The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster. The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. - Milan Kundera.
In the month June 2012, the Government of Punjab announced that it will set up a 'cow memorial' at a factory site in Joga town, Mansa District, where recovery of cow carcasses had sparked off riots. And a day after announcing a 'cow memorial', the Badal Government further announced it will constitute a 'cow commission' to 'prevent cruelties against the holy animal'. Mr. Badal even made a visit to the factory where cow slaughter was supposedly taking place and instructed the DGP to look into the cases of cow slaughter with interest and thoroughly. Mr. Badal and his party members didn't even have the time to pay a visit to the blanket factory at Jalandhar which collapsed in April 2012 and which left more than 10 people dead and 100s badly injured. Not even a single statement came in favor of dead or injured in the one of worst factory accidents of Punjab's history. Was it because people working at that factory were poor and their lives were not as important as the lives of cows? And recently, when a madman at a Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara killed 6 people, Mr. Badal, CM of Punjab, decided to visit Wisconsin! Isn't it strange that when in his home state, thousands Dalits are being tortured and when the crime rate against Dalits is going up day by day, he decided to visit Wisconsin to comfort Sikhs of Wisconsin? Is it because these people living abroad finance him and support his party during the election time and the poor Dalits don't have as much money to donate? So Dalit voices are left unheard.
All these announcements didn't come to me as surprise as I know who are working behind all these. For centuries, Hindu fundamentalists have always taken a keen interest in destroying Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. RSS's 'secret agenda', (published by "New Age" weekly of Communist Party, dated 18th-24th June 2000, same was also reproduced by Aajka Surekh Bharat, Nagpur, Oct. 2000, P-44,) shows the same, 'secret agenda' in which it was advocated to members that they "teach false history, misguide minority communities, compel them to chant 'Om', divide Dalit unity, keep converting Dalits, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists into Hindus etc. There were 34 such points in that 'secret agenda', points which were against humanity, mankind & full of hatred. These days, Sikh organizations, Sikh temples etc are hijacked by Hindu fundamentalists and they are running these organizations as they want. Sikh leaders can be seen at Hindu functions, celebrating Hindu festivals, visiting Hindu temples and performing Hindu pujas. How can Dalits, who protected Sikhism at each and every step, trust such Sikh leaders who attend such Hindu functions where Sikhism is being ruined?
Sikhism and Buddhism are the two religions that inspire me the most. But, when I see Sikh women going to Gurudwaras and tying Rakhis to the palki of Guru Granth Sahib or when I see Buddhist women going to Buddhist religious places and tying Rakhis to banyan trees, I feel sad for those innocent people.
What was originally a Hindu festival has ignorantly been accepted by Sikhs and Buddhists without questioning the credibility of the festival or without considering what the Sikh Gurus or Buddha had said or what Dr Ambedkar had said in 22 Vows. Buddha and the Sikh Gurus never accepted Hindu customs, rather than accepting they challenged many ritual practices in Brahmanism: Guru Nanak Dev Ji refused to wear a janeu and the Buddha challenged caste system. Buddha and all the Sikh Gurus had rightly said "You must not only discard the shastras, you must deny their authority & you should have courage to tell the Hindus where they are wrong".
Sikhs and Buddhist heritage is so rich that in both religions, men and women were given equal rights/status from the beginning. Why would women need protection when they can defend themselves? In 1706 A.D., at "Khidrana di dhab", where the Sikhs were fighting against Mughals and when 40 Sikh men abandoned the 10th guru 'Guru Gobind Singh Ji' in the time of need, their wives took up the weapons and came to fight. Women in Sikhism and Buddhism were treated equal so shouldn't just fall prey to the fake rituals created to destroy the rich inheritance of Sikhs and Buddhists.
Let me restate a few differences between Sikhism and Hinduism, differences that Sikhs and Sikh leaders are forgetting:
1. Sikhs believe in One and only One God, whereas Hindus worship a number of gods, goddesses, and deities.
2. The Hindu Trinity-- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva-- is altogether rejected by Sikhs.
3. The worship of any carved statues, images or idols is completely forbidden in Sikhism although it is allowed in Hinduism.
4. The cow is not considered as a sacred animal by Sikhs; hence it is not worshiped at all.
5. The supremacy of the Vedas, Gita and other Hindu scriptures is not recognized or accepted in Sikhism. Sikhs have their own holy book, the Shri. Guru Granth Sahib, compiled by the fifth Guru himself.
6. Sikhism has rejected the caste system, and all men and women are reckoned equal irrespective of their caste, color or creed, does Hinduism do all this?
7. Sikh traditions, customs, and ceremonies of death and marriage are completely different from those of the Hindus.
These are just a few differences; Sikhism is an entirely different religion and everyone has to keep that in mind. It's foolishness on the Sikhs' part to take part in pro-RSS activities and work according to Hindutva.
How shameful and unfortunate that all these announcements – cow commissions, cow memorials – are and that all these decisions are being made by Sikh leaders; Sikh leaders who claim themselves to be sympathizers of Dalits and the poor. Can you believe that Punjab has been ranked number 1 state many times by many magazines and newspapers? It is shameful that public money is wasted on such commissions and memorials when Dalits of Punjab don't have basic necessities, when Dalit students of Punjab struggle for good education. The condition of Government schools is poor; there is no infrastructure, and no availability of teachers. Is there no need to improve Government schools because they are being used by Dalit students? A recent survey of Government of India showed that 97% of students in Government primary schools in Punjab are from Dalit and backward castes. Dalits of Punjab lack basic necessities, Dalits of Punjab are as poor as Dalits of other states, and Dalits of Punjab are as enslaved as Dalits of other states. Dalits of Punjab don't need cow commissions or cow memorials, they need good education. Give Dalits a chance to live, give Dalit students wings of dreams with good education, give Dalits a hope with good living conditions, create conditions where Dalits don't have to live in fear. Follow what the Sikh Gurus preached.
It's high time for everyone to wake up against these Hindutva preachings. Sikh leaders who are becoming puppets in the hands of these Manuwadis will lead to the end of Sikhism and if such activities – cow commissions, cow memorials - continue, the day won't be far away when idols of Hindu deities will be seen at the 'Darbar Saheb' - Golden Temple.
Pardeep Attri blogs here.
Pictures courtesy: the internet.