Saturday, August 26, 2017

Echoes of Charlettsoville: One Hundred years back 13 Black Soldiers were Summarily Hanged

In 1917, the US entered the First World War. In the same year, a platoon of black soldiers was sent to Texas for military duty. The white supremacists, seeing black soldiers strutting about carrying rifles and guns were incensed. The soldiers were also angry at the blatant racial discrimination. One of the soldiers who was witness to the beating of a black woman intervened and was beaten-up and arrested. Another soldier who went to the police station to intercede was assaulted. The incensed black soldiers, collected and went to the police station. A gun battle led to 16 whites being shot dead.

The incident was treated as a mutiny and 63 blacks were court martialed. After a trial lasting 22 days, where the laws of evidence were studiously ignored and 63 defendants were represented by just one lawyer, 13 were sentenced to be hanged. There was no appeal or review and all 13 were summarily executed. The incident showed the hostility between blacks and white supremacists. The hangings were carried out en masse and all the 13 were brought in trucks to hastily erected scaffolds and summarily executed. No appeal, no clemency, no laws of evidence and no proper defense. The incident shook America but has anything changed?

The fact is there are too many blacks who will fight for their rights and the old days of white supremacy are over. The punishments and hangings without due process of law has echoes in the Charlottesville incident and show that the racial divide still exists though a hundred years have elapsed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thanking Dr.Trump for Translating the 'Guru Granth Sahib'

The holiest book of the Sikhs

The guru granth
The guru granth The Adi Granth is a book that was compiled during a period when the Sikh gurus were the temporal heads of the religion from 1469-1708.

The Guru Granth

In 1708 the tenth and last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh on his death decreed that there will not any more Guru and all Sikhs must consider the Adi Granth as the guru. The Adi Granth was compiled by the 5th Sikh Guru Arjun Dev and after the demise of the 10th guru, the task of compiling the Granth and editing and updating it was completed by Baba Deep Sigh. The Granth is written in the Gurmukh script, but also makes use of verses in Sanskrit, Persian, Braja Bhasha and Hindi. It holds a place akin to the Koran and the Bible.

Dr. Trump and the Missionaries

This book was earlier hand written and no translation was available. In the 19th century, Christian missionaries in their zeal to spread the Gospel came down to India in large numbers. One of the missionaries was Dr. Ernest Trump. He was a German from Munich and had good knowledge of Sanskrit. He came down to the Punjab and spent some years learning the Gurumukhi script and language. He decided that to spread Christianity it was important that the Indian scriptures should be translated so that the flaws in the religion can be exposed. Thus the aim of Dr. Trump and other missionaries was the furtherance of the Christian faith, with an understanding of the local faith.

Dr. Trump and the Translation of the Adi Granth

Dr. Trump translated the Granth Sahib and though his eye sight began to fail him, yet he continued in his task. Dr. Trump with his knowledge of Sanskrit could appreciate that the Granth Sahib was a treasure trove of verses in the Sanskrit language, yet his foreword to the translation was not flattering.
The Granth was published in 1871 but God seems to have been unkind to Dr. Trump who finally became blind and died a deranged man in 1885.
Last Word
Now that a hundred and forty-five years have elapsed we can still thank Dr. Trump for translating the Adi Granth. Though his motives were to spread Christianity, the end result is that he gave to posterity a book to read and cherish that is the essence of Sikhism