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Sikhs And The Indian Mutiny


dalsingh101

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I read Dalrymple's 'The Last Mughal' recently and was kind of surprised at the general portrayal of Sikhs in it. Not very positive. Being a Moghulophile seems to have effected his opinion on apnay. Was also surprised to read of whitey's savage reprisals, given that they like to make themselves out to be so noble all the time. Interesting stuff.

Anyway, thought I'd start a thread where we could drop contemporary quotes regarding Sikhs during the 'mutiny'. Enjoy:

The Sikh soldiers had dreamt of carry away jewels and treasures that would make their families rich for ever.....General Wilson had promised that the plunder of the city should, when realized, be distributed to the army.......So guards were placed at all the gates, who seized everything that was attempted to be passed through [but] the Sikh soldiers were not easily foiled....They got their bullock wagons to be driven at night to the walls, and dropped their booty down to their friends below. Many women, too were seized and carried away by them. It was not till the spoils of Delhi were seen passing up the Punjab, that the news of its capture was fully believed in the great Musalman cities of the North West....[i believe the following statement refers to the acts of the British soldiers as opposed to Sikhs – dalsingh] Many of the citizens were shot, clasping their hands for mercy. It was know that a large portion had wished us well. Helplessness ought to be respected in either sex, especially in those who had never done us wrong. It is unmanly for an officer to drive his sword through a trembling old man, or a soldier to blow out the brains of a wounded boy, as to strike a women.

A history of the siege of Delhi, Major William Ireland quoted in The last Mughal by W. Dalrymple

A man of the 2nd Iregulars who showed the Sialkot Mutineers the ford had his 2 hands cut off, a bayonet run through his body and then hung; batches of prisoners with their hands tied are taken to the forest and the Sikhs let at them. Such cruelties must tell against us in the long run, and because these men have done the same to us.......is no reason we should emulate them. Kill them by all means by hanging and shooting the really guilty [but the innocent should be spared].

Diary of Colonel Edward L. Ommaney, entry for 21 July 1857, Umritsar.

Edited by dalsingh101
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Plenty of British brutalities are recorded but not widely acknowledged. There was another account of the Indian Mutiny in which one English officer went around all day hacking and killing men, women and children. The officer writing about it seemed to feel more sorry for the English officer than his victims. British accounts of brutality to Chinese women and girls during the Boxer rebellion exist, as do accounts of torturing and executing German, Japanese, Italian and Turkish soldiers/civilians during the World Wars.

What is interesting is what the Sikhs would have made of the Mutiny. Barely five years before they had faced tens of thousands of British and Indians trying to overrun our Empire. Now they were killing one of their former enemies to help the other enemy. Sikhs probably had no love for the people that the Nihangs had portrayed as the oppressed masses of South Asia, especially as so many of them had helped the British. But why were they so willing to help the British? Was it due to Maharajah Duleep SIngh being in British hands and the rest of the Sikh Kings being on the British side? Why our lot didnt do the British in as well after getting the Sepoys is a mystery and one hell of a lost opportunity seeing as the British had rearmed us after having put so much effort into demilitarizing the Punjab in the decade before.

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Plenty of British brutalities are recorded but not widely acknowledged. There was another account of the Indian Mutiny in which one English officer went around all day hacking and killing men, women and children. The officer writing about it seemed to feel more sorry for the English officer than his victims. British accounts of brutality to Chinese women and girls during the Boxer rebellion exist, as do accounts of torturing and executing German, Japanese, Italian and Turkish soldiers/civilians during the World Wars.

I remember reading about an eyewitness account of a red Indian massacre too and how the goray were cutting off female genitalia and wearing them like badges and cutting off breasts to make 'tobacco pouches'. The whole disparity between the way the western world haps on about the 'savagery' of the 'natives' whilst consciously negating their own beastly behavior through willful silence needs to be understood by all apnay and especially apneean, who frequently take this 'orientalism' characterisation on board and start to view ethnic men along these lines themselves.

What is interesting is what the Sikhs would have made of the Mutiny. Barely five years before they had faced tens of thousands of British and Indians trying to overrun our Empire. Now they were killing one of their former enemies to help the other enemy.

