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Arya Samaj and their influence on sikhs?


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I was just reading the post on sikhsangat, i thought arya samajis were real hindus, puratan hindus who have rejected loads of baseless rituals and bout pooja(idolatry).. i never thought they were doing same thing as rss doing right now like absorbing other faiths into their fold by similiarity card game.

I heard also sanatan singh sabha led by baba khem singh bedi was led by arya samajis as a result tat khalsa singh sabha came, bhai kahn singh nabha wrote a book - "Ham Hindu Nahin" i also heard from the other side in the course of this challenge, there was lot of questionable(bandi) parchar was done by tat khalsa compare to parchar of nirmala's which was done in form of lecture.

Benti to scholars on this site- please shed some light creation of arya samajis, effect on arya samajis on sikhs, whole idealogy of arya samajis?

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fateh,

There is a fair bit of confusion in what was written above. let me try to clear some of it up, you can do a cross paste to another forum. no issues with that.

Arya samaji's were a reaction to the british and their outlook on life. They were trying to match the same outlook by eliminating anything that seemed superstitious, overly cultural, and false. So the arya samaji's came up with this really nice chopped up and nicely packaged form of hinduism.

They were so successful that many of the intelligence (high class gentry) actually started converting and dropping the sikh faith. This was coupled with swami dayanand demeaning sikhi as well. It was baba khem singh bedi who 'OPPOSED' them. He connected with the nirmallay and got a nirmala to debate with swami dayanand. Dayanand said the word khalsa isn't even sanskrit (thus, questioning the 'indian' nature of sikhism). That nirmala (whose name I can post at a later point) came back with 113 sanskrit definitions of the word khalsa. Dayanand is reported to have matha teyk'd to the nirmala and ask for forgiveness with the promise of being pro sikhi in the next edition of his book, but he got whacked and the changes were never implemented.

Baba khem singh bedi started the amritsar singh sabha, which is also called the 'snatan' singh sabha as it wanted sikhs to reclaim their heritage and love for their ancestry. The fact that sikhs were cutting their hair and more focused on bhangra and frolick really upset him. Sardar families like the majithia family were being absorbed into the 'neo-popular' groups like 'brahmo samaaj'.

It was khem singh bedi who would give hindu's charanpahul, and he either rekindled or started the practice of getting hindu's to make their first son sikh in exchange for charanpahul. He would then get sikhs to grow their hair and amrit shak.

hope this helps

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Here's an essay from a few years ago on the topic. Benti, it was when I was first coming into Sikhi, since then some of my views may have changed.

Ham Hindu Nahin: Singh Sabha Reformation in Relation to the Arya Samaj

Ham Hindu Nahin: Singh Sabha Reformation in Relation to the Arya Samaj

With the advent of the British Raj in Punjab the vestiges of Sikh glory began to quickly fade ("Singh Sabha"). Sikhism had lost its political power, and worse, its spiritual base had degenerated leaving the Sikhs lost and confused. Hindus faced many of the same problems as their Sikh brethren. The Arya Samaj and Singh Sabha movements arose to uplift the condition of Hinduism and Sikhism respectively. The Arya Samaj's aggressive drive to revive Hinduism eventually led to conflict with the Singh Sabhas and created a deep schism between the two formerly close communities. The Singh Sabha movement, spurred by the success and antagonism of other reform movements such as the Arya Samaj and Christian missionary activity, restored Sikhism to a state closer to what the founders of the faith had envisioned. Arya propaganda and conversions to other faiths combined with infighting between conservative and progressive Singh Sabhas forced Sikhs embark on a program of reform and to define Sikh identity.

Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs coexisted in an uneasy balance in the Punjab during the era of the British Raj (Jones, Ham 40). An overarching social system was nonexistent and no one group dominated the others socially or economically. In 1981, Sikhs and Hindus together balanced the population of the Muslims. Hindu-Sikh relations during this period were closely interlinked because of past Moghul persecution (Jones, Communalism 457). Caste, intermarriage, and common festivals, customs, and heroes also contributed to the blurring of religious boundaries between Hindu and Sikh communities. Both communities revered the same prophets and Hindu rituals were routinely conducted within Sikh shrines.

The deterioration of Sikhism's spiritual base began during the time of Ranjit Singh's kingdom (H Singh 35). Luxury and plenty eroded strict religious discipline. Many Sikh shrines fell into the hands of Mahants, hereditary caretakers with Hindu leanings, who propagated Hindu rituals in Sikh shrines. Sikhs began following Brahmanical rituals which their Gurus had rejected. The bulk of new converts from Hinduism were converts of convenience who chose to retain Hindu rituals and beliefs ("Sikhs and the British"). Once the Sikh Kingdom fell many of these new converts either reverted to Hinduism or remained uncommitted to either religion. During Ranjit Singh's time there were an estimated ten million Sikhs but the population rapidly declined. An 1855 census showed just 200 000 Sikhs in the Majha region, which was known as the Sikh homeland, out of a population of three million (H Singh 37). British observers predicted the eventual extinction of the Khalsa.

