As our generation continues to take an increasing interest in understanding and honouring the armed struggle for Khalistan, there has been significant excitement within panthic circles as Bhai Daljit Singh announced the publication of Kharku Sangarsh di Sakhi: annjane, angaule sidhki ate yodhay (Bibekgarh Prakashan, Sri Anandpur Sahib: 2022). In the hopes of gaining insight on our current situation today, there is a keen interest to read the reflections of a key thinker of the Sikh sangarsh and a jujharoo (warrior) who served on the frontlines himself.
For many, Bhai Daljit Singh remains an enigmatic personality. While many try to cast aspersions on his perceived silence in recent years, his words often carry a unique weight—interwoven with heavyhearted memories of his fallen comrades and a fierce determination to carry their struggle forward. While some have tried to “cash in” on their participation during the struggle in order to claim political legitimacy or clout today, Bhai Daljit Singh remains a hidden gem in this regard. His emphasis consistently remains on honouring the legacy of the shaheeds while claiming no credit for himself.
Regardless of one’s political or factional differences with Bhai Daljit Singh, the book is a must read for every panth dardi that is dedicated to furthering the cause of our shaheeds. Despite differences of opinion on any number of issues, Bhai Daljit Singh’s frank and thoughtful reflections over the years have earned him a reputation of being firmly committed to the panth over his own personal image or factional politics. From Bhavikh Phir Vi Sada Hai, published in the mid-1990s, to Agai Turan to Pehlan: ik nazar ate nazariya in 2015 and his writings on Khalistan, published April 29, 2020, Bhai Daljit Singh has consistently illustrated a deep commitment to self-reflection and growth in order to critically chart the next phase of our sangarsh. Most importantly, these reflections have always been firmly rooted in a concrete analysis of the political realities at the time with a gurmat-oriented lens at their heart.
While reading Kharku Sangarsh di Sakhi, it is apparent that this work will make numerous contributions not only to writing the history of the Sikh sangarsh, but to the way in which we think of and consider Sikh history itself. Whether it is the unique philosophy of history that is rooted in the Sikh tradition of the sakhi or the historiographical approach of writing a subaltern history from the grassroots, there are multiple layers to this work.
For panth dardi however, the most important contribution is how Bhai Daljit Singh’s reflections of the past are clearly rooted in a frame committed to understanding the course of our collective future. The book was not penned as a recreational past-time or as a “memoir”. In a similar vein to all of his past works, the book explores the dynamics and foundations of the Sikh sangarsh as a self-reflexive process that offers guidance for the next phase of our history.
The book is not intended to be a complicated treatise on political theory nor is it fodder for the social media trolls who live and die for the endless—and meaningless—debates and controversies online. Instead, the book is comprised of short, self-encapsulated sakhiyan (tales) that are capable of transferring the collective experience of this period to future generations by drenching them in the rang (colour/love) of Guru Granth-Panth.
As we step onto the precipice of a new phase of world history, there has been a qualitative shift in the winds of Punjab over the past several years, with a resurgent admiration for the Sikh jujharoo lehar. While we have seen fierce resistance and momentary uprisings against the violence and authoritarianism of the Indian state recently, there is an equally fierce resentment simmering against the current structures and modes of leadership that claim to represent and advocate for the panth and Punjab today.
This is the defining feature that grounds the importance of Bhai Daljit Singh’s Kharku Sangarsh di Sakhi.
While our generation shifts between hopelessness and frustration with the current status quo, there has been an increasing tendency to frantically seek heroes and easy victories, even if it requires conjuring false illusions and hope where they don’t actually exist. As our generation has become accustomed to the instant gratification of a superficial “social media sangarsh”, we blind ourselves to the grassroots realities around us and alienate ourselves from the concrete work required to tangibly change our world today.
Instead, Bhai Daljit Singh looks to the shaheeds of the Guru Khalsa Panth to light our path forward. Rather than social media celebrities or aspiring politicians, Bhai Daljit Singh seeks to honour the gumnaam (unknown) warriors of the panth who laboured and sacrificed in anonymity; those dedicated souls who laid the foundations of our struggle without asking for any recognition in return; those who relished their seva in solitude and received their ultimate reward with the blessing of shahadat.
In the introduction, Bhai Daljit Singh writes:
These unknown and overlooked Singh-Singhniyan are the real treasures of the panth. Our history stands on the foundation of their kamaee (labour). In every era, the foundations of our history have been laid by the blood of unknown shaheeds. Those few names that emerge in the pages of our history stand on the very ground that was prepared for them by these anonymous gursikhs.
Focussing on these foundations of the sangarsh, Bhai Daljit Singh highlights the importance of the long-term work needed to decisively confront our gulaami and build towards a gurmat-driven future—rooted in the Meeri and Peeri of the Khalsa. This sirarr (tenacity/determination) and sidhak (steadfast faith) has been the foundation of every movement committed to building Sikh political power. It is on these foundations that the vision of begampura-halemi raj, envisioned in Khalistan by the shaheeds before us, will be built.
Kharku Sangarsh di Sakhi reminds us that the solutions we seek are only possible when we move as Sikhs of the Guru: rooted in the prampara (tradition) of the Khalsa and a commitment to the thankless work required to achieve a lasting transformation.