We Sindhis hail from Sindh – a province, now in Pakistan , but previously a part of undivided India. It was in Sindh that flourished the great Indus valley civilization, a marvel in social set-up and communal living, millennia before the birth of Christ. It was Sindh that was famous for ship-building, and that it carried on commerce with far-off lands such as Rome, Greece, Asia Minor, Babylon and Egypt. The Sumerians derived their culture from Sindh and it was on this soil that Gautam Budha and Guru Nanak preached their doctrine. India stands for the land of the Indus (river that flowed through Sindh) and the word Hindu is derived from the word Sindhu. Sindh dates back to the reign of Bharat, the brother of Ram, who ruled in Sindh and then handed over the reigns to Luv, the twin son of Ram and Mother Sita.
Sindhi Hindus faced centuries of trials and tribulations for they were conquered by invaders who not only conquered their land but remained to rule with a barbaric hand. All the rulers that came to rule over Sindh had one thing in common. They sought to spread Islam converting Hindus at the point of sword. Most were forced to abandon Hinduism and accept the shift in religion to save their lives and those of their dear ones held captive. The ancestors of Indian Muslims of today were those Hindus who were converted. History is full of stories of Aurangzeb, the Moghul emperor who forcibly converted Hindus to Islam. Many of these Hindus reached the shores of Sindh to only continue to be persecuted by Taalpurs, Kalhoras and Mirs.
A common saying in Sindh stated:
Aayaa meer, Bhaga peer
Which literally means that when the Meer (rulers) came, the wise ones fled.
Speaking about Sindhi Hindus, the English writer Dr James Burns wrote: “Even for the slightest error committed by a hapless Hindu, The Mirs got hold of him, made him read the ‘kalma’ and forcibly converted him to Islam. Logic fails to get an answer as to why Hindus continue to live in such a place. The only possible explanation is the deep love that Hindus bear for their birth place.”
To safe guard the women folk from the onslaught of the persecutors, they were made to observe Purdah, i.e. the women were covered from head to toe, except for one eye. This mode of attire, the Sindhis called “Akhri”
It was the British rule that brought to an end the relationship of the oppressor Muslim and the oppressed Hindu. A new era began. British rule brought safety, progress and reforms, not only to the Sindhi Hindus in general, but for Sindhi Hindu women in particular. The “Akhri” was discarded. She was no longer confined to the four walls and her formal education commenced.
The Sindhu Hindu had arrived. The Amil Sindhi excelled in services and the Bhaibunds in commerce. Both reached foreign lands. The Amils generally to pursue a higher education and the Bhaibunds to spread their business. In 1844 the capital of Sindh was shifted from Hyderabad, which was originally called Nerankot, to Karachi. After roughly a century of peace and progress came the Freedom Movement in which participated all Hindu Sindhis, actively or passively little imagining that the so called Freedom would mean sacrificing their culture, home and birthplace.
The British administration that had favored the Sindhi Hindu, stopped patronizing them as it was they, who had initiated for self-government in Sindh as part of an all India Freedom Movement. Instead of helping, the British started to ignore the atrocities that the Muslim started to once again inflict upon the Hindus. These tyrannical incidents reached a zenith during the partition of India. Their leaders had failed them. On January 6, 1948, Genocide of Hindus took place in Sindh. Though, in many cases helped by Muslim neighbors, the terror in their heart is indescribable. The trials that each and every Hindu went through in those dark bleak days would fill volumes and make even the gods weep. The Sindhi Hindus had only one option left. They had to flee and they found shelter wherever available in Hindustan.
They started once again from sub-human conditions. In many cases they had nothing left but their intelligence and pride. It is believed that at that time there were more refugees in India than there were Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Sindhis became an uprooted race. Yet they managed to build, brick by brick their new life and once again learned to live with honor and human dignity.
Because of their need to survive, they spread their wings through the length and breadth of the globe. They set new roots in the land that showed promise for a new and probably bright future. They imbibed the customs, mannerisms and language of their new domicile in return for the love and security that their new abode promised and provided.
I am proud of the fact that Sindhis, due to their perseverance and hard-work, survived. They succeeded by accommodating themselves to the way of life and customs of those who welcomed them. But in life, just as joy comes with sorrow, death comes with life and tears come with laughter; the triumphant Sindhis lost touch with their own culture, religion and language. As time passed by, it became increasingly difficult for International Sindhis to cling to their roots.
Interestingly however, the west is moving towards the east where spiritual knowledge is concerned. Hence there is a renewed interest amongst our youngsters in Hindu philosophy, yoga and occult matters. Proverbs project a way of thinking and of living. “Pahaakaas” as proverbs are known in Sindhi, were obviously coined by a thinker and readily accepted by the masses. Therefore my aim in compiling these Sindhi proverbs is an attempt to keep some contact with our roots, i.e. with Sindhi beliefs, with Sindhi wisdom and with a Sindhi way of life.
Putting together and presenting Sindhi proverbs is a difficult task for me to undertake considering that I left Sindh as a mere child, but as Sindhis’ say:
Andhan bi Multan ladhee
Which means that even the ‘blind’ could find the city of Multan. The above proverb implies that nothing is impossible if one sets ones heart and mind to accomplish a certain task.
Some proverbs are funny, some are nasty, some are educational. But all give us an insight into a Sindhi way of life. It is said that that what is painful to remember, we simply don’t forget. This pain kept ‘us’… the past generation remembering…and we do not want the children of the future to forget.