By: Narveen Aryaputri, for Georgia Weekly Post
The brutal murder of Satwinder Singh Bhola in Peoria, Illinos is sending shock waves. Still. His body lies yet in the morgue.
In Moline, Illinois where he will be cremated.
Even as I write, a cold grip stomps my heart with the realization that this horror could happen.
Satwinder was coming home at 11.30 p.m. Leaving his business partner to close his store.
He drove 15 minutes to his apartment, in a good part of town, and walked to the front door of his complex.
There was a little walkway leading to the door, with bushes decoratively planted along the sides.
Two men dressed entirely in black from head to toe jumped up and slashed Satwinder's neck as he began to put his key into the lock of the front door.
Satwinder was wounded. And frightened.
There was no one else in the parking lot.
He tried to run to his car to escape and seek help, screaming as he did.
The killers followed him.
They slashed the same gash on his neck again.
This time going in 8" deep.
The killers knew their skill.
Satwinder Bhola was dead in 3 minutes.
His blood spread seeping into the ground from the entry doorway to his car.
▲Presidential Candidate and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is a Sikh. With his wife Subriya.
Satwinder Singh Bhola had fled to America from the jail in India where he had been incarcerated for participating, and active, in the riots of 1984. Here in America, he came for shelter. Here, caring for a beautiful family of three children and a lovely wife, he lived a quiet fruitful life, helping and contributing to those around him.
The 1984 riots, in which Satwinder Singh was involved, began with the killing of Mrs. Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard. Mrs. Gandhi's killer was part of the group rioting against her for ordering the Indian Army into their holiest temple: The Golden Temple.
▲ South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, her husband Michael, children Nalin and Rena. Governor Haley is a Sikh.
This she ordered to kill the man known as Jenrail Singh Binderwala, a separatist, and a leader of the separation movement, hidden in a stronghold he had made in the inner sanctuary of the Golden Temple.
Binderwala was leading a movement to convert the state of Punjab in North India into a separate country known as Khalistan, splitting it from India.
He had made his headquarters and was fighting from inside the Golden Temple, using the temple as a cover.
The Sikh Temples give shelter to any who come there for shelter.
It is, after all, the Guru's abode. All are welcome to stay in the Guru's abode to this day.
Binderwala did so, too, but not to take shelter. He was operating his subterfuge from there.
▲The Golden Temple.
He had made an arsenal in the inner sanctuary of the Golden Temple. It was not hard to blow all this up. With it, Binderwala and his closest followers were blown up.
Which lead to Mrs. Indira Gandhi being shot and the ensuing riots of 1984 which, in this moment of time, here in America, has resulted in the brutal death of a 52 year old, Satwinder Bholal, in Peoria, Illinois.
After Mrs. Gandhi's murder, the Hindus turned their grief and fury on the Sikhs.
A fierce communal riot began between Hindus and Sikhs.
The highest insult to the Sikhs was when orders were given to disarm Sikh policemen. The rioting increased. The Sikhs caught in the riots of 1984 were given life sentences. In India a life sentence is for a period of 14 years. Time has come for them to be released.
While Satwinder Singh was living here, the tension in India began building up. The Indian government has not released those who have served their life sentence already.
They have not been released to date. Satwinder Singh Bhola's father-in-law is on a hunger strike in India, in the northern state of Punjab, pushing for the release of those who have served their life sentence. He is on his death bed, fasting now for over 220 days. He had taken a stand. Death cannot stop him. Death has never stopped the Sikh.
Here, two days ago, in this brutal murder, his past caught up with him.
Satwinder Singh Bhola was a Sikh from a Sikh family and generations of Sikh before him.
Who are the Sikh?
Near you, the governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, is a Sikh.
The Governor of Lousiana, Bobby Jindal is Sikh.
The Sikh are seekers on a Spiritual path. Once a person is born into a Sikh path, they are always Sikh. Everything else makes them understand their birth better. The love of God, the thirst for knowing Him does not diminish. It only increases.
The Sikh, their path and philosophy, was born from suffering. Huge, earth-shattering devastation agony caused during the extensive, unrestrained, barbaric massacres of the Moghul regime in the area now known as India, then known as Aryavartha, the land of the Arya or Aryan. The purpose of the huge, unbridled barbarism: converting Hindus to Islam.
▲Thick crowds of devotees offered prayers here on the occasion of Diwali today at the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine for the Sikh community.
The numbers reported are approximately 590 million massacred, including, or excluding depending on reports, children speared and crushed beneath the mogul’s muslim feet, in the presence of their mothers, to keep the Hindu population down. These marauders came to India for greed. And gold.
