maskin chaur featured


Introductory Note

Millions of people visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar every year; some as devotees and the others as curious visitors. However, very few of them know about the existence of a treasure trove (called the ‘Toshakhana’ in the local parlance) Housed on the first floor, this strong room contains precious items given as gifts to the Temple over the centuries. These pieces are displayed for the public on specific occasions. As per the official chronicle published by the SGPC in Aug 2010, the total number of artefacts held was 44, of which 42 are gold ornaments studded with diamonds and precious stones. Of the remaining two, one was a ‘Chandani’ gifted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The last of these artefacts is a sandalwood whisk created by Haji Mohammed Maskin, who chiselled and shaped this invaluable piece. The remarkable feature of this unusual ‘chaur’ is that Maskin ji crafted it with the most elementary tools and implements. It is kept in a glass case, to protect it from the vagaries of nature. We are told that when the whisk is taken out of the box, it fills the environment with the fragrance of sandalwood.
In my view, the aroma symbolises communal harmony, for those who can understand the celestial language. 




I think we are all agreed that Pakistan is a pain in the neck for us, ever since 1947. It was created on the basis of religion, and the global situation has added another dimension to the issue. We have almost begun to nurse a very negative sentiment towards all Muslims, and this is an ugly situation for a country like India which is home to millions of adherents of Islam.

I was born in a place where Muslims were in an overwhelming majority, and so I began to think that our lives before the partition would have been very difficult. However, when I went through the books, diaries and letters left behind by our ancestors, I discovered that until as late as a couple of decades before partition, our social relations were very harmonious and civil. Given below is a slice of history. On 31 December 1925, a devout Muslim presented an invaluable artefact to the Golden Temple, and carved out a niche for himself for all times to come. This story supports my conviction



A Divinely Blessed Artisan

Mohammed Maskin was born in Lahore, in or around 1855. However, he spent most of his working life in Mecca, and so he came to be known as ‘Haji Maskin’. He was an unusually gifted craftsperson. Over the years, he learnt the fine art of drawing hair-thin strands out of wood. Towards the end of his life, he created an invaluable artefact. It is a whisk which has 1,45,000 strings of sandalwood, bound in a silver grip. In search of a suitable place for his labour of celestial love, he came to India. His search ended, when he met Bhai Hira Singh in Bharatpur (near Agra) where the eminent hymn singer had gone to perform kirtan at a function.

The rest is history. The whisk was ceremonially presented to the Golden Temple on 31 Dec 1925, and the event was widely reported by the press. In fact, it became a part of the forty-four items which are preserved in “Toshakhana”, the treasure trove of the Golden Temple. Given below is an excerpt from the Sikh Encyclopaedia (three pictures that appeared in the newspapers of that tme are placed at the end of the text) :

Toshakhana or tosha khana, from Persian (tosha = food or provisions for journey or food articles in general + khana = house or storage room) means, in Punjabi, a treasury or secured storehouse for valuables. It is now generally used for the storehouse in the Darbar Sahib complex at Amritsar where costly items presented as offerings to the Harimandar Sahib are kept. They are taken out for jalau (display) in the shrines on special occasions such as major festivals or anniversaries. They mostly comprise gold and silver ornaments such as chhabbas (domelike pendants), seharas (fringes of pearls and gems), chhatars (umbrellas), and other invaluable items, such as the door leaves of the Harimandar lined with gold sheets are also stored in the Toshakhana. Two particularly rare items kept in the toshakhana are a richly bejewelled canopy, a present from the Nizam of Hyderabad to Maharaja Ranjit Singh who reportedly considering it too lavish a gift, sent it to the Harimandar Sahib and a chandan da chaur (flywhisk) made of sandalwood  fibres, which took years for Haji Muhammad Maskin, a Muslim craftsman to prepare. He had made two similar whisks, one of which he had presented at the Holy Ka’aba at Mecca, and was in search of a holy place in India deserving of his offering. Guided by Bhai Hira Singh Ragi, a well-known exponent of gurmat kirtan (singing of sacred hymns of Guru Granth Sahib), he offered the second whisk at the Harimandar on 31 December 1925.