Numerous revivalist movements amongst the Muslims and Hindus became active in Punjab ("Singh Sabha"). The Nirankari and Namdhari movements had failed to awaken the Sikh community due to their schismatic nature and limited appeal. Multiple shocks including numerous reversions to Hinduism, lapse in religious observance amongst Sikhs, Christian proselityzation, and attacks by Hindu critics jarred Sikhs from their slumber. The near conversion to Christianity by four Sikh youth attending a mission school, representative politics, and the 1855 census which had labeled Sikhs as a Hindu sect made Sikh intellectuals realize that Sikhism faced an identity crisis and lacked control over its future. Giani Ditt Singh voiced his fears in the May 25, 1984 edition of the Khalsa Akhbar of Lahore: "Just as we do not see any Buddhists in the country except in images, in the same fashion the Sikhs, who are now, here and there, visible in turbans and in their other religious forms like wrist-bangles and swords, will be seen only in pictures in the museums," (H Singh 42).

The search for Sikh identity and the desire to uplift the status of the Sikh community motivated the Singh Sabha movement (H Singh 41). The stated objectives of the movement were to: restore Sikhism to its original purity, edit and publish religious and historical books, start magazines and newspapers to propagate knowledge via Punjabi, reform and reinitiate apostates, and interest high placed Englishmen in the Sikh educational program (H Singh 44). Its main direction was the devaluation of anti-Sikh customs and the encouragement of western education so Sikhs could compete for government employment and a greater share of power in Punjab.

The first Singh Sabha (conservative) was formed in Amritsar on July 28, 1873 (P Singh 184). The Lahore Singh Sabha (progressive) was founded in 1879. Twenty years later over 117 Singh Sabhas existed across Punjab and in several parts of India. Singh Sabha General was set up as a coordinating body in 1880. The Singh Sabhas opened Khalsa schools and promoted Singh Sabha ideology through papers and periodicals. The movement also gained official recognition of the Punjabi language in Gurmukhi script at Oriental College and Punjab University by proving that it had its own literature ("Sikhs and the British"). Previously, other languages such as Urdu and Hindi were recognized and taught but Punjabi had been ignored.

However, ideological differences lead to a split in 1886 resulting in the Khalsa Diwan Lahore and the Khalsa Diwan Amritsar ("Sikhs and the British"). Members of the Amritsar branch, composed of wealthy elites such as Khem Singh Bedi and supported by the priest class, approved practices such as caste-discrimination, idol worship, and special reverence for descendents of the Gurus including Khem Singh Bedi. Its wealthy and influential founders desired to entrench their status within the Sikh community and to halt conversions to other faiths. (Caton 179). The Amritsar branch considered Sikhism to be a sect of Hinduism and proposed accepting Sehjdhari Sikhs (non-Khalsa) into the ranks. However the Lahore branch, which was composed of intellectuals from classes aspiring for government employment, rejected the proposal as an attempt to allow Bedi worshipping Hindus into the ranks. Additionally, the Lahore branch firmly denounced idolatry and caste discrimination. The Lahore Sabha saw Sikhism as a sovereign religion and believed that emphasizing the distinctiveness of Sikhism was the only way that the faith could survive (Caton 180).

Despite ideological differences and occasional lawsuits, both groups worked together. Over time the Khalsa Diwan Lahore surpassed its rival due to its progressivism and the hard work of its leaders ("Singh Sabha"). This was helped by the judgment of Lahore district judge R.L. Harris on a defamation case against Giani Ditt Singh of the Singh Sabha Lahore in February 1888. Harris ruled that the Lahore Sabha was composed of enlightened men attempting to end the tyranny of an oppressive priesthood while the Amritsar Sabha, supported by the priestly class, was attempting to consolidate its power at the expense of spiritual reformation. Harris also noted that the Lahore faction commanded greater allegiance with 30 Singh Sabhas attached to it while the Amritsar faction only had six or seven Singh Sabhas.

The ranks of Hinduism were also steadily shrinking (H Singh 47). Swami Dayanand founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 to purify Hinduism of idolatry, child marriage, and elaborate rituals. Additionally, the movement promoted the Vedas, the Hindi language, and western style education. Its main targets included orthodox Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. At first there was mutual cooperation and respect between Hindus and Sikhs in the movement. It was only later that the Arya Samaj began to focus on Sikhs as targets for criticism.