The people had had enough. Desperate for relief, the Hindus; in the North of India, for that was where the Moghuls were concentrated; began to give their firstborn sons to the Guru.
Who was this Guru?
In 1449 of the Georgian calendar, a saint was born, in the midst of all this sub-human horror. His name was Nanak Dev.
Dev is a Hindu name. It means godlike. In his youth he began speaking to give a message. He took precepts from the Veda, the Wisdom texts followed by the Hindu and some of the precepts of the Sufi, the mystical tradition of Islam. His followers became known as the Sikh : the Seeker.
Nanak became known as a Sufi saint. For 6 months in a year he would work at his place of employment.
For the other 6 months he would travel in a vast geographical area preaching and speaking of his message. That was what was done in those days. The Buddha roamed vast territories preaching after his Enlightenment.
So did other saints. So did Nanak. It was the message that made them live beyond temporal Time.
Nanak spoke of the Unity of Oneness. It is believed he immersed himself in the River for three days. When he came out of the Waters, he uttered the 9 words that are the quintessence of Sikh thought known as the Mool Mantra. Mool means main, or essential, the root. The Mool Mantra is the basic, main source from which the entire philosophy of the Sikh unfolds.
Ek Onkar, One Om, One Creator:
Ek meaning the number 1: Onkar: the Creator of the OM, from whom the OM emanates.
Saet Naam : Saet: True / Pure. Naam: Name. Or whose name is true.
Karta Purakh : Karta: doer/ creator.
Purakh : Being, the Being who is the Creator.
Nir Bhau : Nir: without.
Nir Vair : Nir : Without Vair: enimity.
Akal Moorath: Akal : Without death. Beyond the scope of Time.
Whose form is without ending/ death-less/ beyond Time.
Ajuni: Not born of a Woman's womb.
Saibhang : self- illuminated.
Guru Prasad : the Prasad of the Guru. Prasad is blessed food.
Like a motif in a completed piece of music or a painting, these 9 words of the main, basic or 'Mool' Mantra is the motif of the entire ' Big Book', the Guru Granth, that carries the philosophy of the Sikh.
And it is the motif of the message of Guru Nanak.
He spoke of the Unity of Oneness. That was his message.
There is a charming story of the Beauty of his Sufi message. Typical of those days, a person could not enter a town without permission.
Nanak, who was referred to as Guru by that time, came to a town, knowing there were many Sufi in the town, and made his rest area just outside the boundary limits of the town.
He sent word, asking for permission to enter. The message sent back to him came in a poetic form: a cup of milk, full to the brim. Not one more drop could fit in the cup. If anyone tried to put a drop, the milk would spill over.
Nanak understood the message. The head of the town, was telling him: we are full of teachers, and Sufi, and Gurus and spiritual people. In other words, we do not need you.
Nanak took a little flower and placed it on the top of the milk in the cup.
The flower was light. Obviously, the milk did not get displaced nor spill.
His message to the Head of the town: don't worry, I won't take much place. The Townsmen and the Head of the town were so charmed by the message that they welcomed Nanak, addressing him as Guru.
The word Guru is made up two sounds: Gu meaning light, and Ru meaning darkness. The one who brings you from darkness into light is Guru.
Guru has come to mean teacher, or the Wise One. Today, as then, a person with those qualities is given the respect and status of the Guru. It is not an honor lightly given. The test for qualifications is the lifespan, or most of it, with the message given both by words as well as with the Guru's own life's living .
Over time Nanak's message was complied in a text known as the Suraj or Sun texts, now hard to find.
I have looked for them for 5 years and cannot find them.
His message, and the messages of those following him as Guru, were compiled in a book called the Granth. Granth literally means big book.
A big, serious, heavy book. Heavy in size and heavy in weight and heavy in content. Across the board, a Granth is treated with great reverence, always kept in a place of honor.
Treated as a container or vessel of pure knowledge and wisdom. You will never see a Granth mistreated or mishandled.
However, your will see it burned by marauders and looters since it is the vehicle of knowledge carrying the entire culture and instructions within them. The burning of these texts destroy the Culture they carry. And destruction of Culture is the first step of marauders.
After Guru Nanak's passing, his linage took two paths. One is the Udasi, who live mostly in the forest.
The Udasi sect was started by Guru Nanak's natural born son. The other evolved into the more recognized Sikh as Warrior-Sage, seen today, as the continuation of the ones appointed to lead and carry the message. There were 10 Gurus in this linage.
