Monday, November 23, 2015

Present day Sikh History & Sikh Identity is a Colonial Narrative. Created by the British & SGPC

Guru Nanak  (20 August 1507 - 22 September 1539)
Guru Angad  (7 September 1539 - 29 March 1552)
Guru Amar Das  (26 March 1552 - 1 September 1574)
Guru Ram Das  (1 September 1574 - 1 September 1581)
Guru Arjan  (1 September 1581 - 30 May 1606)
Guru Har Gobind  (25 May 1606 - 28 February 1644)
Guru Har Rai  (3 March 1644 - 6 October 1661)
Guru Har Krishan  (6 October 1661 - 30 March 1664)
Guru Tegh Bahadur  (20 March 1665 - 11 November 1675)
Guru Gobind Singh  (11 November 1675 - 7 October 1708)
Guru Granth Sahib  (7 October 1708 - PRESENT)

Banda Singh Bahadur  (1708–1716)
Nawab Kapur Singh  (1733–1753)  -
organizer of the Sikh Confederacy and the Dal Khalsa 
Sikh Misls (1621–1857)  = regional leaders/regionalism (united but unorganized until 1759)
Sikh Confederacy  (1759 – 1799)
Sikh Empire (
1799 -1849)  = formed by Ranjit Singh (d.1839)
Kharak Singh (June 1839–October 1839)
Nau Nihal Singh (October 1839–November 1840)
Chand Kaur  (
December (1840 – January 1841)
Sher Singh  (
January 1841–September 1843)
Duleep Singh (
Anglo-Sikh War   (1845-1846)
Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-1849)
Known as the North-West Frontier Province by the East India Company (1849-1858)
British Raj  (1858-1947)
Indian Independence (1947)


Nirankari Movement -originated in Rawalpindi in the northwest region of the Punjab during the latter years of the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The sect was founded by Baba Dyal Singh (1783-1855), a Sahajdhari Sikh and bullion merchant. His successor, Baba Darbar Singh, established many centers beyond Rawalpindi and wrote about the essential teachings of Baba Dayal. By the time of the third successor, Sahib Rattaji (1870-1909), they numbered in the thousands and some became involved in the Singh Sabha Movement under the fourth successor Baba Gurdit Singh. However because their emphasis was largely upon Guru Nanak Dev's message, and the times were dominated by Singh Sabha Sikhs emphasizing Guru Gobind Singh's Khalsa, the movement became marginalized. Under the British Raj the Nirankaris were further sidelined. In the twentieth century, an offshoot of the group became the Sant Nirankari Mission, which severed away from the main Nirankari movement in 1929 for their belief in a living Guru (after the Guru Granth Sahib), and has since developed into a distinct spiritual movement.  

Nimdhari Movement -are a sect of Sikhism. The main difference between Namdhari Sikhs and mainstream Sikhs is their belief in Jagjit Singh as their living Guru (as opposed to the Guru Granth Sahib, the present Guru of Sikhs). Other differences include being: strict vegetarians; placing equal importance between the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth, the holy book written by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Namdhari Sikhs believe fully in all Sikh gurus from Guru Nanak Dev onwards and respect both Sri Aad and Dasam Guru's Granth Sahibs equally. Namdharis believe that Gobind Singh lived for 146 years (1666–1812), eventually bestowing the succession on Balak Singh of Hazro in 1812. Thus, Balak Singh became the 1st Namdhari Leader for the Namdharis. His successor, the 2nd Namdhari Leader, Ram Singh (1816–1885), is revered in the Namdhari sect as arguably the most important Guru. His status in the Namdhari sect is similar to that of Guru Nanak Dev in mainstream Sikhism. Although he was exiled from India by the then British rulers in 1872, every Namdhari believes that he is still alive and will soon return to lead the Namdharis. The 3rd Namdhari Leader was Hari Singh (1819–1906) who passed on the leadership to Partap Singh (1890–1959). At present, Jagjit Singh is the leader of the Namdharis. He was born in 1920, attained leadership in 1959 and died on the 13th of December 2012. The new leader is Thakur Uday Singh.

Mughal Empire – (1606-1799)
Durrani Empire (Afghan-Sikh) –(1813, 1818, 1819, 1823, 1837)
Anglo-Sikh Wars – (1845-46), (1848-49)

Indian Mutiny of 1857 (also known as India’s 1st War of Independence and The Great Rebellion) 
The Sikhs and Gurkhas siding with the British to put down the rebellion determined the outcome of the event and influenced Indian history.  It resulted in the dissolution of the East Indian Company and in turn allowed the British Indian Empire to be formed controlling all of India.  The Crown and British Raj governed Indian until Indian independence in 1947.  Many historians believe Sikhs sided with the British in order to get revenge since many of those that rebelled against the British were the same regions and groups which had helped the British bring down the Sikh Empire during the Anglo-Sikh wars only a decade previously.


Adi Granth  This is short for Adi Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the foremost Sikh scripture revered as the Eternal Guru.

Akalis (armed Sikh irregulars) -"Akalees or Immortals.  Sikh religious devotees, being very wild in appearance and turbulent characters. They formerly were largely employed in the Sikh armies and were often remarkable for acts of desperate courage, but their license renders them formidable to any regular Government and Ranjeet Singh gradually reduced their numbers, and broke their power by distributing them in small companies among his disciplined battalion.  Their blue dresses, their high-peaked turbans, the rings of steel, which they wear as the peculiar emblems of their devotion to the first great military leader of the Sikhs Guru Govind, and the profusion and variety of their arms make them very picturesque objects."

Akal Takht – Throne of the immortal; the highest seat of temporal power situated in Amritsar directly opposite the Golden Temple. It was once the base of the Akali-Nihangs.

Nihang – The entire Sikh community were militarized to form an army of Nihangs in the late 17thcentury by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Amrit sanchar – The ceremony within which an individual is initiated into the Khalsa.

Anadpuri Dasam Granth – This refers to the Dasam Granth that was located in Anadpur Sahib and is an original copy from the court of Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Anand Karaj – The wedding ceremony that was originally created by the Nirankaris in the 1880s. It was eventually legitimized by the British authorities in 1909.

Arya Samaj – A Hindu reform movement that was founded in 1875.

Avatars – This refers to the numerous demi-gods and demi-goddesses that are nowadays thought to belong exclusively to the Hindu tradition. However, all Sikh scripture, including the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, refer to numerous avatars. 

Baba Santa Singh Ji – The 13th leader of the Nihangs who sadly passed away in 2008 after being poisoned by the Indian government.

Buddha Dal – This literally translates to veteran army; the informal name given to Guru HarGobind Ji’s Nihang army in honour of Baba Buddha Sahib Ji, a revered Sikh who first trained its warriors.

Chatka – To kill with a single blow; refers to the practice of using a sword to decapitate an animal a offering to the guardian of righteousness, Chandi or Chandika. This tradition is still maintained by the Nihangs.

Dasam Ganth – The compositions of Guru Gobind Singh Ji compiled by Bhai Mani Singh Ji. Although revered by Sikh traditionalists as scripture equal to the Adi Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Sikh revisionists such as the Singh Sabha disdain it. It is placed on par with the Adi Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji in any Nihang encampment.

Degh  The name given to the Nihang’s traditional consecrated drink. It is made by grinding almonds, black pepper, cardammon seeds, cannabis leaves and other ingredients in a mortar and pestle. The juices are extracted and mixed with water or milk to produce shaheedi degh, the martyrs drink. If sugar is added, it is dedicated to Hindu-Sikh martyrs. It unsweetened, it is dedicated to the loyal Muslims who died fighting for the Guru. It is still practiced widely amongst Nihangs.