 mohd maskeen

 Haji Mohammed Maskin with the ‘Chandan ka Chaur’

 BHS holding

Bhai Hira Singh ji, holding the Whisk

 editor of paperThe editor of the paper, Maskin and Bhai Hira Singh ji


The whisk is exhibited and seen these with the same reverence as it was, when it was presented ninety years ago. A recent picture of the Chaur is given below:


 A recent picture of the Whisk.

 On the handle, the following words are inscribed in Urdu letters. I have transliterated them in the Devanagari script:

 पांच बरस सात महीने में संदल के एक लाख पंचतलीस हज़ार बालों का यह चौर साख्ता हाजी मुहम्मद मसकीन दस्तकार नें बनाया और शाह की खिदमत में लाया गया

I consider it necessary to mention that Haji Maskin stayed in the residence of Bhai Hira Singh ji for over two weeks when the details of the ceremonial presentation ceremony were being worked out. There is little doubt that they developed a close personal equation, and their different religions did not make a difference to their ‘ human bondage’ 


An Introduction to Bhai Hira Singh ji

In our family, we had two ancestors, who were blessed with long lives. Our great-grandfather, Bapu Bhag Singh ji (1843-1947) and our father, Maj Balwant Singh ji (1911-2004) lived long and healthy lives without any of the modern medical facilities. Ensconced between them was Bhai Hira Singh ji who emerged as a flame between 1879 to 1926. Within a brief span of 47 short years, he left a lasting impression on the sands of time. Several books and articles have been published on him over the years. Our father compiled all these into a book which has been printed three times. The cover of the latest version is given below. On the sides, you see pictures of two of his illustrious sons, our father and Maj Agyapal Singh ji (1922-99)

 book cover

Cover of the latest printing of the biography of Bhai Hira Singh ji.

A few years ago, I made a brief summary of the book and hosted it on our blog. A link to it is given below:



A Moot Question

Bhai Hira Singh ji passed away on 2nd Sep 1926. In his memory functions are organized in several places. On my part, I go through the books and diaries left behind by our ancestors. This year, as I was going through the papers, I discovered that several Muslims were very close friends of our family. Bapu Bhag Singh ji learnt music from an Ustad whose name was Hasna. The school project was actively supported by Mian Allah Yaar Kalyar. Our uncle graduated from Islamia College and during partition, Capt Nazar Mohammed risked his own life to save our father. The list is endless…

Haji Mohammed Maskin was true to his faith. In presenting the whisk to the golden temple, he did not compromise his allegiance to Allah.

And of course, everyone went to Sir Ganga Ram hospital in Lahore.

My unrequited question is, Who started this fight in the name of religion. And why?”


Our father, the late Major Balwant Singh ji began his book with a quote from Gurbani. It is about the treasure inherited by worthy sons from their ancestors. I am impelled to end this piece with that ‘Shabd’ from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The words are easy to understand, but the meaning is very profound. We in our family believe that the books, diaries, letters and pictures which have come down to us are far more precious than the ranches of land and palatial houses which have become legal disputes in many unfortunate families all around us. The ‘shabad’ taken from page 185 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is given below:  

पियो दादे का खोहल डिठा खज़ाना          तां मेरा मन भया निधाना  

खावे ख़र्चे रल मिल भाई                     टोट न आवे वरतो जाई  

रतन लाल जाका कछु न मोल               भरे भण्डार अखुट अतोल  

कहो नानक जिस मस्तक लेख लिखाये       तां इस ख़ज़ाने लया रालाये 

 I opened the treasure trove of my ancestors; and I was overwhelmed by what I saw.

