Tag Archives: sikh

BOOK REVIEW: ROYALS AND REBELS: The Rise and Fall of the Sikh Empire … Priya Atwal

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    The book has so much to do with Sikh-Mughal connect. As opposed to the popular narrative that brings the aspect of religion into the Sikh-Mughal conflict, the historical relationship between the two had many hues of grey, writes the lady author, who is a British historian and a also researcher in Oxford.

       The Sikh popular memory tends to have a negative image of the Mughals, but historically speaking, Sikh-Mughal relationship was never completely antagonistic, elicits the author, which she explains in a very concealing fashion. What we think of as a lasting memory is actually an evolving thing, and never constant. While, it’s the painful events, such as the execution of Sikh Gurus that tend to dominate the lasting memory. Overall the author has highlighted the evidence that where Sikh-Mughal encounters were not wholly hostile. Albeit briefly, the gurus were at times supported, and at times they themselves extended support to certain Mughal royals. Sikh Gurbani additionally reveals how they assimilated and challenged Mughal ideas of power to forge their own vision of a fair, and virtuous society.

   Women were vital in the story of the Sikh empire. Sikh History underscores the point that Punjabi women have been active in politics for centuries. Citing an example the author writes, Ranjit Singh would never have become Maharaja without the protective support of his mother, Raj Kaur, after the death of his father, Maha Singh, when Ranjit was just ten. Raj Kaur safeguarded the Sukerchakia misl for her son until he came of age. The Sukerchakia Misl was one of 12 Sikh Misls—or say, Sikh Confederacy, in Punjab during the 18th century concentrated in Gujranwala and Hafizabad district in Western Punjab (in modern-Pakistan) and ruled from (1752-1801). The Sukerchakia’s last Misldar or commander of the Misl was Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh united all the misls and established an independent kingdom in Punjab. Moreover, Ranjit Singh would have certainly struggled to conquer Lahore but for the support of his in-laws, the Kanhaiya and Nakai misls, whose troops accompanied him to lay siege at the Lahore Fort in 1799. It was actually his formidable mother-in-law, Sada Kaur, who negotiated a peace settlement with the Sikh Sardars occupying the fort at the time, ensuring that they departed without causing further bloodshed. Both mother figures were crucial in teaching the young Ranjit Singh how to be a civil and effective leader.

    The book presents a very interesting picture of the Maharaja’s multiple marriages and his wives taking part in the power game, with the last wife, Jind Kaur, becoming the Queen-Regent. The Maharaja had at least 30 wives—according to author’s estimate. The title includes a ‘marriage map’ which plots where these women came from. Ranjit Singh’s queens were Sikh, Hindu and even Muslim. His marriages helped cement Sukerchakia dynastic ties throughout the different classes and ethnic groups of its growing empire within and beyond Punjab. Jind Kaur was his last and the most famous queen, given her a dramatic role, fighting against the East India Company in the 1840s, and attempting to preserve the Sikh Empire’s independence. However, Rani Jindan, though an incredible woman, was no exception in the key political role that she played as Queen Regent. She was following in the footsteps of Raj Kaur and Sada Kaur, as well as Ranjit Singh’s other forgotten wives who were also variously military leaders, ambassadors, educators of princely sons and artistic patrons. It would therefore be entirely false to claim that Punjabi women’s participation in politics is only a recent phenomenon. They have been political for centuries!

    On a tricky question about social media that often circulates rather disturbing illustrations depicting the execution of Sikh gurus that came with strong anti-Muslim rhetoric the author writes until the 19th century, Punjabi authors like Bhangu were trying to show that Emperor Babur had Guru Nanak’s sanctity to rule over India.

    When the Sikhs attempted to put their Gurus’ ideas into practice, seeking power and challenging oppressive regional elites (including Mughal lords and Hindu hill rajahs), they began facing persecution. Yet the Sikhs withstood this, becoming kings themselves by the end of the 18th century. It was then that they too began carefully embracing some of the trappings of Mughal royalty, including commissioning new histories of Punjab. Rattan Singh Bhangu’s, Sri Guru Panth Prakash was produced in this context. He and other 19th century historians effectively re-imagined the story of Sikh-Mughal relations to assert the legitimacy of Ranjit Singh’s generation as the rightful ruler of Punjab.