Durbar – Royal court, in the context of the Guru’s court, it refers to the innermost area of a shrine which worshippers can enter and pay their respects.

Granthis – The reader of a granth; title given to the individual who recites from the scriptures

Granths - Book

Gurdwara – Guru’s gate; a place of worship, which, at a minimum, houses the Adi Siri Guru
Granth Sahib Ji.

Guru – Darkness into light; a respectful title for a teacher or spiritual guide.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji – The tenth Guru of the Sikhs

Guru Nanak Dev Ji – The first Guru of the Sikhs

Haavan – Ritual fire offering; in early Sikh tradition, such offerings were made of decapitated goats and oxen in dedication to Chandi.

Ham Hindu Nahin – “We are not Hindu”

Hinduism – The modern Hindu religion

“Ik onkar” – The first symbol of the Adi Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji


Khalsa – Pure; this term was used to signify the Sikhs loyal to the Guru.

Khalsa Akbar – One of the many newspapers that were created by the Singh Sabha

Khanda – This often refers to the modern symbol of the Sikhs. However, it can also refer to a double edged sword

Maha-Kal – Great Death; the fiercest form of Shiva and the chief inspiration of marital technique and adoration of Nihangs

Nanakpanthi – Followers of Guru Nanak Dev Ji within the old Sikh tradition

Nirmalas – They were specialist scholars and educationalists among the Sikh community and were, therefore, typically well versed in several languages, religious texts, and philosophies.

Panj kakar – The 5 symbols that are always on the person of a Khalsa Sikh. They are Kesh (unshorn hair), Kara (steel bracelet), Kirpan (sword), Kachera (breeches) and Kanga (comb).

Panth – Designates a group following particular teachers or doctrines

“Relegare” – The concept of preserving ancestral traditions as defined by Cicero.

“Reliagre” – Meaning to bind, typically to bind to God defined by Lactantius .

Sarbloh Granth – The work of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It was removed by the Singh Sabha movement but still to this day the Nihang’s place it beside the Adi Granth and Dasam Granth

Sewapanthis – They are known for their close ties with Muslim communities and indiscriminate supply of free medicine and medical care. They were established by Bhai Kanheya Lal in 1704.

S.G.P.C. – The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, it was established by the British through the passing of the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925.

Shiv – The destructive aspect of the Formless Supreme Being; the primordial Indian deity and archetypal shaman who later became revered by the Nihangs as the primordial grandmaster of martial arts. In the Sarbloh Granth, Guru Gobind Singh Ji refers to the form of his Khalsa as being in the form of Shiv.

Sikh – Literally translates to ‘learner.’ However, it also designates the followers of the Gurus.

Sikh Panth – A group of Sikhs following a particular path

Sikhi – This is in reference to the older Sikh tradition that existed in its entirety prior to the Singh Sabha and the British Raj.

Sikhism – This is the modern religion that advocates the belief in One God and poses a homogeneous Sikh identity.

Singh Sabha – The reformist movement of the 19th century.

Sodhi Bhan Singh – A descendent of Siri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Tilak – A mark worn on the forehead that signifies the third eye. This is often seen as a sign of enlightenment.

Trisul – The three pronged trident of Shiv Ji.

Udhasis – Followers of the Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s son, Baba Siri Chand. These were the detached ascetics.


