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The Mughals: The Sikhs...


pritam
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The Sikhs are one of the most prosperous and politically important religious minorities in India. The religion itself is of comparatively recent origin—it dates from the time of Babur—but the history of its community, called Panth , or "Path," by the faithful, is a deeply rooted aspect of Sikh life. Since its inception, the Sikh community has been one of the major factors in Indian history. The Mughals understood that Sikhism was a separatist movement, and by the eighteenth century, the Sikhs had established a separate kingdom with its capital in Lahore. The Sikhs were a major force in the British Allied army as the British gradually annexed the whole of India in the 1850's, and after Indian Independence, the Sikh community, half of which had to flee Muslim Pakistan after partition, became economically and politically the most significant and successful minority community in India. The Sikhs are unique as a religious movement. Founded in the deepest spirituality and mysticism, they are a radically egalitarian group rooted deeply in their sense of community, called "brotherhood" (khalsa ) , and history. The khalsa is unified by one aspect: all Sikhs are disciples of the founding Gurus of the religion—the word, "Sikh," means disciple. They are also, however, a highly militant religion and society; the community has to be protected with the highest martial vigilance and ability. Since the seventeenth century, Sikh fighters have been feared throughout India for their ability and sheer courage. The British, who employed them in their army in the nineteenth century, referred to them as the greatest of the "martial races." It's an odd mixture. On the one hand, Sikhism is one of the most deeply spiritual and profoundly mystical religions of the world, advocating a social harmony and egalitarianism unrivalled by any other major religion, with the possible exception of Buddhism. On the other hand, the Sikh community is a militant, warrior community, willing to fight, sacrifice, or assassinate to protect or further the community...

... To this day, the Sikh community is economically and politically very powerful and is one of the most restive of India's minorities. It has demanded greater autonomy and has militantly defied the government. India's Prime Minister was assassinated by her Sikh guards, and Sikh militancy has led to military intervention, including the the invasion of the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. To Akbar, the Sikhs were a religious community deserving imperial support. To Jahangir, they were a growing political force that potentially threatened the Empire. To Aurangzeb, the Sikhs were dangerous heretics to be stamped out at any cost. To the successors of Aurangzeb, the Sikhs were a major military and social force pulling the Empire apart. As a separate and militant community, the Sikhs still find themselves partly foreigners in their own country, suspicious of and suspected by the dominant government.

I just found it an interesting read through the eyes of a non-Sikh. The full article can be found here.

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