Louis E. Fenech Insinuates Militancy in Sikh Martyrdom Tradition

Charnjit Singh Bal

NOTE: Text from Louis Fenech’s published thesis MARTYRDOM in the SIKH TRADITION, Playing the Game of Love, and excerpts and quotes from other scholars are reproduced verbatim. My own comments and arguments are in italicized fonts.

Dr. Louis E. Fenech, an academic at the University of Northern Iowa, is another addition to the Sikh Studies cadre at the Western Universities. This cadre, that includes Harjot Oberoi, Pashaura Singh, Doris Jakobsh, Gurinder Singh Mann, et al, got their doctorates in subjects pertaining to Sikhism and subscribes to the school of thought mentored by the (ex?) ordained Christian Reverend and overseas Missionary, William Hewat McLeod. Their Sikh Studies published and/or unpublished dissertations on Sikh Scriptures, Religiosity, History, Culture, Social Customs and Traditions have vexed the sensitivities of the Sikh intelligentsia. The fact that he belongs to this fraternity is evident from excerpts from his own book,

This book represents a revised version of my dissertation, ‘Playing the "Game of Love": The Sikh Tradition of Martyrdom’, submitted for the Ph. D. degree to the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto in 1995. It was here as an undergraduate in the early 1980s that I cultivated my interest in the Punjab and the Sikh people. I was ironically attracted to Sikh tradition in 1984 not because of the events in the Punjab in this time (of which I knew very little), but as a result of sitting in on what would be the last class that the great Indologist; A. L. Basham, ever taught. The next year, Professor W. H. McLeod, a student of Basham in the early 1960s, was appointed as a visiting Commonwealth Scholar to the University of Toronto, a fact that allowed me to further enrich my fascination for the Sikh Tradition.

The most rewarding experience has been having Hew McLeod as my supervisor and mentor. Martyrdom in the Sikh Tradition’, [hereafter Martyrdom], p xiii-xiv

It is a travesty of higher Sikh Studies scholarship that A. L. Basham, Hewat McLeod’s Sikh Studies Ph. D. degree supervisor at ‘School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London’, knew nothing about Punjabi or Gurmukhi, the language of Sikh scripture, that is unquestionably essential for a proficient scholar, especially a supervisor of a doctorate Sikh studies students. This academic anomaly is evident from his student, William Hewat McLeod’s comment about him.

"Professor Basham) knew nothing about the Punjabi language, and he made only three very minor changes to the thesis. One of which was his insistence that I should use plural form ‘appendices’ instead of earlier practice of writing ‘appendexis’. Once a month I was required to appear before him and report progress and difficulties. I would outline the difficulties and at each of them he would nod his head wisely and make some such comment as, ‘yes that is a problem’ or ‘that is a difficulty we all have’. After the interview was over I would ask myself, ‘what have I gained from it,’ and answer would be that I had derived nothing. Professor Basham was, however, an experienced supervisor and even if I received no direct guidance concerning my thesis topic, I did, at least, get the understanding noises, which at that time, I needed." Discovering the Sikhs, Autobiography of a Historian, p. 39

INSINUATION

In the vast majority of contemporary Sikh history books, the importance of martyrdom is underscored as two events which are held to have fundamentally changed the nature of community, were believed to be martyrdoms. According to this version of history, the martyrdom of Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru, led to the militarization of the community in 1606, while the martyrdom of his grand son, the ninth Sikh master, Guru Tegh Bahadur, in 1675 was the event which precipitated the creation of the Khalsa, the elite, militant order formed in 1699 by the tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Martyrdom, p. 2

Evidently, Dr. Fenech fails to differentiate between militancy and courage and intrepidity, that the Sikh Gurus endeavoured to infuse in the Sikhs and non-Sikhs all along. At the advent of Nanak Dev, Sikhism’s founding Guru, the Indian populace was suffering under Muslim invaders’ political tyranny and religious coercion for centuries. Also, the predominantly Hindu society suffered socio-religious segregation, deprivation and exploitation at the hands of supremacist Brahmins, the dogmatic Hindu clerics.