           For three hundred years of colorful Sikh history, an all-encompassing definition of a Sikh had not been generated.  However, the hundred years succeeding 1849, under British rule, saw the intentional creation of Sikh identity formed. During that century, there was a systematic undermining of earlier Sikh traditions and practices. At the same time, a reformatory movement grew in response to colonial influences and internal disorder. The Singh Sabha movement supplied the definition of a Sikh within three decades changing Sikh identity forever.  Prior to the British Raj, the Sikh Panth united in its devotion to the Gurus and Sikhs, occupied diverse cultural locations and articulated a multiplicity of identities. One of the main impacts on Sikh identity during the British period has its origins in the history and etymology of religion.
           In the 3rdcentury, Lactantius, an early Christian author, defined religion according to the Latin term “reliagre”, as meaning “to bind”. This was by far the most significant of all the ancient definitions of religion as it is this Hellenistic Christian transformation of the term “religio” which meant “obligation” which influenced the way one perceived religion and religious life. This minor alteration in terms will significantly help in our understanding of the way in which the concept of religion was used to help mold Sikh identity.  The shifting of religion as a definition to a matter of adherence to particular doctrines or beliefs rather than the preservation of ancestral traditions altered the way of life for many cultures. 
          As a result of the Singh Sabha reformation movement, the focus of Sikh thought was shifted from orthopraxy (correct practice) to orthodoxy (correct belief). In short, the Singh Sabha movement transformed a spiritual path into a religion. Constructing a Christianized model of religion that strongly emphasizes theist belief and creates a dualism, a fundamental difference, between the human world and the transcendent world of the divine, was something not present within Sikh thought prior to 1849. For instance, it was the incorrect translation of “ik onkar” as ‘there is one God,’ by Ernest Trumpp in 1877 that injected the notion of God, in an Abrahamic sense, into Sikh thought which consequently created a paradigm of theist belief and a division between the human world and the transcendent world. 
           Trumpp’s understanding of “ik onkar” was heavily influenced  by Rene Descartes. Descartes deduced, via analogy, that there was no doubt of God’s existence because the very thought of ‘Godness’ is something that could not be conceived out of a human mind as the concept of God is too perfect. Therefore, the grounding for Cartesian certainty is located within the human mind. Descartes argues from his own identity and then projects this same kind of methodological skepticism towards postulating the existence of a God. Trumpp takes this understanding and uses this to understand the Adi Guru Granth Sahib Ji. As a result Trumpp creates a distance between ‘God’ and the individual. N.G Barrier indicated that Trumpp’s unapologetic dismissal of Guru Nanak Dev Ji had an influential effect on Sikh mentalities. The publication of Trumpp’s text provided a call to the emerging intelligentsia to protect and respond to the attacks from foreign powers. It was this emerging intelligentsia that would provide the driving force for the Singh Sabha movement. This in itself is not the problem; the problem was that the Singh Sabha movements responded to the external pressures to define who they were within the definitions, lexis, and terminology that the British had defined rather than deconstructing these notions and re-constructing them upon their own grounds
           A traditional translation of “ik onkar” would deduce that the term “onkar” is the experiential unfolding of existence, experienced subjectively and observed objectively in a number of ways. Before the beginning, the “Ik”, which is representative of absolute reality, was one and non-dual. It desired to manifest itself, through, "I am only one - may I become many."  This was the primal cause of creation through an unstruck vibration which eventually became sound (struck vibration), and this sound is “Om” or “Ong’ (pronounced 'AUM'). Through this primal sound vibration, existence began to manifest as a continuum, a wave of creation, sustainment, and destruction.  The suffix "kar" (form), represents this infinite continuum.  Furthermore, “ik onkar” represents the four states of all manifested creation. These are creation, preservation, destruction, and re-birth. This applies to both those which manifests in time, such as thoughts and subjective experience, just as much all that manifests in time and space, including the Universe itself. “Onkar” also represents the four states of the Consciousness.  The three sounds in “Om” (A-U-M)  represent “jagrat”, “swapna”, and ‘sushupti’. The last state, “turiya”, is the pure awareness within which all three states are contained. The mis-translation of the term “ik onkar” is just one of the fundamental differences between “Sikhi” and “Sikh-ism’. 
           Another important difference was that “Sikhi” viewed the Adi Granth, the Dasam Granth, and the Sarbloh Granth at par. However, Singh Sabha leadership, in response to the mis-translation of the Adi Granth by Trumpp, was to alter this equilibrium radicallyThe Dasam Granth, which enshrined the practices of Sikhi, such as 'dheg', 'chatka', and respect toward 'Chandi Ma', were gradually eased out of everyday Sikh traditions, partly in order to heighten the importance of the Adi Granth. By the early 20th century, the Dasam Granth no longer enjoyed the textual hegemony it once enjoyed. By withdrawing the Dasam Granth from religious circulation and the standardization of the Adi Granth (as a result of the printing press and the influence of Teja Singh Bhasauria) the message being driven home was simple and straightforward: the metaphysical and cultural assumptions of “Sikhi’ as sanctioned by the Dasam Ganth, such as the strong belief in the role of avatars, conceptions of the divine in feminine terms, and the consumption of cannabis in order to connect to existence were no longer permissible. Furthermore, it ensured the purge of the heterogeneous nature of “Sikhi’, and ensured the central role of just the Adi Granth therefore paving the road for the Singh Sabha Movement to create life-cycle rituals that were to help define a Sikh within the Singh Sabha mind frame. This consequently helped to create the Sikh religion known as Sikhism presently.
           The creation of Sikhism was part of the trend that took place during the 19th century in the West when western scholars added the suffix, ‘-ism,’ to the names of numerous spiritual orders. As a result of P.J Marshall’s and Romila Thapar’s examination of the production of the category of Hinduism, Oberoi notes that Europeans tended to construct images of Indian religions in the mold of Christianity, stressing that the ‘-isms,’ –Hinduism and Sikhism – were largely the product of the European intellectual frameworks of the late Enlightenment. In addition, within most Indian languages such as Punjabi, Urdu, and Hindi there is no noun for religion as signifying a single uniform and homogenized community of believers. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis dictates that the structure of language affects the ways in which its speakers conceptualize the world. Therefore, we can deduce that the construction and introduction of a religion, in this case Sikhism, into a society that did not posses such a noun created something far from what originally existed.
           At first, this simple change of lexis, “Sikhi” to “Sikhism”, may be seen as two different names for the same tradition. However, this is not the case for it was Sikh reformers in the 19th and 20th centuries who, for the first time ever, labeled many practices and certain forms of Sikh identity, that were accepted under “Sikhi”, as unacceptable. However, to be able to understand what it exactly was that the Singh Sabha Movement edited and reformed we have to look at some of the very first European accounts of the Sikhs and early Sikh art. This is because it is here that we are met with deviations from what is today accepted as the doctrines of the Sikhs, as established by the Singh Sabha Movement. However, we must bear in mind that many European observers of the Sikhs were far more occupied with following the conventions established by Orientalism scholarship in India rather than documenting the behavior of the practitioners. The accounts provided by European observers were used by the Singh Sabha movement to endorse their opinion that “Sikhi” was deviating from what they deemed to be the ideal state of Sikhism.  For example, in a 19th century cover to a Guru Granth Sahib Ji manuscript, commissioned by the Sraddha family, the direct decedents of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, created by Miha Singh of Kashmir depicts a twelve-petalled lotus. At the centre of this lotus is Sodhi Bhan Singh worshipping Maha-Kal and Maha-Kali. The Gurus with their wives and children are shown in the ten petals surrounding and the two remain petals house ancestral figures in the Sodhi’s guru-lineage. However, what is interesting to note is not just the depiction of Maha-Kal and Maha-Kali, which are today seen as belonging to Hinduism, but also the tilak that is adorned on the heads of each Guru. This image is completely alien from modern day depictions of the Sikh Gurus, in which the individuals are all shown to be saint like in appearance, eyes closed, and certainly not bearing the tilak. The difference in art is just but one way of tracing the impact that the Singh Sabha movement had on Sikh identity. For art mirrored the practices and accepted norms of the Sikh tradition and as these traditions changed, so too did Sikh art.
