Is Whatsapp hijacking Our Lives?

IMG-20170503-WA0012Is Whatsapp hijacking Our Lives?

by

Mohinder Pal Singh

Ever  since  whatsapp has  come into the lives of denizens ,irrespective of the age, gender, caste and religion it has  squeezed time from our already packed  schedules. Initially  it  came as  a tool which appeared  as  an alternate to the erstwhile SMS and slowly graduated  to communicating with friends intermittently. Slowly whatsapp inundated  us  with greeting  messages which  was  a welcome  change  from  sending high-priced  SMS just to wish  friends  ‘happy diwali’ or ‘happy new year’. Whatsapp features  made it all ‘free’. Due  to the simplicity of its use,  it left email and  other social networking sites or apps much  behind. Slowly from being  just  a  tool  to  text  messages  or pictoral  greetings it  graduated  to video messages, long  text  stories and  instant  news  items, which could  be circulated  across the world in  a click. A watershed  in the history of  whatsapp was the introduction of voice and  video call. The way Whatsapp had annihilated SMS, Whatsapp  voice  call  is on the  path of annihilating telephone calls.  With all these facilities on the click of a finger whatsapp has  entered  our lives ‘forever’ like a RBC cell in our blood without which  we  can’t live. Today  the whatsapp messages can be typified into – ‘information’ uploads, Sea of ‘gyan’, sensational news items, current affairs and developments, entertainment and  humour and not to miss out porn.

Every denizen on whatapp has  now  become  a  netizen. And every netizen is glued to whatsapp which includes multiple and overlapping activities like,   reading  individual text messages from friends  and acquaintances,  reading  text  messages in  groups, chatting with friends, discussions in  groups, reading  and  forwarding good messages, seeing videos, forwarding  videos, reading  links  and  forwarding links to others. And  all  this  takes  a huge amount of time. And just to get  an estimate  as to  how  much time is being  used up in doing all this I indulged , out of sheer  inquisitiveness  in a small net-based survey among some  friends and in some whatsapp groups. I  asked  four pointed questions,  how much time  do you spend in reading messages/videos, how much time do  you spend in forwarding texts/ videos,  how much time do you spend in  reading links and how much  time do you spend  in chatting  and  calling. The participants in the survey were in the   age group of  18 to 65 and included both  genders.  The  result of this survey  was shell  shocking  but I  was  prepared for the jolt.  On  an average  a person was spending a whooping 90-120 minutes  a day on this  app. Where did each person manage to cull out  this time   from  his already busy daily routine was the instant question which hit my head?

Varily speaking the implication of this neo-love, spreading pan india , pan world and pan generations is disastrous. Lets in brief analyse  how this enigma   has  effected  each one of us. For  a student sparing two hours on whatsapp means denuding two hours either from playtime or from studies and both are abysmally devastating in student life.  For an adult in a job with a family removing two hours from his busy schedule means either  denuding  time from  the  work  or from the family-time and both  are equally perilous things to do. For an old sparing  two  hours  means denuding himself from his  fixed  daily routine.

Actually ,  whatsapp is  not taking our time at  one  go. It is slowly  nibbling  time  from  our various essential activites. This  habit of  nibbling  away  chunks  of time from  our   personal time at home or from the  official time in office is keeping us afloat in a flux of distractions all  the  time. It is making  us  lose our focus from any activity we are  indulging in. Though for the bored and retired it could be a blessing in disguise.

However, for most of us, its  high time we  re-align ourself in our  lives, take stock of  the  time  available to  each one of us   and use  this social media  platform in a gainful manner and  not let it hijack our lives.

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Nebulous Whatsapp Gyan

Nebulous Whatsapp Gyan.
The era of books to imbibe knowledge is fast fading away and its place is being surreptitiously taken in by none other then our friendly neighborhood app- Whatsapp.
Five years back no one could have imagined the proliferation prowess of this tiny android application and how it will revolutionize the text messaging service and subsequently introduce  even a computer illiterate person to image and video messaging. It has indeed topsy turvied our lives. On one hand it has opened new gates to a sea of knowledge but on the other hand it has nibbled into our own spare time which we would have otherwise used for our hobbies, meeting friends( physical meetings), playing games (outdoor) reading newspaper (physically) and reading books.
The maximum damage undoubtedly has been done to the habit of book reading. It has almost caused a premature demise of the habit of reading.
The all-in-one online gyan provides knowledge and information and alongside provides all type of entertainment depending on your taste buds.
A typical day of an avid Whatsapp user goes something like this:-
(a) period 6 am to 9 am – messages start with a ‘namaskar’ or good morning messages from individual friends or from groups. Most of these messages are stringed with ‘one line advice’ or wish as if you are surely going to win a jackpot or a billion dollar lottery today. …This is followed by some videos on yoga, fitness, how to get slim etc… ( personally I have tried all the recipes of slimming but to only end up with status quo).
(b) Period of online silence …. 9 am to 11am.
This is the period of ‘online silence’ as most of the members are busy in rushing to offices and sorting out the morning blues, homemakers are busy chidding their maids, children are off to school. so this is the time of reduced activity on whatsapp.
(c) Period of slow Activity…11am to 5pm. in this period there is exchange of some anecdotes however the inflow of posts is less.
(d) Period of hyper activity 5 pm to 11 pm…. At this time all members are active and fwd jokes videos pics, in groups also this period sees maximum Activity like heated discussions on controversial issues. Maximum gyan is distributed an imbibed during this period of  activity.
(e) Period of passionate texting 11 pm to 1 am. the last but the most passionate period is this. the serious Whatsapp lovers carry their mobiles to bed, turn the silent key on so that no one hears a sound then they are glued to the Whatsapp screens.

