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12 O'clock joke

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This account is based on article at SearchSikhism.com


File:Sardars.jpg

12 O'clock Joke: For all of you who thought of the '12 o Clock joke' as a slam against Sardars, just read the following story.

I was standing at railway Station (New Delhi) when my attention went towards a Sikh youth standing near me wearing a Black turban having a long beard and wearing a kirpan over his shirt looking similar to what some people might think of as a terrorist.

After a while, one local train arrived, which was totally packed. The Sikh youth tried to board the train but failed to do so. Just then a voice was heard from the back coach, 'Sardarji Barah Baj gaye' (Sir it's 12 o'clock!)

The Sikh youth turned to look at the person who had said the words, who to me seemed a young mischievous type of person, but instead of showing any anger the young Sikh made a knowing smile towards him.

The smile he made was so enigmatic that it seemed as if some type of truth lay behind it. Not able to resist my temptation to ask the young man a question, I walked towards him and asked why he had smiled at the person who had teased him. The Sikh youth replied, "He was not teasing me but was asking for my Help".

I was surprised by his answer, he went on to tell me that there was a lot of history behind the phrase, which he offered to share with me if I wanted to listen. I was eager to know the history so I asked and the Sikh youth began to relate his story:

During the 17th Century, when India was ruled by the Mughals who called it Hindustan, the Hindu people were often humiliated and even treated like animals. Mughals all to often treated Hindu women as just another piece of property. The Emperor Aurangzeb, who had been raised and educated by the fundamentalist Ulama, decided that all Hindus were to be converted to Islam. Aurangzeb, who had jailed his own father and stolen the throne intended for his older more moderate brother, whom he accused of being a Hindu rather than a Muslim cooked up a plan with his Subedar of Kashmir to force the highly revered Hindu Pandits of Kashmir to convert to Islam. Thinking that if they were converted then the other Hindus all over their kingdom would follow suit.

They offered them a simple choice—convert or die by the sword. The Pandits knew that they would probably meet a death far worse than dying at the tip of a Mughal sword, for the Mughals had become masters of torture who could extend a person's agony and death for days. When the time that the Pandits had been given to decide was almost up, they by the hundreds walked to meet with Guru Tegh Bahadur at his Darbar in the city now known as Anandpur.

During their meeting with the Guru, the Guru's young son asked his father why all the Pandits had come and what was going on. The Guru told his son Gobind Rai that the men were in serious trouble and that only a very Holy man, a man willing to lay his life on the line would be able to help them. It is related that young Gobind Rai said, "well who would be a more Holy and worthy man than you my father."

The Guru told the Pandits that he would send a challenge to Aurangzeb - that if he could convert him to Islam, then the Pandits would accept Islam willingly. The Pandits agreed and the offer was sent to the Emperor's Court and Guru Tegh Bahadur and several Companions headed towards Delhi. Hearing of this challenge the Mughal Emperor ordered the Guru and his companions arrested. Riches and fame were offered to each of the Gurus companions who, to a man refused.

Holding fast to their religion each of the men met with a horrible and tortured death before their Guru's eyes. Then the Guru too refused to convert, no amount of torture could bend his resolve and so finally the Guru was beheaded in Chandni Chowk. He and his companions had given their lives, not for the right to practice their own religion, but for the right of others, of another religion, to freely practise their own in their own way.

This was the first time that anyone in 'Hindustan' was known to have laid down his own life for the protection of another's religion. This is the reason that Guru Tegh Bahadur is still remembered as - "Hind Ki Chaddar", (Shield of India).

Learning of this incident the Guru's young son, whose father had passed the Guru Gaddi to on his departure for Delhi, our 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji made a resolution that he would convert his followers, not just to Sant-Soldiers willing to lay their heads on the line to resist tyranny, but to even change their very way of dress so that each and every one of them would stand out in a crowd and be easily recognized; marked by his Turban, Beard, Kirpan and Kara/s and known as a person who could be depended upon to assist anyone in danger.

Under Guru Hargobind the Sikhs were few in numbers, Guru Hargobind was the first to raise a standing Army of Sikhs of around two thousand Risaldari (cavalry) and they were allowed to use their weapons only when attacked. But with the creation of the Khalsa the attacks from Aurangzeb and his Hindu allies increased. Guru Gobind Sing and all the Sikhs of Anandpur were tricked and betrayed after leaving the city only after suffering a protracted siege. All of the Guru's family lost their lives in the next few days in struggles with the attackers, save the Guru's wife who was safely guided away to Delhi along with the 'mother' of the Khalsa.