We savour and spend it altogether. The fund does not diminish even when we are lavish

We have inherited invaluable gems and rubies. We can not weigh or count them

Says Nanak, (only) those who are blessed can enjoin the ranks of such bequeath.   



The Tailpiece. Allah Tero naam; Ishwar tero naam

This lyric was written for a Hindi film by Sahir Ludhianvi. I like the expression on the face of Nanda as she performs it on the screen and my personal favourite couplet is:

  सारे, जग के रखवाले ;  निर्बल को बल देने वाले 

बलवानों को दे दे ज्ञान ; अलाह तेरो नाम ईश्वर तेरो नाम  

Now, if you have three minutes to spare, see the video:


The Value and Worth of the Whisk

As I look at the fly-whisk and compare it with the other artefacts in the ‘Toshakhana’ I find that the economic worth of this piece of sandalwood is insignificant in comparison with the gold and diamond jewellery pieces presented by Kings and Princes. Haji Maskin (the word Maskin means humble) was a ‘fakir’. It is also evident that if this whisk were to be manufactured with modern machines and tools, the end-product would take no more than a few days, and the strands might be finer. Haji Maskin made this about a hundred years ago, and had nothing more than some primitive knives and cutting tools. But his commitment to the project is awesome. Equally significant is his secular outlook. He had no hesitation in attending the kirtan of Bhai Hira Singh ji, and then strike a spiritual friendship with the Sikh singer of hymns.

I find a parallel in our lives. My wife attended the Presentation Convent School in Jammu and graduated from Sacred Heart College in Dalhousie. We both recite the word ‘Om’ during our daily sessions of ‘pranayam’ and sing the ‘aarti’ whenever we are in a temple. And, indeed who can resist saying ‘Subhan Allah!’ when someone recites a soulful ghazal? None of these practices have diminished our reverence to Guru Nanak and our faith in the tenets which the Gurus taught us. I, for one, will remain perennially indebted to those who drafted our secular constitution. 

Now have one last look at this whisk, which continues to give celestial fragrance, whenever it is taken out of the glass case in which it is preserved.

whisk maskeen




Actions Speak Louder Than Words

2nd of September is a notable day in our family calendar. On this day, in 1926, Bhai Hira Singh ji left the world of mortals.  Commemorative functions are held on this day, and we recount events from his life. It is more than evident to me that Bhai Sahib was not the greatest of all singers. In the field of classical music, our great grand father touched much greater heights of excellence. What carried Bhai Hira Singh’s word farther was his selflessness and devotion to the Creator. He practiced what he preached.  I once heard the following anecdote narrated by an elder.

‘On the eve of a ‘gurpurab’ a ‘kirtan sammelan’ was organized for a restricted audience of connoisseurs. About a dozen eminent ensembles were requested to perform and the condition was that every ‘shabd’ (composition) must be rendered in the specific ‘raga’ in which it is recorded in Sri Guru Granth Sahib. At the end of the programme all the hymn singers were honoured, but when Bhai Sahib came to accept the robe of honour, there was a widespread request for one more rendition. He bowed to the wishes of the congregation, and during this performance, the ‘sangat’ was literally swept off their feet. The organizers managed to procure a very special shawl and amidst loud applause, it was draped around him. The story goes, that when the event was over, he told the tonga driver to take him to the Golden Temple, instead of his abode. There, he took off his ‘dupatta’ and got down to cleaning and swopping the inner passage with it. He kept on doing it until late at night. When at last he reached home, our grandmother found his clothes soiled, and his hands mucky. Upon being repeatedly interrogated, Bhai Sahib told her that for a brief instant he had given the credit for the honour bestowed on him to his ability to sing. As per his schooling, he had sinned and to atone for it, he had rendered a bit of service…’

In the books written on our saintly ancestor, this attribute is referred to as ‘kathani te karni da prabhav’ (the combined effect of word and deed).

