Forums Chat Annouce Calender Remote

Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 9/10)

	           Hindu-Sikh Relationship (part 9/10)

  While the British were devotedly busy consolidating the Empire, other 
forces detrimental to their labour were also at work. Indians were an ancient 
people and they could not be kept in subjugation for long. The Time-Spirit was 
also against the British. Even during the heydays of Sikh loyalty to the 
British, there were many rebellious voices. One Baba Nihal Singh wrote (1885)
a book entitled Khurshid-i-Khalsa, which "dealt in an objectionable manner with
the British occupation of the Punjab." When Gokhale visited the Punjab in 1907,
he was received with great enthusiasm by the students of the Khalsa College, an
institution started in 1892 specifically to instil loyalty in the Sikh youth.The
horses of his carriage were taken out and it was pulled by the students.He spoke
from the college Dharamsala from which the Granth Sahib was specially removed to
make room for him. It was here that the famous poem, Pagri Sainbhal, Jatta, was 
first recited by Banke Dayal, editor of Jhang Sayal; it became the battle-song 
of the Punjab revolutionaries,

  There was a general awakening which could not but affect the Sikh youth, 
too, Mr. Petrie observes that the "Sikhs have not been, and are not, immune 
from the disloyal influences which have been at work among other sections of 
the populace."

  A most powerful voice of revolt came from America where many Punjabis, mostly
Sikh Jat ex-soldiers, had settled. Many of them had been ln Hong Kong and other 
places as soldiers in the British regiments. There they heard of a far-away 
country where people were free and prosperous.  Their imagination was fired.
The desire to emigrate was reinforced by very bad conditions at home. The 
drought of 1905-1907 and the epidemic in its wake had killed two million people
in the Punjab. In the first decade of this century, the region suffered a net 
decrease in population. Due to new fiscal and monetary policies and new 
economic arrangements, there was a large-scaie alienation of land from the 
cultivators and hundreds of thousands of the poor and middle peasants were
wiped out or fell into debt: Many of them emigrated and settled in 
British Columbia, particularly Vancouver. Here they were treated with contempt. 
They realized for the first time that their sorry status abroad was due to 
their colonial status at home. They also began to see the link between 
India's poverty and British imperialism. Thus many of them, once loyal soldiers
who took pride in this fact, turned rebels.  They raised the banner of Indian 
nationalism and spoke against the Singh Sabhas, the Chief Khalsa Diwan and the 
Sardar Bahadurs  at home. They spoke of Bharat-Mata; their heroes were patriots 
and revolutionaries from Bengal and Maharashtra, and not their co-religionists 
in the Punjab whom they called the "traffikers of the country."

  The earlier trends, some of them mutually opposed, became important components
of subsequent Sikh politics. The pre-war politics continued under new labels at 
an accelerated pace.  During this period, social fraternization with the Hindus 
continued as before, but politically the Sikh community became more sharply
defined and acquired a greater group-consciousness.

  In the pre-war period, an attempt had been made to de-Hinduize Sikhism; 
now it was also Khalsa-ized. Hitherto, the Sikh temples were managed by non-
Khalsa Sikhs, mostly the Udasis, now these were seized and taken out of their 
hands. Khalsa activists, named Akalis, "belonging to the Immortal," moved from
place to place and occupied different Gurudwaras. These eventually came under 
control of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee in 1925. From this point
onwards. Sikh religion was heavily politicalised. Those who controlled resources
of the temples controlled Sikh politics. The SGPC Act of 1925 defined Sikhs in
a manner which excluded the Sahaja dharis and included only the Khalsa. SGPC, 
Akalis, Jathas became important in the life of the Sikh community. Non-Khalsa
Sikhs became second-grade members of the community. The Akalis representing the 
Khalsa, acquired a new self-importance. In their new temper, they even came 
into conflict with the British on several occasions. The Government was less 
sure now of their unquestioning loyalty. As a result, their share in the Army 
fell from 19.2 percent in 1914 to 13.58 percent in 1930; while the Muslim share 
rose from 11 to 22 percent during the same period.

  The pericd of the freedom struggle was not all idealism and warm-hearted 
sacrifice. There were many divisive forces, black sheep, and tutored roles. 
But the role of the Akalis was not always negative. They provided a necessary 
counterweight to the Muslim League politics. On the eve of independence, the
League leaders tried to woo the Akalis. But, by and large, they were spurned. 
For a time, some Akali leaders played with the idea of a separate Khalistan, 
and the British encouraged them to present their case. But they found that they 
were in a majority only in two Tehsils and the idea of a separate state was 
not viable.

 Independence came accompanied by division of the country and large displacement
of population. The country faced big problems but she managed to keep above 
water.  We were also able to retain democracy. But just when we thought we had 
come out of the woods, divisive forces which lay low for a time reappeared. The
old drama with a new cast began to be enacted again. Muslim separative politics,
helped by huge Arab funds, has become active again.  Christian missions have 
their own ambitions. They both are looking at the politics of extremist Sikhs 
with great hope and interest and they find it fits well with their own plans.
						[To be concluded]

Authored by Shri Ram Swarup      Courtesy: Voice of India

Advertise with us!
This site is part of Dharma Universe LLC websites.
Copyrighted 2009-2015, Dharma Universe.