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Dera in Exile

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Jul 13, 2009.

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  1. Archived_Member16

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    source: A dera in exile | Hard News

    dera in exile

    Sikhs are still struggling to cope with the ****** violence inside a place of worship in Austria


    Mehru Jaffer Vienna

    Dr Avtar Singh Seth, 73, first heard about the Ravidasis only a few weeks ago. On May 25, the retired medical doctor was woken up by a telephone call from an old friend in Australia. "My friend wanted to know if I was safe? He had heard that a Sikh was shot dead in Vienna... that many Sikhs were wounded. I got out of bed and found out what had happened. I was worried if this was an incident of hate crime by Austrians against Indians," he said about the May 24 murder and mayhem at a Vienna place of worship of the Dera Sach Khand sect who are devotees of Ravidas, a 14th century 'progressive' Indian saint and reformer.

    According to Som Dev, 45, head of Vienna's Ravidasi Gurughar, there are 250 Ravidasis in the city. He works as a taxi driver. He came to Vienna 17 years ago from a village in Punjab's Jalandhar district. "At first I attended sermons at the Sikh gurdwara. In 2005, the Ravidas Gurughar was opened and we pray here now. I still attend special ceremonies at the Sikh gurudwaras. I have nothing against my Sikh brothers but I am a Ravidasi and not a Sikh," said Som Dev.

    The Sunday sermon at the Ravidasi Gurughar on May 24 was special because Guru Niranjan Das , 67, head of the Dera Sach Khand sect, was visiting from India together with Guru Ramanand Das, 56, the second in command. The sermon by Ramanand was interrupted when someone from the audience fired a gun and knives began to fly around the room.

    In the mayhem, both Niranjan and Ramanand were wounded including other members of the congregation. An eyewitness confessed that the prayer meeting attended by women and children was converted within minutes into a battlefield and blood was sprayed everywhere. The police arrested six suspected attackers immediately.

    While Ramanand succumbed to his wounds the same evening, Niranjan Das recuperated at a Vienna hospital after a serious operation for a week before he returned on June 3 to India together with the remains of Ramanand in a private plane sent here by the Punjab government.
    "This is the first time that I heard of the Ravidasi sect," said Dr Seth at his picturesque home in the hills about 65 km from Vienna on the Austrian Hungarian border. Dr Seth is perhaps the first Sikh who came to Vienna in 1955 to study medicine here.

    There were about seven students in all of Vienna at that time and Diwali was celebrated at a local hotel. Ceremonies were performed, when necessary, at home. Vienna was the cheapest place to study. It cost Rs 450 per month in England, Rs 350 in Germany and only Rs 250 in Vienna, a city that was ruined by the last world war. There was no bathroom where Dr. Seth stayed as a student and for years he used the public baths.

    Almost two decades later, the population of people of Indian origin swelled when some 3,500 Indians expelled from Uganda found asylum in Austria. Some Sikhs were part of this large group of newly arrived Indians.

    In 1975, there was talk of building the first gurudwara here. Dr Seth had graduated to an official general practitioner in an Austrian province. He was chosen the first president of the Sri Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha. "I resigned after a year. I no longer felt inspired," said Dr Seth who hangs a huge photograph of the Golden Temple in his home which he shares with Sylvia, his Austrian wife. Their two sons live and work in Switzerland.

    Dr Seth does not visit the gurudwara in Vienna. He is not religious but very traditional. He points out that idol worship is forbidden to Sikhs. He finds it strange that some Sikhs hang pictures of Bhindranwale beside those of revered Sikh gurus today.

    Dalits are the followers of Ravidas here as well as in India. The conflict originates from the fact that mostly landless Dalit Sikhs in India are still intensely exploited and humiliated by the 'landed and Jat Sikhs' with daily discrimination, low wages, bonded labour and even a ban on their entry inside gurudwaras. Dalits are now collectively resisting this and asserting their rights, and following new cults is integral to this assertion.

    Dr Seth wonders if the rising affluence of the Dalits in Austria is responsible for the rivalry between Sikhs and the Ravidasis here. "It is all about money. Donations collected during a sermon by well known gurus often add up to many euros. This may cause envy and bad blood," speculates Dr Seth who nurses precious memories of his childhood in Amritsar.

    After the bloodbath during the partition of Punjab in 1947 had subsided, he remembers visiting the Golden Temple - and not only to pray. "Around the temple there was a attractive community life. I went there almost every day to listen to stories told by wise men. We met our friends and played there. There was mouth watering food offered to us for free and I was happy to break bricks to help to broaden the pavement on the northern flank of the temple," reminisces Dr Seth who feels that today he is unable to practise being a better Sikh among Austrians. "Many Sikhs are hot headed and lack religious education," he regrets.