Altruistic, Guru Nanak courageously embarked on a mission to propagate his universal message of religious freedom, cultural harmony, political Justice and social equality and liberality, the noble ideals that constitute the core doctrines of Sikhism.

"So utterly were the Hindus degraded that they were the prey to self-abasement and servility, had lost self-respect and faith in their gods, and most of them being deprived by caste rules of right to bear arms they had all but lost that natural manliness which alone could promise a better future." Duncun Greenlees, The Gospel of GURU GRUNTH SAHIB, p. xix

"Out of this wretched, misery-trampled, hag-ridden peasantry the Guru had to build a nation of self-respecting men, devoted to God and their leader, filled with sense of equality and brotherhood for all, ready to die, nay eager to die, as martyrs for their faith when opportunity allowed, and yet prepared to fight tyrant with his own weapons in defence of the weak and to protect the righteous."’ Ibid, pp. xxiii-xxiv

"Other reformers, other prophets and saints, strove elsewhere, each in his own way as taught by his Master, but in Punjab Guru Nanak through ten lives he devoted to his labours built a nation, brave and proud and strong, and taught men and women how to love God as a friend, as a most beloved Intimate, upright and self-respecting instead of prostrate on the ground. That was the spirit he infused into the Sikhs, and it transformed the whole picture of society in the North of India." Ibid, p. xxv

MISINTERPRETATION

Dhadi performances generate a zeal which is breathtaking. Their inspirational concerts are almost always punctuated by numerous, intermittent shouts of popular Sikh jaikara or battle-cry Sat Sri Akal (True is the Timeless {One}) from the gathered crowd. Ibid, p.35

The Dhadis or balladeers, while singing the ballads of Sikh martyrs occasionally evoke the two-part liturgical chant, ‘Bolē So Nihal’, ‘Sat Sri Akal’, from an enthusiastic assembly. The evocative part ‘Bolē So Nihal’, literally means, ‘whosoever chants, (‘Sat Sri Akal’) will be rapturous’, and the responsive part ‘Sat Sri Akal’ means ‘Immortal [God] truly exists’. It is an expression of solidarity, appreciation, and congregational consent, etc. It is, also, chanted at conclusion of supplication. When recited or written by-itself the Second part ‘Sat Sri Akal’ signifies greetings or salutation.

SINGH SINGH SABHA DENOUNCED AS MANIPULATIVE, DOMINEERING

One could assume that the term ‘zinda shahid’ was perhaps formulated by the Singh Sabha in order to emphasize the new understanding of the shahid. After all, men initially labelled zinda shahid, such as Takhat Singh and kharak Singh (1868-1963), all followed a Singh Sabha agenda, in which the martyr played an eminent part. Ibid, p. 15

In the task of understanding how the Singh Sabha fulfilled that agenda and came to dominate the Sikh imagination, we must keep in mind what, on the surface, is a rather obvious point: that the Singh Sabha communicated its vision through language. Although much has been written on the Singh Sabha project to date, the specific language employed by its members, their rhetorical approaches in particular, has not yet secured the attention it deserves. Ibid, p. 15

The adoption of an analysis of the Singh Sabha’s rhetoric and thus the techniques the group adopted to persuade the audience seems to imply that members of this Sabha were using rhetoric in a calculated manner, cognizant of their choice of language and free to manipulate words as they chose. Ibid, p. 19

The martyrs in popular Sikh martyrologies as well as the Akalis of this century, however, had the option to have all punishment cease by choosing either to abjure (renounce) their faith or not to engage in the struggle to free the Gurwaras. This is a choice, I must add, of which all the spectators would have been aware. It was this sustained spectacle (ostentation) of the heroic acts of these contemporary Sikh martyrs, I believe, that assured the hegemony (domination) of the Singh Sabha interpretation of Sikh tradition. Ibid, 25

It was the Singh Sabha which exploited the inherent element of identity in martyrdom in the attempt to subjugate the popular devotion to martyrdom to their popular interest. The blood of martyr provided the Tat Khalsa with the almost limitless potential to recast Sikhism into a form congenial (suited) to their interpretation of the tradition and to ensure that this interpretation would become standard. Ibid, p. 52

