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Sindh and Its Sindhiyat – By Geet Chainani, M.D.

Sindh, the land of Sufis, the hope and ultimate destination of my quest!

The time I’ve spent in Sindh, Pakistan over the last year and a half has been life changing. It’s taught me much about the history of South Asia, the cultural heritage of Sindh,  our Sindhi brothers and sisters, the dynamics of the Muhajir- Sindhi relationship among a few things. But I believe these to be the more obvious lessons that every second generation removed Sindhi Indian American would also search for when they visit.

There’s been a deeper and much more personal journey involved for me as well: a spiritual one. I came to the land of Sufis to find myself with the hope to find my God as the grand triumph and ultimate destination of my quest.

I’ve learnt that I’m still learning and still looking. On this journey I’ve found beautiful hidden messages that I’ve read in books or inscribed on the walls of temples and Sufi durgahs:

Vasudeva Kutumbakam”

“Ekam sat viprah bahuda vedanti.”

“Satyam amritasya putrah”

To give pleasure to a single heart by a single kind act is better than bowing your head in prayer a thousand times. -Shaykh Sa’di


I believe not in the outer religion,

I live ever in love.

Say Amen! When love comes to you.

Love is neither with the infidels nor with the faithful.

– Sachal Sarmast


If you are seeking Allah,

Then keep clear of religious formalities.

Those who have seen Allah

Are away from all religions!

Those who do not see Allah here,

How will they see Him beyond?

– Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

My time in Sindh surrounded by Sindhi Muslims has shown me the other side of Sindh’s story and another side of Sufi Islam. The stories of the Sindhi who provided their Hindu counterparts their homes to hide out in during the violence that broke out, the Muslims that bid a final farewell to their Hindu friends with tears in their eyes, the Sindhis who still hold those memories close to their hearts and feel the loss of the Sindhi Hindus as something Sindh never recovered from.

On November 7, 2011 three Hindus were killed in Shikarpur district of Sindh, Pakistan. As many of you already know, I worked in Shikarpur at the start of my time in Sindh. I still maintain close contact with my co-workers. A member of my family also sits on the board of a Hindu association of Sindh. Here’s what I must say, as it is the other side of the truth that exists.

Immediately following the killings the religious (Hindu in this case) spokesperson jumped on the bandwagon to claim religious bias as a cause of the killing.  I turned to my personal network in Shikarpur for answers: there had been an election recently in which the Hindu community had supported the ruling party which won due to the large number of Hindu votes they received. The opposing party didn’t take their loss lightly and instead decided to teach a lesson to the opposite party. The end result of which was the death of the three Sindhi Hindu of whom only one was a doctor. Religious bias was not the reason for their death, politics was. Anyone who follows politics closely shouldnt be shocked to learn of the ways in which politicians use religion as a political strategy. As they say, ” The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

What followed next was an absolute uproar within the Sindhi community and an alternate backlash against the government for their inadequate response and towards Sindh warning all Sindhis that this type of violence and is anti Sindhiyat and will not be tolerated by the residents of Sindh. They further emphasized that Sindh is the land of Sufis and believes in living in a tolerant society. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend as I was in Islamabad on official business. A young activist was kind enough to send me pictures.

Following the killings thousands of Pakistanis, both Hindu and Muslim, gathered publically across Pakistan to stand against the death of the three victims and the inaccurate message of intolerance it displayed. There was also a hunger strike that followed.

Sayings in books thousands of years old that we claim as ours aren’t good enough. It is far more necessary to put those words to action and there is no better time than now. Hate only breeds hate. History is meant to learn from not to regurgitate. It’s wrong to paint today’s canvas with yesterday’s paint. When you reach into the paint jar you may end up with dried out, useless paint. This is perhaps why they say one should not live today in the past of yesterday.

No one is saying that the sentiments of the Hindu Sindhis are wrong. Anger for being removed from motherland and from  sacred river Sindhu is justified. But another truth follows suit: there’s a time for anger and then there’s a time to let go, to change and to move on.

