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Preface To 'A Short History Of The Sikhs' By Ganda Singh & Teja Singh
In a way, this is the first attempt to write a history of the Sikhs from a secular stand-point, to show how the foundations of their character were laid by their Gurus, who were their temporal as well as spiritual guides, how their political institutions grew out of their religious origins and national needs, how suffering intensified their character and moulded their national aim, which was nothing less than the deliverance of their country from the grip of the foreigner, and how the Sikh cause, which was the country's cause, triumphed after a severe and patient struggle extending over a century and ultimately gave the Sikhs the sovereignty of the Panjab. The whole movement was gradual and at no stage was there any sudden or uncalled for departure from the original aim. The character thus developed was also not one-sided-peaceful and saintly turned into something 'worldly' or, as propagandists taking their cue from western writers call it, 'military'. But it was harmonious and many-sided the result of a happy alternation of severe climates, fertile land and plenty of water, a due mixture of various races and their enriching cultures. It is true that the Sikhs have been very good fighters. But they have equally shone as farmers, carpenters, artisans, engineers, doctors, merchants, poets and painters. Common sense and hard thinking rather than mystical fervour or religious obscurantism has been their distinctive trait.
The material we have employed is taken mainly from original sources, and second-hand or later authorities are quoted only in support of earlier ones. For example, the Holy Granth as a source-book has been drawn upon more widely than ever before, and the implications of its texts are brought out more intimately than could be expected from those whose knowledge of Sikh scriptures is only second-hand.
The main source-material used for the period of Sikh-Muslim clash is the Persian books many of which were evidently written to order by Muslim partisans with the object of showing up the liberators of the Panjab as mere marauders and incendiaries. Their fanaticism is clearly betrayed by their habitual use of still more disparaging and vituperative terms which, unfortunately, some of the Hindu writers, like Budh Singh, the author of Haqiqat, meekly echo. While these source-books are indispensable in the absence of any dispassionate or objective records, they need all the same to be used with discrimination.
The translators of these books into English still further distorted the truth. With a gross inexactitude, which appears almost purposeful at times, they twisted the text or interpolated passages in translation for which there was no authority in the original. Some of these errors we have pointed out in these pages. They require to be amended properly, or the whole work should be done over again by someone more dispassionate or better acquainted with the Persian texts. Of the histories by Sikhs we have preferred the earlier versions, such as those by Kesar Singh and Rattan Singh, and have used Santokh Singh and Gyan Singh very sparingly. In the matters connected with Patiala, we have not ignored the very reliable material supplied by Sardar Karam Singh.
In dealing with the whole story of the Sikhs and their life-and-death struggle against social and political tyranny, we have put down nothing in over-praise or malice. We have tried to be just and impartial and leave the result to be judged by just andimpartial readers.
|Author||Ganda Singh , Teja Singh|
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