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A Good Man

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Admin Singh, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    A Good Man
    by T. SHER SINGH

    I need to get something off my chest.

    I've been carrying it for for 14 years now ... not as a burden, but as a promise I gave him to keep it a secret.

    But I think it's time to talk about it ... and I hope he will not mind.

    It was in 1996, if I remember correctly.

    I had asked a whole motley of young lawyers - all Sikh - from the greater Toronto area to join me for dinner here in this sleepy town of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) one summer evening.

    ‘Young' not in age, but young in the number of years they had been practicing law, at least in Canada.

    Back in 1985, when I was called to the Bar, I was alarmed to find that I was the first and only Sikh - certainly, the first turbaned Sikh - lawyer in the country. Our kids were then mostly drawn to medicine, engineering or business.

    Mercifully, that had begun to change as the millennium approached its ‘000' crossroads, and more and more had started to join law schools. As well, law societies - lawyers' governing bodies, really - had begun to allow lawyers from India to practice here after a period of retraining in Canada.

    So, I wasn't surprised that over a dozen of my colleagues turned up that evening, albeit in response to a cryptic message that I had something important to discuss with them.

    I did.

    I had discovered only a few months earlier, while researching an article I was penning on the history of Sikh-Canadians, that 1897 was the actual year the first group of Sikhs had travelled across Canada - at the invitation of the Canadian government - and a few of those may have been the very first ones to settle down here and make this land their home!

    The icing on the cake was that I had also unearthed a name of an actual person from that group - and a portrait of him as well.

    It didn't take me long to figure out that the oncoming year - 1997 - could then be the centennial year of the first Sikh settlement in Canada!

    The dozen or so of us first gathered at my place for tea, and then sauntered over a couple of blocks to the Diana Restaurant for dinner.

    The restaurant owners, East African Ismailis of Indian descent, graciously gave us privacy in a large room attached to their eatery.

    I told the gaggle of lawyers that curiously stared back at me, of the discovery I had made; reminded them of the times in history lawyers had led their communities forward; congratulated them on their privileged status as lawyers in this society; and urged them to use it and the tools they had available to them to help pull up the Canadian community which was still reeling from fallout from 1984 and India's shenanigans around the 1985 Air India tragedy.

    A rich and meaningful discussion ensued over dinner. There was interest and enthusiasm, and yet some healthy hesitation and self-doubt.

    I reminded them of the work that had been done in recent years by two Canadian organizations - The Macauliffe Institute of Sikh Studies and The Sikh Foundation (Canada) - and floated the idea of consolidating it under a new name and carry on the task of rebuilding self-esteem in the community.

    And 1997 begged to be celebrated in a big way! At the same time, if done with class and aplomb, it could launch a new era of hyper-activity and, who knows, even rejuvenate us all.

    We talked and talked - as lawyers are wont to do - and tabled the whole matter "to be thought over" during the next few days and weeks.

    I wasn't happy. I had hoped we would have come up with something concrete that night, and all I appeared to have done was provide a fun social evening.

    It was late, around ten, when we straggled back towards my apartment.

    Mid-way, a hand grabbed my wrist and held me back from the crowd.

    It was Manjit, a fellow I had heard of from time to time, but met only that day. A tall, handsome Sardar, quiet, serious and thoughtful, who hadn't said much that evening.

    I must confess that I wasn't much of a fan of law grads from India, and had privately dismissed him and his role - along with a few others - as potential non-participants.

    "Can I talk to you for a sec?" he whispered, and quickly added, "Alone!" He nodded towards the others, indicating that we should lag behind.

    The two of us stayed about fifty feet behind everyone else, as we continued to make our way back in the shadows of the downtown streets.

    Manjit spoke up: "I like what you said in there. Let's go for it! Let's do it!"

    I told him I appreciated his comments and support ... that it meant a lot.

    "No," he said, "I mean business. We'll hum' and ha' till doomsday, and nothing will happen. Let's just do it."

    I walked quietly along with him at a slow pace, not knowing what to make of all of this, other than that I did catch the glow of encouragement.

    "Here, wait!" he said, as he stopped under a street light, as the rest of the crowd disappeared around the corner on Carden Street.

    He pulled out something from his pocket. And a pen. It was a cheque book. He scribbled something. Tore off a cheque, grabbed my hand, and crumpled it in it.

    "Here's $1500. It's blank, so fill in the name you want to give the new organization. If you want more, just call me ... this is only a start .... And I'll courier you more. But I want you to start ... tomorrow! Whatever you want to do, but let's begin tomorrow!"

    And he walked away, leaving me standing there, stunned, under the street light.

    Then he stopped and retraced his steps. "But one condition!"

    I looked up at him ... he's taller than me!

    "No one should know about this. I don't need a receipt. I don't need my name to appear anywhere. Anywhere! This must remain quiet. You promise?"

    I nodded, still speechless.

    Well, the next day The Centennial Foundation of Canada was born, and inherited the legacy of the two existing groups as a continuum, with the immediate goal of celebrating 1997 with a bang, and then taking on an annual event ... and more, much more!

    More than a dozen years have gone by. Tonight, Centennial celebrates its umpteenth Vaisakhi Gala in downtown Toronto. Building on the 25 years of history and legacy it has inherited and nurtured, it is the biggest Sikh, Indian or South Asian event of any given year here in Canada.

    Yet, no one knows of Manjit's role to day.

    Why am I talking about it now - even though, through the years, I've asked him if I can recognize him and honour him for making it all happen?