Before progressing, we should be well aware of the fierce fidelity that all literature aligned with the Singh Sabha interpretation exhibits concerning Sikh martyrs and the tradition of martyrdom in Sikhism. ----- This is a tradition which commands the militant allegiance of today’s Sikhs, a violation of which will cause the most vehement opposition. Due to the Tat Khalsa’s aggressive campaign, the pre-Singh Sabha connection between Khalsa Sikhs and the ability to become a martyr was much more strongly expressed and emphasized. Despite the fact that there are believed to have been Sikh martyrs prior to the inauguration of the Khalsa in 1699, the martyr tradition became intimately connected with this militant order. Ibid, p. 53

Let us now turn to the game as devised by the Tat Khalsa and played out by the Akalis and SGPC. The attempt to define and control sacred space that initiated the Gurdwara movement began long before the British conquest of the Punjab. The simple fact that Guru Amar Das had constructed Baoli Sahib in Goindwal and that Guru Ram Das chose to have Harimandir built demonstrated a need for a space set aside for congregational Sikh worship. Ibid, p. 233

The author’s conjecture that the Gurus built ‘Baoli Sahib’, a deep Well and Harimandir, Sikhism’s primal Temple to ‘set aside space for exclusive Sikh worship’ exhibits his ignorance of Sikhism’s salient concept of all-inclusiveness. The Temple, built with four portals symbolically welcomes all castes and creeds from four directions.

His choice of epitaphs and invectives in the above passages reveal his cynical, sceptical view of Singh Sabha, a view typical of W. H. McLeod’s school of thought and its affiliates. In all their published or unpublished Sikh-Study dissertations, the Singh Sabha, the sole Sikh reformist movement, is invariably the butt of denunciation. Furthering his School’s askance view Dr. Fenech implicitly equates Sikh reformist movement, Singh Sabha to the Muslim Jihadits and Christian crusaders’ cadres.

"It was in 1872 (CE) that the Sikh revival may have said to-have begin. The spread of English education and knowledge of Western ideas of scholarship and democracy led the Sikhs to start many small divans, where they could meet together for discussion as Sikhs; they came to realize that Sikhism would perish altogether if it were allowed to merge into the Hinduism all around it, and though they could not yet form one authoritative body which would govern all affairs of the community, they did start in Amritsar in this year the Singh Sabha which proved the source of many things." Duncun Greenlees, ‘The Gospel of GURU GRANTH SAHIB’, p. cxxxix

INNUENDO: JATS INHERENTLY VIOLENT

Amritsar and Tarn Taran were thriving towns filled with many Sikhs of all castes. The villages surrounding these towns were populated by the large numbers of Sikhs, particularly Jat Sikhs, who pursued agricultural occupations. These were a people who often resorted to violence to settle disputes over honour and land, a natural tendency, so the text states, considering the fact that the Punjab was gateway through which all would be ‘conquerors’ of India had to pass. Ibid, p. 80

Jahangir’s motive behind the execution however, is still a matter of controversy amongst scholars. Was the emperor concerned at the growing Jat constituency of the Sikh Panth, the Jat zāt (sub caste), a group which was known for its predilection towards violence in the early seventeenth century? Ibid, p. 119

There is no unbiased, authenticated historical account, nor does Dr. Fenech substantiate his assertions that the Jats are inherently militant and constituted majority in early Sikhism. The fact that the original ‘Panj Piärē’, ‘five cherished Sikhs’, Dya Ram Khatri of Lahore, Punjab, Dharm Das Jat of Delhi, Mohkam Chand washer-man of Dwarka, Gujrat, Himat Singh cook of Jagannath, Orissa, and Sahib Chand barber of Bidder, Maharashtra, belonged to India’s various geographical regions, castes and sub castes, negates Dr. Fenech’s assertions.

