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Controversial Retribution in Sikhism: Is it acceptable in self-defense?

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Ambarsaria, Aug 12, 2012.

  1. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
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    Sikhism is a generally forgiving and compassionate religion but it is not a passive religion. In self-defense it is not uncommon for a Sikh to take a do or die stand as appropriate. The incident in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and the accounts of bravery by Satwant Singh Kaleka have been recently cited.

    Taking a higher moral ground one also observed some very well spoken Sikhs show benevolence in difficult times. I paraphrase a Sikh being interviewed on CNN, “ …. Mr. Page is also member of a family, someone’s son, so I feel bad at his death as well in this tragic circumstance ….”.

    In historic terms some past examples are remarkably and vividly recorded in Sikh history. Without going into the merits of rights or wrong the following come to mind,


    • Massa Ranghar assassination by Sikhs in disguise for desecration of Darbar Sahib,Amritsar.
    • Udham Singh’s assassination of a British subject in response to Massacre at Jallian Wala Bagh, Amritsar.
    • Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards in their revulsion of perceived and ordered acts of desecration of Darbar Sahib, Amritsar by Government of the day.

    It raises an underlying theme that Sikhs took their time while responding to injustice as perceived at a very inner and personal level.

    Questions are,


    • Are such actions valid in Sikhism?
    • Do Sikhism core values allow for retribution way past an injustice?
    • Does Sikhism simply passively forgive perpetrators of grave bodily harm, death to Sikhs and take the higher ground and simply forgets?

    What you think!

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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    #1 Ambarsaria, Aug 12, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012
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  3. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh Canada
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    Revenge is a different issue and it takes a certain character to pursue this.
    On the other hand, the act of bravery by Satwant S.Khaleka is completely acceptable for what he did at that time. The issue on hand was to stop anyone else getting hurt or injured or to stop an increase in more numbers of people getting injured or killed.
    In effect, he would have thought that if an action can result in just him and the attacker getting injured (ie. 2 people) instead of the attacker being loose and then the numbers being much higher than the two.
    Also, was the benefit that he would be stalling the attacker and buying time so that would be victims could escape.

    Sometimes, it is wiser to have just 2 people dieing instead of higher numbers, ie. 2 down is better than 3.
    Or if the sacrifice of your own life could help or save another, then again it is a wiser choice.

    The shaheeds you mentioned- (NOTE- it was Udaam Singh Not Bhagat in the above case) had a slightly different stance.
    - There was the factor of revenge and also the factor of preventing or in effect saving further lives.
    The saving of future lives is by commiting this action of stopping the killer by death so that the said killer or commander does NOT take same repeated action elsewhere in the future. Or even someone else in the same union thinks before they attack further.
     
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  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sikhs call this as "Bhaaji Morrnee" RETURNING a FAVOUR...NOT "revenge" per se. Its Sikh Traddition to not allow a Favour go unreturned...as many including Indira Gandhi found out...and the Bhaaji (vegetable dish) is normally returned double fold if possible and in double quick time too...
     
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  5. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    Luckysingh ji thanks for your post and correcting me on a fact. I do have couple of comments,
    I beg to seek clarification. Just if a person under attack does not happen to have a weapon at the time of confrontation/attack, why can't such a person not go to get a weapon and then confront appropriately? Just a matter of minutes or hours cannot be allowed to make an injustice or attack into something that people with bleating hearts can dwell upon!

    If someone comes and attacks to kill they should expect to be attacked and killed at the choice of a victim's place and time. If respectable Mr. Kaleka had a gun and killed this attacker it would have been good and had their been weapons at the Gurdwara for self defense to match what the assailant was using so to be confronted appropriately, it would have been good too.

    Sorry I have no sympathy for people like such taking innocent human lives.
    Of course Mr. Kaleka did incredible given the circumstances and we have no way of knowing how many continue to live for what he did. I wish he was alive and at liberty regardless of time to confront the attacker, if such was alive today.

    For me few minutes, few hours, days and months do not change the characteristics of a crime to kill someone in my mind.
    If we follow from my comment above, it behooves sometimes, to take your time but not forget. The examples I cited were people who practiced this. In such times, the time is of no essence. The evil done and projected needs to be taken care of.

    Some of my statements may be classified as vigilantism, violation of laws, etc., but I am strictly thinking in terms of the dynamics of a heinous crime, spontaneity of response or response taken over time. Logically the time for me appears irrelevant.

    Any thoughts or am I being vengeful!

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
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    #4 Ambarsaria, Aug 15, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
  6. Ambarsaria

    Ambarsaria Canada
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    An example and story behind in Dhadi Sound (Massa Ranghar),