Aurangzeb died soon after that, a broken man, charged in a letter, the Zafarnama, from Guru Gobind Singh as a Godless man and a liar. Only as the 10th Guru lay dying, far to the south in the Deccan, from complications of a wound inflicted by an assasin sent by the man who had carried out the attacks at Anandpur and Chamkaur which resulted in the death of the Guru's sons and mother and hundreds if not thousands of Sikhs, did Guruji charge his trusted aide Banda Singh Bahadur to return to the Punjab, rally his Sikhs and drive the foreign invaders out of the Panjab and India. Banda Bahadur along with thousands of other Sikhs would loose his head in the long fight against Mughal tyranny.

When the Mughuls were little more than empty shadows of their ancestors, Nadir Shah raided Delhi in the year 1739 and looted Hindustan carrying cartloads of Hindustani treasure, the fabled Peacock Throne, the Kohinoor and nearly 2,200 Hindu women in carts, back to Persia. The news of this spread like wildfire and was heard by Sardar Jassa Singh who was the Commander of the Sikh army at the time. He decided to attack Nadir Shah's Kafila at midnight, as they camped in fear of the night, fear of jins and other evils, as their Rasul had advised them to do.

Screaming out of the night, with cries of 'Jo Bole So Nihal' the Sikhs poured out of the forrests around the invaders and rescued all the Hindu women, returning them later safely to their homes. The attack wasn't a one time occurence, for anytime thereafter, whenever the Abdaalis or the Iranis had attacked and looted Hindustan they, on their treasure laden treck to their homes with captured Hindu wives, daughters and even young boys along with them for selling in the Abdali slave markets, the Sikh army, although fewer in number that those they were attacking, but far braver and bolder than the retreating invaders, continued their midnight (12 O'clock) raids and rescues of the helpless women and children of 'Hindustan' that no one else seemed willing to help rescue.

It soon became a routine thing, after similar incidences, for people to contact the Sikhs for help knowing they would pull another of their dare-devil midnight attacks.

Soon people were saying that at midnight, at 12 O'clock sharp, it was very dangerous to fight against Sikhs as, at that precise time, the Sikhs became charged with a ferocious power they used to save Religion, Nation and Humanity.

The word spread that nobody could fight and win against them at midnight; this saying is still repeated today.

Today many 'wise-crackers or smart alecks' and some who fear or dislike the Sikhs have altered the saying to say, "that at 12 O'clock Sikhs go out of their senses.

The young Sikh finished by saying, that by knowing the history behind the saying and being sure of himself and aware of others' weaknesses, his saying the phrase to me only made me smile, as I remember that oneday his Mother or Sister might be in trouble and need my help. His yelling, 'Sardarji Barah Baj Gaye' only reminds me that he might not even be alive and a Hindu in today's India if Baba Deep Singh or some other unknown Sikh hadn't risked his life to save one of his ancestors.


As he was narrating the incident I was feeling ashamed of myself as I used to click on the jokes on the internet and enjoy the jokes about Sikhs and as I've also made fun of them myself by sharing the jokes with others. But now I have got the truth that these Sikhs are born for others and they are people who are pleged to fight for the Humanity and Religion of those oppressed.

What are we all doing to these great Saints and Soldiers? Instead of thanking them, we all are making fun.

Earlier I had the thought that the Sikh youth looked just like a terrorist, now I could see the reflection of real Patriot inside him.

  • This story which is told in many versions all over the internet is said to be based on an original article which was posted by Jagjit Singh.

On Learning of the 12o'clock joke and the others I've never heard

All over the world a person or even a people are, in their heart of hearts (dil-o-jan), so unsure of themselves that they find someone or even a group of people to belittle in order to prop up their own little egos. Hence we have Polish jokes, Black (and several other things that people of African decent have been called) jokes, Arab jokes, Dutch jokes and Scottish jokes (usually concerning their frugallity), Christian jokes, ad nauseum. People who are sure of themselves like the young Sikh on the train platform in this story, see this for what it is and have compassion for those lost in such darkness.

To stike out against someone saying such things, even to yell back in response is to show that you too are still in a little darkness yourself. Of all the things I have read here on these pages, the lines that come easiest to my mind are the words or actions of Guru Tegh Bahadur who returned the Bir of the Adi Granth, long in his brother's possesion, and the golden Mohurs that his brother who had just been involved in an attempt on the Guru's life, had stolen. If he could forgive him so easily I think we all might profit by doing the same. That is what the Gu and the Ru in Guru is all about, as the French are fond of saying n'est-ce pas?

Racism and religicism (maybe my own word) is something that is taught and learned and unfortunately the taught - the child, grows up to believe it as a truth and to never question it. If one is lucky, by the grace of God you might say, each of us, as did Guru Nanak, after his ablutions that morning so long ago, comes to see that his own way is just that - his own way and goes out in the world as a student of the others ways - a student of the world.

A man/woman who doesn't worship the Great Religious men of the world, but worships that which they worshiped and attempts to live his/her own live in the way that those men did, becomes a stand for the things that those men stood for.

Not just trying but actually living the standards they set forth makes for a person who can leave this life assured he did his best and added a little more 'light' to the world.

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