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Shaheed


Kam1825
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Right this is one that came up in a discussion the other. How is one considered a Shaheed. As far as i was aware it was if one dies while trying to fight for the glory of God such as the singhs in the yudhs during the times of the gurus.

Now Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh are considered shaheeds but what did they actually do. And did they really die for the lord?

What is the view on a shaheed and the concept of one

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You need that Fenech book on 'Martyrdom in the Sikh Tradition' or whatever, that goes into the traditional understanding (including the original islamic understanding as a 'witness to truth'..or talk to nihang about those different categories including those who are alive.

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Here go you (there should also be a thread that I had started on this paper by Louis E Fenech earlier in the year requesting a more critical evaluation of his work and of its critics - i.e. the usual IOSS squad).

Martyrdom and the Sikh tradition.

Fenech, Louis E.

In the early days of my life I heard much about Shahid Bhagat Singh and Baba Dip Singh in dhadhi gatherings. Wherever there were such gatherings I used to attend. I've always listened to [dhadhi] songs. Listening to them gave me a lot of strength. Listening to our people's history is important to us.(1)

In 1739 Nadir Shah, the emperor of Persia, was returning to Iran after having sacked Delhi. According to Rattan Singh Bhangu's mid-nineteenth-century Gur-panth Prakas (The History of the Guru's Community), the shah, during his brief stop in Punjab, was greatly annoyed at thelosses Punjabi highwaymen were inflicting upon his booty-laden baggage trains. Incensed at their audacity, the shah asked Zakariya Khan, the governor of Lahore, to describe the perpetrators of these dating raids. The governor's answer, according to Bhangu, noted the endurance and rare courage of these bandits; their ability to bear all the punishment he could muster and yet, in spite of this, continue to increase in number; and their extraordinary altruism, despite such hardship. He closed with the following enthusiastic statement:

ek hoi tam sau sau laraim(2) marane te vai mul na daraim rahai chau un maran ko din mazhab kai bhai ham marat ul thak gae ui ghatat na kitahum dai(3)

One [of them] battles like a hundred warriors. Death is something ofwhich they are not afraid. Their [fondest] desire remains to die fortheir faith. We are tired of killing them, but their numbers do not decrease.

It is the Sikhs about whom the khan is speaking. And although this exchange appears in an account with a proSikh bias, Zakariya Khan's opinion regarding the character of the adherents of gurmat (the Guru's teaching), especially their contempt for death, is a generalization we also find in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Persian manuscripts- albeit with a strong pro-Muslim bias(4) - and early European accounts dealing with the Sikhs. Meeting with Sikhs for the first time in 1805, for example, John Malcolm quotes from a "contemporary Muhammedan author":

. . . the Sikh horsemen were seen riding, at full gallop, towards "their favourite shrine of devotion. They were often slain in making this attempt, and sometimes taken prisoners; but they used, on such occasions, to seek, instead of avoiding, the crown of martyrdom:["] and the same authority states, ["]that an instance was never known of a Sikh, taken in his way to Amritsar, consenting to abjure his faith."(5)

Of course, the Sikhs to whom Malcolm alludes are those of the khalsa(pure) variety. It is well known that Sikh warriors of the eighteenth century often chose a Khalsa identity, and it was principally as soldiers that our Persian and British authors encountered these disciples of the Guru.(6) Yet despite this fact most Sikhs today would consider such descriptions of eighteenth-century Sikhs in general accurate- and which, moreover, they would extend to contemporary Sikhs. The specific characteristic with which we are concerned is both Bhangu's and Malcolm's emphasis upon the Sikh desire to don "the crown of martyrdom."

To many contemporary Khalsa and non-Khalsa (or sahaj-dhari) Sikhs the Sikh sahid or martyr is a highly revered figure, an unambiguous exemplar of virtue, truth, and moral justification. Sikh sahids give their lives in upholding righteousness (dharam) under the most painful and chilling circumstances, providing testimony (sahadat) to their faith with their blood. As with Christian and Muslim "witnesses to the truth" the unsought-for reward Sikh martyrs receive for such stalwart and courageous behavior in the face of torture and imminent death is liberation from the cycle of existence, union with God (Akal Purakh, "The One Beyond Time"). Sahids thus become the ideal Sikh athletes ofpiety, offering a glorious example of resistance to tyrannical authority, while paying the ultimate price for their powerful commitment to the Sikh faith, its doctrines, symbols, and Gurus.

According to a strong Sikh tradition the concept of martyrdom (sahadat, also sahidi) in Sikhism was first established by the Sikh Gurus, in particular Guru Nanak (1469-1539 C.E.) and Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708 C.E.), and sustained by two Guru-martyrs and countless brave Sikhs who suffered death fighting tyranny in the face of an overwhelming enemy.(7) Sahadat is thus believed to represent a fundamental institution within the Sikh tradition, one present since the faith's very inception in the fifteenth century. There is perhaps no better testament to the current Sikh fascination with martyrs and martyrdom than the reference these valiant heroes receive in the contemporary Sikh Ardas (petition), a prayer recited by the Sikh sarigat (congregation) at the end of most rituals. Consisting of three brief parts the secondportion of Ardas enjoins Sikhs to call to mind the sacrifices their brethren are believed to have made in the past. For this reason we may assume that its words are firmly lodged in the minds and understanding of its reciters and listeners? The relevant portion of Ardas appears below.

jinham singham singhniam ne dharam het sis dite, band band katae, khopriam luhaiam, charkhiam te charhe, ariam nal chirae gae, gurdwariamdi seva lai kurbaniam kitiam, dharam nahim haria, sikhi kesam suasamnal nibahi, tinham di kamai da dhian dhar ke, khalsa jt bolo ji vahiguru!(9)

Those male and female Singhs who gave their heads for the faith; whowere torn limb from limb, scalped, broken on the wheel, and sawn asunder; who sacrificed their lives for the protection of the sacred gurdwaras, never abandoning their faith; and who zealously guarded the sacred kes of the true Sikh: O valiant Khalsa, keep your attention on their merits and call on God, saying Vahigura.(10)

No doubt, as the quote with which this paper begins implies, such rousing statements of heroic endurance and bravery continue to inspire the modern-day Sikh community, particularly in the light of the intense strife surrounding the tragic events of 4 June 1984.(11)

But has this always been the case? Although there are sporadic references to Ardas throughout eighteenth- and early- to mid-nineteenth-century Sikh literature it is not until the mid-twentieth century that the Ardas assumed the form it has today. The values that it communicates am principally twentieth-century ones, standards established, in large part, by the late-nineteenth-century Sikh "reform" movement, the Singh Sabha (Singh Society). As Harjot Oberoi has shown, today's dominant Sikh narrative was largely a product of this group's intellectual effort (especially that of its more vocal group the Tat [or "True"] Khalsa), informed in part through dialogue with Western Orientalism. (12) One may thus assume that the current Sikh understanding of the martyr noted above, the suffering Sikh extolled in Ardas, is a category refined by and refracted through the lens of the Tat Khalsa.(13)One must therefore ask two questions: are a concept of martyrdom andthe Sikh reverence towards its martyrs characteristics that can be traced throughout the history of the Sikh people? Is the image of the martyr we have in Ardas the image we find prior to the late nineteenth century? Let us begin by examining the earliest historical evidencefor martyrdom in the Sikh tradition.

