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The Sikhs - Book By Patwant Singh

Table Of Contents For 'The Sikhs' By Patwant Singh




Page No
  Illustrations ix
  Maps xi
  Acknowledgements xii
  Preface xiv
1 THE GURUS OF THE FAITH (1469-1708) 16
3 EMPIRE OF THE SIKHS (1801-1839) 101
4 GRIEVOUS BETRAYALS (1839-18490 141
6 VIOLENCE AND VENALITY (1947 to the present) 215
  Notes 263
  Further Reading 284
  Index 289


Introduction To The Book Of 'The Sikhs' By Patwant Singh

When he founded the Siikh faith over five hundred years ago, Guru Nanak sought a more humane direction for a subcontinent wracked by the centuries of continuous warfare. Sikhism grew out of the basic compassion of Hinduism and the essential brotherhood of Islam. But it incurred the wrath of both Hindus and Muslims. Because it rejected intolerance of other faiths, as also the caste system and idol worship. It insisted on treating all people as equal, and enjoined complete equality between men and women.

Patwant Singh tells the stirring story of how a movement of peace transformed itself, of necessity, into a community which placed military values along side spiritual, the Sikh soldier becoming the envy of every nation's army. How in 1699 the tenth and last Guru, Gobind Singh, founded the fellowship of the Khalsa at Anandpur; a move which would define every Sikh by a distinctive code of personal appearance, dress and conduct. How Guru Gobind Singh's inspiring leadership led to a succession of spectacular and daring conquests after him, which sowed the seeds of a Sikh State. How the elightened ruler Ranjit Singh fulfilled that promise by founding a Sikh empire.

The author's compelling account takes the reader through centuries of trials, triumphs and tribulations, upto the present time.It is by  far the most comprehensive study of the origins and traditions and beliefs of an exceptional people. And the story is told with the rare skill and mastery of the subject.


Preface To The Book Of 'The Sikhs' By Patwant Singh

'Do you have any particular reason for writing this book?' a friend asked me when I started work on it. I told him I had a compelling desire to tell the stirring story of a people and a faith to which I belong myself, and which have been the source of lifelong inspiration to me. The full story of the Sikhs, I felt needed telling, from the emergence of Sikhism just over 500 years ago up to the present time. It was necessary, I felt, for people to know something of the conditions in which Sikhism originated and everything Sikhs have experienced since then: the invastions and inequisitions, triumphs and tragedies, piety and sense of divine purpose, devotion and depravities, loyalties and betrayls, courage and convictions. I saw a clear need to choronicle  all these. But why at this particular time?

Because the systematic disinformation compaign about current events crafted by succesive Indian administrations from the 1970's onwards really ought to be placed in perspective. Although the  mandarins of modern India percipitated the most dangerous crisis the Republic has faced in the first fifty years of its existence, which was largely due to their short -sighted and unstatementslike moves with regard to Sikh sensibilities, the Sikhs were held responsible. The distortions needs to be corrected. Since Sikhs now live in the farthest corners of the world, a need also exist for people of those countries to know something of the history, traditions and beliefs of the new arrivals in their midst.

Prone as it is to religious chauvinism, Indian society has to realize that it is an incomparably rich though fragile mosaic of cultures, creeds and customs. An appreciation of its own fragility is essential if this society is not to fragment. I am sad to see little such realization at the present time. A country of huge size and wealth of human talent and natural resources is still bedevilled by religious and caste rivalries which continue in impede its progress and stability. For this reason alone, India's future will remain uncertain so long as its political leaderships keep fulling religious hate and using caste divisions to dominate each other.

It has been suggested- all too frequently- that the caste system's 'integrative' and ideological dimensions have enabled Hindu society to survive and respond to many challenges. Possibly. On the other hand, caste distinctions have  also created debilitating divisions which work against a collective sense of national purpose. To illustrate this point I have provided, in the prologue to this book, a backdrop against which the evoution of Sikh thought should be viewed. Nothing happens in isolation from preceding events, and there is a recognizable historical pattern in the drama unfolding in India today, especially in relation to the 'ethos of separateness' that is reflected in segments of Indian society.

I have always admired the range,depth and quality of Brahminical scholarship, and its contribution to philosophical and metaphysical understanding. If I sound critical of Brahmins at times, its with regard to their role in keeping large segments of India's population out of their own exclusive domain of privilege and power. I have at no time experienced such exclusion myself, but I have never aspired to political power or public position. As an observer of India's social and political scene, however, who has also read a great deal about his country and its people, I am convinced that it is not the quality of our people but the lack of vision and political wisdom of their leaders that has been responsible for humiliations past and present.

By refusing to learn from the past - or the present - we  indians continue to injure ourselves grievously. This is especially regrettable at a time when large new power blocs, driven by an acute awareness of their ownself-interest, are emerging around the globe. It will be a monumental tragedy if a myopic India continues to follow its divisive policies and practices, and falls behind in the international contest for prestige, power and influence.

If an energetic and vital community like that of the Sikhs is irretrievably estranged, modern India as a whole - and not merely a handful of politicians in power who are causing the damage - will suffer. India will be pushed back into the medieval times for which it is still trying to extricate itself.

This book is written in the hope that those who lead India will be able to avoid past follies and adopt less self - destructive and more pragamatic policies in the future. Only then will they able to honour the social contract with Indians of every background and persuasion. There is, in fact no other option open.


From The Backcover Of 'The Sikhs' By Patwant Singh

"its indeed an unusual book of history, perceptive, painstakingly analytical, bold, forthright,"

Patwant Singh Marshalls 500 years of history, with astonishing clarity and ease. It's a fascinating chronicle of a courageous, resilient and colourful people",

"If one were serious about reading an authentic history of the Sikhs, he or she is advised to... get a copy of Patwant Singh's passionately written and sensitively handled masterpiece on the theme."

Mr. Singh has written an impassioned book about his people. It is a history book and portrait of a people written by a man whose mastry of sikh history and scripture cannot be questioned."

"An enjoyable, informative and rewarding book."

this ambitious and scholarly work...(is) bracing to read, offering as it does, a crash course in a religion and culture that may be less than familiar to many readers."

Author Patwant Singh
Pages 312
Cover Paperback
Language English

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The Sikhs - Book By Patwant Singh

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