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Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 7/10)

          Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 7/10)

Lepel Henry Griffen postulated that Hinduism had always been
hostile to Sikhism and even socially the two had been anta-
gonistic. One Max Arthur Macauliffe, a highly placed Brit-
ish administrator, became the loudest spokesman of this thesis.
He told the Sikhs that Hinduism was like a "boa con-
strictor of the Indian forests," which "winds its opponent and
finally causes it to disappear in its capacious interior."
The Sikhs "may go that way," he warned. He was pained to see
that the Sikhs regarded themselves as Hindus which was,
"in direct opposition to the teachings of the Gurus." He put
words into the mouth of the Gurus and invented prophecies by
them which anticipated the advent of the white race to whom the
Sikhs would be loyal. He described "the pernicious effects of
the up-bringing of Sikh youths in a Hindu atmosphere." These
youths, he said, "are ignorant of the Sikh religion and of
itsprophecies in favour of the English and contract exclusive
customs and prejudices to the extent of calling us Malechhas
or persons of impure desires, and inspire disgust for the
customs and habits of Christians."

 It was a concerted effort in which the officials, the scho-
lars and the missionaries all joined. In order to separate the
Sikhs, they were even made into a sect of Islam. For example,
one Thomas Patrick Hughes, who had worked as missionary for twen-
ty years in Peshawar, edited the Dictionary of Islam. The
work itself is scholarly but, like most European scholarship, it
had a colonial inspiration. The third biggest article in this
work, after Muhammad and the Quran, is on Sikhism. It devotes
one-fourth of a page to the Sunnis and, somewhat more justly,
seven pages to the Shias, but devotes eleven and a half pages to
the Sikhs! Probably, the editor himself thought it rather exces-
sive; for he offers an explanation to the Orientalists who "may,
perhaps be suprised to find that Sikhism has been treated as a
sect of Islam." Indded, it is surprising to the non-Orientalists
too. For it must be a strange sect of Islam where the word
'Muhammad' does not occur even once in the writings of its found-
er, Nanak. But the inclusion of such an article "in the present
work seemd to be most desirable." It was apolicy matter.

 Macauliffe and others provided categories which became
the thought equipment of subsequent Sikh intellectuals. But
the British Government did not neglect the quicker administra-
tive and political measures. They developed a special Army Policy
which gave results even in the short run. While they disarmed
the nattion as whole, they created privileged enclaves of what
they called martial races.

 The British had conquered the Punjab with the help of Poora-
biya soldiers, many of them Brahmins, but they played a rebel-
lious role in 1857. So the British dropped them and sought
other elements. The Sikhs were chosen. In 1855, there were
only 1500 Sikh soldiers, mostly Mazhabis. In 1910, there were
33 thousands out of a total of 174 thousands, this time mostly
Jats--just a little less than one-fifth of the total army
strength. Their very recruitment was calculated to give them a
sense of separateness and exclusiveness. Only such Sikhs were re-
cruited who observed the marks of the Khalsa. They were sent to
receive baptism according to the rites prescribed by Guru Govind
Singh. Each regiment had its own granthis. The greetings ex-
changed between the British officers and the Sikh soldiers were
Wahguruji ka Khalsa ! Wahguruji ki Fateh. A secret C I.D.
Memorandum, prepared by D. Patfie, Assistant Director, Criminal
Intellegence, Government of India (1911), says that "every en-
deavour has been made to preserve them (Sikh soldiers) from the
contagion of idolatory," a name the colonial-missionaries gave
to Hinduism. Thanks to these measures, the "Sikhs in the Indian
Army have been studiously nationalized," Macaulille observed.
About the meaning of this "nationalization", we are left in no
doubt. Petrie explains that it means that the Sikhs were "en-
couraged to regard themselves as a totally distinct and separate
nation." No wonder, the British congratulated themselves and
held that the "preservation of Sikhism as a separate religion
was largely due to the action of the British officers," as a
British administrator put it.

                                             [To be concluded]

Authored by Shri Ram Swarup.       Courtesy: Voice of India

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