 In this very context, permit me to mention a little dialogue between a TV interviewer and the redoubtable Lata Mangeshkar. The person observed that a film song is created by the combined efforts of the following personages:

  • The singer

  • The music director

  • The musicians who form part of the orchestra

  • The lyricist

  • The actor who renders the song on the screen

The question was, “Who contributes the most towards the success of the number?” Lata ji gave a detailed thought and said, “I think the lyricist is the key

I am in total agreement with her verdict. There are scores of singers who sing the composition of the masters in many different tunes. But at the end of the day, the words survive, and not the voice of the singer or the notes of the instrument. Thus, be it the carols in the Bible, the verses from the Ramayana, the Buddhist chanting or the Gurbani, the artistes who perform are lesser mortals than the Masters who gave us the words.

Bhai Hira Singh ji often said, “I am only chirping creature. The soul of the kirtan is the Holy scripture”. The Punjabi word for this humble creature is “Kooker”. It is actually a bird which chirps aimlessly.  And so we find that the letters which he wrote to his friends invariably ended with his name signed as, “Hira Singh Kooka


  1. Pawandeep Singh says:

    Submission of chandan di chaur is a tribute to the greatness of Bhai hira Singh who truly understood guru nanakdevjis message and practiced it in his life

  2. Brig V Bajaj says:


    And now the society is so terribly polarized.

  3. Soorkhan Suri says:

    Dear Surjit ji,

    Informative & leads to reminiscences, in praise of our Muslims brothers.

    Devout perception of Muslim Sufies is fathomless & Sikh writings are full of their contribution. It was a Hazrat Mian Mir, a sufi muslim who was among the venerate ones to lay the foundation of Shree Harmandir Saheb. “Akbar the Secular” too provided support to Sikh cause & approach. Though, the period thereafter was horrendous for Sikhs.

    This reminds me of my childhood days where the gracious act of the Pakistan Army Colonel, who around late 1947, forced my father – NCO in army – to quit Rawalpindi & ensured that we reach India safely. He provided us with an enclosed Red Cross vehicle, escorted by Military Police till the border between Lahore & Amritsar. I was just turning 9 at that time.

    A Saint Soldier in reality.

    I have been joyfully living among the rational Muslims since 1998, in the heavenly environs of Kyrgyzstan.

    With admiration for the endowment of your noble heritage & your endeavor to perpetuate it.

    Davinder Singh Suri,
    soorkhan, as known to my service colleagues.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Sir,
      You had promised to tell us about your life in the world of nomads. And we have known you to be a man who keeps his word.
      How long are you going to make us wait???

  4. Cdr KP Jani says:

    Resp dear Sir;

    THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for sharing the divine and historic facts and anecdotes. I was virtually transported in those “GOOD OLD DAYS”. My heart experience a divine Bliss while reading the blog /narration on “”

    On similar lines, I would like to share a modern day Guru-shishyaa (Muslim-Hindu) devotional relationship.

    Recently (about a month ago) Ustad Mir Ghulam Bhai passed away (cancer) at age 85 in Rajkot. One of his Shagird (student) a Hindu lady(39 years) born and brought up in New Jersey, came over and stayed by the side of his family for 3 months to look after him (seva).

    Humanity has not yet died !!

    Salutations and Regards;


    Cdr. K.P. Jani I.N. (Retd.)

    at Ahmedabad

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Such people earn a permanent seat for themselves in the Heaven.
      Saint Teresa said, “As long as some people choose to live and work for the less fortunate out of their own free will, the civilization is in safe hands.” And she showed the way, by her own example.

  5. KAPIL says:

    Dear Sir,

    Your writing style has inherent simplicity and honesty: it is unique and very inspiring. Always enjoy reading the Guftagu.

    profound regards

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Very few people are able to say so much so briefly.
      Shakespeare calls it ‘the soul of wit’!
      God bless you.

  6. Brig(Dr) B D Mishra says:

    Dear Surjit,
    Read your mail.


    Does the great artisan Maskin’s CHAUR has any writing on it?