What has become apparent to me is that our people ARE out and out pendus when it comes to literacy and writing. There are thousands of accounts of the mutiny from the Delhi residents who witnessed it, but yet again, apnay have done the Sikh unparh special and failed to create narratives. We can explain the dearth of witness accounts of the 18th centry due to the make up of most of the Singhs i.e. rural and unsophisticated and the touch and go nature of existence then, but how can it be excused in the 19th century? Even contemporary black American slaves in America left plenty of detailed and well written narratives of their experiences? The mind boggles. lol

Sikhs probably had no love for the people that the Nihangs had portrayed as the oppressed masses of South Asia, especially as so many of them had helped the British.

You lost me there. I didn't know nihungs did anything like this? If anything, 'purbias' (easterners) were pretty much loathed by Panjabis. It isn't really mentioned (probably due to our famous conservativeness on such matters) but it is almost inconceivable that they (the sepoys who accompanied the honkys) never went on any raping and pillaging spree on the back of British success in the Anglo-Sikh wars.

But why were they so willing to help the British? Was it due to Maharajah Duleep SIngh being in British hands and the rest of the Sikh Kings being on the British side? Why our lot didnt do the British in as well after getting the Sepoys is a mystery and one hell of a lost opportunity seeing as the British had rearmed us after having put so much effort into demilitarizing the Punjab in the decade before.

I don't think Duleep Singh had anything to do with it. The truth is that most Sikhs by then were not religiously or ideologically motivated, it was economics that drove them. It was the 'marauding instincts' in some of our more base brothers than dictated behaviour. Plus let's be frank, our farmers have had an inferiority complex to goray since the fall of the Sikh empire and many would still gladly be their pampered pets of choice. That being said, I think revenge against poorbias was one determining factor but the failure to give whitey a boot up the arse when they could have so easily seems to be the the first manifestation of that gullible, lulloo, credulous, hungry for love and acceptance type nature so many of our people so frequently demonstrate towards goray even today. lol

Edited by dalsingh101
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I remember reading about an eyewitness account of a red Indian massacre too and how the goray were cutting off female genitalia and wearing them like badges and cutting off breasts to make 'tobacco pouches'. The whole disparity between the way the western world haps on about the 'savagery' of the 'natives' whilst consciously negating their own beastly behavior through willful silence needs to be understood by all apnay and especially apneean, who frequently take this 'orientalism' characterisation on board and start to view ethnic men along these lines themselves.

You mean those desi girls who go all sh*t scared at the sight of a sikh? They tend to be the ugly skinny ones too, which makes me wonder what they're scarred of. Could also be they dont want a member of their community finding about anything they get up to. Some Sikh men also seem to be politically correct angloindians too.

The thing about the historical violence is that it goes far beyond 'the winner writing history'. Abrahamic belief systems relish the notion of good -v- evil. Naturally, none of them consider themselves to be evil so if they kill, rape and torture it is perfectly fine as they see themselves as the 'good guys'. Also there is the sexualisation of history. Most sketches of Delhi show it being surrounded by high walls. Throwing loot over it to a wagon below is one thing, throwing a woman is something else. Sometimes I think the idea of 'dirty pervy darkies' is something that titillated Victorians and led to an appetite for stories about these kind of things that were so sensational and able to get around the morality imposed on their own native literature.

What has become apparent to me is that our people ARE out and out pendus when it comes to literacy and writing. There are thousands of accounts of the mutiny from the Delhi residents who witnessed it, but yet again, apnay have done the Sikh unparh special and failed to create narratives. We can explain the dearth of witness accounts of the 18th centry due to the make up of most of the Singhs i.e. rural and unsophisticated and the touch and go nature of existence then, but how can it be excused in the 19th century? Even contemporary black American slaves in America left plenty of detailed and well written narratives of their experiences? The mind boggles. lol

Black Americans have always had a goal: to achieve equality with whitey. Spreading and saving their messages/experiences allowed them to keep going. It also made sure that each generation didnt have to press the reset button and go through each experience again. Part of why they acted in this way may be down to how they understood the white power system (churches, books, guns,land ownership etc) and resulted in them emulating what they saw. Our lot thought they were top dogs and probably had no reason to keep written accounts. Those that were kept were of no use to immediate generations. Why is that? I dont know. May have something to do with Sikhs using oral history or our belief in holy texts being the only useful books, therefore all other literature is redundant. Or other reasons, who knows.

