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A History of The Sikhs (Set of 2 Volumes)

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Item Code: NAF630
Author: Khushwant Singh
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 9780195673081
Pages: 981 (29 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 980 gm
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Book Description
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Volume I: 1469 to 1839
Volume II: 1839 to 2004
This updated version of A History of the Sikhs provides a lucid and comprehensive account of the Sikhs from the fifteenth century to the present. The first volume trace the growth of Sikhism and the compilation of the sacred scriptures while the second covers the diverse aspects of Sikh identity and politics in colonial and recent times.

‘..the indispensable reference point for.. an historical ad sociological understanding of the Sikh condition.. these volumes are a tribute to [the] capacity for both a sympathetic and a balanced rendition of Sikh history.’

About The Author

Khushwant Singh a renowned journalist, is the author of several works of fiction, and an authority on Sikh history. A former editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India (1979-80), and the Hindustan Times (1980-3), he was Member of Parliament from 1980-6. He returned his Padma Bhushan, awarded in 1974, in protest against the Union Government's siege of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Preface (Volume – 1)

Ever since its publication in 1849, Captain Joseph Davey Cunningham’s History of the Sikhs has been considered the standard work on the religion and history of the Sikhs. Since then extensive research has been done on different aspects of Sikh history: large portions of their scriptures have been translated; records bearing on the building of the Sikh church and community have been unearthed; the founding of an independent Punjabi state under Sikh auspices and its collapse after the death of Ranjit Singh have been explained. However, no attempt has been made to revise Cunningham’s work in the light of these later researches; nor, what is more surprising, has any one under, taken to continue Cunningham’s narrative beyond the end of the First Sikh War and the partial annexation of the Punjab by the British in 1846.

This work is the first attempt to tell the story of the Sikhs from their inception to the present day. It is based on the study of original documents in Gurmukhi, Persian, and English, available in the archives and libraries of India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States. It also gives an account of the Sikh communities scattered in different parts of Malaya States, Burna, and South and East Africa-and of the way they are facing the challenge of modern times in alien surroundings.

The story of the Sikhs is the story of the rise, fulfillment, and collapse of Punjabi nationalism. It begins in the latter part of the 15th century with Guru Nank initiating a religious movement emphasizing what was common between Hinduism and Islam and preaching the unity of these two faiths practiced in the Punjab. By the beginning of the 17th century, the movement crystallized in the formation of a third religious community consisting of the disciples or sikhas of Nank and the succeeding teachers or gurus. Its mysticism found expression in the anthology of their sacred writings, the Adi Granth, comprised of ht writings of the Sikh gurus as well as of Hindu and Muslim saints. The next hundred years say the growth of a political movement alongside the religious, culminating in the call to arms by the last guru, Gobind Singh. Within a few years after the death of Gobind Singh, the peasants made the first attempt to liberate the Punjab from Mughal governors and kept the imperial armies at bay for a full seven years. Although Banda and his followers were ruthlessly slaughtered, the spark of rebellion that they had lighted smouldered beneath the ashes and burst in to flame again and again indifferent parts of the province. The period which followed witnessed a renewal of invasions of northern Indian by Aghan hordes led by Ahmed Shah Abdali, which gave a further impetus to the growth of Punjab nationalism. Peasants grouped themselves in bands (misls), harassed and ultimately expelled the invaders.

The movement achieved its consummation with the liberation of Lahore and the setting up of the first independent kingdom of the Punjab under Ranjit Singh in AD 1799- by a curious coincidence exactly one hundred years after Guru Gobind Singh’s call to arms (1699), just a little under two hundred years after the compilation of the Adi Granth (1604), and three hundred years after the proclamation of his mission by Guru Nanak (1499). Under Ranjit Singh, the Punjabis were able not only to turn the tide of invasion India, the Pathans and the Afghans, but also to make their power felt beyond the frontiers- northwards across the Himalayas; across the khyber into Afghanistan; in Baluchistan, Sindh, and in northern India as far as Oudh. The Sikhs became the spearhead of the nationalist movement which had gathered the parent communities within its fold. The achievements were those of all Punjabis alike, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. It was in the fitness of things that in the crowning successes of Punjabi arms, the men who represented the state were drawn from all communities. In the victory parade in Kabul in 1839(a few month after Ranjit Singh’s death) the man who bore the Sikh colours was colonel Basssawan, a Punjabi Mussalman. And the man who carried the Sikh flag across the Himalayas a year later was General Zorawar Singh, a Dogra Hindu.

This is the theme and substance of volume 1 and the first part of the projected second volume. The rest of the next volume will continue the narrative and describe how the nationalist movement, having run its course, began to peter out and finally collapsed in a clash of arms with the British in 1848-9. It will also recount how the Sikhs, who, within a couple of centuries of their birth, had evolved a faith, outlook, and way of life which gave them a semblance of nationhood, have had to fight against the forces of dissolution to preserve their identity. It will deal with the political and social movements that took place during British rule, the fate of the Sikhs in the partition of their homeland in 1947, their position in independent India, and the demand for an autonomous Punjabi state within the Indian union.

