Amardeep Singh’s Second Volume To Commemorate 71st Anniversary of the Partition of Sikh Hearts & Heritage



By Harbans Lal, Ph.D.; D.Litt (Hons).

The first Volume: Lost Heritage: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan, was reviewed earlier in this blog post.

The second Volume The Quest Continues by Amardeep Singh. Himalayan Book, New Delhi. 2018. Price: $150, discounted at $80 for special events. (Inquires/orders at 717-794-3800) has been continually reviewed by leading journals in India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA since its publication last year.

In both volumes the author has expressed his pains of separation through his photography. They record the history of the neighborhoods and the sites where the population used to throng in times gone by. Theses are the places with dust and mud where their Gurus left their footsteps. Of course, there is no place in Pakistan which is not sacred to Sikhs, and where the soil did not touch the Guru’s feet.

The author encouraged us to see that our millennials are succeeding at least in preserving records. Our technologists who can spare their resources and energy are undertaking periodic visits of the villages and the valleys of Pakistan to photograph each town and each street along with recording interviews of the neighbors who still have memories of old days and their friends of those glorious days.

In this note, the purpose is not to review the books but rather to announce that the author is on a world tour to acquaint the public with his work. His presentations are getting excellent reviews and attracting large audience everywhere.

The Author

Amardeep Singh lives in Singapore. His father and mother, who belonged to Muzaffarabad and Abbottabad respectively, had moved to Uttar Pradesh in India during the partition of 1947. Educated at The Doon School, he pursued Electronics Engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology, and a graduate degree in business administration at the University of Chicago.

ST_20160111_LLAMARDEEP11_1977367

He has worked for twenty-five years in the corporate sector and was the Asia Pacific Regional Head for Revenue Management at American Express. He has passionately maintained pursuits in literary and creative arts as another facet of his personality.

Amardeep Singh’s two books on ‘The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan’ motivate all communities to become aware of their past, and through it, learn to live in harmony for mutual peace and progress.

During a personal visit to Pakistan in 2014, in a journey that took him across 36 cities and villages, Amardeep felt it was important for posterity to document his explorations in a book entitled, ‘LOST HERITAGE: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan.’

The passage after that spurred him into an almost obsessive quest to research further the tangible and intangible Sikh legacy across Pakistan. In Jan 2017, he undertook another journey, this time traveling extensively to 90 cities and villages across Sindh, Baluchistan, Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab. The continuing thread of explorations, again motivated him to document them in the sequel entitled, ‘THE QUEST CONTINUES: LOST HERITAGE_ The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan.’

His PowerPoint presentations based on his two books are visual intensive and weave a storyline that takes the audience as well as the reader on a virtual journey. The photographs are spectacular, and the supporting text is written in a personal style, rich in anecdote and devoid of unnecessary stylistics. Most rewardingly, it places historical events and personalities in context. The strength of any book lies in its ability to spur the reader into taking their own journey, which these two books do full justice.

Not to be Forgotten

History is filled with passages of politics of hate that has been cruel to civilizations, uprooting them from their naturalized habitats and thrusting them into new areas to craft new identities. Amardeep grew up hearing first-hand accounts from those who were affected by the partition of the Indian subcontinent in the year 1947, when the British left India, dividing it into India and Pakistan, based on religious affiliations.

Overnight, millions of people that included Amardeep’s parents and extended family were uprooted from the regions that became Pakistan. Hearing the stories of ethnic cleansing that ensued across all communities on both sides of the newly created borders, Amardeep sees his generation as the last link between the ones directly impacted by the partition and the present youth who have little emotional understanding of that cataclysm.

It is in this background, Amardeep’s painstaking research, documented in the two books, serves as a link for posterity to an almost forgotten yet rich cultural legacy.

The Sikh Kingdom and Partition

During the 15th century, Sikh philosophy emerged as a reformist movement in the north-west of the Indian subcontinent, predominantly in the lands that became Pakistan in the partition of 1947. Over the next two centuries, its adherents evolved as a defense cohort against oppressions of those times. In the early 18th century, Sikhs grew stronger and successive decades saw the rise of an indigenous kingdom as the bulwark against foreign intrusions.