After Swami Dayanand's death in 1883 the Arya Samaj split into the militant and radical Mahatma Aryas and the moderate, rationalistic 'College' Aryas (Jones, Ham 464). The 'College Party' formed a new organization called the Anarkali Samaj concerned mainly with expansion of Dayanand's Anglo-Vedic schools and colleges. The radicals saw Dayanand as an infallible sage and emphasized proselytisation, shuddhi (ritual purification of converts), social reform, strict vegetarianism and the Vedas. Aggressive criticism of other religions led to the assassination of a radical pundit by Muslims in 1897 (Jones, Ham 465). Stunned Aryas briefly reunited but split once again in 1897-1898. Then both factions began a program of aggressive shuddhi and propaganda via street preachers, newspapers, missionaries, literature, and posters.

From 1883 to 1891, fifteen communal riots between Hindus and Muslims promoted closer relations between Hindus and Sikhs (Barrier 528). Although Swami Dayanand had sharply criticized the Sikhs and insulted Guru Nanak by calling him ignorant, other Aryas did not publicly support this view (Jones, Ham 458). Many Aryas saw Sikhism as a reformation of Hinduism and used the glory of the Sikh past to promote their reform program. In the early 1880's, many young Sikhs were sympathetic to the Arya Samaj and some of them enthusiastically committed themselves to it. Educated Sikhs in the Samaj emphasized Arya-Sikh similarities and announced that Sikhism was a revival of Aryan faith (Jones, Ham 449).

Nevertheless, relations between the Sikhs and the Aryas were slowly worsening. As early as 1885, Aryas began to criticize the Khalsa for having the same failings as Hinduism (Jones, Ham 460). Aryas began to see Sikhism as degenerate and corrupt, falling deeper into superstition as Hinduism moved out of it. In the October 11, 1887 Arya Patrika they wrote: "that the Sikh is as much a bigoted and narrow-minded being now as he was thirty years back…" (Jones, Ham 461). Aryas offended Sikh sensibilities by publicly declaring Guru Nanak an ordinary reformer in the May 25, 1886 Arya Patrika: "That his works or his writings cannot be absolutely true is evident from the fact that he was not an educated man in the first place-he did not study the Vedas or the Shastras or any of the schools of philosophy with which the Aryan literature can be enriched," (Jones, Ham 460). On November 25, 1888 Pundit Guru Data insulted the Guru and created a schism between Sikhs and Aryas by saying "… it is difficult to say whether the Sikhs have any religion or not, but surely they have no knowledge of any kind…" (Jones, Ham 461). Leading Sikhs within the Arya Samaj, Bhai Jawahir Singh, Bhai Ditt Singh, and Bhai Maya Singh resigned and joined the Lahore Singh Sabha, becoming key figures in the movement.

Sikh and non-Sikh press denounced the Arya Samaj for their harsh criticism of the doctrines and leaders of other faiths (Jones, Ham 462). This was followed by a period of literary warfare in which both sides opposed each other via platform and print. Amal-i-Arya (Acts of the Aryas) by Bhai Jawahir Singh criticized the biography of Swami Dayanand. The Arya Samaj's Nuskha-i-Granthi-Phobia (Prescription for the Disease of Granth-Phobia) triggered threats of law suits and violence and led to increasingly aggressive literature from both sides.

Despite worsening relations, Sikhs and Hindus cooperated in the reconversion of converts through the use of shuddhi (Jones, Ham 463). Shuddi was a traditional rite of purification that allowed Hinduism and Sikhism to regain lost converts. Hinduism, a non proselytizing religion, was now able to use this as an offensive weapon to gain new converts from other religions. Some Sikhs assisted Aryas in reconverting Christians to Hinduism. Purifications by the Arya Samaj, the Singh Sabha, and the newly formed Shuddhi Sabha (consisting of Aryas and Sikhs) increased during the 1890s. By 1896 there were 226 Shuddhi Sabhas (Jones, Communalism 50). Radical Sikh led Shuddhi Sabhas allied with moderate Aryas began to use pork in the shuddhi ceremony to convert Muslims. This deepened the split between the moderate Aryas and the strictly vegetarian radicals. Radical Aryas withdrew support and started their own program of shuddhi. Mass purifications became a goal of the movements after the 1891 census showed a 410% increase in the number of native Christians in Punjab. Shuddhi became a powerful weapon and the Arya Samaj distanced themselves from the Shuddhi Sabhas to ensure that the converted became Aryas Samaj members (Jones, Communalism 50).

Sikh identity became entangled within Arya internal politics (Jones, Ham 467). Radical Aryas criticized Guru Nanak and the Sikh scriptures within the Golden Temple premises. Moderate Aryas, once again split from the radicals, enraged the radicals by stating that Swami Dayanand's attack on Sikhism was based on second hand information and a lack of knowledge of Gurmukhi, the Sikh alphabet. In response, radical Aryas sharply criticized Guru Nanak to uphold Swami Dayanand's inviolability.