    Brig Dr. BD Mishra

    Course Mate

    • Surjit Singh says:

      On the silver grip, the great artisan had the details of the chaur inscribed on it. I have transliterated the words in Devnagri and you will find it just beneath the picture.

  7. Brig KS Virk says:

    Great narrative.
    Brig KS Virk

  8. Ranjit Singh Chordia says:


  9. Maj Gen N Bahadur Singh says:

    Dear Gen,
    The ” priceless gift to the Golden Temple ” by ONE follower of MOHAMMED , attracts your attention so much as to share its devine message of love , harmony ..etc with those who can see it !! Good , no objection ; though the words ” those who can see it…” etc do convey more than what they conceal .

    I too have been to the holy Temple a few times. May I ask you what about the gory reminders of the numerous deeds of crass cruelty inflicted through out the history on the followers of the SIKH panth by other followers of Mohemmad ? Thes have been so painfully depicted in the numerous paintings in the museum of the Golden Temple. Do they also give some devine message to those who can see it ?!!

    = Maj .General N Bahadur Singh,Veteran
    ( National Convener, SSSM) .

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear General,
      Yes. There are dark and gory pages in the history. I prefer to focus on the brighter side of life.
      However, you have a point and I respect you for pointing it out.

  10. S J Singh says:

    All religions preach love and tolerance. Yet, more blood has been shed in the name of God than on any other issue. Why?

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Religions teach and preach peace. But deep within us there is an urge to strike back…Some one said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
      And so and endless chain of revenge begins. And that is the root cause of bloodshed.

  11. Anuraj Dua says:

    Thank you Surjit uncle, really enjoyed reading this piece, and learning about the history of the secular tradition in India which goes back much longer than our constitution. It is indeed shameful that these secular values are under attack in the country today and other parts of the world too (US included)
    Anuraj Dua

    • Surjit Singh says:

      I agree with every word in your brief message.
      We now look forward to meeting you in November.

  12. Col BB Ghai says:

    Dear Sir,

    Your article which was shared with my emailing list. Cmments by my NDA

    coursemate Maj Gen P Sen are sent to you.

    With the best of regards.

    B B Ghai

  13. Gulu Hora says:

    Thanks a lot sir as I said keep writing more often.Always look forward to your articles. Cheers !!!!

  14. Satish Bhandari says:

    Thanks sir – very beautiful and worth reading article.


  15. Maj Gen RKS Bhatia says:

    My dear Surjit,

    Thanks a lot for your very enlightening & erudite article – full of history which I was not familiar with in spite of being interested in the subject.

    I can empathize with every word, having been born & brought up in Shujaabad (Multan) for first 14 years of my life. Our relations with Muslims were indeed very friendly. The hospitality, love & affection which I & Promila received during our 5 day visit to Pakistan (return to my roots) a few years have left a deep impression on our Psyche. During service we mingled soldiers of all religions without any problem.

    At human level, people of all faiths are similar, it is only the politicians & ( even more so) a few bigoted Mahazab/Dharam Ke Thekedars who create all the problems. May God Almighty give sense to these trouble makers.

    I always read your articles with interest. Please keep them coming.

    It will be a great pleasure meeting you in near future.
    With Regards to you & Surinder,
    R K S


    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear Bhai Sahib,
      Your empathy is evident in every word, every sentence.
      Any one who has interacted with you knows how affectionate you were, specially towards your younger colleagues.

  16. P S Bajwa says:

    Thanx a lot for information


    PS Bajwa

  17. Col SS Aulakh says:



  18. Col ABS Sidhu says:

    Hi Surjit ,

    Thanks for sharing wonderful facts

    from the history of your family .

    With warm regards and best wishes .

  19. Col Veeramani says:

    It is amazing that none of the Sikhs Rajas/Maharajas offered any “gift” to “Toshakhana in Golden Temple” ever.