Most of  the  whatsapp gyan is nebulous because it is not imbibed but promptly forwarded for someone else to reap the benefit. And in the bargain no one actually  benefits. Such nebulous gyan stays in  your mobile folder  and  after  ten or twelve days when the  mobile runs out of  storage space one tends to delete the gyan-surfeit videos in a jiffy.

If  all  this  gyan was  really  imbibed  in  a  positive manner by now the world would have  become a pleasant place to live in.

Thanks for reading!!

 

Time to Unfriend some Friends

Today we have developed a tendency to increase the number of friends to a number where they become unwieldy to handle. Many in our huge friendship circle are only peripheral friends and cannot spare neither time nor effort to help us ,advice us, stand by usq when you are in need.
My definition of a friend is
-a person to whom you can
approach when you need help.
-A person whom you can approach to take some advice.
– A person who takes time to tell you if are doing anything wrong.
– A person who encourages you when you are on the right path.

If you have a friend who fulfills any of the above conditions is indeep worthy of a piece of your life.

But on the flip side I have seen majority of our so called friends fulfilling another set of rather ,not so condusive conditions:-
– They are indifferent in your success.
– They have very little time for you. they are hesitant in taking that little mile extra to help you.
– impolite at times or too blunt or impervious to your feeling.
– Critical in your failure.
And we out of sheer generosity are unable to severe ties with them. We keep thinking what will the other person think. But I feel there is no point in dragging such friendships for the sake of it. It’s better to do Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish(GRBR) and live in peace.

It’s better to have less friends then bad friends.

Holi or Hooliganism

Holi is a festival whose origin lies in tales of ancient Indian civilisations. from a festival of win of good over evil, as God saved Pralad from clutches of death and instead annihilated evil-minded Holika.

The celebrations became festivities and greetings took to  use of dry Colors. But slowly the dry colors have taken turn into wet colors , mud and water….
unruly elements of the society get license to go berserk. Heavy liquor drinking and use of narcotics has become an accepted norm in this festival. From a festival of greetings , friendship and colour it has become an epicenter of hooliganism, crime against women and show of machoism on the roads. As a result the festival is increasingly being detested by the common people, who prefer to stay indoors.
it’s high time that this festival’s true spirits be preserved and used to propogate bon homie among people of different castes, creed’s and religion.It should be remembered as the win of truth over evil forces. Hooliganism on the name of Holi must stop.

My Uncontrolled Guffaws at Sardar Jokes

images (8)Having  travelled  to  various  places  in India  and  having  stayed  in  about  ten  different  towns, there was one thing common – I  was  made the  butt of  jokes on Sardars.  The  jokes  would  not only pour  from  those  who  were  jealous  of  my  academic  achievements  but  also  from  some of  my very  close friends. The only  difference  was  that  while those  who  envied me blasted the jokes at my face when  we  were  standing  in  a  group,   whereas  my  close  friends   would  do me the courtesy of looking  at me politely and saying “If  you  wouldn’t  mind, can I crack a  joke on Sardars please?” and  a  smile  from  me  would  be  taken as  an affirmation.  Either way, the jokes would be humiliating and offensive. When my friends and colleagues would be laughing out loud looking at me,  I had  little  choice  but  to  smile and  show  spirit. But how many times a day can one take such ribbing sportingly? In my case, during college, it would come at me two to three times a day, and later when I got a job, it would happen twice or thrice during every social gathering.

Coming to the jokes proper, what do ‘Sardarji Jokes’ have in common? What characterizes them and sets them apart? Firstly, they all have a protagonist who is a Sardar. Secondly, this protagonist is idiosyncratic and an abject idiot  who probably has   an  IQ  of  a  primary school  dropout. All of his decisions are not only irrational but also comic. In the last  thirty years, during most of which I have been at the  receiving end of these jokes, I  have  observed that  neither  the  IQ  nor the  idiotic persona  of  the  protagonist  has  improved. But there is one thing that has surely changed – the fact that Sardars in real life have come a long way. They have penetrated every profession, every service, every walk of life and they have progressed and prospered in leaps and bounds. I in my life am yet to find a Sardar in India or abroad who is struggling for a means of livelihood.  They’re happy with whichever field they pursue, and are prosperous. Don’t take my word for it. Look around yourself and you will be forced to believe what you see with your own eyes. This dichotomy made me wonder sordidly – if  hardly any real  characters  with such miserable skills exist, why do such  jokes  abound  all  over the social  networks?