For many scholars the Sikh emphasis on martyrdom begins with the execution of the fifth Sikh Master, Guru Arian (d. 1606 C.E.): a watershed event, according to Sikh tradition, which led to the transformation of the Sikh panth (lit., "path") from a quietist community to an armed and militant one. The traditional version of this event is indeeda persuasive one, bringing us in touch with some of most admirable aspects of human behavior, as well as some of the most sinister and repugnant. According to this version, the zealously Islamic Mughal emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-27 C.E.), distressed at the popularity of the fifth Guru and the rapid growth of his community of "infidels," had long cherished a desire to rid his empire of this pretentious holy man.The opportunity presented itself when the emperor's disloyal son, Khusrau, arrived in the Guru's camp and was graciously received by the fifth Sikh Master. As a gesture of goodwill, Guru Arian placed a saffron mark on Khusrau's forehead, wishing him good fortune on his journey. Interpreted by Jahangir as an overt sign of support for Khusrau'srival claim to the Mughal throne, the emperor quickly had Guru Arjanarrested and imprisoned in Lahore in 1606.(14) While in jail the fifth Sikh Guru was often beaten in order to persuade him to convert to Islam and to incorporate into the recently compiled Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth (First/Primal Book), hymns in praise of the Prophet Muhammad. The Guru repeatedly declined these requests and was finally forced to sit upon a red-hot iron plate in the scorching heat of the Indian summer while white-hot sand was poured over his body. To the chagrin of his gaolers Guru Arjan bore this punishment with an extraordinary steadfastness and bravery - made all the more impressive by his recital of hymns while undergoing the ordeal. Eventually, the Guru's body was unable to bear further torture and gave up its spirit in a display of heroism that has certainly etched itself onto the popular Sikh imagination.(15)

This, of course, represents the current understanding of the fifth Guru's execution and any attempt to question it is met with harsh criticism nowadays by pious Sikhs and traditional scholars of Sikh history.(16) Perhaps the scholar most criticized for questioning this eventis W. H. McLeod.(17) However, McLeod's hesitance to accept the traditional interpretation of Guru Arian's death is wholly justified in light of the contemporary evidence in which reference to the Guru's ordeal is found.(18) There are three principal sources, contemporary andnear contemporary, which allude to this event, and these three form the base upon which the traditional interpretation has been erected. A critical examination of these three sources demonstrates that many scholars of the Sikh tradition extrapolate far too much from them, filling in the numerous gaps in these sources' narrative with popular understandings forged in later years.

The first is the Dabistan-i Mazahib, or "The School of Religions" (1645 C.E.), a rather controversial text dealing with Indian religions and attributed to an unknown Persian Zoroastrian who toured India in the seventeenth century. The relevant passage seems to imply that Sikhs of the early seventeenth century were well aware of Guru Arjan's death at the hands of the Mughals, despite the lack of Sikh sources supporting this point. (19) The view this brief passage presents of Guru Arjan's death is that of an actual observer, reporting that the fifth Sikh Master expired from "the heat of the sun, the severity of summer and the tortures of the baliffs."(20) For many scholars this report, particularly "the tortures of the baliffs," has been taken as an eyewitness account of the Guru's death, rather than second-hand information passed on to the author of the Dabistan almost forty years after the execution took place.(21) The statement regarding the torturesto which the Guru was subjected may well have been part of midseventeenth-century oral tradition, and the tortures 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 (siyasato yasa rasanand)."(22) Yet neither the Dabistan nor the emperor's orders are enough to verify beyond doubt that Arjan was indeed torturedduring his imprisonment. We may assume from the references in the emperor's memoirs that some form of punishment was meted out to the Guru,(23) but that these included the particular punishments narrated above cannot be substantiated. Martyrologists are well aware of the fact that the more harsh the torture a martyr suffers the more heroic his martyrdom. In fact, even Sikh tradition is not altogether sure regarding the means of the Guru's death - whether it occurred by torture,execution, or drowning in the Ravi river.(24) Until evidence closer to the event surfaces demonstrating that torture was actually applied, we, as historians, must be skeptical about the claims of tradition.Ultimately the account in the Dabistan-i Mazahib cannot be verified.

A second source often used to reconstruct Guru Atjan's last days is one of the letters to Shaikh Farid Bukhari we find in the Maktubat-i Imam-i Rabbani of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, a leading pir of the Naqshbandi order of Sufis in the early seventeenth century.(25) In this specific letter Shaikh Sirhindi clearly rejoices at the news of Guru Arjan's execution in 1606, referring to the Guru as the "accused infidel of Goindwal (kafir-i lacin-i gobind wal)" whose "execution . . . veryfortunately happened (kushtan . . . bisyar khub waqic shud)." For scholars of the tradition such as Khushwant Singh and Ganda Singh, thisjubilant tone is proof enough that Sirhindi's hand was evident in Jahangir's decision to imprison and execute Guru Arian.(26) Yet again the evidence does not support such a conclusion. The Shaikh's infamousletter, for example, was not sent to Jahangir himself, as Khushwant Singh notes, but to the governor of Punjab, Shaikh Bukhari, also known as Murtaza Khan.(27) More conclusively, Sirhindi wrote this letter well after the fact. One can only conclude that the Shaikh's role in the Guru's execution is again, conjectural.

The part Jahangir played in the fifth Guru's execution further supports our conclusion regarding Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi's role. Emperor Jahangir's role in this death is of course pivotal and the evidence forthis is beyond reproach, as it appears in the very memoirs of the emperor himself, the Tazuk-i Jahangiri. 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 zat (Hindi jati: sub-caste), a community 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 darbar (court), was considered a sachcha padsah or "true king," and sat upon a takhat (throne) - incite Jahangir to act against a religious leader whom he considered an upstart?(28) Both of these answers are speculative and cannot be verified. According to Ganda Singh, Jahangir executed the Guru in order to assume the role of "Defender of Islam." He had given a pledge to that effect to various Islamic clerics, particularly Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi, in order to secure their support in his bid to ascend thethrone of Mughal India during the last days of his father Akbar's life. The execution was believed therefore to have been "prompted by some external agency of fanatical Mullas."(29) This view is arguable, if not egregious and misleading. In his memoirs and other contemporaryseventeenth-century sources there is no evidence suggesting that Jahangir was in any way influenced to act, directly or indirectly, by the ulama (state-supported judges, theologians, and preachers), Naqshbandi Sufis, or other Islamic religious personnel at the Mughal court. Recent scholarship has shown that Jahangir's personal religious predilections did not determine his state policies.(30) Specifically, in regard to Ahmad Sirhindi, Jahangir clearly notes in his Tuzuk that hisrelations with the Shaikh were cool at best, at times hostile - especially when the emperor had Sirhindi gaoled in the fort at Gwalior in1619 so that his "disturbed disposition and confused mind would calmdown a little."(31)