    On the other hand, it is an historical fact that Maharaja Ranjit Singh after coming back from his “win” of Afghanistan,

    first went to The Temple of Baba Gorakh Nath in Varanasi, where The 10th Guru – Guru Govind Rai (later Singh),

    who raised the “khalsas” to defend Hindus, after his sojourn in the Valley of Flowers – now called “Gobind Dham” near joshimath – was tutored by Brahmans as a child on “Shiva neeti”.

    Maharaja Ranjit Singh first offered 41 maund of Gold to Baba Gorakh Nath Temple and later went to Somnath to

    present their looted gates back but Snatani Brahmans refused to accept them saying that these have become “ashud”.

    He then gave these doors to Golden Temple where they adorn the main gates even now.

    Like some Snatani Hindus, “khalistanis” are also enamored by the Muslims and the Pakistanis. They will never praise

    the coreligionist who have brought them up to this level.

    Nanak, their first Guru, has given this as their “Ardas” –

    “Ek hi Om ka akar”, “Jo bole so nihal”, Sat(ya), Sri, Akal (tak).

    Thus, SIKHS ARE HINDUS, this is what the “Hindu Code Bill” and many other Acts also pronounce.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      I am in complete agreement with you. In fact I believe that

      ‘Maanas ki zaat sab, ekai pehchanbo’

      and “vasudhaiv kutumbkam’

  20. Surinder singh says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Come 2nd Sep and all of us are transported back in time to the annual event that marked the death anniversary of our revered grandfather every year.

    This year you have chosen a novel way of remembrance. Your message goes far and wide..and registers deep in the mind that too at a time when it is urgently required by so many people who need to keep their goodwill intact.

    My compliments on this Herculean effort!


    • Surjit Singh says:

      In this particular piece you made a sterling contribution. It was a lifeless piece, until I added the anecdote which you sent to me.
      Now let us get down to our ‘big’ project.
      God Bless!

  21. Jagmohan Luthra says:

    Thank you very much for such a lovely article and about Bhai Hira Singh Ji

    My bad luck I couldn’t catch up with you when u visited Kasauli this summer. Will indeed be my pleasure to meet as and when


    Jagmohan Luthra

  22. Maj Gen Partho Sen says:

    Dear Ghai,
    I am grateful to Maj Gen Surjit for posting the article.I like it for its simplicity,sincerity and it is a true article of faith on secularism,a phrase highly misused by the political class.
    Maj Gen P Sen

  23. Madan Kandal says:

    1.Dear Surjit Sir let me give you another take on partition and formation of Pakistan. It is the coming of the western concept of Democracy to India.Before this , land and the people belonged to the sovereign. He or she had absolute power and did as they willed with their religion naturally,holding the sway. People of other denominations suffered but remained mute. Democracy transferred this power to people. As it was our peoples were divided–the majority being as they are today,the Hindus. They had been subjugated and persecuted for nearly 800 years by Muslim rulers : recall the doings ofAurangzeb and destruction of Hindu temples.
    2.Our freedom movement collaterally progressed towards democracy. It progressively brought voting and elections at all levels and institutions putting power levers in the hands of the majority.This naturally brought fears in the minds of many Muslims of retributionand revenge against the acts done by their ancestors on the majorityin the centuries gone by.This feeling of insecurity in their future brought about the formation of Muslim League in 1905.The rest followed as we advanced to Independence and democracy which had to be the only way the political India as a single unit could come about.of course it suited the British.The two nation theory was therefore a given.
    3.That challenge of democracy continues. …….We do need to recognise this to remain a united country. May be we ought to say diversity in unityand not the other way
    4.As for the issue in the mail,as you well know,the foundation of The Hari Mandir was laid by Mian Mir and the Granth Sahib is all about universality’Manas ki ……’

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Nearly sixty years ago, when you joined us in Easy Squadron, I noticed that there was something different about you.
      You were as respectful towards the seniors as the rest (or more) but you expressed your dissent in an inimitable manner. You were courteous, and yet firm. And that is what I admire about you.
      I would be very happy to carry a piece written by you on our blog. I am sure you will embellish it with pictures.