    The book deals with the counter the anti-monarchists who say that Maharaja Ranjit Singh destroyed the republican nature of Sikhi, by founding a Sikh state, based on hereditary kingship, where the author believes that the path was shown by the Sikh gurus themselves and the various misl sardars who followed them.

    The author found during her doctoral research that there was clearly some unease, even disapproval, amongst a particular group of twentieth-century Sikh historians about the monarchical status of Ranjit Singh. They connected his royal style of government to the eventual downfall of Sikh Raj, claiming that monarchical rule went against the ‘republican ethos’ of the Khalsa and therefore doomed his dynasty to failure. However, more recent research by scholars has powerfully highlighted that a royal style of ruler-ship was readily embraced by Sikh misl sardars well before Ranjit Singh became Maharaja in 1801. The Sikh Gurus themselves, never out rightly, condemned monarchy as a form of government in Gurbani. Instead, it is coming to a new understanding of how, in Sikh philosophy, ideas of kingship have been routinely deployed as metaphors—and in the 1700 and 1800s, were directly adopted—to give expression to Sikh sovereignty.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our Publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai and Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida, India)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K.)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

Short stories and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; Indica, 15.8.20; The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; Happy Days, November 15, 2020; The Karma Cycle of Paddy and Wheat, December 15,2020; Power Vs Influence, January 31, 2021;

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK REVIEW: THE SUNSET CLUB by Khushwant Singh

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    The Sunset Club is about three men (all fictitious characters) – Sardar Boota Singh, Nawab Barkatullah Baig, and Pandit Preetam Sharma. They have been friends for more than forty years. They’re all octogenarians and are a part of the sunset club. Every evening, during sunset hours these men sit in the Lodhi Gardens, and indulge in conversations about a number of controversial topics. These topics range from religion and politics to love, sex, and scandals.

    In the book, the author, delicately portrays, the life and problems of old age. He keeps track of this trio for a year, from January 26, 2009 to January 26, 2010. The different events that take place through a year include violence, general elections, corruption, and natural disasters. The ways in which the conversations of the trio keep changing as per time, are narrated quite well in the book.

    The book not only gives a picture of old India, but it also highlights her various social complexities and irony. The readers can experience an emotional roller-coaster ride with sadness and laughter simultaneously in the book. The Sunset Club was published by Penguin India in 2011. It is available in paperback. The price of the book in Amazon for a print copy is Rs 254 and kindle version is Rs 174.

    Khushwant Singh was one of India’s best-known writer and columnist. He was the founder-editor of Yojana, the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India, the National Herald and Hindustan Times. He is the author of classics such as Train to Pakistan, I shall Not Hear the Nightingale (re-titled as The Lost Victory) and Delhi. His non-fiction includes the classic two-volume of ‘A History of the Sikhs,’ a number of translations and works on Sikh religion and culture, Delhi, nature, current affairs and Urdu poetry. In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan. Among the other awards that he has received are, the Punjab Ratan, the Sulabh International award for the most honest Indian of the year, and honorary doctorates from several universities. He passed away in 2014 at the age of ninety-nine.

    Khushwant Singh at the age of 95 wrote ‘The Sunset Club’ a novel about three friends in their 80s who spend the evenings in Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens talking about love, lust, sex and scandal towards the end of their lives.

    The prime protagonists of Sunset Club are Pandit Preetam Sharma, Nawab Barkatullah Baig and Sardar Boota Singh. They are friends for over forty years. They all are now in their eighties. Every evening, at the hour of sunset, they come and sit together on a bench in Lodhi Gardens. There they exchange news, views, events that have gone past during the day, talking about everything from love, lust, sex and scandal to religion and politics.

    The book follows a year in the lives of the three men—from January 26 2009 to January 26 2010— Khushwant Singh brings his characters vibrantly to life, with his appetising portrayals, of their fantasies and foibles. His accurate unerring ear for dialogue and his genius for capturing the flavour and texture of everyday life in their households is just fantastic. He interweaves this with the compelling Indian human story as a parallel chronicle of this book. He talks of a year in the life of India, as the country goes through the cycle of seasons, the tumult of general elections, violence, natural disasters and corruption in high places. The narrative is garnished with ribald and is lyrical, poignant and profound, The book is a deeply moving exploration of friendship, sexuality, old age and infirmity. A joyous celebration of nature, an insightful portrait of India’s paradoxes and complexities. A masterpiece from one of India’s most-loved storytellers, The Sunset Club will have you in tears and laughter, and grip you from the first page to the last.

