‘Sikh Artistic Resistance to India’s Genocide Denial’ ~ Lecture

Simarjit Kaur, Activist is invited to share ‘Sikh Artistic Resistance to India’s Genocide Denial’ in Cambodia

‘May Guru Ram Das Ji, bless you and help you in your struggles’ a torture survivor whose husband was murdered tells me. Look at where we are, she tells me in the shadows of the Golden Temple - she tells me when an entire community of religious Sikhs has forgotten her and thousands of widows of torture and police state struggle alone decades on.

People aspire for wealth, fame, success, designer clothes, designer mansions. All the jewels in the world came from the blessings of someone who I thought I was helping with my pitiful help.

A blessing from someone who is a survivor. It is a blessing from the Guru himself. When I think of the spiritual arrogance we all live in even when we think we do sewa I am humbled when those who we think we have served bring us into the heaven that really is.

My brother recently shared a story he came across- a great admirer of the Dalai Lama he’d read a lot of what he has shared of his ilfe. The Dalai Lama, was once asked- was he not sad that he could never see Tibet again. He shared- that when we were in Tibet we prayed a lot- we were we thought at the height of our practise.  I thought we were the best, most wonderful spiritual people there could be on earth. But in a way we had become spiritually arrogant. Then we were sent into tragic exile. And I came into the outer world and realised how there were so many wonderful people, spiritual people who believed in different religions. Then I realised we had been spiritually arrogant- think we were the most spiritual beings.

I had gone to supposedly help the widow who I had never met. I was not feeling well and was lined up for an operation, an operation she couldn’t afford but I could afford. She, the widow of extra judicial killings, survivor of genocide had been targeted because she was a sikh and the 1984-1994 war on the Sikhs had meant her husband had been tortured disappeared by the Indian state. She was tortured as well. I was going to give her paltry help and I asked for her forgiveness that my paltry amount was a drop in her suffering. I told her I wasn’t feeling well and was sorry I had to call her and other widows to the Golden Temple so I wouldn’t have to visit them in the villages in the heat and with not feeling well.

To my amazement in such a dire circumstance this widow invoked a blessing from Guru Ram Das Ji. And she broke my spiritual arrogance that I was alone in trying to help her. I knew I’d never see her again. I have tried on my salary and savings to help the thousands of widow survivors through project TARAN and  succeeded miserably in always finding more people who survived the sikh genocide and ever decreasing aid. These sikhs were rarely, helped by the community they were born into who continue ignore their humanitarian disaster. Commercial groups, ngos infamous with major brands have walked by even chosen quotas, one widow from a family and not another. Pitted against each other’s sufferings by a country that has never enabled a humanitarian route into a humanitarian disaster after 1984 and pitted to plead more suffering than their neighbour by very calculated commercial charities.

Still the dignity of survivors is stunning. The sheer spiritual dignity. A torture survivor could point to the Guru and show me His Face and tell me to have faith. And no mother, father, no one I know could have given such a blessing. That is when I knew we were suffering from spiritual arrogance and spiritual anaemia, sewa arrogance when we think we are doing the good, supposedly the more rich, fortunate, less traumatised in the world, when it is those who we supposedly seek to help, pray for, who are helping us .



Simarjit Kaur, Author of Saffron Salvation, the first novel on the sikh genocide in India, now in its third edition; Human Rights Activist; World Sikh Awards Nominee, 2013 (TARAN: "Set up the first medical program at grass root level for survivors in post conflict Punjab and funding it from a decade of her own savings." Justice Bains, PHRO) 

Saffron Salvation was the theme of a talk at the Genocide Scholar's conference on Art in Post Conflict and post genocide worlds. TARAN Findings on 'The Pllight of Widows of Extra judicial killings' were shared at UNWomen, Vrindavan, India 2014.




1. Simarjit Kaur delivered a presentation on the situation of lawyers in India. Presented at the 'Challenging the Oppression of Lawyers in Times of Conflict Conference at Queen's University Belfast on 13 November 2013.

2. 1984 Survivors of sikh genocide Taran- Small documentary on the genocide survivors not helped.

3. TV84 News 7/14/14 Interview with Simarjit Kaur - Author And Human Rights Activist U.K on the Arts/Conflict/Diaspora Views (in Punjabi)

4. Encounters with Simarjit Kaur from the Taran Project- Community TV interview on the background behind the work with widows of extra judicial killings in Punjab.

5. Interview with TARAN team member Simarjit Kaur on Canadian community TV. (In Punjabi)

6. The Importance of Art and Writing in Post Genocide and Post Conflict Society as happened to the Sikhs in India

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