Jahangir's memoirs do note that he was concerned about the growing popularity of the Sikh tradition and had for some time decided to act against "this shop (in dokan)," which "they [the Sikh Gurus] had keptwarm for three to four generations (seh chahar pasht . . . garam midashtand)." This may certainly have played a part in the emperor's final decision, as Jahangir seems to have been hostile to popularly venerated religious figures.(32) Yet this hostility must not be exaggerated. The heated statement mentioned above was apparently prompted by Jahangir's concern for the Guru's apparent support of Prince Khusrau. If Jahangir was, as Ganda Singh claims him to be, "[a man] with no fixed moral scruples, a debauchee, always soaked in wine,"(33) concern over the Guru's activities at Goindwal would have precipitated actionmuch sooner. The son of Akbar, it seems, has been much vilified in Sikh hagiography, for contemporary Persian accounts note (with some exaggeration perhaps) that Jahangir was an emperor known particularly for his just dealings with all constituencies in his vast empire.(34) The clear reason for giving the order of execution was Guru Arjan's supposed support of Prince Khusrau's rival claim to the throne, an alliance the emperor was bound to view disfavorably. In other words, what seems clear from an examination of the life of Jahangir is that he ordered the Guru executed not for his faith or community but for his apparent association with a rival. As Sajida Alvi notes, Jahangir wasdealing with someone he believed to be "a rebel who happened to be the leader of the Sikh community." It is for this reason, she continues, that the emperor did not act against Arjan's followers and, we mayadd, that the apparent friendship between the sixth Guru and the emperor may have begun some years after 1606.(35) Jahangir's relations with other representatives of the Hindu tradition - Jahangir labels Guru Arjan a "Hindu" in his memoirs - was after all a very positive andliberal one, particularly evinced by his reverence for the Vaisnava ascetic Gosain Jadrup of Ujain who, according to the emperor himself,possessed "unusual grace, lofty understanding, exalted nature, and aheart free from the attainments of the world."(36)

What one can say definitively about Guru Arjan's death, therefore, is very little. The only conclusion the evidence will support is that Guru Arian earned the enmity of the 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.(37) McLeod's caution in accepting the claims of tradition is firmly based. Whether a saffron mark was placed on Khusrau's forehead by the Guru or not, and, if so, whether this was a sign of support or not, is irrelevant, as Jahangir clearly believed such an act occurred and that this was a pledge to Khusrau of Guru Arian's allegiance.(38)

Thus far, we have examined the available evidence in order to reconstruct the event Sikhs today believe to be the first martyrdom of their religious tradition. At this point let us approach the question of Guru Arjan's death from another perspective, one which has not yet seriously claimed the attention of scholars. Did there exist, within the early-seventeenth-century Sikh tradition, what G. W. Bowersock calls "a conceptual system of posthumous recognition and anticipated reward,"(39) which would accommodate such an example of, let us assume, courageous resistance to tyrannical authority and a painful death? Wasthere, in other words, a concept of martyrdom at this point in Sikh history? For many traditional interpreters of Sikhism, this is beyonddoubt as, they maintain, the idea of martyrdom was developed by the first Sikh Master, Guru Nanak, and sustained by the following nine Gurus.(40) Sikh tradition notes, for example, that Guru Arian's death made actual the potential for self-sacrifice one finds in the teachings of the previous four Gurus, particularly Guru Nanak.(41) With this in mind, Sunita Puri claims (after Gurbachan Singh Talib) that Guru Arian's selfless sacrifice was "the fulfilment of Guru Nanak's spirituo-ethical vision and injunctions,"(42) and along a similar line Mona Kang notes that:

[The] very idea of sacrifice that was preached by Guru Nanak Der assumed . . . practical shape when [the] fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, laid down his life for Sikh faith and beliefs . . . he refused to abandon hisreligion.(43)

Yet despite these and similar claims, it is very difficult if not impossible to ascertain a concept of martyrdom during the period of thefirst nine Gurus (1469-1675 C.E.). The problem lies in the source upon which such a supposition is based - the Adi Granth. Among the mostpopular hymns which are marshalled to support such an opinion is Guru Nanak's slok varan te vadhik 20.

jau tau prem khelan ka chau siru dhari tali gali meri au itu margi pairu dharijai siru dijai kani na kijai(44)

If you want to play the game of love, approach me with your head on the palm of your hand. Place your feet on this path and give your head without regard to the opinions of others.(45)

Another hymn that is often cited in attempts to justify an early Sikh concept of martyrdom is the first Guru's rag vadhansu alahanian 2: 2-3.

maranu na manda loka akhai je marl janai aisa koi sevihu sahibu sammrathu apana panthu suhela agai hoi panthi suhelai javahu tam phalu pavahu agai milai vadai bhetai sium javahu sachi samavahu tam pati lekhai pai mahali jai pavahu khasamai bhavahu rahg sium ralia manai maranu na manda loka akhiai je koi mari janai 2 maranu munasam sariam hakku hai jo hoi marani paravano sure sei agai akhiahi daragah pavamhi sachi mano daragah mano pavamhi pati sio javamhi agai dakhu na lagai kari eku dhiavarhhi tam phalu pavamhi jitu seviai bhau bhagai ucha nahim kahana man mahi rahana ape janai jano maranu munasam sariam hakku hal jo hoi marahi paravano(46) 3

O people! Death is not called bad (manda) if one knows how to die. Serve the Lord and your path will be an easy one. As you traverse thissimple path you will obtain the fruit [of your efforts and God's grace] and achieve glory in the hereafter. If you take the gift [of the Name on your journey,] you will be absorbed in truth and your honor will be approved [by the Lord]. In the divine mansion you will find your place, and you shall win the Lord's pleasure and be joyful. O people! Death is not called bad if one knows how to die. 2

Blessed (haqqu) is the death of heroic men (munasam sariam) if theirdying is approved of (paravano). Only these men may be called heroes(sure) who obtain true honor before the Court [of Akal Purakh]. Obtaining such honor at the Divine Court they depart [this world] with honor and do not suffer (dakkhu) in the hereafter. This is the fruit they will obtain if they meditate on the Supreme One (eku) in whose service all fears are dissolved. How well You know that they ought not to speak aloud [of their separation from You] (acha nahith kahana) rather concealing [such pain] within (man mahi mahana).(47) The Lord himself knows these things intimately. Blessed is the death of heroic men if their dying is approved of. 3

For Gurbachan Singh Talib this hymn, particularly the refrains of lines two and three, are "truly a call to mankind not to shirk from sacrificing life, should a noble cause present itself."(48) Yet the context in which we find this hymn does not support such a conclusion. The appropriate setting appears to be a funeral or a gathering lamenting those recently dead, as this set of hymns are subtitled alahanian, or "dirges" composed for the ceremonial mourning of the dead in Punjab. Taken as a whole the main concern of the sabads (hymns) in vadhansu alahanian is to underscore both the transient nature of this world and of human existence. Noting that death is a natural part of life, the Guru states that a person's passing should not be mourned, especially if that person piously meditated on the divine name (nam) while alive - it is this person who is a hero (suru) by Guru Nanak's account.(49) G. S. Talib interprets this hymn out of context when he claimsthat it underscores a notion of "suffering undergone with a view to resisting evil in obedience to a movement of the soul . . . of suffering borne in pursuit of some moral ideal"(50) - in other words, martyrdom. His interpretation, or perhaps interpolation, is clear in the following English translation he supplies of the two refrains:

Folks! Revile not Death. Death is not an evil, should one know how truly to die. The death of heroic men is holy, Should they lay down their lives for a righteous cause.(51)

In another of his many translations of these two lines Talib footnotes the terms "heroic men (munasa sure)" indicating within the note that "[t]his is, of course, martyrdom."(52) Assuming that Talib understands martyrdom the way it is understood today, such a conclusion is by no means as obvious as our author contends.

