ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕਾਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ ॥ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂਜੀਕੀਫ਼ਤਹਿ ॥
Easter Term has hit us hard, and Summer is almost here! For those of you who have finished exams, congratulations, and for everyone else, best wishes for revision and for the exams!
Yesterday marked the anniversary of Sant Teja Singh’s birth. Sant Teja Singh was a pioneer in that he laid the foundation for Sikh presence at the university, him being the first turban-wearing Sikh to study here. He also helped establish Sikhi in the Western World, as part of the Singh Sabha Movement and by setting up Gurdwara Sahibs in the UK, US and Canada.
The month of Jeth is the period between Spring and Summer, but as much as this is a month of colour and joy, we must not forget the sacrifices made by our Gurus and by Gursikhs over our short but rich history, from which we should take inspiration.
In 1606, because of his refusal to convert and compromise his faith, Guru Arjun Dev Ji (our 5th Guru) was ordered to be tortured on a boiling plate with burning sand poured over his body. This sacrifice was a watershed moment in Sikh history as the faith’s most revered figure gave his life for the faith itself. Even in death, however, it is said that Guruji began meditating, accepting his shaheedi (martyrdom) as Hukam (God’s Will). Ever since this event, shaheedi for the survival of Sikhi has become a consistent feature of our history. We have attached a Basics of Sikhi video below for a detailed re-count of the events surrounding Guruji’s shaheedi.
The martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev Ji marked a point of no return in these Sikh-Mughal relations. Over the course of the next couple of centuries, clashes with the Mughals, who were fearful of the growing strength of an increasingly militant Sikh panth, escalated. This led to the martyrdoms of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji in 1675 and Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1708, and eventually in 1746 to the massacre of some 10,000 Sikhs at the hands of the Hindu Hill Rajas, on behalf of the Mughal Empire, in what is now known as the Chhota Ghallughara (literally meaning “Lesser Holocaust”). Every one of these Sikhs was offered the choice of death or, alternatively, being spared if they renounced their faith and converted. None of them gave up Sikhi. Like their Gurus before them, they chose to die, hardened by their faith in the fact that death as a Sikh was much more preferable to a life of compromise.
Historically, Sikhs have commemorated the Chhota Ghallughara towards the start of Jeth, i.e. around the 16-17th of May. Later, in 1762, some 50,000 unarmed, non-combatant Sikhs were murdered at the hands of the Mughal-aligned Afghan forces of the Durrani Empire in what is known as the Vadda, i.e. “greater”, Ghallughara. Instead of driving the Sikhs of the 18th century into any feelings of disillusionment with their faith, these watershed moments in our history further inspired the Khalsa into processes of organisation and direct, politically-charged action. And by the end of the century, Sher-e-Panjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh Sukerchakia had united the Misls of Panjab, captured Lahore and established the Sarkar-i-Khalsa, the Sikh Empire; a Khalsa Raj forged in the blood and bones of hundreds of thousands of Shaheedis – men and women, young and old – who had laid down their lives in the hope that future Sikhs would continue to agitate against tyranny along revolutionary lines. This is the enduring legacy of the Chhota Ghallughara.
As a finishing note, we would also like to stress the importance of mental health during this exam season. Please do look after yourselves, making sure you keep to healthy eating and sleeping habits. If you would like to talk about anything, feel free to message our Welfare Officer on messenger or here, or anyone else on committee! Do go out and enjoy the sun as well, just going for a quick walk for fresh air can really help! We also have a Welfare Resources Document which you can access here.
ਹਰਿ ਜੇਠਿ ਜੁੜੰਦਾ ਲੋੜੀਐ ਜਿਸੁ ਅਗੈ ਸਭਿ ਨਿਵੰਨਿ ॥
Har Jeth juranda lorheeai jisu agai sabh nivann.
In the month of Jeth one desires to meet with the Lord, to whom all bow in humility.
ਹਰਿ ਸਜਣ ਦਾਵਣਿ ਲਗਿਆ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਬੰਨਿ ॥
Har sajanh daavnh lagiaa kisai na deii bann.
Those who hold the hem of Har’s robe, the true friend, no one can keep them in bondage.
SinghStation, ‘Chhota Ghallughara – The Sikh Holocaust of 1746’ (https://singhstation.net/2020/05/chhota-ghallughara-the-sikh-holocaust-of-1746/)
Sial Mirza-Goraya, ‘Evolution of the Sikh Polity II – the 18th century’ (https://khalsachronicle.substack.com/p/evolution-of-the-sikh-polity-ii-the?s=r)
Dr Harjeet Grewal, ‘Deepening our Relationship with the Panjabi Language’ (https://www.baaznews.org/p/punjabi-language?s=r&fbclid=IwAR1uVPGiMpssmMqEkn374CqnxAIUJSDDcNhUYa0HwSGZYWJ4LkrkDKgGTM8)
Sikander Singh, ‘The Origin Theories of Punjabi Language’ (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353680383_The_Origin_Theories_of_Punjabi_Language_Sikander_Singh?fbclid=IwAR1xFdsy5AYkkhYOR18SSlWowypjggtE26WW0dTDrhvCjsCnIF7wga0ItqY)