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The Sikhs

Singh, Patwant

ISBN 10: 0719557143 / ISBN 13: 9780719557149
Published by John Murray, 1999,, 1999
Hardcover
From Books (Nashville, TN, U.S.A.)

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1st UK ed., hardcover, fine in fine dj, in mylar, India, history, blm50. Bookseller Inventory # 2808

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Sikhs

Publisher: John Murray, 1999,

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

The whole world is acquainted with the energetic and entreprising Sikhs because of their unique philosophy and distinct appearance. The author in this book has taken up a spectrum of issues related to the rise, growth and challenges to Sikhism in a meticulous way and dissected issues with clarity.

Review:

Sikhism is one of the world's gentlest religions--a sort of eastern version of Anglicanism. It is as though someone had taken the best bits of Hinduism and Islam and merged them into a religion accessible even to the most secular of souls. There is no class or caste system, hence the men are all called Singh (Lion) and the women Kaur (Princess), and it makes no great claim to be the only way; indeed, unlike most religions, it actively promotes the idea that its followers may learn from other faiths. And yet, the popular image of Sikhs as fierce warriors is almost diametrically opposed to the tenets of their faith. Just how this came to be is wonderfully told in Patwant Singh's history of the Sikhs, published to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa--the most important date in the Sikh calendar.

As may be expected, Singh is a highly partisan narrator. The Sikhs are always bold and noble, and those who oppress them--the Moghuls, the Hindus, and the British--are conniving and duplicitous. But this aside, he tells a truthful story of the early days of Sikhism up to the 20th-century partition of the Punjab and the diaspora to East Africa and Britain. But the book really takes off when we reach the modern era. He provides a moving account of the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Hindu troops acting on the authority of the Indian government in 1984. This led directly to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards, which in turn brought swift and widespread retribution, as thousands of Sikhs were rounded up and massacred.

What Patwant Singh doesn't answer, though, is why so many people have felt so threatened by Sikhism over the centuries. Sikhs do not proselytize their religion and they make up only two percent of the Indian population, yet they have been persecuted throughout their history. Maybe, just as nature abhors a vacuum, so religions abhor moderation. --John Crace, Amazon.co.uk

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