You lost me there. I didn't know nihungs did anything like this? If anything, 'purbias' (easterners) were pretty much loathed by Panjabis. It isn't really mentioned (probably due to our famous conservativeness on such matters) but it is almost inconceivable that they (the sepoys who accompanied the honkys) never went on any raping and pillaging spree on the back of British success in the Anglo-Sikh wars.

I read somewhere once (possibly an account by a British political officer, I cant remember) that the Nihangs got hold of printing presses and used them to distribute 'propaganda' amongst Sikh soldiers about how the British were evil, stealing all India's wealth and that the Khalsa's divine destiny was to force them out of India and rule the subcontinent. Of course things didnt quite go according to plan.

In Amarpal Singh Sidhu's book he talks about how the camp followers of the EIC army went looting all the time and how the British officers never bothered to stop it. Another account talks about finding 'circassian slaves' in some Sikh aristocrat's house and fighting between sepoys and whites over who got them.

I don't think Duleep Singh had anything to do with it. The truth is that most Sikhs by then were not religiously or ideologically motivated, rather it was economics. It was the 'marauding instincts' in some of our more base brothers than dictated behaviour. Plus lets be frank, our farmers have had an inferiority complex to goray since the fall of the Sikh empire and would still gladly be their pets of choice. I think revenge against poorbias was one determining factor but the failure to give whitey a boot up the arse when they could have so easily seems to be the the first manifestation of that gullible, lulloo, credulous, hungry for love and acceptance type nature so many of our people so frequently demonstrate even today. lol

But so soon after the Sikh Empire was the only non-white force that could go up against the firanghi and win? Some of it may be down to economics, but why were Sikhs so delusioned by the idea of self-rule? Did they really swallow the English fake-it-till-you-make-it charm telling them that Britain was paved with gold and a pure country etc? Add to this the misuse of the Guru's prophecy, which is so bizarre it makes me wonder what people were on back then.

Edited by HSD1
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You mean those desi girls who go all sh*t scared at the sight of a sikh? They tend to be the ugly skinny ones too, which makes me wonder what they're scarred of. Could also be they dont want a member of their community finding about anything they get up to. Some Sikh men also seem to be politically correct angloindians too.

I meant more of those city types, who detest the sight of their own as they go up in the world. Plenty of them around Canary Wharf for instance. It isn't just Singhs with dastaars they loathe, even monay 'disgust' them. lol

Sometimes I think the idea of 'dirty pervy darkies' is something that titillated Victorians and led to an appetite for stories about these kind of things that were so sensational and able to get around the morality imposed on their own native literature.

I know what you mean. Victorian goray (hell even contemporary gora judging by The Sun) have always had this weird underlying sexual fascination with 'natives' which usually came out as a mixture of drooling and condescending judgments, which conveniently ignored their own highly sexualised fetishism, hypocrisy and whatnot. That being said, some of the less flattering stuff about our lot isn't always lies. The score is simply that they played up our dirt whilst sweeping their own under the rug - which appears to be a well used tool in white western culture, when it comes to dealing with the 'natives'.

Black Americans have always had a goal: to achieve equality with whitey. Spreading and saving their messages/experiences allowed them to keep going. It also made sure that each generation didnt have to press the reset button and go through each experience again. Part of why they acted in this way may be down to how they understood the white power system (churches, books, guns,land ownership etc) and resulted in them emulating what they saw. Our lot thought they were top dogs and probably had no reason to keep written accounts. Those that were kept were of no use to immediate generations. Why is that? I dont know. May have something to do with Sikhs using oral history or our belief in holy texts being the only useful books, therefore all other literature is redundant. Or other reasons, who knows.

