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A Scholarly Bouquet


Jean-Marie Lafont

FIVE CENTURIES OF SIKH TRADITION: IDEOLOGY, SOCIETY, POLITICS AND CULTURE--ESSAYS FOR INDU BANGA, VOLUME II
Edited by Reeta Grewal and Sheena Pall
Manohar, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 391, Rs. 975.00

VOLUME XXXI NUMBER 8 August 2007

Friends and admirers of Indu Banga have come together to offer her a ‘bouquet’ of scholarly articles as a homage for her contribution to the history of India and the history of Punjab. Reeta Grewal and Sheena Pall in 2005 published these articles in two volumes.   The volume under review has the subtitle of Ideology, Society, Politics and Culture. It starts with a homage by Sheena Pall to ‘Indu Banga the Historian’, followed by Indu’s bibliography. The book contains 13 chapters followed by a glossary, a bibliography, an index and the list of contributors. They cover a whole range of questions from the origin of the Sikh faith to the impact of overseas remittance in the life of Punjabi cities and villages today.   J.S, Grewal, with his usual erudition and deep understanding of political and psychological events, opens the volume under review with a presentation of ‘The foundations of the Sikh faith’ in which he shows the peculiarity of Guru Nanak Dev’s message and how it differs from other philosophers or religious reformers of his time, Kabir for example, reminding us that Guru Nanak created the main institutions which today regulate the life of the Sikh community. Grewal’s second study titled ‘Sikh Identity and the Issue of Khalistan’ comes practically towards the end of the volume (chapter 12), and must be read carefully for a better understanding of what happened and what is happening in Punjab in connection with the Akali movement and its relations with the Centre. These two studies give the lead for the volume. In between, we read with pleasure Karamjit Malhotra’s chapter on ‘The Earliest Manual of the Sikh Way of life’ presenting the Nasihatnama kept in the GND University, and Iqtidar Alam Khan’s study on the ‘Martial and Political Culture of the Khalsa’ which deals with the question of Sikh-Muslim relations from Akbar to Aurangzeb, from Guru Arjan and Guru Hargovind to Guru Govind Singh and the foundation of the Khalsa.   Then there is a jump in the studies, after the chapter by B.N. Goswamy on ‘Sikh patronage of Painting’ (chapter 4) to which we shall return later, to British India (chapters 5 to 10). Anurupita Kaur’s analysis of the evolution of the Sikh community through the various Census Reports, from 1868 to 1901, is a refreshing study through official statistics on the way the Sikhs identified themselves as such after Annexation and how the ...


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