The 10th Guru formulated the Sikhs in their Warrior form, saying to them, henceforth, to consider the Granth, the Great Book, as their Guru, to wear the turban, to keep unshorn hair, to keep the Kripan or the dagger, keep a comb to keep their hair neat, and the shorts ready for warfare at any time.
The Kripan is drawn for the fight for what is right. For the Sikhs to watch a crime being committed and remain silent is a crime in itself. Over the years, Sikhs have became known for their capacity to come forward, to be the first ones to assist in times of crisis.
Known to be hardworking and enterprising, the Sikh have made their state, Punjab, once a desert, into the breadbasket of India. They are fierce fighters. That is their DNA.
The current Guru Granth has the messages of 37 various saints from the Veda followed by the Hindu and saints of the Sufi tradition.
The form of the Granth is in verses, which are sung, like hymns. The language is the speech, in dialect, of the average, unsophisticated simple village folk.
The message was meant to be understood by all, rich and poor alike. The hymns are sung to the various Raag of classical Indian music.
Twice a day, at their temples, the priest will evoke a beseech to the Divine whom they call WaheGuru - the Great True Guru. During this beseech the Sikhs who were massacred during the muslim regime of the Moghuls are remembered and evoked.
As are the various temples built on auspicious soil, known as Gurudwara - the door or dwar of the Guru. This abode or Gurudwara of the Guru is where the Guru is evoked 24 hours a day.
Of this beseech the very first line uttered evokes Bhagwati: the Goddess Durga, or Kali, the ruler of Time. And of Death.
That is the name of the Sword. The Sword and its power is evoked. At the forefront of the Guru Granth as placed in a temple are the weapons.
The Sword. The Chakra or disc, and the daggers.
For the Sikh had been taught to fight, as warriors.
There are various versions of the Holy book and its compilations. And various followers.
They all have the basic Mool mantra of oneness as a motif connecting and continuing in them. Equality is symbolized in the food served every day at noon and in the evening always served on the floor, where all rich and poor alike sit on mats, caste-less and class-less.
Without categorization and without differentiations. Equal. Ideally, without differentiations between genders. The women are warriors, wearing the dagger on their side.
The Udasi still live, actively, in their worship.
As do those Sikhs who believe in a living Guru, and although they recognize the main Guru Granth, have their own Living Guru who speaks his message.
Just as the Catholics have their Vatican as their center, so the Sikhs have a temple called The Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India, as their center and main temple.
Here, and in other temples, the Guru is worshiped / evoked 24 hours a day using a relay method spread over the priests.
▲ The current Guru Granth has the messages of 37 various saints from the Veda followed by the Hindu and saints of the Sufi tradition. The form of the Granth is in verses, which are sung, like hymns. The language is the speech, in dialect, of the average, unsophisticated simple village folk.
This he did on being cornered after Mrs. Indira Gandhi ordered the Indian Army into the Golden Temple to attack and kill the man known as Jenrail Singh Binderwala, hidden in the stronghold he had made in the inner sanctuary of the Golden Temple. Binderwala was leading a movement to convert the state of Punjab in North India into a separate country known as Khalistan, splitting it from India. He had made his headquarters and was fighting from inside the Golden Temple, using the temple as a cover.
The Sikh Temples give shelter to any who come there for shelter. It is, after all, the Guru's abode. All are welcome to stay in the Guru's abode to this day.
Binderwala did so too. He had made an arsenal in the inner sanctuary of the Golden Temple where the hand written original Granth was kept along with the original weapons of the various Gurus, archived, since their original use.
It was not hard to blow all this up. With it, Binderwala and his closest followers as well as the precious antiques were blown up. Which lead to Mrs. Indira Gandhi being shot and the ensuing riots of 1984 which, in this moment of time, here in America, has resulted in the brutal death of a 52 year old Satwinder Bhola, in Peoria, Illinois.
▲Known to be hardworking and enterprising, the Sikh have made their state, Punjab, once a desert, into the breadbasket of India. They are fierce fighters. That is their DNA.
The main Granth, or big book, most commonly revered, was hand written about 100 years after the passing of Guru Nanak. Until then, the messages of Guru Nanak were sung. The compilation included the message of Guru Nanak and added the message of the Gurus following him.
This hand written Guru Granth was in the Golden Temple and was the one burned, beyond any hope of saving, by Binderwala, when he committed suicide with his followers by setting his stronghold on fire.
Along with him and his few followers, the hand written original Granth was burned, along with the original weapons of the various Gurus, archived, since their original use.
These are loved by Hindus and Sikhs alike.