Preface (Volume-2)

The first volume of A History of the Sikhs dealt with the birth of Sikhism and the rise of the Sikhs to political dominance in the Punjab under Maharajah Ranjit Singh. This volume takes up the narrative from the death of the maharajah and brings it up to the present times. It is divided into five parts which deal respectively with the conflict with the English and the collapse of the Sikh kingdom, its consolidation as a part of Britain’s Indian empire, religious and sociological movements born under the impact of new conditions, the growth of political parties- nationalist, Marxist, and communal the fate of the Sikhs in the division of the Punjab, and the great exodus from Pakistan. It ends with the resettlement of the Sikhs in independent India and the establishment of a Panjabi-speaking state within the Union. The theme of volume I was the rise of Punjabi consciousness and the establishment of an independent Punjabi state under Sikh auspices. The theme of this volume is the Sikh struggle of r survival as a separate community. It started with resistance to British expansionism; it was continued as resistance against Muslim domination; and after independence, it turned to resistance against absorption by renascent Hinduism.

I wish to express my thanks to my friend, Satindra Singh of the Economic Tines for furnishing me unpublished material on cotemporary Sihkh affairs; to Major W. Short for guidance on Sikh politics during World II; to Gopal Das Khosla (one time chief justice of the Punjab High Court) for reading the manuscript; to Dr M. S. Randhawa for information on Sikh painting; to Mr J. H. Randhawa for information on Sikh painting; to Mr J. H. McIlwaine and MRs Rimington of the India Office Library for assistance in compiling the bibliography; and to Miss YOvonne Le Rougetel, who collaborated with me in the research and writing of both the volumes. I would also like to place on record my gratitude to the Rockefeller Foundation and to the Muslim University, Aligarh, for allowing me to continue and complete this work.

For the revised paperback edition I acknowledge assistance given by Satindra Singh of the Economic Times an Rajinder Singh Bhatia, Editor of qaumi Ekta.


Preface to the Second Edition vii
Preface to the Second Edition viii
Acknowledgments x
Part I The Punjab and the Birth of Sikhism
1 The Sikh Homeland 16
Birth of Sikhism 46
Building of the Sikh Church 60
The Call to Arms 73
From the Pacifist Sikh to the Militant Khalsa
Part II. The Agrarian Uprising 97
6 The Rise and Fall of Banda Bahadur 115
Ahmed Shah Abdali a n the Sikhs 126
From the Indus to the Ganges 162
Part III. Punjab Monarchy and Imperialism
10 Rise of the Sukerchakia Misl 179
11 Maharajah of the Punjab 188
12 Suzerain of Malwa 202
13 British Annexation of Malwa: Treaty of Lahoree, 1809 211
14 Consolidation of the Punjab 224
15 Extinction of Afgahn power in Northern India 238
16 Europeanization of the Army 250
17 Dreams of Sindh and the Sea 259
18 Across t eh Himalayas to Tibet 269
Part IV. Appendices
Appendix 1 Janamaskhis and other sources of information on the life of Guru Nanak 289
Appendix 2 Adi granth or the Granth Sahib 294
Appendix 3 Bhai Gurdas 299
Appendix 4Dasam Granth 302
Appendix 5Hymns from the Adi Granth 307
Appendix 6 Treaty of Lahore, 1809 362
Appendix 7 Tripartite Treaty of 1838 364
Bibliography 369
Northern India at the Birth of Ranjit Singh, 1780 178
the Punjab in 1809 210
Northern India at the Death of Ranjit Singh 1839 280
Contents of Volumes II
Preface to the Second Edition VII
Acknowledgments IX
Part I Fall Of The Sikh Kingdom X
1 The Punjab on the Death of Ranjit Singh 3
2 First Anglo-Sikh War 39
3 The Punjab Under British Occupation 54
4 Second Anglo-Sikh War 66
Part - II Consolidation of British Power IN The Punjab
5 Annexation of the Punjab 85
6 Sikhs and the Mutiny of 1857 98
7 Crescate e Fluviis 116
Part III Social And Religious Reform
8 Religious Movements 123
9 Singh Sabha and Social Reform 136
Part IV Political Movements: Marxist, National, and Sectarian
10 Rural Indebtedness and Peasant Agitation 151
11 World War I and its Aftermath 160
12 Xenophobic Marxism 168
13 Gurdwara Reform: Rise of the Akali Immortals 193
14 Constitutional Reforms and the Sikhs 216
Part V: Politics of Partition: Independence And The Demand For A Sikh Homeland
15 Sikhs and World War II (1939-45) 237
16 Prelude to the Partition of India 252
17 Civil Strife, Exodus, and Resettlement 262
18 A State of The Own 286
19 Prosperity and Religious Fundamentalism 315
20 The Anandpur Sahib Resolution and Other Akali Demands 337
21 Fatal Miscalculation 351
22 Assassination and After 373
23 Elections and the Accord 385
24 Foreign Connections and Khalistan 402
Epilogue 410
Part VI Appendices
Appendix 1 Cultural Heritage of the Sikhs 441
Appendix 2 Treaty Between the British Government and the State of Lahore, 9 March 1846 457
Appendix 3 Articles of Agreement Concluded Between the British Government and the Lahore Durbar on 11 December 1846 462
Appendix 4 Articles of Agreement Concluded Between the British Government and the Lahore Durbar on 16 December 1846 465
Appendix 5 Mr Suhrawardy's Statement on the Riots, 30 September 1946 469
Appendix 6 Anadpur Sahib Resolution 471
Appendix 7 Revised List of 15 Demands Received from the Akali dAl by the Government, in October 1981 479
Appendix 8 Key People in Punjab Politics 481
Bibliography 485
Index 511
**Sample Pages**

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