1984 Kalyanpuri

KalyanThe mobs had started descending on Sikh families in Kalyanpuri. Little did they know, that many Sikhs had licensed weapons with. Shots were fired and the mobs went scrambling away. The deliverers of justice arrived. Police took away the weapons, saying you won’t need them now, we will be guarding the periphery of the colony.

The cops went and alerted the waiting mobs, saying that it was clear for them to go. So again the mobs went for the blood of Sikhs. Many Sikhs were metallurgy workers and picked up tools of their trade to fight back the mob. Again the mob got scared and people retreated for the fear of their life.

This time the police made arrests. Oh, they didn’t arrest people from the mob. They took 25 men from Sikh families who had licensed weapons. They also arrested other young Sikh men who were showing resistance to the mob. Why do so, it was their day to die.

This time the mob had free hand. They burnt the shops, destroyed Sikh property, looted and of course, butchered whomsoever they could lay their hands on.

Tale of Two Kashmirs

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The trip was well planned. But a few days before our flight, we were thinking.. is it a good idea? There had been so many ‘incidents’ and then some people shared their worry that.. you know. Kashmir was nothing like we had known in those 1970’s movies. Times had changed and valley was known for ‘bloodshed’ and ‘violence’. Our flight landed on time and we got out of the airport. There was an air of dread. Too much security, like something was going to happen that very moment. We relaxed when got away from those blockades.

Kashmir is really a heaven on earth. And now we know why it so much ‘sought’ after. The valley is surrounded by beauty on all sides. The mountains in between, with some snow on the top. And when we took a driver, we talked.. about the sad reality of Kashmir. The borders near Gulmerg LoC are really porous. During winter, when there is snow and fog all around, it is very hard to track who is walking those mountain sides. Thus the militants have had a free hand in the valley. And they have led people against ‘occupation’ by India, though people remember Indian army ‘came’ there to prevent annexation by Pakistan.

Most people want ‘azadi’ for Kashmir and in this ‘lost’ cause many families were broken and devastated. We all know that story. Every Kashmiri family probably lost a son. But most importantly, Kashmir has lost its future. It is a state surviving solely on tourism and some farming. There is no ‘plan’ for Kashmir. Probably the Kashmiris don’t have a plan for themselves. They want to be ‘azad’ first. As long as there are poster boys for ISI in Kashmir, the people will live their lives in a ‘hung’ state. Some of them hate ‘Indian’ presence there.

The people were very welcoming and are known for their hospitality. They value their guests very much and go out of their way to make the visit memorable. I don’t think anyone born in Kashmir wants to leave their land. Nor they like going anywhere else to earn their livelihood. They are staying there.. hoping for a better tomorrow. Peace would be a good road to that better tomorrow.

Why I hate people?

In my life, I have been kind of proud of the fact that I had one or two people on my hate list. With time, that feeling of hate for anyone was gone. I never used to think in that fashion. But lately there are some faces which remind me that the list exists for me. And it has gotten bigger. Not long back I reestablished both love and hate, the most human of our living experiences, in my life. While love isn’t something to be afraid of, hate for sure is.

While hate may be a too strong a word, I cannot help but feel disgust at a few mortals. So I thought I would pen my feelings. I have been very acceptable of people’s nature. That was as long as it didn’t affect me. It seems I am allowing myself to be affected by others’ presence. Can I get away? I have got rid of them more or less. Then why does it still affect me? Probably because I never got back at them.

I could advise them to watch out for their ills, but it would fall on deaf ears. I would probably be laughed at. That is not how this world works my friend. So how do I find my peace? How do I become normal again? I will have to focus on the good things again. Live again to enjoy what I do rather than trying to fit myself in a world where all that glitters just ends up in the garbage dump.

With this post I accept.. it is hard to be born a human and die in the Light. The struggle is real. It is always there. How can it be possible to live in the dirt yet rise and grow like the lotus? I hope my mind aids me in this journey. I hope I never forget that all I see, hear and feel is temporary. So is this hate. I know I cannot change what I abhor in others. But I can stop the change they bring in me with their presence. That way I can be truly disconnected.

The Spiritual Black Hole

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This article has been printed with the permission of my wife Harpreet Kaur.

Lately I have been fascinated with black holes. And this fascination has been with me long before Interstellar came along. Black holes denote singularity, where all laws of physics ‘break’ down. Scientists and armchair physicists are trying to understand the black holes, with their event horizons and Hawking radiations. I was thinking in our spiritual life, if there is a black hole? Some point beyond which all the rules break down? Where-in the space time stretches to an infinite point such that it almost breaks. I felt that the only black hole in our spiritual life is death.