    Khushwant Singh has remained a rarity – an almost completely a home-grown success. The Sunset Club, his most recent novel, is an achievement of great measure because of his age—to produce a novel at 95 is testimony of his interest to the cause of writing.

    He was a great writer and in that provocateur, raconteur and a celebrated editor of India. He wrote without pomposity and that’s the hallmark of his success as a writer. Even in the autumn of his life the Sardar’s zest for life was undiminished and ‘The Sunset Club is a proof of that. The Sunset Club, tagged as analects of the year 2009, chronicles the friendship of three oldies- a Hindu, A Sikh and a Muslim—but in reality you get to see contemporary India, especially between January 26, 2009 and January 26, 2010.

    It does not take a great effort on the reader’s part to realize that Sardar Boota Singh is Khushwant Singh himself. At one point Nawab Barkatullah Baig tells his wife about Boota “He is good company. He spices his talk with anecdotes, quotations and improper language. One can never tell how much of what he says is true, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy listening to him.” Readers too, enjoy reading it. The book has some Hindi abuses too that come out naturally while in conversation that produces cheap sexy thrills. The author has tried to keep the old men’s bench at Lodhi Gardens warm throughout the pages mainly by the sexual jaunts of bachelor Punjabi Brahmin Sharma, Baig and Boota. These jaunts add to the reader’s interest and tow well with the portrait of contemporary India that lures you to finish the book. Old age and infirmity lurks in the background but it is the recollections of the youth and hope for the next day that is remarkable about the Sunset. Despite the departure of Baig and Sharma, it is the hope that makes Boota gaze upon Bara Gumbaz and makes you feel that it still resembles the fully rounded bosom of a young woman.

    The book is an appropriate homage to Delhi, emanating from the Lodhi Gardens, and in the environs of Sujan Singh Park, where Khushwant Singh has lived much of his life. But the real achievement of the book is the mere fact that it simply exists. It’s the kind of book that few writers would attempt today. The sentences and narration is very sharp and upfront. Khushwant Singh’s greatest achievements as a writer came early on, with his monumental and unparalleled ‘History of the Sikhs’ and the Partition classic ‘Train to Pakistan.’ The hold he has on our minds, and the claim he has on our hearts, comes from the rest of his life.

    He is the most un-hypocritical of writers, confessing to his preference for tanpura-like buttocks and his enthusiasm for Scotch and women with tremendous zest. His home in Sujan Singh Park has always been open to a stream of writers and publishers who wanted either his blessings or his gossip. His weekly column – carried on without a break, except in rare cases of illness, for decades—has made Santa—Banta jokes famous. And he was proud of, the dirty-minded schoolboy humour that seeped into all his novels,

    If you’ve not read this book you’ve indeed missed the spice of life. I would give this book seven out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

BOOK TALK: TRAIN TO PAKISTAN by Khushwant Singh

Copyright@shravancharitymission

 

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

THE TRAIN TO PAKISTAN

BY KHUSHWANT SINGH

    The summer of 1947 was not like any other Indian summer. The weather that year had a different feel. What was, looming large on the horizon was, communal riots, and precipitated reports of the proposed division of the country into a Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan. Within a few months the death toll had mounted to several thousands. ‘Muslims said the Hindus had planned and started the killing. According to the Hindus, the Muslims were to blame.’

    The riots had gradually spread from Calcutta to north and east and west. In Noakhali, East Bengal Muslims massacred Hindus. In Bihar Hindus massacred Muslims. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs who had lived for centuries in the Northwest Frontier abandoned their homes and fled towards the protection of the predominantly Sikh and Hindu communities in the east. They travelled on foot, in bullock carts, crammed into lorries as the riots had become a rout.

    By the summer of 1947 when the creation of a new state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million people—Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs—were in flight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and entire northern India was up in arms. The only oases of peace that remained were a scatter of little villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. Where, one such village happened to be Mano Majra.