I began to look around to find the answer. After  talking  to hundreds  of  people including those  who forward the  jokes  to  me and  you, the hilarious  truth which I  unearthed was  that even  those  who compose these  ‘Sardarji Jokes’  have  never found or met  an  idiosyncratic  Sardar, and  both the  joke-creators  and the  joke-forwarders  are  living  in a Fools’ Paradise. It was then that I realized that the real life inspirations for these jokes lie not in the actions of any actual people but the psyche of the ones who spread such hallucinated stories themselves. It is simply akin to the ghost stories which would scare a kindergarten child. As  one grows  older  one is no  longer scared or amused  by  them as  one realizes that the  ghost  does  not exist. In the same  way, I  was  surprised  that  the people  who  still find juvenile amusement through a make-belief idiosyncratic Sardar are yet to realize  that while they still clamour and laugh, their  Sardar  has  moved on miles ahead. And then it struck me that it was not just a single friend of mine, but thousands of denizens bunched up together in this Fools’ Paradise. It could not be helped , so  I blew an uncontrollable  guffaw at them all!

Wired and wireless Friends

Once again ‘friendship day’ is  here  like every year. And  the social  media  is  agog  with messages  of  friendship giving various  definitions as to  how  ‘friends  help  each other’ and   ‘friends are  forever’ and how  ‘caring and sharing ‘ is  a part  of friendship.

As a kid I  had  many friends in my coloney  where I lived   and  everyday we  used  to  play,  talk, and even fight . But by  next  day  we had forgotten everything   were  friends again. We  had  never  heard  or read  about  the  definitions of  friendship. Nor  was  it told  to us by our  parents , teachers  or elders. We  just  knew it; friend  meant  ‘you have  priviledge  rights  over  him’ . You  can  call him  at odd times, you  can borrow  a  copy  for doing  your home work,  you  could  even take  his  scooter  for  a ride,  you cud unhesitatingly borrow  money and  even  forget  about  paying him back till he asked  for it and  so on . We  were all wired through a thick  and  unbreakable cord of faith, resolve and unconditional  love for  each other. Our  parents  hardly bothered  to intervene  in our friends circle. And   if someone asked  how  many frends  you have? The quick reply would be, ‘so many’  which if elaborated  would mean  five or  six, some  would  answer  eight  to ten,  exceptions  may go  upto fifteen or  twenty.  Beyond  that even  the human mind  cannot focus on  interpersonal relationships .  The word  friend meant the person  about whom you know  everything and would vouch for him and his trust at all times.

With the coming in of  social media   this ‘unwritten but practiced concept ‘  of friendship began  to  change. A  number of  new  categories of friendships have mushroomed like ,  friendship with a  common interest, friendship for venting out feeling, friendship to  fight loneliness, friendship for  just  exploration, friendship for  duping purpose, friendship for  satisfying  lust, and the list  of motives  is not exhaustive. The social media of today has   defined  a unique  paradigm of  friendship  where  you  haven’t even met  your  friend  and  yet you  promise   friendship and all the corollaries  which  are  attached  to  the word ‘friend’. This  type of  friendship can  best  be called  ‘wireless  friendship’. And as  the  name suggests  wireless  connections  are  very tenuous. They  are always  susceptible to twists  and turns of  events in life  and   can  snap at  small ripples and  ruffles  leading to emotional   breaks. Inspite of its  shortcomings  this ‘wireless friendships’ as it may  be called    mushroomed initially through the social media of Orkut, followed  by the ubiquitous Facebook and now  with the omnipresent  Whatsapp.

And today  you  ask a person as to  how many friends does he have? The answers  runs into hundrends and  thousands. The  definitions and  promises  are  rampantly  circulating in  the social media but there is  no  cord  of faith, resolve and unconditional  love connecting these wireless friends.   He sits  inside his room and  chats  and  makes promises to  hundreds  but when he  needs help  there is  no one  to give him company,  or  share his feelings. The number of friends  has  increased in multitudes  but  the feeling of  loneliness unfortunately  has multiplied exponentially. My hypothesis is not theoretical  it can be  tested by one and  all. Try it out  yourself today and  you  will understand the  depth of your own wireless friends. Send  an SOS to your  1000 friends  on Fb or Whatapp that you are in ‘shit’ and  need  urgent help , except from those  few  wired  friends  of  your childhood  what  you will get  from the ‘wireless  friends ‘ of today will  be tons of  rhetoric and lots of  sympathy.

Long live Friendship and Friends!

The Sunrise Club

images (10)THE  SUNRISE  CLUB

By- Mohinder Pal Singh

 Vikram , son  of  an  IAS officer  of Maharashtra Cadre,  had  just moved in   from  a small  town of Hingoli  where  his  father  was  the  DM  for last four years. He  was studying  in class  V  in   a  small  convent  school  run  by  the  local church. Coming  to  Delhi  was  a  big  shock for  the  little boy  who had  become so  used  to  the  small  town  living. He  could  only  communicate  in Marathi  or  English. From  friends and teachers in  his  school to friends  and  relatives  of  his  father  and  mother  all  spoke  Marathi  or  a little English.  Now  staying   in  an  IAS  officers’  colony, he  had heard  his father  tell  his  mother  to  quickly  get  familiar  with   some Hindi and  punjabi  words  as  they  were  now in  Delhi  and  this  would  be  necessary   for  her  to  mix  up  in  the  social  circles.