Clearly vadhansu alahanian 2: 2-3, as the full translation above indicates, as well as slok varan te vadhik 20 and other hymns used to support the existence of an early Sikh tradition of martyrdom do not explicitly advocate sacrifice in the face of oppression and tyranny. Rather, as J. S. Grewal has opined in another context, these hymns are capable of engendering such action, depending on the nature and extent of the oppression encountered? To put it differently, these hymns may have been appropriated to support an idea of selfless sacrifice with the hope of future reward, but nevertheless it seems very unlikelythat martyrdom is what the Bhagats and the Gurus (Guru Nanak in particular) had in mind as they composed them.(54)

The eighteenth-century evidence is less opaque. The sources for thisperiod are of course not abundant - Sikhs claim, for instance, that much written material was lost during these war-torn years(55) - yet what does exist allows us partially to reconstruct Sikh ideas regarding courageous death, sacrifice, and martyrdom. It should be noted that the sparse written record of this, the "heroic period" of Sikh history, does not consist of martyrologies or Martyr Acts. The Sikh tradition has no eighteenth-century hagiographer who recorded the lives and deaths of Sikh martyrs with the kind of loving detail we find in the janam-sakhis (lit., "birth-evidence"), pious accounts of the life of Guru Nanak.(56) Neither does the record include any authentic memorials noting the personal sufferings of Sikhs today labeled as martyrs. What we have, rather, is a type of hagiography that focuses attention on the mighty battles of the sixth and tenth Gurus, the supreme courage of the Sikhs, and their ultimate destiny in battling the forcesof evil (those forces being identified with Islam in this period). Known as gur-bilas (the pleasure of the Guru), the literature of this genre also draws one's attention to the eighteenth-century Khalsa's fascination with the goddess Durga or Candi: the various buffalo sacrifices she is offered by the tenth Guru and his Khalsa as well as her fundamental role in the militant order's foundation.(57) Texts in thegur-bilas style would include the Bachitar Natak (Wonderful Drama), the so-called autobiography of the tenth Guru found in the Dasam Granth (Book of the Tenth [King]); Sainapati's Gur-sobha (Radiance of theGuru); and Sukkha Singh's Gur-bilas Patsahi 10 (The Gur-bilas of theTenth King).58

Although the origins and date of the Bachitar Natak provide scholarswith a puzzling conundrum there seems little doubt that this text isthe archetype of the gur-bilas style. To it, therefore, may be ascribed a late-seventeenth-or early-eighteenth-century date. What we findin the Bachitar Natak that concerns us specifically is a brief narrative recounting the execution of the ninth Sikh Master, Guru Tegh Bahadur. This event, like the execution of Guru Arian, is considered a martyrdom and marks a watershed in the history of the Sikh Panth. It is believed to have led to the creation of the Khalsa, the militant order founded by Guru Gobind Singh in April 1699 (or so tradition contends). Of course, the actual details of Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution are as shrouded in mystery as are those of Guru Arjan's death, hagiographic accounts filling in the few portions of the narrative we find in available contemporary and near-contemporary literature. We have, for example, competing Muslim and Sikh claims regarding the ninth Guru's activities and capture. Persian sources maintain that the Guru was a bandit (luss) who was justly executed for his role in rebellious activities, while Sikhs hold that Tegh Bahadur was attempting to secure the right of all people, particularly the brahmins of Kashmir, to practice their religion and don their religious symbols in good conscience.(59) One must at this point suspend judgment on these claims because of both the paucity of the available material and its questionable nature.

The fact that other eighteenth-century texts within the gur-bilas genre allude to the passage of the Bachitar Natak regarding Guru Tegh Bahadur's execution may well confirm the early date of this work.(60) The popularity of this passage, moreover, seems to indicate that a fascination with heroic sacrifice animated some members of the eighteenth-century Panth, at least those who produced the gur-bilas texts in question. We may assume that the authors of the gur-bilas works couldbe trusted to know what would attract their audience and engage their interest. The fifth canto of this text narrates the ninth Guru's execution:

tilak jannu rakhu prabh taka kino bado kalu mahi saka sadhani heti iti jini kari sisu dia paru si na uchari 13

dbaram her saka jini kia sisu die paru siraru na dia

natak chetak kie kukaja prabh logan kah avat laja 14

thikari phori dilisi siri prabh pur kia payan tegh bahadar si kria kari na kinahum an 15

tegh bahadur ke chalat bhayo jagat ko sok hai hai hai sabh jag bhayojai jai jai surlok(61) 16

It was for the protection of the sacred thread and frontal mark thatGuru Tegh Bahadur performed a tremendous deed in the Dark Age. He gave his head for the sake of holy men and uttered not a sign of regret. 13

For the cause of righteousness he undertook this task, giving his head yet retaining his honor. The men of God do not perform the tricks of magicians! 14

Breaking the earthen pitcher of his body on the head of the ruler ofDelhi he left for God's abode. This was the feat of Tegh Bahadur, a deed that only he could perform. 15

Lamentation covered the world at Tegh Bahadur's death. The entire world cried "Alas!" "Alas!" "Alas!" - yet from heaven came resounding shouts of victory. 16

This particular passage is the first in Sikh literature to aver thatthe "great deed (mahi saka)" of stoically sacrificing one's life forthe "purpose of righteousness (dharam het)" ensures one a spot in paradise. Whatever the circumstances of the Guru's execution, it is justified to state that in the passage above we find something entirely new to the Sikh tradition. We may suppose that in the era prior to the writing of the Bachitar Natak principled and courageous persons provided examples of resistance to tyrannical authority and painful suffering before unjust persecutors. Although we cannot prove this definitively with regard to Guru Arjan, there were certainly Sikh warriors under Guru Hargobind's command who are believed to have died heroically in battle, perhaps supporting the claims of their Guru and the thennascent Panth.(62) But never before had such courage been absorbed into a conceptual system which rewarded the heroic sacrifice of one's self for a cause considered righteous with liberation from the wheel of existence. The Bachitar Natak may provide the first example, in writing, of this concept, but we may assume that it had been prevalent for some years before the production of this text.

It seems, also, that the Bachitar Natak attributes to the martyr a more active type of death, one perhaps more fitting at the time the text was believed to have been composed (between 1688 and 1699 C.E.).(63) This is, of course, the Sikh sant-sipahi (soldier-saint), who perishes on the battlefield defending all that is righteous. The particular Sikh in question is Guru Gobind Singh's own cousin, Sango Shah, who falls during the Battle of Bhangani (September 1688) after having killed the Muslim warrior Najabat Khan. We find this reference in verse twenty-three of the eighth canto:

mari najabat khan ko sango jujhai jujhar ha ha ih lokai bhaio surag lok jaikar(64)

The heroic warrior Sango fell, but only after he had killed Najabat Khan. The world over mourned while victorious cries were heard in heaven.