Conversion of Rahtias (outcast Sikhs) in 1900 by the Arya Samaj to Hindus outraged the Sikh community (Jones, Ham 469). The Sikhs were publicly shaven, taught Hindu rituals, and given a sacred thread to wear which further enraged both Sikhs and radical Aryas. The Lahore Singh Sabha had attempted to raise the status of the outcast Sikhs but could not guarantee equal treatment from the Sikh community so the Rahtias converted to Hinduism (Jones, Ham 471).

The question of Sikh identity came to the forefront in 1898. Relatives of a wealthy deceased Sikh aristocrat disputed the legality of the aristocrat's wealth transfer to a trust on the grounds that the transfer had occurred according to Hindu law and thus should be invalid because he was a Sikh (Jones, Ham 467). The Punjab High Court ruled that the aristocrat was a Hindu which triggered a massive debate over Sikh identity. Bhai Jagat Singh, a Sikh member of the Arya Samaj, wrote in Risala Sat Prakash (Exposure of Truth) that Sikhism was simply an earlier version of Hinduism. This was supported by the book Sikh Hindu Hain (Sikhs are Hindus). Conservative Sikhs from the Amritsar Diwan endorsed the Arya position using quotes from scripture and accompanying Sikh literature ("Singh Sabha"). The Lahore Diwan Sikhs also used quotes from scripture and historical analysis to oppose the conservative viewpoint. Sardar Kahan Singh's Ham Hindu Nahin (We are not Hindus) became the rallying point for Sikh distinctiveness.

Formation of a supreme Khalsa Diwan to lead the Singh Sabha movement, the Chief Khalsa Diwan, allowed the Sikhs to speak with one voice ("Singh Sabha"). Concern from neutral Sikhs over feuding between the two Diwans and the death of many prominent Sikhs from both sides lead to a unanimous vote for the establishment of the new Diwan. All the aims and programs of the Khalsa Diwan Lahore were adopted by the new organization. The Diwan's achievements included an annual Sikh Educational Conference beginning in 1908 to the present day, the passing of the Anand Marriage Act in 1909 which validated the exclusively Sikh ceremony, the removal of idols from the Golden Temple in 1905, and the creation of a common code of conduct for Sikh marriages in 1916.

The increasing communalism lead to divides within Sikhism and marked the end of interreligious cooperation (Jones, Ham 474). A widespread belief that public opinion could influence the administration contributed to communal mobilization. Sikhs alleged job discrimination with the Hindus gaining an upper hand in procuring employment largely due to an urban population and the commercial castes (Barrier 529). Religious groups fought to control bureaucracies and municipal committees. In 1904, the remaining vestiges of the moderate Arya-Sikh alliance died with the publishing of Sikhon ka Ruhani Doctor (A Spiritual Doctor for Sikhism) (Jones, Ham 473). Sikhs rejected shuddhi as a Hindu ritual and began using their own ritual from the Sikh past, the Amrit sanchar, to replenish their ranks. Sikhism increasingly asserted itself in the present by reaching back into its past. A Sikh was now defined by the same external symbols which had defined Sikhs in the past. Sikhism's boundaries became clearly delineated through the use of Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script. Some Sikhs pleaded that Hindus should be regarded as brothers and differences ought to be put aside (Jones, Ham 474). They were ignored in the tense atmosphere of the times. Whether one ate meat or worshipped at a certain temple made a statement of group affiliation and further contributed to communal division.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan strengthened the distinctive Sikh identity and institutions but began to lose its hold over the Sikh populace from 1914 onward ("Sikhs and the British"). The climate of the country began to change and the pro-government stance that the Singh Sabha movement had maintained to gain favours from the government became increasingly suspect. The inaction of the Diwan during agitations and unrest, its open denunciation of Ghadar activists, and its inability to remove corrupt priests from Sikh shrines lead to its decline. The Jallianvala Bagh massacre in 1919 sidelined the Diwan and the Sikh community focused on the Gurdwara Reform movement.

The Singh Sabha and the Arya Samaj were vital regenerating forces for the Sikh and Hindu communities respectively. Sikhs, fast degenerating, required the shocks created by external enemies in order to awaken from their apathy and reform themselves. Initially, reformation attempts saw cooperation between Hindus and Sikhs. Ultimately, the drive to reform and reorient both faiths and promote conflicting concepts of identity fueled communalism and created splits within the reform movements themselves. The Singh Sabha movement's driving force was the search for Sikh identity and the desire to uplift the Sikh masses. Sikh identity came to be protected by the fence created by its external symbols. The Arya Samaj's main drive was to modernize Hinduism and use shuddhi to enable Hinduism to compete with proselytizing religions. Eventually, Hinduism was able to hold its ground against other faiths but its campaign to convince Sikhs of their status as a Hindu sect failed. The Arya Samaj formed a political organization called the Punjab Hindu Sabha in 1906 (P Singh 197). The Chief Khalsa Diwan is still active in education and is affiliated with a large number of local Singh Sabhas. Singh Sabha reforms are still prevalent in Sikh institutions today (H Singh 51).