 

One  day  when  Vikram  was  playing  in  the  central  park of  the  colony  where he  saw  a   a  chubby  boy  playing  football  with some friends    . Vikram  desperately  wanted  to  play  football  as  he  used  to  play  in  his  school at  Hingoli.  While  he  was  gaining  courage  to  go  near the  chubby  boy, he  saw  him   gave  a hard  kick  to  the  ball and suddenly   the  ball came  very  near  to  Vikram. Vikram  took  the  opportunity  and  kicked  the  ball  well towards the  chubby boy.  It  was  indeed  a  good  professional  kick. The  chubby  boy  stopped  the  ball smartly,  stood  akimbo with one foot  on  the  ball, looked  at  Vikram and  said,“Good kick”.

 

“ Can  I  play  with you” Vikram  lost  no  opportunity  to propose.

“ Sure” . pat  came  a  reply  from  the  chubby  boy.

 

Now  there  were  four   boys  and so  they  made  two  teams  of  two  each. Chubby  boy  and  Vikram  were  in opposite  teams  and  at  the  end  of  30 minutes  of  play  both teams were locked 2-2.

 

They  shook  hands.

 

My  name is  Nischay  Singh and  I study  in  class  VI in  Modern  School. What  about  you?”.” asked the  chubby  boy  .

 

“I  am  Vikram  and  would  also  be  going  to  class  VI  but   my  father  will  enrol me  in  a  school  when   the  schools  open  after  the  summer  break.”

 

“Great, would  you  come  to my  house  now to  play  computer  games?” Asked  Nischay. Being very  friendly   by  nature Nischay  never  lost opportunity to  make new  friends.

 

“  Sure , nowdays  I  have no  friends here” said  Vikram. He  was  glad  that  Nischay  could  speak  good  English  like  him.

 

BOTH  START  WALKING  TOWARDS   NISCHAY’S  HOUSE   WHICH  IS  ACTUALLY  THE  NEXT  DOOR  FLAT IN THEIR BUILDING. VIKRAM  SEES  HIS  MOTHER  IN  THE  BALCONY  AND  SIGNALS  TO  HER  THAT  HE  IS  GOING  TO  HIS  NEW FRIEND’S  HOUSE.

 

They reach   the  playing  room of Nischay  and  both are  soon  engrossed  in computer  consols. They seemed  to  have  instantly comfortable  in  each  others  company. After  a  while  Vikram  gathers  some  courage  to  ask  Nischay  something  which  has  been intriguing  him since they  met  in  the  park.

 

“Can I ask  you  something “ said  Vikram.

 

“Sure  friend  , go  ahead” answered  Nischay. Nischay  had  a  habit  of  calling his  friends  as  ‘dost’, rather  then  their  first name. It  was  only  when three  four  friends  were  around  and  he   wanted  the  attention  on some friend  in  particular  only  then  he  would  use  his  first  name.

 

“Why  do  you  tie  a knot  of  hair  on  your  head  and  why  have   you  covered  it with  a  cloth? Though  you  look  smart  , but  don’t  you  cut  hair  like I  do ?” He  asked  innocently.

 

Nischay  thought  for  a  moment. Then  said,“because  I  belong  to  a  religion  called Sikhism. All Sikhs  have unshorn   hair  and  beard” answered Nischay. “Though I  have  no  beard  now, but  once  it grows   I  will  keep  it   and  not  shave” answered  Nischay  confidently. “We   worship  the  holy   book  called  GURU  GRANTH  SAHIB. Which  is  kept  in  a  holy  abode  called a   Gurudwara,  which  is  akin  to  your  temple  where  you  have  a  deity. My  father  has  taken me  to  a  temple  too.  And  you  know  the Guru  Granth  sahib  contains writing  of  6  Sikh  Gurus  and  15  Indian Sufi  Bhagats (who belonged  to all religions  and  castes). Have  you  heard   of  Bhagat  Kabir, Ramanand , Namdev etc?” Nischay  carried  on  non-stop  . He  loved to  talk and  he  rattled  out  whatever  his father  had  told  him  about  his  religion.

 

“ Yes , I  have  heard  of  Namdev  Ji, He  is  a  Maharashtrian and in  our  community   we  revere  him.” answered  Vikram.

 

“Great, his  contribution in  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB  is  63  verses. I have  heard  our  Gurudwara  priest  sing the  hyms  of Bhagat  Namdev  ji  and  also  once  narrated   his story about  how  the  upper  caste  Brahmins  ill-treated  him and  how the  God  came  to  the  rescue of Namdev ji.  .” Said  Nischay.

 

“ I  can’t  believe this-  You  mean  sikh   Gurus actually  honoured  the  people  of  other  communities so  much  that  they  included their  verses in  their  holy  book  along  with  their  own  verses? This  is  an  act of  unparalled reverence which  I  have  never  heard.” said  Vikram  completely awed at  this revelation.

 

“ Vikram,  my  father  told  me  when  we  bow  our  head   in front  of  Guru  GRANTH  SAHIB  in  The Gurudwara  we  are  actually  bowing  our  head   to  all the  31 apostles whose  hymns are   included in  the Holy  book” said  Nischay.

 

“Would  you like to  visit our  Gurudwara   and  see how  we  worship  and  sing  the  hyms  of  all  the  saints and gurus in  the  same chorus . Incidently  , nowdays  we  are  having  a  very  nice  preacher  who  comes  to  gurudwara   every  day  to  tell the  children   about  the  sikh  history and  heritage” added Nischay.