That this death represented the ideal demise of the time is reinforced by a passage we find in another significant work included within the Dasam Granth, the Chandi Charitr (Acts of [the goddess] Candi - not a gur-bilas work) also attributed to the tenth Guru.

dehi siva bar mohi ihai subh karman te kabahum na tarom na darom arisom jab jai larom nisachai kar apni jit karom aru sikh hom apnehi man ko ih lalach chau gun tau ucharom jab av ki audh nidan banai ati hiran mai tab jujh marom(65)

O Lord of might grant that I may never shirk from righteous acts. That I may fight with faith and without fear against my enemies, and win. The wisdom I require is the grace to sing your glory. When my end is near may I meet death on the battlefield.

Recent interpretations of this passage are far more explicit in implying here the death of a martyr. Note, for example, the English translation of J. S. Grewal and S.S. Bal of the last sentence: "When this mortal life comes to a close [m]ay I die with the joy and courage of a martyr."(66) Of course, the word sahid cannot be found in the original. Nevertheless, the interpretation is justified and may well be closer to the intent of the author than his original Brai terminology.(67) The early eighteenth century was by all contemporary Persian and later European accounts a period when Khalsa Sikhs faced vicious persecution by their Muslim enemies.(68) Tradition often notes that the Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar (r. 171319) would pay, in order to capture the rebel Sikh leader, Banda Bahadur, twenty-five rupees for every severed Sikh head and one hundred rupees for every live Sikh captive.Although Banda and his followers were finally captured and executed in Delhi in 1716, Mughal policy regarding the extermination of KhalsaSikhs continued well into the eighteenth century.(69) That Sikhs held Islam to be evil and the struggle against its adherents to be righteous and sacred is also clear from eighteenth-century Sikh sources.(70) One may thus assume that for Sikhs a death on the battlefield while fighting such an enemy (invariably described as "Muslim" whether Mughal or Afghan) in a dharam yudh (lit., "righteous war") or sacralized battle would have been considered more than a mere accident of war,but a martyrdom.(71) One is thus led to assume that martyrdom in theSikh tradition develops in response to the complex social, religious, and political pressures with which Sikhs were confronted in the late seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth centuries.

The conspicuous absence of the words sahadat or sahidi to describe the new conceptual system we find in the Bachitar Natak, as well as the absence of the term sahid to describe those Sikhs gloriously killedin battle may seem odd in retrospect, as these are the words that Sikhs today use to designate their martyrs and martyrdom.(72) But the fact that these are absent not only in the Bachitar Natak, but in all eighteenth-century Sikh literature makes this a point that merits very serious consideration.(73) For Sainapati, a poet considered Guru Gobind Singh's contemporary, author of the eighteenth-century gur-bilaswork Gur-sobha, the idea of martyrdom is very much present and intimately tied up with the Khalsa. Although the Khalsa Sainapati writes of is one devoted to both the Guru and the goddess, he describes it asextraordinarily courageous: a group whose members personified the heroic ideals of martial prowess, bravery, sacrifice, and martyrdom. Yet, surprisingly, this poet, like the author of the Bachitar Natak, chooses not to use the word sahid to describe those who died while protecting the oppressed, nor does one find the word sahadat in his account. Note, for example, the following representative statement:

pran die hui khalsa paran ta ke brag(74)

[A Sikh's] fortunes were complete by laying down one's life (pran die hui) as a Khalsa.

Pran dena literally "to give up one's breath" is a compound verb we today closely associate with the asceticism so prominent in the Hindutradition. Despite the terminology, however, the notion of martyrdomin this passage is easily inferred. By being killed in the thick of battle, a Khalsa Sikh's liberation from the cycle of existence ("completing one's fortunes," as it were) was assured.

The ideal of a martyr's death in combat is more explicit in a passage relating to Udai Singh, the brother of the famous Bachittar Singh:

ude singh lalkar kai khusi kari kartar saphal janamu ih bhami kahi dutan karo sahghar(75)

[Guru Gobind Singh] (kartar) was overjoyed [to see] Udai Singh challenge [his enemies as he entered the battlefield]. "The mission of life is fulfilled in this way," he said, "by [dying in the attempt to] destroy the enemies [of the Khalsa]."

Here was a Khalsa Sikh consciously choosing to fulfill the maxims found in the poetry of the tenth Guru himself, particularly the final invocation to God found in the Chandi Charitr, deliberately opting to die fighting when desperate courage was required. As our poet has thetenth Guru himself state, Khalsa Sikhs who died in this way were believed truly to reside among the elect in the Court of Akal Purakh:

tamhi masai aise kahio gobind saran bichar aj khas tabe khalsa satigur ke darbar(76)

At that time [Guru] Gobind [singh] contemplated [the fact that the Khalsa saw him] as its refuge (saran): "Today, [dying in battle as] Khalsa [sikhs] they have achieved elect status (khas) in the court (darbar) of the True Guru."

In these and other gur-bilas texts of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the heroic death and sacrifice we today associate with sahidi, as well as the instant passage to heaven noted by Guru Gobind Singh above, was very much appreciated and sought after. But the evidence suggests that the idea had not yet acquired a name. This again seems quite puzzling as the terms sahid and sahadat in Persian andArabic texts clearly denote the heroic and redemptive characteristics we find expressed in the Gur-sobha.(77) It is highly likely, moreover, that the words sahid and sahid were terms with which our poets were familiar, as they lived in a predominantly Indo-Muslim area. Why then did they not choose to use these words to describe what was so obviously martyrdom? To answer this question, let us begin by examiningthe word's usage in seventeenth-century Sikh literature.

The term sahid (plural suhade) is used six times in the literature of this periods once by Guru Nanak, once by Bhagat Ravi Das, and four times by Bhai Gurdas (d. ca. 1637). In all but one of these cases theword is used in its Islamic sense, specifically signifying the Muslim sahdi rather than what we would come to identify as the Sikh martyr. Note, for example, the usage of both Guru Nanak and Ravi Das:

pir paikamar salak sadak suhade aur sahid sekh masaikh qafi mulla dari daraves rasid barakati tina kau aggali parhade rahani darud(78)

Pirs, prophets, seekers, devotees, martyrs (suhade), and all those witnessing to the truth (sahid) along with shaikhs and other shaikhs (masaikh), qazis, mullas, dervishes, and others who have the divine portal within sight, all of these people are blessed by God, all utter his praises.

ja kai idi bakaridi kul gau re baddhu karamhi maniamhi sekh sahid pira ja kai bap vaisi kari pat aisi sari tihu re lok parasidh kabira(79)

He in whose family were observed the Id [ul-ftr commemorating the end of the fast of Ramadan] and the Id [ul-qurban] on which goats were ritually slaughtered. He whose people slaughtered cows, and veneratedshaikhs, sahids and pirs. [bhagat Kabir's] father did all this, yet Kabir himself who became famous throughout the world, acted differently.