    A tiny place, it had only three brick buildings. One belonged to the money lender Lala Ram Lal. The other two were the Sikh temple (Gurudwara), and the mosque (Masjid). Rest of the village was a cluster of flat-roofed mud huts and low-walled courtyards, which fronted on the narrow lanes. There were only seventy families in Mano Majra a fictional village. Lala Ram Lal was the only Hindu family. The others were Sikhs or Muslims, about equal in number and some quasi-Christians. The Sikhs owned all the land around the village and the Muslims were tenants and shared the tilling with the owners. There were a few families of sweepers also whose religion was uncertain. The Muslims claimed them as their own. Yet when American missionaries visited Mano Majra the sweepers wore khaki sola topees and joined their women folk in singing hymns in the accompaniment of harmonium.

    Even though, Mano Majra was said to be on the banks of Sutlej river. It was actually half a mile away from it. Sutlej is the largest river in Punjab. And about a mile north of Mano Majra. The Sutlej is spanned by a railroad bridge. It is a magnificent bridge—its eighteen enormous spans sweep like waves from one pier to another, and at each end of it there is a stone embankment. To, buttress the railway line.

    Mano Majra was always known for its railway station. Since the bridge had only one track. The station had several sidings where less important trains could wait, to make way for the more important ones. Not many trains stopped at Mano Majra. Express trains did not stop at all. Of the many slow passenger trains, only two, one from Delhi to Lahore in the mornings and the other from Lahore to Delhi in the evenings, were scheduled to stop for a few minutes. The only regular customers were the goods train. After dark, when the countryside was steeped in silence. The whistling and puffing of engines, the banging of buffers and the clanking of iron couplings could be heard all through the night. Apart from this, the blasts of the whistle were also heard often when the trains passed. And in all of this the author has done a wonderful job of describing the village activities. The Sikhs and the Muslims had a cordial relationship with each other until the summer of 1947.

    One heavy night in August five dacoits appeared in the village. And in sync with the rumblings of the sidings of the train, they decided to raid the house of the money lender Lala Ram Lal. They hammered the door with their weapons and after breaking it open they entered. They killed Lala Ram Lal and looted his treasure and fired two shots in the air to silence the village.  While leaving they passed through Juggut Singh’s (Juggia) house who was considered the village badmash and threw a bundle of bangles into his house to make him feel feminine. But since Juggut Singh (Juggia) was not at home they missed the action.

    Juggia was on probation where he was not supposed to leave the village and also report to the police station at frequent intervals. His father was a dacoit who was hanged for his crimes. Juggia had developed a physical relationship with Nooran, a Muslim girl who happened to be the daughter of Imam Baksh the Mullah of the Masjid. Once when, Juggia stepped out in the night, taking all the risk only to ‘make love’ to Nooran in the open fields where no one could see them. They heard some footsteps and went quiet. They saw some five people and could make out they were Malli the famous dacoit and his gang mates. Juggia was shocked. What was Malli doing in his village? This was no time for dacoities when the country was wounded, he thought. And, when, he was about to enter his house, he saw the door was open. Where, several villagers were in the courtyard talking to his mother. He turned around, quietly and made his way back to the river.

    In the bureaucratic circles, Mano Majra had some importance because of an officer’s rest house that was located just north of the railway bridge.  It had a flat roofed bungalow made of khaki bricks with a veranda in the front facing the river. It stood in the middle of a squarish plot enclosed by a low wall. Throughout the winter months, officers arrange tours that involved a short halt at the Mano Majra rest house. There they went for shoots and generally had a good time there.

    In the morning before the dacoity in Mano Majra, the rest house had been done up to receive an important guest. Before the arrival of this VIP the SI (sub-inspector) of police and two constables had also turned up on their bicycles. And soon the VIP too arrived in a large American car. His name was Hukum Chand, magistrate and deputy commissioner of the district. He immediately freshened up and got the SI to his room to start a conversation around some urgent issues over a glass of beer. The obsequious SI didn’t waste any time. He was immediately on the mission to please him. Corrupt Hukum Chand was expecting more than normal courtesies from the SI. That included wine, woman and song. The SI had it all in his quiver. During the course of beer he also started enquiring from the SI about the communal tension and about the convoys of dead Sikhs as they had been coming through at Amritsar. They had a frank discussion. Hukum Chand told the SI about Sikhs who retaliated by attacking a Muslim refugee train and sending it across the border with over a thousand corpses. They wrote on the engine ‘Gift to Pakistan!’

