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SARAB LOH versus "sahib log"

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I believe that the British adopted and tacitly encouraged references to themselves as the "sahib log" following the First Sikh War, coining the term in order to stage a propaganda coup over the Sikhs. This was possible, because uttered quickly the 2 terms sound similar.

Hence, the report of the sepoy speaking out against the British and another sepoy daring him to go and confront him could be interpreted either to show the sepoys subdued or else, as Indian fighting men, to have a belief that God was Sarab loh:

"Why don't you go and knock the hat off one of the master race, if you dare" (note the political spin)


"Why don't you go and knock the hat off that Britisher, and let steel decide what happens next".

(BTW, the first is a genuine report by a British officer of the ECO, reproduced in "Soldier Sahibs" by Charles Allen)

It's a theory...

Any perspectives?

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The British used this term ("sahib log") to refer to themselves, and encouraged the use of it among natives, starting with sepoys. The British accounts of their campaigns in the Sindh, Punjab and NWFP mention this term quite a lot. From my point of view, it seems an obvious corruption of the militant libertarianism of the Khalsa Dal, which at the time was very devoted to "SARAB LOH", which was a term much in use among ordinary people too.

A propagranda coup, which I want you to think about. Substantially altering the PUNJABI self-image, and trying to do the impossible (depict the Punjabis as an inferior race).

I find that the gleeful and detailed British accounts of the surrender of remaning pockets of the Khalsa Dal following the second Anglo-Sikh war are evidence of this attitude: focussing especially on the despair and decline of old warriors of Ranjit Singh's army, forced to surrender their swords, and thereafter declining into alcoholism, opium-addiction, etc.

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