In describing the practices of Bhagat Kabir's family, Ravi Das's hymn clearly alludes to the Muslim sahid whom pious Muslims would have honored and propitiated, while in Guru Nanak's sabad above we recognize the first Master's characteristic appropriation of Islamic terminology: it is the "true" Muslim and the "true" sahid who have access to liberation.(80) To imply, as some scholars do in their attempt to trace the concept of sahidi back to the origins of Sikhism, that the sahid here is not specifically Muslim but rather typically Sikh is to assert that the pir, qazi, shaikh, and other Islamic religious personnel in the first Guru's hymn are also not Muslims, but Sikhs.(81) To these hymns we may add three of the verses in which Bhai Gurdas uses the term sahid:

suhade lakkh sahid hoi lakkh abadal malarig mulane(82)

There are lakhs of witnesses to the truth and lakhs of martyrs. There are lakhs of devotees (abadal), ecstatic ascetics (malang), and maulanas.

suhade lakkh sahid zarat lavhim(83)

They hold fairs (zarat) at [the burial places of] numerous martyrs and other witnesses to the truth.

sekh masaikh sadka suhade aur sahid bahutere(84)

There are several shaikhs, masaikhs, devotees, witnesses to the truth, and martyrs.

Again the sahid in these verses can only be the Muslim variety as the term appears amongst categories that would have been identified as Islamic in the period in which our theologian was composing his hymns. There is a significant deviation from this trend, however, one which appears in the third var of Bhai Gurdas:

sabaru sidaki sahid bharam bhau khovana(85)

The sahid cultivates truthfulness and patience. This person eradicates both superstition and fear.

Even this novel exception should not be understood to indicate the Sikh sahid as we know it today, an error that often crops up in accounts dealing with the tradition of martyrdom in Sikhism.(86) In this one case the context of the entire pauri clearly indicates that the term is used as a synonym for the fivan-mukt, one who is liberated from the cycle of existence while yet physically alive. In this verse the notion of bearing witness to the truth with one's life is nowhere present, a fact that may add weight to our prior claim that the conceptual system we know as martyrdom was not evident in the Sikhism of GuruArjan's time or immediately afterwards.

One answer to our dilemma seems clear at this point. Apparently the strong association of the term sahid with Islam may well have prompted Sainapati and other authors within the gur-bilas genre to avoid thewords sahid and sahadat in their particular brand of Sikh hagiography. As we noted, the period in which Sainapati was writing was one in which Sikhs were pitted against an implacable enemy they invariably described as Muslim. An anti-Islamic theme, moreover, is certainly characteristic of the eighteenth-century rahit-nama literature(87) as well as of the janam-sakhi literature of this era, albeit to a much lesser extent.(88) It is not until the nineteenth century that the term sahid is used to describe Sikhs who give their lives in the so-calleddefense of dharam.(89) The reason for appropriating the word at thistime may well be that the nineteenth century was the period of the Sikh kingdom (1799-1849). During most of this time, the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh may have had to balance the concerns of all the religious communities in the Punjab.(90) Perhaps, as a result, the anti-Muslim bias so common in eighteenth-century Sikh literature was not as pronounced in the literature of the nineteenth century.(91) By this time, moreover, Islam may have lost some of its hostile character for Sikh authors, who are, after all, writing in a period in which Sikhs have assumed a position of substantial political power.(92)

Does this mean therefore that the Sikh concept of martyrdom is one which developed independently, rather than being an idea borrowed fromIslam, as is commonly assumed?(93) To suggest this would be folly, for the lack of specific terminology notwithstanding, the Sikh martyr we come across in eighteenth-century gur-bilas literature is the veryimage of the sahid we find mentioned throughout Islamic texts. Guru Tegh Bahadur, for example, is easily accommodated into the Islamic definition of sahid, as he was believed to be a person killed for his beliefs, while those Sikhs killed in battle, such as the companions ofGuru Gobind Singh and some of the Sikhs to whom allusions are drawn in Ardas, sound very much like Islamic battlefield martyrs.(94)

The strong association with Islam we have noted in the terms sahad and sahadat in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also provides a logical corollary for the exclusion of these words from the Sikh literature of the heroic period. Simply put, the terms did not signify what our authors wished their audience to understand in regard to heroic death in battle or painful death by unjust judges. The Arabic term shahid (plural shuhada) signifies far more than a pious Muslim's heroic death on the battlefield against unbelievers or a person killed for his beliefs. According to T. W. Arnold, for example, "the term shared . . . is given a wide interpretation in Muslim [as well as, apparently, Sikh and Hindu] India."(95) In fact, the south Indian Muslim writer Jafar Sharif notes a number of deaths which merited the statusof sahid:

1, If a man expire in the act of reading the Qoran; 2, if in the actof praying; 3, if in the act of fasting; 4, if on the pilgrimage to Mecca; 5, if on a Friday . . . 6, if in the defense of his religion; 7, if through religious meditation; 8, if he be executed for speakingthe truth; 9, if he endure death by the hands of a tyrant or oppressor with patience and submission; 10, if killed in defending his own property; 11, if a woman die in labour or child-bed; 12, if murdered by robbers; 13, if devoured by tigers; 14, if killed by the kick of a horse; 15, if struck dead by lightning; 16, if burnt to death; 17, ifburied under the ruins of a wall; 18, if drowned; 19, if killed by afall from a precipice, or down a dry well or pit; 20, if he meet death by apoplexy, or stroke of the sun.(96)

To these may be added the belief that one became a martyr if, when killed or executed, the victim did not cry out while receiving the death-stroke, or if one is killed in an epidemic, in a foreign country, by dysentery or colic, or by pleurisy.(97) The enumerations here are not at all confined to Islam as practiced in South Asia. In fact, many of the ways of attaining martyrdom mentioned above are also numbered in various Arabic theological works (kalam) and legal dissertations(fiqh) as well as in Traditions regarding the Prophet Muhammad.(98) Today, furthermore, it is still common to refer to a Muslim who dies while on the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca as a sahid, a practice whichprompts one Sikh author to declare that Sikhs do not accept the Muslim description of sahid.(99)

Although our gur-bilas authors may have purposefully avoided the word sahid, it seems highly unlikely that the term was absent in the understandings of rural Sikhs, who formed the vast majority of the Panth's members in the period in question, as well as today. Sahids after all had been familiar in the Indian subcontinent for close to a millennium by the late seventeenth century. Despite this the majority of sahids were not martyrs as we would understand the term today. Note, for example, that the variety of deaths Sharif mentions above were in many ways similar to the deaths of those whose spirit manifested itself afterwards as the malevolent ghost known in Punjabi folk culture as bir, bhut, pret, or churel - in particular, untimely and often veryviolent, bloody deaths.(100) The parallels imply that sahids were also considered supernatural entities rather than pious men and women whose sacrifice for the Panth should be remembered and extolled. Indeed, an examination of nineteenth-century ethnographies on Punjab and its people suggests that the sahid could be either a kind of malevolent ghost (which plagued the land of the five rivers and required propitiation) or a supernatural being of power whose shrine was a place ofpilgrimage and blessing.(101) In this light, one can understand why the Punjab countryside was literally dotted with the shrines of sahids in the late nineteenth century.(102) Evidence suggests that the sahid was a part of the cultural taxonomy of northern India,(103) and that the difference between it and other entities was the fact that thesahid has a recognizable identity.(104)