           Furthermore, Lieutenant Colonel James Browne writes in 1788 in his treatise to John Motteux, the chairman of the East India company, about numerous different types of Sikhs, describing degh-drinking, martially orientated Akali-Nihang Sikhs, and the more aesthetic Nanakpanthi Sikhs. This is but one of the many accounts that illustrates the heterogeneous nature of the Sikhs. Yet, it was the British fascination of census’s that, to an extent, helped to fuel the Singh Sabha’s fetish with creating a homogeneous identity for the Sikhs. For example, during the 1891 census of Punjab, some 1,344,862 Sikhs declared themselves to be Hindu. Furthermore, in the census report provided by Russel Robert Vane, “Sikhi” was seen as nothing more than a Hindu sect. It was the pressure exerted by the British and the assimilative forces of Hindu groups such as the Arya Samaj, who extensively campaigned with various means to illustrate that Sikhs were a sub-category of the Hindu faith, that caused the creation of a reformatory movement that helped push toward a homogeneous Sikh identity. This battle against assimilative Hindu forces has been immortalized in the words of Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha, a Singh Sabha Sikh scholar, who proclaimed through a vernacular tract that, “Ham Hindu Nahin”. It was these four words that added to what was essentially the basis of the Singh Sabha movement. 
           Another reason for why the Singh Sabha movement was determined to create a homogeneous Sikh identity was due to the Hindu connotations within pre-British Raj Sikhi, especially within the Nihang order. Many of the earliest accounts only refer to Akali-Nihangs as Sikhs, as these individuals were the most visible due to, ‘their blue dresses, their high-peaked turbans, the rings of steel, which they wear as the peculiar emblems of their devotion.’  The Nihangs were the oldest and most respected order within the Sikh community.  The creation of the Nihangs came hand-in-hand with the construction of the Akal Takht – a durbar that was far larger than any of those that belonged to the Mughal Emperors at the time.  Nonetheless, the Nihangs did not receive their distinctive dress until the amrit-sanchar of 1699, when the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, created the Khalsa. Unfortunately, it was the very vanguard of the Khalsa who were most affected by the Singh Sabha movement. For instance the Champlain of the East India Company, James Coley, notes that, ‘these demonicas posses an awful influence over the people, being regarded as demi-gods, and when any public emergency arises, a conviction of Akalees is held at Umritsar, and whatever they decree is considered to be the voice of heaven and acted upon with universal enthusiasm’. However, because the Nihangs were the biggest threat to the British Raj, their influence was reduced. For example, it was the Akali-Nihangs who placed the largest threat to the British during the Anglo-Sikh wars. During the First Anglo-Sikh War (1846), at the battle of Sobraon, the Nihangs suffered a tremendous defeat. However, they had succeeded in psychologically scaring the British. James Coley comments that, “the Seekhs, they say, fought furiously; and there were numbers of naked Akalees among them, whose presence maddened them the more and who are represented to have looked like fiends”.  The surviving Akali-Nihangs were betrayed by the Sikh state of Patiala, in which 32,000 Nihangs were killed. As a result the remaining Nihangs travelled south to find haven in the Deccan and would remain in self-imposed exile for 12 years. 
           It was in response to the Anglo-Sikh wars that certain laws were passed by the British in order to lessen the authority of the Nihangs and to weaken their sphere of influence as much as possible. Viceroy Lord Lytton passed laws such as the Indian Arms Act (XI) of 1878 that ensured that no person could carry arms, except under special exemption or by virtue of a license. As a result the Nihangs could not carry arms and of course the British did not allow any Indians to possess a weapon unless they had been deemed ‘civilized’.  In addition, as a result of early observers of the Sikhs only ever referring to the Akali-Nihangs as Sikhs, there was a common misunderstanding that the Sikhs were dying out. This view is endorsed by the likes of Jagjit Singh, Avtar Singh, and Rajiv A. Kapur who all suggest that after the annexation of Punjab in 1849 Sikhs were in decline and in a state of decadence, confusion and uncertain, about their identity. Ernest Trumpp endorsed this opinion and in 1877 wrote that, ‘Sikhism is a waning religion that will soon belong to history’. Furthermore, Robert Needham Cust, a British colonial administrator, was of the opinion that the remaining Sikh institutions should be pushed towards their ultimate death. In actual fact, the census reports from 1855 and 1868 both illustrate that the number of Sikhs was not in decline. However, in both cases and up until the census of 1933, the definition of the category Sikh remained unclear. Moreover, the belief that there was no decline in Sikh numbers was simply a myth created by the loose definition of the Sikhs, as created by the British.  However, by the time of the 1911 census, the Singh Sabha movement had successfully established a definition of a Sikh as being anyone who maintained the panj kakar, and abstained from tobacco. The downfall of this definition was that it automatically regarded vast swathes of the Sikh community as non-Sikhs including – Nanakpanthis, Sewapanthis, Udhasis, and Nirmalas. 
          One of the British Raj’s most profound and direct influences upon Sikh identity was undoubtedly as a result of the British Army. As a result of prowess shown by the Sikhs during the Anglo-Sikh wars, the British were convinced that Sikhs were a "militaristic race". As early as 1846, two Sikh regiments were raised from the annexed trans-Sutlej territories. This was the start of a constant stream of Sikh recruits following the annexation of Punjab. However, it was upon being enlisted that a Sikh recruit was asked to undergo the initiation rite, and it was mandatory for him to maintain the external symbols of the faith. Regiments employed granthis to conduct Sikh ritual observances, even though the Nihangs were traditionally the only individuals allowed to conduct Sikh ceremonies such as amrit.  As a result, the authority of the Nihangs was lessened further. Furthermore, there was a deep conviction within the army hierarchy that the martial prowess of the Sikhs flowed mystically out of their religious observances and beliefs. It was feared that if Sikh traditions were not upheld, the ability of Sikh soldiers to act as a ‘fighting machine’ might rapidly deteriorate. Philistine army commanders enforced an extremely narrow, functional and mechanistic definition of Sikh tradition and concluded that only those who carried the five symbols were deemed genuine Sikhs. However, this illustrates an unmindful approach of the complex nature of the Sikh tradition. 
           Further British influence upon Sikh identity was made possible through the rapid introduction of railways, roads, the electric telegraph, postage facilities, and the printing press. This transformation in communication ensured that the Singh Sabha movement could, through their propaganda, expedite their message and endorse certain practices, and oppose others. For instance, an editor of the Singh Sabha’s newspaper, the Khalsa Akbar, asked its readers ‘Will the beloved of the Khalsa Quam [community], the firm followers of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh Ji, ever accept anyone else as a Guru except the ten Gurus and the Adi Granth? The answer was: Never.’ This was but part of the propaganda campaign that has led to the controversial debate around the authenticity of the Dasam Granth. This debate originates from the Dasam Granth’s removal from the Akal Takht in the 1940s by the S.G.P.C., the successors of the Singh Sabha movement. However, historical evidence talks louder than Singh Sabha propaganda, and the Anadpuri Dasam Granth can be shown to have certainly been compiled in the Guru’s court for it contains a colophon of 1695/1696 AD as well as numerous handwritten pages by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. In addition, the Dasam Granth had since the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji played a pivotal role within “Sikhi’. Firstly, certain compositions that are recited during the amrit sanchar are taken directly from the Dasam Granth
           Charles Wilkins, a leading orientalist writer, wrote in 1781 that, ‘there stood also near the altar, on a low desk, a great book of a folio size [Dasam Granth], from which some portions are daily read in their divine service. It was covered with a blue mantle, on which were printed, in silver letters, some select passages of their law’. In addition, to re-balancing equilibrium that existed between the three main Granths, the Singh Sabha movement formulated life-cycle rituals, created distinctive symbols, established a religious hierarchy, and purged a plurality of traditions and beliefs in order to remove the pluralist paradigm of “Sikhi” and replaced this with a highly uniform Sikh identity with its own distinctive rituals. An example of one of the life-cycle rituals that the Singh Sabha movement formulated is the Anand Karaj Act of 1909. The act legally codified a Sikh ritual, thereby providing Sikh separatism with government recognition. Furthermore, thanks to the new innovations brought to India by the British, such as the telegraph and the printing press, any opposition to this act was simply drowned out by an unending stream of tracts and newspapers that were packed with articles in defense of the Act. Furthermore, it put an end to the old marriage rites that were deemed Hindu by the Singh Sabha movement, due to the central role of a Brahmin Pandit and a haavan. Furthermore, Dr G. W. Leitner, a Hungarian Orientalist, remarked how the numerous ascetic orders were key in local education. The Udhasis would teach you meditation, the Nirmalas would teach you aryu-vedic science, and the Nihangs would teach you shastar-vidiya. However, this changed for in Punjab the British Raj and the church advanced side by side in order to further Christianity and western education. As a result numerous British run schools, mission stations, and church-sponsored schools were created and imparted western education that understood “Sikhi” to be highly mechanical and utilitarian in manner. As a result, students who came out of these new schools posed a serious threat to the heterogeneous nature of Sikh identity and were some of the first practitioners of Sikhism.