    True, it's that initial seed, that push, that kick, that boost that indeed make it happen.

    I know from experience that that is how institutions are born, not with a whimper ... but with a bang (if I may be forgiven for warping T.S. Eliot!)

    But, ‘No‘, he said, never, every time I approached him. He has never sought - or accepted - acknowledgement, never sought recognition, never sought a plaque or trophy, never sought acclaim, never sought honour.

    But why today, why this break of a promise today?

    The man I talk about is Sardar Manjit Singh Mangat, Esq.

    He was in the news recently.

    He is the innocent man stabbed several times with a knife by a bunch of hooligans in Brampton, a collection of thugs who know nothing of Sikhi or freedom or Canada or human decency.

    Manjit is fine now, still recuperating from his wounds.

    A gentle soul, this man.

    I have had no other dealings with him ever ... other than I run into him from time to time in the gurdwara or somewhere. We exchange greetings and small talk.

    Though I know nothing more about him, I can tell you with all the strength and conviction I can muster ... He is a good man.

    And I don't use the word ‘good' lightly.

    Like ‘nice', ‘good' is often used innocuously and frivolously to the point of being meaningless.

    Not in his case.

    He is a good man in the highest sense of the word.

    I know what was going through my head that night. And I know that nothing would have happened thereafter, but for this man. The Centennial Foundation owes its existence to his Sikhi.

    Wish we had more good men like Manjit Singh Mangat.

    April 17, 2010
    sikhchic.com | The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | A Good Man

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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    It is really important that these acts of character are not allowed to slip away into the dust of conversations. Heroism...
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  4. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jun 30, 2004
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    There are different kinds of lighthouses.

    There are the ones we see at the edges of the sea shores that warn the travellers to get away from them because of the dangers underlying the ocean beds.

    There are the ones we see outside the Gurdwaras known as Nishaan Sahibs, inviting the travellers towards them for some food, food for the soul and a bed or two to rest.

    Then, there are lighthouses which are very rare to find, people like Manjit Singh Mangat, who stood under another lighthouse, this one located on some deserted street to create one more lighthouse called Centenial while preferring to stay in the dark but the light shone in his eyes showed a true Peace Warrior which he is till today.

    As someone said," At times, silence is capable of making the loudest bang". The proof of this bang is in the 25 years of Centenial.

    Ik Ong Kaar speed, Manjit Singh ji.

    Tejwant Singh
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  5. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
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    Jul 4, 2004
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    Re: The Man they stabbed on the steps og a Gurdwara in Brampton

    WHY was he stabbed and...??? This Mail from Sardar Amandeep Singh may provide clues... The Viral disease is spreading..it began some time ago...

    Amandeep singh ji writes:...

    The day people like Lamba and Jathedar Akal Takht realise that some people from AKJ/Taksaal have brain of their own and do not listen to all their provocations, they will stop issuing hukamnamas.

    Once about 4 years back I spoke to Lamba about Radhasoami influence in SGPC and their machinations in getting land. He replied that Radhasoamis are not a area of his speciality and he is not bothered by them.

    Lamba gets a sense of glee when he watches the television and sees that people like Darbara Singh Seona alongwith two Amritdhari daughters have been beaten up in Darbar Sahib complex. Or AKJ/Taksaal people beat up Lawyer Manjit Singh Mangat (read below about Gursikh Manjit Singh Mangat). Or when Chawla / Mehta combine burn effigies of Prof Darshan Singh ......

    <ins style="min-height: 600px;"><ins style="min-height: 600px;"></ins></ins> Timely police action could have saved Seona
    <table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td valign="top" align="left"> Amritsar, September 13
    Had the Amritsar police arrested radical Sikh leaders involved in an attack on Akali leader Darbara Singh Seona, his wife, former SGPC member, their daughters and guests near the SGPC complex here on May 25, his killing could have been averted. Seona was shot dead by three youths in front of his house in Patiala yesterday.

    A file photo of Darbara Singh Seona and his daughters after an attack on them by Sikh radicals in Amritsar in May.
    </td> <td valign="top" width="275" align="left">[​IMG]</td></tr></tbody></table>
    Akali leader shot dead
    Tribune News Service
    Patiala, September 12
    Three scooter-borne miscreants shot dead Akali leader Darbara Singh Seona at his welding shop near No. 21 railway crossing here this evening.

    Seona, earlier an active member of the SAD (Amritsar), had defected to the SAD (International). His wife Jaswinder Kaur was a former SGPC member.
    Two of the scooter-borne miscreants, who came from the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib side, fired indiscriminately at 60-year-old Seona from a revolver. While one of the bullets pierced his neck, the two hit him in the chest. An injured Seona tried to hit back at the assailants with a hammer.
    Seona was rushed to the Rajindera Hospital, but he died on the way.

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  6. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
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    Jul 4, 2004
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    Tejwant Ji...the LIGHTHOUSE.....This is really beautiful analogy....The Tradtional one thta WARNS of Danger..and the Nishan Sahib that INVITES towards SHELTER...WARMTH...FOOD (both for the soul and the body -shabad langgar/food langgar) Never thought of the Nishan Sahib in that way.....Guru Ji's Concept of Love...WELCOME...LOVE...Brotherhood etc etc !!! I really love this "gem" you have thrown our way....we will have a field day discussing this concept of the LighThouses in our classes this week...Thank You Ji.:veryhappymunda1:
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