When the terms sahid and sahadat enter the realm of Sikh literature in the early nineteenth century, they are, it appears, initially grafted upon the understanding of the martyr we find in the Bachitar Natak and Gur-sobha. Yet these terms also bring along with them many of the other characteristics they possess in the Islamic tradition. Although the ethnographic evidence supplied in H. A. Rose's Glossary and other contemporary ethnographies rarely notes the particularly Sikh (as opposed to Muslim) understanding of sahid,(105) we perceive in its few references that Sikhs understood the sahid along the lines we noted above - a universal being of power who dispenses barakat (blessing) to all Punjabis, whatever their religious ties.(106) This understanding is firmly buttressed in a rather controversial Sikh text known as the Sau Sakhiam (The One Hundred Testimonies). Written in Gurmukhi script by an anonymous author the Sau Sakhiam is believed to contain a series of sermons preached by Guru Gobind Singh just before his death. Internal evidence, however, demonstrates that this text was produced sometime in the mid nineteenth century.(107) It is a very valuable source, since it gives the only sustained explanation of the martyr's role that I have come across in the enchanted universe of nineteenth-century Punjab. The text does not specifically say how one becomesa martyr, possibly taking it for granted because the status could beapplied to those who had suffered so many varieties of death,(108) but it does explain the function these beings fulfill, functions whichare depicted in terms which clearly derive from Hindu, Islamic, and Punjabi folk traditions.(109) For example, the connection between themalevolent and benign spirits of Punjabi folklore and the sahid is made explicit here. We are also told of the ability martyrs possess tointercede with the divine on behalf of the worshipper, a facet of Islamic tradition.(110) Moreover, we are made privy to the power of themartyr to grant the wishes of all those who propitiate him. It is the twenty-fourth sakhi with which we are concerned. It appears below in its complete form.

Once Sikhs asked [Guru Gobind Singh], "O true king, to whom do we apply the name sahid? Disclose [to us] their works and [the nature of] the liberation they obtain."

[The Guru] smiled and replied, "You ask about secret things [my] Sikhs. The Guru keeps his sahgat near him (lit. "in his presence"). He protects his disciples.

This is the dreadful age of Kali. Like a shepherd is the Guru who both cautions and admonishes his flock [that is, his Sikhs]. By his command (hukam) which is true the Guru [keeps his] Sikhs near him.

If the Sikh's faith is complete he is the hero of the battlefield and crosses over [the Ocean of Existence]. It is for sure that those truculent cowards wander astray, [and remain forever fettered to the wheel of] transmigration, [dying and being born again and again].

The Guru will wait along with his sangat. Having assumed a body of sixteen elements the Guru will aid his Sikhs for ten thousand years. [He says,] "How will a Sikh approach me? He who comes will be gatheredinto [my sangat]." The Guru has been entrusted with five hundred andsixty million Sikhs in the Kaliyug. This is the Creator's order. [Fortified by] the perfect dharam they cross over [the Ocean of Existence] and the Guru waits for them.

[Those who are called martyrs] live in the world. [However,] they abide in the realm of Kuber [the god of riches, as well as] in Bhuv-lok, [the realm between the sun and the sky in which dwell the Munis andthe Siddhas]. All that which the martyrs desire comes to pass. Bhuts, prets, raksasas, as well as humans, birds, serpents, yak.sas, gandharvas, and apasarases are under their command. The messengers of Yama, the god of death, consult with them. Within the Sastras [martyrs] are referred to as baital and vidyadhar, beings who possess both malevolent and benevolent dispositions.(111) Their [particular] nature results [from the interplay] of the three constituent qualities of all matter, sattva (purity/virtue), rajas (passion), and tamas (darkness/dullness).(112)

Martyrs are worshipped by their congregation and fulfill all the wishes of this group. It is [the martyrs] who bestow both pain and pleasure. The gods [devta], having entrusted them with [caring over] the realm of Bharat, departed for heaven. Whatever the gods receive it is through the hands of the martyrs. Parmeshvar has placed them in [various] positions of power [and for this reason] there are all manner ofmartyrs. Food, clothes, and the means of transport are freely given by [the martyrs]. They travel through all the rocky lands of deceit, yet never stray [from their appointed path]. They perceive the attractions (tamasa) of Maya. As Raja Bipasachit(113) witnessed [the attractions of Maya] so too do they, and do not have to endure the transmigratory round.

The Guru protects them. He watches over them like a shepherd. These things [which I have stated] are the works [of the martyrs] and the knowledge of liberation [which they possess].

The sangat of the Naths is made up of [the immortal] Sidhs and in the religion of Muhammad they are called Jinns, they who are without a guru and are unruly. Because of this [these beings are like] bhuts and prets. The sakhi is [now] complete. [Reflect on it and] say Vahiguru.(114)

The views one finds expressed in this sakhi are reflected in Sikh participation in popular martyrolatry. Among Sikh and Hindu Jars in thenineteenth century, for example, a small masonry shrine or mound of earth termed jathera (clan ancestor; elder) was built and dedicated to an ancestor who was either a sahid or a man of note. Around this shrine the bridegroom would circumambulate and bow his head at the timeof his wedding in order to be blessed by this being.(115)

We may assume that this is what Sikhs understood by the terms sahid and sahadat in the nineteenth century. At this point, Sikh literaturecontinues to represent the sahid as a heroic Sikh killed in battle or executed while upholding the claims of righteousness. It is in thisperiod, for example, that Rattan Singh Bhangu produced his famous Gur-panth Prakas (1841), the first sustained exposition of Sikh martyrs. Yet in the extant manuscripts of Bhangu's epic (not the published work) we infer that Sikhs understood the sahid not only to be a man like Bhai Taru Singh, executed after refusing to adopt Islam as his faith, but also one whose life is offered as a sacrifice to the goddess.(116) The standard definition we note in Sikh texts today, in other words, was not the exclusive understanding in Bhangu's time and afterwards.(117) One also finds that the nineteenth-century definition includes supernatural entities who were feared, praised, and propitiated,entities found described in the nineteenth-century ethnographies anddiscussed in the Sau Sakhiam.

We may finally note that the pattern we have elaborated in this paper closely resembles the model of eighteenth-century Sikh culture and history we find expounded in Harjot Oberoi's latest research. Put another way, we recognize that by the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century we have the idea of martyrdom as it is basically understood today, the reward for one who dies for the faith with dignity and calm, who transcends the fear and pain of death in the knowledge of truth and the expectation of divine recognition. As we have seen particularly in Gur-sobha, this concept is intimately associated with the Khalsa and may be thus considered a feature of what Oberoi terms the Khalsa episteme. According to him, as the targeted Khalsa sought political power in the early part of the eighteenth century it allied itself with those he terms "Sahajdhari" Sikhs. From this collaboration there emerged a religious culture which, he states, "was equally at home with ascetics, householders, warriors and much more"(118) - a culture Oberoi calls "Sanatan Sikh tradition." Sahaj-dharis of the early eighteenth century were apparently Sikh villagers whose symbolic universe included many of the understandings we would describe today as Hindu - the reverence towards idols, the merit of pilgrimage, etc. - and concern for the supernatural beings that required propitiation, such as the jinn, bhut, churel, bir, and so on.(119) The ethnograpbies tell us that amongst these entities one could find the sahid that is described in Islamic texts. It should be noted that a necessary part of this sahaj-dhari understanding of the "martyr" was the numerous types of deaths that created such beings.