By the 19th century, the Sikh kingdom became the custodians of the Northwest of the Indian subcontinent and established a robust secular rule. It was such a formidable empire that the fast-expanding British East India Company, which had acquired most of India, was firmly stalled from further westward advances. Only after much treachery and betrayal, the British empire finally set in 1849 with the British occupying these lands. However, in departing from India in 1947, the British divided the country between India and Pakistan by dividing Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims who were living so close to each other that no boundary may divide them without massive disruption, bloodshed, and destruction of valuable assets. It stripped of its secular tapestry on both sides of the Radcliffe Line.

Preserving the Legacy

Seven decades after the searing partition of 1947, the Sikhs visiting Pakistan have limited their interests to the realm of religion as they only visit the few functional gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship). These phenomena are exacerbated due to stringent visa regimes which restrict access to limited areas.

Amardeep is one of those pioneers who is attempting to chart the remnants of the legacy by visiting and documenting a wide array of tangible and intangible footprints, which are not readily accessible. These are essential works because they make people of different faiths see that learning from the past helps build bridges for the future.


Send all communications to:

Harbans Lal, Ph.D.; D.Litt (Hons)

Professor Emeritus & Chairman, Dept of Pharmacology & Neurosciences, University of North Texas Health Science Center.
Professor Emeritus, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India.
President, Academy of Guru Granth Studies.

web:     https://seekingwisdomblog.wordpress.com
email:   Japji2050@gmail.com


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5 thoughts on “Amardeep Singh’s Second Volume To Commemorate 71st Anniversary of the Partition of Sikh Hearts & Heritage

  1. 1947..
    I hv living hearing true incidents of the era which I’m horrified to imagine How many Humans were uprooted from their roots …
    loosing Their property, personal belongings or even lives of their loved ones……
    But I do have one Bigg moment told to me by my DadiMaa ji Sdn. Basant Kaur ji…My Daarji S. SujanSingh ji & His Family Wife & Children all moved to India but his parents Sdn& S.Aasa Singh ji stayed on In newly formed Pakistan hoping everything vil b fine one day.That Day wasn’t there.
    Now my brave Grandmother SdnBasant Kaur ji went to Pakistan to Bring back Her Father in law & Mother in Law back to India.That is one of the Bravest untold Story of 1947 I hv in my Family.
    There R many more tragic stories untold to the Human history.
    This country named India was made a reality on Sacrifices of Sikhs & Hindus & even Muslims but not by Net as.

  2. Sharing another story of Partition of India:-

    Wounds of Partition of India not yet healed!

    Kirpal Singh
    Wellington, New Zealand

    I experienced and witnessed some traumatic experiences during partition days of India in 1947, which are still living with me as horrifying.

    We lived in Chak Sardar Dharam Singh (CSDS) on the outskirts of Rawalpindi – a predominantly Sikh Community settlement (off Lalkurti near Thairee and opposite Tamiyaal/Dhimiaal). My father and mother’s families originally belonged to a village ‘Banda’ near ‘Bassali’ (Marwah and Bindra respectively) on the other side of the Suan river. Master Tara Singh, S. Gurmukh Singh Musafir, Dr. Harnam Singh Shan, ex-PM IK Gujral, and Prof. Surinder Singh Kholi….. were from around this area.

    As late as around July 1947, we were advised by some good Muslim friends to leave CSDS and move to a safer place as there were periodic killings and destruction of Sikh and Hindus properties on daily basis.

    My father was 31 years old and was pretty adamant to stay on in CSDS. However, our mother along with two sons, 11 and 9 and three daughters, 7, 5 and 3 years moved to ‘Waha Camp’ near Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) under the care of my father’s Mamaji, a practising Gursikh and a retired Sub. Major from the Indian British Army who had served on overseas postings.

    Brief highlights our stay at Waha Camp include:-

    1. We all lived in one room and slept on the floor using specially set up temporary toilets and washed ourselves around a public water tap in turns. Cooking was in the open using dry fire wood and dry cow dung (collected by my elder brother and me).

    2. Atta, milk powder, cooking oil, kerosene oil and salt were obtained on a ration card; Atta in black was around Rs. 3.00/kg and so was achaar (pickles). Our daily meal was missi rotis with achaar and water.

    3. People were selling currency coins on the road side (out of bag full of coins) in exchange for paper money (Re. 1 note could easily fetch 20 annas against an official rate of 16).

    4. We were advised to leave some of our luggage (a box or two) on the left side of the road leading to the railway station waiting for our turn in order to board a train to go across to the Indian side of the border. We use to push our baggage ever day with the help of our father’s Mamaji.