Tides must turn. Peace must prevail.

Only then will their be prosperity in South Asia again.

Praying for peace

Reference reading:





Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mohandas Gandhi

To find out more or to support our work in Sindh, Pakistan please visit our website at www.thelifebridge.us


Life Bridge

Life Bridge is a registered nonprofit organization. Life Bridge Pakistan Trust, registered under the social welfare act of Pakistan. Life Bridge’s mission and message is one of peace and a brotherhood bound by humanity.

After having been raised in America, Dr. Geeta Chainani’s identity as a Sindhi brought her back to Pakistan in search of her family history. An unexpected twist of fate brought her face to face with what is now being termed as the “greatest natural disaster of our time” – the massive flooding that began on July 29, 2010.

After witnessing the great burden of disease whose victims mainly consisted of women and children Dr. Chainani decided to dedicate the rest of her trip to providing emergency medical care in two tent cities.

Confronted with the humanitarian crisis of “epic proportions” present following the floods and the Sindhi diaspora’s increasing interest in her work in Pakistan Dr. Chainani realized she was the only one to bridge this divide. Life Bridge was founded as that bridge, hence it’s name.

Since Sept 2, 2010, Dr. Chainani continues to provide life-saving services in the villages of rural Sindh. Together, Team Life Bridge US and Team Life Bridge Pakistan work to bridge the gaps in issues related to: Health, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Shelter, Food. For more visit » http://www.thelifebridge.us

Dr. Geeta Chainani to join panel at congressional briefing

– Dr. Geeta Chainani, Dr. Haider K. Nizamani, Dr. Louis Flam, Dr. Gul Agha to join panel at congressional briefing Hosted by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee in conjunction with the Congressional Sindh Caucus. Date/Time: October 13, 2:00p.m. – 4:00p.m. Place: Capitol, room HC-5.

Beginning in August, the monsoon season hit Pakistan and has come to devastate the province of Sindh. With over 5 million people affected, including 2 million homeless and hundreds dead, the people of Sindh remain in a precarious situation. With little aid and relief, the Sindhi people are suffering from diseases, loss of livelihood, and nowhere to go.Join us to learn more about the Sindh, who the people are, and most importantly, how the Sindh region plays a crucial part in the United States’ relationship with Pakistan and its security.


Dr. Geet: Yankee doctor, speaking Sindhi, in the flood zone of Sindh

– Dr. Geet: Yankee doc, speaking Sindhi, in the flood zone

SINDH : KARACHI — Dr. Geet Chainani is the young American dream I hadn’t counted on meeting in Pakistan this summer. She’s a Yank born in India, raised in New York City, trained as a medical doctor in the Caribbean. And for most of a year now she’s been treating families, especially children, in the tent cities of the flood waters of the Indus River, upstream from Karachi. When we met, almost by chance, my first thought was: this is an American vision to be shared — of the trans-nation at its best, at home in the world, our useful hands-on gifts being shared, as if it came naturally.

Geet Chainani grew up on Staten Island with a grandmother who told her “we were Sindhis first.” Meaning: master the Sindhi language early; think of yourself as a child of the world’s first big-city culture, at Mohenjo-daro, from 2600 B.C. Her grandparents were part of the vast Hindu migration out of Sindh to India in 1947, at the partition that created Pakistan. But Sindh was where Geet came looking for her roots a year ago — for the tombs of the Sufi saints and the world’s oldest plumbing. The first big shock was Pakistan’s devastation by immersion. The second, when she pitched herself into the emergency, was discovering, with mothers in distress, that knowing their language was as valuable as her medical training.

All that in a woman who sounds to us, as I said, so New York. “I am very New York!” she laughed. “Being American is the ground for the work I do — the fundamental belief that all men are created equal. In the Preamble, you know… People say to me now: so you picked Sindh, and you’re saving these people. I’m, like: No. It [SINDH] picked me. And they’re saving me.”

Courtesy: → RadioOpenSource

The above news adopted from Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, August 24, 2011.