           In addition, the Singh Sabha movement created religious symbols that would differentiate Sikhs from other religions. For instance, the 'khanda', a modern symbol of the Sikhs, is often nowadays seen on thenishan sahib, a tall flag that is situated alongside any gurdwara. However, with the removal of the Dasam Granth and the Nihangs, the symbology of “Sikhi” was also removed and replaced with the 'khanda' - a symbol that did not exist as before the 20th century. This is because the 'trisul', a symbol of “Sikhi”,
 similar to the 'khanda', endorsed by the Nihangs had connotations with Shiv.  However, it was due to the connotations of Hindu thought that were entwined within Sikh orthopraxy by practices such as 'chatka', 'dheg', and 'shastar-puja' that the Singh Sabha movement, in a bid to create a homogeneous Sikh identity, wished to remove. Therefore, the Singh Sabha movement replaced the array of weapons, which were typically depicted on nishan sahibs with the 'khanda'. This is because shastar-puja was deemed Hindu due to the connotations of shastars with Chandi Ma. It seemed that the Singh Sabha movement would not rest until any connotations with the Hindu tradition were removed.
           In order to maintain control of Sikh practice the S.G.P.C. was created in 1925 under the Sikh Gurdwara Act. This was in order to maintain and control the practices and traditions that took place within the confines of all of the gurdwaras. It simultaneously dispelled the old orders who until the passing of this act found haven in the numerous gurdwaras, either as teachers, priests, or builders. The late jathedar of the Buddha Dal, Baba Santa Singh Ji comments that, the S.G.P.C. are enemies of the vanguard of the Sikhs, the Akali-Nihangs. This is because only after making pledges did they get the Act passed. The Act was only passed on the promise that the Sikhs would not rise up against the British’.
 Religion, as a systematized sociological unit claiming unbridled loyalty from its adherents and opposing an amorphous religious imagination, is a relatively recent development in the history of India and for the Sikhs.  The transition process of how “Sikhi’ was replaced with “Sikhism” was achieved so by a new cultural elite that aggressively usurped the right to represent others within this newly homogeneous tradition. Furthermore, it is clear the central role that the British played in constituting the homogeneous Sikh identity was done in order to create a loyal Sikh solider that would become the bulwark to British authority and loyal citizens of the Raj.  It was the new technology, such as the printing press, aggressive policies against any threat posed by certain Sikh orders, such as the anti-Nihang laws, and the conscription of vast swathes of Sikhs into the British Indian Army that set the platform for the Singh Sabha movement to create a homogenous Sikh identity. A sad result of this was that the rich culture that existed within “Sikhi”, which was equally at home with ascetics, home owners, and warriors -was purged into a religion that excluded any order that had connotations with anything that the Singh Sabha movement determined was not Sikh. In short, the Singh Sabha process created the world religion we see today as Sikhism.
           During the time that Singh Sabha’s were popping up all over India, we see a repeat of what occurred in the ancient Roman Empire when spreading and defining Christianity as a religion. This time however, it would occur under another Empire, that of the British when defining all the religions it encountered in far off lands that they controlled and colonized.  As the Singh Sabha movement pushed for a definition of the Sikh religion, in a response to what defined a Sikh (which automatically captured authority for them and other Sikhs that followed the rules and regulations set out by them) it automatically excluded other groups from equal consideration, most notably the Nihangs, Udhasis, Nirmalas, and Sewapanthis who were all excluded simply because they did not fit the definition of a Sikh as set out by the Singh Sabha. 
        However, it had a far deeper impact on “Sikhi” then simply marginalizing certain panths. We should be aware that the central explanatory category of religious studies, namely the notion of ‘religion’ itself, is a Christian theological category. Like the terms ‘mystical’ and ‘mysticism’, ‘religion’ is a culturally specific social construction with a particular genealogy of its own. In applying this category to the study of non-western cultures, one should be aware of the theological origins of the term. It is highly questionable to assume that there are such things as ‘religions’ outside a Christian influenced context.  As a result, the Sikh religion replicates a Christian model of religion in many ways, including theist belief. Theist belief itself does not precisely define a Sikh philosophical outlook and even pantheism/panenthism fall short due to being in Christian theological categories like ‘religion’. The fundamental dualism between the human world and the transcendent world of the divine is only present in religion. If we look at the Sikhi traditions we will notice that practices such as 'Shaheedi Dheg' are present that create a bridge between the human world and the transcendent world. This was something that was systematically and intentionally removed from the Sikh religion.  The re-definition in religion, in India during the 19th century by the Singh Sabha movement, due to the need by the British Raj to define what a Sikh was a shift toward doctrine as a constitutive of the essence of religion.  However, this is something that has led to numerous arguments including the most infamous being the authenticity of Dasam Granth.  Sanatan Sikhs were more concerned with orthopraxy where as Singh Sabhaists (and present modern day Sikhs) are more concerned with orthodoxy and belief.
         The Singh Sabha movement of the late 19th century has caused widespread confusion, controversy, and discontent within the Sikh community. Some argue though this was unintentional, it was irrefutably a consequence of the pressure from the British to define who the Sikhs were.  As a result, the Singh Sabha movement created a definition, albeit an incorrect definition, of the Sikhs in order to combat the onslaught of British Christian missionaries in India. In doing so, we can highlight numerous instances in today’s modern Sikhism were the public view of Sikhism and common knowledge about it is far from the truth. In assessing the establishment of the Singh Sabha movement, illustrated by the establishment of the S.G.P.C in 1920 and the publication of the Sikh Rehat Maryada in 1950, we can see numerous historical and philosophical inconsistencies between Tat Khalsa Sikhism and the earlier practices and understandings of the Sikh tradition.   
         The Singh Sabha movement has its origins during a period when western scholars such as Cunningham and Macauliffe were studying and questioning the practices, beliefs and origins of the Sikh. However, as Gadmar argues, “the understanding of any individual is conditioned by their past as well as by their own present circumstances”. Therefore, when British Christians, who were all educated in the West, were studying the East, they were imposing a Western, Christian, and British framework upon an Eastern, mystical tradition that was multi-faceted and had no clear definition.  If we look at the historical context of the Singh Sabha movement in further detail, we will understand that it was during a time when British missionaries were common throughout India, so common that at one point they occupied an unoccupied bhunga (tower) within the vicinity of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.  As a result, Christian ideology passed into the framework of the Sikh. For instance, the definition of the sacred words, “Ik Onkar”, were translated to mean ‘There is One God’, which is remarkably similar to, ‘One Lord’. 
         Prior to British rule there was no concept of ‘God’, in the Judo-Christian sense within the Sikh philosophy.  Instead, creation was viewed as an eternal and supreme energy that is even beyond definition clearly illustrated by Siri Guru Gobind Singh Ji in his works Jaap Sahib.  Nonetheless, because of the reformation movement, we can clearly define two forms of Sikhi: Tat Khalsa Sikhism and Sanatan Sikhi, (or old “Sikhi”). The former, Tat Khalsa Sikhism, is a religion, created in a response to a colonial Christian need that took place during the 19th century, a process that took the form of adding the Greek suffix “-ism” to a word used to designate the persons who are members of the religious community or followers of a given tradition. This process normally created a religion that strongly emphasized belief above experience and accepted a fundamental dualism between the human world and the transcendent world of the divine, something that we can clearly see within Tat Khalsa Sikhism illustrated by the removal of 'Shaheedi Dheg' a sacred drink said to connect one to the martyrs of the Sikh tradition.  This is of course far from the true mystical essence of Sanatan Sikhi.  As a result we can contrast these forms of “Sikhi” and therefore illustrate the controversies and contradictions that have arisen as a result.
