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Every Sikh knows that June 6th, 1984 holds a special significance as the Indian army rolled tanks onto the parkarma and led an attack inside the Golden Temple complex that demolished the Akal Takht along with unspeakable atrocities, crimes against humanity and holocaust that both preceded and followed that gruesome day. Many a family discussion has been had discussing implications of Operation BlueStar and the national level ethnic cleansing intentions of the unlaunched 'Operation Shanti'. Especially in early June gurdwaras throughout the world remind the sangat of these such fateful times. For example, this year several gurdwaras are hosting 40 day recitations of Sukhmani Sahib as a remembrance. May these recitations heal ongoing pain experienced by survivors and families of those whose lives were taken. 

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Sevadars preparing sheets between the main Darbar and the Guru's resting room at Guru Ram Das Ashram

There are two gurdwaras in the U.S. that have commemorate this event every single 6th of the month since July 1984. 40 years of monthly services adds up to 479 events, with the 480th to be conducted the 6th of July 2024. These two gurdwaras are 'Hacienda De Guru Ram Das' in Espanola New Mexico, and 'Guru Ram Das Ashram' in Hollywood California. 

The spirit behind the monthly commemoration is inspired by a perhaps unique thought in the Panth: It's the idea that the Akal Takht was not attacked but rather that it sacrificed itself for the sake of the Panth. 

Let us remember in history the many times that the Gurus were saved from lethal attacks:

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Once Prithi Chand had convinced an imperial military leader named Birbal to attack Guru Arjan Dev in Amritsar. The imperial officer agreed to sack Amritsar, eliminate the Guru and install Prithiya, the great enemy, as the leader of the Sikhs. However, before he could engage in his attack the emperor pulled him into a different military campaign where he was killed instead. The Guru was saved by God's design. 

Then Prithiya similarly convinced general Sulhi Khan to attack the Guru's city with the same goal. Similarly, this general agreed but didn't attack because at that time Guru Sahib was in a village outside of Amritsar and they didn't know where he was. So, the attack was postponed until the Guru's location was known. The Guru's city was again spared an attack. 

Then Prithi Chand engaged in several assassination attempts on the newborn son of the Guru, each one failed by the Grace of God and Guru. 


After this Guru Arjan moved back to Amritsar and Sulhi Khan resumed his agenda to sack Amritsar. But while meeting with Prithi Chand he accidentally fell into a burning kiln and died before he could attack. Yet again the Guru's city was spared from attack. 

Then his nephew Sulbi Khan was meant to bring Guru Sahib to Delhi to be interrogated. But he got in an unexpected fight with family rivals and died before he could reach Amritsar to arrest the Guru. The Guru's city was again and again spared from attack. 

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No conspiracy has the power to kill the Guru. Later Guru Arjan Dev volunteered himself and traveled to Delhi where he knew he would be tortured to death. Though he could have easily allowed his allies to kill his torturer, this time Guru Sahib allowed his own torture to take place. He said it was the Will of The Divine which he accepts as sweet. 

The SatGuru cannot be killed by anyone. That is impossible. But Guru will occasionally offer himself as sacrifice for a higher purpose. 

While the world saw a great tragedy in his torture and death, the heavens saw a great victory as a Divine agenda was enacted. 

After Guru Teg Bahadur also volunteered himself to be tortured and killed in Delhi his son, Guru Gobind Das, described that higher reality which is difficult to perceive:

ਹੈ ਹੈ ਹੈ ਸਭ ਜਗ ਭਯੋ ਜੈ ਜੈ ਜੈ ਸੁਰ ਲੋਕ ॥ 

The whole world is consumed with mourning and loss, but the heavens rejoice in calls of glory and victory!


Can it be the same case with the Akal Takht? Could it also be that, like the SatGuru himself, this was not a clever victory on behalf of an enemy but instead a conscious sacrifice on behalf of the Akal Takht itself?

Remember, it is impossible for the Guru to experience defeat, only strategic sacrifice. 

Perhaps the Akal Takht offered itself as a stand-in to act like Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur. Perhaps the Akal Takht, representing the energy of the Guru himself, offered its own invincibility in order to invoke us to wake up. 

Similarly, perhaps every person who lost their life was, on a soul level, also sacrificing for a higher purpose.

What was the result of the sacrifice of the Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur? The blossoming of the warrior saints and the spreading of righteousness. 

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This weekend for the 40th year commemoration, in the lofty atmosphere that is Guru Ram Das Ashram, sevadars reminded the sangat of the longing all Sikhs felt when visiting HariMandir Sahib was disallowed for the years following 1984 with the soul touching song 'Cold Marble'. Also, the shabd 'Naam Niranjan Neer Narayan' was sung to invoke the unbreakable serenity of Guru Arjan Dev even in the face of torture. 

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Prior to this a youth jatha sang kirtan in the style of traditional Gurmat Sangeet as taught by Bhai Kultar, son of the late honorable Bhai Avtar Singh. This was but one drop of the fulfilment that the sacrifice from previous generations brings: the rejuvenation of our culture with the upcoming youth. Many youths throughout the world are embracing Sikhi and diving deep into the vast culture and history that we want to continue to resurrect and spread.  

May the seeds grow healthy and strong.

Kirtan Singh Khalsa, who also organizes the yearly Baisakhi event at the Los Angeles Convention Center, shared his memory of how this modern tradition started: 


We prayed that no sacred place on the planet would ever be desecrated or attacked for any purpose by any agency or group. We prayed for the tens of thousands of families who lost family members on those fateful days of June 1984 and the years that followed.

We have prayed and prayed, and our prayers will, by God and Guru’s Grace continue.

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Read more of his thoughts and inspirations here. 

Though there are still many forces of opposition, and we continue to be surrounded in darkness in this Kalyug, the future of the Khalsa Panth is bright. 

This is the Guru's Panth and it is impossible for Guru to be defeated. There is only one ultimate destination for the Guru and his beloveds: Glory. Appropriately the hukamnama for the divaan contained the following: 

ਨਾਮੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਮਿਲੀ ਵਡਿਆਈ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਵਏ ॥

From the Naam itself the glory of the Naam is met; Oh Nanak, the Naam is pleasing to the mind. 

We respect and honor the pain of anyone who's heart aches from these tragedies and hope that our prayers may offer some healing in any way. May this 40th commemoration, while remembering all martyrs ancient and modern, seal in our hearts the fervor to continue the Guru's mission to eliminate darkness in this world. 


Wahiguru ji ka Khalsa
Wahiguru ji ki Fateh

Harijot Singh Khalsa

Harijot Singh Khalsa

Harijot Singh is a graduate of Miri Piri Academy. He serves as creator of SikhNet Stories. He has also authored several research pieces on Sikh history as well as offered encouraging messages through his articles.

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