 

“For  the  next  one  week  I  am  totally  free so  won’t  mind at  all and  incidently  your  religion  really  intruiges  me.” said  Vikram.

 

In the  evening  when  Nischay  told  his  mother  that Vikram   will  come  with  him  for  the  morning  class  at  Gurudwara,  she  was  not  happy at all. She  said, “why  are  you  taking  him? What  will  he  understand  of  our  religion?”. Nischay was adamant, “he  will, he is  my  friend, I  will take  him”.  His mother  turned  her  face  away  not  liking  the  comment of her  son. ‘Of late  Nischay  was  becoming  very adament’ she  thought. ‘He  just  does  not understand.’

 

The  same  story was  taking  place  at  Vikram’s house  where  Vikram’s mother too  was   not  comfortable   with  her son going  to  a  Gurudwara.  But  Vikram  said, “Mom  he  is  my friend  and  he  is  taking  me  to  a  good  place. Let  me  explore”.

 

 

Inspite  of  their  mother’s reluctance  Vikram  came  to  Nischay’s house  on  time  and they  were both dropped  by  Nischay’s father   to  the  Gurudwara..

 

AT THE  GURUDWARA  NISCHAY  SHOWED   VIKRAM  AROUND  THE  GURUDWARA  BUILDING AND   THEN THE   GURU GRANTH SAHIB KEPT VERY  RESPECTFULLY  IN  THE GOLDEN PALANQUIN.

 

Nischay  then  took  Vikram to  a  hall  where a Preacher was   telling  the  children about  the  writings in  Guru Granth Sahib.

 

“ Guru  Granth  Sahib  was  compiled  by  the  fifth  Sikh  Guru  Sri  Guru  Arjan  Dev  Ji in  the  year 1604 and   was  given  a  reverend  place  in  the Golden  Temple on  15  Aug 1604.. And  children  do  you  know  who  laid  the  foundation  stone  of  the  first  sikh  gurudwara- The  Golden Temple?” asked  the  Preacher.

 

“Sain Mian Mir” said  Nischay raising  his arm. He  remembered  his  father  telling  him  this  name  during  their  visit  to  Golden  Temple   few  months  ago.

 

“A  muslim?” Vikram  whispered  in Nischay  ear.

 

“ Nischay ,  is  right  Saint  Mian   Mir  was  a  very renowned  Muslim Fakir of  his  time  and  had  a mass following  in  those  times. After  he  had  come  in  contact  with  the  guru  ji  he  had  developed  profound respect  for  the  Guruji’s teaching which  revolved  on respect  and  patience  towards all  religions”. Said the  Preacher.

 

“Children it  is  easier said  then  done. It  was  a  time  when  caste , creed  and  religion  had strong  beliefs.  Our  country was  torn  between  wars  fought  on  basis  of  community  , religion and   castes. Social  evils were  rampant.  Women were  looked down upon. It  was at  this  time that  the  Fifth  Guru  ji  compiled  a  HOLY BOOK   which  had  teaching  of   saints  of  all  religions  and  castes. People  could  not  believe  that  the  sikhs  would  actually  worship a  HOLY  BOOK  WHICH WAS SO  SECULAR   IN  ITS  CHARACTER”. He  added.

 

“ Uncle please  tell  us  why  people  were  surprised  at  the  character  and compositions  of Guru  Granth  Sahib?” asked  a small  girl   Jasnoor  Kaur.

 

“ Because  at  that  time  there  was deep  hatred  and  difference  among  the  Hindus  and the  Muslim rulers of  the  country.   Among  the  Hindus a  big  ravine  between  the  upper caste  and the  lower  castes.  But  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB  contained  the  verses  of  the  following  :-

  • Muslim peer and  saints-  Sheikh  Farid,  Bhagat  Bhikhan ji, Mardana ji
  • Upper caste bhramin saints- Ramanand ,ji, Trilochan ji
  • Lower caste Hindus- Namdev Ji and Ravidas Ji
  • Farmer – Bhagat Dhanna ji
  • King turned Sadhu – Bhagat Pipa Ji
  • Butcher – Bhagat Sadhna ji
  • Weaver – Kabir Ji

 

“So , children  you   see  what  more  evidence  of  secularism  do  you  want  in  today’s context. This  was  possible  because  Guru ji  felt  that  there  is  only  one almighty  GOD  , hence  if  any  body  is  a  true  muslim  or  a  true  Hindu  his  faith  would  converge toward  a  attainment  of a  common goal  with  God.” He  said.

 

“ Uncle , You  said  women  were  not  treated  properly  in  the  society. What  did  Guruji  say  about  that.” asked  Jasnoor.

 

“ Very  Good  Question  , I  am  happy  you  all  are  paying  good attention to  my  lessons. Guruji  wrote  in  so  many  places  Guru Granth  sahib about  the   equal  treatment  of  women  in  society. He  said  if  God  has  created  both  of  them   then  how  can  one gender  be  better  then  other. He  also  shunned  the  prevalent practices  of  female foeticide, Sati  and  child  marriage.”he said.

