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Sikhism Four Centuries Of Sikh Tradition (Book Review)


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
History, Literature and Identity— Four Centuries of Sikh Tradition: J. S. Grewal; Oxford University Press, YMCA Library Building, Jai Singh Road,

New Delhi-110001.

Rs. 850.

This is an attempt to present a comprehensive account of Sikh history and tradition based on literature produced by the Sikhs, and the 14 works it has taken up for study are representative of the vast range of such texts written from the early 16 th to the early 20 th century.

While underscoring the essential continuity of theology and worldview, the book looks at the compositions by the Gurus, Sikh theologians, and historians and goes on to reflect upon the changing socio-political contexts under the Mughal, Sikh, and colonial regimes in Punjab. It discusses the processes of community formation, social transformation and politicisation and also the cumulative implications of these processes for the evolution of Sikh identity.

On the basis of this study, Grewal concludes that “the consciousness of identity among the Sikhs was a product of their religious beliefs and institutions, their social order, and their role” and that, although present even in the literature of the earlier period, it crystallised “in the 18 th century as the tisar panth [third community],” a term used to distinguish the Khalsa from Hindus and Muslims.



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