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Berkeley Lectures On Sikhism - Book By Harbans Singh

Summary of 'Berkeley Lectures On Sikhism' By Harbans Singh

The recent tragic events in the Punjab have propelled Sikhism to the center of world atten­tion. The necessity of understanding this great religious tradition, its historical beginnings, and its contemporary expressions has been placed clearly before us. But concern with Sikhism comes not just from the recent tragedies at its great center in Amritsar or from its homeland in Punjab. It comes, rather, from the continued spread of Sikhs throughout the world. In Euro­pean cities, American suburbs, African villages, and Asian lands, Sikhs are to be found living out of their ancient faith with pride and confidence. The presence of these people around the world forces upon us the question of their identity, their faith, and their future. No one is better able to deal with these questions than Professor Harbans Singh. As a teacher and interpreter of the Sikh tradition and a leader of its people, Harbans Singh is uniquely qualified to tell their story. This he has done in brief compass in the Berkeley Lectures on Sikhism.

This book is, in effect, a historical primer on five hundred years of Sikhism from 1469-1969. Its three chapters have from 'The Beginnings" that tell the familiar story of Guru Nanak and the succession of gurus ending with Gobind Singh. The second chapter "Challenge and Response ( 1849-1873)" focuses on the response of Sikhism to the coming of not only the British Raj and the Christian mission but the beginnings of moder­nity in the homeland of the Sikhs. Chapter III 'The Creative Half-decade ( 1965-1969)" is a focus on the unique turning point in Sikh schol­arship and life that has allowed its dynamic entry into contemporary events.

The great historian of western religion, Adolf Von Harnack, once wrote that the task of the historian is to help us "overcome history by history." What Harnack meant was that as we come to know the historical sources of our life, we can overcome the limitations that our par­ticular time and place in history leave upon us. To be aware of the history of a great religious tradition is to be freed of the distractions and limitations in which a community may find itself at a particular moment. The long view frees us from the spiritual and ethical shortcomings that beset every community of faith. Whal Harbans Singh has helped us to do wt th lhe great Sikh tradition is to "overcome history by history." His vision of the origin and growth of Sikhism be­comes a means for pointing us through a time of trouble to the time of promise. History is not only the story of the challenge but of the response of our communities of faith. History speaks not only of tragedy and death but of life and new beginnings. This book is witness lo the hope that beyond the present is a future that comes fresh from the hand of the Eternal. 

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Berkeley Lectures On Sikhism - Book By Harbans Singh

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