Works Cited

Barrier, N. Gerald. "Punjab Government and Communal Politics, 1870-1908." Journal of Asian Studies. 27 (1968): 523-539.

Caton, Brian P. "Sikh Identity Formation and the British Rural Ideal, 1880-1930." Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change. Eds. Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier. New Delhi: Manohar, 1999. 175-193.

Jones, Kenneth W. "Communalism in the Punjab: The Arya Samaj Contribution." Journal of Asian Studies. 28 (1968): 39-54.

---. "Ham Hindu Nahin: Arya-Sikh Relations, 1877-1905." Asian Studies. 32 (1973): 457-475.

"Sikhs and the British, 1849-1920." Jan. 6, 2002. Gateway to Sikhism. April 8, 2004.

<http>.

Singh, Harbans. Berkeley Lectures on Sikhism. New Delhi: Guru Nanak, 1983.

Singh, Patwant. Sikhs. London: John Murray, 1999.

"Singh Sabha Movement." Sikh Encyclopedia. Ed. Harbans Singh. Patiala: Punjabi University. 1999. Gateway to Sikhism. April 8, 2004. <http>.

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Here's an essay from a few years ago on the topic. Benti, it was when I was first coming into Sikhi, and my sources were a bit limited seeing as how I was new. since then some of my views may have changed.

Ham Hindu Nahin: Singh Sabha Reformation in Relation to the Arya Samaj

Ham Hindu Nahin: Singh Sabha Reformation in Relation to the Arya Samaj

With the advent of the British Raj in Punjab the vestiges of Sikh glory began to quickly fade ("Singh Sabha"). Sikhism had lost its political power, and worse, its spiritual base had degenerated leaving the Sikhs lost and confused. Hindus faced many of the same problems as their Sikh brethren. The Arya Samaj and Singh Sabha movements arose to uplift the condition of Hinduism and Sikhism respectively. The Arya Samaj's aggressive drive to revive Hinduism eventually led to conflict with the Singh Sabhas and created a deep schism between the two formerly close communities. The Singh Sabha movement, spurred by the success and antagonism of other reform movements such as the Arya Samaj and Christian missionary activity, restored Sikhism to a state closer to what the founders of the faith had envisioned. Arya propaganda and conversions to other faiths combined with infighting between conservative and progressive Singh Sabhas forced Sikhs embark on a program of reform and to define Sikh identity.

Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs coexisted in an uneasy balance in the Punjab during the era of the British Raj (Jones, Ham 40). An overarching social system was nonexistent and no one group dominated the others socially or economically. In 1981, Sikhs and Hindus together balanced the population of the Muslims. Hindu-Sikh relations during this period were closely interlinked because of past Moghul persecution (Jones, Communalism 457). Caste, intermarriage, and common festivals, customs, and heroes also contributed to the blurring of religious boundaries between Hindu and Sikh communities. Both communities revered the same prophets and Hindu rituals were routinely conducted within Sikh shrines.

The deterioration of Sikhism's spiritual base began during the time of Ranjit Singh's kingdom (H Singh 35). Luxury and plenty eroded strict religious discipline. Many Sikh shrines fell into the hands of Mahants, hereditary caretakers with Hindu leanings, who propagated Hindu rituals in Sikh shrines. Sikhs began following Brahmanical rituals which their Gurus had rejected. The bulk of new converts from Hinduism were converts of convenience who chose to retain Hindu rituals and beliefs ("Sikhs and the British"). Once the Sikh Kingdom fell many of these new converts either reverted to Hinduism or remained uncommitted to either religion. During Ranjit Singh's time there were an estimated ten million Sikhs but the population rapidly declined. An 1855 census showed just 200 000 Sikhs in the Majha region, which was known as the Sikh homeland, out of a population of three million (H Singh 37). British observers predicted the eventual extinction of the Khalsa.

Numerous revivalist movements amongst the Muslims and Hindus became active in Punjab ("Singh Sabha"). The Nirankari and Namdhari movements had failed to awaken the Sikh community due to their schismatic nature and limited appeal. Multiple shocks including numerous reversions to Hinduism, lapse in religious observance amongst Sikhs, Christian proselityzation, and attacks by Hindu critics jarred Sikhs from their slumber. The near conversion to Christianity by four Sikh youth attending a mission school, representative politics, and the 1855 census which had labeled Sikhs as a Hindu sect made Sikh intellectuals realize that Sikhism faced an identity crisis and lacked control over its future. Giani Ditt Singh voiced his fears in the May 25, 1984 edition of the Khalsa Akhbar of Lahore: "Just as we do not see any Buddhists in the country except in images, in the same fashion the Sikhs, who are now, here and there, visible in turbans and in their other religious forms like wrist-bangles and swords, will be seen only in pictures in the museums," (H Singh 42).

