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1984 The Ghosts of 1984

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by kds1980, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Apr 4, 2005
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    1984 & I: The Ghosts of 1984<small>by SHREEVATSA NEVATIA</small>

    <!-- <small>October 18th, 2009</small>-->
    The following article is presented as the 50th piece in sikhchic.com's "1984 & I" Series.

    Recollections of a 27-year-old Delhiite show that the anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984 haunt many non-Sikhs who were around during the days of murder and plunder. The city has never been quite the same since.
    Eleven days after Harsha Wadhwani Basu turned three, Indira Gandhi was assassinated [for her crimes five months earlier in Amritsar].
    When talking about 1984, Basu, now 27, appears obsessed with numbers. Responding to a 1995 New Yorker article written by Amitav Ghosh - ‘The Ghosts of Indira Gandhi" - Harsha pointed out, in a letter to his website, that Ghosh was 39 when writing it, while she was an awkward 14.
    When you meet the Sindhi literature graduate, you realise that her fascination with age is but a means of coming to terms with her personal history.

    As she walks around Adarsh Nagar, the north Delhi colony where she grew up, Harsha resembles a curious anthropologist, keen to measure the extent of poison that has laced her village well. She says, "I grew up listening to my mother tell me stories of how this locality turned violent in 1984, but I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, yet it happened to people I knew. Only after reading Amitav Ghosh's essay and other such reports, did I realize that the scenes in my head were not my personal childhood fantasies; these terrible acts had actually occurred."
    She explains further: "In a sense, it was like listening to stories from the Mahabharat, scenes where the characters acted in a manner that was all haywire. I realize now how unsympathetic my response was to the real victims who were killed and burnt," she adds.
    Despite the fact that her age and religion placed her on the periphery of anti-Sikh violence, Harsha's adult response to the carnage is impassioned. She recounts daily visits to a stationery shop that was just behind her school bus stop.
    The Sikh owner, she says, was a friend of her father's, and even though there were better-stocked stores in her locality, she was a patron of the little hole-in-the-wall outlet that was run by an endearing Sardar "uncle". Harsha grew up with her mother Lata Wadhwani's stories of how she, Lata, had stood at the gate and watched the shop being broken into and looted by goons who were menacingly roaming the streets on November 1, 1984.

    As Lata now reminisces in the comfort of a peaceful Adarsh Nagar, she says, "I went up to our terrace and saw these huge flames rise into the sky. They had burnt down the nearby petrol pump." For the longest time, Harsha believed that the burnt petrol pump was haunted. She describes her childhood visits to the place as scared flirtations with the unknown.
    Deconstructing why her daughter might feel this way, Lata later told her that when people die an unnatural death, their unfulfilled desires make their souls linger in the living world.
    Harsha was made to learn that the petrol station and its owner had been burnt by mobs in those first November days of 1984. When she read Amitav Ghosh's essay invoking Indira's ghosts, Harsha was reminded of her own phantoms. The subject of her e-mail to the writer after reading his piece is telling - "Sharing something that you created in me".
    One of the cases registered at the Adarsh Nagar police station in 1984 indicates how the locality's non-Sikh residents did much to restrain the mobs that were intent on massacre. FIR 910/84 details the extent of fatal injuries that Hindu police officer Hari Singh was made to suffer as he tried to protect his Sikh neighbours. Sardar Harbant Singh, owner of a small fabric store in Adarsh Nagar, says that it was a show of unprecedented communal fraternity that saved him and his family.
    He recounts, "Mobs broke the locks of my shop and my house, but before they could enter, they were stopped by all my neighbours. They all stopped something big and tragic from taking place."
    Harsha says that when she was young she would often take her mother's duppattas to Harbant Singh for him to dye, and it is his retelling of events that makes her conclude, "Violence did not escalate in this neighbourhood, because people believed in the power of community. Scratch the surface and you will find that we can all be human."
    Before she can convince herself of this silver lining, however, Harsha contradicts herself to prove that the humanism argument can easily be flipped, rendering all those around her both, culpable and capable. She says, "The fact remains that people I knew were subjected to violence by people who were [out to commit murder]."
    The ghosts of 1984, it would seem, continue to linger, as Harsha goes on to add, "I see on TV, [violence] still happens in the world. I just feel scared that the next time [violence erupts] in my city, I will be the next victim."

    [This is the edited version of an article which first appeared in Outlook.]
    October 18, 2009
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  3. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    Oct 6, 2006
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    There actually were weird things going on amid the violence. I don't know if they were the hallucinatory reactions of our over-wrought minds or exactly what they were. Suni thought she saw me turn into Ma Kali when I killed my son's murderer, a strange vision for a devout Khalsa actually clutching SGGS Ji against her body. To this day, she insists that a large group of shaheeds joined us, protected her and Guru ji and guided our shaheeds off to wherever they went. I didn't see them though.