    JULY 2009
     
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  3. harbansj24

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    I do tend to agree with Dr. Seth. I have said this hesitatingly a few times but it has been met with sullen silence.

    I have very limited knowledge when compared to members half my age on this forum but whatever I have been exposed leaves no doubt in my mind that Sikh thought as propagated by our great Gurus is incomparable. It is practical, ethical, not derogatory to any other faith and best of all, it does not negate any scientific principles as on date. In fact the latest scientific discoveries and postulates being made further reinforce Sikh beliefs.

    So then is it not a tragedy that large number of very vocal, assertive and influential members of this community are not able to project this noble religion in its true light both in their utterances and deeds.

    However I am confident that this is only a process and as they say "you cannot keep a good idea down for long"

    Gurfateh

    Harbans Singh
     
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  4. spnadmin

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    Harbansj ji

    You made this comment I do tend to agree with Dr. Seth. I have said this hesitatingly a few times but it has been met with sullen silence.

    And I was concerned to hear that you are met with sullen silence. Please take every idea that you agree with and start a thread. If one of us does not respond then give me a kick and remind me of my duty. I also agree with much of what i read in this article -- so at least one of us here agrees with you and see some point in continuing a discussion. :welcome:
     
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  5. harbansj24

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    Thanks Narayanjot ji. That is encouraging.
    I was just wondering what is it that prevents us from introspection? Do we think that the state of "Chardian Kalan" goes counter to critical self appraisal? Guruji has taught us that we should continuously monitor if we are on the right track and if we find that we going off, we should admit it and quickly retrace our steps. Ofcoarse Guruji did not encourage self flagellation.
    Or is it ego that stops us from such assessments? Well it has been very explicitly stated that there is no place for ego in Sikh faith.
    Bhai Vir Singh Ji has beautifully explained in Guru Nanak Chamatkar, how Simran helps in cleansing ones soul. So "Chardian Kalan" is the end point of liberation of soul and not the starting point.
    These are just isolated and scattered thoughts.
    Because if are to be inheritors and torch bearers of magnificent legacy of our gurus then we cannot afford to be seen as Dr Seth points out "hot headed people who lack religious education".
    I hope that I have not swallowed more than I can chew.

    Bhul chuk maaf karni Ji.

    Harbans Singh
     
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  6. spnadmin

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    Harbans ji

    Not more than you can chew. There are more than a half dozen ideas to work with in this thread thanks to you.

    Starting with - What prevents us from introspection? I think more than ego prevents us from being introspective. For one thing, most of our social experiences discourage introspection -- it looks to much like day-dreaming, takes us into the realm of things that are not clear-cut, black and white, requires us to be patient with tones of gray, prevents us from coming to conclusions quickly, does not for most people lead to a big paycheck, seems as if we are not listening or paying attention to the needy voices around us, and more. For the sake of argument, let's say that introspection is a very antisocial activity. (Naturally I don't agree, we are just exploring for a moment). An antisocial activity that we are discouraged from pursuing. Then one day we discover that to make emotional progress and for our spritual health we should introspect. And what happens? Well we don't have a clue. :eek:
     
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  7. harbansj24

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    Beautifully put Narayanjot ji. You do have a great talent for original thinking.
    You are right, when this dead end is reached, then to start introspection is gonna be very painful process.
    Since I do not have ideas of my own, I can only point out that Guru Granth Sahib has on countless places prescribed perseverance with Simran as a way out of such predicaments. Of coarse it will not be a short and easy process and can be achieved only with Gurus Grace. I am unable to replicate here the wondrous process as described by Bhai Vir Singh ji. This has to be read and savoured or listened from a blessed person to have an impact.
    The "big paycheck" will be spiritual advancement which can only be experienced and not quantified and once experienced will never be regretted.

    Gurfateh

    Harbans Singh[​IMG]
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    harbansji

    I agree 100 percent with your point of view. And no one really has original thoughts. Our thoughts come from the levels of universe and consciousness that has been created fro us by Waheguru.

    Introspection might be the way to that discovery: There is nothing spectacular going on that has not been happening all along. We simply have not noticed.

    So what will your next thread be? There are some good ideas in your post that can be new threads. What starting a thread about this idea: "So then is it not a tragedy that large number of very vocal, assertive and influential members of this community are not able to project this noble religion in its true light both in their utterances and deeds."
     
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