"Only Sikhs have ever run into battle screaming "PREM KI JIT" (Love Be Thy Victory)! Before materialism and baboon bosses succeed in conquering Sikhi and the planet, and destroying good simply for their own ego-gratification, why not fight?" Kamalla Rose Kaur, Abstracts of Sikhism Oct- Dec. 2006

CYNICISM

While compiling the Adi Granth in the late sixteen and early seventeenth centuries Guru Arjan recognized the popularity of the var (ballad) among the rural population of the Punjab and himself selected the heroic dhunis (tunes) of these ballads at the beginning of the vars in different rag sections of the Adi Granth. This process of appropriation, we are told, was in order to attract this rural audience, particularly the Jat caste, to the Sikh faith. ----- A statement of this nature certainly adds weight to the vigorously contested theory that the martial traditions of the Jats had a fundamental influence on the early formation of the Sikh tradition. Ibid, pp. 116-7

Guru Arjan or any other Sikh Guru had no intent or disingenuous design to recruit or proselytize to fill the ranks of Sikhism. Authored by revered Sikh Gurus and eminent Hindu and Muslim saints, Sikhism’s scriptural anthology imparts a universal message to all mankind, ‘to be virtuous human beings, earn an honest livelihood and share with the needy and cultivate true piety; and relinquish, cardinal vices, carnal lust, anger, greed, materialism and ego.

The real Ascetic is, who comprehends path of true piety and with Guru’s grace cultivates rapport (harmonious relationship) with the God. Qäsi (Muslim cleric) is, who abstains from corruption and with spiritual guide’s grace refrains from materialism. Brahman is, who worships the One (absolute) God and thus redeems himself; and, by example, facilitates redemption of his descendents. GGS, 4, 5, 7, p.662

"There is something strangely modern about these (Sikh) scriptures and this puzzled me. Perhaps this sense of unity is the source of power I find in these volumes. They speak to the people of any religion or of none. They speak for the human heart and the searching mind." Pearl S. Buck

"Yet, this planet desperately needs Sikhi. This planet needs Sikhs to do what Sikhs do best - for the glory of universalism and the love of human potential, more than for the Glory of Sikhi." Kamalla Rose Kaur, Abstracts of Sikhism Oct- Dec. 2006

MYTHS AND ORAL TRADITIONS CREDITED

Although the texts draw on a considerable amount of material in their construction of the standard Tegh Bahadur narrative, the pattern in which an emphasis is placed on the ideological relationship between the first Guru and the ninth may be traced to the account one finds in the Bachitar Natak, probably the first source in which mention is made of the ninth Guru’s sacrifice.

Yet to understand the relationship between the first and the ninth Guru within this passage, it must be placed within the context of the entire Bachitar Nātak, a text which attempts to understand the legacy inherited by Guru Gobind Singh and his position within it. As the next canto (section) implies, after the death of the ninth Guru, the light of Nanak is passed on to the tenth Guru. It begins by stating that it was in his previous life that Guru Gobind Singh was appointed by Akal Purakh to continue spreading that righteousness which Guru Nanak brought into the world, and for which his father had died. Ibid, pp. 85-6

To further instil in Sikhs a strong desire to defend righteousness, the tenth Guru composed a series of hymns and epics which were to be brought together in the early eighteenth century as the Dasam Granth, or the Book of the Tenth King, by his boyhood companion, Mani Singh. Tradition states Guru Gobind Singh discovered that from reading the [Adi] Granth the Sikhs became feeble hearted. Therefore [he said], I myself will prepare such a Granth that the Sikhs from reading it will learn the art of ruling, the use of weapons and other skills, so that they will become fit for warfare. Ibid, p.90

After all, Guru Gobind Singh is himself believed to have prepared many of the compositions we find in the Dasam Granth for just that reason. The Guru appears to have made this point in the Krishanāvtār (the Descent of Krishna) a work which was completed, just weeks before Guru Gobind Singh was about to engage in the battle of Bhangani, vividly described in the Bachitar Nātak. Ibid, p. 126

It is a sad irony that the Sikh Studies teachers, supervisors and examiners [Dr. Basham for instance] at the Western Universities, do not have necessary education or expertise in field, and hence, are not conversant with the doctrinal and ideological incompatibility of the unauthentic quasi-Sikh literature and oral traditions with the authentic Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. This academic ineptness leads the Sikh Studies students to construct their theses on compositions such as Dasam Granth, Gurbilas, Janam Sakhis, Panth Parkash etc. that contains some historical data, but mostly Idolatrous, mythological occult and erotic content even, hence, further corrupting Sikhism’s novel theology, religiosity, ideology and history.