    I did see the Nihang. He showed up in my hospital room in Montréal. Only Suni and I - and evidently her newborn daughter who cooed and laughed at him - could see him. He has shown up every time since whenever I am at some crossroads. His most recent appearance was when I had the stroke in April 2006.

    Another lady I talked to described a hawk that attacked the mob (in the middle of Delhi!) relentlessly dive-bombing the attackers. Over-wrought minds or actually occurrences? I wonder if there are today some Hindu males in their40s and 50s with strange scars that they can`t - or won`t - explain.

    There are many kinds of ghosts. Some live in the hearts and minds of the survivors. Others might or might not have a different sort of existence. :eek:

    Chardi kala!
  4. Archived_Member16

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    Jan 7, 2005
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    The post by Respected Mai Harinder Kaur Ji confirms that Guru Ji and HIS "Divine Forces" always protect all HIS faithful souls:

    This Shabadis by Guru Arjan Dev Ji in Raag Bilaaval on Pannaa 819 of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:

    iblwvlu mhlw 5 ]
    qwqI vwau n lgeI pwrbRhm srxweI ]
    cauigrd hmwrY rwm kwr duKu lgY n BweI ]1]
    siqguru pUrw ByitAw ijin bxq bxweI ]
    rwm nwmu AauKDu dIAw eykw ilv lweI ]1] rhwau ]
    rwiK lIey iqin rKnhwir sB ibAwiD imtweI ]
    khu nwnk ikrpw BeI pRB Bey shweI ]2]15]79]

    bilaaval mehalaa 5 ||
    thaathee vaao n lagee paarabreham saranaaee ||
    chougiradh hamaarai raam kaar dhukh lagai n bhaaee ||1||
    sathigur pooraa bhaettiaa jin banath banaaee ||
    raam naam aoukhadhh dheeaa eaekaa liv laaee ||1|| rehaao ||
    raakh leeeae thin rakhanehaar sabh biaadhh mittaaee ||
    kahu naanak kirapaa bhee prabh bheae sehaaee ||2||15||79||

    Bilaaval, Fifth Mehl:
    The hot wind does not even touch one who is under the Protection of the Supreme Lord God.
    On all four sides I am surrounded by the Lord's Circle of Protection; pain does not afflict me, O Siblings of Destiny. ||1||
    I have met the Perfect True Guru, who has done this deed.
    He has given me the medicine of the Lord's Name, and I enshrine love for the One Lord. ||1||Pause||
    The Savior Lord has saved me, and eradicated all my sickness.
    Says Nanak, God has showered me with His Mercy; He has become my help and support. ||2||15||79||

    source: http://www.sikhitothemax.com/Page.asp?SourceID=G&PageNo=&ShabadID=3085&Format=2
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  5. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    Oct 6, 2006
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    I would like to point out that the protection with which Soul Jyot ji rightfully points out
    does not mean that Guru ji keeps us from dying or physical injury. The protection is much deeper and more meaningful than the protection of our physical bodies. Those are injured and sometimes die, and we are never left without the loving protection of Satguru.
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  6. harbansj24

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    Feb 19, 2007
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    Absolutely right!
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  7. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Jun 30, 2004
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    This beautiful poetry of ours which we are blessed with, as SGGS our ONLY GURU, is something very very unique.

    We read many stories, and poetry that inspire us and lift us up and we feel good about them. Some of the stories and poems stay with us for the rest of lives and we quote them quite often in a conversation or in an interaction to prove our point of view for the subject being discussed. But all these stories are one dimensional although inspirational. We remember and quote them as often as possible because they left a mark on us, which is good.

    Gurbani has one more aspect to it besides being inspirational which is very unique to it than any other scripture/s. It grows with our own understanding of it. It is multidimensional. Gurbani is like a prism and with our daily studying it and practicing it in our lives, it gives us the glimpse of other angles which affect our biology and chemistry in our bodies.

    Mai ji is right when she says:

    It is not how long one lives because every breath we take does not belong to us but to THE SOURCE. It is how well we live our life which is bestowed upon us.

    When people talk about the power of prayer,it is actually the power of Gurbani which itself is a prayer, all 1429 pages of it. But we can only harness this power when we study it and practice it in our daily lives.

    Mere parroting Gurbani may only give us a temporary and very transitory lift, but it can never turn out to be the spring board which it is, the one that one uses to dive into the Amrit Sarover.

    That is the reason many of us land on our tummies and hurt ourselves when we try to dive in as parrots.

    Tejwant Singh
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  8. Mai Harinder Kaur

    Mai Harinder Kaur
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    Oct 6, 2006
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    I live with an evil tempered parrot and the picture of that parrot landing on her tummy is irresistible!

    As I see it, Gurbani is a great feast set before us and most of us just nibble around the edges and then complain that this stuff just doesn't satisfy our hunger. If we aren't satisfied, I would suggest that we devour it as the lions (and lionesses) we are supposed to be.
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