Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sakhi Series :- 155 ( Air Marshal Shivdev Singh )

Air Marshal Shivdev Singh
( Source :

Air Marshal Shivdev Singh, who died in January, 1994, was the last of the survivors of the batch of 24 Indian Air Force fighter pilots who were seconded to the Royal Air Force, as part of the reinforcement the British desparately needed in 1940 to fight the "Battle of Britain". Flying Sterlings over occupied France and Germany, he was decorated for gallantry in a campaign that had many casualties. He was rushed back home when the Japanese besieged the South-East Asian region and flew the Hurricanes in the Arakans within Burma.

One of the pioneers of the IAF, Shivdev Singh, was responsible for the evacuation of his squadron from Kohat to Chaklala at the time of Partition in 1947. He later moved to Agra to found the transport squadron. Besides flying the political leaders of the day, like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shivdev and his men organised the massive airlift to Srinagar in time to save the Kashmir Valley from Pakistani raiders.

What makes his contribution to the IAF unique is that he was perhaps the most operationally experienced commander. He was in-charge of the IAF's role in "Operation Vijay" in the liberation of Goa. The IAF fighter pilots played no major role in 1962 Sino-Indian conflict. But the subsequent training for air defence operations named "Operation Shiksha", again had Shivdev Singh in command.

The crowning glory was his role as the Vice-Chief, when he master-minded the entire air operations in the 1971 war. Although, the Chief, P.C. Lal got the well-deserved credit, the man at the head of the operation table was Shivdev Singh.

The story going in the IAF circles is that Shivdev Singh almost made it to the top job as Lal's successor. The then Defence Minister, Babu Jagjivan Ram was even supposed to have telephoned him saying, "Let me be the first to congratulate you" - after the appointment had been cleared at the highest level.

But things changed overnight for reasons well beyond the reach of the high-flying IAF brass. Shivdev Singh retired - without any rancour - to his home in Chandigarh, contributing gracefully to public service in resurgent Punjab.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


(Source : )

Painda Khan, was the son of Fateh Khan, an Afghan resident of the village of  Alimpur, 7 km northeast of Kartarpur in the present Jalandhar district of the Punjab. His parents died while he was still very young, and he was brought up by his maternal uncle, Isma'ill Khan, of Vadda Mir, near Kartarpur.

According to Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi, Isma'il Khan, along with his 16-year old nephew and some other Pathans of his village, once accompanied a Sikh sangat proceeding to Amritsar on the occasion of Divali to see Guru Hargobind. The Guru, pleased with the manly demeanour of Painda Khan, engaged him to be trained as a soldier.

Painda Khan grew up into a brave, hefty warrior and showed his mettle fighting against the imperial troops at Amritsar (1629). Guru Hargobind ji always treated him with special consideration. While at Kartarpur, he had Painda Khan married to an Afghan girl from Chhota Mir, and asked him to stay there with his bride. During his visits to Kartarpur, the Guru would take him out for the chase, and shower him with praise and gifts. Painda Khan was in Guru Hargobind ji's train during his visit to darauli Bhai in 1631.

After the death of Mata Damodari there in November that year, he was told to escort the family back to Kartarpur, while the Guru himself set out on a journey across the Malva tract to meet the sangats. As the Guru arrived at Kartarpur after the battle of Mehraj in December 1634, Painda Khan presented himself and, to quote Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, spoke boastfully: "Had I been there I would not have let the Guru go forward and expose himself to danger, nor would have Bhai Jetha died." About this time Painda Khan married his daughter to asman Khan, an Afghan youth of the village of Chhota Mir itself.

On the occasion of the next Baisakhi, 29 March 1635, Sikhs from far and near came with presents to pay homage to the Guru. Chitra Sain, a rich merchant, presented a beautiful horse, a white hawk, a costly dress and a khande or dual-edged sword. Guru Hargobind gave the hawk to Baba Gurditta, his eldest son, and bestowed the horse, the dress and the sword upon Painda Khan. As the latter went home, elated at having been so honoured by the Guru, his son-in-law, asman Khan, claimed the gifts which Painda Khan reluctantly passed on to him. Asman Khan, donning the dress and sword, went out hunting the following day riding the horse. Baba Gurditta, with his newly acquired white hawk, also happened to be sporting in the same area. The hawk fell into the hands of Asman Khan, who took it home.

Painda Khan who turned up without wearing the dress gifted to him, denied before the Guru that the gifts had changed hands or that the hawk was in the possession of his son-in-law. Guru Hargobind ji sent a Sikh, Bhai Bidhi Chand, to Chhota Mir, and the gifts along with the hawk were recovered from asman Khan. Annoyed at the exposure of his perjury, Painda Khan openly turned against his patron. With the help of the faujdar of Jalandhar, he attacked the Guru but was defeated in the battle which, according to Bhatt Vahi Multani Sindhi, raged for three days, from 26 to 28 April 1635.

