World’s Oldest runner – Sr. Fauja Singh has turned 106 year old today!
He has a record to run 6.25 miles race in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 28 seconds. Can you beat that?
Here is your chance to wish him!
The tenth master Guru Gobind Singh Ji had many titles bestowed upon him, one of the most beautiful was ‘Chittay baaja wala”, the keeper of the white falcon. To infuse his Sikhs with worth, valour and to explain them the right path of life Tenth Guru was always holding a white Baaj in his hand.
It is because of these birds rarity that they would have been in extremely huge demand by emperors and kings in South East Asia and what more befitting a bird for Guru Gobind Singh Ji to handle as his favourite.
The Baaj features in a number of stories relating to the Guru! Get mesmerized in some of these…
The Payback Time Story!
Once Guru Gobind Singh Ji was in the forest and he let the baaj fly off towards a small animal scurrying about in the undergrowth. The Baaj caught the animal and flew back to the Guru. It tore at the animal and fed on it. The accompanying Sikhs were taken aback by this incident and asked Guru Ji to explain. “In a previous time the Baaj and this animal were friends. The one who is now dead asked for a loan and swearing on the Almightys name said that he would pay it back. He was devious and never did return it, so this is payback time.” In this incident Guru Ji enlightened his Sikhs that if you take something that is not yours or promise to return it then you will be held to that promise no matter what.
The Power of Amrit!
The most significant story concerning the baaj is in 1699 when Guru Sahib Ji had created Amrit (holy nector) for the precise purpose of creating the Khalsa brotherhood. A few drops of Amrit had fallen from the iron cauldron, which were readily consumed by a few sparrows. The sparrows turned onto the Baaj and repeatedly assaulted him to such an extent that he had to take flight, followed vigorously by the sparrows. This incident showed the Sikhs that the Amrit created by the Tenth Guru had immense power, after drinking a few drops a small sparrow not only had the courage to take on a bird of prey but to harass it until it took flight and fled.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji said “I will create my Khalsa of such courage and vigour that he will take on armies of the enemy, he will stand up for the poor and the downtrodden –
“Sava Lakh say ek ladaho”
(One will confront a lakh and a quarter of the enemy)”
In 1984 amongst the turmoil and terrible fate of so many Sikhs a white baaj appeared, seen by many it circled and perched on a branch, telling the Sikhs that the Guru was with them.
From time to time, it is said that a white Baaj is seen in the mountains of the Himalayas in the surrounding areas of Hemkunt Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh Ji performed much hard meditation to merge with the Almighty.
As said this falcon is from Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s Baaj lineage.
Know of some stories? Share yours in the comment box below!
Guru Gobind Singh Ji was famed for his blue colored horse, in fact Guru Sahib Ji is sometimes known as ‘Neelay ghoray whalla’ or the owner of the blue horse and many a folk songs and vars sing the exploits of ‘Neelay Ghoray Te Swaar’ the rider of the blue horse.
Just as his grandfather Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, Guru Gobind Singh instructed his Sikhs to make offerings of arms and horses in readiness for the turbulent times ahead. In anticipation of this Guru Gobind Singh Ji learnt the art of horsemanship from an early age under the guidance of his maternal uncle Bhai Kirpal Chand.
It is not clear where the blue horse, affectionately known as Neela, was acquired from, it may have been a gift from a royal dignitary or from a devotee. Even today the lineage of the stallions continues at Hazoor Sahib, Nanded. The horses are kept in stables and are bred from the original stallion belonging to Guru Sahib Ji, although over time the blue colour has been diluted down to a grey white. No one is allowed to ride the horses as a mark of respect and they are brought out on the festival of Holla Mahalla or gurpurbs when they are beautifully decorated with tassels and riding gear. On occasions, especially on the festival of Holla Mahalla, it has been said that the horse will get extremely sweaty and agitated, as if it is being ridden.
It is difficult to get information about Guru Sahib Ji’s horse, even more so about a blue horse. These horses are very rare and many people are sceptical that such horses exist. Well, blue horses do exist. The colour is officially known as Blue Roan.