          Nonetheless, the Singh Sabha movement was not completely detrimental to the Sikh psyche in one particular instance -it defined, albeit incorrectly what a Sikh was. For instance, within mid-nineteenth century Punjab asking an individual whether they were Sikh, Muslim or Hindu was (at an epistemological level) was rather absurd.  For example, in the 1891 census of Punjab 1,344,862 Sikhs declared themselves as Hindus.  As a result, of the consensus and social pressure by the British, the Singh Sabha movement wished to create a definition of a Sikh and did so to the extent that when the British army started to enlist Indians into their army they could specifically pick Sikhs.  In defining the Sikh tradition and creating a religion, numerous Singh Sabha scholars created an image that mimicked the ideals and norms of the Western religious model. Nonetheless, it still created a clear-cut definition of what a Sikh was. Unfortunately, this played into the hands of the imperialistic British Raj who employed the Roman principle of “divide et impera” (divide and conquer), making it far easier to conquer and rule the rest of the Indian sub-continent. 
         The Singh Sabha movement arose out of the ashes of the fallen empire of the Sikhs, controlled by Maharaj Ranjit Singh Ji (1801-1839). An empire that was the last haven for the differing orders of the Sikhs which included the Nihangs, Nirmalas, Udhasis and Sewa Panthis, the basis on which Sanatan Sikhi stood. The combined force of conversions to Christianity and the persistence of the British to define what a Sikh was, caused the Singh Sabha movement to emerge.  For the Singh Sabha movement, the differing orders held onto the practices of other traditions (in particular the customs of the Hindus).  This prompted the Singh Sabha movement to create a definite framework within which the Sikh lived. A further example of the certain aspects of the Hindu religion co-existing in Sanatan Sikhi is illustrated by how the Nihangs who pay utmost respect towards the Goddess of Destruction, Chandi. However, the Singh Sabha movement viewed this as the deterioration of Sikhism and the likes of Bhai Vir Singh systematically edited Prancheen Panth Prakash and removed all mentions of 'Chandi'. This was in order to remove those concepts which are related to the Hindu tradition.  In the process of doing so, an entire scripture, the Sri Dasam Granth, has been brought into disrepute. If we follow the Tat Khalsa tradition we will learn that the Sri Dasam Granth is not in fact a Granth and holds no place in the Sikh religion, illustrated clearly by there being no mention of it within the Sikh Rehat Maryada published by the S.G.P.C. in 1950. Yet, the highest seat within the Sikh tradition, the Jathedar (leader) of the Buddha Dal (army of the old) have always declared that the Sri Dasam Granth is part and parcel of “Sikhi”, even the very first Jathedar, Akali Binod Singh, the seventh descendent of the second Guru, Guru Angad Dev Ji and a general in all of the battles of Bhanda Singh Bhadur, a great Sikh warrior of the 18th century. 
        In addition, if we take any historical account whether it is during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh or from any one of the numerous Sikh orders, they all mention and hold the Sri Dasam Granth in high regard, on par with the Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The reasoning behind this is because the Sanatan code of conduct was intertwined with the Sri Dasam Granth and by removing it, they removed the traditions of most of the Sikh orders. Furthermore, the Sri Dasam Granth contained large amounts of mythology that contained references to Hindu Gods and Goddesses and as already highlighted the Singh Sabha movement was keen on removing any links with anything they deemed was not, ‘Sikh’. As a result, even up until this day, there is great debate upon the authenticity of the Sri Dasam Granth and whether it is really part of Sikhism to the extent that numerous S.G.P.C scholars such as Professor Darshan Singh are still to this day discrediting the Sri Dasam Granth
         The Singh Sabha movement from 1892 until 1897 gathered numerous scholars at the Sri Akaal Takth Sahib situated within the Golden Temple complex. This gathering was known as the, Sodhak Committee. Their purpose was to study the thirty-two hand-written Sri Dasam Granths in circulation within Punjab circa, 1890's.  They concluded that the Sri Dasam Granth was the work of Guru Gobind Singh Ji but yet deleted eight compositions within the original compilation and re-published the Sri Dasam Granth in 1902. This re-publication has had such an impact that even in 1973 the S.G.P.C. issued a letter declaring that the Sri Dasam Granth composition entitled Chritropakhyan is not Sikh scripture.  In removing and editing the Sri Dasam Granth the Singh Sabha achieved something that changed the very fundamentals of the Sikh tradition, the Rehat Maryada.
         The Sri Dasam Granth held numerous codes of conduct that Pratan Sikhs carried out such as the traditional of shaheedi degh and jhatka.  However, the Singh Sabha understood that if they removed what little rules there were to “Sikhi” they would need to create a 'rahit' by which all Sikhs would then have to follow.  Unfortunately, it was rather easy for the Singh Sabha movement to create their own 'rehat maryada' for a number of reasons. Firstly, the number of Nihangs present during the British Raj was minute compared to the numbers present under the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji. This was mainly because numerous Nihangs were killed by the British during the Anglo-Sikh wars and the annexation of the Punjab including the seventh Jathedar of the Buddha Dal, Akali Baba Hanuman Singh Ji. This was because of British law allowing any individual to shoot a Nihang on sight.  A further instance was that the numerous 'rahit maryadas' that existed before hand were in disrepute. The four main 'rahit maryadas' of the 18th century were the Chaupa Singh rahitnama, the Desa Singh rahitnama, the Daya Singh rahitnama and the Prem Sumarg Granth.  The reason these rahitnamas worked in the advantage of the Singh Sabha movement was due to their numerous discrepancies and contradictions. For instance, one of the biggest debates even to this day is based upon whether or not Sikhs should be vegetarians. The present Jathedar of the Buddha Dal comments that,  “‘Jhatka’ is a distinguishable tradition of the Nihang Singhs. The Khalsa has been performing ‘Jhatka’ since the time of the Gurus, it is part of our Kshatri (warrior) tradition. One is at liberty to choose for themselves whether or not they wish to eat Mahaparshad”. Though many oppose the tradition of “Jhatka” and the British tried to ban it, many still practice this traditions entrusted to them by the Gurus.  Furthermore, past Jathedars have supported and even practiced the tradition of “jhatka” including the late jathedar, Baba Kharak Singh Ji. In addition, texts that pre-date the Singh Sabha movement even mentions that, ‘upon joining the Khalsa fold go hunting, continually seeking to perfect your use of weapons and perform Jhatka and eat goats.’  Yet let if we look at the Desa Singh rahitnama it is obvious he is uneasy about the question of eating meat. Initially Desa Singh condemns eating meat, ‘fish or flesh-he should never go after these things.’  However, Desa Singh then comments that, ‘he is permitted to eat mutton when the goat has been killed with a single blow, but he should never look at any other meat.’ Further on in the same work Desa Singh comments that those who have, ‘taken birth in a good family will never consume meat.’ In terms of the argument, over eating meat or not we can only conclude from the early rahitnamas that there is a ban on halal meat. However, one of the biggest alterations by the Singh Sabha movement was the creation of the 5ks, as articles of faith. Prior to the creation of the Singh Sabha and the Sikh Rahitnama, the 5ks existed separately as articles worn by individuals but were never prescribed to individuals initiated into the Khalsa as a whole. Yet, if we look at the past rahitnamas there is never a mention of the 5ks. A hukumnama dated 1702 and signed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji instructs Sikhs to wear 5 weapons. The Prem Sumarag even mentions that, ‘he should arm himself with the five traditional weapons of the Khalsa’. The works Gur Sobha, which provides a general account of Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s life, only ever mentions uncut hair but never once mentions any of the other 5ks. In addition, the Chaupa Singh and Desa Singh rahitnamas do not mention the five ks at all. For instance, the kara is never mentioned and instead of referring to the uncut hair there is a reference to the dastar within the Desa Singh rahitnama.
         It seems that prior to the 19th century there is no mention of the 5ks in the form that is suggested within the S.G.P.C. rahitnama. A more interesting example of the formation of the 5ks by the S.G.P.C. is that even Bhai Khan Singh Nabha a leading Singh Sabha scholar defines “traimudra”, as the three symbols of the Khalsa, rather than the conventional 5.  Hence, with the S.G.P.C. formulating their own rahitnama they created a definitive rule book for Sikhs. Yet, in doing so, any reference to anything even slightly non-Sikh was removed. However, the tradition of “Sikhi” was beyond the dualistic nature of religion and did not accept a dualist framework of the human world and the transcendent world of the divine but rather incorporated both into daily life through practices and traditions
       Overall, we can ascertain that the Singh Sabha movement completely changed the very essence of the Sikh tradition to the extent that even to this day there are public controversies over certain practices such as “jhatka”, the Sri Dasam Granth, and even the very articles of faith that a Sikh should wear. However, the Singh Sabha defined “Sikhi” and thus created a world religion, Sikhism.  In doing so, they ensured that “Sikhi” was not engulfed within the wider Hindu tradition in India in the 19th and 20th century and was clearly separate from it.  Furthermore, the S.G.P.C. rahitnama has created a strong division in the Sikh tradition, those who support Sanatan Sikhi (those that accepts and advocate practices that were removed by the Singh Sabha) and then there are those who accept Tat Khalsa Sikhi (and are adamant on diluting and destroying the very essence of a great mystical tradition).