Painda Khan fell to Guru Hargobind's sword on the final day. The Gurbilas Chhevin Patshahi records that, as Painda lay dying, the Guru told him to remember Allah(God), shading with his shield his face from the scorching sun.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sakhi Series : 153 (Bhai Bharu and Guru Har Gobind Sahib ji)

Bhai Bharu and Guru Har Gobind Sahib ji

In the beautiful hills of the Punjab there was a fine temple of the goddess of power. In it stood a statue of the goddess. Every year thousands of people visited this temple and worshipped her. A fair was held every year to pay homage to the goddess. People from all over India came to this temple to worship during the fair. Even some Rajahs (Rulers) from the Hills attended the fair. The Rajahs usually brought money and rich offerings for the goddess. These offerings were collected by cunning priests who spent them lavishly for their personal enjoyment and not for the common good.

Sri Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji Maharaj and his Sikhs went to one such fair to preach the Guru's way. The fair was in full swing. The Guru's Darbar (Holy Congregation) was on one side of the fair in an open space. The musicians were singing hymns in praise of God. They sang Shabads (Holy verses) from the Holy Granth. The soul-stirring hymns touched everybody's heart. People were attracted to the Guru's camp in such great numbers that only a few were left in the temple. Even the Rajahs came down to listen to the Guru's teachings.

Finding only a few people in the temple, a man named Bharu entered and pushed his way towards the idol. He struck the idol's nose with something hard and broke it off. Before the priests could catch him, the man ran out of the temple towards the Guru's Darbar. There was a sudden noise and people were running towards the Darbar after Bharu. A strong man from the Guru's Darbar stood up and caught him. People thought that he was a thief. In a few minutes, the priests also arrived and Bharu was presented to a Rajah sitting there in the Guru's court. The priest told the whole story to the Guru, the Rajah, and all the people who had gathered there. On hearing about the damage to the idol, the Rajah was so furious that he did not even listen to Bharu's side of the story and he ordered him to be stoned to death. The people took hold of the culprit and tried to drag him away but the Guru intervened and said, "It is better that we should listen to both sides of the story and then see if the man really deserves this punishment." The Guru thereupon asked both men to tell the truth. The priest spoke first :

Priest: This man is a great sinner; he has broken the nose of the goddess and he really deserves to be stoned to death.

Bhai Bharu: This is wrong. I haven't committed any Crime.

Priest: It is a crime to break the idol, isn't it?

Bhai Bharu: I don't know who you are and I haven't done any wrong to you. If I smashed the idol it is an affair between me and the idol. Let the idol say what it likes.

Priest: The idol is made of stone, how can it speak? If it were alive it would have caught and punished you there and then.

Bhai Bharu: If it cannot speak or defend itself, how can it speak to you and save the people or give them what they want? My sin is no worse than breaking the handle of a tea cup.

At this the priest could not say anything. Bhai Bharu's words made the people laugh and they really understood the idea behind what he said. Sri Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji Maharaj, however, did not like all this and spoke out kindly, "Listen my friends," he said, "It is really no good worshipping idols. Man should worship God who has made living idols like us all. But breaking an idol is not good. We must have respect and regard for other people's religion and way of worship. Breaking an idol with hatred is like breaking a heart, and the heart is the house of God. So by smashing the idol Bharu has commited a mistake. He must apologise for what he has done and repair the idol."

Bhai Bharu was convinced of the Guru's point of view and asked to be pardoned. The people agreed to forgive him on condition that he never broke an idol again. Bhai Bharu gave his word and also repaired the broken idol. Very soon afterwards he became the Sikh of Sri Guru Har Gobind Sahib Ji Maharaj.

More Sakhis :

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sakhi series 152 :- ( Bhai Suthraa Ji )

Bhai Suthraa Ji

One day Miri Piri De Malk Maharaj Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji was walking with some sevadars, and heard a crying baby. Maharaj asked a sevadar to find where the crying was coming from. The sevadar came back, saying it was a baby crying, so maharaj told the sikh to bring the baby.

When they brought the baby, the sikhs said "maharaj, this baby is kuthraa (ugly)" for he was disformed. Maharaj took the baby in his lap, and said,
"No, he's not kuthraa, but Suthraa (handsome/beautiful)", and instantaneously, the child became quite a beautiful baby.

Bhai Suthraa served the gurus from Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji up to Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji, and was renowned for his wise humor.

During divaan one day, kathaa was going on. Bhai Suthraa was also seated there, and began cussing at the sangat in a loud voices, so some Sikhs went to complain to guruji.

"Maharaj, Bhai Suthraa is being disruptive and cursing vulgarly"
"What did he say?"
So the Sikhs listed all the ways in which Suthraa was being disruptive, listing all the names he called them.
"hmm. Go call bhai Suthraa then,"
So Bhai Suthraa was brought in Maharaj's hajoori.
"Suthriaa! These Sikhs of mine have complaining about you"
"Maharaj, they are not your Sikhs, but mine"
"ROFL! What?!"
"They are my Sikhs, maharaj. Anyhow, ask them what i said to them"
"...oohh kiieee... So. Sikho, what exactly did Bhai Suthraa say to you?"
And the Sikhs once again listed all the insults they received from Bhai Suthraa.
"Now ask them, at the time that I was cursing them, what vichar was going on?"
"You heard him Sikho. What was being discussed during the divaan?"
The Sikhs had no clue
"Guru ji, we dont really recall..."

"Therefore maharaj, with all due respect, these people are my Sikhs, for during divaan they only remembered what i told them, and not what you were teaching"

The Sikhs relaised what Bhai Suthraa wanted to say.