Roan horses have solid coloured coats, but with white hairs interspersed (roaning). The white hairs are not actual spots, but single white hairs mixed with the darker coat colour. These horses have a specific colour gene and this roan gene can be applied to any colour of horse. The most common are Red Roans and Bay Roans. There are also Palomino Roans, Red Dun Roans, Dun Roans, Buckskin Roans and the Blue Roan. The roan gene adds white hairs into the body of the horse. Roan is a stable colouration throughout life, whereas Grey and Varnish Appaloosa are progressive.
The legs and occasionally the head are not affected and will remain darker then the body (note in the above painting, Guru Sahib Ji’s horse is shown as blue, but not the legs).The mane and tail are usually not affected, but some may have some white hairs mixed in. A Blue Roan is a dark coloured horse with the roan gene.The roan gene gives the horse interspersed white hairs on his body and this gives a general blue hue or sheen to the horse. Blue Corn is a variation of Blue Roan, in which speckles and spots of the base colour (black) appear, making a mottled appearance.
The gurdwara at Putthi Sahib (Punjab) commemorates the incident when Guru Gobind Singh Ji arrived at this place from a long journey on their way back to Anandpur Sahib. They say a man working at a furnace (putthi) baking bricks. Upon enquiring from the local artisan if there was a place to rest, the local gestured at his furnace and said mockingly “If you call yourself Guru why don’t you rest here in the furnace?” This posed a direct challenge to the Guruship, and whereas Guru Sahib Ji would much rather have not revealed the full extent of the divine seat of Guru Nanak in this case there was no option. Guru Ji ushered Neela forward who trampled on the mud surrounding the furnace and put one of his hooves on the side of the furnace. Whereas a furnace would normally take a week or so to cool down the furnace became instantly cool. Guru Ji demounted Neela and rested for the night in the furnace. The gurdwara that now stands there has been built around the now solidified mud which still has the impressions of Neela’s hooves.
A descendant of Guru Sahib Ji’s horse at Anandpur Sahib!
Source – http://www.info-sikh.com/
– By MALLIKA KAUR
– June 10, 2014
Finally talking about June 1984—30 years later—will honor the dead and protect the living!
Thirty years have passed since journalists were cut off from Punjab, and Punjab from the world. In June of each year, Sikhs throng to gurudwaras to observe one of the most significant of their religious holidays. On this day, when even the less observant find their way to gurudwaras, the Indian Army attacked Darbar Sahib—the Golden Temple, the Sikh Vatican —and dozens of other gurudwaras across the state.
An estimated ten thousand never returned to claim their shoes from the entrance to the Darbar Sahib. That the exact number of civilian casualties remains unknown signifies precisely why June 1984 is relevant today. More so, in light of India’s May 2014 election and the fierce debates it raised about the status of India’s minority communities.
The army’s operation, code named “Blue Star,” began with the forced eviction of all foreign journalists from Punjab. This, coupled with a state-wide curfew enforced by soldiers, limited the documentation of the civilian experience. However, the people’s memory of these events has been preserved successfully.
Three decades after the attack on India’s two percent Sikh minority, the events come flashing back not only to eyewitnesses and victim families, but anyone alive in Punjab in June 1984: shoot-on-sight orders to lock down an entire state’s citizenry for days hardly prevent (and in cases hasten) pregnant women needing delivery rooms; patients needing doctors; dead needing crematoria. One family relayed what they had witnessed on June 6, 1984 after finally receiving special permission from the Army to take their elderly father’s body to a crematorium: “stench of putrid and burning flesh… bodies had all been brought there by dust carts and from the number of carts; the attendant estimated some 3,300 had so far been cremated.”
The people’s counter-memory to the official narrative has been repeatedly validated, injecting longevity.
In June 1984, even as the government closely orchestrated the return of foreign journalists a fortnight later for a special tour of the Darbar Sahib after a hurried clean-up, a young Associated Press journalist, who had managed to stay in Punjab during the attack, had already filed: at least 1200—twice the government’s number—deaths in Amritsar city alone, killings by close-range shots of Sikhs with their hands still tied behind their backs, and subsequent dumping of bodies into garbage trucks.
A year later, in 1985, Indian civil liberties group Citizens for Democracy and distinguished jurist V.M. Tarkunde published findings of “sadistic torture, ruthless killings…calculated ill-treatment of women and children.” As the Government banned the report and arrested its authors and publishers,India Today opined, “Never before were the champions of civil liberties in India in such dire need of liberating themselves from the clutches of the law.”
