Striking facts about Sukhdev

The country will remain grateful to Malwinder Singh Waraich, who has discovered striking facts about the life and deeds of Sukhdev (“Mark of a Martyr” by Aditi Tandon, Spectrum, May 13).

The reminiscences of Shiv Verma who was a co-accused in the Lahore conspiracy case were gathering dust for the last seven decades in the National Archives. The public now has come to know what was the real character of Sukhdev, which had remained hidden so far.

Sukhdev was accused No. 1 in the FIR whereas Bhagat Singh was at No. 12 and Rajguru at No. 20 of the total 25 accused. Gandhi was not in favour of their death sentences being commuted to life terms. Sukhdev wrote a letter to Gandhi saying, “In fact the country will not gain as much by the change in their sentences as by their being hanged”.

It is the need of the hour that a subject on the lives and deeds of martyrs be introduced in schools, colleges and universities so that the new generation doesn’t forget the valourous deeds of these great martyrs.




It is a prompt aide memoire for the nation for not forgetting the 100th birth anniversary of Sukhdev, the great patriot, who along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru not only shook the foundations of the British Empire but also made leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru think twice.

Sukhdev’s message to these leaders was clear — a few have to lay their lives for the sake of the nation instead of waiting for Independence to happen and then enjoying fruits of power.

Sukhdev made Gandhi speechless by laying his life and proving that the ways of revolutionaries were in no way irrational as Gandhi always thought.


A small square of fabric

"The curious story of handkerchiefs” by B.N. Goswamy (Spectrum, May 13) was interesting. Called angochcha in Vedic age, ancient Egyptians regarded handkerchiefs as a talisman. Used by the Chinese 2,000 years ago, the silken tissue ones were popular in Emperor Hwang’s reign while Romans had linen ones. Anglo Saxons wore them at their belts as a “sweat clothe” to wipe their faces and hands.

Though useful, strangely handkerchiefs were initially unpopular because the Church disapproved of priests who “blew their noses on supplices and chasubles.” Considered vulgar to display a handkerchief, in France the word “handkerchief” was objectionable. As late as 1700, European commoners were not permitted to blow their noses in handkerchiefs.

British king Richard II once had a severe cold. He blew his nose on a big piece of cloth, each time using a fresh one, simply refusing to reuse the previous one. Since a big length of cloth was cumbersome, he cut small pieces from it, resulting in the modern hanky. Interestingly, an entry in Edward 1V’s wardrobe reads “5 dozen handcover chieffes.”

European social history mentions instances when knights wore it as a favour from their lady loves who would intentionally drop their hankies, to be picked up by men they liked.

French Empress Josephine used to cover her mouth with a pretty lace-edged hanky to hide her ugly teeth. She was habitual of holding her hanky in her hand and gesticulating in court, being copied by royal ladies.

The Danish King once commented that his handkerchief was the only place, he could poke his royal nose into. However, British playwright George Bernard Shaw denounced it as “harbinger of bacteria.”


Maulana Rumi

Maulana Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders (“The poet of love’s longing” by Rooma Mehra, Spectrum, May 6). The general theme of his thoughts, like that of the other mystic and Sufi poets of the Persian literature, is essentially about the concept of Tawheed (unity) and union with his beloved from which he has been cut and fallen aloof and his longing and desire for reunity.

Rumi believes that only good deeds would be a source of deliverance for man. He chastises the wicked Self in the following terms: Dozakh ast een nafs, dozakh azdaha ast, ku badaryaha na gardad kam-o-kaast (Self is a hell whose fire is not to be quenched, even partially, even if a number of streams gather together to put it out). BILAL AHMAD SHAMIM, Qadian


Love is the central theme of Rumi’s mystic poetry. A lover of God desires nothing and cares for nothing but the eternal truth where dwells the eternal bliss. To the Sufis, earthly love is a bridge leading to God. Rumi says, “Love is the flight towards the heavens, tearing off hundreds of veils at every breath.”

The ‘ney’ or the reed flute figures prominently in the symbolism of Rumi. The trembling of the reed is viewed as the breath or the spirit which gives it life; its cry recalls the nostalgia of its separation from the green rushes where it grew; and the reed flute wailing for return to the Principal.

The Whirling Dervish dance, which is identified with Rumi’s Melvei (Maulvi) Sufi order, uses ‘ney,’ the reed flute, for accompanying music. The dance depicts the powerful imagery of the soul passing through various stages of existence in the world.

V.K. RANGRA, Delhi



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