Controversial 8 Convicted In Brawl At Sikh Temple

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[FONT=arial, helvetica]<!--PRINTER FRIENDLY ARTICLE-->[FONT=verdana,arial]July 11, 2010[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]8 convicted in brawl at Sikh temple[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Jimmie E. Gates[/FONT]
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A dispute about money donated to a Sikh temple escalated into a brawl that resulted in the convictions of eight members for simple assault and another facing banishment from the temple.

The eight members of Guru Nanak Temple on Welota St. in Jackson plan to appeal their convictions, and the other man is awaiting a final ruling from the Hinds County Justice Court on his status after he was slapped with a $500 peace bond.

The case ended up before Hinds Justice Court Judge Jimmy Morton after temple members filed for a peace bond against Surjit Singh Mali, of Madison.

Morton urged the feuding members to work out a compromise so they could worship together in peace.

The feud started after Mali, former president of the Guru Nanak Temple, also known as the Gurdwara Sahib Sikh Temple, confronted temple leaders about how his $75,000 donation was used.

The donation was given for an addition at the temple in late 2008 while Mali was board president, but the building was completed - and his donation spent - after his term ended.

When he confronted current board members, they refused to discuss the matter, saying he was no longer on the board.

Mali said as the argument escalated, he grabbed the ceremonial sword to defend himself from 11 Temple members, according to court testimony.

Mali filed charges against 11 temple members, but only eight were convicted in Jackson Municipal Court.

But the attorney for the other temple members said his clients have a different take on what transpired.

"(Mali) picked up a ceremonial sword and was fixing to wield it when my clients grabbed him," said Jackson attorney Ross Barnett Jr.

Mali's attorney, Martin Perkins, could not be reached for comment.

Jackson police were called to the scene of the brawl.

They, in turn, filed the civil action seeking a peace bond against Mali, which could keep him from attending the temple if the judge chooses to impose such a restriction.

Following a trial in Jackson Municipal Court last month, the eight temple members convicted were placed on probation for six months.

Although Barnett said his clients will appeal their convictions to Hinds County Court, no record of an appeal was found as of Friday.

Surinder Singh, head of the Mississippi Business Owners Association, formerly known as the Indian Store Owners Association, said it was unfortunate the incident took place in the temple.

Singh said he isn't taking sides in the internal matter. But Singh said, "Nobody should be stopped from coming to worship. A place of worship is for everyone."

The Sikh faith teaches the existence of one God and teaches ideals such as honesty, compassion, humility, piety, social commitment, and tolerance for other religions. Most of its 25 million followers are in India (19 million), while America has the world's second-largest Sikh population with roughly 750,000.




1947-2014 (Archived)
Soul_jyot ji

This would be now the second reported example I am aware of where there was a brawl inside a gurdwara within the United States. It just goes to show you that you don't need to outlaw shastars, Fists are enough to have a good fight. But if we are looking at a rising trend, then sangats have some work to do, along the lines of discovering better ways to teach Guru's message. It is too soon to conclude that what has been done is not working. Sangats can teach, but individuals must learn.
It proves once again that Sikhs in general have totally side-stepped the true spiritual 'teachings and values' of Guru Granth Sahib Ji - seva, simram & sangat. At present these have been replaced by politics and thus the five evils: anger, greed, ego, worldly attachments, lust!

Things are going to get worse, unless we as sangat not only elect (?) sevadars of character who not only firmly believe in but also practice 8 virtues to combat the five evils & thus 'get back to our roots':

"Wisdom (gyan) : is the complete knowledge of a set of religious principles. It can be achieved by hearing good, thinking good and doing good. A man of wisdom tries to achieve a high moral standard in his life and interaction with others. According to Sikhism, the first steps to wisdom is to consider oneself as an ignorant person who has to learn a lot in life.

Truthful Living (sat) : This is more than 'truth'. It means living according to the way of God i.e. the thoughts should match the words that a person speaks and his actions should also match his words. Truthful living brings a person closer to God.

Justice (niaon) : means freedom and equal opportunities for all. Respect for the rights of others and strict absence of attempts to exploit a fellow being. Sikhism forbids the desire to loot another's property. It also strictly instructs the Sikhs to show respect even for the women and children of an enemy.

Temperance (santokh) : means self control which has to be developed through meditation and prayers. A Sikh has to banish evil thoughts from his mind by constantly repeating Gods name and reciting prayers. Torture to the body to develop self-control is not advocated in Sikhism.

Patience (dhiraj) : implies a high level of tolerance and empathy for others. It requires control over ones ego and willingness to overlook another's weakness or mistakes. It requires that a Sikh should be strongwilled, but kind hearted.

Courage (himmat) : means bravery i.e. absence of fear. It is the ability to stake ones life for ones convictions and for saving others from injustice or cruelty.

Humility (namarta) : is a deliberate denial of pleasure at one's own praise and admiration. It means underplaying ones own strengths and respecting the abilities of others. It is the antidote to 'ahankar'

Contentment (sabar) : means refraining from worldly fears and submitting oneself to the will of God. The typical worldly fears can be fear of death, poverty, disrespect and defeat. It is this virtue that has given the Sikhs the moral strength to withstand the various atrocities committed on their community in the last three centuries."
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