  24. Amrik Singh says:

    Thank you for sharing this gem of the nugget. I hope my friend visiting Golden temple will visit Toshkhana to see such gems which tell thier intuiging story. With best wishes


  25. VS Chitrapu says:

    Thanks. We had heard about it. But now, you have given us the details.

  26. Srimurti Saraswati says:

    Thanks. You have made my day!!!

  27. Surinder Dhaliwal says:

    Surjit ji and Surinder sat Sri akal.
    Wonderful article and very informative. I may not always comment but always look forward to writings sent our way. May blessings be upon you both and yours

    • Surinder says:

      Dear Gaddy,
      Yes. We are both aware of your messages of goodwill. You don’t need words to convey them!
      Love has its own language and means of communication.
      Wish you a speedy and complete recovery.
      Surinder & Surjit

  28. Dr. Prakarsh Singh says:

    Dear Uncle,

    What a wonderful article! Really enjoyed reading it. Below, I share some thoughts on the lost unity between Muslims and Sikhs that I have collated over the years.

    1. Guru Nanak’s most trusted and closest disciple and companion, Mardana, was a Muslim and remained a Muslim till he died.
    2. The foundation stone of the Harminder Sahib at Amritsar, the Golden Temple of the Sikhs, was laid by none other than a Muslim Sufi, Hazrat Miyan Mir.
    3. The Udasis or accounts of the travels of Baba Nanak Sahib tell us that he traveled to Mecca for the Haj. Later he also traveled to Medina where he lived for six years until his death. He is also said to have spent six long years in Baghdad, which was then a major centre for the Sufis.
    4. Aurangzeb’s policies were dictated essentially by political motives and interests, and not by religion. That is why many of his top military officers were Hindus.
    5. The conflict between the Gurus and the Mughals was purely political and had nothing to do with religion whatsoever.
    6. The early Sikh Gurus had much closer links with the Muslim Sufis than they had with the orthodox Hindu Brahmins.
    7. The Fifth Nanak, Guru Arjan Dev, while compiling the Adi Granth included therein 112 shalokas (couplets) and 4 shabads (hymns) by Baba Farid.
    8. A sect in Pakistan calls itself Muslim-Sikh.
    9. Guru Nanak would have probably asked Sikhs to go out and mingle with everyone and not just be caught up with their 5 K’s. He would have probably asked people to achieve their happiness by making others around them happy.
    10. I think the only way Sikhism can recover its old self-confidence is by going back to engaging with other religious faiths, be a symbol of rationality and plurality that Guru Nanak wanted it to be.

    Best wishes,


    • Surjit Singh says:

      A piece from you and Isha is due now.
      And when Papa Mama are with you, I think you will be able to tell us what it feels to have ‘Tripat’ amidst you.
      Incidentally, in the army, we had a Lt Gen by that name. He was a family friend, and for me and my brothers, he was a role model..

  29. Mahavir S Jagdev says:


    I saw all the items of Toshakhana during my childhood in mid-1965. My grandfather worked for SGPC. What little I heard about the Chaur sahib presented by Haji Mohammed was – He used 25 monds of Chandan wood to make the chaur sahib. He had asked for Rs.2.50 lakhs for it from SGPC which was refused as they did not pay for any thing for Darbar Sahib. A big darbar was held and he presented the chaur sahib to Darbar Sahib for free, and was given a honorarium for it.

    Ranjit Singh had presented golden chains for elephant to the Nizam on his son’s wedding. The nizam presented the diamond studded chanani sahib on Ranjit Singh’s son’s wedding which was presented to Darbar Sahib.