I'm thinking all communities have broad characteristics, and as ours became increasingly rural, it became less intellectual. Pendus even now seem to have an indifference (even antipathy) to literary pursuits (unless directly related to some strategy for status upliftment) which is pretty indicative. Read the narrative of Frederick Douglas it's pretty short but it gives you a clear insight into what black Americans had to go through to learn how to read, when it was pretty much banned for them. The other thing to note is the date of the narrative. It directly corresponds to the period when our own people were having their wars with whitey. Your point about oral history is interesting but we have to bear in mind that by this time people like Rattan Singh Bhangu had already realised the importance of recording this, hence the creation of Panth Prakash. I'm translating a piece by Ganda Singh that might shed light onto the matter, hopefully I'll get that out around the new year. That point you made about having to go back to the start because we don't use accumulated knowledge (as is typically passed down through literature) is an important observation though. That's why even today we are still in a position to be politically exploited by outsiders.

I read somewhere once (possibly an account by a British political officer, I cant remember) that the Nihangs got hold of printing presses and used them to distribute 'propaganda' amongst Sikh soldiers about how the British were evil, stealing all India's wealth and that the Khalsa's divine destiny was to force them out of India and rule the subcontinent. Of course things didnt quite go according to plan.

I've never heard this. I doubt it too. The nihangs seems to have gone seriously introverted after the wasp wars, something that continues till this day. I think you may have got the Ghadrittes mixed up with post annexation nihangs?

In Amarpal Singh Sidhu's book he talks about how the camp followers of the EIC army went looting all the time and how the British officers never bothered to stop it. Another account talks about finding 'circassian slaves' in some Sikh aristocrat's house and fighting between sepoys and whites over who got them.

To grasp history we must also understand the role and use of 'silence' in all narratives. These serve various utilitarian purposes. As a rule, it's usual that dark stuff that gets mentioned in passing is usually indicative of a much higher prevalence of that type of stuff taking place. Take white America's portrayal of teh 'good old pioneering days' as a clear example where savagery towards 'Injuns' is all but written out.

But so soon after the Sikh Empire was the only non-white force that could go up against the firanghi and win? Some of it may be down to economics, but why were Sikhs so delusioned by the idea of self-rule? Did they really swallow the English fake-it-till-you-make-it charm telling them that Britain was paved with gold and a pure country etc? Add to this the misuse of the Guru's prophecy, which is so bizarre it makes me wonder what people were on back then.

I watched that Che Guvera movie recently and there was a bit where it shows how he would not give illiterate people positions of command in his force, no matter how good a fighter they were. He explained it in terms of them being easily manipulable by the educated as a result of their ignorance. It's like they say, the strong rule the weak, and the smart rule the strong. Yes, we may have been strong, but maybe we need to face up to the fact that cognitively speaking, we weren't that smart. That's what explains the jaw dropping naivety and credulous behavior that had apnay allowing goray to fall for all these pro-Anglo 'prophecies' and allowing them to manipulate the religion to the extent of intertwining vows of loyalty to the British monarch in the Amrit sanchar ceremony and incorporating all manner of puritan into Sikhi. I just read Panth Prakash recently, and the portrayal of the Sikh community therein (by the grandson of top ranked SInghs no less!) is miles away from the puritan image as reflected in Bhai Vir Singh's famous historical novels.

Edited by dalsingh101
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I remember reading about an eyewitness account of a red Indian massacre too and how the goray were cutting off female genitalia and wearing them like badges and cutting off breasts to make 'tobacco pouches'. The whole disparity between the way the western world haps on about the 'savagery' of the 'natives' whilst consciously negating their own beastly behavior through willful silence needs to be understood by all apnay and especially apneean, who frequently take this 'orientalism' characterisation on board and start to view ethnic men along these lines themselves.

Bro, its not politically correct to call them red indians anymore, they like to be refered to as 1st Nation People. This treatment of "cutting of genitalia and wearing them" is just barbaric. But if you really want to know how savage the whites/europeans were, you dont even have to leave England. They were pretty much savages when dealing with each other, ie the burnings at the reformation and what-not.

What has become apparent to me is that our people ARE out and out pendus when it comes to literacy and writing. There are thousands of accounts of the mutiny from the Delhi residents who witnessed it, but yet again, apnay have done the Sikh unparh special and failed to create narratives.

Thank you very much Dal Singh Ji. One subject that I find Sikh people have more or less totally ignored, literature-wise is the partition of panjab. Even know when i speak to people who have experienced it, some say they have never told their children about. Some cos they wantewd to forget it, but i feel this is a dis-service to curious people like myself who wish ot know more about that period. There are very very few Sikhs who have penned their experiences of this period.