 

“I  think  I  will  finish  today’s   lesson  here.  Tomorrow  we  will  talk  about some  important  verses from  the  HOLY  BOOK  AND I  WILL  EXPLAIN  THE MEANING  OF  THEM  TO  YOU WHICH  WILL   FURTHER SUBSTANTIATE   THE  SECULAR   FORM  OF THE  GURU GRANTH  SAHIB. Anybody  wants  to  ask  anything  about  what  I  have  covered today?” He  said  closing  his talk.

 

A  hand went up   from the rear  seats. Nischay  was  surprised to   see  his   friend raise his  hand.

 

“ Sir, who  is  the  author  of  Guru  Granth  Sahib?”

 

“A very  good  question . And the  answer is  everyone whose  verses  are  there. Though  Guru  Arjan  Dev  ji  compiled  and  edited it. He  never claimed  the  authorship  of  this  HOLY   BOOK. The  36  persons  who  have contributed  the  verses  are  as follows-  Six  Gurus  , 15  contemporary  saints,  11 Bards  of Guru and  2 devoted  Sikhs  of that time.

 

 

At the end of  the  class  Nischay  took  Vikram  around  the  Gurudwara  and  they  also had   parshad  given  by  the Head Priest  who  blessed  both of  them alike  . Vikram  likes  the  parshad  and  wants  one more  helping. But Nischay  says  why  not  come tomorrow if  you  are  free. Vikram agrees.

 

 

 

 

 

II

 

Next  week  Vikram  gets  admission in  the  same  school    and  the  same  class as  Nischay  and  both are  really  upbeat about it. They  are  both  very  happy  as  they  would  be  going   in  the  same school  bus from  today.

 

After  about  a  month  in  the  school   Vikram  makes  a new  friend  by  the  name of  Gulshan  Ali who travels in their  bus.  Ali  is  from  a  very  simple  family  and carries with him rich  values. Both  his  father  and  mother  are  teachers in a  public  school. He   lives  just  across  the  road  and  boards  the  Bus  from  the  same  Bus  Stop  everyday.

 

After  they   became friends , Ali  shared  with Vikram and Nischay   that before  this  he  was  studying  in  a Vedic  School   and  he  knows  more  about  the  Hindu  religion then would  Vikram. He  challenged  him to  ask  him any  question  from  the  Ramayana or  Mahabharta.

 

“ Ok , I  accept  your  challenge, but  before that I  will ask  you  two  facts  from  your  religion too” said Vikram which  intruiged  Ali.

 

“OK go  ahead” muttered  Ali.

 

“Ali  , do  you  know  who  is Sain Mian Mir?” asked Vikram flaunting  his newly  acquired  knowledge.

 

Ali  is  taken  back  at  the  question.  He  had  heard  this  name  from  his  father  but  could  not recollect  the  context in  which  it  was mentioned.

 

“ No  I  will  ask  my  father.” He said sheepishly.

 

“ Oh, he was  a  great  muslim  Pir  who  was  revered   by  both muslims  and  Sikhs.” answered Vikram with a smile.

 

“ How  do  you  know?. Asked  Ali, feeling  belittled  by  the  knowledge  shown  by  Vikram.

 

“ I  also  know  that  a  sikh  Guru  had  given him  the  highest  honour  of  laying  the  foundation  stone  of  the  Golden Temple. The  highest  seat  of  sikh  religion.” he added

 

“ And now  my  second  question to  you  is,  who  was  Sheikh  Farid  ji?” Vikram  fired  his second  salvo at Ali .

 

Ali  rocked  his  brain, there  was  familiarity  with  this  name too  but  he  could  not  instantly recollect anything. So guiltily he declined.

 

“ Oh ,  he  was  a great  muslim scholer of  the  sufi era. His  verses  are  even recorded  in  the Holy  Book  of  the  Sikhs . –  THE  GURU GRANTH.  Imagine  Ali , the Sikh Gurus  included  his  verses  in  their  Holy  book. What  an honour. All  Sikhs  bow  their  head   to him.” Said Vikram.

 

“ Now  should  I  ask  you  questions  about  Hinduism?” asked  Vikram.

 

“ No, No”  said  Ali with  arrogance  gone  they  became  good  friends. In  the  break  they  played  together and  Vikram  also  introduced  him to  Nischay. Nischay  invited  Ali  to  come for   playing  football with  them  in  the  evening in  the park.

 

Next  day after  a   game of football in  the  evening,  Ali  Invited  both  Nischay  and  Vikram  to  his house. He  said  his  father  would  like  to  tell  more the  about   Sheikh  Farid  Ji  and   Sai Mian Mir.

 

Ali’s  father  , Mr  Nawaz Ali  was  very  renowned history  teacher and  a person who  had love for history  as  a passion.  These  questions  not  only made  him happy  but  also gave  him  a  chance  to  show  his  indepth  knowledge of  the  subject. This was  the  first  time that  his  son  had  shown  interest  in  his  subject. Till now  Ali  was  always  interested  in   his  mother’s  subject  and that was  Mathematics.  He called  his wife Nafisa  and  daughter Soha  and told  them  to  join  the  children  . He  then  began  his  discourse.