    5. We witnessed the arrival of a convey of about 50 military vehicles full of Sikhs (mostly) and Hindus from NWFP. A havoc scene was to see that these vehicles brought more dead bodies than livings. I still remember a Sikh young woman holding a dead child in her lap bleeding profusely. A dead young Sikh solider lying in the vehicle with full uniform was seen with a bullet piercing through his stomach. Later all the corpses were stacked in heaps and sprinkled with kerosene to set alight to cremate in bulk. Our Mamaji was handy to say prayers and Antim Ardas.

    6. After about two months of stay in ‘Waha Camp’, our turn came to board the well guarded train to Amritsar with our little baggage and stock of missi rotis, achar and water. The train took almost three days to reach Attari (instead of 5-6 hrs normal timing) and we heaved a sigh of relief.

    7. It was at Attari Railway Station that I witnessed the most dreadful and horrifying experience of my life. A train full of Muslims from all over India was waiting for clearance to move and to cross the border to land safely in Pakistan in a couple of minutes. Suddenly I heard cries of children, women and men and running for their lives on the other platform. Some hooligans mostly (Sikhs) killed them one by one with swords and and barchas and threw the bodies in a huge bonfire. Till today that memory flashes and hurts me!

    8. We were not allowed to step out on the platform and our train moved on to stop in Kurukshetra. Most of us were taken to a ‘Refugee Camp’ set up in a huge area. We were given a tent to stay. Fortunately our Mamaji was resource full to get us some provisions to start a living. There were green chillies growing in a field nearby, my brother and I ventured to steal some chillies and mixed with some salt to make a sort of pickle to go with rotis.

    9. I witnessed two horrible tragedies in Kurukshetra Camp. My youngest sister passed away due to high fever and dehydration in my Mum’s lap due to lack of medical attention. We managed to bury her in the fields somewhere.

    The other tragedy that I witnessed was of loss of four Hindu young men all newly married (6+ feet tall and handsome) from Sargodha who lived next to our tent with their beautiful wives, still wearing colourful churas (colourful bangles for newly married) in the Refugee Camp. I later learnt that they ventured to steal from a farm-house owned by a Sikh farmer in the cover of darkness. They succeeded once and they shared the bounty among themselves. When they tried second time, they were caught and slaughtered on the spot thinking that they were Muslims? I cannot forget the cries of four young brides till today.

    10. We were in free India but without our father with us. Somehow my father’s younger brother learnt our whereabouts and he was able to trace us in the Kurukshetra Camp. He took me and one sister to Allahabad to live with him and his wife leaving my mother, elder brother and one sister and Mamaji in the Camp.

    11. Our journey from Kurukshetra to Delhi was another interesting story. We could not get into the train and we had to travel on top of the passenger train. The most interesting part was that there were men holding staircases to help people to climb on the top roof at a charge of Rs. 7/- per person (a lot of money those days!). But we were helpless and we had to pay to undertake a risky journey.

    12. From Delhi to Allahabad we travelled in a normal train but witness yet another episode full of tension and anxiety on 30 January 1948 when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. There was rumour that a Sikh was involved in Gandhi’s assassination. For some time we were forced to stay in door till all became clear.

    13. In between my Chacha Ji, was still looking for my father. He put up an announcement for my father on all India Radio Station that if you hear this announcement then please come to Sisgang Gurduara at such and such time. Fortunately my father heard the announcement and finally united with his younger brother.

    14. We were then all united in Delhi and started living together and my brother and I joined Sri Guru Teg Bhadur Khalsa Higher Secondary School, Karol Bagh, Delhi to begin our new life (a switch from urdu to Gurmukhi/Punjabi medium).

    15. The best thing that happened on partition of India, as far as I am concerned, is that I joined Khalsa School to learn about Gurmat.

    I did develop a strong disliking for killing of people and use of arms while witnessing the havocs of partition of India. I was so traumatised that today I am a votary for total disarmament whether it be a symbol or an article of faith. I am also against Capital punishment as no crime is big enough to take any body’s life!

    I Believe that “Gurbani is the mightiest sword”. Our Gurus advise us to develop a “passionate love for Gurbani” (Sikhi). According to Gurbani one who in love with Gurbani is a Sikh – non violent Sikh/Khalsa.