    Mahavir zjagdev

  30. Brig Anil Adlakha says:


  31. Col. Dr. GB Sethi says:

    surjit sir, we have always seen God living in you & you living in God for more than five decades now & this scripture is an excellent description & I hope many should read it & realise the oneness on this earth.

  32. BS Flower says:

    My dear general,

    Thanks for this kind information.It has come as a surprise to me.We have been to Golden temple many a time but no one ever mentioned about this hidden treasure grove.I too have heard many stories of love and sacrifice by muslims from my elders who came from Pakistan during partition.Only way we can repay Haji Mohammed Maskin for his invaluable gift is a silent prayer for this great soul.

    With regards and best wishes,

    Wg Cdr BS Flower(retd).

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Dear BS,
      I do not know whether you are the same person whom I met in Barrackpur in 1971. There was a Missile Squadron near Kanchrapara, and I was posted in an AD Regiment there.

  33. PP Singh says:

    What a great piece written. Thoroughly enjoyed for its content and expression. God bless


  34. Anupinder Kaur says:

    SSA Chachji,

    Awesome article. Proud to be a part of a great heritage.


  35. Harikumar Krishnannair says:

    Thank you sir for sharing.

  36. Maj Gen MPS Kandal says:

    Dear Surjit Sir

    Thanks for sharing.


  37. Lt Gen Amarjit Singh says:

    Many thanks. I never knew . Regards.


  38. Brig Bhupinder Oberoi says:


    It is very nice informative as always.Thanx a lot

    Bhupi Oberoi

  39. Maj Gen Surendra Rishi says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Very inspiring piece. Thanks

    You are right in asking the question “Who started this fight in the name of religion. And why?”

    And why are we continuing to enhance thr cleavage between two sets of people in the name of religion?

    The answer is obvious isn’t it?



    • Surjit Singh says:

      Bhai Sahib,
      History is a complex canvas. The colours are as varied as the seasons…we have burning hot Sun and freezing winters.
      And then we have earthquakes and the Tsunamis!

  40. Mirza Yawar Baig says:

    Priceless message Sir

    Yawar Baig

    • Surjit Singh says:

      Mirza ji,
      As long as there are people like you, our brotherhood is in safe hands. Hyderabad is known for its ‘tehzib’

  41. Dave Sood says:

    Every article written by you introduces us to something we have never heard or read before. I loved this piece as it really introduces us to a room at Hari Mandir Sahib which I have visited over 50 times.

    The bhai chara between Hindus and Muslims was well known in the North and I am sure the same must be true for the rest of the country. The Chaur is a special piece which must get the publicity that it deserves.

    Enlightening piece.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      An overwhelming majority of people are good. There are bad eggs here and there, and they create all the trouble.
      Next time you go to Amritsar, do look out for the Toshakhana. I have been trying to request the SGPC to create a pamphlet, giving details and pictures of all the artefacts held in the strong room.

  42. Manjit Singh says:

    Excellent article ! We are proud to remember our grand-father on this day.
    Surjit ji, you have done so well to write this article. Thank you. Best regards.

  43. Lt Col B B Ghai says:

    The article authured is excellemt. All relegions may follow different path but the destination is same to get connected to the supreme soul named differenty.Respect for other relegions is the call of the day & a message to this effect is well conveyed

    • Surjit Singh says:

      You must write something for this blog. Perhaps you can recall your childhood in the IMA and embellish it with some old pictures.

  44. Maj Gen Ashok Coomar says:

    An excellent essay which makes a very interesting reading and at the same time brings out the significance of of our cultural and filial inheritance. Thanks sir for writing such valuable stuff.

  45. Joseph Thomas says:

    Another excellent article from Surjit. He has taken on the mantle of Khushwant Singh but minus the ribaldry.

    • Surjit Singh says:

      I take accept it as a compliment.
      But I would like to place it on record that out of that generation of writers, my role model was Raj Chatterjee. And I also liked Manohar Malgaonkar.
      KS was eminently readable, but crossed into a forbidden territory sometimes…

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