SCEPTICISM

The statement regarding the torture to which Guru was subjected may well have been part of mid-seventeenth-century oral tradition and may have in fact, occurred as Jahangir notes in his memoirs (discussed below), that he had ordered Arjan to be ‘punished [scil. tortured?] and executed’ (siyāst o yāsā rasānand). Yet neither the Dabistān nor the emperor’s orders are enough to verify beyond doubt that Guru Arjan was tortured during his imprisonment. -------- Until evidence closer to the event surfaces, demonstrating that torture was actually applied, we as historians must be sceptical about the claims of tradition. Ibid, p. 118

Here, there is no doubt that the fifth Guru was executed on Jahangir’s orders. Jahangir’s motive behind the execution however, is still a matter of controversy amongst scholars. Was the emperor concerned at the growing Jat constituency of the Sikh Panth, the Jat zāt (sub caste), a group which was known for its predilection towards violence in the early seventeenth century? Did the appropriation of imperial terminology to describe the Guru’s situation-the Guru held a darbār (‘court’), was considered a sachchā pādsāh or ‘true king’, and sat upon a takhat (‘throne’)-incite Jahangir to action against a religious leader whom he considered an upstart? Ibid, p.119

The only conclusion the evidence will support is that Guru Arjan acquired the enmity of Mughal state by appearing to support the rival claim of Khusrau, was imprisoned (and perhaps beaten) by the emperor’s minions, and subsequently died while in Mughal custody in Lahore. Ibid, p. 120

Scepticism is another idiosyncrasy of Sikh Studies students of Dr. Hewat McLeod and the affiliates of his school of thought. Since, Dr. McLeod was the supervisor of the Sikh studies Ph. D. student, Louis Fenech, it is not surprising that the scepticism exudes from latter’s passage above.

ESTEEMED SIKH SCHOLARS DISCREDITED

By this time, thanks in large part to the overall success of the Gurdwara Reform movement, the Singh Sabha interpretation of Sikh tradition had become by far dominant view of the Sikhs and Sikhism. As a product of this movement’s premier twentieth century ideologue, the MK (Mahan Kosh) communicates Tat Khalsa ideals and aspirations. In his brief passage dealing with the eighteenth-century rahit-nama of Chaupa Singh Chibber, for example, Kahn Singh simply notes that the contemporary manuscript had been corrupted by ignorant Sikhs, a standard Tat Khalsa tactic in attempting to explain elements of Sikh past which did not measure up to their interpretation of the tradition. Ibid, pp. 148-9

As we will see, the category ‘shahid’ which we find in Kahn Singh’s famous encyclopaedia, like many elements in what we today define as Sikhism, is a Singh Sabha construct. Ibid, p. 150

Clearly placed within the Khalsa tradition, the version of the ninth guru’s martyrdom we find in Sūraj Prakās has Guru Tegh Bahadur himself resoundingly state dharma ham hindū (ours is the Hindu faith) Ibid, p.153

Note Bhai Vir Singh’s editorial comments to this statement in a footnote (marked with an asterisk). Vir Singh explains that the Guru does not really mean that ‘ours is the Hindu religion, despite the fact that the context clearly suggests this interpretation. Ibid, note, p. 172

Sikhism’s quintessential spirituality and pragmatic religiosity, enshrined in the Sikh scripture, transcend the narrow dogmatic sectarian or denominational bounds. The essential religious act is to worship universal ‘One God’.

I do not go on Hajj to Kāba, nor do I worship (Hindu) shrine.

I worship only ‘One God’, no other.

I am neither Hindu nor Muslim.