    I have no sympathies with those who ask for a smaller Khalistan in India. The Sikh Gurus belonged to India and India belongs to Sikh Gurus. I have also full faith in our Ardas that a day will soon come when the Sikhs shall have full access to visit all those places which are connected to Sikh Gurus in Pakistan.

    All our political leaders were/are not aware of the power of Gurbani (wisdom) to take a stand to stay in united India and to seek and protect their legitimate rights. Guru Nanak Sahib could change people by his presence and touch and the same should be possible by Guru Ji’s true devotees (Sikhs). Sikh Political leaders should be thorough in Gurbani (‘Gurbani eis jag mein channan’) to take steadfast stand in public life devoid of corrupt practices.

    If there are one hundred Sikhs who are passionate about Gurbani, they can easily prevail by their own example to attract masses to Sikhi to eventually create Khalistan in whole of India with the flow of power out of Gurbani without resorting to horrible acts of violence and terror.

    Sikhi is first and foremost “PIRI” and the “Miri’ follows to serve ‘PIRI”. Miri is to administer “PIRI’ with wisdom.

    We need more Sikhs with conviction than with empty tradition.
    ________________________________
    Professor Emeritus –Email: kirpal2singh@yahoo.com

  3. Another story of Partion of India:-

    Wounds of Partition of India not yet healed!

    Kirpal Singh
    Wellington, New Zealand

    I experienced and witnessed some traumatic experiences during partition days of India in 1947, which are still living with me as horrifying.

    We lived in Chak Sardar Dharam Singh (CSDS) on the outskirts of Rawalpindi – a predominantly Sikh Community settlement (off Lalkurti near Thairee and opposite Tamiyaal/Dhimiaal). My father and mother’s families originally belonged to a village ‘Banda’ near ‘Bassali’ (Marwah and Bindra respectively) on the other side of the Suan river. Master Tara Singh, S. Gurmukh Singh Musafir, Dr. Harnam Singh Shan, ex-PM IK Gujral, and Prof. Surinder Singh Kholi….. were from around this area.

    As late as around July 1947, we were advised by some good Muslim friends to leave CSDS and move to a safer place as there were periodic killings and destruction of Sikh and Hindus properties on daily basis.

    My father was 31 years old and was pretty adamant to stay on in CSDS. However, our mother along with two sons, 11 and 9 and three daughters, 7, 5 and 3 years moved to ‘Waha Camp’ near Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) under the care of my father’s Mamaji, a practising Gursikh and a retired Sub. Major from the Indian British Army who had served on overseas postings.

    Brief highlights our stay at Waha Camp include:-

    1. We all lived in one room and slept on the floor using specially set up temporary toilets and washed ourselves around a public water tap in turns. Cooking was in the open using dry fire wood and dry cow dung (collected by my elder brother and me).

    2. Atta, milk powder, cooking oil, kerosene oil and salt were obtained on a ration card; Atta in black was around Rs. 3.00/kg and so was achaar (pickles). Our daily meal was missi rotis with achaar and water.

    3. People were selling currency coins on the road side (out of bag full of coins) in exchange for paper money (Re. 1 note could easily fetch 20 annas against an official rate of 16).

    4. We were advised to leave some of our luggage (a box or two) on the left side of the road leading to the railway station waiting for our turn in order to board a train to go across to the Indian side of the border. We use to push our baggage ever day with the help of our father’s Mamaji.

    5. We witnessed the arrival of a convey of about 50 military vehicles full of Sikhs (mostly) and Hindus from NWFP. A havoc scene was to see that these vehicles brought more dead bodies than livings. I still remember a Sikh young woman holding a dead child in her lap bleeding profusely. A dead young Sikh solider lying in the vehicle with full uniform was seen with a bullet piercing through his stomach. Later all the corpses were stacked in heaps and sprinkled with kerosene to set alight to cremate in bulk. Our Mamaji was handy to say prayers and Antim Ardas.

    6. After about two months of stay in ‘Waha Camp’, our turn came to board the well guarded train to Amritsar with our little baggage and stock of missi rotis, achar and water. The train took almost three days to reach Attari (instead of 5-6 hrs normal timing) and we heaved a sigh of relief.

    7. It was at Attari Railway Station that I witnessed the most dreadful and horrifying experience of my life. A train full of Muslims from all over India was waiting for clearance to move and to cross the border to land safely in Pakistan in a couple of minutes. Suddenly I heard cries of children, women and men and running for their lives on the other platform. Some hooligans mostly (Sikhs) killed them one by one with swords and and barchas and threw the bodies in a huge bonfire. Till today that memory flashes and hurts me!