     The sentiments were far from normal on both the sides of the border. But it had not affected Mano Majra yet. The Muslims in Mano Majra were not well to do. There was also a discussion on Jugga. The SI reminded Hukum Chand of his father Alam Singh who was hanged two years back. SI explained, Jugga was in a relationship with a Muslim weaver’s daughter whose father was blind and was the mullah of the mosque and his name was Imam Baksh. In the evening Hukum Chand had his round of whisky along with a dance session by a prostitute who was in her teens and even slept with her. The dark side of bureaucracy and feudalism one could say.

    The morning after the dacoity the railway station was more crowded than usual. Residents of Mano Majra loved coming to the station just for the heck of it. Today the train from Delhi had some special visitors. Twelve armed policemen along with a sub-inspector alighted from compartment just behind the engine. And from the other end of the train near the guard’s van, a young man stepped down. Every bit an urbanite and also looked as if he was educated abroad, and somewhat effeminate, in body language. He was looking for a place to stay in Mano Majra. Soon he reached the Gurudwara where he met an old Sikh who happened to be the bhai of the temple. His name was Meet Singh. He enquired the name of the young man when the young man said, ‘Iqbal.’ ‘Iqbal Singh?’ queried the old man. To which Iqbal didn’t reply. Iqbal could have been Iqbal Singh, or Iqbal Chand or even Iqbal Mohammed. He declared himself as a social worker. He carried his own foodstuff to eat including fish complete with head, eyes and tail and even liquor. Bhai Meet Singh adviced Iqbal not to go out too far in the village as it was bad times. And that Lambarder and Imam Baksh, the mullah of the mosque were coming to meet him.

     The attention then shifts to the money lender’s house, who was murdered the previous night. The dacoits had taken a lot of cash and they say over five thousand rupees in silver and gold ornaments from his women. The murder suspect was now Jugga in whose house the packet of bangles was found that was left by the dacoits. He is soon arrested. Jugga pleads not guilty as he wouldn’t have looted and killed his own village brother but he was not heard.

    In fact the arrest of Jugga also had the okay of Hukum Chand the magistrate. In fact the magistrate had also given the concurrence to arrest Iqbal too, and implicate him in the case of murder. Iqbal had become a matter of suspicion because his undisclosed mission. They both are put in the lock up. But Iqbal had arrived a day after the murder and Jugga could not have killed his village-brother or struck a dacoity in his own village. This makes the authorities feel something is amiss. Which, they will not be able to prove it in the court of law. So they timidly accept the mistake and arrest Malli and his gang from Chundunugger police station.  

    Meanwhile things are hotting up in Mano Majra. One day a ‘ghost train’ arrives at Mano Majra railway station. The entire area along the station is cordoned off. Rumours spread it is a ‘funeral train’ carrying dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus killed in the massacre. Army steps in with some Sikh officers and their Jeeps and trucks. Meanwhile, the local police are commissioned, to go around villages to collect wood and oil. This gives a clear indication, that it is required for mass cremation. The docile villagers, handover whatever is available with them. And after a while all they get to see is the billowing of dense smoke making it amply clear that its mass cremation that is going on. Post this; traumatic rumours spread across the village.

    But even before matters cool of, one day another ‘Ghost Train’ enters Mano Majra. It has no lights. It doesn’t whistle nor does it rumble. The army once cordons off the entire area. Soon an excavator arrives and starts digging a huge pit. The dead bodies are brought from the train and made to rest in the pit—mass burial. After which, the train disappears, as mysteriously, as it had come.

    News spreads that it was the bodies of Hindus and Sikhs brought in the train twice for cremation and burial. Upon reviewing the situation authorities feel another ‘Ghost Train’ can start riots in Mano Majra too. So they decide to shift the Muslim population to the ‘refugee camp’ from where they would be deported to Pakistan. Muslims of Mano Majra are not quite inclined to go to Pakistan as they feel they were born and brought up only in Mano Majra. But the cruel destiny decides that they have to leave. Nooran too, has to leave along with her father Imam Baksh. She comes to meet Jugga’s mother. She informs she is carrying Juggia’s child and therefore if she could adopt her and let her be in her house. But Juggia’s mother is not inclined to keep her, so she asks her to leave for the camp immediately.