My body and spirit are gifts from the ‘One God’, called Allah or Ram. M: 5, GG. P. 1136

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, one of its most influential members, Bhai Vir Singh, would take up the task of ‘editing’ two of the more popular gur-bilas (type) works in which such themes were found. Although these pre-Singh Sabha texts presented a Khalsa that was exceptionally heroic and willing to sacrifice itself, the reasons for such sacrifice were not always those of which the later Tat Khalsa was fond. When such early examples of martyrdom were noted by the Tat Khalsa, ideologues would alter the reason for the martyr’s sacrifice and amplify what they understood the meaning of shahidi to represent. Ibid, p. 189

Yet, the extent of the changes undertaken by Vir Singh far exceed this need. In editing this text, it seems that Vir Singh both deleted anything he felt was contrary to his vision of Sikhism and added passages which supplemented his Tat Khalsa-aligned interpretation. While some of the modifications were subtle, others were quite obvious. In Panth Prakäs, for example, Gian Singh notes that he consulted the folio of Bhangu’s manuscript while writing of the famous incident regarding Guru Gobind Singh’s veneration of the goddess Chandi. In Bhai Vir Singh edition of Prachin Panth Prakäs, this episode does not appear.

During the period in which Bhangu composed his epic, for example, Sikhs were considered essentially Hindus, a fact that Bhangu acknowledged as easily as his contemporary, Santokh Singh. Ibid, pp. 189-90

Where the extant manuscripts of Bhangu’s epic show Sikhs sacrificing their lives for the Devi, for example, the version supplied by Vir Singh shows these same Sikhs sacrificing themselves for their Guru and for the benefit of the Panth. Even Guru Gobind Singh is not spared in this regard. While he offers his four sons as a sacrifice to the goddess in the manuscript (Bhangu’s), he is presented as sacrificing all he holds dear for the sake of the Panth in the printed version (Bhai Vir Singh’s). Ibid, p. 191

Generally accepted as Guru Gobind Singh’s work, ‘Akäl Ustut’, for its doctrinal compatibility with Sikh creed, verse 5, 2 in it reads, ‘Churn, surn jeh bust Bhawäni’, denotes, ‘[God], at whose feet lives [Hindu goddess] Bhawäni, alias Chandi and connotes, ‘why worship Chandi, who herself worships the ‘One God’.

Sikh scholars Kesar Singh Chhiber, Rattan Singh Bhangu, Giani Gian Singh, Santokh Singh, et al, were products of the two-century time span, [just after the Guru-period], between early eighteenth to early twentieth centuries, when the impostors and pseudo-Sikhs, that Dr. Fenech’s fraternity calls Sanatan Sikhs, controlled Sikhism and corrupted its theology, religiosity and history with Avatar-ism, occultism, idolatry and mythology; and befuddled the Sikh psyche. The literary works of these Sikh authors reflect the literary trends and paradigms that were more akin to Hindu scriptures than Sikh creed and history.

The concerned Singh Sabha intellectuals had to cleanse Sikhism of this contamination and restore it to its originality as conceptualized, written and preached by the Guru Granth’s co-authors, Sikh Gurus, eminent Muslim and Hindu saints.

Among the most surprising revisions we find is in regard to the exploits of the famous Bhai Bidhi Chand. In the Vir Singh edition the passage in which this noted Gursikh of the sixth Guru steals the royal horses, Gulbagh and Dilbagh, from the Lahore fort, for which he was glorified in both early-eighteenth-century song and legend, is omitted. The fact that Vir Singh expunged the episode that allude to Bidhi Chand’s career as a thief appears to indicate that Vir Singh was unable to tolerate the inclusion of the slightest negative image of the Sikhs. Ibid, p. 191

In citing the dubious episode of Bhai Bidhi Chand’s exploits’, derived from anonymous, pseudonymous and misguided Sikh authors’ fantastical literature, Dr. Fenech has ignorantly or recklessly denounced an esteemed Sikh scholar, and further tarnished a true, devout Sikh’s image and blasphemed Sikh Guru Hargobind, who is professed to have blessed Bhai Bidhi Chand’s escapades. To profess that any of the Sikh Gurus, who emphatically condemned nefarious activity, [see GGS p., 662], would condone, much less bless felony, is tantamount to insinuating that they were duplicitous and didn’t practice what they preached.