           Clifford Geertz labeled religion a ‘cultural system’, while Talal Asad identified religion as an ‘anthropological system.’ The common element in both definitions is a set of customs and beliefs that unites a particular group. However, Harjot Oberoi notes that, “Europeans tended to construct images of Indian religions in the mold of Christianity, stressing that Hinduism and Sikhism were largely the product of the European intellectual frameworks of the late Enlightenment”.  Expanding on this thought, once secularization has taken place and religious institutional authority in the form of the church/temple/gurdwara has retreated into a private world where religions only have authority over their followers, five alternative responses to the displacement of religious traditions occur. These consist of rationalism, aestheticism, existentialism, civil religions, and political religions. All five of these alternatives represent a way in which religion – arguably encompassing them all – has been displaced and dissected into smaller parts, dictated by reason. As a result, man had, ‘lost his sense of prophecy and, above all, his sense of the sacred.’ Mr Bryan Wilson, an adherent of this Weberian belief, argues that, ‘In the past religion was a primary socializing agency of men teaching them not only new rituals but something of the seriousness of eternal verities’. 
          It is only in this duality, inherent in the Western Christian paradigm, that the apparent ability to abolish God and to assume that Man could take over the powers he has ascribed to God and now claim it for himself could be achieved. In Eastern traditions, prior to the demarcation of religious boundaries during the colonial era, that there is no monotheistic notion of God and this duality between secular and religious, has not spread universally in the same way. For instance, this artificially created duality has become implemented and institutionalized throughout society thus, ensuring that society itself was dualistically structured and in many cases, leading to much confrontation. Furthermore, the modern view that ‘religion is private’ refers to the secular sphere’s emancipation from ecclesiastical control as well as from religious norms. Thus, modern science, capitalist markets, and modern state bureaucracies are able to function ‘as if’ God did not exist within their sphere.
           In a country such as India, where no Christian church existed prior to the Europeans arrival, the development of secularization has been completely different. Being a predominantly Hindu country, India, seeks to follow the ‘overlapping consensus’ made famous by Rawls. In theory, India’s secular system aims to obtain universal acceptance of certain political principles, and thus, India does not adopt a state religion. The goal is a state that is even-handed between religious communities. However, in reality, secularization in India has been created by the demarcation of religions during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, due to the discourse between the Orient (the Arya Samaj and the Singh Sabha) and the Occident. This did not only re-define what it meant to be ‘Sikh’ or ‘Hindu’, which clearly demarcated differences based on labels and categories that had been inspired by the first ethnographic reports of the natives from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Following the ‘overlapping census,’ in 1976 India placed the word secular into its constitution. However, this did not mean the exclusion of religion from the public sphere, but rather, the recognition of all religions by the state. This, however, is only theoretical, for in practice, the common identity that is shared to strongly unite people within the Indian context has been religion. Thus, P.C. Upadyaya, prefers to call Indian secularism, ‘majoritarianism,’ the domination of an, apparently, even-handed system by the majority community.
         Hindu revivalists (Arya Samaj, R.S.S., Sant Nirankari), talk about the Hindu nation and equate being a Hindu to being an Indian. Those who are Indian but not Hindu find themselves in the position of, potentially, being recognized as traitors to India. Furthermore, the problem of numerical terms arose in the Hindu community since Hindus comprise above 80% of the population at least since 1961. Thus, due to the historical significance of the demarcation of religions within India, democracy came to mean Hindu Raj. This has allowed for the non-Hindu becoming an almost non-member of the country’s community. This has been illustrated by the numerous breaches of human rights by the Indian state since 1947.
ecularization has been misused as a global, explanatory concept and its inadequacy for comprehending the various and different contexts across the globe has been repeatedly demonstrated. Daniel Bell argues that, “religions cannot be manufactured or designed, they grow out of shared responses and experiences directing practitioners or followers upon a route of discovering the authentic ‘I’ ”.   The multiplicity of consciousness-raising movements – Zen, yoga, I Ching, and Swami movements – illustrates how ‘religion’, or a form of answering the questions of life have spread so quickly even in the modern age.  Secularization as a global concept needs to be used in a more precise fashion while a broader historical, sociological and cultural analysis is needed to explain in further detail the displacement of religion across the globe.
          Another pivotal moment in Sikh identity, occurred during Khushwant’s Singh’s publications, since the heterogeneous nature of Sikh identity based on the Indic notion of dharma became marginalized. The retreat of the mystic coincides with the dawning of the Enlightenment, a period of European intellectual history that championed the universalism of reason. This consequently had far-reaching socio-political and cultural consequences for the modern western world and inevitably, given the hegemony of the western world, for the entire globe.  Yet, unlike the Singh Sabhaists who maintained that “Ham Hindu Nahin” (we are not Hindus), Khushwant Singh asserts that, ‘Sikhism is a tradition developed within Hinduism.’   A view shared by the census reports of the British, which declared that Sikhs originally came from the ranks of Hinduism. However, this has much to do with Khushwant Singh’s view that ‘the story of the Sikhs is the story of the rise, fulfillment, and collapse of Punjabi nationalism.’ Thus, Sikhism is simply a religious community that brought within its fold, both Hindus and Muslims and, consequently, led to the creation of Punjabi nationalism.  However, Hindu nationalists claimed that Indian civilization is synonymous with Hindu civilization, due to the dominance of the Hindu population within India and its majority in representing the Orient within the dialectic with the Occident. This has been enforced by the implicit overlap between the signifier ‘Hindu’ and the national identity within the Indian constitution. This has framed much of Khushwant Singh’s view that Sikhs are simply a reformatory sect of Hinduism.  As a result, Khushwant Singh only saw one viable possibility for the proliferation of the Sikh religion, which was the creation of ‘a state in which they (the Sikhs) form a compact group, where the teaching of Gurmukhi and the Sikh religion is compulsory.’ If this possibility were not to take place, Khushwant Singh believed that Sikhism would have disappeared before the end of the 20th century. However, Khushwant Singh’s misunderstanding of Sikh identity can be traced back to colonial India where the British sought a common name for the diversity of living traditions in India. Due to the concern of the British Raj, the dialectic between the Occident and the Orient gave rise to a number of religious labels.  Unfortunately, these labels were adopted carelessly in course of time by the native people who allowed those words to give them an identity that was the very opposite of the identity that their own tradition had given them. Here was a unique phenomenon of wrong words creating false consciousness. This was a double error of identity: in, initially gathering the diverse faiths, beliefs, and practices under a fictitious label and in then, taking it to be a religion. If one were to take recent critiques of the concept of ‘religion’ – that they reflect a modern and European-derived set of assumptions regarding a secular-religious dichotomy – then the status of this community as being ‘religious’ must be questioned.  The annexation of Punjab in 1849 brought an end to the forty-year reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and unleashed the various tentacles of the British Empire upon Punjab. As a result Punjabis were made to grapple with extensive transformations that were enacted by the colonial state. These included the construction of a new education system, the introduction of a complex set of new communication technologies, new forms of administration, and the onslaught of Christian missionaries.  As the Census became entrenched as a regular feature of colonial society, the idea of religion, a concept alien to the East, came to require demarcation. Census records indicate that Punjabis offered over 130 different designations that were then placed into the category ‘Hindu’ within the census of 1891 such as Akali, Udhasi, Nirmala and Sikh. In 1901, when the category ‘Sikh’ was recognized independently of ‘Hindu’, various categories were placed under the newly constructed label, 40% of all responses declared that they were Sikh, while 21.9% declared that they were Nanak Panthis and 30.9% declared that they were the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Thus, quantifying and defining the limits of Sikhism emerged as a consistent and perplexing problem in Census reports. This eventually resulted in the growing systematization of ‘religion’ as a universal category of cultural and political identification. As a result, within the context of colonialism, history-writing became a crucial tool for Sikh leaders in the hope that, by clearly defining the community’s past, they would be able to ensure the communities’ survival against the onslaught of Hinduism and the tentacles of the British Empire.  Nonetheless, it is clear from the census reports that Sikh identity was heterogeneous by nature and thus unidentifiable with the uniform modern notion of Sikh identity that is attached to Sikhism. If one were to view the Sikh Gurus within the notion of dharma, prevalent in the Indian civilization, one would be able to illustrate the misunderstanding of the essence of “Sikhi” by the dialectic between the Orient and the Occident. History and the Nation-state are both born of modernity, simultaneously co-produced and co-productive of each other