The search for Sikh identity and the desire to uplift the status of the Sikh community motivated the Singh Sabha movement (H Singh 41). The stated objectives of the movement were to: restore Sikhism to its original purity, edit and publish religious and historical books, start magazines and newspapers to propagate knowledge via Punjabi, reform and reinitiate apostates, and interest high placed Englishmen in the Sikh educational program (H Singh 44). Its main direction was the devaluation of anti-Sikh customs and the encouragement of western education so Sikhs could compete for government employment and a greater share of power in Punjab.

The first Singh Sabha (conservative) was formed in Amritsar on July 28, 1873 (P Singh 184). The Lahore Singh Sabha (progressive) was founded in 1879. Twenty years later over 117 Singh Sabhas existed across Punjab and in several parts of India. Singh Sabha General was set up as a coordinating body in 1880. The Singh Sabhas opened Khalsa schools and promoted Singh Sabha ideology through papers and periodicals. The movement also gained official recognition of the Punjabi language in Gurmukhi script at Oriental College and Punjab University by proving that it had its own literature ("Sikhs and the British"). Previously, other languages such as Urdu and Hindi were recognized and taught but Punjabi had been ignored.

However, ideological differences lead to a split in 1886 resulting in the Khalsa Diwan Lahore and the Khalsa Diwan Amritsar ("Sikhs and the British"). Members of the Amritsar branch, composed of wealthy elites such as Khem Singh Bedi and supported by the priest class, approved practices such as caste-discrimination, idol worship, and special reverence for descendents of the Gurus including Khem Singh Bedi. Its wealthy and influential founders desired to entrench their status within the Sikh community and to halt conversions to other faiths. (Caton 179). The Amritsar branch considered Sikhism to be a sect of Hinduism and proposed accepting Sehjdhari Sikhs (non-Khalsa) into the ranks. However the Lahore branch, which was composed of intellectuals from classes aspiring for government employment, rejected the proposal as an attempt to allow Bedi worshipping Hindus into the ranks. Additionally, the Lahore branch firmly denounced idolatry and caste discrimination. The Lahore Sabha saw Sikhism as a sovereign religion and believed that emphasizing the distinctiveness of Sikhism was the only way that the faith could survive (Caton 180).

Despite ideological differences and occasional lawsuits, both groups worked together. Over time the Khalsa Diwan Lahore surpassed its rival due to its progressivism and the hard work of its leaders ("Singh Sabha"). This was helped by the judgment of Lahore district judge R.L. Harris on a defamation case against Giani Ditt Singh of the Singh Sabha Lahore in February 1888. Harris ruled that the Lahore Sabha was composed of enlightened men attempting to end the tyranny of an oppressive priesthood while the Amritsar Sabha, supported by the priestly class, was attempting to consolidate its power at the expense of spiritual reformation. Harris also noted that the Lahore faction commanded greater allegiance with 30 Singh Sabhas attached to it while the Amritsar faction only had six or seven Singh Sabhas.

The ranks of Hinduism were also steadily shrinking (H Singh 47). Swami Dayanand founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 to purify Hinduism of idolatry, child marriage, and elaborate rituals. Additionally, the movement promoted the Vedas, the Hindi language, and western style education. Its main targets included orthodox Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. At first there was mutual cooperation and respect between Hindus and Sikhs in the movement. It was only later that the Arya Samaj began to focus on Sikhs as targets for criticism.

After Swami Dayanand's death in 1883 the Arya Samaj split into the militant and radical Mahatma Aryas and the moderate, rationalistic 'College' Aryas (Jones, Ham 464). The 'College Party' formed a new organization called the Anarkali Samaj concerned mainly with expansion of Dayanand's Anglo-Vedic schools and colleges. The radicals saw Dayanand as an infallible sage and emphasized proselytisation, shuddhi (ritual purification of converts), social reform, strict vegetarianism and the Vedas. Aggressive criticism of other religions led to the assassination of a radical pundit by Muslims in 1897 (Jones, Ham 465). Stunned Aryas briefly reunited but split once again in 1897-1898. Then both factions began a program of aggressive shuddhi and propaganda via street preachers, newspapers, missionaries, literature, and posters.

From 1883 to 1891, fifteen communal riots between Hindus and Muslims promoted closer relations between Hindus and Sikhs (Barrier 528). Although Swami Dayanand had sharply criticized the Sikhs and insulted Guru Nanak by calling him ignorant, other Aryas did not publicly support this view (Jones, Ham 458). Many Aryas saw Sikhism as a reformation of Hinduism and used the glory of the Sikh past to promote their reform program. In the early 1880's, many young Sikhs were sympathetic to the Arya Samaj and some of them enthusiastically committed themselves to it. Educated Sikhs in the Samaj emphasized Arya-Sikh similarities and announced that Sikhism was a revival of Aryan faith (Jones, Ham 449).

