Valour Counterbalancing Bravado

I am neither a historian nor a theologist. Nor am an authority on Sikh/Punjabi folklore. However, I will endeavour to do justice to this piece.

The prime-most exemplification of bravado in our ethos is in Piloo’s Mirza: “Meri Bakki ton daran farishtey, Tein Jatt ton darey khuda….” Loosely transliterated: ” The mare (named Bakki) that I ride is feared by the angels, and as for myself, God himself fears me.” It is the ultimate statement in terms of vaingloriousness (hubris?).

The second strain resonates in the contemporary Rabbi Shergill rendition: “Sun totiye ni man motiye, mainun vaaj naan pichchon maar, ni main chaleya aapne hi wattan, ni main chaleya aapni thaan; Mera aalhna baaleya baireeyan, ni mainun ditta des nikaal; Bin daana paani jee lavan, bin ankh main jee na sakan….”   Loosely transliterated: “My sweetheart parrot mate, do not ask me to retrace my steps once I have made up my mind. I am only going back to my provenance, from whence I sprang. I was ousted and exiled by foes who set afire my nesting place. I can survive without any material sustenance, but I cannot live without vindificating my personal honour.”

The third strain of reckless daring is reflected in the anecdoctal episode regarding Tota (Parrot) Singh and Bota (Camel) Singh. The saying goes:   “Hath vich sota, vich sadak khadota; Anna laaye gadde nun, paisa laaye khota; Aakhein bhabo Khano nun, yaun aakhe singh bota.” The historical setting is the period of turmoil in Punjab subsequent to the murder of the last/Tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, and prior to the ascendancy of the Guru’s annointed military marshal, Banda Bahadur. Since the murder of the Guru’s two youngest sons, who were bricked up alive in Sirhind in a bid to make them recant their faith, there was a vitriolic outpouring in the Sikh masses against the Mughal regime of the times. The notorious brigand duo mentioned above would loot Mughal caravans in retaliation. The taunt, loosely transliterated was: “With a lusty stick in hand, I stand in the middle of the road; Levying a wayfarer tax of one anna (4 paisa) per cartload, and one paisa per donkey-load; Go and tell sister-in-law Khanon (the wife of the ruling hakim/governor of Sirhind) that thus spake Bota Singh.” The allusion, none too subtle, was to her wearing the pants in the family.

The  seminal masterpiece, as usual,  comes from the Guru: “Soora so pehchaniye jo larre deen ke het, Purja purja katt mare, Kabhun naan chhaade khet.” Loosely transliterated: ” The mark of a person’s valour is in his willingness to stand up for the downtrodden. It is in his steely resolve to be torn asunder limb by limb for a worthwhile cause rather than quit the battlefield.”

Now for my experiences with this. Since childhood, I have been prone to taking up cudgels on behalf of the under-dog. Several pitched battles have ensued, and I have achieved my share of victories. But sometimes, I have won the battles, only to end up losing the war. All this has come at a tremendous cost to me in terms of mental distress, financial losses, professional setbacks, social censure and deterioration in personal relationships. All that not withstanding, I would not change even a whit of it if I could, and would have happily continued to try and tilt at the windmills of the gods.

However, age has lent some insight in this regard. It is not for nothing that the Tenth Guru, Gobind, is famous for his sayings, “Chiriyon se mein baaj ladaoon, Tabhi Gobind singh naam kahaoon” and “Sava lakh se ek ladaoon, Tabhi Gobind singh naam kahaoon.” Transliterated: ” Let the name of Gobind reverbrate when he teaches the sparrow to hunt the hawk” and “Let Gobind’s name resonate when he pits a solitary soldier against a multitude.”

I have learnt my lesson. As the saying goes,”Feed a man fish, and you feed him for a day; Teach a man how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ There is a limit to my time and stamina. How many fronts can I open up and hope to sustain? But if I can organise deprived/marginalised groups, motivate them to fight their own battles, and impart to them the knowledge and skills for doing so, then the multiplier effect of my efforts goes up exponentially. The final solution IS self-help groups. But to lend credence and authenticity to my intervention, I must be willing to share the risk with them. They need to feel assured that in the event of any criticality, they can count upon me to roll up my sleeves,  get my hands dirty, and lead from the front.


4 Responses to “Valour Counterbalancing Bravado”

  1. How Kundalini Yoga Produces Meditation On The Naam « Sacred Space Says:

    […] Sikh Book Club, Sahaj and Sikhism, Ik Onkaar at golden temple, God’s Note, Sat Nam Wahe Guru, Valor Counterbalancing Bravado, Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Meditation: What it is and what it is […]

  2. Sacred Space Says:

    There is no valour if there is no fear. Courage is a product of the meditative process inherent in each soul. Your insights on these matters is welcomed at a discussion entitled:
    How Kundalini Yoga Produces Meditation on the Naam
    A link there has been established to
    Valour Counterbalancing Bravado

  3. preekshitdhillon Says:

    I think that there is an inner voice within each of us that tells us the difference between right and wrong. Whether we choose to listen to it or not is a separate matter altogether!

  4. Neha Says:

    Interesting concept. One can be stuck with labels of ” arrogant” or ” proud” person in the first two instances and of a brave, righteous man in the last paragraph.

    It all depends on what battles we choose to fight and knowing the distinction between right and wrong cause

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