Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Interesting Lecture on "Religious Violence"

Yesterday, my univesity lecture was on 'RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE'. It was very interesting to look at the topic and hear the various theories and hypotheses on the issue. When going through the different religions and their concept of violence the lecturer mentioned Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. I was eager to hear what the lecturer would say about Sikhi.

When mentioning Christianity he talked about the HOLY CRUSADES and war in the name of Christ, which was usually over taking over land and forcing people to accept Christianity. Similarly, JIHAD in Islam is form of struggle, which is most commonly done through the sword to gain territory, power and spread Islam. Usually both religions claim the main reason for violence is for self-protecting of its faith and faith community however not always the case as illustrated by the above points. When the lecturer mentioned Sikhi and the concept of DHARAM YUDH it was unique from other religions. He said, "Dharam Yudh means war in defence of Faith. The Sikhs only raise arms when all other means of a peaceful and non-conflicting outcome fail and talking to the authorities and state fail. War or violence is strictly defensive and never has been offensive. The Sikh religion is embedded with concept of self-defence and defending Faith." It’s beautiful to see the beauty of Sikhi shine and makes one feel proud to have such a Great Guru and Great Nation.

The second part of the lecture is always a discussion based. The question posed was, "Is religious violence mainly down to religious text and tradition." Half the class was to argue FOR and half the class was to argue AGAINST. My group was the AGAINST. I was sitting with the group arguing AGAINST. However, I could over-hear the other group. I heard the word "BHINDRANWALE" (pronounced and said in English way). The group said "The Sikh leader Bhindranwale led the Sikhs to pick arms and wished to create a Sikh homeland. This was followed by violence with the Golden Temple being attacked by the army in 1984." The other person in that group said, "Yes but 'Bhindranwale' and the Sikhs were standing up for human rights. You can't claim the Sikhs committed religious violence." Then another person said, "Yeah, and the Prime-Minister got assassinated by her Sikh body guards - but again that wasn't really religious violence however a mere act of defending one's faith and people against oppression." I was pleasantly taken aback by the Goray students knowledge of Baba jee and 1984 history and impressed by their perspective.

In my group I shared the point that religious tradition can have a role to play in religious violence. For example, religions, which practice animal sacrifices, like Islam and Judaism etc, isn't this religious violence? Does violence only have to be confined to humans? Someone who can easily butcher, torture and slaughter an animal becomes used to the shrieks, cries, and terror of the animal, as a result violence against humans is done without thinking as the mentality of being immune to torture, cries of pain and blood are normal. Everyone looked at me and stared in silence. Then one girl said, "Its true - animal torture by religions is just as bad." (Note: There is a nice article about Kuttha and Sikh perspective of meat on - read article here). The Muslim and Christian students just looked stunned as they realised the barbarity of torturing and killing animals for the sake of sacrifice to God or for one's hunger. Then one boy said with a disturbed voice, "Good point - but aren't we supposed to be arguing the opposite perspective?" We ended up arguing that socio, economical and political struggles are usually glossed over with religion.

On the way back home on the train today I faced my own experience of violence! I was starving (had langar in the morning - Poratay to be precise! lol) but by late afternoon I was feeling peckish. I couldn't find anything in the train station that I could eat. Then I came across a bag of "MIXED FRUIT AND NUTS" in WHSmith. I thought Chalo, Chaklo. So I got the nuts and dried fruits. But I needed to wash my hands before I eat them. I went to the toilets in the station to be shocked with a 20p CHARGE. I thought "Rab Bhalla Kare! 20p just to use the sink to use some WATER!" I thought I would wait till I get on the train.

The train came along and there were so many people getting on I thought I can't get up to wash my hands or else someone will take the seat. So I waited a few stops till the train wasn't busy. I got up to wash my hands in the nearby toilet. Anyone been on a Virgin train will know that the doors are AWFUL. I was half way through the door when the door automatically CLOSED! There's even no censor to open it! I thought Rab Rakha while being squashed by the door! I thought forget religious violence, today I'm victim of TRAIN DOOR VIOLENCE! lol. I had to push the door back and SQUEEZE through. I've lost count of the amount of times I have seen people or myself have been stuck in the automatic doors of a Virgin train. They really needed to sort it out! Eventually got my hands washed and enjoyed the nuts and raisins. Sat Naam, Vaheguru.


Anonymous said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Sri Maan Sant Gyani Baba Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale the beloved Sahibzada of Dhan Dhan Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj, who shook the world with Guru Sahib's word and sword.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Shinda said...

I think the insights the goray had on Sikhi can be attested to the fact that the various Sikh Student organizations and mainstream parbhandaks have had a positive effect on the general public, in regards to the Sikh plight.

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

100% agree with Shinda Singh. It shows that Parchaar and Seva by students and general Sangat has an affect on non-Sikhs and society.

Sifar said...

Nice to hear that people (other than Sikhs) talking positive of Sikhism. What ever efforts (on large scale or personal level) are done to educate others on Sikhi will definately show results one day around the world.

On the other hand, I don't think it was appropriate to use such graphic image when talking about animal sacrifice.

Prabhu Singh said...

I'm surprised that anybody knew who Bhai Jarnail Singh Ji Bindranwale was. Nobody in the US other than a handful of Sikhs knows who he is. Furthermore it's nice to know that people have a positive impression of Sikhs, considering most of the media seems to be negative. Or at least the media that gets the most attention, like Bezti and people fighting in Gurdwaray.
Clearly we have enough of a presence to get into the media, it's great if it's positive.
Sat Naam Siri WaheGuru!

Anonymous said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Manvir Singh was this lecture part of your course on religious studies?

If it is then I don’t understand why we should be so surprised that fellow non-sikh students know and speak highly of Sant Gyani Baba Jarnail Singh Ji Khalsa Bhindranwale. These students obviously have to study recent Sikh history as part of their course and when you look at what Sant Ji did and achieved with a mind free from bias then the truth is quite clear to see.

I don’t think the average college/university student has any idea of the genocide which still occurs to this day in the world’s largest democracy.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Anonymous said...

Sifar said,

"On the other hand, I don't think it was appropriate to use such graphic image when talking about animal sacrifice."

I think it was quite appropriate. We have no problems seeing meat in grocery shops, neatly packed and ready to buy, but we're disgusted at how it got there? The reason people can so easily eat meat is because they don't have to see the brutality involved with getting it to them. We need MORE pictures like this, not less.

Sifar said...


You are welcome to start your blog and put up all the pictures you need on that that show bloodshed to try to convert meat eaters to vegetarianism... The blog is free and so are the pictures. I neither eat meat nor in the stores I prefer to walk by the meat counter. And this doesnot mean that I'm chicken to watch pictures like these...

Some links for you to view and put on your blog if you decide to start one...

More Bloodshed 1
More Bloodshed 2
More Bloodshed 3
More Bloodshed 4

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

mr singh - That particular lecture was Religious Global Politics. Although you would assume everyone on the course would have some degree of knowledge of Sikh history it is not necessary the case. And those who do their reading and read up on the relevant areas, a lot of them dont demonstrate the confidence in what they know and therefore tend to keep quiet. However in this case about Baba jee, two particular Goray were very confident when speaking.