Nevertheless, relations between the Sikhs and the Aryas were slowly worsening. As early as 1885, Aryas began to criticize the Khalsa for having the same failings as Hinduism (Jones, Ham 460). Aryas began to see Sikhism as degenerate and corrupt, falling deeper into superstition as Hinduism moved out of it. In the October 11, 1887 Arya Patrika they wrote: "that the Sikh is as much a bigoted and narrow-minded being now as he was thirty years back…" (Jones, Ham 461). Aryas offended Sikh sensibilities by publicly declaring Guru Nanak an ordinary reformer in the May 25, 1886 Arya Patrika: "That his works or his writings cannot be absolutely true is evident from the fact that he was not an educated man in the first place-he did not study the Vedas or the Shastras or any of the schools of philosophy with which the Aryan literature can be enriched," (Jones, Ham 460). On November 25, 1888 Pundit Guru Data insulted the Guru and created a schism between Sikhs and Aryas by saying "… it is difficult to say whether the Sikhs have any religion or not, but surely they have no knowledge of any kind…" (Jones, Ham 461). Leading Sikhs within the Arya Samaj, Bhai Jawahir Singh, Bhai Ditt Singh, and Bhai Maya Singh resigned and joined the Lahore Singh Sabha, becoming key figures in the movement.

Sikh and non-Sikh press denounced the Arya Samaj for their harsh criticism of the doctrines and leaders of other faiths (Jones, Ham 462). This was followed by a period of literary warfare in which both sides opposed each other via platform and print. Amal-i-Arya (Acts of the Aryas) by Bhai Jawahir Singh criticized the biography of Swami Dayanand. The Arya Samaj's Nuskha-i-Granthi-Phobia (Prescription for the Disease of Granth-Phobia) triggered threats of law suits and violence and led to increasingly aggressive literature from both sides.

Despite worsening relations, Sikhs and Hindus cooperated in the reconversion of converts through the use of shuddhi (Jones, Ham 463). Shuddi was a traditional rite of purification that allowed Hinduism and Sikhism to regain lost converts. Hinduism, a non proselytizing religion, was now able to use this as an offensive weapon to gain new converts from other religions. Some Sikhs assisted Aryas in reconverting Christians to Hinduism. Purifications by the Arya Samaj, the Singh Sabha, and the newly formed Shuddhi Sabha (consisting of Aryas and Sikhs) increased during the 1890s. By 1896 there were 226 Shuddhi Sabhas (Jones, Communalism 50). Radical Sikh led Shuddhi Sabhas allied with moderate Aryas began to use pork in the shuddhi ceremony to convert Muslims. This deepened the split between the moderate Aryas and the strictly vegetarian radicals. Radical Aryas withdrew support and started their own program of shuddhi. Mass purifications became a goal of the movements after the 1891 census showed a 410% increase in the number of native Christians in Punjab. Shuddhi became a powerful weapon and the Arya Samaj distanced themselves from the Shuddhi Sabhas to ensure that the converted became Aryas Samaj members (Jones, Communalism 50).

Sikh identity became entangled within Arya internal politics (Jones, Ham 467). Radical Aryas criticized Guru Nanak and the Sikh scriptures within the Golden Temple premises. Moderate Aryas, once again split from the radicals, enraged the radicals by stating that Swami Dayanand's attack on Sikhism was based on second hand information and a lack of knowledge of Gurmukhi, the Sikh alphabet. In response, radical Aryas sharply criticized Guru Nanak to uphold Swami Dayanand's inviolability.

Conversion of Rahtias (outcast Sikhs) in 1900 by the Arya Samaj to Hindus outraged the Sikh community (Jones, Ham 469). The Sikhs were publicly shaven, taught Hindu rituals, and given a sacred thread to wear which further enraged both Sikhs and radical Aryas. The Lahore Singh Sabha had attempted to raise the status of the outcast Sikhs but could not guarantee equal treatment from the Sikh community so the Rahtias converted to Hinduism (Jones, Ham 471).

The question of Sikh identity came to the forefront in 1898. Relatives of a wealthy deceased Sikh aristocrat disputed the legality of the aristocrat's wealth transfer to a trust on the grounds that the transfer had occurred according to Hindu law and thus should be invalid because he was a Sikh (Jones, Ham 467). The Punjab High Court ruled that the aristocrat was a Hindu which triggered a massive debate over Sikh identity. Bhai Jagat Singh, a Sikh member of the Arya Samaj, wrote in Risala Sat Prakash (Exposure of Truth) that Sikhism was simply an earlier version of Hinduism. This was supported by the book Sikh Hindu Hain (Sikhs are Hindus). Conservative Sikhs from the Amritsar Diwan endorsed the Arya position using quotes from scripture and accompanying Sikh literature ("Singh Sabha"). The Lahore Diwan Sikhs also used quotes from scripture and historical analysis to oppose the conservative viewpoint. Sardar Kahan Singh's Ham Hindu Nahin (We are not Hindus) became the rallying point for Sikh distinctiveness.