Mian Mir was a friend of God-loving people and he would shun worldly, selfish men, covetous Emirs and ambitious Nawabs who ran after faqirs to get their blessings. To stop such people from coming to see him, Mian Mir posted his disciples at the gate of his house.

Once, Jahangir, the Mughal emperor, with all his retinue came to pay homage to the great faqir. He came with all the pomp and show that befitted an emperor. Mian Mir’s sentinels however, stopped the emperor at the gate and requested him to wait until their master had given permission to enter. Jahangir felt slighted. No one had ever dared delay or question his entry to any place in his kingdom. Yet he controlled his temper and composed himself. He waited for permission. After a while, he was ushered into Mian Mir’s presence. Unable to hide his wounded vanity, Jahangir, as soon as he entered, told Mian Mir in Persian: Ba dar-e-darvis darbane naa-bayd (“On the doorstep of a faqir, there should be no sentry”).

Pir Mian Mir, whose mind and soul were one with the Lord, caring little for the emperor’s angst, replied in Persian: Babayd keh sag-e-dunia na ayad (“They are there so that the dogs of the world/selfish men may not enter”).

The emperor was ashamed and asked for forgiveness. Then, with folded hands, Jahangir requested Mian Mir to pray for the success of the campaign which he intended to launch for the conquest of the Deccan. Meanwhile, a poor man entered and, bowing his head to Mian Mir, made an offering of a rupee before him. The Pir asked the devotee to pick up the rupee and give it to the poorest, most needy person in the audience. The devotee went from one dervish to another but none accepted the rupee. The devotee returned to Mian Mir with the rupee saying: “Master, none of the dervishes will accept the rupee. None is in need, it seems.”

“Go and give this rupee to him,” said the faqir, pointing to Jahangir. “He is the poorest and most needy of the lot. Not content with a big kingdom, he covets the kingdom of the Deccan. For that, he has come all the way from Delhi to beg. His hunger is like a fire that burns all the more furiously with more wood. It has made him needy, greedy and grim. Go and give the rupee to him.”

Mian Mir, holds a pivotal legendary place in Sikhism and in Sikh history. Sikh Children and Sikh people around the world learn about him, his spiritual contribution . In 1588, The  Fifth  Sikh  Guru  invited Mian Mir to lay the foundation stone of Harmandir Sahib..

In 1606, the fifth  Guru Arjan Dev was implicated in the affair of Prince  Khusraw, who had rebelled against his father, Jahangir. Guru  Arjan  was imprisoned in the Lahore fort and tortured by  Jahangir’s men. When Mian Mir heard about it, he came to see the Guru. He found Guru Arjan calm and serene, having completely resigned himself to the will of God. Mian Mir suggested to the Guru whether he should intercede with Emperor Jahangir on his behalf. The Guru forbade him saying that God’s will must have its course unchecked, as it was not proper to interfere with its working.

Mian Mir’s Mazar (Mausoleum) still attracts hundreds of devotees each day and he is revered by many Sikhs as well as Muslims.

All  were  spellbound  at  the  indepth  knowledge   of  Ali’s   father. He  continued , he  had  to  show  them  today, his  years  of  labour  had not  gone  in  vain. So without  skipping  a breath  he  continued.

And about  Sheikh  Farid  ji:- listen

Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masood Ganjshakar commonly known as Baba Farid was a 12-th century Sufi preacher and saint of Punjab. He is recognised as the first major poet of Punjabi language. Baba Farid is considered one of the holiest and pivotal saints of Punjab. He has been honoured by the Gurus of Sikhism by his verses being collected and compiled in the Sikh holy Guru Granth Sahib .   Baba Farid died during Namaz.   His darbar is in Derh Pindi, and his name is Khwaja Sheikh Muhammad Paak Gareeb Nawaz.

 Nischay  and  Vikram  were spellbound  at  the  sea  of  knowledge shown  by  Ali’s father. Ali  too sat  alongside them feeling  proud  of  his  father.. After  his  father  had  finished  his  verses, Ali asked,“ Father, Sikhs , bow  their  head to  Guru  Granth  Sahib which  contains the  verses  of  Baba Sheikh  Farid  Ji?”

“ Yes, My  children  at  that  time  this  was  the  greatest  secular  holy  book  ever  composed. It  was  an unmatched  teachings of  Muslims, Hindus ,  Sufis  and  the  Gurus  themselves.  The  Gurus  had  culled  the good  teachings of  all  religions  and  trail blazed  a path  of :-

  • Religious tolerence.
  • God is one- almighty-invisible-invincible-omnipresent.
  • Worship of the  formless
  • Attainment by narrating the The  praises of the  guru and  the  invisible  god.

Ali’s mother  now  brought    hot  soup  for  all of  them. After  devouring  the  soup they all left.

Sunday was  always a   special day  for  the  ‘three  musketeers’ as  they  were  labelled  in  the colony as they  would  be  always  seen  together. They  would  get  up early,   go  for  a  football  game. After    sweating  out  for an hour  they  would  not  come  home. They  would  head  for  the  big   Garden  across  the  road  and  sit  on  a  bench  and  watch  the  early  morning  sun and  the chirping  of  the  birds. Here  they  would  plan  how to  spend  the  rest  of  Sunday. One day they decided  to call their  friendship ‘ The Sunrise Club’. They  would  only  leave  the  bench when  their  mobile phones would  show “Mummy Calling” .