    Meanwhile Juggut Singh, Iqbal, Malli and his gang are released from the jail. Iqbal disappears suddenly. But the talk whether he was a Muslim or a Sikh continues. Juggia upon reaching his home learns Nooran had come seeking for shelter at his home but was turned away by his mother. He gets very upset at this and threatens her to kill himself. And by now a young Sikh lad has emerged in Mano Majra. It appears he has come from Pakistan and is full of hatred for Muslims consequent to what he had seen in Pakistan—rape of Hindu and Sikh women and slaughter of their children and men. He is full of fire. He comes to the Gurudwara and provokes the Sikhs to join him for taking revenge. About fifty Sikhs join him as volunteers.

    Next day in the morning, the Sikh lad, along with all the volunteers make a plan. The train loaded with Muslim refugees is likely to start from Chundunugger and by night it will reach Mano Majra. The train has no lights as it being made to move in a surreptitious manner. All along the way they plan to post volunteers with torches who will signal as soon as the train passes them. They plan to tie a sturdy rope from one end to the other on the first steel span of the rail bridge which is at the height of the funnel of the engine which is about twenty feet. And once the train reaches there in the dark it will pull down all the people sitting on the roof say 4-500. The impact might even dislodge the train itself and it might fall into the river. Prima facie it appeared to be a perfect plan when they could have attacked and killed all the refugees.

    By night everything was in place. The train was moving without lights. Each time it passed a volunteer, the torch light flashed giving the signal that the train had moved ahead. It was a moonlit night. When, the Sikh lad saw a silhouette of a hefty person climbing the first steel span. He then started moving on the sturdy rope when he took out his kirpan (sword) and started cutting it. The Sikh lad upon seeing this, yelled at the hefty person to stop what he was doing. But the guy was unfazed. His movements up there had become even swifter by now. The train by now was also close to the steel span. The Sikh lad by now had understood what was happening. Someone was trying to sabotage the plan by cutting the rope as that would have saved all the refugees. So he first yelled and then took out his gun and shot the guy. He was hurt, and by now he was in the centre of the span. Where, his movements had become much more, faster. And finally he was successful in cutting the rope at the nick of the moment. But just then he fell on the track when the train ran over him and into Pakistan.

    The person who cut the rope was no else but Juggut Singh who wanted to save his Muslim girlfriend from being killed but in the process he killed himself.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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Story: An insight into conversion

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conversion 2 conversion conversion1

    One wonders at times, if individuals are in the habit of peeping into their family history. More importantly their family tree as a giveaway to their posterity. Well if they are, they would surely know the names of their ancestors beyond their Grandfather. That is grandfather’s father and even his father and also his father’s father.

    It is widely believed many Muslims in India have converted from Hinduism. And that makes me wonder how the present generation of Muslims deal with their forefathers and ancestors who were Hindus. With love or with hate? This is an emotional topic, that is often thought of by inquisitive individuals but never spoken about. Not even in the serene and quiet corners of their homes. Also, the society in general doesn’t want to dig into this tabooed adventures, and so be it. Yet, there is an undying inquisition at times to know more about such happenings.

    Let us as a hypothesis think about a person named Brij Singh, son of Prakriti Singh, who some two hundred years ago converted into Islam and named himself as Shamsher Khan. If we were to take sixty years to be as one ‘generation’ then that would mean. This would be Shamsher Khan’s fifth generation as a Muslim, flaunting their surname as Khan. Let me further suppose that one out of the current descendant of Prakriti Singh is Amjad Khan, who knows about Prakriti Singh as part of his ancestry.

    Then my inquisition would run further wild. As I would like to fathom from Amjad Khan as to how he deals and feels about his ancestry. Does he have any feelings for Prakriti Singh and Brij Singh, the last Hindu mark in his long lineage. And whether, he is proud and fond of his Hindu forefathers and his lineage. Or has he grown up hating them or revering them or thinking it is a zone where he should not enter. And, last but not the least, if it is a stalemate issue beyond Amjad Khan’s comprehension.

    Often the friction point is the religion of a person. But can religion wash away the truism off an individual’s lineage is the big question. Answer of which is only to be felt by the individual in question and never to be spoken about.

    Perhaps, this remains the weakness of mankind. Where, when, one is bulldozed by religion he gives up on his lineage. While, one may cosmetically try and overlook his lineage over his religion, but it is difficult to wash away the truism of life.