    8. We were not allowed to step out on the platform and our train moved on to stop in Kurukshetra. Most of us were taken to a ‘Refugee Camp’ set up in a huge area. We were given a tent to stay. Fortunately our Mamaji was resource full to get us some provisions to start a living. There were green chillies growing in a field nearby, my brother and I ventured to steal some chillies and mixed with some salt to make a sort of pickle to go with rotis.

    9. I witnessed two horrible tragedies in Kurukshetra Camp. My youngest sister passed away due to high fever and dehydration in my Mum’s lap due to lack of medical attention. We managed to bury her in the fields somewhere.

    The other tragedy that I witnessed was of loss of four Hindu young men all newly married (6+ feet tall and handsome) from Sargodha who lived next to our tent with their beautiful wives, still wearing colourful churas (colourful bangles for newly married) in the Refugee Camp. I later learnt that they ventured to steal from a farm-house owned by a Sikh farmer in the cover of darkness. They succeeded once and they shared the bounty among themselves. When they tried second time, they were caught and slaughtered on the spot thinking that they were Muslims? I cannot forget the cries of four young brides till today.

    10. We were in free India but without our father with us. Somehow my father’s younger brother learnt our whereabouts and he was able to trace us in the Kurukshetra Camp. He took me and one sister to Allahabad to live with him and his wife leaving my mother, elder brother and one sister and Mamaji in the Camp.

    11. Our journey from Kurukshetra to Delhi was another interesting story. We could not get into the train and we had to travel on top of the passenger train. The most interesting part was that there were men holding staircases to help people to climb on the top roof at a charge of Rs. 7/- per person (a lot of money those days!). But we were helpless and we had to pay to undertake a risky journey.

    12. From Delhi to Allahabad we travelled in a normal train but witness yet another episode full of tension and anxiety on 30 January 1948 when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. There was rumour that a Sikh was involved in Gandhi’s assassination. For some time we were forced to stay in door till all became clear.

    13. In between my Chacha Ji, was still looking for my father. He put up an announcement for my father on all India Radio Station that if you hear this announcement then please come to Sisgang Gurduara at such and such time. Fortunately my father heard the announcement and finally united with his younger brother.

    14. We were then all united in Delhi and started living together and my brother and I joined Sri Guru Teg Bhadur Khalsa Higher Secondary School, Karol Bagh, Delhi to begin our new life (a switch from urdu to Gurmukhi/Punjabi medium).

    15. The best thing that happened on partition of India, as far as I am concerned, is that I joined Khalsa School to learn about Gurmat.

    I did develop a strong disliking for killing of people and use of arms while witnessing the havocs of partition of India. I was so traumatised that today I am a votary for total disarmament whether it be a symbol or an article of faith. I am also against Capital punishment as no crime is big enough to take any body’s life!

    I Believe that “Gurbani is the mightiest sword”. Our Gurus advise us to develop a “passionate love for Gurbani” (Sikhi). According to Gurbani one who in love with Gurbani is a Sikh – non violent Sikh/Khalsa.

    I have no sympathies with those who ask for a smaller Khalistan in India. The Sikh Gurus belonged to India and India belongs to Sikh Gurus. I have also full faith in our Ardas that a day will soon come when the Sikhs shall have full access to visit all those places which are connected to Sikh Gurus in Pakistan.

    All our political leaders were/are not aware of the power of Gurbani (wisdom) to take a stand to stay in united India and to seek and protect their legitimate rights. Guru Nanak Sahib could change people by his presence and touch and the same should be possible by Guru Ji’s true devotees (Sikhs). Sikh Political leaders should be thorough in Gurbani (‘Gurbani eis jag mein channan’) to take steadfast stand in public life devoid of corrupt practices.

    If there are one hundred Sikhs who are passionate about Gurbani, they can easily prevail by their own example to attract masses to Sikhi to eventually create Khalistan in whole of India with the flow of power out of Gurbani without resorting to horrible acts of violence and terror.

    Sikhi is first and foremost “PIRI” and the “Miri’ follows to serve ‘PIRI”. Miri is to administer “PIRI’ with wisdom.

    We need more Sikhs with conviction than with empty tradition.
    ________________________________
    Professor Emeritus –Email: kirpal2singh@yahoo.com

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