Once  on a   Sunday  and  they  all had  a  game  of  football in  the  morning  and  then breakfast  at  Nischay’s  house. Nischay  introduced  them to  his  elder  sister  Deepjyot,  who  was  studying  in class XI.  Nischay’s  mother  who  is  from a small  town  of  Punjab  is  not  happy  as  to  why  Nischay’s  is  becoming  friendly  with  boys  from  other  faiths. “today  he  has  brought  this  muslim  boy” she  whispered  in Deepjyot’s ears. “Oh so  what  Mummy, they  are  friends” answered Deepjyot.   With  a  frown  on  her  face  she  served  breakfast  to  all the  three  boys. Nischay’s is  seeing  the  frown  on  his  mother’s face  but  enjoying  the  breakfast too .

“ Nischay  , would  you  like  to  bring  your  friends   to  the gurudwara  today ? there  is gurupurab celebrations . There  would be  recitals  about  the  gurbani  and langer(community  food).” asked  Deepjyot.

Nischay’s  face  lit  up  on  hearing langar. He  not  only liked  to do  sewa( service) in the  langer  but also  liked  the  eat  langar.

“ what  is  langer?” asked  Ali  while eating  aloo-parantha.

Langer  is  food cooked in  the  community kitchen of  the  gurudwara” answered   Nischay.

“It  is  cooked  with  cleaned  hands  and  clean  mind. While  you are  cooking  the langar (food  for community) everyone  is  reciting hymns. Like  this  the food  is  cooked  with  purity of  mind  and  soul. It  is then eaten   by sitting  together on  the floor. And  let  me  tell  you it  is  so  yummy  that  everytime  I  end  up over-eating” Added Nischay.

“Really” said  Ali  and  Vikram their  tongues   already  salivating  while  they  were  hearing  the  description .  They  were  both  tired  of  their  mothers  humdrum menu at  home .

“Will they serve  ice cream too?” inquired  Vikram.

“Saiwaya?” Asked Ali

“ In  our  Gurudwara   they  always  serve  hot  rice Kheer  which  is  laden  with  dry  fruits   as  pudding” said  Nischay.

“Nischay  , So are  you  coming  “shouted  Deepjyot from  the   other  room.

Nischay  looked  at  his friends. They  both  nodded  their  heads  in an   affirmative gesture.  On their  way  to  Gurudwara  both  the  boys  informed their  mothers  that they  are  going  for  a  feast   with  Nischay.

Once  they  reached  the  Gurudwara,  deepjyot  took  them to  where  the  Langer  was  being  cooked.  The  priest  incharge  of  the  cooking  section  stopped  the  kids. He  told  Deepjyot, “these  boys  are  very  small,  they  may  burn  their  fingers  etc”.

“Uncle  , they  will  only do the  ferrying  service. i.e  shifting  the  cooked   food  to  the  storage  space  or  they  will  knead   the  floor” Deepjyot  said.

After doing  some  service ,  that  they  all sit  to   eat  langar   and  the  rice  kheer laden with dry fruits. After  that they preferred  to  walk  home as  they  have all over-eaten.

The  friendship  of  this sunrise club  continued  unabated for  years  and  they  learned  to participate  in  various  festivals . Its   Id  celebrations  at  Ali’s  house  and  visiting  the  local  Id  mela  with  Ali parents. When  Dusherra and  Diwali  came  there  was   Ramlila  to  be  watched   by all of  them .  Every Dusherra Vikram’s  father  takes  them  to  the  Ground  where  the  effigies  of  Rawan , Kumkaran and Meghnath were burnt, where he  reminded them that   good  wins  over  evil . For  all   festivals  the    children  always  roped  in their  parents  too  in the  celebrations. Their  mother’s  too had  become  good  friends and     used to be   busy   admiring  new  suits  and  saris  and finding reasons  to  go  for  shopping together.  The  father’s  too started to share the   common  cribs   about their offices. After  the  office/ boss issues  were  exhausted they often shared some  national  and  international issues  and  lament about the state  of  affairs. The sunrise  club had  changed  the outlook of  their  parents  too.

Like this the  three  children  continued  to  grow into  good secular  citizens  the  nation  needed.

Vikram  became  a  Senior  Bureaucrat like his father, Nischay served in Foreign service  and  Ali  became an effluent  businessman. They  continued  to travel  across  the  globe  but  would  often meet  whenever  they were home .

After  fifty   years  of leading  their fast-paced lives  they all settled  back in Delhi in a Senior  Citizens Society near Lodhi Road. Every day  they  would  go  for  a  morning  walk and  not  go  home after  they  finished  walking. They would  sit   on the same old  bench at Lodhi  Gardens where  they used  to  sit and  had  formed  the ‘Sunrise  Club’.  They  still  love  to  chat  and  watch the rising   sun till  their mobiles  shriek  “Wife Calling”. They would  stop their nattering and  rush homes  in their  chauffer  driven  cars before  their  wives  could  ring  up  their chauffeurs  to drive home without  the  Sahab.

(this story is  an outcome of  inspiration  drawn from the  book  ‘ The Sunset Club’ by Khushwant Singh)