Harinder Kaur (Mai) is a Sikh woman whose family died October 31, 1984 in the Delhi riots following the assassination of Indira Ghandi. She is the author of the blog, “The Road to Khalistan”, a very personal memorial to the murder of her family which describes the events of their martyrdom.
I have to warn you “Beware”. Her story has me in tears every time I read it. Harinder Kaur is very brave to share so intimately her feelings, I suspect it helps in some way to keep her family alive in her heart and mind. They certainly will come alive for you, if you read their story, but then you will also suffer their deaths.
In their final hours rather than running to hide and chancing that any of the family members might die without having been baptized, they held an Amrit initiation ceremony. They stood side by side as Khalsa to face the murderous horde which descended on them. Mai tragically lost her husband, son, and two unborn daughters.
When people around the USA are busy celebrating Halloween, it is an especially difficult time for Harinder Kaur and many thousands of other Sikhs around the world who also lost loved ones that fateful October 31st.
Writing to offer my compassion, I asked Mai how her faith helps her to cope with the memories and overcome the feelings evoked every year dredges up the painful horror of the past. I share with you her gracious reply:
“Thank you so very much.
This time of year is hard, it seems every year as difficult as the last. But maybe not, I just reread my journal from 1984 and I have certainly recovered a lot compared to then.
One thing I would like to bring out is that along with the horror and pain is also a great deal of pride. True, because we were Sikhs the rioters in the backlash of hatred were out to commit murder and mayhem. But because we are Sikhs, our small group of 11 knew exactly what we had to do, and we did it.
I have no words to express the pride I feel in my fallen men. They could have cut (literally) and run, and hidden like the others and probably survived. However, without standing up for their values, they would not have been my men, just empty shells.
We stood as Sikhs, as Khalsa and fought and mostly fell. Dead but not defeated, they earned their shaheedi (martyrdom) accepting it as a gift from Vaheguru and Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Maharaj. The pain of my loss is great, of course, no less now than it was 24 years ago. Over the years, my understanding has grown. Their martyrdom was and is the Hukam of Vaheguru (Will of God). My loss is also a gift from Vaheguru, perhaps giving me the opportunity to grow beyond my attachment to them. A friend recently suggested to me that my love for and attachment to them had grown greater than that I had for Vaheguru and their removal was necessary for my growth. Looking closely, carefully, fearlessly at that, I can see there is a lot of truth there. I admit I don’t like that. No, not one tiny bit!
I have gotten a lot of comfort from the knowledge that everything which happens is the Hukam of Vaheguru, that, in the words of the Desiderata, ‘Whether it is clear to you or not, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.’
But lest you wrongly believe that I have gone all saintly, and since I am trying to be completely honest, my feelings come more from vengeance than justice.
So…how can I accept all this as the Hukam of Vaheguru and still seek revenge? I see the contradiction and have no resolution, only it is necessary that I accept that that is where I am and how I feel. I suppose the next step is to close my eyes, take a deep breath, step into the unknown, confident that I’ll land in the arms of Guru ji”.
Thank you, Mai.
In a discussion about death and afterlife, another Sikh woman, Anup Kaur, remarked, “Bad things happened to good people” and cited martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, as example. I thought about it. Like your husband and son, Mai, he might have escaped Martyrdom. His sacrifice like that of your beloved ones is a gift to the rest of us. It shows us how fine the conviction of honor and courage is. I need to accept that is a good thing. We a have to depart this world one day, I hope when our turns come to break from this life, that we go with our values intact.