    And if the theory of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family) is not a myth, we definitely reach a point, that the world is but one family. Even if people may have converted into various religions and your lineage is a bliss and not a curse.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(Archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. Book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

(CAN BE BOUGHT FROM ON LINE BOOK STORES OR WRITE TO US FOR COPIES)

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SHORT STORY: THE SIKH GURU

Copyright@shravancharitymission

By Kamlesh Tripathi

sikh flag gloom

An excerpt from the book ‘Gloom behind the Smile’

    It is amazing to see some cities and states losing people to other urban areas that are dynamic. This has also been happening across countries and continents. I guess this is how civilizations kept moving from one place to another. I was reading about a Sikh Guru. He once visited a village and stayed there for a few days and then prepared to leave. While he was leaving he blessed the village by saying ‘May you prosper by staying here only.’ Guru moved on and as night was setting in he camped in another village and stayed there for a couple of days and enjoyed their hospitality. While leaving he blessed the village by saying ‘May you prosper and move to other parts of the world.’ A keen follower.Who was watching. Asked the Guru as to why he had given two types of blessings. To his disciples in two different villages. The Guru replied that the people of the first village. Though looked after me, were not very cultured. Therefore, I blessed them. But prayed to God. That they should not move out and spread their culture. I found the second village well cultured. Therefore I wished to the Almighty. That these people should prosper and travel to other parts of the world. So that they spread the light of their sweetness and culture everywhere.

Write to us for hard copies. Or you could purchase the book online from any book store. E-book can be downloaded from Antrik.com or Pothi.com.

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SHORT STORY: DIVINE ALIGNMENT

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    Today, once again, early in the morning I was woken up by a phone call from Sukhwinder Singh. He is a Granthi in a Gurudwara in Faridabad. But he also happens to be my friend, in the abstract spirits of comrade-in-arms. It appears he has a satellite connect with God and is able to figure out. When, over a period of time my entire self goes into a depression, thinking about my younger son, whom I lost some six years back. And just then he calls up.

    He doesn’t understand English and I can’t talk fluent Punjabi and so we make the most of it in Hindi. His occasional calls pep me up but I am not sure if it’s the other way round too. And, unlike most Sardars he is short and stout and often wears a saffron patka. We came together in life because we both share the curse of losing our sons in a space of a week.

    It was sometime in mid-February when I had admitted my younger son, when he was towards his last in a hospital in Faridabad for palliative care, where I found Sukhwinder’s son also admitted for liver disorder. He was in serious state, around twenty years of age; and the next day he expired. Our rooms were adjacent and so I had enough opportunities to picture and frame him in my mind. And, upon the sad and untimely death of his son, that afternoon, I walked across to his room and paid my deep sense of condolence. Thereafter, in a ballooning bundle of grief, he along with his wailing wife, family and the body of his son left the hospital.

    I was feeling sad for him. But I too wasn’t far behind. As my tragedy too, befell upon me within the next four days. I was thereafter on leave for a couple of weeks. And when I resumed office. Every morning I used to drive past a Gurudwara where one day I spotted Sukhwinder. I stopped my car and went up to him. Just to ask how he was, and quite frankly also to discern, better or worse than me. He was looking the other way when I put my hand on his shoulder. He turned around and without wasting time, I reminded him of the hospital and politely enquired about him, post his son’s death. He could recollect me in seconds and asked about my son. I gave him the tragic news. He sounded hurt. I decided to leave after a brief chat, but he ordered for a cup of tea. And our friendship thus began.

    Since that day till the time that Gurudwara was on my way to office, once in a while we used to meet over a cup of tea and he used to narrate quite a few invigorating episodes from ‘Granth Sahab’ and ‘Gita’ that helped me tide away, and soften my tragedy.

    It is now more than six years we continue as friends and we make it a point to talk to each other at least once a month just to share happiness and sorrow, and probably one day when we stop receiving calls from each other one of us will know the other has kicked the bucket.

    Our world is full of affinity, when it comes to being from the same religion, sect, ethnicity, language and food. But after I lost my son I realised there is also an affinity that takes birth out of unusual tragedies in life. I and Sukhwinder had similar tragedies leading to a very unusual experience in life not known and felt by many, and that brought us together.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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