Formation of a supreme Khalsa Diwan to lead the Singh Sabha movement, the Chief Khalsa Diwan, allowed the Sikhs to speak with one voice ("Singh Sabha"). Concern from neutral Sikhs over feuding between the two Diwans and the death of many prominent Sikhs from both sides lead to a unanimous vote for the establishment of the new Diwan. All the aims and programs of the Khalsa Diwan Lahore were adopted by the new organization. The Diwan's achievements included an annual Sikh Educational Conference beginning in 1908 to the present day, the passing of the Anand Marriage Act in 1909 which validated the exclusively Sikh ceremony, the removal of idols from the Golden Temple in 1905, and the creation of a common code of conduct for Sikh marriages in 1916.

The increasing communalism lead to divides within Sikhism and marked the end of interreligious cooperation (Jones, Ham 474). A widespread belief that public opinion could influence the administration contributed to communal mobilization. Sikhs alleged job discrimination with the Hindus gaining an upper hand in procuring employment largely due to an urban population and the commercial castes (Barrier 529). Religious groups fought to control bureaucracies and municipal committees. In 1904, the remaining vestiges of the moderate Arya-Sikh alliance died with the publishing of Sikhon ka Ruhani Doctor (A Spiritual Doctor for Sikhism) (Jones, Ham 473). Sikhs rejected shuddhi as a Hindu ritual and began using their own ritual from the Sikh past, the Amrit sanchar, to replenish their ranks. Sikhism increasingly asserted itself in the present by reaching back into its past. A Sikh was now defined by the same external symbols which had defined Sikhs in the past. Sikhism's boundaries became clearly delineated through the use of Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script. Some Sikhs pleaded that Hindus should be regarded as brothers and differences ought to be put aside (Jones, Ham 474). They were ignored in the tense atmosphere of the times. Whether one ate meat or worshipped at a certain temple made a statement of group affiliation and further contributed to communal division.

The Chief Khalsa Diwan strengthened the distinctive Sikh identity and institutions but began to lose its hold over the Sikh populace from 1914 onward ("Sikhs and the British"). The climate of the country began to change and the pro-government stance that the Singh Sabha movement had maintained to gain favours from the government became increasingly suspect. The inaction of the Diwan during agitations and unrest, its open denunciation of Ghadar activists, and its inability to remove corrupt priests from Sikh shrines lead to its decline. The Jallianvala Bagh massacre in 1919 sidelined the Diwan and the Sikh community focused on the Gurdwara Reform movement.

The Singh Sabha and the Arya Samaj were vital regenerating forces for the Sikh and Hindu communities respectively. Sikhs, fast degenerating, required the shocks created by external enemies in order to awaken from their apathy and reform themselves. Initially, reformation attempts saw cooperation between Hindus and Sikhs. Ultimately, the drive to reform and reorient both faiths and promote conflicting concepts of identity fueled communalism and created splits within the reform movements themselves. The Singh Sabha movement's driving force was the search for Sikh identity and the desire to uplift the Sikh masses. Sikh identity came to be protected by the fence created by its external symbols. The Arya Samaj's main drive was to modernize Hinduism and use shuddhi to enable Hinduism to compete with proselytizing religions. Eventually, Hinduism was able to hold its ground against other faiths but its campaign to convince Sikhs of their status as a Hindu sect failed. The Arya Samaj formed a political organization called the Punjab Hindu Sabha in 1906 (P Singh 197). The Chief Khalsa Diwan is still active in education and is affiliated with a large number of local Singh Sabhas. Singh Sabha reforms are still prevalent in Sikh institutions today (H Singh 51).

Works Cited

Barrier, N. Gerald. "Punjab Government and Communal Politics, 1870-1908." Journal of Asian Studies. 27 (1968): 523-539.

Caton, Brian P. "Sikh Identity Formation and the British Rural Ideal, 1880-1930." Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change. Eds. Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier. New Delhi: Manohar, 1999. 175-193.

Jones, Kenneth W. "Communalism in the Punjab: The Arya Samaj Contribution." Journal of Asian Studies. 28 (1968): 39-54.

---. "Ham Hindu Nahin: Arya-Sikh Relations, 1877-1905." Asian Studies. 32 (1973): 457-475.

"Sikhs and the British, 1849-1920." Jan. 6, 2002. Gateway to Sikhism. April 8, 2004.

<http>.

Singh, Harbans. Berkeley Lectures on Sikhism. New Delhi: Guru Nanak, 1983.

Singh, Patwant. Sikhs. London: John Murray, 1999.

"Singh Sabha Movement." Sikh Encyclopedia. Ed. Harbans Singh. Patiala: Punjabi University. 1999. Gateway to Sikhism. April 8, 2004. <http>.

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