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Bro, its not politically correct to call them red indians anymore, they like to be refered to as 1st Nation People. This treatment of "cutting of genitalia and wearing them" is just barbaric. But if you really want to know how savage the whites/europeans were, you dont even have to leave England. They were pretty much savages when dealing with each other, ie the burnings at the reformation and what-not.

Need to read up on that. i know the last witches to be burnt here was in 1682, when our people were just about to throw themselves in a social, military Khalsa revolution. Thanks for the heads up on 1st nation people.

Thank you very much Dal Singh Ji. One subject that I find Sikh people have more or less totally ignored, literature-wise is the partition of panjab. Even know when i speak to people who have experienced it, some say they have never told their children about. Some cos they wantewd to forget it, but i feel this is a dis-service to curious people like myself who wish ot know more about that period. There are very very few Sikhs who have penned their experiences of this period.

I noticed that as well! Like grandpa never speaking of how he saw the mussies pulled off a train, robbed and then thrown into the local canal (after having their throats slit) in retaliation for what was going on in Pakistan. I have recently come across the narrative of a Sikh bibi who was involved in all the repatriation of apneean and sullian after partition (in Panjabi) though. It was a really interesting read. mentioned A LOT of stockholm syndrome going on on both sides.

Ps - When I cuss Sikh penduness, realise that I too fall under that rubric!

Edited by dalsingh101
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I meant more of those city types, who detest the sight of their own as they go up in the world. Plenty of them around Canary Wharf for instance. It isn't just Singhs with dastaars they loathe, even monay 'disgust' them. lol

I think I know the type. They also get really angry when they see an asian guy with a gori.

I'm thinking all communities have broad characteristics, and as ours became increasingly rural, it became less intellectual. Pendus even now seem to have an indifference (even antipathy) to literary pursuits (unless directly related to some strategy for status upliftment) which is pretty indicative. Read the narrative of Frederick Douglas it's pretty short but it gives you a clear insight into what black Americans had to go through to learn how to read, when it was pretty much banned for them. The other thing to note is the date of the narrative. It directly corresponds to the period when our own people were having their wars with whitey. Your point about oral history is interesting but we have to bear in mind that by this time people like Rattan Singh Bhangu had already realised the importance of recording this, hence the creation of Panth Prakash. I'm translating a piece by Ganda Singh that might shed light onto the matter, hopefully I'll get that out around the new year. That point you made about having to go back to the start because we don't use accumulated knowledge (as is typically passed down through literature) is an important observation though. That's why even today we are still in a position to be politically exploited by outsiders.

I read the first page of the link, looks interesting, but I cant read the rest. Is this guy considered a pioneer of black literature?

I've never heard this. I doubt it too. The nihangs seems to have gone seriously introverted after the wasp wars, something that continues till this day. I think you may have got the Ghadrittes mixed up with post annexation nihangs?

No, the Akhalis were doing this before the Wars. The account from what I remember was referring to how both sides were warmongering.

I just read Panth Prakash recently, and the portrayal of the Sikh community therein (by the grandson of top ranked SInghs no less!) is miles away from the puritan image as reflected in Bhai Vir Singh's famous historical novels.

Is that in English?

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I think I know the type. They also get really angry when they see an asian guy with a gori.

Nah, they love that as it makes what they do okay.

I read the first page of the link, looks interesting, but I cant read the rest. Is this guy considered a pioneer of black literature?

It's one of the best things I've read in ages. He is an important figure of black history/literature. Helps globalise our historical knowledge too as what he talks of was happening whilst we were having our issues with whitey.

No, the Akhalis were doing this before the Wars. The account from what I remember was referring to how both sides were warmongering.

I heard that too. I just don't think nihangs had printing presses. Plus it wasn't warmongering on the Sikh side. They just weren't under any illusions as to the nature of the English. Given their history in India and their duplicity in Sikh politics (curtailing Sikh expansion in Sind for example). They knew the score and were trying to warn about and preempt the inevitable.

Is that in English?

Yes it is. you can read the first part on scribd here:

Edited by dalsingh101
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