Death comes in a moment, but takes away everything from us. We are snatched from the known Universe into the oblivion. No one can hear us from beyond death. No light. No sound. No memories. The transition at the point of event horizon must be the hardest, when the last breath leaves us. What is there in the singularity? Is it a window to another Universe? Is it the end of the space time? Is it the point of projection of this holographic existence? Is it the convergence of every reality?

It might sound poetic. But death is the theoretical truth we all know. We are all familiar with its model and how it works. What we are not sure of what is beyond. And how it is connected with what we are today.

Punishing Hate Crime

Dear Jitender S. & Mitujeet K.,

In the early morning hours after September 11, 2013, I got drunk and assaulted an innocent Sikh man. I charged him, forcefully knocking off his turban. He had done nothing to warrant my actions, I had simply hit rock bottom with my career and my drinking. He was simply in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.

After the assault, I fled.

The victim chased me and once the police arrived and I had sobered, I immediately knew I had done something horribly wrong; however, it never dawned on me that my assault could be prosecuted as a hate crime.

At the request of the Sikh victim I assaulted and the Sikh Coalition’s legal team, I was given 72 hours of mandatory community service. To my great surprise, the Sikh Coalition requested that I spend those hours volunteering with them. Over four months, those hours would permanently alter the course of my life.

During the time I spent with my Sikh colleagues, I was shocked to learn about the severity of the hate crimes, profiling, discrimination, and school bullying that the American Sikh community faces every day. The stories I heard, which now included my own, put my own problems to shame.

The Sikh Coalition’s work also encouraged me to look back on my own education and how it contributed to my prejudice. I grew up in an area of the country with some diversity, went to what many would call an “elite” university, but I understood very little about the Sikh faith and community. The education work the Sikh Coalition is doing across the country, like the recent textbook victory, is the critical first step. Policies won’t change until individuals change. I can speak to that firsthand.

I was moved by the unwavering commitment and professionalism that every staff member demonstrated to me, despite knowing what I had done. Through their work and kindness, they taught me that Sikhism is about the much broader collective well being of humanity. Through that process, I gained an incredible support system that inspired me to make dramatic changes in my life.

One year later, I have stopped drinking, I have a steady job, and I have continued to volunteer for the Sikh Coalition well past my mandated hours. I am an example of how working towards a cause bigger than yourself can truly change you, and the ripple effect that will follow. I will never forget the pain I caused, but the Sikh belief in restorative justice has turned my regretful actions into another voice advocating for change.

My journey over the past year is a testament to the work that the Sikh Coalition does. You must do everything you can to financially ensure that this good work continues in 2015 and beyond. Today, I ask you to join me in making a donation to the Sikh Coalition.

I am donating to the Sikh Coalition because I believe that more Americans, like me, need to learn and support the Sikh community. I am donating to the Sikh Coalition because Sikhs, like the man I assaulted, need an organization to provide legal support. I am donating to the Sikh Coalition because this community needs an organization that remains relentless in the pursuit of educating others.

I needed the Sikh Coalition’s help, and now the Sikh Coalition needs you.

Chardi Kala (in eternal optimism)!

Alex D.

The Sikh Coalition has agreed to use a pseudonym to protect the true identity of the author.

Lessons From the Samurai: The Secret to Always Being at Your Best

TIME

Reading a few books by samurai there was one thing I saw repeated again and again and again that surprised me.

It has nothing to do with swords, fighting or strategy. Actually, quite the opposite when you think about it.

What did so many of history’s greatest warriors stress as key to success and optimal performance?

“Being calm.”

And it wasn’t one random samurai mentioning it off the cuff.

We’re talking about some of the greatest samurai who ever lived writing about it over and over for five hundred years:

Shiba Yoshimasa (1349-1410):

For warriors in particular, if you calm your own mind and discern the inner minds of others, that may be called the foremost art of war.

Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655):

When you manage to overcome your own mind, you overcome myriad concerns, rise above all things, and are free. When you are overcome by your own…

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The Cost of Indian Independence

I left India more convinced than ever before that non-violent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom. It was a marvelous thing to see the amazing results of a non-violent campaign. The aftermath of hatred and bitterness that usually follows a violent campaign was found nowhere in India. Today a mutual friendship based on complete equality exists between the Indian and British people within the commonwealth.

These were the words of American activist, Martin Luther King, when he visited India around 1956. It is sad that he found the campaign for Indian independence to be non-violent. No one told him perhaps, that a million people died due to the partition. If that event was not known being a current affair back then, I wonder how many people in the world are aware of it.

The newly formed governments were completely unequipped to deal with migrations of such staggering magnitude, and massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the border. Estimates of the number of deaths range around roughly 500,000, with low estimates at 200,000 and high estimates at 1,000,000.[9]
Source – wikipedia