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Op-ED: Let’s not dissipate relics of our glorious past

January 26, 2014 | By

By: Randhir Singh Bali*

Randhir Singh Bali

Randhir Singh Bali

This article does not aim at criticizing proliferation of Gurdwaras undertaken by Baba’s in various parts of India, but underscores the indispensable need to protect and preserve the historic material evidences which keeps us attached with relics of our rich past. In the recent past Baba’s have undertaken on large scale construction of historical Gurdwaras.

To talk about Kashmir the completed Gurdwaras include Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi, Baramulla, Gurdwra Tharra Sahib, Kalampura (Baramulla), Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi Parampeeran, Uri; Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi, Srinagar; Gurdwara Shaheed Bunga, Srinagar; Gurdwara Tapyana Sahib, Sialkot and Gurdwara Shahji Marg, Pulwama. Most of these Gurdwaras are on the sites where Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji paid visits during his sojourn to Kashmir along with emperor Jehangir and are of significant historical and religious importance.

In Jammu the construction of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Chand Nagar is nearing completion. This is the site where Maharani Chand Kour widow of Kharak Singh, son of Sher-e-Punjab Maharaja Ranjit singh was cremated. This announcement came from Baba Beera Singh a close confident and associate of late Baba Harbans Singh, Delhiwale on the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh Ji`s parkash gurpurb a few years back which I too attended.

This announcement was reciprocated with loud Sikh slogan”Bole So-nihal, Sat Sri Akal” by the Sikh sangat attending the congregation. On this announcement Sikh Sangat heaved a sigh of relief that a long wait of negligence of this historical place is going to end. At the same time there was another school of thought who expressed their reservation about the damages being done to the ethos of Sikh psyche and sites of historical importance.

Gurdwara Chhevin Patshashi Sahib, Baramulla

Gurdwara Chhevin Patshashi Sahib, Baramulla [File Photo]

Our history still stands testimony to the fact that Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji visited Kashmir along with Emperor Jahangir in 1620. After staying at Kathi Darwaza Srinagar for some days Guru Ji reached “Kot Teerath” (Baramulla). He preached Guru Nanak Sahib Ji’s Sikh philosophy and spiritual commandments to the Sikh Sangat of Baramulla. Here Sikh Sangat presented a Chinar (Platanus orientalis) sapling to Guru Ji as a token of his memorable visit to Baramulla which Guru Ji planted at the site where the present monolithic structure of Gurdwara stands. It is also said that Emperor Jahangir also visited Baramulla during the stay of Guru Ji. Jahangir was presented a carved stone cot by the stone cutters which he presented to Guru Ji as token of respect.

Guru Ji had discourses with Sikh Sangat while sitting on this takth. After the departure of Guru Ji, a devout Sikh Bhai Daya Ram Sasan constructed “Thara sahib” around this takth. So, we had these two historic artifacts, the sacred “chinar and “takhat” at the site where the present Gurdwara stands.

These relics of the past were destroyed during ‘kar-sewa’ by Baba Harbans Singh in connivance with the then Gurdwara committee when the construction of the present Gurdwara got started in the eighties. A Sikh KPS officer while talking on the subject said that the deracination of the sacred “Chinar” at Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi Baramulla is the most insignificant event in the construction of Gurdwaras in the Kashmir valley, thus dissipating rich relics of our rich past. It was a symbol with which every devout Sikh’s feelings were attached. Whenever a devout Sikh used to bow his head in reverence to pay obeisance at Thara Sahib, one would feel as if he/ she had the darshan of the Guru.

The news of uprooting of Chinar spread like a wild fire among the Sikh Sangat of Kashmir who denounced this act of the Baba in unequivocal terms. This campaign resulted in the preservation of a similar Chinar at Gurdwara Shah Ji Marg, Pulwama where Sangat did not allow the uprooting of this Chinar which was finally accommodated within the newly constructed Gurdwara. It is said that Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji had tied his horse with this Chinar.

We have three Beris-jujube trees (Zyzyphus mauritiana) and an Emli tree in the precincts of Darbar Sahib (Amritsar) standing with pristine glory and attraction. These trees are the testimony to the sagas of Guru Ramdass Ji, Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Baba Budha Ji, Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, and others. To cite-one of the Beri is Lachi Ber to which two brave warriors Bhai Mehtab Singh Ji Meerakot and Bhai Sukha Singh Mari Kambok from Bikaner tied their horses while entering the Sanctum -sanctorum to behead Massa Rangad, a Mughal officer involved in the desecration of the Darbar Sahib.

On the other hand the erstwhile committee of Gurdwara Chatti Patshahi Baramulla is criminally responsible and accountable to the Sikh nation for this unpardonable act of dereliction that resulted in the breakage and erosion of vital sentimental link with our Gurus memorable visit to Baramulla. Our historic artifacts, monuments which reflect our glorious history and remind us about the supreme sacrifices should not have been destroyed. They are a great and constant source of inspiration to our children who learn about our rich heritage, cultural ethos and glorious traditions.

We can carry forward the legacy of our symbols and heritage to our coming generations if the historic sites of religious importance are not interfered with thus retaining their original shape which is symbolically a vivid recollection of historic scenes.

The damage willy-nilly already done to original structures of most of the historical Gurdwaras such as, Chamkour Sahib Di Garhi at Chamkour Sahib, the historical wall at Sarhind in which two Sahibzadas Bhai Zorawar Singh Ji and Bhai Fateh Singh Ji, the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh Ji were bricked alive and Thanda Burg associated with Sikh history is irreversible. Our efforts should not be pernicious to our history but there should be a constructive endeavor to protect, preserve and conserve all historic material evidences for our future generations and the persons found responsible for such crimes should be persecuted by our highest temporal seat the Akal Takth.

* Author is General Secretary, Kashmir Sikh Displaced Forum. He may be reached at: randhirsingh (dot) bali (at) yahoo (dot) com

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