    Charan Singh Alamgir (vaar sukha singh te mehtaab singh) - YouTube

    Code:
    In October, 1738 A.D., Qazi Abdul Razak was killed in an encounter with Singhs. Zakaria Khan, Governor of Lahore Suba of Mughals, knew that Sikhs would always try to visit their fountain of Truth— the Golden Temple. The choudhry of Mandiala was one Mir Musalul Khan, commonly known as Massa Ranghar (Ranghars are those muslims who are born out of parentage of Hindu and Muslim parents). In 1740, Zakaria Khan assigned this man the task of watching around Amritsar for Sikh devotees. His guard was augmented by governmcnt soldiers. Massa needed no further prompting from the authorities. He placed his cot in the centre of the temple, and set about desecrating it to his heart's fill. Street girls danced before him while he dined and wined in the holiest of the Sikh shrines. Massa Ranghar turned Harminder Sahib into a dance hall and started holding parties there. By his orders all the Sikhs of Amritsar were hounded and killed. There would always be one or two Sikhs in hiding near the temple, waiting for nightfall, when they could steal in for a dip in the tank. Sardar Bulakha Singh happened to be around when Massa was in occupation. After this he began looting and harassing Hindus, accusing them to be sympathetic with Sikhs. The house of Tej Ram was looted on his orders. Tej ram and Bulakah Singh hurried away with this painful secret and headed straight for Bikaner, where they unburdened themselves before the band of Sardar Sham Singh. The leader of that squad Sham Singh said in the congregation, "Is there a Singh who will cut and bring Massa Ranghar's head here?" From the assembly of Sikhs stood up one Mehtab Singh of Meerankot, who declared his resolve to go and kill Massa or be killed himself. Another very brave man Sukha Singh of Mari Kamboki also stood up and asked permission of Sardar Sham Singh to accompany Mehtab Singh. The whole gathering said their ardaas for the success of the mission, and the two rode away in the hot month of August to be disguised as two landlords bringing the revenue into Amritsar. They reached Damdama Sahib by evening.
    On the next morning, 11 August, 1740, before starting from Damdama sahib, they disguised themselves as Muslims of Patti and filled two sacks with the pieces of broken eartherwares and loaded them on the backs of their horses. They had hung their hair loose behind their necks (as the Pathans do). Entering Harminder Sahib they tethered their horses to the berry tree and went inside with the sacks on their shoulders. They saw that Massa Ranghar was sitting on a bed smoking hubble bubble (hookah), prostitutes were dancing and wine was flowing freely. They placed the sacks under the bed and said, "We have come to pay the revenue." When Massa Ranghar bent to feel the sacks, Mehtab Singh cut his head in a flash and put it in a sack after empting it of the potsherds. Sukha Singh made short work of the company of Massa Ranghar. Having finished their work with the speed of lightening, the Singhs mounted their horses and were out of sight in no time. By evening both the Singhs reached Damdama Sahib. The next day they presented Massa Ranghar's head on a spear to their leader at Budha Johar. The gathering congratulated them and ordered that the head be consigned to the flames.
    Sorry the rendition is in Punjabi the story is above.

    Sat Sri Akal.
     
  7. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    In October, 1738 A.D., Qazi Abdul Razak was killed in an encounter with Singhs. Zakaria Khan, Governor of Lahore Suba of Mughals, knew that Sikhs would always try to visit their fountain of Truth— the Golden Temple. The choudhry of Mandiala was one Mir Musalul Khan, commonly known as Massa Ranghar (Ranghars are those muslims who are born out of parentage of Hindu and Muslim parents). In 1740, Zakaria Khan assigned this man the task of watching around Amritsar for Sikh devotees. His guard was augmented by governmcnt soldiers. Massa needed no further prompting from the authorities. He placed his cot in the centre of the temple, and set about desecrating it to his heart's fill. Street girls danced before him while he dined and wined in the holiest of the Sikh shrines. Massa Ranghar turned Harminder Sahib into a dance hall and started holding parties there. By his orders all the Sikhs of Amritsar were hounded and killed. There would always be one or two Sikhs in hiding near the temple, waiting for nightfall, when they could steal in for a dip in the tank. Sardar Bulakha Singh happened to be around when Massa was in occupation. After this he began looting and harassing Hindus, accusing them to be sympathetic with Sikhs. The house of Tej Ram was looted on his orders. Tej ram and Bulakah Singh hurried away with this painful secret and headed straight for Bikaner, where they unburdened themselves before the band of Sardar Sham Singh. The leader of that squad Sham Singh said in the congregation, "Is there a Singh who will cut and bring Massa Ranghar's head here?" From the assembly of Sikhs stood up one Mehtab Singh of Meerankot, who declared his resolve to go and kill Massa or be killed himself. Another very brave man Sukha Singh of Mari Kamboki also stood up and asked permission of Sardar Sham Singh to accompany Mehtab Singh. The whole gathering said their ardaas for the success of the mission, and the two rode away in the hot month of August to be disguised as two landlords bringing the revenue into Amritsar. They reached Damdama Sahib by evening.
    On the next morning, 11 August, 1740, before starting from Damdama sahib, they disguised themselves as Muslims of Patti and filled two sacks with the pieces of broken eartherwares and loaded them on the backs of their horses. They had hung their hair loose behind their necks (as the Pathans do). Entering Harminder Sahib they tethered their horses to the berry tree and went inside with the sacks on their shoulders. They saw that Massa Ranghar was sitting on a bed smoking hubble bubble (hookah), prostitutes were dancing and wine was flowing freely. They placed the sacks under the bed and said, "We have come to pay the revenue." When Massa Ranghar bent to feel the sacks, Mehtab Singh cut his head in a flash and put it in a sack after empting it of the potsherds. Sukha Singh made short work of the company of Massa Ranghar. Having finished their work with the speed of lightening, the Singhs mounted their horses and were out of sight in no time. By evening both the Singhs reached Damdama Sahib. The next day they presented Massa Ranghar's head on a spear to their leader at Budha Johar. The gathering congratulated them and ordered that the head be consigned to the flames.
     
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    #6 Harry Haller, Aug 15, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012

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