. Khushwant’s view of Sikh history as belonging to one religion, one nation, and one identity has a relatively recent origin.  Dharma cannot be entirely categorized as being synonymous with religion. Guru Nanak Dev Ji states that those who have accepted dharma do not follow empty religious rituals, for they have accepted, and consequently, united with dharma, the natural order. Dharmic civilization, which, in essence, is Indian civilization, had seen too narrow a logical framework to account for the varying nature of life and its diversity. Dharma cuts across the polarity of religious and secular, for, unlike the prevalent view in the west, dharma did not see an opposition between reason and faith nor between man and nature, as the individual was not set against society, or against himself. Dharma is the maintenance of the proper equilibrium of the cosmos, understood through the lens of panentheism, for there is no God-dispensing services as he sees fit, results are automatically forthcoming.  Within this wider Indic notion of dharma, is situated the various samparadyas, panths, or traditions, such as the Khalsa Panth, Sewa Panthis, and Udhasis, all of whom had historically and regionally-specific origins.   Therefore, if one were to acknowledge that dharma is a broad and fluid concept adopted in a range of Indic traditions, it becomes possible to move beyond the anachronistic notion of whether the Sikh tradition is in some way, part of Hinduism. Thus, understanding the plurality of Sikh identity through the idea of dharma, it is possible to unravel the incorrect of Khushwant, supported by Article 25 of the Indian constitution, that the Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs are all reforming sects of Hinduism. However, the demarcation of religious communities created the platform upon which each community could compete for self-determination. Hindu nationalists, who equated the entire Indian subcontinent with being part of the Hindu religion, made a claim for Hindustan. As a direct result of the claims for Pakistan by the Muslims, Master Tara Singh requested for Azad Punjab, a Sikh nation. Thus, Indian Independence did not simply result in the partition of a sub-continent, but was also a manifestation of the self-determination of the Hindu and Muslim religious communities, a process Khushwant experienced first-hand. The omission of a Sikh nation only serves to prompt Khushwant to view a bleak future for Sikhism without the establishment of a Sikh nation. Furthermore, Khushwant has been educated within this national imaginary that has combined Western subjects with instruction in English and the vernacular.  Alternatively, the understanding of religious traditions by the Indian administration must be radically re-interpreted. Yet, this seems impossible now, given that this would entail a complete re-definition of the dominant world-view.
        The British, upon encountering the Sikhs, saw the Sikhs as a militaristic race of people and wanted to push Sikhs into joining the British military.  In doing so, the British allowed the Sikhs to create their own Sikh army divisions inside the British army thus creating and cementing the Sikh identity that Sikhs are familiar with presently.  The British designed and implemented this plan systematically in order to further exacerbate existing tensions inside India and to create their Divide and Rule strategy between differing groups in India.  The Sikhs ascension as a militaristic powerhouse in the British military  during colonial times fused military prowess into Sikh identity and culture overriding other existing parallel Sikh identities”.“Within a week of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, Arthur Moffat Laing, who was stationed in the Mian Mir cantonment in Lahore, stated, ‘If we survive this, never will a Hindustani be enlisted again. Our army should be entirely European, Afghan, Gurkha and Sikh.’  Sikhs even helped to keep the British Empire in India during 1857. Soon after the mutiny was subdued, the Lahore Chronicle published an article that contained the following: ‘English skill and English valor succumbed, and but for the fidelity of the Sikhs every vestige of European civilization, would in all probability, have been eradicated.’ 
Lord Roberts, who presided over India’s military from 1876 to 1893, suggested that the shift to recruitment in Punjab reflected the divergence between the Sikhs and the ‘sepoys of Lower India’, in terms  ‘of courage and physique.’  Even Falcon’s 1896 officer’s handbook suggested that recruitment should be aimed only at those ‘Sikh tribes which supplied converts to Sikhism in the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who in fact formed the Singh people,’ more recent converts were to be avoided as they could not be considered ‘true Sikh tribes.’  By June 1858, the new units raised by John Lawrence, which amounted to some 80,000 soldiers and 50,000 parliamentary police of whom 75,000 were Punjabi's and 23,00 Sikhs, had played a pivotal role central in shoring up British authority.
        In conclusion, Sikhs have survived the oppressive reign of the Mughal Empire, the cultural-genocidal nature of the British Empire, and the onslaught of successive Indian governments since 1947 .  However, now is the time for education to reign supreme “for until Lions write their own history, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter”The mis-education of the masses is a problem facing the Sikhs. Mis-education is another form of genocide, since when one does not know the truth, then they are as useless as a dead body.  The British Empire systematically destroyed the remnants of the Sikh Empire, manipulated, and distorted the Singh Sabha movement that has effectively diluted and polluted Pratan Sikhi. Furthermore, the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925 alone is still affecting the Sikh community to this day.  In fact, it was the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 that brought in a system that allowed a committee to be elected by an electorate of the Sikh nation, male and female above the age of 18 who are registered as voters under the provisions of the above act.  The entire existence of the committee was to institutionalize a divide and rule mechanism inside of the gurdwaras. As soon as you create a governing body, you have created those who will be governed and those who shall govern and rule.  In doing so, the British have created a duality which did not exist earlier and in doing so, allows for power struggles to occur within a group and a institution.  The British were great at divide and conquer and the creation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 was another instrument used by the British to divide the Sikh people from ever uniting against the British.
       Many Sikhs believe that essentially the British Empire helped “Sikhi” and since the British left, Sikhs have been under a higher amount of pressure from successive Indian governments. However, the British Empire did very little to help “Sikhi” at all.  In fact, the British were instrumental in destroying a mystical tradition and replacing it with a Judo-Christianized Sikh religion.
  The Singh Sabha movement took away some of the most obvious signs of being Sikh. The dumalla, the bana, the three foot thega.  Furthermore, Sikhs must also realize that even before the 1920s, the 'jathedar' of Akal Takth simply meant its upkeep. It was not only on September 26, 1979, when Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra approached Akal Takht Sahib for settlement of the internal affairs of the Akali Dal, that the so called Jathedar of Akal Takht Sahib came to be known as an entity. It was and it is utterly in contradiction to the Sikh ideology. To appoint anyone to the 'Jathedar' of Akal Takht is incorrect on a number of levels. First the Akal Takht, as with most gurdawars of India, were under the control of the Buddha Dal. Secondly, the very idea of the Jathedar of the Akal Takth being a distinct entity is only 40 years old and contradictory to “Sikhi”.
            Most of us presently have been brought up on the ideals of Sikhism being very Puritan. However, this mindset was introduced by the Singh Sabha movement/S.G.P.C. over a period of  time.  To understand the past, one must understand that “Sikhism” and “Sikhi” differentiate.  “Sikhi” denoting the mystical tradition that existed prior to British rule and the Singh Sabha reformation movement and “Sikhism” the religion that was created, molded, and formed by the Singh Sabha reformation movement and the numerous economic, social and cultural influences that were unleashed by the British Raj.  Therefore, the diluting of historical traditions is what causes the meaning of things to simply be washed away.  We must realize that the Arya Samaj push to make Sikhism a sub-category of Hinduism as a religion prompted Sikhs to promote Sikhism as its own religion.  Sikhi”, instead of “Sikhism”, is used because the addition of – “ism” came about after the Singh Sabha movement.  Like Rasta’s, Sikhs believe that they have transcended –“isms” and “schisms”.

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