In 1995, anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew, having studied the killing fields of Punjab in 1992-94, summarized her fieldwork in Punjab: “The Army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”
Last year, British documents, de-classified under a 30-year rule, revealed letters between Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi revealing the latter’s plan for attacking Amritsar. Dated February 1984, these communications took place four months before “Blue Star,” long trotted out as an exigent army action due to unavoidable urgency.
And memory-keeping was a burden not even anticipated by the Sikhs, as world media stood outraged by the events. A “virtual massacre” reported The Guardian; “whole of Punjab…turned into a concentration camp” declared theChristian Science Monitor; and when the Indian government issued arrest warrants for AP’s journalist, the New York Times joined others in vociferous protests, asserting that his only crime was “doing his job too well.”
Despite all this, why does public conversation about June 1984 sputter to a stall in Indian circles? At most, it revolves briefly around the collateral of a firefight between the Army and Sikh leader Bhinderanwale’s men who put up a stiff fight for three days in Amritsar. Suggestions for greater truth-telling about civilian losses again render Sikhs as suspects, illustrating political and societal immaturity.
June 1984, and the subsequent anti-Sikh pogroms across India (organized post Indira Gandhi’s assassination), were followed ominously by the responsible Congress Party winning a national election victory. This landslide is still unprecedented in Indian history, May 2014 victory of another Party accused of pogroms notwithstanding.
Noting what happened after the June 1984 firefight highlights at least three legacies of June 1984 that are all the more relevant to India in 2014.
First, the attacks in June removed forever the erstwhile barrier in the Indian psyche of attacking faith centers. “Nothing was sacred anymore, everything was permitted” wrote Ivan Fera in the Illustrated Weekly of India, 1984. This has been demonstrated since, perhaps most symbolically in the public destruction of a Muslim mosque in 1992, resurgent calls to build a Hindu temple on the land, and attendant riots. The Committee to “liberate” the land where the mosque stood was first convened in winter 1984.
Second, the attacks of June 1984 signaled to the nation that entire communities marked as ‘enemies within’ were undeserving of even humanitarian protection. The Red Cross was stopped just a few miles away from Darbar Sahib, ironically at the historic Jallianwala Bhag, site of the massacre of Punjabis struggling against British colonists in 1919, sixty-five years before facing Indian guns in Amritsar. Pilgrims trapped in the hostels on the eastern side of the Darbar Sahib complex, the other end from where Bhinderanwale and his men were lodged, were rounded up, seated in the courtyard and fired upon. “Many wounded were left to bleed to death,” wrote Amrit Wilson, in the New Statesman in November 1984. “[W]hen they begged for water, army [men] told them to drink the mixture of blood and urine on the floor. Four months later no list of casualties or missing persons had yet been issued.” This list has yet to be seen.
Third, the attacks of June 1984 sanctioned destruction of difference. Turbans, Sikh markers, were removed before killing and women were made to watch before they themselves faced emblematic violence—this received markedly more attention when it happened on the streets of Delhi in November 1984, the “ripping apart” of children and gang rape of women, as noted by Delhi-based human rights groups. Further, the Army’s burning of the Sikh Reference Library after the June firefight is held as an attack on Sikh psyche. The centuries-old, primary source documents that were housed in the building where no firefight ever took place remain shrouded in mystery even today: since June 1984, Sikhs have claimed—and a 2004 Indian Government revelation even quietly acknowledged—that the materials were taken by the forces and not destroyed, but also not returned as a marker of humiliation and attempt at erasure of heritage.
Refusing to speak about June 1984 has meant missed opportunities and acquiescing to dangerous trends. Even if the polity is not ready to honestly discuss the firefight between the combatants, it is thirty years overdue to speak of those who slipped off their shoes for a moment of solace in a place of worship and walked instead to a brutal death. When the children of 1984 begin to wake up from the parents’ nightmares, the parents of 2014 may learn to prevent future darkness.
Mallika Kaur is a lawyer who focuses on gender and minority issues in the U.S. and South Asia. She has a J.D. from The UC Berkeley School of Law and M.P.P from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is volunteering with the 1984 Living History Project this 30th anniversary year.