This new terminology, of course, already intended the ideal deaths we noted in the Chandi Charitr and Gursobha, though such deaths were not the only ones encompassed by the term sahid. It was therefore logical that as Khalsa Sikhs and Sahaj-dhari Sikhs began to consider bothof their interpretations of Sikhism legitimate that the term sahadatwould begin to designate the type of death we find in our early Khalsa-oriented gur-bilas literature and the word sahid - already used bySahajdhari Sikhs - to signify the ones who achieved such demises. This development was fortunately coupled with the beginnings of the Khalsa Sikh rise to power after 1765. It was after this year that Sikh misls gained a foothold in Lahore, a hold that eventually resulted in their virtual dominance of Punjab under the misldar (leader) of the Shukarchakia misl, Ranjit Singh, in 1799. With the Sikh displacement of Muslim rule in Punjab the apparent threat that Muslims presented tothe Sikhs dramatically, if not completely, subsided. As a result Sikh authors found it possible to appropriate terminology which, although common in the idiom of Sahaj-dhari Sikhs since at least the eighteenth century, was considered Islamic.

As the term sahadat becomes the dominant name for the conceptual system of martyrdom and the word sahid the sole label given to its heroic exemplar in the early nineteenth century, moreover, we find the category also including many of the meanings we noted in the Punjab ethnographies. If this were not the case the sakhi dealing with Sikh sahids given above from the Sau Sakhiam might never have been written. The sahid we find in the Sau Sakhiam and within early nineteenth-century Sikh tradition, in other words, is part of the more inclusive Sanatan Sikh tradition, an episteme that resulted, according to Oberoi, "from the conceptual and strategic rapprochement between the Khalsa andSahajdhari identities."(120) This Sanatan definition of sahid was far less exclusive than the concept we discover in the early and less-inclusive Khalsa Sikh tradition.

It is the Sanatan or eighteenth-century Sahaj-dhari definition of sahid with which the Tat Khalsa was confronted in the late nineteenth century. As this vast understanding of the sahid did not measure up tothe Tat Khalsa's new, "enlightened" rationale, its adherents endeavored to marginalize those definitions of the term they considered "superstitious" and "backward." As I have shown elsewhere, in the Tat Khalsa's sustained campaign of "Sikhizing the Sikhs" (Oberoi's phrase), of broadcasting what they considered to be the "essentials" of Sikhism, Tat Khalsa ideologues appropriated a profound and powerful "rhetoric of martyrdom." In the process of redefining Sikh boundaries, the category sahid was altered to produce the far less inclusive definition of the Sikh martyr we find in Ardas, the sahid whom contemporary Sikhs continue to revere.(121)

I am grateful to W. H. McLeod and to Reinier Hesselink, from whose invaluable suggestions and criticisms on early drafts of this paper I have benefited greatly.

1 A passage from an interview with the now-deceased Beant Singh, an area commander of the Khalistan Commando Force. See Joyce Pettigrew'slatest analysis of the recent troubles in Punjab, in The Sikhs of the Punjab: Unheard Voices of State and Guerrilla Violence (London: ZedBooks, 1995), 177. Incidentally, Dhadhis (dhadhi) are itinerant folkmusicians whose repertoire consists of songs of eighteenth-century Sikh martial glory and the sacrifices of past Sikh martyrs.

2 The transliteration of Punjabi words generally follows the standard scheme found in Christopher Shackle's A Guru Nanak Glossary (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1981), xix-xxiii. The only exceptions are the diphthongs au and ai, which appear in this paper as au and ai respectively. Words transliterated from Persian follow the pattern found in F. Steingass, A Persian-English Dictionary (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1970).

3 Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakas, ed. Vir Singh (Amritsar: Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan, 1982), 231. Also see the exchange between Nadir Shah and Zakariya Khan found in Ahmad Shah of Batala's Persian Tarikh-i .Hind (History of India) [1233 H./1818 C.E.], as noted in Indu Banga's Agrarian System of the Sikhs: Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century (New Delhi: Manohar, 1978), 13-14, n. 12. For abrief history of Nadir Shah and his exploits in India see Jadunath Sarkar's Nadir Shah in India, Patna University Readership Lectures, 1922 (Calcutta: Naya Prokash, 1973; first ed., 1925). For Zakariya Khan, see Khushwant Singh, A History of the Sikhs, I (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1963), 122-28.

4 See, for example, Qazi Nut Muhammad's Jang-nameh (The Book of Battle) [1178 H./1764-65 C.E.] whose forty-first chapter details Sikh heroism and sacrifice. A portion appears below:

Do not call [the Sikhs] dogs because they are lions, and show bravery like lions in the field. If you wish to learn the art of war, come face to face with them in battle . . . The body of every one of them is like a piece of rock, and in physical grandeur every one of them is equal to more than fifty . . . if their armies take to flight do not think that they are running away. It is only a war tactic of theirs.

The translation is taken from Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs (Patiala: Punjabi Univ. Press, 1989), 171-72, n. 4. A brief description of the Jang-nameh's contents may be found in Ganda Singh, ed., A Select Bibliography of the Sikhs and Sikhism (Amritsar: Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, 1965), 318. For other Persian accounts on Sikh bravery and endurance see Gurbux Singh, "Banda's Fall: An Unconditional Surrender or a Negotiated Settlement," Punjab History Conference Proceedings: Seventh Session (1972): 4559, as well as the English translations of the Persian manuscripts supplied in Ganda Singh, Life of Banda Singh Bahadur (Patiala: Punjabi Univ. Press, 1990), chs. 5-6, 13, 16.

5 John Malcolm, Sketch of the Sikhs, a Singular Nation who Inhabit the Provinces of the Penjab, Situated between the Rivers Jumna and Indus (London: J. Murray, 1812), 88. The work was originally published in 1810 as "Sketch of the Sikhs," in Asiatick Researches XI (1810): 197-292. The "Muhammedan author" whom he quotes is probably Ghulam Hussain, Siyar-ul Muta khkhirin (Biographies of the Moderns) [1194 H.?/1781 - 82 C.E.]. Background on this Persian text may be found in Ganda Singh, A Select Bibliography of the Sikhs, 291. Other European accounts which note this aspect of the Sikh character are those written by A. Poller, George Foster, John Gritliths, and William Franckiln. These appear in Ganda Singh, ed., Early European Accounts of the Sikhs and History of Origin and Progress of the Sikhs (New Delhi: Today & Tomorrow's Printers & Publishers, 1974).

6 See, for example, J. S. Grewal, The Sikhs of the Punjab, The New Cambridge History of India, 11.3 (Ca

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