Another, force, far more powerful, behind the prevalence of this idiom was the energetic writing of the famous Tat Khalsa polemicist (aggressive disputant), preacher and journalist, Giani Ditt Singh. Ibid, p. 198

Ditt Singh was among the first to recognize the rhetorical (effective) potential which martyrdom possessed. In a society that highly prized the heroic ideal, the emphasis on sacrifice and martyrdom was to prove the most potent weapon in the Tat Khalsa arsenal. Ibid, p. 203

Dr. Fenech has, naively or consciously credited the anonymous, pseudonymous and pseudo-Sikh authors of literature, replete with myths, pagan rituals and occult rites that are contrary to Sikhism’s fundamental religious philosophy, history and ideology and denounced the esteemed Sikh scholars for refuting and expunging such crap from the corruptive literature. However there are prominent scholars with objective views debunk his askance views of Singh Sabha.

"In 1875, (CE) Swami Dayānand Saraswati founded the Ārya Smāj, and two years later toured Punjab with his lectures, founding several branches there. Giāni Dit Singh stood up as the champion of Sikhism against this Hindu propagandist; in debates and lectures and by his book ‘Dambh Nivāran, he urged that Hindu elements be cast out of Sikhism and the pure doctrine of the Gurus be taught everywhere." Duncun Greenlees, ‘The Gospel of GURU GRANTH SAHIB’, pp. cxxxix, cxl

"Another great forward move was taken by the Sikhs in 1894, (CE) when Dr. Charan Singh of Amritsar, Sādhu Singh, and other scholars joined to form the Khalsa Tract Society, long ruled by the Saintly Dr. Bhai Vir Singh; this Society has flooded the Punjab with cheap (inexpensive) reprints of parts of the Guru-Granth Sahib, many of them translations and commentaries, together with other historical literature of the early days of their religion. Each is on sale for few annas, many being issued in serial form. Books also have been published, such as Rūp Singh’s Sikhi Mārga, in 1916 (CE). The Sikh Tract Society, by a few graduate Sikh scholars, tries to do the same in English; it has many pamphlets by Dr. Teja Singh and by Sardar Sadul Singh Caveeshar on historical and exegetical topics." Ibid, p. cxli

"In 1834 (CE), the American Ludhiana mission began its work in Punjabi. It brought the printing press with it and published the New Testament in Punjabi. It met with little success until 1873 (CE) when four Sikh students of Amritsar Mission School declared their intention to be baptized. Such conversions as had previously occurred had been among the low caste, mostly illiterate, Sikhs."

"The success of Christians among educated, wealthier, and higher caste Sikhs in Amritsar the religious centre of Sikhism, caused shock and panic. Thakur Singh Sandawalia and Giani Gian Singh decided upon a response which became known as Singh Sabha movement. The Amritsar Singh Sabha was formed on 1 October 1873 and others followed in the next few years. These associations (Sabha means association), had number of aims:

to restore Sikhism to its original purity, free from Hindu influences

to publish books on Sikh history and religion

to publish journals and newspapers in Punjabi

to bring apostates back into the Panth

to interest the British in their educational programme and win their assistance in establishing Sikh educational institutions.

"No sooner had the Sikhs begun to counter the Christian threat than another Hindu challenge developed. In 1877, (CE) Arya Smaj, a Hindu reform movement, became active in Punjab." W. Owen Cole, ‘teach yourself SIKHISM’, p. 148

"Arya missionaries went around villages persuading people to take part in a Shuddhi purificatory thread ceremony. They were particularly successful in winning people of low caste and seemed to threaten the very existence of the Sikh religion, until the Singh Sabha movement struck back through educational programme."

"The response was the creation of more Singh Sabhas. These were coordinated in 1902 (CE) under Chief Khalsa Diwan, a council pledged to safeguard loyalty to the British crown and to safeguard Sikh rights. During the period between 1873 and 1902 (CE), Sikh schools and colleges, often called Khalsa colleges, were established with the support of administrators who saw the value of Sikh loyalty and worth of harnessing the Sikh martial tradition to serve in the British army. This, in turn, promoted Sikh identity, as it became a rule that Sikh soldiers must be kasadhari." Ibid, p. 149