hill-side, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives and children, and, above all, confessing and worshipping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!

Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to be understood? How should I look to-day, in the presence of Amercans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom? speaking of it relatively and positively, negatively and affirmatively. To do so, would be to make myself ridiculous, and to offer an insult to your understanding. There is not a man beneath the canopy of heaven that does not know that slavery is wrong for him.

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their mastcrs? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply.

What, then, remains to be argued? Is it that slavery is not divine; that God did not establish it; that our doctors of divinity are mistaken? There is blasphemy in the thought. That which is inhuman, cannot be divine! Who can reason on such a proposition? They that can, may; I cannot. The time for such argument is passed.

At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation's ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival....

...Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. "The arm of the Lord is not shortened," and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from "the Declaration of Independence," the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age. Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. -- Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other.

The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light. The iron shoe, and crippled foot of China must be seen in contrast with nature. Africa must rise and put on her yet unwoven garment. 'Ethiopia, shall, stretch. out her hand unto Ood." In the fervent aspirations of William Lloyd Garrison, I say, and let every heart join in saying it:

God speed the year of jubilee
The wide world o'er!
When from their galling chains set free,
Th' oppress'd shall vilely bend the knee,
And wear the yoke of tyranny
Like brutes no more.
That year will come, and freedom's reign,
To man his plundered rights again

God speed the day when human blood
Shall cease to flow!
In every clime be understood,
The claims of human brotherhood,
And each return for evil, good,
Not blow for blow;
That day will come all feuds to end,
And change into a faithful friend
Each foe.

God speed the hour, the glorious hour,
When none on earth
Shall exercise a lordly power,
Nor in a tyrant's presence cower;
But to all manhood's stature tower,
By equal birth!
That hour will come, to each, to all,
And from his Prison-house, to thrall
Go forth.

Until that year, day, hour, arrive,
With head, and heart, and hand I'll strive,
To break the rod, and rend the gyve,
The spoiler of his prey deprive --
So witness Heaven!
And never from my chosen post,
Whate'er the peril or the cost,
Be driven.